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REDEEMING OF TIME. God in public, but devote some part of every sabbath to serious self-examination. Consider how the week that is gone for ever has been spent; what progress you are making in your journey to heaven; what duties you have neglected; what sins you have committed; what graces most need maturing; what temptations you have to prepare against; what miercies you have received ; and what awaits you in your endless home. An hour thus spent every sabbath will prove an invaluable blessing. Attendance on the most judicious ministry, and uniting in the most fervent public devotions, will not help you materially forward, without such private communion with yourself, and then with your God.
$ 7. Redeem the time.
The sacred Scriptures direct us diligently to improve the fleeting span of life, to live sensible of its uncertainty, and waiting for its end. “ Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest." “ Redeeming the time, because the days are evil."p
Think how much you have to do in time. How many corruptions to mortify! How many graces to strengthen! If you are a child of God, yet how far you fall short of what a child of God should be! and time is the season given that you may grow in grace, and under the forming hand of God be meetened for eternal rest.
How will you value time when you approach the borders of eternity. How will time then appear to have been idled away, that has not answered some profitable purpose. The great end of your being here, is to glorify God, and to secure eternal life. If this be slighted, it matters little whether the reason for which it is neglected be the attainment of a monarch's crown or a day-labourer's hire. Some waste time, and leave the business of life undone, because they are too busy to regard it ; others, because they are too idle. Some are tempted by the grandeurs of the world to waste the precious day of life, while from the thoughts of others its due improvement is banished by multiplied cares. Some waste time in airy speculations, which they esteem learning; others on romances, novels, or other foolish trifles, that consume their hours, but impart no useful knowledge to their minds. (6) Eccles. ix. 10.
(p) Bph. v. 16.
REASONS FOR EARLY RISING.
203 O act a wiser part than they. Waste not that precious time, which must so soon end. It flies fast enough, and when
önce gone, it is not to be recalled. It is too precious to be * redeemed, and too steady to be stopped in its course. Thrones
and dominions cannot purchase back one hour of wasted E time. Did a voice from heaven every morning tell us how ; many years, or months, or days, we had to live, we should
then perceive how fast time departed, and how soon its end must come; but now one day is so like another, that we per
ceive no difference, and are not affected by thinking, To-day Ds I am nearer to eternity than I was yesterday. I have one day
less to live, and one more to account for at my Judge's bar. Indulge such reflections: let every morning remind you of the great morning of eternity. It comes, it hastens on. Ah,
who can tell how fast !--Let every closing evening lead you e to contemplate the close of life ;the period when it shall be
said to you, Thy day of service and of grace is no more. - Feel your pulseit beats-what does it declare ?-that your
time is going; for at every stroke it has one less to give.Dr. Look therefore on time, as time ever coming nearer to its end;
and spend its golden moments as in your dying day you will
wish to have spent them. As a follower of Jesus, shun as ' much as possible such upbraiding reflections as these upon a s dying bed, or in the eternal world :-My Saviour never spent
one idle moment. But, oh, how much of my time that should have honoured him, was idled away!-What far brighter hofiness might I have reached !-How much better might I have served my Lord !-How much more might I have done for him, who did so much for me, had I but well improved that time I trifled uselessly away!
$ 8. Rising late in a morning is one mode in which much time is lost. Much has been written well upon this subject. lonce saw seven reasons for early rising, which contain much in a little compass. The writer said,
1. “By late rising a deal of time is lost. What melancholy waste of precious time has thus been made in the course of my past life!
2. “ Thus a deal of good that might be done is prevented. How much more might I have known of the Scriptures ! How many more good books have read, how much better have 204
MOTIVES FOR REDEEMING TIME. been furnished in my mind, had I practised as I once did early rising !
3. “ By late rising the soul is indisposed for devotion. I have found it so. Many a formal and thus sinful prayer have I uttered, which might otherwise have been offered in sincerity. Devotion has thus often been a mere task to me.
4. “ This formality has often spread through the day. But for this sinful sloth I might have been much more pious, and enjoyed much more of the love of God.
5. “ This injures others as well as myself. It makes my soul barren, and thus unfits me to enliven theirs. It prevents my prayers for the success of the word in the souls of others being heard ; for they are hardly to be called prayers.
6. “ This deprives me of the pleasure which the early morning affords, and deprives my soul of the comforts it might find in communion with God.
7. “ If I am Christ's, how can I thus waste his time, and injure his cause. Did he not leave his heaven for me, and shall I not leave my bed for him. Is not God ready to permit my approach to him, and shall I decline the blessing to waste the hours in senseless sleep or useless sloth !"
