Good News for the Aged

Charles Haddon Spurgeon December 30, 1855 Scripture: Matthew 20:6 From: Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit Volume 44

Good News for the Aged


“And about the eleventh hour he went out, and found others standing idle.” — Matthew xx. 6.


WE have come to the end of another year. Better is the end of a year than the beginning thereof. A year is begun with fear and trembling; it closes with joy and thankfulness. In the beginning of the year, we are like the sailor when he leaves port, hoists his sails, and goes out on the broad sea toward a distant clime; at the end of the year, we are sometimes like that mariner when lie casts his anchor overboard, and lies still in the haven. We have come into harbour now, at the end of the year; and here we rest and gratefully review our voyage.

     But, in coming to the end of another year, we have some solemn things to talk about, as well as some on which to congratulate ourselves. This is to be our subject, and may God make it both solemn and profitable for the winding-up of the old year: “And about the eleventh hour he went out, and found others standing idle.” These words are taken from the parable of the householder, who went out early, and hired labourers into his vineyard; and who went out again at the third hour, and the sixth hour, and the ninth hour, and at last went out at the eleventh hour, and did the same; and when the labourers came to be paid, he gave to those who were hired at the eleventh hour just the same reward as to those whom he had hired at the beginning of the day. We shall note, in our text, first, the sovereignty of divine grace; secondly, the mercy of God; and afterwards we will endeavour to make a solemn application of the passage to both old and young.

     I. First, in our text, we have DIVINE SOVEREIGNTY VERY PROMINENT.

     When we say divine sovereignty, we mean that God has the same rights which an absolute monarch has; that, just as a sovereign, under the old Jewish laws, or under the Medes and Persians, had a right to do entirely as he willed with his subjects, and there were none that could stay his hand, or say, “What doest thou?” even so God, only in an infinitely higher and much more righteous sense, is absolute Monarch in this world, and has undoubted right to do with every one of us just whatever he pleases. The apostle Paul wisely asked, “Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?” That doctrine of divine sovereignty — alas! too much discarded, — must be proclaimed, however men may bite their lips, and however angry they may be, to hear themselves humbled in the dust, and Jehovah God exalted as their Master.

     This parable shows the sovereignty of God with regard to the calling of certain persons. The householder went out early in the morning, and called so many; he went out at the third hour, and called more; he went out at the sixth, the ninth, and the eleventh hours, and still he found more persons unemployed. Did he find them expecting or seeking work? No; he found them “standing idle in the marketplace.” They were not working, nor doing anything; he found them standing idle; and so, just as he pleased, he said to some of them, “Go and work in my vineyard.” There is such a thing as divine sovereignty with regard to the choice of persons who are to be saved. If one man is saved, and not another, God hath made the difference, and God has the right to make the difference. If my brother shall enter heaven, and I shall be sent to hell, God has a right to save my brother; and he would be righteous in my damnation, for I deserve it; and if my brother does not deserve to be saved, — as he does not, — yet God has a right to give salvation to him, and to withhold it from me, if so it pleases him. My soul falls down in abject submission at his feet; I have no rights when I come before the Almighty, I have no claims on him; I have so sinned and so erred that, if he had sent my soul to hell, I should have richly deserved it. God has a right to do as he wills with his creatures; and he exhibits this right in his choice of those whom he calls to work in his vineyard.

     But, again, divine sovereignty is exhibited in the time when the householder called his people. Some were called early in the morning; some at the third hour, some at the sixth, some at the ninth, some at the eleventh. The man who was called at the eleventh hour did not grumble and say, “Why did you not call me in the morning?” The man who was called in the morning, though it is said that he afterwards murmured because he did not have more pay than the last who were hired, yet, if he had been in his right mind, would have been thankful to the householder that he had given him the honour of working in his vineyard, and had called him so early into it. It is a mercy to be effectually called by grace at any time; and we must not dictate to God when he shall give us of his grace. God exercises his sovereignty in calling and converting sinners just when he pleases. We have some in our churches who have been Christians ever since they were four or five years of age; and others who were not converted until they were sixty or seventy. God calls his people out of the world, and from the service of sin and Satan, at all periods of life; and thus he exhibits his divine sovereignty in saving men just when he pleases.

