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given thy affections, thou wilt not grudge to give thy time. Natural necessity and the example of St. John, who recreated himself with sporting with a tame partridges, teach us, that it is lawful to relax and unbend our bow, but not to suffer it to be unready or unstrung.
17. Set apart some portions of every day for more solemn devotion and religious employment, which be severe in observing: and if variety of employment, or prudent affairs, or civil society press upon you, yet so order thy rule, that the necessary parts of it be not omitted; and though just occasions may make our prayers shorter, yet let nothing, but a violent, sudden, and impatient necessity, make thee, upon any one day, wholly to omit thy morning and evening devotions; which if you be forced to make very short, you may supply and lengthen with ejaculations and short retirements in the day-time, in the midst of your employment or of your company.
18. Do not the h "work of God negligently” and idly: let not thy heart be upon the world, when thy hand is lift up in prayer : and be sure to prefer an action of religion, in its place and proper season, before all 'worldly pleasure, letting secular things, that may be dispensed with in themselves, in these circumstances wait upon the other ; not like the patriarch, who ran from the altar in St. Sophia to his stable, in all his pontificals, and in the midst of his office, to see a colt newly fallen from his beloved and much valued mare Phorbante. More prudent and severe was that of Sir Tho mas More, who, being sent for by the king, when he was at his prayers in public, returned answer, he would attend him, when he had first performed his service to the King of kings And it did honour to Rusticus', that, when letters from Cæsar where given to him, he refused to open them, till the philosopher had done his lecture. In honouring God and doing his work, put forth all thy strength; for of that time only thou mayest be most confident that it is gained, which is prudently and zealously spent in God's service.
19. When the clock strikes, or however else you shall measure the day, it is good to say a short ejaculation every hour, that the parts and returns of devotion may be the measure of your time: and do so also in all the breaches of thy
& Cassian, Collat. 24. c. xxi.
h Jer. xlviii. 10.
i Plutarch. de Curiosit. c. xv.
sleep; that those spaces, which have in them no direct business of the world, may be filled with religion.
20. If, by thus doing, you have not secured your time by an early and fore-handed care, yet be sure by a timely diligence to redeem the time, that is, to be pious and religious in such instancesk, in which formerly you have sinned, and to bestow your time especially upon such graces, the contrary whereof you have formerly practised, doing actions of chastity and temperance with as great a zeal and earnestness, as you did once act your uncleanness; and then, by all arts, to watch against your present and future dangers, from day to day securing your standing : this is properly to redeem your time, that is, to buy your security of it at the rate of any labour and honest arts.
21. Let him, that is most busied, set apart somel “solemn time every year,” in which, for the time quitting all worldly business, he may attend wholly to fasting and prayer, and the dressing of his soul by confessions, meditations, and attendances upon God; that he may make up his accounts, renew his vows, make amends for his carelessness, and retire back again, from whence levity and the vanities of the world, or the opportunity of temptations, or the distraction of secular affairs, have carried him.
22. In this we shall be much assisted, and we shall find the work more easy, if, before we sleep, every nightm we examine the actions of the past day with a particular scrutiny, if there have been any accident extraordinary; as long discourse, a feast, much business, variety of company. If nothing but common hath happened, the less examination will suffice: only let us take care, that we sleep not without such a recollection of the actions of the day, as may represent any thing, that is remarkable and great, either to be the matter of sorrow or thanksgiving: for other things a general care is proportionable.
23. Let all these things be done prudently and moderately, not with scruple and vexation. For these are good advan
tages, but the particulars are not Divine commandments; and therefore are to be used, as shall be found expedient to every one's condition. For, provided that our duty be secured, for the degrees and for the instruments every man is permitted to himself and the conduct of such who shall be appointed to him. He is happy, that can secure every hour to a sober or a pious employment: but the duty consists not scrupulously in minutes and half hours, but in greater portions of time; provided that no minute be employed in sin, and the great portions of our time be spent in sober employment, and all the appointed days, and some portions of every day, be allowed for religion. In all the lesser parts of time, we are left to our own elections and prudent management, and to the consideration of the great degrees and differences of glory, that are laid up in heaven for us, according to the degrees of our care, and piety, and diligence.
The benefits of this exercise.
