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what dismal account must the other part take of themselves then) would seriously examine and revolve the expense of their own time, they would even wonder at the little good they find in themselves, and not be able to tell to the well-spending of what part of their time those good inclinations are to be imputed. We think it a commendable thing (and value ourselves much upon it) to take great pains, to use much industry, to make ourselves fine gentlemen, to get languages, to learn arts; it may be some for which we are the worse : and we acknowledge, that that is not to be done, nay, any exercise of the body to be learned, or the most mechanic trade, without great pains and in-. dustry; but to make ourselves Christians, to know God, and what he expects from us, and what will be acceptable to him, we take not the least pains, use not the least industry. I am persuaded, if many of us, who have lived to good years, did faithfully compute in what particular meditations and actions we have spent our time, we should not be able, amongst the years we have spent in pursuing our pleasures, our profits, our ambition, the days and nights we have dedicated to our lusts, our excesses, the importunities and solicitations we have used to mend our fortunes; we should not be able to set down one hour for every year of our life, I fear not one hour for our whole life, which we have solemnly spent to mend our Christianity; in which we have devoutly considered the majesty and providence and goodness of God, the reason and the end of our own creation; that there is such a place as Heaven for the reward of those who do well, or hell for the punishment of the wicked; for if we
had spent but one hour in the contemplating those particulars, which are the first and most general notions of Christianity, it were not possible but we should be startled out of our lethargic laziness, and should make some progress in the practice of Christianity, as well as in those paths and roads that lead to our pleasure or profit. What is this ioadvertency and incogitancy, but to believe that, as we received this badge of Christianity in our infancy when we knew not of it, so it will grow and increase upon us in our sleep and times of leisure, without taking notice of it ? that the little water that was thrown upon our face in baptism, was enough to preserve the beauty of God's image in us, without any addition of moisture from ourselves, either by tears in our repentance, or so much as by sweat in our industry and labour ? and to declare to all the world, that we hold the life of a Christian to be nothing else, but spending so many days as nature allows us, in a climate where the gospel of Christ is suffered to be preached, how little soever desired to be practised? If we would so ber our days,” that is, so consider of them, as to order and dispose some part of our time, one hour in a day, one day in ten, but to think of God, and what he hath done for us; to remember that we are Christians, and the obligation that thereby lies upon us; that there will be a day of judgment, and that we must appear at that day : though it may be it would be a difficult thing at the first, in that set time, to apply our unexercised and uninformed thoughts to so devout and religious an exercise as we should ; yet, I say, if we would but so set apart a time for that purpose, as to resolve at that time
constantly to do nothing else, how perfunctorily soever we did that, we should by degrees bring ourselves from sober and humble thoughts, to pious and godly thoughts, till we found ourselves growing to perfect Christians, as to confess we were not worthy of that title before.
Next the sadness of reviewing the expense of our time, in order to our service of God, and the health and prosperity of our souls; it is a melancholy consideration how we spend our time with reference to ourselves, to the obtaining that which we most desiré, to consider how our time goes from us; for we are hardly active enough to be thought to spend it. We live rather the life of vegetatives or sensatives, suffer ourselves to grow, and please and satisfy our appetites, than the lives of reason.. able men, endued with faculties to discern the natures and differences of things, and to use and govern both. There is not a man in the world, but desires to be, or to be thought to be, a wise man; and yet, if he considered how little he contributes himself thereunto, he might wonder to find himself in any tolerable degree of understanding. How many men are there, nay, in comparison of mankind, how few are there but such, who since they were able to think, and could choose whether they would or no, never seriously spent two hours by themselves in so much as thinking what would make them wiser ; but sleep and eat and play, which makes the whole circle of their lives, and are not in seven years together (except asleep) one hour by themselves. It is a strange thing, to see the care and solicitude that is used to strengthen and cherish the body; the study and
industry and skill to form and shape every member and limb to beauty and comeliness; to teach the hands and feet and eyes the order and gracefulness of motion; to cure any defects of nature or accident, with any hazard and pain, insomuch as we oftentimés see even those of the weaker sex, and less inclined to suffering, willingly endure the breaking of a bone that cannot otherwise be made straight; and all this ado but to make a handsome and beautiful person, which at best is but the picture of a man or woman, without a wise soul: when to the information and improvement of that jewel, which is the essence of man; and which unconsidered, even that which we so labour for and are proud of, our beauty and handsomeness, is by many degrees inferior to that of a thousand beasts and other creatures; to the cultivating and shaping and directing of the mind, we give scarce a thought, not an hour of our life; never suppress a passion, never reform an affection; insomuch as (though never age had fewer wise men to shew to the world) we may justly wonder we are not all fools and idiots, when we consider how little we have contributed to make ourselves other: and doubtless if nature (whom we are ready to accuse of all our weaknesses and perversenesses) had not out of her store bountifully supplied us, our own art and industry would never have kept up our faculties to that little vile height they are at. Neither in truth do many believe or understand that there needs any other diligence or art to be applied to the health of the mind, than the sober ordering and disposing of the body; and it is well if we can bring ourselves to that reasonable conclusion. - Whereas when we
prescribe ourselves a wholesome and orderly course of diet, for the strengthening of our natures, and confirming our healths; if we would consider what diet to give our minds, what books to read for the informing and strengthening our understandings, and conclude that it is as impossible for the mind to be improved without those supplies, as for the body to subsist without its natural food: if, when we allow ourselves recreations and exercises, to cherish and refresh our spirits, and to waste and dispel humours, without which a well-tempered constitution cannot be preserved, we would allow some exercises to our minds, by a sober and frank conversation with learned, honest, and prudent men, whose informations, animadversions, and experience might remove and expel the vanities and levities which infect qur understandings : if when an indisposition or distemper of body, an ill habit of health, calls upon us to take a rougher course with ourselves, to vomit up or purge away those choleric and phlegmatic and melancholic humours, which burn and cloy and suffocate the vital parts and passages; to let out that blood which is too rank, too corrupted for our veins, and to expel those fumes and vapours which hurt our stomachs and ascend to our brains : if we would, I say, as diligently examine the distemper of our minds, revolve the rage and fury of our choler, the dulness and laziness of our phlegm, the sullenness and pride of our melancholy; if we would correct this affection, and draw out that passion; expel those fumes and vapours of ambition which disturb and corrupt our reason and judgment, by sober and serious meditation of the excellency and benefit of patience,