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much work in a little time, as those who have borne the burden and heat of the day, and yet did not work fo hard, though they went in at the first call. Hence Chrift faid, Many are called, but few chofen ; that is, though many profess the truth, yet few in comparison, make such vast improvements of their time, as by their extraordinary labours to render themselves eminent and choice servants of God.
That extraordinary labourer, and most zealous apostle, St. Paul, the author of my text, was one of those few. He said indeed, that he was the least of the apostles, and less than the least of all saints, and that he was as one born out of due time. But, though to shew his great humility, and repentance for his fins, he spake so disdainfully of himself; yet he filled up his time by his unexampled zeal and vigour; nor doth all the scripture give us such another instance as he was, to shew what it is to redeem the time : I laboured, (says he) more abundantly than they all. And these were not vain, boasting expressions, but a just acknowledgment, of what he found himself obliged to do, to make God and man all possible reparation. He would not lose an hour more ; but strove to expiate his guilt, for coming fo late into the church, and for perfecuting it fo before his entrance.
By this great example of himself, which the penitent apostle set to his own advice, we may easily perceive what it is to redeem the time. He was ready to be at any cost, to retrive (what he could) those fair opportunities of doing the world and himself good, which upon solemn reflection, he saw were dropt out of his hands. Labour, sufferings, life itself, - all, he thought little enough to make amends. So that to redeem our time in St. Paul's way is, with all possible application and earnestness of mind, to make the best use we can of the presents to increase our diligence every new days and to employ the remainder of our life, with such great care and husbandry, as if we were within a short space to die, and to go to judgement.
And if people would but seriously confider, how valuable time is, and what the consequences will moft certainly be, whether they improve, or throw it aways one would think no other motive would be needful, to make them husband it well, but this single thought; that whatever they do, they are still dealing for an eternity. It is the only business we have in this world, to be evermore regular and constant in the course God hath set us, as the fun is in his motions. From the womb to the grave, we have our days numbered out unto us; or however we spend them, whether well or ill, we may be sure it will turn to some account: there is no medium, or remedy, but we must be infinitely gainers or losers by it.
But, that notions of this kind may make the deeper impression, it will be requisite to consider more particularly the
IM. THING which I proposed to speak to, namely, the Reasons wby zure ought to redeem the time. : ,
And they are these two; namely,
1", That the want thereof is prejudicial to us already. And,
2", That it will be much more fo berea after.
1", I say, The want of redeeming the time is prejudicial to us already.
The perfections of the soul are not wrought on a sudden, but are acquired by degrees; knowledge, by observation and study; virtue, by practice, by many repeated acts, which improve good dispositions into a settled habit of living well. This necessarily requires time; and therefore the scripture exprefseth it, by growing in grace; because those gracious dispositions rise and increase gradually.
Upon this account, the loss of time is very sensibly prejudicial to men's souls ; because thereby the business of their falvation (in the works whereof they should have kept equal paces with their time) -I say, thereby, that great and urgent business of their salvation is put quite backward, and left behind-hand, never to be fetched up again without double di
ligence. ligence. Their understandings are darkened or deluded, for want of that true information, which their minds might have received, had they not slept or sported away many happy opportunities, or ipent them upon worldly concernments. Their sense of religion is comparatively very small, by their neglecting those hours, which should have been employed about it. Their virtues are inconsiderable for want of practice. In short, all those improvements which others have made, and which are necessary for all, to prepare and fit their fouls for a blessed state hereafter, such careless people are to seek for, and perhaps at last despair of making, when once they are thoroughly sensible of their neglects, and find the inconveniences of a fick bed, or the dulnefs of old age to come upon them. Instead of those per. fections in grace and goodness, vice gets ground apace; every day it grows more and more habitual; till in the end, it is as hard a matter to reform those who are accustomed to do evil, as it is to make an Ethiopian change his skin, (as the proVou; IV.