Obrazy na stronie

yourfelf and your family, but also as an act of obedience to his command and ordinance; by means whereof, you make it not only an act of civil conversation, but of obedience to Almighty God, and fo it becomes in a manner fpiritualized into an act of religion.

10. Whatever you do, be very careful to retain in your heart a babit of religion, that may be always about you, and keep your heart and your life always as in his prefence, and tending towards him. This will be continually with you, and put itself into acts, even although you are not in a folemn pofture, of religious worship, and will lend you multitudes of religious applications to Almighty God, upon all occafions and interventions, which will not at all hinder you in any measure in your fecular occafions, but better and further you: It will make you faithful in your calling, even upon the account of an actual reflection of your mind upon the prefence and command of the God you fear and love: It will make you actually thankful for all fucceffes and fupplies; temperate and fober in all your natural actions; just and faithful in all your dealings; patient and contented in all your disappointments and croffes; and actually confider and intend his honour in all you do; and will give a tincture of religion and devotion upon all your fecular employments, and turn thofe very actions, which are materially civil or natural, into the very true and formal na ture of religion, and make your whole life to be an unintermitted life of religion and duty to God. For this habit of piety in your foul, will not only not lie fleeping and inactive, but almost in every hour of the day will put forth actual exertings of itself in applications of fhort occafional prayers, thanksgivings, dependence, refort unto that God that is always near you, and lodgeth in a manner in your heart by his fear, and love, and habitual religion towards him. And by this means you do effectually, and in the beft and readiest manner imaginable, doubly redeem your Time. 1. In the lawful exercife of thofe natural and civil concerns which are not only permitted, but in a

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great measure enjoined by Almighty God. 2. At the fame time exercifing acts of religious duties, obfervance and veneration unto Almighty God, by perpetuated, or at least frequently reiterated, though fhort acts of devotion to him. And this is the great art of Christian chymiftry, to convert thofe acts that are materially natural or civil, into acts truly and formally religious; whereby the whole courfe of this life is both truly and interpretatively a fervice to Almighty God, and an uninterrupted state of religion, which is the best and nobleft, and most universal redemption of Time.

11. Be very careful to prefer those actions of your life that most concern you; be fure to do them chiefly, to do them most. Let thofe things, that are of lefs moment, give place to thofe things that are of greatest moment. Every man of the most ordinary prudence, having many things to do, will be fure to be doing of that first and chiefeft which most concerns him, and which being omitted, and poffibly wholly difappointed, might occafion his most irreparable lois. We have, it is true, many things to be done in this life, ars longa, vita brevis ; and we have feafons and opportunities for them; but of these many things, fome are barely conveniencies for this life; fome, though they seem more neceffary, yet ftill they rife no higher, nor look further, nor ferve longer, but only for the meridian of this life, and are of no poffible ufe in the next moment after death. The pleasures, the profits, the honours, the moft florid accommodations of great human learning, ftately houfes and palaces, goodly poffeffions, greatest honours, highest reputation, deepest policy, they are fitted only to this life; when death comes, they are infignificant pitiful things, and ferve for nothing at all the very next moment after death; nay the difeafes and pains, and languifhings that are the preludia of death, render them perfectly vain, if not vexatious and torturing. But there are certain bufineffes that are not only excellently ufeful in this 1art is long, life is short. 2 harbingers.

life, but fuch as abide by us in fickness, in death; nay go along with us with fingular comfort into the next life, and never leave us, but ftate us in an eternal state of rest and happiness, such as may be with much ease acquired in the times of health and life, but very difficult to be attained in the time of fickness, and the hour of death, but never to be forgotten after death, fuch as are of that neceflity, that in comparison of them, all other things are impertinent and vain, if not defperately noxious and hurtful. There is no neceffity for me to be rich, and to be great in the world; to have fuch a title of honour, fuch a place of dignity or profit; to leave fuch an inheritance or titular dignity to my fon; or to have fo many thousand pounds in my inventory, when I die. But there are certain matters of abfolute neceffity to me, fuch as if I am without, I am undone and lost, and yet fuch as if not attained here in this life, can never be attained: and therefore, as it concerns me in the highest degree to attain them, fo it concerns me in the highest degree to attain them in this life, and to take all opportunities imaginable in order thereunto, and to redeem every minute of Time for that purpose, left I fhould be for ever difappointed; and not be like the foolish virgins, to be getting of oil when the door is ready to be fhut; and with the truant-fcholar, to trifle away my time allotted me for my lesson, and then to begin to learn it when my mafter calls for me to repeat it; and those bufineffes are fuch as thefe: The knowledge of Chrift Jefus, and him crucified; the attainment of faith in God through him, the acquaintance of myfelf with the will of God; the comporting of myfelf with that will; the exercife of true and ferious repentance for fins paft; the fteady refolution of obedience to his will for the Time to come; the attaining of the pardon of my fins, and peace with God through Chrift our Lord; the fubduing of my lufts and corruptions; the conformation of my will and life to the holy will of God, and the perfect