     How often have I heard legal preachers assert that, if a man is not saved before he is thirty, it is not likely that he will be saved at all; and that, if a man has attended the house of God for thirty years, and is not saved, there is just a possibility, but hardly a probability, that he ever will be saved. That is all nonsense, or something worse; because God is God, he saves whom he will, and he saves them when he will. Our Lord said to Nicodemus, “The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.” God is just as able to convert a man with grey hairs on his head as he is to convert a man of thirty; there is no difference. We all stand before him as sinners; and if he pleases to save a grey-headed man, he can do so. Men talk in the way I mentioned just now in order to stir up the young to seek Christ; but they little know that, while such language has little or no effect upon the young, on the other hand it often depresses the spirits of the old, and makes them think, “Surely, then, our hour of mercy is passed, and we cannot be saved.” And yet these same preachers quote Dr. Watts, and say, —

“Life is the time to serve the Lord,
The time to insure the great reward;
And while the lamp holds out to burn,
The vilest sinner may return.
“Life is the hour that God has given
To escape from hell, and fly to heaven;
The day of grace, and mortals may
Secure the blessings of the day.”

Yes, beloved, as long as a man is living in this world, and I also am living, I will preach the gospel to him; and if I could find “the wandering Jew,” — if such a being ever existed, — and he were nearly two thousand years of age, I would still preach the gospel even to him, and if he trusted Christ as his Saviour, he would find mercy and salvation.

     So divine sovereignty shows itself, first, in the calling of certain persons; and, next, in the time when those persons are called.

     And, once again, there will be divine sovereignty in the ultimate reward of those who are called. The householder gave to every man a penny. The one who was hired at the eleventh hour came in fresh to his work, and did just a little hoeing, or digging, or pruning, or something of that sort, and there was a penny for him. In comes another man, who wipes the sweat from his brow, and says, “Ah! I have been hard at work these twelve hours;” and there was a penny for him; neither more nor less for one or the other, a penny for each one who came to work in the vineyard. Thus God shows his sovereignty in his distribution of rewards. When some of the labourers murmured against the goodman of the house, he answered one of them, and said, “Friend, I do thee no wrong: didst not thou agree with me for a penny? Take that thine is, and go thy way: I will give unto this last, even as unto thee. Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own? Is thine eye evil, because I am good? So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many be called, but few chosen.” Those who came last received just as much as those who came first.

     I am not quite sure whether that doctrine is true, which is called the doctrine of degrees of glory. I have heard it preached very frequently; but I never yet saw any Scripture warrant to back it up. The text that the advocates of this doctrine usually bring forward is the passage, “One star differeth from another star in glory.” But anyone who can read English, and who turns to that passage, will see that the apostle is not speaking of degrees of glory in heaven, but of different kinds of glories in the sidereal heavens; and besides, stars may differ without varying in degree of glory, for one may be red, another green, a third yellow, and yet all may be alike bright; even so, though all the saints will differ in some respects, I do not see why there should necessarily be degrees of glory. There may be degrees of glory; but, so far as I can judge by reading the Scripture, I cannot see the slightest evidence to prove the doctrine to be true.

     What is the glory of a saint? Is it not Christ’s righteousness? And shall I, the least of all saints, have less of Christ’s righteousness than the greatest? Is not the glory of the saint the love of his Master? And will my Master love a poor old woman, who lived up three pairs of stairs, and died without ever having been heard of, less than he loves the most popular minister? Ah! beloved, there are degrees of grace here; but we know not that there will be any degrees of glory. Why should a poor creature, lying on a sick bed, who for years has trusted in her Saviour, have less glory than another, who has been allowed to toil in his service? Why, it is an honour for us to be busy in good works here; and we do not want to be honoured for honour, and because God has given us a little more honour here, to have an eternal difference made between us and others of his people. No, beloved, every man who worked in the vineyard had a penny, and every saint will, in God’s own time, be in heaven; he will be with Christ, and like Christ. How can he be more one with Christ than another is? All believers are bloodwashed, all are equally justified, all shall be equally sanctified; and as their persons shall be all pure, so do we believe that their heaven will be equal; or, if not, Scripture certainly gives no countenance to the idea of degrees of glory.

