« PreviousContinue »
begin ;” and at this there followed a general consternation in the whole assembly, and all men forgot the business they were met about, and betook themselves to their prayers: this, added to the horror raised by the storm, looked very dismally; insomuch, that my author, a man of no ordinary resolution and firmness of mind, confessed, it made a great impression on himself. But he told me, that he did observe the judge was not a whit affected, and was going on with the business of the court in his ordinary manner : from which he made this 'conclusion, That his thoughts were so well fixed, that he believed, if the world had been really to end, it would have given him no considerable disturbance.”
Bishop Jeremy Taylor.
THE FIRST GENERAL INSTRUMENT OF HOLY
LIVING : CARE OF OUR TIME.
He that is choice of his time will also be choice of his company, and choice of his actions ; lest the first engage him in vanity and loss; and the latter, by being criminal, be a throwing his time and himself away, and a going back in the accounts of eternity.
God hath given to man a short time here upon earth; and yet, upon this short time eternity depends : but so, that, for every hour of our life (after we are persons capable of laws, and know good from evil), we must give account to the Great Judge of men and angels. And this is it which our Blessed Saviour told us, that we must give account for every idle word: not meaning, that every word which is not designed to edification, or is less prudent, shall be reckoned for a sin; but that the time which we spend in our idle talking and unprofitable discoursings, that time which might and ought to have been employed to spiritual and useful purposes, that is to be accounted for.
For we must remember, that we have a great work to do, many enemies to conquer, many evils to prevent, much danger to run through, many difficulties to be mastered, many necessities to serve, and much good to do, many children to provide for, or many friends to support, or many poor to reheve, or many diseases to cure, besides the needs of nature and of relation, our private and our public cares, and duties of the world, which necessity and the providence of God have adopted into the family of Religion.
Idleness is the greatest prodigality in the world: it throws
away that which is invaluable in respect of its present use, and irreparable when it is passed; being to be recovered by no power of art or nature. But the way to secure and improve our time, we may practise in the following Rules :
RULES FOR EMPLOYING OUR TIME.
1. In the morning, when you awake, accustom yourself to think first upon God, or something in order to his service : and at night, also, let him close thine
eyes; and let your sleep be necessary and healthful, not idle and expensive of time, beyond the needs and conveniences of nature. And sometimes be curious to see the preparation which the sun makes, when he is coming forth from his chambers of the east.
2. Let every man that hath a calling, be diligent in pursuance of his employment, so as not lightly, or
without reasonable occasion, to neglect it in any
of those times which are usually, and by the custom of prudent persons and good husbands, employed in it.
3. Let all the intervals, or void spaces of time, be employed in prayers, reading, meditating the works of nature, recreation, charity, friendliness, and neighbourhood, and means of spiritual and corporal health.
4. The resting-day of Christians, and festivals of the Church, must, in no sense, be days of idleness ; but let them be spent in the works of the day; that is, of religion and charity, according to the rules appointed.
5. Avoid the company of drunkards and busybodies, and all such as are apt to talk much to little purpose; for no man can be provident of his time that is not prudent in the choice of his company: and, if one of the speakers be vain, tedious, and trifling, he that hears, and he that answers, in the discourse, are equal losers of their time.
6. Never talk with any man, or undertake any trifling employment, merely to pass the time away; for every day well spent may become a day of salvation.
7. In the midst of the works of thy calling, often retire to God in short prayers and ejaculations; and those may make
the want of those larger portions of time which, it may be, thou desirest for devotion, and in which thou thinkest other persons have advantage of thee; for so thou reconcilest the outward work
and thy inward calling, the Church and the commonwealth, the employment of the body, and the interest of thy soul. For, be sure that God is present at thy breathing and hearty sighings of prayer, as soon as at the longest offices of less-busied persons.
8. Let your employment be such as may become a reasonable person, and not be a business fit for children or distracted people; but fit for your age and understanding. For a man may be very idly busy, and take great pains to so little purpose, that, in his labours and expense of time, he shall serve no end but of folly and vanity. There are some people who are busy; but it is, as Domitian was, in catching flies.
9. Let your employment be fitted to your person and calling. Some there are, that employ their time in affairs infinitely below the dignity of their person; and, being called by God or by the republic to help to bear great burdens, and to judge a people, enfeeble their understandings, and disable their persons by sordid and brutish business. Thus Nero went up and down Greece, and challenged the fiddlers at their trade. Æropus, a Macedonian king, made lanterns : Harcatius, the king of Parthia, was a mole-catcher ; and Biantes, the Lydian, filed needles.
10. Let your employment be such as becomes a Christian; that is, in no sense mingled with sin.
11. Persons of great quality, and of no trade, are to be most prudent and curious in their employment and traffic of time. They that are learned, know the worth of time; and they are to prepare themselves