It was observed by a pious young lady, that one day well spent condemns a life, so much may be crowded into one well spent day. Of that eminently pious minister, Joseph Alleine, it is related, that if he heard workmen pursuing their business, before he was engaged in his religious exercises, he would say, “ O how this noise shames me! Doth not my Master deserve more than theirs ?" and often said, “Give me that Christian, that accounts his time more precious than gold." The same spirit appeared in various other expressions which he used; for instance, at the beginning of a week-“ Another week is before us, let us spend this week for God!" In a morning—“Come now let this day be spent for God. Let us live this one day well. Could we resolve to be more than ordinarily circumspect for one day at a time, we might live at extraordinary rates."
And does the Saviour demand too much, when he bids you sedulously and devoutly improve that fleeting span of time, which must so soon give place to eternity? Is it too much for you to devote the whole of this little life to his glory, who
AVOID IDLENESS-PRACTISE DILIGENCE. 205 will bestow on you eternal ages of salvation ? Can you regret to be always religious, always diligent, always bent on improving time, on honouring Jesus, and growing ripe for heaven ? Ah, why what is that long always, compared with your eternity ? Let it be as long as it may, yet compared with those worlds of ages, it is but as a thought, or a dream, or a sigh. Soon all the time you have to improve for God will be past. “Few and evil,” said Jacob, “ have the days of the years of my life been." Few and evil have been mine, may every Christian say on a dying bed : but their labours are past, their work is done, they are come to an end, and I enter an eternity, where days, and nights, and months, and years, are words that have no place. The work of my time is done; but the praises of my eternity will never cease. Happy spirit, that in a few transient days, through grace, secures that eternal blessedness!
Avoid Idleness—Practise Diligence. 8 9. A sin to which human nature is peculiarly addicted, is idleness. Its evils are innumerable. Both reason and Scripture lift a warning voice against this common and delusive vice. It is truly said, that the idle are found wandering on Satan's ground, and that he finds employment " for idle hands to do.” In the word of God, abundance of idleness is represented as one of the principal sins which brought ruin upon Sodom. It is also described as the sin of those who have damnation, because they have cast off their faith; and as one step in their progress to perdition. “And withal they learn to be idle, wandering about from house to house; and not only idle, but tattlers also, and busy-bodies, speaking things which they ought not.”
The indulgence of this sin is one of the most decisive marks of irreligion. An idle Christian is as much a contradiction in terms as a drunken Christian. This sin also appears to form one of the strongest barriers against conversion, and the enjoyment of salvation. Few of the unhappy subjects of idleness are ever brought to enjoy the grace of God. Less abhorred, and less alarming, than drunkenness, or blasphemy, or dishonesty, idleness is often more destructive. Many a drunkard has been reclaimed, many a blasphemer has been con(9) Ezek, xvi. 49.
(r) 1 Tim. v. 13. T
RECREATIONS. verted, many a dishonest person has learned to do justly and love mercy; but few habitual idlers have been brought into the way to heaven.
The Scriptures expressly require from the disciples of the Lord Jesus diligence and industry. Be “not slothful in business, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord."s “ Study to be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you."t
Recreations. $ 10. Perhaps you urge that relaxation is needful.
Happy are they who find their relaxation from severer engagements in visiting the abodes of affliction, and communicating instruction or comfort to the sons and daughters of distress! who pursue even in their least busy moments the great end of life; give even their hours of relaxation to God, and connecting piety and pleasure, can exclaim,
“Lord, in my view let both united be,..
“I live in pleasure when I live to thee.” Let your recreations accord with your situation, your character, and your prospects.
Let them accord with your situation. You are a pilgrim passing to eternity. By to-morrow you may be fixed there. Your life is but a span : on that span depends eternity. In a situation so solemn, it is madness to pursue any recreation that can in the slightest measure be injurious to your eternal interests. Yet this must be the effect of many recreations, in which the lover of pleasure says, There is no harm. Besides other evil, they dissipate the mind, they render it indisposed for the exercises of devotion, or the services of religion. Thus they not merely squander that most precious treasure-time, but they counteract the design for which time is given—the preparing of the deathless soul for that eternal state, which is just at hand. Who can go from a dancing room to serious devotion ? Who that is charmed with a worthless though in. teresting novel, will lay it aside, and go and search the Scriptures with pleasure and with prayer? If this world were your all, you might pursue its amusements, and squander time away on its novels, its romances, and all its vain delights; but eternity is yours, and these things will all oppose your prepara(s). Rom. xii. 11.
(1) 1 Thess. iv. 11, 12.