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.
The price that time must be redeemed with, is, above all, by our utmost diligence: that we be still doing, and put forth all our strength, and run as for our lives; and whatever our hand shall find to do, that we do it with our might, remembering that there is no work, nor device, not knowledge, nor wisdom in the grave whither we go. Our sluggish ease is an easy price to be parted with for precious time. To redeem it, is not to call back time past; nor to stop time in its hasty passage; nor to procure a long life on earth: but to save it, as it passeth, from being devoured and lost, by sluggishness and sin.
The Practical Works of the Rev. Richard Baxter, 3:123.
It must be laid down as a principle, that the use of the gifts of God is not erroneous, when it is directed to the same end for which the Creator himself hath created and appointed them for us; since he hath created them for our benefit, not for our injury.
Wherefore, no one will observe a more proper rule, than he who shall diligently regard this end.
Now, if we consider for what end he hath created the various kinds of food, we shall find, that he intended to provide not only for our necessity, but likewise for our pleasure and delight. …
Even the natural qualities of things demonstrate sufficiently to what end and extent we may enjoy them. Has the Lord clothed the flowers with the great beauty that greets our eyes, the sweetness of smell that is wafted upon our nostrils, and yet will it be unlawful for our eyes to be affected by that beauty, or our sense of smell by the sweetness of that odor? What? Did he not so distinguish colors as to make some more lovely than others? What? Did he not endow gold and silver, ivory and marble, with a loveliness that renders them more precious than other metals or stones? Did he not, in short, render many things attractive to us, apart from their necessary use?
Adapted from Institutes of the Christian Religion, 3:10.2.
The face of death, and nearness of eternity, did much convince me what books to read, what studies to prefer and prosecute, what company and conversation to choose. It drove me early into the vineyard of the Lord, and taught me to preach as a dying man to dying men.
The Practical Works of the Rev. Richard Baxter, 18:409.
“Grace is not only donum (a gift), but talentum (a talent). Grace is not given, as a piece of money, to a child to play withal, but as we give money to factors, to trade withal for us.”
Everything is practical in the great gifts of God. He plants his trees that they may bear fruit, and sows his seed that a harvest may come of it. We may trifle and speculate; God never does so. When a man imagines that grace is given merely to make him comfortable, to give him a superiority over his fellows, or to enable him to avoid deserved censure, he knows not the design of the Lord in the bestowal of grace, and, indeed, he is a stranger to the grand secret. God works in us that we may work, he saves us that we may serve him, and enriches us with grace that the riches of his glory may be displayed.
Are we putting out our talents to proper interest? Do we use the grace bestowed upon us? “He giveth more grace,” but not to those who neglect what they have. Men do not long trust ill stewards. Lord, help us so to act that we may render our account with joy and not with grief.
—Charles H. Spurgeon
Flowers from a Puritan’s Garden (Passmore & Alabaster, 1883).