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short precious time, for which we must make so large and exact an account to Him that hath trusted us with it; we should not but (which is no more than the original verb for which we read number signifies) do, what one who we are not willing to believe as good a Christian as ourselves long since advised us, pretium tempori ponere, diem estimare, consider that every hour is worth at least a good thought, a good wish, a good endeavour; that it is the talent we are trusted with to use, employ, and to improve: if we hide this talent in the dark, that the world cannot see any fruit of it, or such fruit as we ourselves are afraid to see; if we bury it in the earth, spend it in worldly and sensual designs and attempts; we are those ungrateful and unthrifty stewards, who must expiate this breach of trust in endless torments. And if we were gotten thus far, we could not but, in spite of the most depraved faculty of our understanding, of the most perverse inclination of our appetite, or act of our will, order and dispose of this time right; which is the full extent of the word. So that in truth, if we do not weigh and consider to what end this life is given to us, and thereupon order and dispose it right, pretend what we will to the arithmetic, we do not, we cannot so much as number our days in the narrowest and most limited signification. It is a sharp meditation and animadversion of one, whose
writings are an honour to our nation, that the incessant and sabbathless pursuit of a man's fortune and interest, (although therein we could refrain from doing injuries or using evil arts) leaves not the tribute of our time which we owe to God, who demandeth we see a tenth of our substance, and a seventh (which is more strict) of our time ; and (says he) it is to small purpose to have an erected face toward Heaven, and a grovelling spirit upon earth. If they who please themselves with believing that they spend their time the least amiss; who have so far the negative practice of conscience, that they abstain from acts of inhumanity and injustice, and avoid doing harm to any body; nay, if they make such a progress into the active part of conscience, as to delight in the civil acts of humanity, and the diffusive acts of charity: I say, if this handful of the world that is thus innocent (and what dismal account must the other part take of themselves then) would seriously examine and revolve the expence of their own time, they would even wonder at the little good they find in themselves, and not be able to tell to the well-spending of what part of their time those good inclinations are to be imputed. We think it a commendable thing (and value ourselves much upon it) to take great pains, to use much industry, to make ourselves fine gentlemen, to get languages, to learn arts; it may be
some for which we are the worse : and we acknowledge, that that is not to be done, nay, any exercise of the body to be learned, or the most mechanic trade, without great pains and industry; but to make ourselves Christians, to know God, and what he expects from us, and what will be acceptable to him, we take not the least pains, use not the least industry. I am persuaded, if many of us, who have lived to good years, did faithfully compute in what particular meditations and actions we have spent our time, we should not be able, amongst the years we have spent in pursuing our pleasures, our profits, our ambition, the days and nights we have dedicated to our lusts, our excesses, the importunities and solicitations we have used to mend our fortunes; we should not be able to set down one hour for every year of our life, I fear not one hour for our whole life, which we have solemnly spent to mend our Christianity; in which we have devoutly considered the majesty and providence and goodness of God, the reason and the end of our own creation; that there is such a place as Heaven for the reward of those who do well, or hell for the punishment of the wicked: for if we had spent but one hour in the contemplating those particulars, which are the first and most general notions of Christianity, it were not possible but we should be startled out of our lethargic laziness, and should
make some progress in the practice of Christianity, as well as in those paths and roads that lead to our pleasure or profit. What is this inadvertency and incogitency, but to believe that, as we received this badge of Christianity in our infancy when we knew not of it, so it will grow and increase upon us in our sleep and times of leisure, without taking notice of it; that the little water that was thrown upon our face in baptism, was enough to preserve the beauty of God's image in us, without any addition of moisture from ourselves, either by tears in our repentance, or so much as by sweat in our industry and labour : and to declare to all the world, that we hold the life of a Christian to be nothing else, but spending so many days as nature allows us, in a climate where the gospel of Christ is suffered to be preached, how little soever desired to be practised. If we would so number our days, that is, so consider of them, as to order and dispose some part of our time, one hour in a day, one day in ten, but to think of God, and what he hath done for us ; to remember that we are Chris. tians, and the obligation that thereby lies upon'us ; that there will be a day of judgment, and that we must appear at that day: though it may be it would be a difficult thing at the first, in that set time, to apply our unexercised and uninformed thoughts to so devout and religious an exercise
as we should; yet, I say, if we would but so set apart a time for that purpose, as to resolve at that time constantly to do nothing else, how perfunctorily soever we did that, we should by degrees bring ourselves from sober and humble thoughts, to pious and godly thoughts, till we found ourselves growing to perfect Christians, as to confess we were not worthy of that title before.
Next the sadness of reviewing the expence of our time, in order to our service of God, and the health and prosperity of our souls; it is a melancholy consideration how we spend our time with reference to ourselves, to the obtaining that which we most desire, to consider how our time goes from us; for we are hardly active enough to be thought to spend it. We live rather the life of vegetatives or sensitives, suffer ourselves to grow, and please and satisfy our appetites, than the lives of reasonable men, endued with faculties to discern the natures and differences of things, and to use and govern both. There is not a man in the world, but desires to be, or to be thought to be, a wise man; and yet, if he considered how little he contributes himself thereunto, he might wonder to find himself in any tolerable degree of understanding. How many men are there, nay, in comparison of mankind, how few are there but such, who since they were able to think, and could chuse