     In this matter of eternal rewards, God will display his sovereignty. There shall be some old man, who has lived to be ninety, and who was saved only in the last year of his life; and when he enters heaven, he will sit as much beside Christ as one like Timothy, who was called in his early youth, preached the gospel during a long course of usefulness, and died with honours on his head. There shall be a poor wretched sinner, like the thief who was saved when he hung upon the cross; and he will sing as sweet, and as loud, and as strong as the apostle Paul, or the apostle Peter, “for there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek,” — between one man and another, — “for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him.” Thus he displays his sovereignty in choosing the persons who shall be saved, in selecting the time when they shall be saved, and in their ultimate reward.


     This householder went out to hire men for his vineyard, because he needed them; did he not? Yes; but God does not go to hire men, and bring them into his vineyard, because he needs them. There is not a man in this world that God could not do without. “Oh!” you hear persons say sometimes, “suppose Mr. So-and-so were to die, what would the church do?” Why! do as it did before, — live on its God; for —

“When all created streams are dry,
His fulness is the same.”

And when he calls any of his servants away, he can work out his eternal purposes quite as well without us as he does with us. The householder in the parable needed men, but God is altogether independent of them; and herein is the mercy of God manifested, that he goes out to find men to come into his vineyard when he positively can do without them. Does he need any of us? What! he who guideth the stars, and keepeth them revolving in their orbits by the motions of his fingers, does he need an insignificant atom like one of ourselves to serve him? What! he whom all the hosts of angels do worship, and before whose throne the cherubim do veil their faces with their wings, does he need a tiny creature like man to give him homage and reverence? If he did need men, he could soon create as many mighty kings and princes as he pleased to wait upon him, and he could have crowned heads to bow before his footstool, and emperors to conduct him through the world in triumph. But he needs not men; he can do without them if he pleases. O ye stars! ye are bright; but ye are not the lamps which light the way of God; he needs you not. O sun! thou art bright; but thy heat warmeth not Jehovah. O earth! thou art beautiful; but thy beauty is not needed to gladden his heart; God is glad enough without thee. O ye lightnings! though ye write his name in fire upon the midnight darkness, he needs not your brightness. And thou, wild ocean! thou art mighty; but though thou hymnest his deep praise in thy solemn chorus, thy storms do not add to his glory. Ye winds! though ye attend the march of God across the pathless ocean; — ye thunders! though ye utter God’s voice in terrible majesty, and track the onward progress of the God of armies, he needs you not. He is great without you, great beyond you, great above you; and, as he needs you not, he needs us not.

     Then look at the mercy of God, to come after any of us; to come after me, to come after you, my sister, my brother. Admire his grace. Look at the householder in this parable; he cometh early in the morning; he cometh late in the evening; and he cometh many times between. In like manner, God is untiring in his mercy. The householder rose up early to go out and find some men to work in his vineyard; so does God. How early he goes to some! Blessed be his dear name, there were some of us who were lit to our slumbers, while we were young, by the lamps of the sanctuary. We can recollect when, in our midnight watches, like young Samuel of old, the Lord called, “Samuel! Samuel!” and we answered, “Here am I, Lord.” Oh! we can remember when our grandmother Lois, and our mother Eunice, taught us out of the Scriptures; when we were dandled on the lap of piety, when the breath of sacred song was breathed by us, and an atmosphere laden with the perfume of heaven was always around us; we inhaled it even from our infancy. Ah! hear this, ye sons of grace, God came to some of you very early; but, beloved, he does not get tired. He came for some early in the morning, and they would not go; he came after them in the preaching of the gospel, and they spurned all that the minister said; but when God is determined to save, he does not tire, but continues seeking even to the eleventh hour.

     And now, O ye grey-headed men, God has come after some of you! All your comings to God’s sanctuary from your earliest days have been of little or no avail hitherto; yet now, I beseech you, consider that he cometh to you even at this eleventh hour, for the Lord’s mercy is untiring, his grace is immutable. Having set his heart upon a man, if he does not come at the first hour, he shall come, some time or other; divine mercy will sweetly dispose him to come. Blessed be the name of our God, there have been some who have come into our churches who would not have been taken into any army in the whole world, for they were made, by old age, too feeble to fight. Their eyes had begun to be dim, Father Time had written his name on their brows, their hair had become blanched and whitened, and they came leaning on their staff to tell us what they knew of the Lord’s redeeming love. Some of the sweetest tales I have ever heard have been told me by grey-headed sinners, saved in their after days, just when they were trembling on the borders of the grave. Do you think you see such a scene? The poor old sinner is tottering along; another minute he will be in hell. Hear the voice of God, “Gabriel, stop that man! One more step, and he will be in the pit!” Down flies Gabriel, catches him in his arms, and stops him for a moment, while the Holy Ghost whispers to him, “Flee from the wrath to come! And, starting backward, he looks at the pit wherein he had almost fallen, and he hears hollow time sinking down into eternity; yet he is saved.

