Great Texts of the Bible
The Purchase of Opportunity
Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.—Ephesians 5:16.
1. These words stand at the end of a series of moral counsels and warnings, of which it is difficult to exaggerate the urgency and solemnity. St. Paul has painted in vivid colours the contrast between the corruptions of society and the holy living of genuine discipleship; he has implored the Ephesians to remember that such holy living is the condition of any inheritance in the Kingdom of Christ and God; he has proved the necessity of carefulness in the religious life, and now he proceeds yet one step further. Carefulness must be directed by wisdom, lest the fears of conscience and the discipline of conduct be wrongly directed, and therefore wasted. “Take heed therefore how ye walk exactly,” for this is the true sense of the original. The Ephesians are to be wise in their self-discipline, taking heed that the strictness of their walk is directed by right motives to right ends. “Take heed therefore how ye walk exactly, not as unwise, but as wise, redeeming the time,” or rather, “buying up the opportunity, because the days are evil.”
The expression is found in Daniel 2:8, and is perhaps borrowed from the Old Testament by St. Paul. Nebuchadnezzar complains that the astrologers are buying the time for themselves with a view to wasting it in vain delays: St. Paul bids Christians buy the time for themselves, at whatever cost, in order to use it in wise action. Seneca has a similar saying: “Gather up and preserve the time.”
2. The picture or parable suggested by the text is this. Standing in the market-place is a wise and wary merchantman, keen for spiritual traffic and gain. Like Milton, he has fallen on evil times—on bad times, as men of business would say. The days drag slowly by, bringing him few means of moral culture, rare occasions on which he can trade with his talents and make them more. But, at last, as the caravan of Time moves tardily by, among the captives in its train he espies an opportunity such as his heart has long craved. He leaps at it, seizes it, redeems it, i.e., pays a price for it and makes it his own. It is exactly the modern notion of “making a corner,” with this important distinction, that, whereas the modern “trust” or “combine” is purely selfish in its calculations, the intensity and astuteness recommended by the Apostle aim chiefly at the salvation and spiritual enrichment of others. Be alert, politic, ready to make sacrifices, so that you improve every opening to possess yourself of the best things and make your neighbours sharers of the riches of Christ.
Ephesus was the great trading city of Proconsular Asia, where the merchants of both the east and west assembled for commerce, watching for opportunities to buy and sell and get gain. The Asian Christians were well acquainted with these things, and the words of St. Paul would come to them with great power, fitness and cogency. As merchantmen watched and seized every opportunity for buying or selling their commodities, so must Christians seize and buy up every opportunity for manifesting their true Christian character, and making known “the truth as it is in Jesus.” Hostile circumstances and the powers of darkness beset us on every hand: therefore let us lose no opportunities, but, with promptness and full purpose of heart, let us “walk as children of the light.”
Gifts are given to trade withal for God. Opportunities are the market-days for that trade. To napkin up the one and to let slip the other will end in trouble and disconsolation. Disquietments and perplexities of heart are worms that will certainly breed in the rust of unexercised gifts. God loseth a revenue of glory and honour by such slothful souls: and He will make them sensible of it. I know some at this day whom omissions of opportunities for service are ready to sink into the grave.1 [Note: J. Moffatt, The Golden Book of John Owen, 209.]
The text leads us to trace three ideas in the Apostle’s mind: first, he thinks of opportunity as an article in the market; second, he feels that there are circumstances which increase the value of the article; and third, he sees the different types of traders, some neglecting opportunity, others eagerly buying it up.
An Article in the Market
1. What is this commodity which we are asked to purchase? The text says it is “time.” But the term used signifies more than the mere duration of anything or the measure of motion; it may be taken for opportunity, or the favourable moment for doing anything, which, if lost, can never be recovered. This is well brought out in Ecclesiastes (Ecclesiastes 8:5). “A wise man’s heart discerneth both time and judgment”—that is, he knows both what he ought to do and the fittest season in which to do it. So, then, we understand that time is redeemed when we diligently embrace and improve all the opportunities which God places in our way, not only for His honour and glory, but also for the good of ourselves and others, not allowing these golden opportunities to be forestalled or stolen from us and irretrievably lost by our own negligence. The exhortation of the Apostle implies that the Ephesians had lost and misimproved opportunities, and that being so they were not to be depressed, but were to double their diligence and do the more good in time to come.
