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SERM. How many have been cropt in the flower of their age, XLVIII. and vigour of their strength? Doth not every day present
experiments of sudden death? Do we not continually see Ecclef. ix. that observation of the Preacher verified, Man knoweth
not his time : as the fishes that are taken in an evil net, and as the birds are caught in the snare, so are the fons of men Snared in an evil time, when it cometh suddenly upon them? Old men are ready to drop of themselves, and young men are easily brushed or shaken down n; the former visibly stand upon the brink of eternity, the latter walk upon a bottomless quag, into which unawares they may lump; who then can anywise be secure? We are all therefore highly concerned to use our life, while we have it; to catch the first opportunity, left all opportunity forsake us; to cut off our sinning, left ourselves be cut off before it; and that the rather, because by lavishing, or misemploying our present time, we may lose the future, provoking God to bereave us of it:; for as prolongation of time is a
reward of piety; as to observance of the commandments Prov. iii. 2. it is promised, Length of days, and long life, and peace,
Shall be added unto thee; so being immaturely snatched
hence is the punishment awarded to impious practice : so Pi. xxxvii. it is threatened, that evil men shall be cut off ; that bloody
lv og and deceitful men Mall not live out half their days; that Pfal. Ixviii. God will wound the head of his enemies, and the hairy
Scalp of such an one as goeth on still in his wickedness: the
very being unmindful of their duty is the cause why men Rev. iii. 3. are thus surprised; for, If, faith God, thou dost not watch, xvi. 15.
I shall come upon thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know Luke xii. when I come upon thee. And, If, faith our Lord, that fer
vant doth say in his heart, My Lord delayeth his coming, &c. the Lord of that servant will come in a day when he looketh not for him, &c.
If then it be certain, that we must render a strict account of all our doings here ; if, by reason of our frail
9. Plal. lv
" T vàẹ oils, ex9gest ause agas, tỉ quipes sus iv Tạài rỹ Bí , xa xỉ ustuvohons, &c.
“Οτι άδηλος η έξοδος σε έκ τύ βία υπάρχει, και εν αμαρτία τελευτήσαντι μετάνοια 'xicus, &c. Conf. Ap. ii. 12.
nature and Nippery state, it be uncertain when we shall be SERM. fummoned thereto; if our negligence may abridge and XLVIII. accelerate the term ; is it not very reasonable to observe those advices of our Lord; Watch, for ye do not know the Matt. xxv. day, nor the hour, when the Son of man cometh. Take heed 43. * to yourselves, left at any time your heart be overcharged Mark xiii. with surfeiting and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and Luke xii. so that day come upon you unawares. Let your loins be 15, 35, 36. 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, Ecclus.V.7, and put not off from day to day; for suddenly Mall 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 shew 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,
THE DANGER AND MISCHIEF OF DELAYING
Psalm cxix. 60.
SERM. I PROCEED to the considerations which yet remain to XLIX. 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 concern'Agyias srcó- ments; or Noth, that keepeth us from rousing and bestir
a. ring 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 dis
pofitions are very base and shameful. It is the prerogaAnimal hoc tive of human nature to be sagacious in estimating the providum, worth, and provident in descrying the consequences of sagax, &c. Cic. de Leg. things; whereas other creatures, by impulse of sense, do j. Cic. de Offic.i. de only fix their regard on present appearances; which pecu
liar 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; Noth is no less despicable,
rendering a man fit for nothing; nor is there any thing SERM. commonly more reproachful than want of courage : fo XLIX, bad are the causes of delay.
2. And the effects are no less unhappy, being disappointment, damage, trouble, and forrow. As expedition (catching advantages and opportunities, keeping the spirit up in its heat and vigour, making forcible impressions wherever it lighteth, driving on the current of success) doth subdue business, and achieve great exploits, (as by practising his motto, to defer nothing, Alexander did ac- Mndiy dvacomplish those mighty feats, which make such a clatter Succeffus in story; and Cæsar more by the rapid quickness and for- urgere suns,
inftare, &ç, wardness of undertaking, than by the greatness of cou- Luc. i.' rage, and skilfulness of conduct, did work out those enterprises, which purchased to his name so much glory and renown ;) so delay and nowness do spoil all bufiness, do keep off success at distance from us ; thereby opportunity is loft, and advantages flip away; our courage doth fag, and our spirit languisheth; our endeavours strike faintly, and are easily repelled; whence disappointment neceffarily doth spring, attended with vexationa. - 3. Again, we may consider, that to set upon our duty is a great step toward the performance of it: if we can resolve well, and a little push forward, we are in a fair way to dispatch; to begin, they say, is to have half done b; to set out is a good part of the journey; to rise betimes is often harder than to do all the day's work : entering the town is almost the same with taking it; it is so in all business, it is chiefly so in moral practice : for if we can find in our hearts to take our leave of fin, if we can disengage ourselves from the witcheries of present allurement,
• Plerisque in rebus tarditas et procrastinatio odiofa eft. Cic. Philip. 6.
Als ik u borsspyös erine örnei tahaís. Hef. Dum deliberamus quando incipiendun eft, incipere jam ferum eft. Quint. xii. 7.
o Dimidium facti qui cæpit habet. Hor. Ep. i. 2.
To duoxreis nai duoraroodwroy riro isi, rò duondñres irreñvas riñs sisóde xai rau apodégus äraolei tñs potavolas. 1b. p. 79.
SERM. if we can but get over the threshold of virtuous conversaXLIX. tion, we shall find the rest beyond expectation smooth and
expedite; we shall discover such beauty in virtue, we shall taste so much sweetness in obedience, as greatly will encourage us to proceed therein c.
4. Again : we may consider, that our time itself is a gift, or a talent committed to us, for the improvement whereof we are responsible no less than for our wealth, our power, our credit, our parts, and other such advan
tages, wherewith for the serving of God, and furthering Eph. v. 16 our own salvation, we are entrusted: To redeem the time Col. iv. 5. .
is a precept, and of all precepts the most necessary to be observed ; for that without redeeming (that is, embracing and well employing) time we can do nothing well; no good action can be performed, no good reward can be procured by us : well may we be advised to take our best
care in husbanding it, seeing justly of all things it may be Nodursaí reckoned most precious; its price being inestimable, and
**its loss irreparable ; for all the world cannot purchase λαμα.
one moment of it more than is allowed us ; neither can it, when once gone, by any means be recovered : so much indeed as we save thereof, so much we preserve of ourselves; and so far as we lose it, so far in effect we say ourselves, or deprive ourselves of life ; yea by mif-spending it we do worse than so, for a dead neep, or a cessation from being, is not so bad as doing ill; all that while we live backward, or decline toward a state much worse than annihilation itself. Farther,
5. Consider, that of all time the present is ever the best Omnia quæ for the purpose of amending our life. It is the only fure sunt in in-."
in time, that which we have in our hands, and may call our certo ja- own; whereas the past time is irrevocably gone from us; cent, proti- and
" and the future may never come to us: it is absolutely Sen. de Vit. (reckoning from our becoming sensible of things, and acbrev. 9.
countable for our actions,) the best, as to our capacity of improving it;
c Honeftas, quæ principio anxia habetur, ubi contigerit, voluptati luxu. riæquc habetur, Vi&, in Sept. Sev.