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SERM. we have time in our hands, and are not barred from XLVIII.

hopes of mercy; now that it is not extremely difficult, or not absolutely impossible, let us in God's name lay hold on the occasion, let us speedily and earnestly set upon the work. Further yet,

6. We should consider, that we are mortal and frail, and thence any designs of future reformation may be clipt off, or intercepted by death; which is always creeping toward us, and may, for all we can tell, be very near at hand. You say you will repent to-morrow : but are you sure you shall have a morrow to repent inm? Have you an hour in your hand, , or one minute at your disposal ? Have you a lease to shew for any term of life? Can you claim or reckon upon the least portion of time without his leave, who bestoweth life, and dealeth out time, and

ordereth all things as he pleaseth? Can you anyJob xii. 10. wise descry the just measure of your days, or the xiv

. 5. vii. bounds of your appointed time, without a special Psal. xxxix. revelation from him, in whose hands is your breath; Dan. v. 23. and with whom alone the number of your months Prov. xxvii. is registered ? Boast not thyself of to-morrow ; for Dim oldas so thou knowest not what a day may bring forth, ritstas itiba" un saith the Wise Man; boast not of it, that is, do not vragyban pretend it to be at thy disposal, presume not upon Bas. M.exh. any thing that may befall therein ; for whilst thou ad Bapt.

presumest thereon, may it not be said unto thee, as Luke xii. to the rich projector in the gospel, Thou fool, this

night shall thy soul be required of thee? Doth not, secluding hidden decrees, every man's life hang upon a thread very slender and frail ? Is it not subject to many diseases lurking within, and to a

m Qui pænitenti veniam spospondit, peccanti crastinum diem non promisit. Greg. in Evang. Hom. ix.

4. XC. 12.



thousand accidents flying about us? How many, SERM.

XLVIII. that might have promised themselves as fair scope as we can, have been unexpectedly snapt away r! How many have been cropt in the flower of their age and vigour of their strength! Doth not every day present experiments of sudden death? Do we not continually see that observation of the Preacher verified, Man knoweth not his time: as the fishes Eccles. ix. that are taken in an evil net, and as the birds are caught in the snare, so are the sons 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"; the former visibly stand upon the brink of eternity, the latter walk upon a bottomless quag, into which unawares they may slump: 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, lest all opportunity forsake us; to cut off our sinning, lest 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 it is promised, Length of Prov. ii. 2. days, and long life, and peace, shall be added unto thee; so being immaturely snatched hence is the punishment awarded to impious practice: so it is threatened, that evil men shall be cut off ; that Ps. xxxvii. bloody and deceitful men shall not live out half ́s. lv. 23.

η Τί γάρ οίδας, άνθρωπε αμαρτήσας, εί ημέρας ζήσεις εν τώδε τώ βίω, ίνα και μετανοήσης, &c.

“Ότι άδηλος η έξοδός σου εκ του βίου υπάρχει, και εν αμαρτία τελευτήσαντι μετάνοια ουκ έσται, &c. Const. Αp. ii. 12.


xvi. 15

45, 46.

SERM. their days; that God will wound the head of his XLVIII. enemies, and the hairy scalp of such an one as Ps. Ixviii. goeth on still in his wickedness: the very being

unmindful of their duty is the cause why men are Rev. iii. 3. thus surprised; for, If, saith God, thou dost not

watch, I shall come upon thee as a thief, and

thou shalt not know when I come upon thee. And, Luke xii. If, saith our Lord, that servant 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 nature and slippery state, it be uncertain when we shall be summoned thereto; if our negligence may abridge and accelerate the term; is it not

very reasonable to observe those advices of our Matt. xxv. Lord; Watch, for ye do not know the day, nor the

hour, when the Son of man cometh. Take heed Mark xiii. to yourselves, lest at any time your heart be over

charged with surfeiting and drunkenness, and

cares of this life, and so that day come upon you Luke xii. unawares. Let your loins be girded about, and 15, 35, 36.

your lamps burning, and ye yourselves like men

that wait for your Lord: and to take the counsel Ecclus.v.7. 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 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.

13. xxiv. 42.





PSALM cxix. 60.

I made haste, and delayed not to keep thy commandments. I PROCEED to the considerations which yet re- SERM. main to be spoken to.

XLIX. 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, 'Agrías apóthat keepeth us from rousing and bestirring our-owah. Simpl. . selves 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 Animal hoc in estimating the worth, and provident in descrying Sagax, &c. the consequences of things; whereas other creatures, coce de by impulse of sense, do only fix their regard on pre- Offic. i. sent appearances; which peculiar excellency by stupidity and improvidence we forfeit, degenerating into brutes; and negligence of that, which we dis

As ex

SERM. cern mainly to concern us, is a quality somewhat XLIX. 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 thing commonly more reproachful than want of courage : so bad are the causes of delay.

2. And the effects are no less unhappy, being disappointment, damage, trouble, and sorrow. pedition (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, Mndir era- to defer nothing, Alexander did accomplish those Successus mighty feats, which make such a clatter in story; instare, &c and Cæsar more by the rapid quickness and, for

wardness of undertaking, than by the greatness of courage, and skilfulness of conduct, did work out those enterprises, which purchased to his name so much glory and renown ;) so delay and slowness do spoil all business, do keep off success at distance from us; thereby opportunity is lost, and advantages slip away; our courage doth flag, and our spirit languisheth; our endeavours strike faintly, and are easily repelled; whence disappointment necessarily doth spring, attended with vexation".

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

urgere suos,

Luc, i,


Plerisque in rebus tarditas et procrastinatio odiosa est. Cic. Philip. 6.

Αιεί δ' άμβολιεργός ανήρ ατησι παλαίει. Ηes. Dum deliberamus quando incipiendum est, incipere jam serum

Quint. xii. 7.


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