We speak of life as bringing many duties. Life, says some one, is duty; and this is a true way of looking at it. We are hedged all round by duty. We speak of life again as a probation. We are here on trial, to show what we are and what we can do. We are being tested, and the Master is watching us to see what we are good for, and what He can do with us when this life is over. We speak of life, again, as for education. God wants to train us here for another life, and for greater service than our present. All these views of life are true; they set forth some real aspect of our life. But we may speak of our life in another way. It is a succession of opportunities. Life is always bringing opportunities to us, which we may seize and handle and turn to our profit, or which we may neglect to our loss.
Christina Rossetti tells us how in one of her country walks, being then entirely ignorant of its rarity, she lighted upon a four-leaved trefoil. She goes on to say: “Perhaps I plucked and so destroyed it: I certainly left it, for most certainly I have it not. Now I would give something to recover that wonder: then, when I might have had it for the carrying, I left it. Once missed, one may peer about in vain all the rest of one’s days for a second four-leaved trefoil. No one expects to find whole fields of such: even one, for once, is an extra allowance. Life has, so to say, its four-leaved trefoils for a favoured few: and how many of us overlook once and finally our rare chance!”1 [Note: Mackenzie Bell, Christina Rossetti, 26.]
If thou hadst known in those far-distant days,
Which now lie buried with the long-dead past;
If thou hadst known how wistful was the gaze
Love turn’d on thee, oh! wouldst thou then have cast
One swift responsive glance, and thus have seen
Life’s possibility?—It might have been!
If thou hadst known in those long-vanish’d hours
How one heart beat in sympathy with thine,
Wouldst thou have turn’d and cull’d the fragrant flowers
Love offered thee, a garland to entwine
For days to come? Ah! silence lay between
Thy heart and mine; and yet,—It might have been!
If thou hadst known how, through the long, long years,
One aching heart would yearn for thee in vain,
Wouldst thou in that far time have dried the tears
With tender answering touch, had all been plain?
Ah, who can tell! Thy lonely grave is green;
Thy memory still lives on. It might have been!2 [Note: Una, In Life’s Garden, 68.]
There is a story told of General Havelock, the father of Sir Henry Havelock-Allan, that when he was serving in India, there was on one occasion need for some military expedition which would be attended with great danger and difficulty, but which would bring distinction to the officer who could lead it successfully. It properly fell to General Havelock; but there was an officer of lower rank who had made some grave mistake or failed in some previous expedition of which he had had charge, and on whose reputation a shadow was resting in consequence. Havelock gave way to the younger officer. He offered him a rare opportunity which he was not slow to embrace.3 [Note: H. Bonner, Sermons and Lectures, 208.]
2. Past opportunities are no longer in the market. St. Paul knew very well that time misspent can never be recalled. Every man’s past—its evil and its good; what he has done and what he has left undone—lives in the man to-day. If he has lived an evil or thoughtless life, he may, indeed, amend his ways and live a pure and noble life; but time lost is still time lost to him for ever. There are signs in St. Paul’s Epistles that he was occasionally haunted by the shadow of his own past, but still he does not attempt to recall that which is irrevocable; rather, he turns his back deliberately upon it, looks away to the present and the future which are still within his power, and says, “Forgetting those things which are behind, I reach forward.”
Our life is not like a placid stream on which, by steadfast endeavour, we may pull back against the tide. It is, rather, like a torrent which, rising on the mountains of Eternity, plunges, the instant it has passed us, into an unfathomable abyss. Our most strenuous effort only maintains us on the edge of the fall; the stream is for ever sliding from under us; and at last we too shall be swept over and be no more seen. Whatever chances we had yesterday, last week, last year, of showing kindness or doing good, of fitting ourselves whether for earth or for heaven, are past for ever. All these opportunities are gone by. No sighs, no tears, no prodigal vows of amendment, will bring one of them back. We might have redeemed them; but now they are captives for ever; or, rather, they are martyrs, and have perished in their captivity. Henceforth there is no redemption for them.1 [Note: S. Cox, Expositions, i. 9.]
