Tuesday, March 09, 2004

On March 9, 1851
Venerable John Henry Newman, C.O., preached a sermon, of which the following notes survive:
"On the Accepted Time

1. INTROD.—Lent an apostolical observance.

2. And well did it become the Divine Mercy to appoint a time for repentance, who had in the fulness of time died for our redemption. For what is every one's business is no one's; what is for all times is for no time.

3. And even those who will not take God's time, feel a time there must be. They always profess a time; they quiet their conscience by naming a time; but when?

4. 'Go thy way for this time; when I have a convenient season,' etc., Acts xxiv. 24-25 . When the present temptation is out of the way. When the present business or trouble is got through. When they have enjoyed life a little more.

5. When 'a little more,' for there is no satisfaction in sin, each sin is the last. But the thirst comes again; there is no term at which we can quit it; it is like drinking salt water—horizon recedes.

6. End of life, time of retirement. The seriousness will come as a matter of course; passions will naturally burn out—otium cum dignitate—alas, the change of nature is not the coming of grace. We may change, but we shall not be nearer heaven. To near heaven is not a natural change, but a specific work, as much as building a house. It is not a growth till there is something to grow from.

7. Feeling then there must be a time, and having the conscience of men on this point with her, the Church appoints a time and says, 'Now is the appointed time.' She blows the trumpet; proclaims forgiveness; an indulgence—scattering gifts—inviting all to come and claim. Not sternly, but most lovingly and persuasively she does it.

8. Oh for those who have neglected the summons hitherto, year after year, conscience pleading!

9. Or perhaps we have repented just through Lent and then relapsed and undone, and more than undone, all.

10. And so we get older, older, and farther from heaven every year, till we come to our last Lent, and we do not keep it a bit the better.

11. Then we come near death, yet won't believe that death is near. Set thy house in order—packing up, and how many things left out. We cannot realise it. All hurry and confusion. Between illness, delirium, weakness, relations, worldly affairs, etc., we shall be able to recollect nothing—all in disorder. No real contrition. And so we die.

12. Ah! then in that very moment of death we shall recollect everything; all things will come before us. We shall wish to speak; it will be too late. We shall have passed from this life; the accepted time will have passed by. "


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