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greater portion of our time we give to God, the more we treasure
for our felves; and No man is a better Merchant than be that lays out his time upon God, and bis money upon the poor.
2. Only it becomes us to remember and to adore God's goodness for it, that God hath not only permitted us to serve the necessities of our nature, but hath made them to become parts of our duty; that if we by directing these actions to the glory of God intend them as instruments to continue our persons in his fervice, he by adopting them into religion may turn our nature into grace, and accept our natural actions as actions of Religion. God is pleased to esteem it for a part of Nu Boudry thos, tüsisio isticao ápso his service, if we eat or drink; foção hesis ; o doxalwisio, o kad
ευδιωμόνως, και ίσως, και εγκραιώς, it be done temperately, and as και κοσμίως, με ίσιν και αρεσώ τους may best preserve our health, that Stots ; Arrian. Epif. lib. 6. 13: our health
enable our servi. ces towards him: And there is no one minute of our lives (after we are come to the use of reason) but we are or may be doing the work of God, even then when we most of all ferve our felves.
3. To which if we add, that in these and all other actions of our lives we always stand before God, acting, and speaking, and thinking in his presence, and that it matters not that our conscience is sealed with secrecy; since it lies open to God, it will concern us to behave our selves carefully, as in the presence of our Judge.
These three Considerations rightly managed, and applied to the several parts and instances of our lives, will be, like Elisha, stretched upon the child, apt to put life and quickness into every part of it, and to make us live the life of grace, and do the work of God.
I shall therefo:e, by way of introduction, reduce these three to practice, and Thew how every Christian may improve all and each of these to the ad antage of Piety in the whole course of his life: that if he please to bear but one of them upon his spirit, he may feel the benefit, like an universal instrument, helpful in all spiritual and temporal actions.
The first general Insrument of Holy Living,
Care of our Time.
E that is choice of his time will also be choice of
his company, and choice of his actions; left the firft engage him in vanity and loss, and the latter by being criminal be a throwing his time and himself away, and a going back in the accounts of Eternity.
God hath given to Man a short time here upon Earth, and yet upon this short time Eternity depends: but so that for every hour of our Life, (after we are persons capable of Laws, and know Good from Evil) we must give account to the great Judge of Men and Angels. And this is it which our blessed Saviour told us, that we must account for every idle word: not meaning that every word which is not designed to Edification, or is less prudent, shall be reckoned for a sin; but that the time which we spend in our idle talking and unprofitable Discoursings, that time which might and ought to have been employed to spiritual and useful purposes, that is to be accounted for.
For we must remember that we have a great work to doe, many enemies to conquer, many evils to prevent, much danger to run through, many difficulties to be mastered, many necessities to serve, and much good to doe, many Children to provide for, or many Friends to support, or many Poor to relieve, or many Diseases to cure, besides the needs of Nature and of Relation, our private and our publick cares, and duties of the World, which neceflity and the Providence of God hath adopted into the Family of Religion.
And that we need not fear this Instrument to be a share tous, or that the duty must end in scruple, vexation and eternal Fears, we must remember that the life of every Man may be so ordered, (and indeed muft) that it may be a perpetual serving of God. The greateit Trouble, and most busie Trade, and worldly InEubrances, when they are neceflary, or charitable,
or profitable in order to any of those ends which we are bound to serve, whether publick or private, being a doing of God's work. For God provides the good things of the world to serve the needs of nature, by the labours of the Plough-man, the skill and pains of the Artisan, and the dangers and traffick of the Merchant: These Men are in their Callings the Ministers of the Divine Providence, and the Stewards of the Creation, and Servants of a great family of God, the world, in the employment of procuring necessaries for food and clothing, ornament and physick. In their proportions, also, a King and a Priest and a Prophet, a Judge and an Advocate, doing the works of their employment according to their proper rules, are doing the work of God, because they serve those necessities which God hath made, and yet made no provisions for them but by their Ministry. So that no man can complain that his calling takes him off from religion: his calling it self and his very worldly employment in honest trades and offices is a serving of God, and if it be moderately pursued, and according to the rules of Christian prudence, will leave void spaces enough for prayers and retirements of a more fpiritual religion.
