I hurried without hesitating to keep Your commandments.
haste, and delayed not to observe thy commandments.
I. A GREAT PART OF MAN'S IRRELIGION IS IN THE DELAY OF PRESENT DUTY.
1. Most men purpose turning to Christ some time.
2. This purpose is one of man's greatest deceivers. It is the excuse for neglecting the present duty.
3. This purpose not fulfilled, progressively increases the difficulty of turning to Christ.
II. OBEDIENCE TO CHRIST IS OUR IMMEDIATE IMPERATIVE DUTY.
1. The wickedness of trifling with our convictions is very great.
2. The claims of Christ upon us are before all others, both in time and in importance.
3. God sometimes sends special influences to turn us to Christ. To neglect these is the quenching of the Spirit. - S.
I. PROCRASTINATION GENERALLY. In some cases this procrastinating temper, this disposition to put of[ from the present moment what ought to be done at the present moment, arises from actual indolence, a selfish love of ease; a kind of inertia of mind, a dislike of exertion; a kind of paralysis of spirit, only a voluntary one. In other cases it seems to be traceable to a lamentable want of decision of character — that fine, healthy tone of fixed, deliberate, unalterable resolution, with which every man ought to go forth in the business of life to those things which are proper to be done. It not unfrequently is the result of a timid mind, frightened at difficulty; it is the mark of a cowardly spirit, that starts at shadows — that means to act, but is always calculating the force of difficulties, and predicting opposition where no opposition is. But generally, after all, it is a vicious habit, acquired we may not perhaps be able to say how, by what accidental circumstance or how early; not unfrequently even in childhood, when the judicious eye of a mother should have detected it, and parental solicitude have checked it, and the child would have started in life with the principle that he should never put off till to-morrow what ought So be done and can be done to-day.
I. THE LONGER YOU DELAY THIS WORK, STILL THE MORE DIFFICULT IT WILL BE TO YOU, AND THE MORE LABOUR AND PAINS YOU WILL BE PUT TO, IF EVER YOU PROSECUTE IT SUCCESSFULLY.
I made haste, and delayed not to keep Thy commandments.I. CONSIDER THE REASONS AND EXCUSES WHICH MEN PRETEND FOR DELAYING THIS NECESSARY WORK, AND SHOW THE UNREASONABLENESS OF THEM.
1. Many cannot at present bring themselves to it, but they hope hereafter to be in a better temper and disposition, and then they resolve by God's grace to set about this work in good earnest, and to go through with it. I know not whether it be fit to call this a reason; I am sure it is the greatest cheat end delusion that any man can put upon himself. Thou hast no reason in the world against the present time, but only that it is present; why, when hereafter comes to be present, the reason will be just the same.
2. The great difficulty and unpleasantness of it. But then it is to be considered that how difficult and painful soever this work be, it is necessary, and that should overrule all other considerations whatsoever; that if we will not be at this pains and trouble, we must one time or other endure far greater than those which we now seek to avoid; that it is not so difficult as we imagine, but our fears of it are greater than the trouble will prove; if we were but once resolved upon the work, and seriously engaged in it, the greatest part of the trouble were over.
3. Another pretended encouragement to these delays is the great mercy and patience of God (Ecclesiastes 8:11). But it is not always thus; and if it were, and thou wert sure to be spared yet a while longer, what can be more unreasonable and disingenuous than to resolve to be evil because God is good; and, because He suffers so long, to sin so much longer.
II. I SHALL ADD SOME FARTHER CONSIDERATIONS TO ENGAGE MEN EFFECTUALLY TO SET ABOUT THIS WORK SPEEDILY, AND WITHOUT DELAY.
1. Consider, that in matters of great and necessary concernment, and which must be done, there is no greater argument of a weak and impotent mind than irresolution; to be undetermined where the ease is so plain, and the necessity so urgent, to be always about doing that which we are convinced must be done.
2. Consider that religion is a great and a long work, and asks so much time, that there is none left for the delaying of it.
