“Redeeming the Time” Part 3

Dated December, 1734

Ephesians 5:16

“Redeeming the time”

SECTION III

Who are chiefly deserving of reproof from the subject of the preciousness of time.

How little is the preciousness of time considered, and how little sense of it do the greater part of mankind seem to have! And to how little good purpose do many spend their time! There is nothing more precious, and yet nothing of which men are more prodigal. Time is with many, as silver was in the days of Solomon, as the stones of the street, and nothing accounted of. They act as if time were as plenty as silver was then, and as if they had a great deal more than they needed, and knew not what to do with it. If men were as lavish of their money as they are of their time, if it were as common a thing for them to throw away their money, as it is for them to throw away their time, we should think them beside themselves, and not in the possession of their right minds. Yet time is a thousand times more precious than money; and when it is gone, cannot be purchased for money, cannot be redeemed by silver or gold. — There are several sorts of persons who are reproved by this doctrine, whom I shall particularly mention.

First, those who spend a great part of their time in idleness, or in doing nothing that turns to any account, either for the good of their souls or bodies; nothing either for their own benefit, or for the benefit of their neighbor, either of the family or of the body-politic to which they belong. There are some persons upon whose hands time seems to lie heavy, who, instead of being concerned to improve it as it passes, and taking care that it pass not without making it their own, act as if it were rather their concern to contrive ways how to waste and consume it; as though time, instead of being precious, were rather a mere encumbrance to them. Their hands refuse to labor, and rather than put themselves to it, they will let their families suffer, and will suffer themselves. Pro. 19:15, “An idle soul shall suffer hunger.” Pro. 23:21, “Drowsiness shall clothe a man with rags.”

Some spend much of their time at the tavern, over their cups, and in wandering from house to house, wasting away their hours in idle and unprofitable talk which will turn to no good account. Pro. 14:23, “In all labour there is profit; but the talk of the lips tendeth only to poverty.” The direction of the apostle, in Eph. 4:28 is, that we should “labour, working with our hands the thing that is good, that we may have to give to him that needeth.” But indolent men, instead of gaining anything to give to him that needeth, do but waste what they have already. Pro. 18:9, “He that is slothful in his work, is brother to him that is a great waster.”

Second, they are reproved by this doctrine who spend their time in wickedness, who do not merely spend their time in doing nothing to any good purpose, but spend it to ill purposes. Such do not only lose their time, but they do worse; with it they hurt both themselves and others. — Time is precious, as we have heard, because eternity depends upon it. By the improvement of time, we have opportunity of escaping eternal misery, and obtaining eternal blessedness. But those who spend their time in wicked works, not only neglect to improve their time to obtain eternal happiness, or to escape damnation, but they spend it to a quite contrary purpose, viz. to increase their eternal misery, or to render their damnation the more heavy and intolerable.

Some spend much time in reveling, and in unclean talk and practices, in vicious company-keeping, in corrupting and ensnaring the minds of others, setting bad examples, and leading others into sin, undoing not only their own souls, but the souls of others. Some spend much of their precious time in detraction and backbiting; in talking against others; in contention, not only quarreling themselves, but fomenting and stirring up strife and contention. It would have been well for some men, and well for their neighbors, if they had never done anything at all. For then they would have done neither good nor hurt. But now they have done a great deal more hurt than they have done or ever will do good. There are some persons whom it would have been better for the towns where they live, to have at the charge of maintaining them in doing nothing, if that would have kept them in a state of inactivity.

Those who have spent much of their time in wickedness, if ever they shall reform, and enter upon a different mode of living, will find, not only that they have wasted the past, but that they have made work for their remaining time, to undo what they have done. How will many men, when they shall have done with time, and shall look back upon their past lives, wish that they had no time! The time which they spend on earth will be worse to them than if they had spent so much time in hell. For an eternity of more dreadful misery in hell will be the fruit of their time on earth, as they employ it.

