One of the great devotional writers of the 17th Century was Jeremy Taylor who died in 1667. Although not an absolutely safe guide in all he wrote (the Puritan writers view of prophesy is one of the "not safe" areas), there is much in his book Holy Living and Dying which our modern and superficial age might do well to ponder. Young believers, particularly, would profit by cultivating a taste for the devotional writers to whom succeeding generations have been greatly in debt. Their writings may seem to be "heavy" in comparison to those of today, but they lived in a different age, which was not marked by the busy nature of today. But their day, nevertheless, was not free of danger. Tumults and wars were often around them, but in considering their writings the reader is struck with the burning desire in their hearts to know the Lord Jesus and follow Him closely.
Here follows, paraphrased and modernised, some of Jeremy Taylors observations on the care of our time.
1. As God, by Creator-rights, has a claim upon every man, all our labours and care, all our powers and faculties, should be wholly employed in His service all the days of our life. All work for God should be done with great earnestness and passion, with much zeal and desire, and we should bestow upon it much time.
2. It should be considered that very little fruit comes from the much time spent in vanity and recreation, but from the few hours we spend in prayer and exercises of a pious life the return is great and profitable, and what we sow in the minutes and the spare portions of a few years grows up to crowns and sceptres in a happy and glorious eternity.
3. Although we cannot devote the greater part of our time to religious duties, it will be proof of our wisdom to lay aside for services of God and the businesses of the Spirit as much time as we can, because the greater the part of our time we give to God, the more we treasure up for ourselves.
4. In all the actions of our lives - eating, drinking, speaking and thinking - we should act as in the presence of God, and it should concern us to behave ourselves carefully, as in the presence of our Judge.
5. He that makes good choice as to the use of his time will also make good choice of his company and of his actions, remembering that God has given man but a short time here on earth, and yet upon this short time eternity depends. Every idle word must be accounted for, because the time spent in idle talking and unprofitable discourse ought to have been employed to spiritual and useful purposes.
6. No man can complain that his calling (i.e. his daily work) takes him off from spiritual service. His calling itself and his worldly employment in honest trades and offices is a serving of God, and, if it be moderately pursued, and according to the rules of Christian prudence, will leave time enough for prayers and retirements of a more spiritual nature.
7. In the morning accustom yourself to think first upon God, and at night let Him also close your eyes. Ever remember so to work at your calling as not to neglect the work of your high calling, but to begin and end each day with God.
8. In the midst of the works of your callings often retire to God in short prayers and let our employment be such as becomes a Christian, for he that takes pains to serve the ends of covetousness is idle in the worst sense.
9. As much as possible, avoid all senseless and useless employments of your life, all unnecessary visits, all vain gatherings, and whatsoever spends much time to no real purpose, either civil or religious.
10. Set apart some portions of every day for more solemn devotions and religious exercises. Do not let your heart be set upon the world when you are in prayer, and prefer an act of devotion before worldly pleasure. Before retiring to sleep each night examine the actions of the day.