Have you ever seen those marble statues in some public square or garden which are so fashioned into a perennial fountain that through the lips, or through the hands, the clear water flows in a perpetual stream, on and on for ever; and the marble stands there, passionless, cold, making no effort to arrest the gliding water? It is so that time flows through the hands of men, swift, never pausing till it has run itself out; and there is the man, petrified into a marble sleep, not feeling what it is that is passing away for ever.2 [Note: James Brown, Sermons with Memoir, 150.]
Listen to the watermill, all the livelong day;
How the creaking of the wheel wears the hours away.
Languidly the water glides, useless on and still;
Never coming back again to that watermill.
And the proverb haunts my mind, like a spell that’s cast—
The mill will never grind with the water that has passed.
Take the lesson to yourselves, loving hearts and true;
Golden years are fleeting by, youth is fleeting too.
Try to make the most of life, lose no honest way;
Time will never bring again chances passed away.
Leave no tender word unsaid, love while life shall last—
The mill will never grind with the water that has passed.
Work while yet the daylight shines, man of strength and will;
Never does the streamlet glide useless by the mill.
Wait not till to-morrow’s sun beams upon your way,
All that you can call your own lies in this, To-day.
Power, intellect, and strength, may not, cannot last—
The mill will never grind with the water that has passed.
Oh! the wasted hours of life that have drifted by—
Oh! the good we might have done, lost without a sigh,
Love that we might once have saved with but a single word,
Thoughts conceived, but never penned, perishing unheard.
Take this lesson to your heart, take, oh! hold it fast—
The mill will never grind with the water that has passed.1 [Note: S. Doudney.]
3. We can all buy up for profitable uses what remains to us of time.
(1) The words of the Apostle have a meaning for our ordinary everyday work. Buy up your opportunities. Be diligent in business. Lay yourself to your work with your full mind and strength. There is no opposition between a godly life and the energetic and successful handling of business. A Christian man need not be a dreamer; he may be as wide-awake, as quick on the spot when there is a chance for him as the man who is not a Christian. “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might.”
Of Darwin we read: “One characteristic was his respect for time; he never forgot how precious it was. He never wasted a few spare minutes from thinking that it was not worth while to set to work.” His golden rule was “taking care of the minutes.” In one of his letters occurs this passage: “A man who dares to waste one hour of time has not discovered the value of life.”2 [Note: W. L. Watkinson, The Education of the Heart, 229.]
On his way to Marengo, Napoleon stopped at the door of a barber’s shop, and asked his former hostess if she remembered a young officer named Bonaparte once quartered in her family. “Indeed I do, and a very disagreeable inmate he was. He was always either shut up in his room, or if he walked out, he never condescended to speak to any one.” “Ah! my good woman,” Napoleon rejoined, “had I passed my time as you wished to have me, I should not now have been in command of the army of Italy.”1 [Note: J. E. Foster, Pain, 217.]
Wasted an hour at Morton’s talking of the pictures, etc. Nothing learned, came home and was in a hurry for the loss of that hour all night. I will spend no more precious time on acquaintances.2 [Note: Life and Letters of Frederic Shields, 43.]
(2) But the great prize of life is spiritual. Business is not simply our opportunity for getting on; it is our opportunity for getting up. Rightly done, daily work helps us towards the great ends of life. We may use all the machinery of our life, the money we get, the work we do, in such a way as to bring us more and more of the riches of the soul. Equality of opportunity is perhaps not conceivable, but we can use our particular circumstances so that they can further God’s great design for us.