     Surely, there will not be any man in heaven who will bless God more than the grey-headed man who is called at the eleventh hour. Blessed be the name of God that such sinners are brought in, poor decrepit old creatures, past labour, and good for nothing; yet they are saved. Yea, even those who have worn themselves out in the service of Satan, God is willing to receive; the devil’s hacks Christ will not cast away; they who have nothing left that is of any use in the world, Jesus Christ graciously receives at the eleventh hour. He says to them, as the householder said to the men in the marketplace, “Why stand ye here all the day idle?”

     Do you not, beloved, admire the stupendous, amazing, astonishing grace of God, which thus reclaims men at the eleventh hour? There is a young man in a very poor position in life; you come to him, and say, “Come to my house, and be my son; I will wash you clean, I will give you warm raiment, I will make you rich.” But he turns away, and does despite to your invitations; he insults you to your face, mocks at your friends, breaks your holy days, and thoroughly despises you. When you look at him again, he is beginning to enter middle age. You go to him, and say, “Will you come to me now, and be my son?” “No,” he says, “I will not.” Do you not think that, by the time lie was forty or fifty years old, you would be quite tired of him? And suppose it possible that, when he was seventy or eighty years of age, he should come and knock at your door, and ask to be adopted as your son, would you not go to him, and say, “What! you have the impudence to come now, whilst these forty, fifty, sixty years you have refused to accept my invitation! You vile ingrate, I will have nothing to do with you now; do you think I am going to have you now, when there is nothing left of you that is worth having? Go back to where you have been all these years; those you served when you were young, you may serve now that you are old! You had the pleasures of sin when you were young, go and have them now! It is a fine thing to make an almshouse of your religion; coming to me to take care of you when you are so old that you cannot take care of yourself; be off with you!” You and I might act like that, but the Lord does not. He not only does not turn a grey-headed old sinner away, but he goes after him himself, or else he would not come. Though he has sent his servants, and the man has rejected them time after time, he says, “He will not come unless I go after him myself.” So he goes to the poor palsied man, who can be of no service to him, and says, “Come unto me! Even thee have I loved with an everlasting love, and I will save even thee! Thou shalt be delivered from going down to the pit, thine eyes shall be saved from tears, and thy feet from falling.” There is divine sovereignty! There is unparalleled mercy!


     It would be presumption in a young man to speak to the aged if he spoke to them simply as a young man; but, as a preacher, I am God’s ambassador; and if God has sent me, no man may despise my youth, nor is it to be considered in the least degree, nor do I consider it myself. I speak with the selfsame authority that the most aged minister can command, for I have the same commission that he has, and he has no better message than mine. Old man, come thou here, and let me give thee a solemn address, to warn thee of the wrath to come.

     Grey-headed man, I beseech thee, first of all, remember how many years thou hast wasted. Look back upon thy misspent life, and tell thy years over and over again. What sayest thou of thy sixty, seventy, perhaps eighty years? Thy harvest is past, thy summer is ended, and thou art not saved. In thy youth, oh, how much thou mightest have done then! In thy middle age, oh, how thy vigour might have been spent in doing good to thy fellows! Even some of thy old age, how has it been misspent and misused! Weep, I beseech thee, weep bitterly; let thy cheeks, furrowed with the ravages of time, feel for a moment the solemn scalding tears of regret, because thou hast wasted all those years.

     Remember, also, that thou canst, never get them back again. Long as thou mayest live, thou canst never get one of them back; they have winged their way behind thee, they are with the years beyond the flood; and though thou toilest now, thou canst never recover the time thou hast lost, it is gone beyond the hope of rescue. Couldst thou count out at once the price of a kingly ransom, thou couldst not have back again even an hour. Consider then, my aged friend, how much of thy time has already run to waste, and how many years have rolled away, and thou art still unsaved.

     Consider, next, suppose you are saved now, what a very little you can do for God! At the most, you can have but a few short years in which to serve the Lord. Death is at your gates; those gates are tottering beneath the battering-ram of age. Death is already besieging you; the walls of your town of Mansoul are shaking beneath the devastating engines of decay. In all probability, you have not more than a few years to live, and perhaps not more than a few months, or weeks, or even days; and then you must be gone the way of all flesh.