Third, those are reproved by this doctrine, who spend their time only in worldly pursuits, neglecting their souls. Such men lose their time, let them be ever so diligent in their worldly business. And though they may be careful not to let any of it pass so, but that it shall some way or other turn to their worldly profit. They that improve time only for their benefit in time, lose it; because time was not given for itself, but for that everlasting duration which succeeds it. — They, therefore, whose time is taken up in caring and laboring for the world only, in inquiring what they shall eat, and what they shall drink, and wherewithal they shall be clothed; in contriving to lay up for themselves treasure upon earth, how to enrich themselves, how to make themselves great in the world, or how to live in comfortable and pleasant circumstances, while here; who busy their minds and employ their strength in these things only, and the stream of whose affections is directed towards these things; they lose their precious time.

Let such, therefore, as have been guilty of thus spending their time, consider it. You have spent a great part of your time, and a great part of your strength, in getting a little of the world; and how little good doth it afford you, now you have gotten it! What happiness or satisfaction can you reap from it? Will it give you peace of conscience, or any rational quietness or comfort? What is your poor, needy, perishing soul the better for it? And what better prospects doth it afford you of your approaching eternity? And what will all that you have acquired avail you when time shall be no longer?

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“Redeeming the Time” Part 2

Dated December, 1734

Ephesians 5:16

“Redeeming the time”

SECTION II

Reflections on time past.

You have now heard of the preciousness of time; and you are the persons concerned, to whom God hath committed that precious talent. You have an eternity before you. When God created you, and gave you reasonable souls, he made you for an endless duration. He gave you time here in order to a preparation for eternity, and your future eternity depends on the improvement of time. — Consider, therefore, what you have done with your past time. You are not now beginning your time, but a great deal is past and gone; and all the wit, and power, and treasure of the universe, cannot recover it. Many of you may well conclude, that more than half of your time is gone. Though you should live to the ordinary age of man, your glass is more than half run; and it may be there are but few sands remaining. Your sun is past the meridian, and perhaps just setting, or going into an everlasting eclipse. Consider, therefore, what account you can give of your improvements of past time. How have you let the precious golden sands of your glass run?

Every day that you have enjoyed has been precious; yea, your moments have been precious. But have you not wasted your precious moments, your precious days, yea, your precious years? If you should reckon up how many days you have lived, what a sum would there be! And how precious hath every one of those days been! Consider, therefore, what have you done with them? What is become of them all? What can you show of any improvement made, or good done, or benefit obtained, answerable to all this time which you have lived? When you look back, and search, do you not find this past time of your lives in a great measure empty, having not been filled up with any good improvement? And if God, that hath given you your time, should now call you to an account, what account could you give to him?

How much may be done in a year? How much good is there opportunity to do in such a space of time! How much service may persons do for God, and how much for their own souls, if to their utmost they improve it! How much may be done in a day! But what have you done in so many days and years that you have lived? What have you done with the whole time of your youth, you that are past your youth? What is become of all that precious season of life? Hath it not all been in vain to you? Would it not have been as well or better for you, if all that time you had been asleep, or in a state of nonexistence?

You have had much time of leisure and freedom from worldly business. Consider to what purpose you have spent it. You have not only had ordinary time, but you have had a great deal of holy time. What have you done with all the Sabbath-days which you have enjoyed? Consider those things seriously, and let your own consciences make answer.

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Redeeming the Time Part I

During this unique time we have a great opportunity.  The pandemic has upset our normal schedules and caused us to evaluate how to best use our time.  Some of the activities we desire to do have been taken away and we are left with creating new schedules for ourselves and our family.  Let’s not waste it.  Let’s redeem this time by purchasing each moment, buying each moment back for the glory of God.