The incandescent mantle is made by laying a mantle made of cotton in a chemical solution. A deposit is made on it, a process of crystallization takes place on the threads. When the mantle is used the threads are fired, and only the mantle which has been formed on them is left. This world, our earthly lot, all the machinery of our life, is only the cotton thread for the making of the soul. It will all be burned up, and only so much character, so much soul, as we have made will remain.3 [Note: H. Bonner, Sermons and Lectures, 211.]
Carey, before his call to the mission field, used to go about from village to village preaching, for his soul was filled with the love of God. One day a friend came to him and said, “Mr. Carey, I want to speak to you very seriously.” “Well,” said Mr. Carey, “what is it?” The friend replied, “By your going about preaching as you do, you are neglecting your business. If you only attended to your business more you would be all right, and would soon get on and prosper; but, as it is, you are simply neglecting your business.” “Neglecting my business,” said Carey, looking at him steadily, “My business is to extend the Kingdom of God, and I only cobble shoes to pay expenses.”4 [Note: J. Duff, Illuminative Flashes, 103.]
During December an extraordinary thing happened, for he did allow that there was a small present he would like to have given to him on Christmas Day! This was a seal, and one of Dutch design was found. On the evening of Christmas Day we began to talk of what might be engraved upon it, and I asked him to invent a motto for it. He was silent for a second or two, and then said, “I think I should like to say, ‘The Utmost for the Highest.’ ”1 [Note: M. S. Watts, George Frederic Watts, ii. 137.]
(3) The special opportunity that the Apostle urges us to embrace is that of rendering service to God and man. “As we have opportunity,” says Paul, “let us do good unto all men.” Every Christian ought to be intent on helping in some form to make the world a happier and a better world. The troubled, the weary, the unfortunate are always near to us. There is always something within our reach which we could do, if we would. The troubles and misfortunes of others are often our opportunity.
One day or other the world will slip through our fingers, and all we hold dearest in it. Only the good we have done will remain. That cannot pass away. It is written down in the memory of God, registered in the books of His Divine Retribution. We will need it all when we come to give in our account of our service and go to get our wages—our love, and kindliness, and faith, and unselfishness, and well-doing—we will need it all and more than all when God puts the question to us: “Of what use have you been in My world?”2 [Note: Dr. MacGregor of St. Cuthberts, 109.]
A heathen king once said that that day was lost in which he had conferred no benefit on a friend; and shall not we feel that day indeed to be lost on which we have returned no thanks to God for the numberless common blessings which cheer and gladden us, in which we have not sought in gratitude to extend to others the hope which we feel ourselves?3 [Note: B. F. Westcott, Village Sermons, 321.]
It is related of St. Elizabeth of Hungary, that in mid-winter, as she carried in her robe a supply of food to some poor people in the mountains, and as she climbed the steep and slippery path, she met her husband returning from the chase. “What hast thou here, my Elizabeth?” said he. “What art thou carrying away now?” And as she stood confused and blushing, he opened her dress and found it full of red and white roses, lovelier than those of earth. So did the Middle Ages invent legends to glorify the sweet charity of this noble woman, who spent her time, strength, and means in caring for the poor people afflicted by famine and plague. Especially she loved children, and built hospitals for them; and they loved her so that they ran after her, calling out “Mother! mother!” The sick children she took into her hospital, washed and dressed their poor little limbs, and bought them toys and gifts to amuse them. For this she was canonized; and she well deserved it, not because of the miracles which they tell of her, but for that which is more Divine than any miracle, her tender heart and love of humanity.1 [Note: J. F. Clarke.]
Up, up, my soul, the long-spent time redeeming;
Sow thou the seeds of better deeds and thought;
Light other lamps while yet thy lamp is beaming—
The time is short.
Think of the good thou might’st have done when brightly
The suns to thee life’s choicest season brought;
Hours lost to God in pleasure passing lightly—
The time is short.
If thou hast friends, give them thy best endeavour,
Thy warmest impulse, and thy purest thought,
Keeping in mind and word and action ever—
The time is short.2 [Note: E. Prentiss.]
