Will It Also

From “Sermon for Septuagesima,’ Sermons During the Season from Advent to Whitsuntide (1848)

We ourselves, if God have kept us or anew called us, what is our past? At its best mostly, but calls half-heard or half-obeyed, endless shortcomings… If, through his undeserved mercy, we be saved in the end, are we not, mostly, but the wrecks of what we might have been, gaining the shore after shipwreck, on some “broken pieces of the ship,” the plank of repentance, so that even of the saved it will be true, “Many are called, but few chosen”… Amid all these countless forms of death, where is life? Must we not say with the prophet, “The whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint?”…

But what, brethren? Are we then to despond for ourselves or others, because the way is narrow, and few find it? This were the very device of Satan, to slay us through despair, if he cannot lay us to sleep in presumption. This we know, God wills all men to be saved, wills that we be saved. His love is wanting to no one, but we to it. God wills you to be saved; will you it also; will it with a steadfast will; will it with a whole heart; will it at whatever cost; and pray him to uphold your will, and you will be saved. Wherever or whatsoever we are, we are encompassed with tokens of God’s love. However, any of us may have fallen, it is of his love, yes, and the more any have fallen, a token of his deeper love, that we are not now in hell. He is love. He loved us before yet we were born; God loved us when he called us from our mother’s womb and the waters of Baptism, to be his; God loves us all still, in that he gives us life and time of repentance; he will love us to the end, if whatever we have been, however fallen, however forgetful of him, yes, if it be with any of us the eleventh hour, and we have been “standing all the day idle,” yet now that he calls you, at last, turn to him. Obey now God’s voice; or ask now for God’s grace to obey it.

Purpose, now, in utter mistrust of self, yet trembling trust in him, to break off some besetting sin, to cherish some neglected grace. Ask God now, “Lord, what will you have me to do?” Give yourself without reserve into his hands, to deal with you, for time and eternity, as he wills, and do the next thing which, in your inmost soul, he bids you, and what you commit to God, he will keep for you; yes, he will keep you for himself!

These awful warnings are but a token the more of his love towards us, if we will be warned. He terrifies us, only that we may take refuge in his love. He meets us in terror if we fly from him, only that we may turn to him in love. God frightens us, even as a tender parent does, that we may cling the closer unto him. All without are terrors and forms of death, that in his love we may be hushed, and find life and peace. He tells us, and the words of Holy Scripture seem full of gladness while they tell us, of the “great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues,” which “stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and with palms in their hands; and cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God who sits upon the throne, and to the Lamb.” He bids us, “fear” and “fear not;” “fear him” and we shall fear nothing out of him; “fear the Lord and depart from evil.” He himself says, “You who fear the Lord, put your trust in the Lord. He is their helper and defender.'” He Himself bids them who fear him, to say “His mercy endures forever.”

Edward Bouverie Pusey (1800-1882) was a priest who served as Regius Professor of Hebrew at Oxford for more than fifty years. He was among the primary leaders of the Oxford Movement, Anglicanism’s Catholic revival. He wrote several of the Tracts of the Times, and sacramental confession and religious sisterhoods were restored in the Church of England through his influence. He is commemorated on September 18 on the liturgical calendars of several Anglican churches.


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