3. Consider what a desperate hazard we run by these delays. Every delay of repentance is a venturing the main chance.
4. Seeing the delay of repentance doth mainly rely upon the hopes and encouragement of a future repentance, let us consider a little how unreasonable these hopes are, and how absurd the encouragement is which men take from them. To sin in hopes that hereafter we shall repent is to do a thing in hopes that we shall one day be mightily ashamed of it; in hopes that we shall be full of horror at the thoughts of what we have done, and shall treasure up so much guilt in our consciences as will make us a terror to ourselves, and be ready to drive us even to despair and distraction. And is this a reasonable hope?
5. If you be still resolved to delay this business, and put it off at present, consider well with yourselves how long you intend to delay it. I hope not to the last, nor till sickness come, and death make his approaches to you. This is just as if a man should be content to be shipwrecked, in hope that he shall afterwards escape by a plank, and get safe to shore. But perhaps thou art not altogether so unreasonable, but desirest only to respite this work till the first heat of youth and lust be over, till the cooler and more considerate part of thy life come on; that, perhaps, thou thinkest may be the fittest and most convenient season. But still we reckon upon uncertainties, for perhaps that season may never be. Some seem vet more reasonable, and are content to come lower, and desire only to put it off for a very little while. But why for a little while? Why till to-morrow? To-morrow will be as this day, only with this difference, that thou wilt in all probability be more unwilling and indisposed then.
6. Consider what an unspeakable happiness it is to have our minds settled in that condition, that we may without fear and amazements — nay, with comfort and confidence — expect death and judgment.
II. BY MAKING HASTE TO KEEP GOD'S COMMANDMENTS, WE MIGHTILY CONSULT THE PLEASURE AND COMFORT OF OUR FOLLOWING DAYS AS, ON THE CONTRARY, BY DELAYING IT, WE NECESSARILY PREPARE FEARS AND DISQUIETUDE, AND UNAVOIDABLE ANXIETIES OF MIND ALL OUR LIFE AFTER. Why, therefore, should we not now begin to live so, as when we come to be old, if ever we be so, we shall wish we had lived? Why should we not now, in our vigour and strength, make some provisions wherewith to sustain and support ourselves under the burden and infirmities of old age?
III. OUR HAPPINESS IN THE FUTURE STATE WILL BE SO MUCH THE GREATER BY HOW MUCH THE EARLIER WE BEGIN TO BE RELIGIOUS. Oh, how happy would it be for such if they would seriously lay this matter to heart, before either a habit of carelessness, or sensuality, or worldly-mindedness hath got possession of them!
IV. THE INFINITE HAZARD WE ALL RUN BY NEGLECTING THIS WORK, UPON ACCOUNT OF THE GREAT UNCERTAINTY OF OUR PRESENT LIVES.
II. PROCRASTINATION IS RELIGIOUS MATTERS.
1. It is irrational. If religion be false, let it never trouble you; never have another thought about the matter; if true, no longer delay submitting your whole mind and heart to its influence.
2. It is unpleasant, disagreeable, painful.
3. It is disgraceful.
4. It is sinful in the highest degree.
5. It is dangerous.
(J. A. James.)
Homilist.I. Promptitude in duty is SUPREMELY BINDING. Duty is the supreme end of existence. We are made to "keep Thy commandments." Unless we do this our existence will prove a failure, and a curse. Even Seneca has said, "To obey God is perfect liberty, he that does this should be safe, free, and quiet."
II. Promptitude in duty is SUPREMELY NECESSARY.
1. The great Creator seems to have made the happiness of all His sentient creation to depend on obedience to His laws. Hence from the microscopic insect, to the huge mammoth, we find pleasures flowing into them through obedience to their instincts. Disobedience is misery in all worlds.
2. Hence the necessity of promptitude in this matter.(1) The sooner it is attended to the better.(2) The longer it is delayed the more, difficult to begin. Both the inclination and the power get weaker with every moment's delay.
(H. Melvill, B. D.)
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