Circumstances that Increase the Value of the Article
St. Paul regards life as an opportunity for which a price must be paid; the full price of constant watchfulness and endeavour and sacrifice. He speaks in the language of the market or the exchange; and far down in the undercurrents of his mind seems to be moving the thought that, if men would but expend upon the investment of their intellectual and spiritual possessions one-tenth of the pains they give to the investment of their worldly goods, their redemption would already have begun. And yet it is in the spiritual sphere that it is most needful to pay the price. Experience confirms the protest of King David that he could not—not merely would not, but could not—make an offering to the Lord his God of that which had cost him nothing. In all the higher walks of life, we neither get nor give anything of value, if it has cost us nothing in the getting or the giving.
1. Opportunities both rise in price and grow fewer every time we refuse to purchase them.—If it be hard to subdue passion and the cravings of irregular desire to-day, it will be harder to-morrow, should we leave the hours of to-day unimproved. If it would cost us much to do what we know to be the will of the Lord to-day, it will cost us more every day we neglect our duty. A man who has long disobeyed the Divine will has in doing that will difficulties which the obedient can but faintly conceive. His polluted memory, his perverted and obstinate will, the force of sinful habit, the stings of impure desire, or even the mere custom of indifference to things unseen and eternal, turn the obedience which should be his happiness into mere labour and pain.
This moment’s thine, thou never more may’st hear
The clarion-summons-call thus loud and clear;
What now thou buyest cheap may yet prove dear.
Part with thine all, spare not the needed cost;
That which thou partest with were better lost,
Thy selfish worldly schemes more wisely crossed.
Thy loss infinitesimal, thy gain
Endless, immense; thy momentary pain
The single step the boundless bliss to attain!
Eye hath not seen, man’s ear hath never heard,
Nor heart conceived—save some faint image blurred—
The bliss of those who keep the Christly word—
Let go; my soul, let go!1 [Note: William Hall, “Via Crucis.”]
2. Evil times give a special value to opportunity.—The disciples of Jesus Christ, living in the midst of a great pagan city, were exposed to grievous and continuous perils. The moral corruption of the ancient world found there its most complete and deadly expression. It entered into all the relations of life—commerce, politics, society, worst of all, religion, were steeped in it. The very atmosphere of existence was heavy with gross sin. Evil, which in the country diffused itself over a wider area, and was at all times checked and shadowed by the solemn and beautiful scenes of nature, was here brought together into a centre, and obtruded upon the notice without hindrance or intermission. To borrow Cardinal Newman’s simile, “It was basking under the sun, and rioting and extending itself to its amplest dimensions, like some glittering serpent, or spotted pard … without interposition from heaven or earth in correction of so awful a degradation.” Such a centre and focus of evil was ancient Ephesus.
St. Paul sets a good example of his own precept by his own practice. When he wrote this Epistle he was a prisoner, bound to a soldier. The days were evil for him: but he redeemed them. He made his prison to be a pulpit, from which he preached to the world. The Roman soldier’s presence was a perpetual memento to him that he himself was a soldier of Christ. Every part of the soldier’s armour suggested to him a weapon of Christian warfare, to be wielded in the cause of Christ.1 [Note: H. G. Miller, The Epistle to the Ephesians, 278.]
On the death of General Booth of the Salvation Army, one of his lieutenants was asked what the probable effect would be on the army. The reply was, “I think that probably the departure of the General will mean the consecration afresh of every Salvationist to the great work to which the General gave his life. Now that he is gone, I must do more.”
Types of Traders
The Apostle speaks of the wise and the foolish, and urges the Ephesians to be among the wise, walking circumspectly, redeeming the time, and looking to see what the will of the Lord is. All men may be divided into two great classes, according as they do or do not perceive that life is an opportunity. To the one class life has a twofold meaning: it means the opportunity of development; it means the opportunity of service to God and man. To the other class life has no meaning at all; they simply drift from day to day; and whether it is business or amusement of which they see most, there is no real aim or purpose in what they do. The lethargic let chance after chance to do good slip away unseized, unimproved; the wise and watchful, however, charm by a smile, warn by a word, persuade by an action, prevail by a prayer every hour; they are like the quicksilver that does not permit a particle of gold to escape.
