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day entirely 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 the world. (2.) It is in order to your everlasting happiness; in comparison of which, 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.
9. 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, thän he hath reserved to himself; but also enjoins and requires our industry and diligence in it. 'And re
member, 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
10. 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 him. 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 measure, 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 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, to 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, thanksgiving, dependence-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. And by this means you do effectually, and in the best and readiest manner imaginable, doubly redeem your time: (1.) In the lawful exercise of those natural and civil concerns which are not only permitted, but, in a great measure enjoined, by Almighty God. (2.) At the same time, exercising the acts of religious duties, observance and veneration unto Almighty God, by perpetuated, or, at least, frequently reiterated, though short, acts of devotion to him. And this is the great art of Christian chymistry – 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 the time.
11. Be very careful to prefer those actions of your life that most concern you : be sure to do them chiefly, to do them most. Let those things that are of less moment give place to those things that are of the greatest moment. Every man, of the most ordinary prudence, having many things to do, will be
sure to be doing of that, first and chiefly, which most concerns him, and which, being omitted, and possibly wholly disappointed, might occasion his most irreparable loss. We have, it is true, many things to be done in this life; Ars longa, vita brevis; and we have seasons and opportunities for them: but of these “ many things,” some are barely conveniences for this life ; some, though they seem more necessary, yet, still they rise no higher, nor look no farther, nor serve no longer, but only for the meridian of this life, and are of no possible use in the next moment after death. The pleasures, the profits, the honours, the most florid accommodations of great human learning, stately houses and palaces, goodly possessions, greatest honours, highest reputation, deepest policy--they are fitted only to this life: when death comes, they are insignificant pitiful things, and serve for nothing at all, the very next moment after death: pay, the diseases and pains, and languishings, that are the preludia of death, render them perfectly vain, if not vexatious and torturing. But, 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 fix 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 be like the foolish virgins, 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 Christ Jesus, and Him crucified; the attainment of faith in God, through him; the acquaintance of myself with the will of God; the comporting 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 lųsts and corruptions; the conformation of my will