For your consideration, I’m going to post one of Jonathan Edwards sermons on the subject in parts over the course of this week.  It is long, and sometimes not easy to read, but there is valuable truth and wisdom here.  If you only take one thing away, may it be the truth that time is exceedingly precious and our Lord calls us to redeem that time.  And living through a lock-down during a global pandemic counts as time that needs to be redeemed!

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Dated December, 1734

Ephesians 5:16

“Redeeming the time”

Christians should not only study to improve the opportunities they enjoy, for their own advantage, as those who would make a good bargain; but also labor to reclaim others from their evil courses; that so God might defer his anger, and time might be redeemed from that terrible destruction, which, when it should come, would put an end to the time of divine patience. And it may be upon this account, that this reason is added, Because the days are evil. As if the apostle had said, the corruption of the times tends to hasten threatened judgments; but your holy and circumspect walk will tend to redeem time from the devouring jaws of those calamities. — However, thus much is certainly held forth to us in the words; viz. that upon time we should set a high value, and be exceeding careful that it be not lost; and we are therefore exhorted to exercise wisdom and circumspection, in order that we may redeem it. And hence it appears, that time is exceedingly precious.

SECTION I

Why time is precious.

Time is precious for the following reasons:

First, because a happy or miserable eternity depends on the good or ill improvement of it. Things are precious in proportion to their importance, or to the degree wherein they concern our welfare. Men are wont to set the highest value on those things upon which they are sensible their interest chiefly depends. And this renders time so exceedingly precious, because our eternal welfare depends on the improvement of it. — Indeed our welfare in this world depends upon its improvement. If we improve it not, we shall be in danger of coming to poverty and disgrace; but by a good improvement of it, we may obtain those things which will be useful and comfortable. But it is above all things precious, as our state through eternity depends upon it. The importance of the improvement of time upon other accounts, is in subordination to this.

Gold and silver are esteemed precious by men; but they are of no worth to any man, only as thereby he has an opportunity of avoiding or removing some evil, or of possessing himself of some good. And the greater the evil is which any man hath advantage to escape, or the good which he hath advantage to obtain, by anything that he possesses, by so much the greater is the value of that thing to him, whatever it be. Thus if a man, by anything which he hath, may save his life, which he must lose without it, he will look upon that by which he hath the opportunity of escaping so great an evil as death, to be very precious. — Hence it is that time is so exceedingly precious, because by it we have opportunity of escaping everlasting misery, and of obtaining everlasting blessedness and glory. On this depends our escape from an infinite evil, and our attainment of an infinite good.

Second, time is very short, which is another thing that renders it very precious. The scarcity of any commodity occasions men to set a higher value upon it, especially if it be necessary and they cannot do without it. Thus when Samaria was besieged by the Syrians, and provisions were exceedingly scarce, “an ass’s head was sold for fourscore pieces of silver, and the fourth part of a cab of dove’s dung for five pieces of silver.” 2 Kin. 6:25. — So time is the more to be prized by men, because a whole eternity depends upon it; and yet we have but a little of time. “When a few years are come, then I shall go the way whence I shall not return.” Job 16:22. “My days are swifter than a post. They are passed away as the swift ships; as the eagle that hasteth to the prey.” Job 9:25, 26. “Our life; what is it? It is but a vapour which appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.” Jam. 4:14. It is but as a moment to eternity. Time is so short, and the work which we have to do in it is so great, that we have none of it to spare. The work which we have to do to prepare for eternity, must be done in time, or it never can be done; and it is found to be a work of great difficulty and labor, and therefore that for which time is the more requisite.

