The answer is, that no rule of universal application can be given, as all persons do not require the same measure of sleep, and also the same persons, at different times, according to the strength or weakness of their body, may require more or less.
But my decided advice, at the same time, is, that children of God would be careful not to allow themselves too little sleep.
1. Waste of time, which is unbecoming a saint, who is bought by the precious blood of Jesus, with his time and all he has, to be used for the Lord. If we sleep more than is needful for the refreshment of the body, it is wasting the time with which the Lord has intrusted us as a talent, to be used for his glory, for our own benefit, and the benefit of the saints and the unbelievers around us.
2. To remain too long in bed injures the body. Just as when we take too much food, we are injured thereby, so as it regards sleep. Medical persons would readily allow that the lying longer in bed than is needful for the strengthening of the body does weaken it.
3. It injures the soul. The lying too long in bed not merely keeps us from giving the most precious part of the day to prayer and meditation, but this sloth leads also to many other evils. Any one need but make the experiment of spending one, two, or three hours in prayer and meditation before breakfast, either in his room, or with his Bible in his hand in the fields, and he will soon find out the beneficial effect which early rising has upon the outward and inward man.
1. Commence at once, delay it not. Tomorrow begin to rise.
2. But do not depend upon your own strength. This may be the reason why before this you may have begun to rise early, but have given it up. As surely as you depend upon your own strength in this matter, it will come to nothing. In every good work we depend upon the Lord, and in this thing we shall feel especially how weak we are.
3. Do trust in the Lord for help. You will honor him if you expect help from him in this matter. Give yourself to prayer for help, expect help, and you will have it.
a. Go early to bed. If you stay up late, you cannot rise early. Let no society and no pressure of engagements keep you from going habitually early to bed. If you fail in this, you neither can nor ought to get up early, as your body requires rest. How much more important still is it to retire early and to rise early, in order to make sure of time for prayer and meditation before the business of the day commences, and to devote to those exercises that part of our time when the mind and the body are most fresh - to obtain spiritual strength for the conflict, the trials, and the work of the day.
Or procure, what is still better, an alarum, by which you may regulate almost to a minute the time when you wish to rise. Though I have very many times been awakened by the Lord, in answer to prayer, almost to the minute when I desired to rise; yet I thought it well to procure an alarum to assist me in my purpose of rising early: not indeed as if it could give the least help, without the Lord’s blessing, for I should remain in bed notwithstanding the noise of the alarum, were he not to give me grace to rise; but simply looking upon it as a means.
c. Rise at once when you are awake. Remain not a minute longer in bed, else you are likely to fall asleep again.
d. Be not discouraged by feeling drowsy and tired in consequence of your rising early. This will soon wear off. You will after a few days feel yourself stronger and fresher than when you used to lie an hour or two longer than you needed.
e. Allow yourself always the same hours for sleep. Make no change except sickness oblige you.
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