     Consider, too, O aged man, if thou art put into the vineyard at this eleventh hour, how little thou canst do for others! Thou canst not preach the gospel now; thine eyes are, perhaps, too dim even to read God’s Word to others; thy voice has lost melody; the windows out of which lust once looked have become darkened, and thou canst not hope that the fire of life shall light them up again. Consider how little thou canst do, even if thou art saved now; how much less if thy salvation be still postponed, and thou art not delivered from sin for years to come! Consider what is gone, ye hoary heads, and turn unto the Lord even now.

     O aged sinner, consider how much trouble has been lost upon you! The vine-dresser said of the barren fig tree, “I will dig about it, and dung it.” How hast thou been digged about, and dunged! Another hundred and four sermons thou hast heard during the past year, and yet thou art unsaved. For fifty years, for sixty years, thou hast attended the sanctuary every Sabbath; yet, as oil from a slab of marble, the Word has run off thee. Thousands of sermons have left thee as dead as ever; and myriads of warnings have all sunk, as it were, into the sea, like a pebble hurled into it, which is lost and gone. In all thy Sabbaths, thou hast secured no merchandise for heaven. Thou hast toiled hard enough for this world; and now where is all that thou hast gained? Thou hast put thy treasures into a bag full of holes. Thou hast “sown the wind,” and thou shalt “reap the whirlwind,” unless thou dost speedily repent, and seek the Lord.

     Consider, once more, old man, how long and how much thou hast provoked thy God. Call to remembrance the sins of thy youth. How often hath that hand of thine, which now is quivering with death’s touch, grasped the wineglass of the drunkard in thy youth! Look back upon thy manhood; has it not been devoted to Satan, and blackened with enormities of guilt? And now, up to this time, thou hast still provoked thy God to smite thee. His long-suffering arm hath not crushed thee, and his mercy hath kept back the sword of justice; but canst thou expect such gracious treatment as that much longer? Will God be merciful for ever? Will he be kind throughout eternity? And if his mercy should fail, will not his justice make short work with thy soul?

     And yet, if that thought does not stir thee up to repentance, consider, once more, if thou shouldst be unsaved, how horrible is the place appointed for thee! How fearful must be the doom which thou shalt receive! Thou art not a young sinner, — he would be damned. Thou art an old sinner, — how increasingly awful must be thy doom. Thou art not one who has sinned because of mere youthful passion; but thou hast sinned when passion has died away, and when prudence has taken possession of thy soul; thou hast sinned when the heat and ebullition of youth have died; thou hast sinned, therefore, worse than a young man can have done. O old man, may a child warn thee? I am sure I love thee with all my heart, and even now my young eyes weep for thee. Hast thou never seen an old man led by a little child when he was blind? It may be that, though thou art blind, a little child shall lead thee to the Saviour; it is a child who now speaks to thee. O grey-headed man, would it not be to thee an eternal source of misery if I, a youth, were saved, and thou, who art aged, wert lost? Oh! when you see a young Christian, doth not the tear run down your cheek? When you see a child in grace, doth the penitential sigh never start from your bosom? Methinks, if I were old like thee, and saw some young child saved, I would wring my hands in misery, and say, “O Lord, is such a child a Christian, and yet I am unsaved, I am unforgiven, I am still unpardoned?” Quake, quake, quake, O aged sinner! Be afraid, be afraid, be afraid, O unregenerate old man! Let your knees knock together, let your blood curdle in your veins, let your heart quiver, let your flesh be ready to creep at the thought that you will be lost; and that, as the Lord God liveth, there is but a step betwixt thee and death, — between thee and hell!

     But there are THE YOUNG; and they are, perhaps, smiling, and saying, “Ah! all that is good advice for old age; it is quite right that old people should be religious, but why should we think about such things yet? We have not come to our eleventh hour yet.” What did you say, young man? “I said, I had not come to my eleventh hour yet.” What did you say? Will you repeat that sentence?

