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"When they persecute
ing a profession of religion.
you in this city flee to another." But in your caution to escape the evils of the world, you must not decline a profession, deny the faith and put away a good conscience. "Whosoever is ashamed of Christ in an evil generation, of him will Christ be ashamed in the presence of his Father." This seems to be the case especially intended in the text. As the times were dangerous, Christians were to walk circumspectly, that they might preserve their integrity, and yet avoid the evils which threatened them. If both could not be done, they must maintain their integrity at all hazards.
5. Walk circumspectly, that your good may not be evil spoken of.
On no consideration may you do evil or neglect duty But in the manner of performing your duty, you may often, with great advantage, accommodate yourselves to the weaknesses, humors and inclinations of others. Innocent liberties you must avoid, when your use of them would be perverted to the dishonor of religion and the prejudice of your own character. In things indifferent be not rigid and uncomplying, but by an easy condescension please all men for their good. Thus the Apostle "was made all things to all men, that he might by all means save some.
The behavior of Christians is watched, by some, that they may imitate it; by more, that they may vili. fy it. So act in all things, that you may encourage the virtuous, silence the captious, and cut off occasion from them who desire occasion to reproach your profession and the gospel which you profess. "Walk in wisdom toward them who are without. And let your speech be always with grace seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.”
I have illustrated the circumspect behavior which the Apostle recommends. The argument by which he urges it, is this:
II." The days are evil,"
The argument was not peculiar to those early times. It is pertinent at all times.
The Christian, while he dwells on earth, may say, "The days are evil," because he finds in himself much disorder and corruption. In the world of glory watchfulness will be superseded by perfection. Here he must walk circumspectly, that he may not be drawn away by fleshly lusts and worldly affections-may keep under his body and bring it into subjection-may strengthen the principles of holiness in his soul, and confirm his heavenly hopes.
The days are evil, as he is exposed to various afflic tions. He must walk circumspectly, that he may comport with the aspects of providence, accommodate himself to all changes of condition, learn obedience and resignation to God by the things which he suffers, and by faith and patience obtain the promises.
The days are evil, for there are many adversaries. Evil spirits, worldly objects, wicked examples and fleshly inclinations oppose his progress. He must walk circumspectly, that he may foresee and avoid temptations, guard against a surprise, prevent the undue influence of sensible objects, and be blameless and harmless in the midst of a perverse nation.
The days are evil, as iniquity abounds. He must walk circumspectly, that he may keep himself unspotted from the world, may secure his good profession from contempt, may stop the progress of vice and error, and support the languishing cause of truth and righteousness.
Let us apply to ourselves these considerations; and as we profess to be Christians-to be children of light and of the day, let us not walk as those who are in' darkness, and know not at what they stumble; but let us walk wisely and circumspectly, redeeming the time, because the days are evil,
Redemption of Time.
EPHESIANS v. 16.
Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.
THE redemption of time, together with the reason for it," the days are evil," will be the subject of our present meditations.
1. We will consider what it is to redeem the time. To redeem is to reclaim by price, or recover by labor that which has been lost or alienated; or to preserve by prudence that which is in danger. It is a metaphor taken from the practice of merchants, whỏ observe the favorable 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 prog. ress or decline.
It is here supposed that time is precious. That we may redeem it, we must make a just estimate of its value.
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.
It is precious, because it is short and uncertain; and our work must be done soon, or it never can be done at all.
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
To redeem time is to regain what is lost, and to save what is left.
First: We must regain the time which is lost. Time passed, 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. Though we cannot revoke the past guilty scenes, yet we may repent that we have lived as we have done; and be careful now to live as we should have done. We shall not amend our lives, until we repent of past sins; nor improve our future time well, until we are humbled, that the past has been spent so ill.
Sit down then, and take a serious review of life. Inquire how it has been employed-what attention you have paid to the great end of your existence-what good you have done for others, or gained for your selves-what proficiency you have made in knowledge and holiness-what hope you have acquired, and on what ground it rests.
Upon strict inquiry, many, I am afraid, will find, they have done little or nothing to the purpose, and their work is all to be done, when much of the day is spent. And all, no doubt, may confess, that their progress has not been answerable to the time they have enjoyed. Let the time past suffice to have been wasted in negligence and folly. Henceforth "walk circumspectly, redeeming the time.??
Secondly: This phrase imports prudence to save, and diligence to improve the time that remains.
In vain you pretend to lament your past folly, unless you apply your hearts to wisdom. Godly sorrow will work in you carefulness."
1. Enter on your work speedily. Do you ask, what is your work? It is time you knew. Consult God's word; that will tell you. The religion of a sinner must begin in repentance toward God, and faith toward Jesus Christ; and it must be perfected in the works of faith and the fruits of repentance. "Think then on your ways, turn your feet into God's testimonies; make haste and delay not to keep his commandments." No longer content yourselves with distant purposes. While you procrastinate, instead of redeeming the time you have lost, you are losing what is left. How can you say, You repent, that you have trifled so long, if you continue to trifle still? How can you say, You wish to recal your time, that you may improve it better, if still you waste your time as before? If you think of regaining lost time, make immediate application to your work; for while you delay, time passes off; and the more you lose, the more is to be redeemed, and the smaller your stock on hand.
2. Attend to your work with diligence.
A sense of past slothfulness must excite you to severer industry. The traveller, who lingers in the morning, must proceed with quicker pace to reach the intended stage by night. The Redeemer, who was always diligent in God's work, was more active, as his time grew shorter. "I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: The night cometh, when no man can work."
"What your hand finds to do, do it with your might; for there is no work in the grave." There are duties which relate both to this, and to the future world. These duties, considered in relation to their different objects, differ in importance; but both claim