Psalm 119:60
I made 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 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.

(Archbishop Tillotson.)

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.

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.

(Archbishop Sharp.)

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.

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.

(Homilist.)

How often do we hear the saying "Second thoughts are best"! And, for the most part, second thoughts are best. In ordinary affairs, there is the greatest likelihood of our acting wrong if we act upon impulse, if we do not take time for reflection, if we judge things according to their first appearance, in place of looking at them minutely and considering all their bearings. In worldly things, in regard of the businesses and intercourses of life, it might perhaps with safety be affirmed as universally true that second thoughts are best. But will now the same hold good in respect of religious things? Are our first thoughts, or our second, ordinarily our best, when the subject of thought has to do with duty towards God, and the saving of our souls? "I made haste, and delayed not, to keep Thy commandments." What hurry there is in the sentence! They are the words of a man determined not to wait for second thoughts, as though he knew they would be different from the first, but on that very account less worthy to be followed. And in the foregoing verse, the psalmist had expressed himself to nearly the same effect: "I thought on my ways, and turned my feet unto Thy testimonies." Now, let us first look a little practically at the subject. We shall perhaps find ground in the very nature of the case, or in the testimony of experience, for questioning whether in religion second thoughts are best. There may be many theories in regard to the nature of con-science — that principle which acts within us with so mighty an energy; and writers on ethics may have their different suppositions, and propose their different explanations. But we never see that the Scriptural student has any but one theory to adopt, namely, that conscience is virtually the Spirit of God — an instrumentality put into play by the workings of the Holy Ghost; according to the express statement of Solomon — "The spirit of man is the candle of the Lord." Herein lies the great reason for what we have affirmed; in a matter of conscience, where the question is between what is morally right and what morally wrong, the first thought is the thought to trust, the first impression the impression to retain. What is whispered, what is suggested to you, at the moment of the question being raised, is whispered, is suggested by that Spirit which, whether or not it be conscience itself, makes conscience its instrument, and secretly touches its springs; but when you hesitate, when you will not follow the Divine impulse, but wait to try whether it will abide certain tests, the almost certainty is that the Holy Spirit, grieved by your unbelief, will suspend His actings, or act with a less direct energy. You are but giving time for the world to pour in its counter-suggestions; for your own corrupt affections to muster their strength; for reason, always swayed by inclination, to arrange something plausible in the way of objection or excuse. Second thoughts! — fruitful parents of "the second death"! Second thoughts make infidels, when first would have made believers. Second thoughts tie men to the world, when first would have devoted them to God. Second thoughts crucify the Lord Jesus afresh, when first would have crucified self. Away henceforwards from religion the maxim, "Second thoughts are best." Uphold it, if you will, in the concerns of commerce; cling to it in the researches of science; defend it in the arrangements of life; but have nothing to do with it in the suggestions of conscience. If you have not begun in religion, second thoughts will prevent your beginning; if you have begun, they will keep you flora proceeding. They are "of the earth, earthy." They produce those waverings, inconsistencies, and backslidings, which are so deplorable, yet so common, amongst religious professors.

(H. Melvill, B. D.)

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