God hath given every man work enough to doe, that there shall be no room for idleness; and yet hath so ordered the world, that there shall be space for devotion. He that hath the fewest businesses of the world, is called upon to spend more time in the dressing of his Soul; and he that hath the most af. fairs, may so order them, that they shall be a service of God; whilst at certain periods they are blessed with prayers and actions of Religion, and all day long are hallowed by a holy Intention.
However, so long as idleness is quite shut out from our lives, all the sins of wantonness, softness and effeminacy are prevented, and there is but little room left for temptation : and therefore to a busie man temptation is fain to climb up together with his business, and fins creep upon him only by accidents and occasions; whereas to an idle person they come in a B 3
Ezek. 16. 49.
full body, and with open violence, and the impudence of a reftlefs importunity.
Idleness is called the Sin of Sodom and Ber daughters, and indeed is the burial of a living man, an idle person being so useless to any purposes of God and Man, that he is like one that is dead, unconcerned in the changes and necessities of the world; and he only lives to spend his time, and eat the fruits of the earth: like a Vermin or a Wolf, when their time comes they die and perith, and in the mean time do no good; they neither plough nor carry burthens; all that they do is either unprofitable, or mischievous.
Idleness is the greatest prodigality in the world; it throws away that which is unvaluable in respect of its present use, and irreparable when it is past, being to be recovered by no power of art or nature. But the way to secure and improve our time we may practise in the following Rules.
Rules for employing our Time, 1. In the morning, when you awake, accustom your self to think firft upon God, or something in order to his service; and at night also let him close thine eyes; and let
your sleep be necessary and healthful, not idle and expensive of time, beyond the needs and conveniencies of nature; and sometimes be curious to see the preparation which the Sun makes, when he is coming forth from his chambers of the East.
2. Let every man that hath a Calling, he diligent in pursuance of its employment, foas 110t lightly or without reasonable occasion to neglect it in any of those times which are usually, and by the custom of prudent persons and good husbands, employed in it.
3. Let all the intervals or void spaces of time be employed in prayers, reading, meditating, works of na, ture, recreation, charity, friendliness and neighbourhood, and means of spiritual and corporal health ; ever remembring fo to work in our Calling as not to negleft the work of our high Calling; but to begin
* See Chap.
and end the day with God, with such forms of devotion as shall be proper to our necessities.
4. The refting day of Christians, and Festivals of the Church, must in no sense be days of idleness; for it is better to plough upon holy days than to do now thing or to do vitiously; but let them be spent in the works of the day, that is, of Religion and Charity, according to the Rules appointed *.
5. Avoid the Company of Drunkards, and Busie- 4. Se&. 6. bodies, and all such as are apt to talk much to little purpose : for no Man can be provident of his time that is not prudent in the choice of his company: and if one of the Speakers be vain, tedious and trifling, he that hears and he that answers in the discourse are equal losers of their time. 6. Never talk with any Man, or undertake any
S. Bern, de trifling employment, merely to pass the time away : for bodies
triplici che every day well spent may become a day of Salvation, and time rightly employed is an acceptable time. And remember that the time thou triflest away was given thee to repert in, to pray for pardon of sins; to work out thy salvation, to do the work of grace, to lay up against the day of Judgment a treasure of good works, that thy time may be crowned with Eternity.
7. In the midst of the works of thy Calling often retire to God in short prayers and ejaculations, and those may make up the want of those larger portions of Laudatur Auguftus Cæsar apud Lucanum,
-media inter prælia semper time which it may be thou desireft for devotion, and
Stellarum cælique plagis superilque vacabat. in which thou thinkest other persons have advantage of thee; for so thou reconcileft the outward work and thy inward calling, the Church and the Commonwealth, the employment of the Body and the interest of thy Soul ; for be sure that God is present at thy breathings and hearty sighings of prayer as soon as at the longest offices of less busied persons; and thy time is as truly fan&tified by a trade, and devout, though fhorter, Prayers, as by the longer offices of those whose time is not filled up with labour and useful Business.