If I were Dr. Nansen and proposed to you to join my North Pole expedition, your option would be momentous; for this would probably be your only similar opportunity, and your choice now would either exclude you from the North Pole sort of immortality altogether or put at least the chance of it into your hands. He who refuses to embrace a unique opportunity loses the prize as surely as if he tried and failed.1 [Note: W. James, The Will to Believe, 4.]
1. The foolish miss or misuse their opportunity.—There they sit, like Mr. Micawber in David Copperfield, dreaming that something is going to happen which will place them on the wave of prosperity and sweep them into the harbour of success. They never do anything, because that for which they are looking never happens.
Some times are taken from us by force; some others are stolen from us; and others slip away. But the most disgraceful loss is that which arises from our own negligence.2 [Note: Seneca.]
Spend not your time in that which profits not; for your labour and your health, your time and your studies, are very valuable; and it is a thousand pities to see a diligent and hopeful person spend himself in gathering cockle-shells and little pebbles, in telling sands upon the shores, and making garlands of useless daisies.3 [Note: Jeremy Taylor.]
Perhaps there stands in modern literature no more pathetic figure than that of Amiel, whose gifts were so high, and whose achievements were so meagre. One of his friends writes, “We found him always kindly and amiable, a nature one might trust and lean upon with perfect security. Yet he wakened in us but one regret. We could never understand how it was a man so richly gifted, produced nothing, or only trivialities.” In his own journal one of the last entries, written with trembling hand, ten days before his death, reads thus: “So much promise, to end in so meagre a result! I shall end like the Rhine—lost among the sands, and the hour is close by, when my thread of water shall have for ever disappeared.”
If this befell: At some fair dawning-time,
Ere failed the wistful world its dreams and dew,
Sheer from the height of heaven reached down to you
A cloud-piled stair more pure than glistening rime,
And firm as marble wrought, in flights sublime
That pierced the void, whence lights come faint and few,
Beyond all starry outposts: toward what new
Wild-wondered shores—ah, would you dare to climb?
And if, while yet you doubted, lo, too late,
You saw it reft past range of fear and hope,
Caught up the vast, and here you needs must wait
Mere day’s returning; would not narrow scope
Wide earth yield? Yea, the azure’s amplest cope
Enclose your spirit like a dungeon-grate?1 [Note: Jane Barlow.]
2. The wise perceive the value of opportunity and buy it up.—That is to say, they reclaim it by hard toil from misuse, they turn every fraction of it to good account; they even create occasions to carry out the great ends of life.
For all men alike, failure is blindness to the strategic element in events; success is readiness for instant action when the opportune moment arrives. When nature has fully ripened an opportunity man must stretch out his hand and pluck it. Inventions may be defined as great minds detecting the strategic moment in nature; Galileo finding a lens in the ox’s eye; Watt witnessing steam lift an iron lid; Columbus observing an unknown wood drifting upon the shore. To untold multitudes nature offered these opportune moments for discovery, but only Galileo, Watt, and Columbus were ready to seize them. As for the rest, this is our only answer to nature: “While thy servant was busy here and there, the strategic moment was gone.”2 [Note: N. D. Hillis, The Investment of Influence, 222.]
After much consideration we settled the question where to spend the winter by taking a house at Brighton. There was the advantage of a well-lighted studio, built for a picture-gallery, large enough to take in his big painting of the “Court of Death,” and as many others as he wished to have there. His doctor knew and recommended this house, and to 31 Sussex Square we went on November 1. A big platform was built up in this studio to make it possible for him to work upon the “Court of Death.” When he went into that room to find that these preparations had been made, his feeling seemed to be a sort of despair at the amount of work that still remained undone. But before an hour had passed he had pulled himself together, saying, “Come, this won’t do”; and the frail little figure stood drawn up erect and full of unconquerable spirit. He had worked hard the last day before leaving Little Holland House, upon the “Physical Energy.” There were some roughened bits and deep scores he was anxious to fill up. “The idea of its being left in that state was dreadful to me,” he said, adding, “in case anything should happen to me.” He lived always as a good pilgrim, girt and ready for the long journey whenever the summons should come. The tick of the clock had in it for him the sound of Time’s footstep. “I know it,” he said, “and remember that each line that I draw is one less, one nearer the last.”1 [Note: M. S. Watts, George Frederic Watts, ii. 135.]
