Virtue is not a mushroom that springeth up of itself in one night, when we are asleep or regard it not; but a delicate plant, that groweth slowly and tenderly, needing much pains to cultivate it, much care to guide it, much time to mature it. Neither is vice a spirit that will be conjured away with a charm, slain by a single blow, or despatched by one stab. Who, then, will be so foolish as to leave the eradicating of vice, and the planting in of virtue in its place, to a few years or weeks? Yet he who procrastinates his repentance and amendment grossly does so: with his eyes open, he abridges the time allotted for the longest and most important work he has to perform: he is a fool.
There is no moment like the present; not only so, but, moreover, there is no moment at all, that is, no instant force and energy, but in the present. The man who will not execute his resolutions when they are fresh upon him can have no hope from them afterwards: they will be dissipated, lost, and perish in the hurry and skurry of the world, or sunk in the slough of indolence.
How dangerous to defer those momentous reformations which conscience is solemnly preaching to the heart! If they are neglected, the difficulty and indisposition are increasing every month. The mind is receding, degree after degree, from the warm and hopeful zone; till, at last, it will enter the arctic circle, and become fixed in relentless and eternal ice!
John Foster: Life and Thoughts, by W. W. Everts, 222.
A Pagan moralist hath represented the folly of an attachment to this world almost as strongly as a Christian could express it. Thou art a passenger, says he, and thy ship hath put into harbour for a few hours. The tide and the wind serve, and the pilot calls thee to depart, and thou art amusing thyself, and gathering shells and pebbles on the shore, till they set sail without thee. So is every Christian who, being on his voyage to a happy eternity, delays and loiters, and thinks and acts as if he were to dwell here forever.
Now, is it safe, think you, to pass this day? A hard heart is a provoking heart, and as long as it continues hard, continues provoking God and despising the Holy Ghost. To-day, therefore, hear His voice; that is, this present day. But which is that day? It is this very time wherein you stand before God, and in which you hear me. If you embrace the opportunity, happy are you; if not, you shall give as dear an account as for anything you ever heard in your life. There is no dallying with God: take His proffer, take Him at His word in a matter of salvation. He calls thee to-day: peradventure He will speak no more.
Some persons are what is called slow and sure: sure, that is, in cases that will admit of leisurely deliberation; though they require so much time for forming a right judgment, and devising right plans, that in cases where promptitude is called for they utterly fail. Buonaparte used to say that one of the principal requisites for a general was an accurate calculation of time; for if your adversary can bring a powerful force to attack a certain post ten minutes sooner than you can bring up a sufficient supporting force, you are beaten, even though all the rest of your plans be never so good. So also, if you are overtaken by an inundation, ten minutes spent in deciding on the best road for escaping, may make escape impossible.
Richard Whately: Annot. on Bacons Essay, Of Dispatch.