Time must be redeemed from smaller duties, which in their season must be done, as being no duties, when they hinder greater duty which should then take place. It is a duty in its time and place to shew respect to neighbours and superiors, and to those about us, and to look to our family affairs: but not when we should be at prayer to God, or when a minister should be preaching, or at his necessary studies: private prayer and meditation, and visiting the sick, are duties: but not when we should be at church, or about any greater duty which they hinder.
The Practical Works of the Rev. Richard Baxter, 3:124.
We are so reluctant to displease men, and so desirous to keep in credit and favour with them, that it makes us most unconscionably neglect our known duty. A foolish physician he is, and a most unfaithful friend, that will let a sick man die for fear of troubling him; and cruel wretches are we to our friends, that will rather suffer them to go quietly to hell, than we will anger them, or hazard our reputation with them.
If they would faint, we would rub them and pinch them, but never so as to hurt them. If they were deranged, we would bind them with chains, and we would please them in nothing that tended to their hurt; and yet, when they are beside themselves in the point of salvation, and in their madness pressing on to damnation, we will not stop them, for fear of displeasing them.
How can these men be Christians, that love the praise and favour of men more than the favour of God? (John 12:43). For if they yet seek to please men, they are no longer the servants of Christ (Gal 1:10). To win them indeed, they must become all things to all men; but to please them to their destruction, and let them perish, that we may keep our credit with them, is a course so base and barbarously cruel, that he that hath the face of a Christian should abhor it (1 Cor 9:21–24; Prov 11:3–6).
Adapted from The Practical Works of the Rev. Richard Baxter, 23:98.
Sin is what you do when your heart is not satisfied with God. No one sins out of duty. We sin because it holds out some promise of happiness. That promise enslaves us until we believe that God is more to be desired than life itself (Psalm 63:3). Which means that the power of sin’s promise is broken by the power of God’s. All that God promises to be for us in Jesus stands over against what sin promises to be for us without him.
Future Grace, 9–10.
The divine assistance which Christians have in their work alleviates the labor of it.
Consider the Christian’s work without this help. It is heavy indeed, yes, too heavy to stand under. But God’s helping hand put to it makes this heavy work light. The ship, which when lying on ground, all the teams in the country could not draw off, how easily is it set afloat when the tide comes in?
Thus the heart can rise out of its dullness and indisposition to duty. Oh how soon is it elevated and inspired when God flows in with His secret aspirations and excitations of His blessed Spirit and grace!
He who confessed that he could do nothing of himself, not so much as think a good thought, tells us that he is able to do all things through Christ who strengthens him.
Now this help from the Lord is promised, but it comes not till the Christian’s hand is put to work.
Let us be up and doing, and then God will not fail to be with us. It is easy working while God holds our hand, yes, and puts strength into it. Are you tempted? While you are fighting in the valley below, Christ’s hands are lifted up in heaven above for your victory. “I have prayed that thy faith fail not” (Luke 22:32); yes, He does not only pray above for you, but will be in the field with you, and in you, by the secret succors of His Spirit. “My grace is sufficient for thee” (2 Cor. 12:9), which is not meant of grace inherent in us, that indeed is insufficient of itself, but the auxiliary grace, which He sends in to assist us in a time of need.
Let it be your art in duty to give God your heart in duty: “My son, give me thy heart” (Prov. 23:26). You see God calls for the heart; the heart is that field from which God expects the utmost plentiful crop of glory. God bears a greater respect to your hearts than He does to your works. God looks most where man looks least. If the heart is for God, then all is for God—our affections, our wills, our desires, our designs, our time, our strength, our tears, our alms, our prayers, our estates, our bodies, our souls—for the heart is the fort-royal that commands all the rest; the eye, the ear, the hand, the tongue, the head, the foot—the heart commands all these. Now if God has the heart, He has all. If He has not the heart, He has none. The heart of obedience is the obedience of the heart. As the body is at the command of the soul that rules it, so should the soul be at the command of God that gave it. “Ye are bought with a price,” says the apostle, “therefore glorify God in your bodies, and in your spirits” (1 Cor. 6:20). He that is all in all for us would have that which is all in all in us. The heart is the presence-chamber, where the King of glory takes up His lodging. That which is most worthy in us should be given to Him who is most worthy of us. The body is but the cabinet, the soul is the jewel; the body is but the shell, the soul is the kernel. The soul is the breath of God, the beauty of man, the wonder of angels, and the envy of devils.