Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Is there enough time for all of our duties?

This question follows on from our previous post. John Owen provides the answer. God certainly gives us enough time for all of the duties that he lays upon us. The following is from 'The Nature, Power, Deceit and Prevalency of Indwelling Sin'.

The deceitfulness of sin makes use of corrupt reasonings, taken from the pressing and urging occasions of life. "Should we," says it in the heart, "attend strictly unto all duties in this kind, we should neglect our principal occasions, and be useless unto ourselves and others in the world." And on this general account, particular businesses dispossess particular duties from their due place and time. Men have not leisure to glorify God and save their own souls, It is certain that God gives us time enough for all that he requires of us in any kind in this world. No duties need to jostle one another, I mean constantly. Especial occasions must be determined according unto especial circumstances. But if in any thing we take more upon us than we have time well to perform it in, without robbing God of that which is due to him and our own souls, this God calls not unto, this he blesseth us not in. It is more tolerable that our duties of holiness and regard to God should intrench upon the duties of our callings and employments in this world than on the contrary; and yet neither doth God require this at our hands, in an ordinary manner or course. How little, then, will he bear with that which evidently is so much worse upon all accounts whatever! But yet, through the deceitfulness of sin, thus are the souls of men beguiled. By several degrees they are at length driven from their duty.

Get grace, then, up betimes unto duty, and be early in the rebukes of sin. 3. Though it do its worst, yet be sure it never prevail to a conquest. Be sure you be not wearied out by its pertinacity, nor driven from your hold by its importunity; do not faint by its opposition. Take the apostle's advice, Hebrews 6:11,12, "We desire that every one of you do show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope unto the end: that ye be not slothful."

Still hold out in the same diligence. There are many ways whereby men are driven from a constant holy performance of duties, all of them dangerous, if not pernicious to the soul. Some are diverted by business, some by company, some by the power of temptations, some discouraged by their own darkness; but none so dangerous as this, when the soul gives over in part or in whole, as wearied by the aversation of sin unto it, or to communion with God in it. This argues the soul's giving up of itself unto the power of sin; which, unless the Lord break the snare of Satan therein, will assuredly prove ruinous. Our Savior's instruction is, that "we ought always to pray, and not to faint," Luke 18:1. Opposition will arise, — none so bitter and keen as that from our own hearts; if we faint, we perish. "Take heed lest ye be wearied," saith the apostle, "and faint in your minds," Hebrews 12:3. Such a fainting as attended with a weariness, and that with a giving place to the aversation working in our hearts, is to be avoided, if we would not perish. The caution is the same with that of the same apostle, Romans 12:12, "Rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing instant in prayer;" and in general with that of chap. 6:12, "Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof."

To cease from duty, in part or in whole, upon the aversation of sin unto its spirituality, is to give sin the rule, and to obey it in the lusts thereof.