This exercise, besides that it hath influence upon our whole lives, it hath a special efficacy for the preventing of 1. beggarly sins, that is, those sins, which idleness and beggary usually betray men to; such as are lying, flattery, stealing, and dissimulation. 2. It is a proper antidote against carnal sins, and such as proceed from fulness of bread and emptiness of employment. 3. It is a great instrument of preventing the smallest sins and irregularities of our life, which usually creep upon idle, disemployed, and curious persons. 4. It not only teaches us to avoid evil, but engages us upon doing good, as the proper business of all our days. 5. It prepares us so against sudden changes, that we shall not easily be surprised at the sudden coming of the day of the Lord : for he, that is curious of his time, will not easily be unready and unfurnished.
Purity of Intention. That we should intend and design God's glory in every action we do, whether it be natural or chosen, is expressed by
St. Paul", " Whether ye eat or drink, do all to the glory of God.” Which rule when we observe, every action of nature becomes religious, and every meal is an act of worship, and shall have its reward in its proportion, as well as an act of prayer. Blessed be that goodness and grace of God, which, out of infinite desire to glorify and save mankind, would make the very works of nature capable of becoming acts of virtue, that all our life-time we may do him service.
This grace is so excellent, that it sanctifies the most common action of our life; and yet, so necessary, that, without it, the very best actions of our devotion are imperfect and vicious. For he that prays out of custom, or gives alms for praise, or fasts to be accounted religious, is but a pharisee in his devotion, and a beggar in his alms, and a hypocrite in his fast. But a holy end sanctifies all these and all other actions which can be made holy, and gives distinction to them, and procures acceptance.
For, as to know the end distinguishes a man from a beast, so to choose a good end distinguishes him from an evil man. Hezekiah repeated his good deeds upon his sick-bed, and obtained favour of God ; but the pharisee was accounted insolent for doingo the same thing: because this man did it to upbraid his brother, the other to obtain a mercy of God. Zacharias questioned with the angel about his message, and was made speechless for his incredulity ; but the blessed Virgin Mary questioned too, and was blameless; for she did it to inquire after the manner of the thing, but he did not believe the thing itself: he doubted of God's power, or the truth of the messenger; but she, only of her own incapacity. This was it, which distinguished the mourning of David from the exclamation of Saul; the confession of Pharaoh from that of Manasses ; the tears of Peter from the repentance of Judas : "for the praise is not in the deed done, but in the manner of its doing P. If a man visits his sick friend, and watches at his pillow for charity's sake, and because of his old affection, we approve it: but if he does it in hope of legacy, he is a vulture, and only watches for the carcass. The same things are honest and dishonest : the manner of doing them, and the end of the design, makes the separation.”
n I Cor. x. 31.
Si Rutilus, demensp Seneca.
Juven. Sat. 11.
Holy intention is to the actions of a man that which the soul is to the body, or form to its matter, or the root to the tree, or the sun to the world, or the fountain to a river, or the base to a pillar : for, without these, the body is a dead trunk, the matter is sluggish, the tree is a block, the world is darkness, the river is quickly dry, the pillar rushes into flatness and a ruin; and the action is sinful, or unprofitable and vain. The poor farmer, that gave a dish of cold water to Artaxerxes, was rewarded with a golden goblet; and he that gives the same to a disciple in the name of a disciple, shall have a crown: but if he gives water in despite, when the disciple needs wine or a cordial, his reward shall be, to want that water to cool his tongue.
But this duty must be reduced to rules :
Rules for our Intentions.
1. In every action reflect upon the end; and in your undertaking it, consider why you do it, and what you propound to yourself for a reward, and to your action as its end.
2. Begin every action in the name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost : the meaning of which is, 1. That we be careful, that we do not the action without the permission or warrant of God. 2. That we design it to the glory of God, if not in the direct action, yet at least in its consequence; if not in the particular, yet at least in the whole order of things and accidents. 3. That it may be so blessed, that what you intend for innocent and holy purposes, may not, by any chance, or abuse, or misunderstanding of men, be turned into evil, or made the occasion of sin.
3. Let every action of concernment be begun with prayer, that God would not only bless the action, but sanctify your purpose; and make an oblation of the action to God : holy and well intended actions being the best oblations and presents we can make to God; and, when God is entitled to them, he will the rather keep the fire upon the altar bright and shining.
4. In the prosecution of the action, renew and re-enkindle your purpose by short ejaculations to these purposes : “Not