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it, for the time is at hand, I shall shortly be delivered into the hands of sinners to be crucified. When the master of the vineyard saw some standing idle at the eleventh hour, he checked them for it; “Why stand ye here all the day idle ?” Do you not know, that it is but one hour until night; eleven parts of your life are already gone, there is but one of twelve remaining. Is it not a shame for you yet to be idle? How ought you now to hasten, when but the twelfth part of your short life yet remaineth!
A great part of this short life is taken up in such a manner, that little of it is well spent. All the time of our life, till the time of our conversion, may be put aside, as no time or life to us. And after our effectual calling, sleeping takes up a large part of our time; eating and drinking another part, and far more of it is spent in doing nothing, or in doing that which is evil. Let a man be as frugal and as thrifty of his time as he can, yet much of his life will go this way. In our old age many weaknesses draw on, and when we would do good, we are disabled by age and sickness. We are long ere we begin to do the work of God, and are soon weary of well doing. Our glass is almost run, before we begin to live indeed, and at the entry of our spiritual life, we begin to die by infirmity; so that by a just survey of our time, we shall easily find, that God, who asks the tithe of our substance, scarcely gets the hundredth part of the time of those who know best how to spend it.
Consider the greatness of the work that every Christian has to do in this short time. How great a
work is it to get a broken heart, our hearts being naturally hearts of stone ! How great a task to get an established assurance of the love of God, we having such evil hearts of unbelief! How great a work to get forward, and grow in grace, our hearts being so full of corruption, eating out and wasting the strength of grace; so inclined to backsliding and declining, having so many things to press down, so many weights hanging on! How great a task to escape the corruption that is in the world, and to escape so many snares as are set in all places! How great a work to get a free and enlarged heart! How hard to walk constantly in the Spirit! How hard to do the work and perform the service of God, in the power of the Spirit! How difficult to walk in a constant communion with the Lord! What diligence then ought we to use in the service of God, being so much straitened with time, and having so much to do, and so great a task laid upon us !
Moreover, the shortness of life, compared with the greatness of the account that is to be given at the end of this life, should move us with great diligence to hasten in the work and service of God. A great account is to be given to God after a short life, and therefore great diligence must be used, that it may be an happy and joyful account, and that we may be sure to have all our sins blotted out of the account, and to have many works of obedience, many pleasing services acceptable to God through Jesus Christ, put into the reckoning. Every master calls his servants to account for what he puts into their hands, as to the improvement thereof. And God will call men to a reckoning for every talent, and inquire how they have improved them; what they have done for the glory of God, for the interest of Christ, and for the good of their own and others' souls. All our talents are written down; our using, our abusing them; our spending, our mispending them : all the times of God's patience, forbearance, and long-sufferance, are registered in God's account book. All the mercies and blessings we have received; all the ordinances of God, and means of grace we have enjoyed; all the powerful sermons we have heard,-all are written down in the book of God's remembrance, and in the book of our consciences. We shall all be called to give an account, Matt. xxv. 15—19. Let us all mind the day of account, and not put it far from us, in hope that our Master will defer his coming; but let every one labour so to do, as he desires to be found at his corning.
Furthermore, consider that everlasting state which follows upon so short a life, and which shall be according to this short life, and suitable unto it. Now, when everlasting life follows upon a short life, well spent to the glory of God, and everlasting woe and misery upon a life, spent according to the course of this world, by those that live in the flesh, oh what speed, industry, and diligence should men use in improving their short lives in the service of God, that they may inherit everlasting life, and escape everlasting torment!
Finally; after this short life, we shall have no more
such opportunities (as now) to glorify God here on earth; we shall hear no more sermons, enjoy no more sabbaths, his Spirit shall strive with us no longer “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom in the grave where thou goest,” Eccl. ix. 10. Death will take away those opportunities which the life of man affords ; therefore every man ought to put forth his might and best strength in improving his short life to the glory of God.
How may this reprove our prodigal and lavish mispending of our short lives! Men that have but a little store of such and such things are sparing and thrifty in dispensing and disposing them : scarcity of any sort of provision induces men to be sparing of it. What is more scanty than time ? What has a man less store of than of life ? No man knows how little he has, and he that has most, has but little. Many reckon upon many years of life to come, who perhaps have not so many days, it may be not so many hours, as they reckon years. The truth is, no man is sure of any more than the present time of his life. All the time past which was ill-spent, is lost; and whether any be yet remaining to you is uncertain: and if any be, it is as likely to slide away from you without profit, as that which is past, if now you are lavish and careless in losing and casting away the present time. How easily may Satan lead you on step by step to hell, whilst you please yourself with thoughts afar off for heaven, with remote purposes for heaven and newness of life! Have you not passed over many weeks and days already, when you had a purpose to have turned unto the Lord, and to have broken off your sins by repentance? You have the same deceitful heart still, to flatter you with hopes and purposes of repentance for time to come. There is the same devil still to draw you on from day to day, from week to week, to persuade you from time to time to take a longer day, until the days of your short life waste away, and you perish in your sin, and find no place for repentance.
Oh, how should this make men tremble: your whole life is but as an hand-breadth, a short space of time! Oh then think how wretchedly lavish you have been already of this short, precious time! It may be you have not so many weeks behind, as you have lost years already; and all the days of your life, which you have spent in a state of impenitency and unregeneracy, are lost ; and you have no fruit of them in respect of salvation. The longer you have lived in the flesh, and have not been led by the Spirit, you are the nearer hell and condemnation ; and all this while you have been “heaping up wrath against the day of wrath.” And is not this time wofully cast away ? However you have thrived in the world, increased your outward estate, and gotten things about you, yet all your time is lost; and it were better for you never to have seen those days, if you have lived an impenitent and unregenerate life. Oh then waste no more of this precious time of this short life! There is so much of this precious oil spilt on the ground that there are but a few drops left to nourish the