     Consider then, I say, for ye are all, if ye are uncalled by grace, like the man in the eleventh hour, standing idle in the marketplace. Consider, if ye are ever so young, have you not given too much time to Satan and the world already? I do not like the devil well enough to think that he ought to have the first twenty years of a man’s life. Consider, young man; has not Satan had more than enough service from thee? Will not the time past of your life suffice thee to have wrought the will of the Gentiles in serving divers lusts and passions? Dost thou think it will give thee any comfort, on thy death-bed, to reflect that thou wast for many years living in sin, and not saved early? And dost thou not know that religion is so sweet that we might well seek it, even for its sweetness, if it were not necessary for our soul’s security? Ah! ye men of the eleventh hour, for such ye all are, may our Master come to you even at this moment; and if he finds you idle, may he say, “Go ye also, and work in my vineyard”!

     I will conclude with just a few words of encouragement to the oldest man and the oldest woman amongst us. Think not that you are beyond the pale of hope because you are aged. Do not believe Satan when he says to you, “Oh! you are too old a sinner to be saved.” Tell him that he is a liar, and that he does not know anything about it; for there are none too old to be saved. God will have mercy on all those that come to him. He takes no objection to youth; he takes no objection to old age. Hear this, ye aged sinners! If ye are now under a sense of sin, if ye are desirous of being saved, there is mercy in the Lord Jesus even for you. And O beloved friends, one and all of you, are you this night crying out for mercy? Are you desirous of pardon? Do you feel that life is short, and death is sure? Do you know that, in a few short days, or months, or years, a few narrow boards shall hold your body, and your soul shall have gone from it into eternity? Do you wish for a Guide across the trackless desert which leads to heaven or to hell? Do you want a Conductor to lead you into Paradise? Do you desire angelic wings to lilt you up to the Celestial City? Do you seek for Christ’s blood to cleanse you, for God’s grace to sanctify you? Then there is mercy for you; there is mercy for all who feel their need of it, and ask the Lord for it. The viler the wretch, the welcomer here; the worse the character, the more reason he should go to the Lord Jesus. It is free grace that we preach; and the vilest, most guilty, oldest, youngest sinner, — any- body who feels his need of a Saviour, is welcome to that Saviour now. The Lord give you grace to seek him! Remember that the least prayer will be heard; the weakest desire, the feeblest groan will be acknowledged in heaven; and little as you may think that you ever shall find mercy, you most assuredly shall, if you seek it through Christ.

     Farewell! Adieu, old man! I know not who thou art; but it was laid on my heart to seek thee, and I have sought thee. O poor old man, thou art like one who once lost himself in a pine forest! The snow fell thickly around him; it was dark, damp, cold. The howling of the wolf could be heard by him in the distance, and he feared that, during the darkness of the night, he should be consumed. There remained but one protection for him, and that was, that he should light a fire, by which he might warm himself, and frighten away the wild beasts. He gathered together the pine wood and the dry, sere leaves, wherever he could find them; and he took out his match-box. He tried to strike one match, but it was good for nothing. He tried another, and another, and another; and once he thought he had a light, and carefully held it in his fingers, seeking to bring it to the little kindling he had laid beneath his pile of wood; but it died out, to his bitter disappointment. For some time, he kept on striking his matches; he did so carelessly at first; but, as the number diminished, he struck each one more carefully, till he came to the last two. He struck the last but one; he put it under his pine wood; it flamed a moment, and then a gust of wind blow it out, and now he came to his last match. The wolf was howling, the wild wind was whistling, the snow was falling, the night was darkening; he feared that he must be there all night without a fire! Already his stiff joints began to freeze; his fingers were well-nigh benumbed. You may guess how that man cowered on the earth, to strike, within the circle his frame might make, his last match. You may imagine how earnestly he put up his prayer to God, that he might succeed the last time. “O Lord, let this last match succeed,” he cried. And anxiously did he look at it time after time, lest that too might fail. He strikes that match. On it depends his life; it is his all; yet he strikes it. Ah, glorious! the flame has caught. It blazes! He sits down, and cheers himself. He is saved! He is saved! Or else the fire dies out, and the wolf devours him. So, there is the grey-headed old man; he has his last match in the box. He has struck sixty-nine of them all to no effect, and now he has got to the seventieth. O God, if thou dost not strike the seventieth for him, he is lost for ever! If thou dost not give him the light from heaven, fire from above, he must perish for ever! God grant that that last match may succeed with you, O old man!

     God bless you, dear friends! A happy new year to every one of you! Many of them to those of you who are bound for heaven; and a new year in heaven to those whom God may take away before another year comes round! Adieu!