William Bradford Institute
for Study of the
Early Settlement of America

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How to Spend the Day With God


by Richard Baxter (1615-1691)


A holy life is inclined to be made easier when we know the usual sequence and
method of our duties - with everything falling into its proper place. Therefore,
I shall give some brief directions for spending the day in a holy manner.

Sleep

Measure the time of your sleep appropriately so that you do not waste your
precious morning hours sluggishly in your bed. Let the time of your sleep be
matched to your health and labour, and not to slothful pleasure.

First Thoughts

Let God have your first awaking thoughts; lift up your hearts to Him reverently
and thankfully for the rest enjoyed the night before and cast yourself upon Him
for the day which follows.

Familiarise yourself so consistently to this that your conscience may check you
when common thoughts shall first intrude. Think of the mercy of a night's rest
and of how many that have spent that night in Hell; how many in prison; how many
in cold, hard lodgings; how many suffering from agonising pains and sickness,
weary of their beds and of their lives.

Think of how many souls were that night called from their bodies terrifyingly to
appear before God and think how quickly days and nights are rolling on! How
speedily your last night and day will come! Observe that which is lacking in the
preparedness of your soul for such a time and seek it without delay.

Prayer

Let prayer by yourself alone (or with your partner) take place before the
collective prayer of the family. If possible let it be first, before any work of
the day.

Family Worship

Let family worship be performed consistently and at a time when it is most
likely for the family to be free of interruptions.

Ultimate Purpose

Remember your ultimate purpose, and when you set yourself to your day's work or
approach any activity in the world, let HOLINESS TO THE LORD be written upon
your hearts in all that you do.

Do no activity which you cannot entitle God to, and truly say that he set you
about it, and do nothing in the world for any other ultimate purpose than to
please, glorify and enjoy Him. "Whatever you do, do all to the glory of God."
--1 Corinthians 10:31.

Diligence in Your Calling

Follow the tasks of your calling carefully and diligently. Thus:

(a) You will show that you are not sluggish and servants to your flesh (as those
that cannot deny it ease), and you will further the putting to death of all the
fleshly lusts and desires that are fed by ease and idleness.

(b) You will keep out idle thoughts from your mind, that swarm in the minds of
idle persons.

(c) You will not lose precious time, something that idle persons are daily
guilty of.

(d) You will be in a way of obedience to God when the slothful are in constant
sins of omission.

(e) You may have more time to spend in holy duties if you follow your occupation
diligently. Idle persons have no time for praying and reading because they lose
time by loitering at their work.

(f) You may expect God's blessing and comfortable provision for both yourself
and your families.

(g) it may also encourage the health of your body which will increase its
competence for the service of your soul.

Temptations and Things That Corrupt

Be thoroughly acquainted with your temptations and the things that may corrupt
you - and watch against them all day long. You should watch especially the most
dangerous of the things that corrupt, and those temptations that either your
company or business will unavoidably lay before you.

Watch against the master sins of unbelief: hypocrisy, selfishness, pride, flesh
pleasing and the excessive love of earthly things. Take care against being drawn
into earthly mindedness and excessive cares, or covetous designs for rising in
the world, under the pretence of diligence in your calling.

If you are to trade or deal with others, be vigilant against selfishness and all
that smacks of injustice or uncharitableness. In all your dealings with others,
watch against the temptation of empty and idle talking. Watch also against those
persons who would tempt you to anger. Maintain that modesty and cleanness of
speech that the laws of purity require. If you converse with flatterers, be on
your guard against swelling pride.

If you converse with those that despise and injure you, strengthen yourself
against impatient, revengeful pride.

At first these things will be very difficult, while sin has any strength in you,
but once you have grasped a continual awareness of the poisonous danger of any
one of these sins, your heart will readily and easily avoid them.

Meditation

When alone in your occupations, improve the time in practical and beneficial
meditations. Meditate upon the infinite goodness and perfections of God; Christ
and redemption; Heaven and how unworthy you are of going there and how you
deserve eternal misery in Hell.

The Only Motive

Whatever you are doing, in company or alone, do it all to the glory of God (1
Corinthians 10:31). Otherwise, it is unacceptable to God.

Redeeming The Time

Place a high value upon your time, be more careful of not losing it than you
would of losing your money. Do not let worthless recreations, television, idle
talk, unprofitable company, or sleep rob you of your precious time.

Be more careful to escape that person, action or course of life that would rob
you of your time than you would be to escape thieves and robbers.

Make sure that you are not merely never idle, but rather that you are using your
time in the most profitable way that you can and do not prefer a less profitable
way before one of greater profit.

Eating and Drinking

Eat and drink with moderation and thankfulness for health, not for unprofitable
pleasure. Never please your appetite in food or drink when it is prone to be
detrimental to your health.

Remember the sin of Sodom: "Look, this was the iniquity of your sister Sodom:
She and her daughter had pride, fullness of food and abundance of idleness" -
Ezekiel 16:49.

The Apostle Paul wept when he mentioned those "whose end is destruction, whose
god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame -- who set their minds on
earthly things, being enemies to the cross of Christ" - Philippians 3:18-19. O
then do not live according to the flesh lest you die (Romans 8:13).

Prevailing Sins

If any temptation prevails against you and you fall into any sins in addition to
habitual failures, immediately lament it and confess it to God; repent quickly
whatever the cost. It will certainly cost you more if you continue in sin and
remain unrepentant.

Do not make light of your habitual failures, but confess them and daily strive
against them, taking care not to aggravate them by unrepentance and contempt.
Relationships

Remember every day the special duties of various relationships: whether as
husbands, wives, children, masters, servants, pastors, people, magistrates,
subjects.

Remember every relationship has its special duty and its advantage for the doing
of some good. God requires your faithfulness in this matter as well as in any
other duty.

Closing the Day

Before returning to sleep, it is wise and necessary to review the actions and
mercies of the day past, so that you may be thankful for all the special mercies
and humbled for all your sins.

This is necessary in order that you might renew your repentance as well as your
resolve for obedience, and in order that you may examine yourself to see whether
your soul grew better or worse, whether sin goes down and grace goes up and
whether you are better prepared for suffering, death and eternity.
May these directions be engraven upon your mind and be made the daily practice
of your life.

If sincerely adhered to, these will be conducive to the holiness, fruitfulness
and quietness of your life and add to you a comfortable and peaceful death.

 

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