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fect pattern of holiness, Chrift Jefus ; the working out my falvation with fear and trembling; the giving all diligence to make my calling and election fure; the fitting and purging of myfelf to be a veffel of glory and immortality, and fitted for the use of my great Lord and Mafter; the cafting myself into fuch a frame and posture of mind and life, that I may be fitted and ready to die, and give up my account to my Lord with peace and cheerfulness, and comfort; fo that if I fhould, either by the hand of fome difeafe or cafualty, or other providence, receive this folemn meffage, Set thy boufe in order, for thou shalt die, I might receive it with as much readinefs, willingness and cheerfulness, as a faithful and diligent fervant would receive this command from his mafter; You must take fuch aj urney for me to-morrow. Thefe, and fuch like bufinefles as thefe, befides the conftant tenor of a just, virtuous, and pious life, are the moft inportant bufineffes of a Chriftian. First, Such as are of abfolute neceffity to him, he may not, he cannot be without them. Secondly, Such as cannot be done elsewhere than in his life. This world is the great laboratory for perfecting of fouls for the next; if they are not done here, they ceafe to be done for ever; death fhuts the door, and everlastingly feals us up in that ftate it finds us. Thirdly, And every feafon of this life is not at least fo fuitable for it: fickness and pain, and wearifome and froward old age have business enough of themselves to entertain us; and any man that hath had experience of either, will find he hath enough to do to bear them, or to struggle with them. And, fourthly, We know not whether the grace and opportunities that God hath lent us, and we have neglected in our lives, fhall ever be afforded again to us in the times of our fickneffes, or upon our death-beds, but a little portion of time in our lives and healths are furnifhed with thousands of invitations and golden opportunities for these great works. Let us therefore redeem

deem thofe portions of Time that our life and health lend us, for this great and one thing neceffary.

And now, if a man fhall take a furvey of the common course, even of the Christian world, we fhall find the generality of mankind the verieft children, fools, and madmen, that ever nature yielded. The very folly of children in fpending their time in rattles, and hobby-horses, is more excufable than theirs, whose reafon and experience fhould better inftruct them. There is not any man so senseless, but he knows he muft die, and he knows not how foon he fhall hear of that fad fummons; and if he were fo brutifh as not to think of it, or believe it, yet the weekly bills of mortality give him daily inftances of it: and yet if we do but obferve the world of men, they do for the most part wholly trifle away their time in doing that which is evil; or in doing nothing; or in doing nothing to any purpose, or becoming a reafonable nature. One man trifles away his time in feafting and jollity; another in gaming or vain and unneceffary recreations in hunting, hawking, bowling, and other wafteful expences of time; another in fine clothes, powderings, and painting and dreffing; another in hunting after honours and preferments, or heaping up of wealth and riches, and lading himself with thick clay; another in trivial fpeculations, poffibly touching fome criticifm or grammatical nicety; and all these men wonderfully pride themfelves as the only wife men, look big and goodly, and when they come to die, all these prove either vexations and tortures of a mifpent time; or at least, by the very appearance of fickness and death, are rendered poor, empty, infipid, and infignificant things, and then the minifter is fent for, and facraments, and nothing but penitence and complaints of the vanity of the world, the unhappy expences of Time, and all the wealth and honour would be presently facrificed for the redemption of those mispent hours, and days, and years that cannot be recalled, nor redeemed by the price of a world.


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