Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.
To redeem is to reclaim by price, or recover by labour, that which has been lost or alienated; or to preserve by prudence that which is in danger. A metaphor taken from the practice of merchants, who observe the favourable seasons of buying and selling, of making profits and repairing losses, who keep regular accounts of their expenses and gains, and often inspect their affairs, to know whether their interest is in progress or decline.
I. It is here supposed that TIME IS PRECIOUS.
1. It is precious, because we have much business on our hands; business which relates, not to our bodies only, but to our souls; not merely to this life, but to the whole duration of our existence.
2. It is precious, because it is short and uncertain; and our work must be done soon, or it never can be done at all.
3. It is precious, because part, and with many, the greater part of it is gone already. What remains is increased in value, as it is contracted in length. We had none to waste at first; we have need to be frugal now.
II. WE MUST REGAIN THE TIME WHICH IS LOST. Time past, indeed, cannot be recalled. Each moment, which flies off, is gone forever, and will return no more. Like the wind, it passeth away and cometh not again. But we do the best we can toward the recovery of lost time, when we reflect with sorrow on follies past, and resolve to be wise in future.
III. WE MUST USE PRUDENCE TO SAVE, AND DILIGENCE TO IMPROVE, THE TIME THAT REMAINS. In vain you pretend to lament your past folly, unless you apply your heart to wisdom. Godly sorrow will work in you carefulness.
1. Enter on your work speedily.
2. Attend to your work with diligence.
3. Guard against the things which rob you of your time.
(1) An indolent habit is inconsistent with laudable actions. It creates imaginary, and magnifies real, difficulties arid dangers. It enervates the powers of the body, and stupefies the energy of the mind.
(2) A versatile humour is active, but wants patience. It flies from object to object too rapidly to appropriate or retain any. Time is lost, because nothing is prosecuted to effect.
(3) An excessive fondness for company and amusement is the cause of much waste of time. Diversions may be innocent: but then they must be
(a) well chosen;
(b) wisely timed;
(c) moderately used.
(4) Do every work in its season. Attend with discretion to the calls of duty, and you will save much time and prevent much loss. It is so in your worldly business. Make a good arrangement of its parts, and take up each part in its order, and you will execute the whole with facility and success; while your improvident neighbour, who leaves all his matters in confusion, and takes hold of his business as it happens, and usually at the wrong end, is always embarrassed with cares, straitened for time, and disappointed in the result.This attention to seasons is no less necessary in the work of your salvation.
1. Youth is the most promising season. Then the work is most easy, and attended with fewest obstructions; and then there is the fairest prospect of Divine concurrence. If that season is past with you, take the present; for the future is uncertain, and the difficulty of your work and the indisposition to attempt it will increase by delay.
2. The time of health is more favourable than a time of sickness; for you are now more capable of intense thought and persevering application, and better able to prove your sincerity.
3. There are some tender seasons, when the conscience is awakened, serious sentiments impressed, and good resolutions excited. Improve these seasons.
4. There are seasons friendly for particular duties. For your daily devotions, choose the hours when your mind can be most free from the occupations of the world, that you may attend on God without distraction. If you would advise or reprove a friend, take a time when you can speak to him in private; when you feel your own mind affectionate, and think his to be calm and tender; when you can address him inoffensively, and he may hear you dispassionately. Also in doing works of charity, observe opportunities.
5. Wisely divide your time among your various duties. Lawful things will become criminal in you, if they occupy your time so far as to exclude other things of greater importance. The duties of religion are consistent with each other, and may be made to harmonize in practice. If they interfere, it is because you throw them into confusion, and your time into disorder. Distribute your seasons properly, and arrange your works prudently, and you will find there is a time for everything.
(J. Lathrop, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.