Page images

DEC. 27. Mark ix. 44. Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. 28. Matt. vii. 22, 23. Many will say-Lord, Lord:-but I will profess, I never knew you.

29. 2 Thess. i. 10. He shall be glorified in his saints, and admired in all them that believe.

30. 1 John iii. 2. We shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.

31. Ps. xvi. 11. In thy presence is fulness of joy, and-pleasures for evermore.






THE apostle's expression," redeeming the time," is remarkable, and implies that time (or the opportunity of doing and getting good) is naturally in a kind of captivity, through the sinfulness of our hearts, the snares of the world, and the machinations of Satan: so that, in order to possess and improve it, we must ransom it at a great expense. Time is inconceivably valuable, because of its relation to eternity, and of the influence which our use of it will have on our future condition; because, during its continuance, we may be serviceable to our neighbours, our families, our country, and the church of God, in various ways: and because it gives us an opportunity of making known the perfections, works, truths, commandments, and salvation of the Lord, and thus of glorifying him, among our fellow sinners. This threefold use of time, originating from supreme



love to God, love of our neighbour, and wise selflove, like three streams arising from different springs, and at length pouring into the ocean in one united current, will here more and more manifestly approximate, and in heaven they will perfectly coalesce, and flow for ever in uninterrupted union.


But much of our time is already gone-gone unimproved, if not abused! Of our possible seventy years a considerable proportion passes before we become capable of the functions of rational life; much more glides away in learning such things as are necessary for the regulation of our future conduct. Levity, youthful pleasures, or frivolous pursuits, in most cases consume another large portion. Twenty years (perhaps far more) are often gone, before men in general so much as begin to inquire what the business and object of life are. Then worldly cares, and the desires of riches or honours succeed to the vanities of youth: so that even the remnant, who at length learn to live to some purpose, often find that a third, or half of their possible time is passed, before the real work of life is begun. Nay, this part of their time alone is ensured to them; and it is in all respects the most valuable; as their spirits are then most active, their feelings most susceptible, their minds most unclouded, and their bodies most vigorous. But that which is gone cannot be recalled; the evil done in it cannot be reversed; nor the habits and connexions, then contracted, broken off, without great difficulty and self-denial.

[ocr errors]

When the Christian revolves such thoughts in his mind, he cannot but regret that so large a

proportion of opportunity for glorifying God, serving his generation, and minding his own most important interests, is gone for ever: and upon accurate examination he will find that avocations of no importance daily pilfer from him too much of the small and uncertain part remaining. Custom, fashion, the course of the world (not to say of the church) steal moments, yea hours, from him. Animal recreation, and the necessary employments of life, demand much of our time; and alas, in these things most of us daily incur our Lord's reproof, "Thou art careful and troubled "about many things, but one thing is needful." Many of our intervenient minutes run to waste in absolute inaction; more in trifling conversation, or in adjusting the unprofitable formalities of fashion and several of the studies and employments, even of such as do not frequent places of diversion, are no better than solemn trifling or specious dissipation. Hence it is that, when we are convinced we ought to use greater diligence in the concerns of our souls, or in the duties of our station and of relative life, we cannot find time for it, and procrastination leaves us unfruitful, self-condemned, and uncomfortable. "Redeeming "the time" is the proper remedy for these evils. All that can, consistently with a prudent regard to health and cheerfulness, be spared from animal recreation for better purposes is time redeemed: as likewise all that can be deducted from the time usually employed in secular affairs, without neglecting relative obligations, and the duties of our station in the community. Whatever can be retrenched from that portion of time which is

usually allotted to social intercourse, without missing opportunities of doing good, or of improving our minds, may be considered as clear gain; as may the profitable use of any of those shreds of time which are commonly wasted: and, if they who by intrusion or importunity rob us of this precious talent, without any reasonable prospect of advantage, should encroach as much on our property, (which is unspeakably less valuable,) we should know how to dismiss them with a suitable answer.

But we cannot redeem time without expense: it is impossible to rescue it from the hands of those who embezzle or imprison it, except we will go to the price of its redemption; that is, of frequent and constant self-denial, of watchfulness and circumspection, and of submitting to the censure of singularity and preciseness. We must bestow the pains of arranging our engagements in regular order, that we may turn every fragment of time to some account; as the goldsmith saves every filing of his precious metal. We must study to render one useful occupation a relaxation from the fatigue of another: that devotion, meditation, reading, social converse, visiting the poor and afflicted, may serve for recreation to the man of business; and that a needful attention to secular concerns, with the exercise attending it, may answer similar purposes to the student. And, as very industrious women have always some piece of work in hand, to which they recur when they have a little spare time; so the Christian will find it very useful to have some book, or subject for meditation ready, to which he may have recourse

« PreviousContinue »