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but faith shall enable you to penetrate the thick · darkness, and, instead of vengeance, you shall see the God of providence smiling on his throne. Pray, therefore, for this grace, seeing it is so essential to your happiness by the way. The promise, indeed, is the christian's staff, but faith is , the hand that holds it. Grace is the christian's life; but faith is the shield that defends it. Faith is in the soul what the pulse is in the body: it is by this that we must judge of the real state of the health.
As to patience, this we may consider as the daughter of faith: this is necessary to enable you to endure ; there is no getting through the world comfortably without it. He who is determined to submit to nothing but what is pleasant to him, will cut out for himself more work than he will ever be able to do. The afflictions, insults, disappointments, restraints, wrongs, and delays, incident to the present state, will call for the exercise of this grace. Your passions will sometimes endeavour to rise; present good will be a temptation; and you will begin to ask, “Why should I suffer this provocation, or bear that difficulty ? Should such a man as I suffer?” Here you will find the need of patience: it is this that will possess the soul, and keep all in subjection. Nor think it dishonourable: you will never appear more a christian, than when, in the midst of afflictions and sorrows, you stand resigned to the will of God. Afflictions, as one justly observes, * supported by patience and surmounted by fortitude, give the
last finishing to the heroic and gracious character. Thus the vale of tears is the theatre of glory; that dark cloud presents the scene for all the beauties of the bow of virtue to appear. Moral gran. deur, like the sun, is brighter in the day of the storm ;. and never is so truly sublime as when struggling through the darkness of an eclipse.
Again; cultivate a spirit of diligence both in your temporal and spiritual employ. Young professors, who have recently left their old and are brought into new connexions, should be exceedingly cautious in this respect.-Nothing is more common than for the world to charge those with idleness who have changed their sentiments as to religion. No cause, therefore, should be given for such an imputation. Strictly adhere to your business. Religion commands this. There may be difficulties in your calling, and so there are in every situation ; but let not this relax your exertions, that you may give no occasion for the ene. my to speak evil, of you. Besides, assiduity in our lawful concerns is one of the best ways to be preserved from temptation Idleness has led to a thousand evil consequences; while itself is a most unhappy state of mind. It is good to be em. ployed. Action is really the life, happiness, and rest of the mind. “ Idleness (as one says) offers up the soul as a blank to the devil for him to write what he will upon it. Idleness is the emptiness, and business the fulness of the soul; and we all know that we may infuse what we will into an empty vessel, but a full one has no room for a farther infusion."* But the soul is of infinite va
lue, and the time given us to attend to its concerns is short and rapid. It is humiliating to think how many of our hours must necessarily be appropriated to the demands of nature. The bo. dy requires attention, refreshment, and sleep. Sickness and languor sometimes steal away great portions. Custom and habit are ready to seize also a part, and plead the lawfulness of their claim. Alas! how little is left us, after all, for the improvement of our powers, and attending to our best interests. Let a sense of this be impressed upon your mind, that the small portion you may have may be well applied. And here, then, I would offer a few rules for the improvement of your time, which I hope, if attended to, will prove of essential service. And, first, always lay down your plan of duties; and the work to be done both of a temporal and spiritual kind. Without this much time will be lost ; many difficulties will occur; confusion and disorder will perpetually attend you.“ A wise christian should bring every thing into such order, that every ordinary duty should know its place, and all should be as the links of one chain, which draw one another. A workman that has all his tools on a heap, or out of place, spends much of the day in which he should be working in looking for his tools ; when he that knows the place of every one can presently take it, and lose no time. So it is in the right timing of our duties."-2. Never delay the exe. cution of your plan, if you can possibly help it,
for this will bring two days' work upon one ; be. · sides, the present time is the only time to us. Tomorrow is all uncertain. Procrastination has ry. ined thousands. It is even better to be before time than after it.-3. Regard the small portions of time. Life is made up of them. They are all unspeakably precious and valuable, and when we come to add them up together at the year's end, they will be found larger than we think for. 4. Let not your best friends, much less the world, take up too much of your time. To be always in company is not profitable. Conversation too often degenerates into insipidity, vanity, or, what is worse, slander. In the multitude of words there wanteth not sin._-5. Guard against exces. sive sleep. Some constitutions require more than others : the less we can do with, the better. Tis a great time-waster. “ I was never tempted so much (says a great man) to grudge at God's natural ordering of man in any thing as that we are obliged to waste so much of our little time in sleep; nor was I ever tempted to grudge at my weakness so much on any account as this, that it deprived me of so much precious time which otherwise might have been used in some profitable work.” -6. Let not too much time be spent in little trifling things, or even in some things that are lawful; such as dress, recreations, eating and drinking, talking, &c.—7. Remember time is a talent which God has given you to improve ; that it will soon be gone to return no miore : “ the sun indeed returns every day, but time never returns.” A man may lose his property, lose his health, lose his friends, lose his prospects, but they may be restored again ; but who can restore time? How much of your time is already gone, and the rest will only be as a vapour that appeareth for a little while. Think, too, how many have bitterly la
mented the loss of it when it was too late. * Now : you have your health and strength: work while it is day. Improve the advantages you have of wise ministers, faithful friends, divine ordinances, godly relatives, religious books, and all the vari. ous ineans you are favoured with for the advance. ment of divine knowledge. Lift up your heart to heaven, and say, “Lord, make me to know mine end, and the measure of my days, what it is, that I may know how frail I am. So teach me to number my days, that I may apply my heart unto wisdom. Amen.”
Zeal inculcated. Stedfastness. Order. Conscientious
ness. Leadings of Providence. Restitution. Uniform obedience. Usefulness. Foy. Gratitude.
S you are enabled to improve your time and gain knowledge, so endeavour to keep up that liveliness and holy fervour which the importance of the cause in which you are engaged demands. Zeal is a commendable quality, and never more reasonable than when displayed for the glory of God and the interests of the soul. There is a zeal indeed of a counterfeit kind, of which you must beware. Ignorance joined with superstition, hy. pocrisy, self-interest, and bigotry, will make
* It is said that queen Elizabeth, when on her death-bed, exclaimed, “ Time, time, a world of wealth for an inch of time.”
t Ps. xxxix. 4. Ps. xc. 12.