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But the great mifery of mankind is this, they cannot, nor will not, in the times of health, anticipate the confideration of death and judgment to come; nor put on any apprehenfions or thoughts, that the Time will come when things will be otherwife with them than now it is or that they will be driven into an other kind of estimate of things than now they have, and this their way is their folly. Man being in honour, in health, in life, understandeth not, but becomes like the beafts that perish 1.
4. I come to the reasons why we ought thus to redeem our Time, which may be these :
1. Our Time is a Talent put into our hands by the great Lord of the whole family of heaven and earth, and fuch whereof we are to give an account when our Mafter calls; and it will be a lamentable account, when it fhall confift only of fuch Items as thefe: Item, So much of it spent in plays, and taverns, and gaming. Item, So much of it fpent in fleeping, eating, drinking. Item, So much spent in recreations and paftimes. Item, So much spent in getting wealth and honour, &c. and there remains fo much which was spent in doing nothing.
2. Our Time is an univerfal talent, that every man that lives to the age of discretion, hath. Every man hath not a talent of learning, or of wealth, or honour, or fubtilty of wit to account for; but every man that lives to the age of difcretion, hath Time to account for.
3. Every man hath not only a talent of Time, but every man hath a talent of opportunity, to improve his talent in fome meafure, put into his hand. The very works and light of nature, the very principles of natural religion, are lodged in the hearts of all men; which by the help of his natural reafon, he might exercife to fome acts of fervice, duty and religion towards, God. But the Chriftian hath much more.
4. The redemption and improvement of our Time is the next and immediate end why it is given, or lent
Psal. xlix. 12.
us, and why we are placed in this life; and the wafting of our Time is a difappointment of this very end of our being; for thereby we consequently disappoint God of his glory, and ourfelves of our happinefs.
5. Upon the management and difpofal of our Time. depends the everlasting concernment of our Souls. Ex bec momento pendet Eternitas 1. If it be redeemed, improved, and employed as it ought to be, we shall in the next moment after death, enter into an immutable, eternal, and perfect ftate of glory; if it be either finfully or idly spent, we fall into an everlasting, irrecoverable, and unchangeable state of mifery.
6. The business we have to do in this life, in order to the cleanfing of our fouls, and fitting them for glory, is a great and important bufin fs, and the Time we have to live hath two m ft dangerous qualities in reference to that business. 1. It is bort: our longest period is not above eighty years, and few there be that arrive to that age. 2. It is very cafual and uncertain; there be infinite accidents, difeafes, and diftempers that cut us off fuddenly; as acute diseases, such as fcarce give us any warning; and confidering how many ftrings as it were, there are to hold us up, and how small and inconfiderable they are, and how easily broken, and the breach or diforder of any of the leaft of them may be an inlet to death, it is a kind of miracle that we live a month. Again, there be many dif eases that render us in a manner dead while we live, as apoplexies, palfies, phrenfies, ftone, gout, which render our Time either grievous, or very unufeful to us.
7. Time once loft, is loft for ever; it is never to be recovered; all the wealth of both the Indies will not redeem nor recall the last hour I fpent; it ceafeth for ever.
8. As our Time is fhort, fo there be many things that corrode and waste that fhort Time: fo that there remains but little that is ferviceable to our best employment. Let us take but out of our longeft lives, 'On this circumstance depends the eternal salvation of souls.
the weakness and folly of childhood and youth, the impotency and morofity of our old age, the Times for eating, drinking, fleeping, though with moderation; the Times of ficknefs and indifpofedness of health; the Times of cares, journeys, and travel; the Times for neceffary recreations, interview of friends and relations, and a thousand fuch expences of Time, the refidue will be but a small pittance for our business of greatest moment, the bufinefs I mean, of fitting our fouls for glory; and, if that be mifpent, or idly spent, we have loft our treasure, and the very flower and jewel of our
9. Let us but remember, that when we shall come to die, and our fouls fit as it were hovering upon our lips, ready to take their flight, at how great a rate we would then be willing to purchafe fome of thofe hours we once trifled away, but we cannot.
10. Remember that this is the very elixir, the very hell of hell to the damned fpirits, that they had once a Time, wherein they might, upon eafy terms, have procured everlasting reft and glory; but they foolishly and vainly mispent that Time and feason, which is now not be recovered.
THE GREAT AUDIT:
WITH THE ACCOUNT OF
THE GOOD STEWARD.
THE Great Lord of the World hath placed the children of men in this earth as his Stewards; and according to the parable in Matth. 25, he delivers to every perfon his talents, or stock of advantages or opportunities to fome he commits more, to fome lefs, to all fome.
This flock is committed to every person under a truft, or charge, to employ the fame in ways, and to ends, and in proportion fuitable to the talents thus committed to them, and to the measure and quality of them.
The ends of this deputing of the children of men to this kind of employment of their talents are divers : 1. That they may be kept in continual action and motion fuitable to the condition of reafonable creatures, as almost every thing else in the world is continued in motion fuitable to its own nature, which is the fubje& of the wife man's difcourfe: All things are full of labour. 2. That in thatregular motion they may attain ends of advantage to themfelves; for all things are fo ordered by the most wife God, that every being hath its own proportionable perfection and happinefs, infeparably annexed to that way and work which his providence hath deftined it unto. 3. That in that due and regular employment, each man might be in fome measure serviceable and advantageous to another. 4. That although the great Lord of this family can
! Eccl. i. 8.
receive no advantage by the fervice of his creatures, because he is perfect and all-fufficient in himself; yet he receives glory and praife by it, and a complacency n beholding a conformity in the creature, to his own most perfect will.
To the due execution of this truft committed to the children of men, and for their encouragement in it, he hath annexed a rewar by his promife, and the free appointment of his own good pleafure; this reward therefore is not meritorioufly due to the employment of the talent; for as the talent is the Lord's, fo is the ftrength and ability whereby it is employed; but by his own good pleature and free promife, the reward is knit to the work. In this cafe therefore the reward is not demandable, fo much upon the account of the divine juftice, as upon the account of the divine truth and fidelity. On the other fide, to the male-adminiftration of this truft, there is annexed a retribution of punishment; and this moft naturally and meritorioufly, for the law of common juftice and reafon doth moft juftly fubject the creature, that depends in his being upon his Creator, to the law and will of that Creator, and therefore having received a talent from his Lord, and, together with his being, an ability to employ it according to the will of his Lord, a non-employment, or mif-employment thereof doth moft justly oblige him to guilt and punifhment, as the natural and just consequent of his demerit.
Of the Perfons that do receive thefe talents, fome do employ them well, though in various degrees; fome to more advantage, fome to lefs; and although the beft husbands come fhort of what they fhould do, and at beft are in this refpect unprofitable fervants; yet if there be a faithful, confcientious and fincere endeavour to employ that talent to their master's honour, they are accounted good stewards, and the merits of Chrift fupply by faith that wherein they come short.
On the other fide, fome perfons are unfaithful Stewards of their talents, and these are of three kinds 1. Such as wholly mifemploy their talents, turning them