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God has revealed it in his Word, and be uniformly zealous for every part of it, according to its degree of excellence, grounding all your zeal on the one foundation, "Jesus Christ and him crucified:" holding fast this one principle, "The life I now live, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me:" proportion your zeal to the value of its object. Be calmly zealous, therefore, first, for the Church; "the whole state of Christ's Church militant here on earth," and in particular for that branch thereof, with which you are more immediately connected. Be more zealous for all those Ordinances which our blessed Lord hath appointed, to continue therein to the end of the world. Be more zealous for those Works of Mercy, those "sacrifices wherewith God is well-pleased," those marks whereby the Shepherd of Israel will know his sheep at the last day. Be more zealous still for holy tempers, for long-suffering, gentleness, meekness, lowliness, and resignation: but be most zealous of all for Love, the queen of all graces, the highest perfection in earth or heaven, the very image of the invisible God, as in men below, so in angels above. For "GoD is Love: and he that dwelleth in love, dwelleth in God, and God in him."
ON REDEEMING TIME.
EPHESIANS V. 16.
"Redeeming the Time."
1. "SEE that ye walk circumspectly," says the Apostle in the preceding verse, "not as fools, but as wise men: redeeming the time;" saying all the time you can for the best purposes; buying up every fleeting moment, out of the hands of sin and Satan, out of the hands of sloth, ease, pleasure, worldly business; the more diligently, because the present are evil days, days of the grossest ignorance, immorality, and profaneness.
2. This seems to be the general meaning of the words. But I purpose, at present, to consider only one particular way of "redeeming the time," namely, from Sleep.
3. This appears to have been exceedingly little considered even by pious men, Many that have been eminently conscientious in other respects, have not been so in this. They seemed to think it an indifferent thing, whether they slept more or less, and never saw it in the true point of view, as an important branch of Christian Temperance.
That we may have a more just conception hereof, I will endeavour to shew,
I. What it is to redeem the Time from Sleep.
I. 1. And, first, What is it to redeem the Time from Sleep? It is, in general, to take that measure of sleep every night, which nature requires, and no more: that measure which is most conducive to the health and vigour both of the body and mind.
2. But it is objected, "One measure will not suit all men: some require considerably more than others. Neither will the same measure suffice even the same persons, at one time as at another. When a person is sick, or if not actually so, yet weakened by preceding sickness, he certainly wants more of this natural restorative, than he did when in perfect health. And so he will, when his strength and spirits are exhausted, by hard or long-continued labour."
3. All this is unquestionably true, and confirmed by a thousand experiments. Whoever, therefore, they are that have attempted to fix one measure of sleep for all persons, did not understand the nature of the human body, so widely different in different persons: as neither did they, who imagined that the same measure would suit even the same person at all times. One would wonder, therefore, that so great a man as Bishop Taylor, should have formed this strange imagination: much more that the measure which he has assigned for the general standard, should be only three hours in four and twenty. That good and sensible man, Mr. Baxter, was not much nearer the truth: who supposes four hours in four and twenty will suffice for any man. I know an extremely sensible man, who was absolutely persuaded, that no one living needed to sleep above five hours in twenty-four. But when he made the experiment himself, he quickly relinquished the opinion. And I am fully convinced, from an observation continued for more than fifty years, that whatever may be done by extraordinary persons, or in some extraordinary cases, (wherein persons have subsisted with very little sleep for some weeks, or even months,) a human body can scarcely continue in health
and vigour, without, at least, six hours sleep in four and twenty. Sure I am, I never met with such an instance: I never found either man or woman that retained vigorous health for one year, with a less quantity of sleep than this.
4. And I have long observed, that women, in general, want a little more sleep than men: perhaps, because they are, in common, of a weaker, as well as a moister habit of body. If, therefore, one might venture to name one standard, (though liable to many exceptions and occasional alterations,) I am inclined to think, This would come near to the mark healthy men, in general, need a little above six hours sleep: healthy women, a little above seven in four and twenty. I myself want six hours and a half, and I cannot well subsist with less.
5. If any one desire to know exactly what quantity of sleep his own constitution requires, he may very easily make the experiment which I made about sixty years ago: I then waked every night about twelve or one, and lay awake for some time. I readily concluded, that this arose from my lying longer in bed than nature required. To be satisfied, I procured an alarum, which waked me the next morning at seven, (nearly an hour earlier than I rose the day before,) yet I lay awake again at night. The second morning I rose at six; but notwithstanding this, I lay awake the second night. The third morning I rose at five: but nevertheless I lay awake the third night. The fourth morning I rose at four, (as, by the grace of God, I have done ever since.) And I lay awake no more. And I do not now lie awake (taking the year round) a quarter of an hour together in a month. By the same experiment, rising earlier and earlier every morning, may any one find, how much sleep he really wants.
II. 1. "But why should any one be at so much pains? What need is there of being so scrupulous? Why should we make ourselves so particular? What harm is there in doing as our neighbours do? Suppose in lying from ten till six or seven in summer, and till eight or nine in winter."
2. If you would consider this question fairly, you will
need a good deal of candor and impartiality; as what I am about to say will probably be quite new ; different from any thing you ever heard in your life; different from the judgment, at least, from the example of your parents, and your nearest relations: nay, and perhaps of the most religious persons you ever were acquainted with. Lift up, therefore, your heart to the Spirit of Truth, and beg of him to shine upon it, that without respecting any man's person, you may see and follow the Truth as it is in Jesus.
3. Do you really desire to know, what harm there is, in not redeeming all the time you can from sleep? Suppose in spending therein an hour a day more than nature requires? Why, first, it hurts your substance, it is throwing away six hours a week, which might turn to some temporal account. If you can do any work, you might earn something in that time, were it ever so small. And you have no need to throw even this away. If you do not want it yourself, give it to them that do: you know some of them that are not far off. If you are of no trade, still you may so employ the time, that it will bring money, or money's worth, to yourself, or others.
4. The not redeeming all the time you can from sleep, the spending more time therein, than your constitution necessarily requires, in the second place, hurts your health. Nothing can be more certain than this, though it is not commonly observed, because the evil steals on you by slow and insensible degrees. In this gradual, and almost imperceptible manner, it lays the foundation of many diseases. It is the chief, real, (though unsuspected,) cause of all Nervous Diseases in particular. Many enquiries have been made, Why Nervous Disorders are so much more common among us than among our ancestors? Other causes may frequently concur: but the chief is, we lie longer in bed. Instead of rising at four, most of us, who are not obliged to work for our bread, lie till seven, eight, or nine. We need enquire no farther. This sufficiently accounts for the large increase of these painful disorders. 5. It may be observed, that most of these arise, not