men to idleness and vain thoughts, and disturbing passions and symptoms, when they are passed, as well as while they are used. Let no recreations of any long continuance be used in the morning, for they hazard the loss or discomposure of the whole day after.

Visits, made or received, are, for the most part, an intolerable consumption of time, unless prudently ordered ; and they are, for the most part, spent in vain and impertinent discourses. 1. Let them not be used in the morning. 2. If the visits be made to or by persons of impertinence, let them be short, and at such times as may be best spared from what is more useful or necessary, viz. at meals, or presently after. 3. But if the persons to be visited are men of wisdom, learning, or eminence of parts, the visits may be longer, but yet so as the time may be profitably spent in useful discourse, which carries with it as well profit and advantage, as civility and respect.

Be obstinately constant to your devotions, at certain set times, and be sure to spend the Lord's day in those religious duties proper for it; and let nothing but an inevitable necessity divert you from it: for, 1. It is the best and most profitably spent time; it is in order to the great end of your being in this world. 2. It is in order to your everlasting happiness; in comparison of wbich, all other businesses of this life are idle and vain; it is that which will give you the greatest comfort in your life, in your sickness, in your

death; and he is a fool that provides not for that which will most certainly come. 3. It is the most reasonable tribute imaginable unto that God that lends you your time, and you are bound to pay it under all the obligations of duty and gratitude. And, 4. It is that which will sanctify and prosper all the rest of your time, and your secular employments. I am not apt to be superstitious, but this I have certainly and infallibly found true, that by my deportment in my duty towards God, in the times devoted to his service, especially on the Lord's day, I could make a certain conjecture of my success in my secular occasions the rest of the week after: if I were loose and negligent in the former, the latter never succeeded well; if strict and conscientious and watchful in the former, I was successful and prosperous in the latter.

Be industrious and faithful in your calling. The merciful God hath not only indulged unto us a far greater portion of time for our ordinary occasions, than he hath reserved for himself, but also enjoins and requires our industry and diligence in it. And remember that you observe that industry and diligence, not only as civil means to acquire a competency for yourself 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 so it becomes in a manner spiritualized into an act of religion. Whatever you do, be very careful to retain in


your heart a habit of religion, that may be always about you, and keep your heart and your life always as in his presence, and tending towards bim. This will be continually with you, and put itself into acts, even although you are not in a solemn posture of religious worship, and will lend you multitudes of religious applications to almighty God, upon all occasions and interventions, which will not at all hinder you in any ineasure in your secular occasions, 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 presence and command of the God you fear and love: it will make you actually thankful for all successes and supplies; temperate and sober in all your natural actions ; just and faithful in all your dealings; patient and contented in all your disappointments and crosses; and actually consider and intend his honour in all you do; and will give a tincture of religion and devotion upon all your secular employments, and turn those very actions which are materially civil or natural, into the very true and formal nature 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 soul, will not only not lie sleeping and inactive, but almost in every hour of the day, will put forth actual exertings of itself, in applications of short occasional prayers, thanksgivings, dependance, resort 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,

[blocks in formation]

THIS is the great art of Christian chemistry, to convert those acts that are materially natural or civil, into acts truly and formally religious ; whereby the whole course of this life is both truly and interpretatively a service to almighty God, and an uninterrupted state of religion, which is the best, and noblest, and most universal redemption of his time,


THERE are certain businesses that are not only excellently useful in this life, but such as abide by us in sickness, in death, nay, go along with us with singular comfort into the next life, and never leave us, but place 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 sickness and the hour of death, but never to be forgotten after death ; such as are of that necessity, that in comparison of them, all other things are impertinent and vain, if not desperately noxious and hurtful. There is no necessity for me to be rich, and to be great in the world; to have such a title of honour, such a place of dignity, or profit; to leave such an inheritance, or titular

dignity to my son, or to have so many thousand pounds in my inventory when I die. But there are certain matters of absolute necessity to me, such as if I am without I am undone and lost, and yet, such 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, so 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, lest I should be for ever disappointed, and not to be like the foolish virgin, to be getting of oil when the door is ready to be shut; and with the truant scholar, to trifle away my time allotted me for my lesson, and then to begin to learn it when my master calls for me to repeat it; and those businesses are such as these: the knowledge of Jesus Christ and him crucified; the attainment of faith in God through him; the acquaintance of myself with the will of God, the coinporting of myself with that will; the exercise of true and serious repentance for sins past; the steady resolution of obedience to his will for the time to come; the attaining of the pardon of my sins, and peace with, God through Christ our Lord; the subduing of my lusts and corruptions; the conformation of my, will and life to the holy will of God, and the perfect pattern of holiness, Christ Jesus; the working out my salvation with fear and trembling; the giving all diligence to make my calling and

« ElőzőTovább »