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nearer the harbour; the sails are contracted; and the end of all things is at hand. * The world grows old and naught; your own days cannot be long; it may be, “ this night thy soul may be required,” and leave thy body as a putrid carcass. O, then, a treasure for another world will stand you in infinite stead! O, consider often, that this time, this span-long life is the seminary of eternity, the preludium of an everlasting state; and, therefore, lavish not away your time, cast it not at your heels in a brutish prodigality, you will have time little enough when you come to die. A rich gallant, at death, cried out bitterly, “ Call time again! 0, call time again !" Another would offer a thousand pounds to purchase a day; but, alas! time cannot be valued with the vastest sums of money. One mispent day cannot be recalled with the gold of Ophir. That is but dross where time comes, and time and chance is upon the whole creation.f You have but your appointed time, and all your times are in the hands of God; if once lost, they are lost for ever. The dead and damned can say, we have only heard the fame thereof with our ears ; † but, alas ! they are past the hopes of time-enjoyment or improvement. When your glass is once run, and your sun set, there is no more working or gathering time in order to eternity, and therefore, “ Whatsoever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for there is no work nor device in the grave whither you go.”—Eccl. ix. 10. Be not you like those silly fishes that are taken in an evil net, because they “ know not their time,” ver. 12. but ply the oars while you have time. Let no day pass without drawing some line towards your great centre. ||
* 1 Cor. vii. 29. SuveotayevOS, tempus contractum; Met. à velis contractis.
+ Eccl. ix. ll. # Job, xxviii. 22. || Nulla dies sine linca.
You that are Christians had need be good time-students, time-merchants. The holiest men have been most careful of time, and they that have been the most fearful to lose an inch of time have been best treasured. Read histories * and observe experiments; in all, you will find men of the choicest spirits have been most diligent time-improvers, and some have accounted that day lost, whereupon they have not done some good with either tongue, or purse, or pen; yea, heathens have bewailed that day as spent in vain, wherein they have not done some memorable action. How much more ought Christians to lament the loss of time? I once heard an eminent Minister say, “ He could eat the flesh off his arm in indignation against himself for his lost hours," and truly, the most of us are Epimethiuses, after-witted, we lose time and then sinart for our loss; it is to our cost. We are too like the mole, of which naturalists say, “ It begins to see at death ;" | we open our eyes when they must be shut. Let us therefore, improve time while we have it, and study profitable things, and lay up every day something ; so shall we find soul-riches increase, according to that proverb,“ many littles make a mickle.” When God offers
grace do not put him off, for delay will be interpreted a denial. An aged Christian, now with Gou, advised me, “ To be either like Christ, or Mary ;” the first was always doing good, the latter still receiving good. Were you and I constantly thus employed, our treasure would soon be raised to a large proportion, and we should be sooner ripe for glory.
9. Gather something out of every thing. That man is likely to be rich that will not let a good bargain pass,
* See Clark's Lives of the Fathers.
+ Oculos incipit aperire moriendo quos clausos habuit vivendo. -Plin.
but lay hold on it, and lay up any thing that he can get a penny by. A wise tradesman despiseth not little things, for multiplication of small numbers produceth a great sum. They that wilfully contemn the smallest good, will in time look upon the greatest as contemptible :
Who say, I care not, those I give for lost ;
And to instruct them will not quit the cost.--Herbert. Hence it is, that Christ saith,“ Gather up the fragments that nothing be lost.” Thus should you make a collection of the least things that others cast away. Get something out of every word, rod, or work of Providence, in a way of favour or displeasure. “Receive not the grace of God in vain.”
Hinder not your own proficiency by carelessness or inadvertency. Be you diligent, and God will teach you to profit.* See what you can make of every thing you meet with. A wise physician can tell you the virtue of every simple, and can extract some good out of those herbs, that an ignorant person casts away, as useless weeds. Prov. x. 14. it is said, “ Wise men lay up knowledge,” that is, whatever objects occur they consider how they may hereafter stand them in stead, what use may be made thereof, and so gather from them a profitable inference, and store that up for future times. Thus do you, if you would lay up a treasure; be not unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is, by all that your eyes behold, or ears hear. Learn to make comments upon all the creatures, suck sweetness out of every flower, not for sensual delight, but spiritual profit. Let not so much as a good or bad report concerning yourselves or others sound in your ears, without special observation and improvement. Whatever your trade or calling be, you may and must spiritualize it
* Isaiah, xlviii. 17.
for your soul's good; there is never a profitable science, saith one, but it leads to the knowledge of God, or of ourselves, so that we need not be at a loss for a treasure, if we have hearts to improve objects of sense. It was a good design in the Rev. Dr. Hall, and discovered an honest fancy to improve vacant hours and visible objects in his occasional meditations : go you and do likewise; by which blessed art of heavenly chemistry, you may both please your fancy and profit your hearts; use your wits and exercise grace, for that is the way to increase it. The truth is, there is nothing but may do us good, if we have good hearts; the sins of others may be of great use to us, that we may consider our standing, and take heed lest we fall; the afflictions of others will work our hearts to sympathy, prayer, and charity ; the indignities we suffer will awaken, quicken, and strengthen us, if our hearts be honest in observing and improving them ; there is not a minister that we hear preach, but from him we may get good by what he saith, The Rev. Mr. Hildersham* often said, he never heard any godly minister preach, though but of weak parts, but he got some benefit by him. Divine Herbertt saith—
Do not grudge
God takes a text, aud preacheth patience. But above all, get something out of every chapter you read—dig deep into those golden mines, and you shall be rich. Digested Scripture is the matter of regular prayers, holy discourses, and heavenly meditations ; only run not cursorily over them, but let your thoughts dwell upon them, and extract some marrow and quintessence out of thein. We usually read the Scriptures, * Clark on his Life.
+ Church-porch, p. 15.
travellers go over mountains, that are barren on the surface, but when dug into, afford precious minerals : so the words and the syllables of God's book itself, slightly considered, have no great efficacy, but the sense and purport thereof containeth spirit and life to the intelligent and observant reader.—John, vi. 63. There is such a depth in Scripture, * that if you read the same place a hundred times over, yet still you may get fresh notions and impressions from it. O, therefore learn to read, understand, and improve the word of God, this will help you to a treasure; knowledge is fed by Scripture truth, and holiness is the counterpart of Scripture precepts; graces are the accomplishment of Scripture promises, and if your comforts and experiences be not suitable to the word, it is because “ you have no light in you." +
10. Maintain communion of saints. Oh, forsake not the assembling of yourselves together; keep up this sweet good fellowship both in private conferences, and in public ordinances. For the first, you must observe and obey the wise man's counsel, through the book of Proverbs, to converse with the wise. David professeth himself to be a companion of those that fear God, and he, though a great king, esteemed the saints more excellent than all his courageous worthies or grave senators, and therefore professed that all his delight was in them.-Ps. xvi. 3. But it is not enough to be in good company, you must improve it, by hearing and asking questions. That is a notable passage in Prov. xx. 5. “ Counsel in the heart of a man is like deep water; but a man of understanding will draw it out." Profound men are apt to be silent, therefore must be excited by profitable questions, and it is an
• Adoro Scripturæ plenitudinem.-—Teriul. + Isai. viii. 20.