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if our negligence may abridge and accelerate the term; is it not very reasonable to observe those advices of our Lord; Watch, for ye do not know the day, nor the hour, when the Son of man cometh.' Take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your heart be overcharged with surfeiting and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come on you unawares.' 'Let your loins be girded about, and your lamps burning, and ye yourselves like men that wait for your Lord :' and to take the counsel of the wise man, Make no tarrying to turn unto the Lord, and put not off from day to day; for suddenly shall the wrath of the Lord come forth, and in thy security thou shalt be destroyed, and perish in the day of vengeance.'
These considerations plainly do show how very foolish, how extremely dangerous and destructive the procrastinating our reformation of life is: there are some others of good moment, which we shall reserve.
SUMMARY OF SERMON XLIX.
PSALM CXIX.-VERSE 60.
SOME Considerations still remain to be noticed.
1. We may consider the causes of delay in this case, as in all cases of moment, to be bad and unworthy of a man; the consequence either of stupidity, or improvidence, or negligence, or sloth; all which dispositions are base and shameful.
2. And the effects are no less unhappy, being disappointment, damage, trouble, and sorrow: for delay and slowness spoil all business, and keep off success, whence disappointment and vexation necessarily spring.
3. Again, to set on our duty is a great step towards the performance of it: if we can resolve well and push a little forward, we are in a fair way of dispatching our business, &c.
4. We may also consider that our time itself is a gift, or a talent committed to us, for the improvement of which we are responsible no less than for our wealth, our power, our abilities, and other such advantages, wherewith we are intrusted for the serving of God, and furthering our own salvation. To redeem the time is among the most necessary of all precepts.
5. Moreover of all time the present is ever the best for the amending our life: for it is the only sure time we have in our hands and can call our own, &c.
6. If at any time we do reflect seriously on the time that hath slipped away from us unprofitably, it will seem grievous to us to lose more; the morrow will appear too late to commence a good life: especially if we consider,
7. That for ill living now we shall come hereafter to be sorry, if not with a wholesome contrition, yet with a painful regret: we shall certainly one day repent, if not of our sin, yet of our sinning; if not so as to correct ourselves for the future, yet so as to condemn ourselves for what is past.
8. On the contrary, if, laying hold on occasion, we set ourselves to do well, reflexion thereon will yield us great pleasure and satisfaction, &c.
9. Again, during all the time of our continuing in sin, we treasure up wrath, or accumulate guilt; and the larger our guilt is, the sorer must be our repentance, the more bitter our
10. And whenever the sin is pardoned, yet indelible marks and monuments thereof will abide though the punishment may be remitted, the desert of it cannot be removed, and the fear of it will ever stay in our memory.
11. Again, so much time as we spend in disobedience, so much of reward do we forfeit; for commensurate with our works shall be our rewards: One star, says the Apostle, differeth from another star in glory, &c.
12. Farther, let us consider that whatever our age, whatever our condition or case may be, the advice not to procrastinate our obedience is very suitable and useful.
Art thou young? then it is most proper to enter on a course of living well; for when we set out, we should be put in a right way; and that age, as it is most liable to be corrupted by vice, is most capable of being imbued with virtue. Our actions also are then the first-fruits of our life, and are therefore most fit and due sacrifices to our Maker: moreover, if we keep innocency in our youth, it will yield us inexpressible comfort in all the subsequent stages of life: exhortations on this head from profane and sacred authors.
Again, are we old? it is then high time to begin; we have less time to spare from our most important business; we stand
then in most imminent danger, on the edge of perdition, and should therefore be quick to escape. This age too hath some peculiar advantages, which we should embrace; the diminution of its passions, its acquirement of experience, its being excused from compliance with the fashions of the world, &c. Again; be our condition what it will, this advice is reasonable. Are we in health? we owe God thanks for this excellent gift, and our best gratitude is to improve it for his service. Are we sick? it is then time to consider our frailty, and to obviate its worst consequences. Are we rich? it is expedient to amend, lest prosperity should corrupt us. Are we poor and afflicted? it is then especially needful, that we may acquire comfort for our souls, and a certain succor in distress.
13. Lastly, we may consider, that, abating all the dreadful hazards and rueful consequences of abiding in sin, it is most reasonable to abandon it: for virtue in itself is far more eligible than vice, and the life of a good man is in all respects to be preferred above the life of a bad one excellent qualities of virtue, and advantages of cultivating it dilated on to the end.
THE DANGER AND MISCHIEF OF DELAYING REPENTANCE.
PSALM CXIX.-VERSE 60.
I made haste, and delayed not to keep thy commandments.
I PROCEED to the considerations which yet remain to be spoken to.
1. We may consider the causes of delay in this case (as in all cases of moment) to be bad and unworthy of a man: what can they be but either stupidity, that we do not apprehend the importance of the affair; or improvidence, that we do not attend to the danger of persisting in sin; or negligence, that we do not mind our concernments; or sloth, that keepeth us from rousing and bestirring ourselves in pursuance of what appeareth expedient; or faintheartedness and cowardice, that we dare not attempt to cross our appetite, or our fancy? All which dispositions are very base and shameful. It is the prerogative of human nature to be sagacious in estimating the worth, and provident in descrying the consequences of things; whereas other creatures, by impulse of sense, do only fix their regard on present appearances; which peculiar excellency by stupidity and improvidence we forfeit, degenerating into brutes; and negligence of that which we discern mainly to concern us, is a quality somewhat beneath those, depressing us below beasts, which cannot be charged with such a fault; sloth is no less despicable, rendering a man fit for nothing; nor is there any