Third, time ought to be esteemed by us very precious, because we are uncertain of its continuance. We know that it is very short, but we know not how short. We know not how little of it remains, whether a year, or several years, or only a month, a week, or a day. We are every day uncertain whether that day will not be the last, or whether we are to have the whole day. There is nothing that experience doth more verify than this. — If a man had but little provision laid up for a journey or a voyage, and at the same time knew that if his provision should fail, he must perish by the way, he would be the more choice of it. — How much more would many men prize their time, if they knew that they had but a few months, or a few days, more to live! And certainly a wise man will prize his time the more, as he knows not but that it will be so as to himself. This is the case with multitudes now in the world, who at present enjoy health, and see no signs of approaching death. Many such, no doubt, are to die the next month, many the next week, yea, many probably tomorrow, and some this night. Yet these same persons know nothing of it, and perhaps think nothing of it, and neither they nor their neighbors can say that they are more likely soon to be taken out of the world than others. This teaches us how we ought to prize our time, and how careful we ought to be, that we lose none of it.

Fourth, time is very precious, because when it is past, it cannot be recovered. There are many things which men possess, which if they part with, they can obtain them again. If a man have parted with something which he had, not knowing the worth of it, or the need he should have of it; he often can regain it, at least with pains and cost. If a man have been overseen in a bargain, and have bartered away or sold something, and afterwards repents of it, he may often obtain a release, and recover what he had parted with. — But it is not so with respect to time. When once that is gone, it is gone forever; no pains, no cost will recover it. Though we repent ever so much that we let it pass, and did not improve it while we had it, it will be to no purpose. Every part of it is successively offered to us, that we may choose whether we will make it our own, or not. But there is no delay. It will not wait upon us to see whether or no we will comply with the offer. But if we refuse, it is immediately taken away, and never offered more. As to that part of time which is gone, however we have neglected to improve it, it is out of our possession and out of our reach.

If we have lived fifty, or sixty, or seventy years, and have not improved our time, now it cannot be helped. It is eternally gone from us. All that we can do, is to improve the little that remains. Yea, if a man have spent all his life but a few moments unimproved, all that is gone is lost, and only those few remaining moments can possibly be made his own. And if the whole of a man’s time be gone, and it be all lost, it is irrecoverable. — Eternity depends on the improvement of time. But when once the time of life is gone, when once death is come, we have no more to do with time; there is no possibility of obtaining the restoration of it, or another space in which to prepare for eternity. If a man should lose the whole of his worldly substance, and become a bankrupt, it is possible that his loss may be made up. He may have another estate as good. But when the time of life is gone, it is impossible that we should ever obtain another such time. All opportunity of obtaining eternal welfare is utterly and everlastingly gone.

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In Christ Alone (Virtual Choir)

This was done a few years ago, but it is very applicable for today.  48 singers from 14 different countries.

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Songs to Sing on Sunday

Here are some songs you might want to consider singing along with tomorrow as you worship at home with your family.

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How the World Worshipped on One of the Most Unusual Sundays in Church History

This is a pretty amazing article, one that highlights a unique time in the history of the church.  More food for thought about how the church responds to crisis.  As always, Challies.com is a great resource for all sorts of information.

How the World Worshipped on One of the Most Unusual Sundays in Church History

 

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Responding to the Spanish Flu of 1918

This is an article that dives deep into how churches in Washington, D.C. responded to the Spanish Flu of 1918.

How DC Churches Responded When the Government Banned Public Gatherings During the Spanish Flu of 1918

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On Whether the Church Can’t Gather

Another episode from  IX Marks Ministries focused on the church gathering in the midst of the current pandemic.

Episode 119: On When the Church Can’t Gather

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Read Luther’s letter about plague

This is a resource that is certainly timely.  It is not a short letter that is for sure, but it is fascinating.

Read Luther’s letter about plague

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All Teaching Series Now Free to Stream

from Nathan W. Bingham at Ligonier Ministries

Mar 17, 2020

As a result of the global health crisis, churches are canceling Bible studies, small groups, and Sunday school classes. Pastors and elders around the world are thinking about new ways to bring God’s Word to their congregations. Fathers and mothers want to care for their children’s souls. This truly is an unprecedented time. To serve growing Christians around the world, Ligonier Ministries is here to help you maintain your daily growth and the discipleship within your family and community.

Please go here for more information and resources

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