Thursday, June 14, 2012

Directions Against Excess Sleep by Richard Baxter, pt. 1

I have been studying this week for a sermon on Sunday that I am calling "Don't Waste Your Summer." I have been thinking and meditating on Ephesians 5:15-16 where Paul calls the Christians to walk as a wise man. Specifically, he tells them to redeem their time that they have on this earth. Yesterday, as I was praying and thinking about this, I pulled out my copy of Richard Baxter's Practical Works. I quickly thumbed through the index to see if there was anything that might speak towards a topic of redeeming the time. If you know anything about the puritans, they had a knack for redeeming the time.

What I found from him was troubling to my soul. Well, maybe not so much troubling as convicting. In one section, he gave some directions against the sinful excess of sleep. After some preliminary comments, Baxter gives these 13 directions that should smack many people in the face as a wake up call to redeem their time. As I read these, it was easy to think of the summer months, especially for students who have the summer off. Please read these with care and towards a view of evaluating your own heart. I have taken some liberty as to translate much of what he has said into a more modern English reading, but I pray I have kept his original intent. I will share six of them today and then the last seven tomorrow.

Direction #1: Correct that sluggish temper of body which inclines you to it, which is chiefly to be done by such an abstinence or temperate diet. A full belly is fit for nothing else but sleep or lust. Reduce your diet to that measure which is needful to your health, and eat not any more to please your appetites. And let fasting cure you when you have exceeded.

Direction #2: Labor hard in your callings, that your sleep may be sweet while you are in it; or else you will lie in bed on pretense of necessity because you cannot sleep well when you are there. Then you will say, you must take it out in the morning, because you sleep not in the night. But see that this be not caused by idleness.

Direction #3: See that you have a calling which will find your employment for all your time. Yes, do something that urges you to diligence. Otherwise, you will lie in bed and say that you have time to spare or nothing to do. You can rise when you have a journey to be gone, or a business of pressing necessity to be done; keep yourself under some constant necessity, or urgency of business at the least.

Direction #4: Take pleasure in your callings, and in the service of God. Sluggards themselves can rise to that which they take much pleasure in; as to go to a party or feast, or play, or game, or to a good bargain, or anything which they delight in. If you had a delight in thy calling, and in reading the Scripture and praying, and doing good, though could not lie contentedly in bed, but would long to be up and doing, as children do in their play.

Direction #5: Remember the grand importance of the business of your souls which always lies on your hands, that the greatness of your work may rouse you up. What? Lie slugging in your bed, when you are so far behindhand in knowledge, and grace and assurance of salvation; and have so much of the Scripture and other books to read and understand? Have you not grace to beg for a needy soul? Is not prayer better work than excess of sleeping? Great business in the world can make you rise, and why not greater?

Direction #6: Remember that you must answer in judgment for thy time, and what comfort will you have to say that you slugged away so many hours in a morning? And what comfort at death when time is gone to review so much cast away in sleep?

Check in tomorrow for the next 7 Directions by Richard Baxter on the topic of sleep.

Question: Which One Of These Most Speaks To You & Why?

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