In a letter from Uganda during the days of fierce persecutions in which that Church was cradled, the following phrase occurs—“Times of persecution are busy printing times.” The undaunted men who planted the standard of the cross in Uganda had already reduced the language to writing, and translated portions of Scripture, with prayers and hymns, for the use of the Baganda. And during those dark days, when active and aggressive work was unwise, if not impossible, they plied the printing-press and issued from it the first literature of that wonderful race, which Mr. Stanley found them studying when he visited them on one of his journeys.2 [Note: T. W. Drury, The Prison-Ministry of St. Paul, 98.]
Sometimes Bonaparte forgot his part, and displayed the shrewd, calculating, hard-working man behind the mask, who was less a fatalist than a personified fate, less a child of fortune than its maker. “Great events,” he wrote from Italy, “ever depend but upon a single hair. The adroit man profits by everything, neglects nothing which can increase his chances; the less adroit, by sometimes disregarding a single chance, fails in everything.” Here is the whole philosophy of Bonaparte’s life.3 [Note: W. M. Sloane, Napoleon Bonaparte, i. 321.]
Another day may bring another mind,
A mind to learn, when there is none to teach;
To follow, when no leader we can find;
To enjoy, when good is now beyond our reach:
A better mind, but not a better time,
A mind to will, but not a time to do
What had been done, if we in life’s bright prime,
When God was ready, had been ready too.
But what the better for his better mind
Were changing man, and God not still the same?
When guide and light and joy we cannot find
Unchanging love has sent us useful shame.
This other mind may bring another day,
For days are given as man for days prepares;
Though many days of grace have passed away,
The grace that gave them still the trifler spares;
And saddens times while Time itself may last,
That unwise man may come to better thought,
Accept his future, and renounce his past,
And be by sorrow into goodness brought.1 [Note: T. T. Lynch, The Rivulet, 122.]
The Purchase of Opportunity
Alexander (S. A.), The Christianity of St. Paul, 204.
Ashley (J. M.), A Promptuary for Preachers, ii. 280.
Baring-Gould (S.), Village Preaching for a Year, 1st Ser., i. 50.
Beaumont (J. A.), Walking Circumspectly, 1.
Blunt (J. J.), Plain Sermons, i. 259.
Bonner (H.), Sermons and Lectures, 206.
Brown (J.), Sermons with Memoir, 148.
Bruce (J.), Sermons, 227.
Calthrop (G.), The Future Life, 174.
Campbell (L.), The Christian Ideal, 223.
Cox (S.), Expositions, i. 2.
Foster (J. E.), Pain: Its Mystery and Meaning, 209.
Henson (H. H.), Light and Leaven, 178.
MacColl (M.), Life Here and Hereafter, 290.
Maclaren (A.), Leaves from the Tree of Life, 1.
Maurice (F. D.), Christmas Day, 56.
Morgan (G. C.), The True Estimate of Life, 151.
Neville (W. G.), Sermons, 194.
Nicholson (M.), Redeeming the Time, 1.
Reid (J.), The Uplifting of Life, 126.
Vaughan (J.), Sermons (Brighton Pulpit), xii. (1874), No. 916.
Watkinson (W. L.), The Education of the Heart, 228.
Westcott (B. F.), Village Sermons, 314.
Wilmot-Buxton (H. J.), The Life of Duty, i. 45.
Christian World Pulpit, xli. 42 (Hocking); li. 248 (Maclagan).
Churchman’s Pulpit: The Old and New Year: ii. 477 (Hodges); The Lenten Season, v. 90 (Cooke); Twentieth Sunday after Trinity, xiii. 35 (Moberly).
Clergyman’s Magazine, New Ser., viii. 230 (Hayman).