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sore remorse must he feel, in reflecting upon a life SERM.
LI. spent in unfruitful and unprofitable idleness? How can he otherwise than bewail his folly and baseness in having lived (or rather having only been) in vain ; Diu fuit, as the shadow and appearance of a man; in having vixit. lavished his days, in having buried his talents, in having embezzled his faculties of nature, and his advantages from Providence; in having defeated the good-will of God, and endeavoured no requital to the munificent goodness of his Maker, of his Pre- Matt. xxv. server, his benign Lord and Master, his gracious Saviour and Redeemer? How, without confusion, can he in his mind revolve, that he hath nowise benefited the world, and profited his neighbour, or obliged his friends, or rendered to his country (to the society or community of which he is a member) amends for all the safety and quiet, the support, the convenience, and the pleasure he hath enjoyed under its protection, and in its bosom? that he hath not borne a competent share in the common burdens, or paid a due contribution of his care and labour to the public welfare? How can such a man look inward upon himself with a favourable eye, or pardon himself for so loathsome defaults ?
7. Let us consider, that industry doth argue a generous and ingenuous complexion of soul.
It implieth a mind not content with mean and vulgar things, (such as nature dealeth to all, or fortune scattereth about,) but aspiring to things of high worth, and pursuing them in a brave way, with adventurous courage, by its own forces, through difficulties and obstacles.
It signifieth in a man a heart, not enduring to owe the sustenance or convenience of his life to the
SERM. labour or the liberality of others; to pilfer a liveliLI.
hood from the world ; to reap the benefit of other men's care and toil, without rendering a full compensation, or outdoing his private obligations by considerable service and beneficence to the public.
A noble heart will disdain to subsist like a drone upon the honey gathered by others' labour; like a vermin to filch its food out of the public granary ; or like a shark to prey on the lesser fry; but will one way or other earn his subsistence: for he that doth
not earn, can hardly own his bread, as St. Paul im2 Thess. iii. plieth, when he saith, Them that are such we comTó iaurūv mand and exhort by our Lord Jesus Christ, that
with quietness they work, and eat their own bread.
Of this generous ingenuity we have a notable in1 Cor. ix. stance in that great apostle himself; which he doth
often represent as a pattern to us, professing much
complacence therein. He with all right and reason 2 Thess. iii. might have challenged a comfortable subsistence ? Cor. ix. from his disciples, in recompense for the incompar
able benefits he did confer on them, and of the excessive pains he did endure for their good : this he knew well; but yet did rather choose to support himself by his own labour, than anywise to seem burdensome or troublesome to them: These hands,
said he, have ministered to my necessities, and to 1 Thess. ii. them that are with me. I have shewed you all 2 Thess. iii. things, that so labouring ye ought to support the 1 Cor. iv. weak, and to remember the words of our Lord Je2 Cor . xi. sus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to
receive. This was the practice of him, who was in labours most abundant; and such is the genius of every man, who upon principles of conscience, rea
Acts xx. 34, 35
13, 14, 27.
son, and honour, is industrious. Of him it may be SERM.
LI. said, as of Solomon's good housewife, She seeketh wool and flax, and worketh willingly with her Prov. xxxi. hands ; she is like the merchants' ship, she bringeth her food from afar; she looketh well to her house, hold, and eateth not the bread of idleness.
Sloth is a base quality, the argument of a mind wretchedly degenerate and mean; which is content to grovel in a despicable state ; which aimeth at no worthy thing, nor pursueth any thing in a laudable way; which disposeth a man to live gratis (precariously) and ingratefully on the public stock, as an insignificant cypher among men, as a burden of the earth, as a wen of any society; sucking aliment from it, but yielding no benefit or ornament thereto.
8. Industry is a fence to innocence and virtue; a bar to all kinds of sin and vice, guarding the avenues of our heart, keeping off the occasions and temptations to vicious practice. When a man is engaged in honest employment, and seriously intent thereon, his mind is prepossessed and filled, so that there is no room or vacancy for ill thoughts or base designs to creep in; his senses do not lie open to ensnaring objects ; he wants leisure and opportunity of granting audience to the solicitations of sinful pleasure; and is apt to answer them with a non vacat'; the Devil can hardly find advantage of tempting him, at least many devils cannot get access to him, according to that observation in Cassian, A working monk is assaulted by one devil, but an
Semper te diabolus inveniat occupatum. Bern. Form. Hon. v. cap. 7.
SERM. idle one is spoiled by numberless bad spirits LI.
The case of men ordinarily is like to that of Ægisthus,
-ne nil ageretur, amavit; rather than do nothing, he was ready to do ill; he not having business to employ his thoughts, wanton desires did insinuate themselves into his heart, and transported him to that disastrous wickedness, which supplied matter to so many tragedies; and the like
instance the sacred history suggesteth in king Da2 Sam. xi. vid, who, walking, it is said, on the roof of his
house, his mind then roving, and being untacked from honest cares, that temptation seized on him, whereby he was plunged into that woful misdemeanour, which did create to him so much sorrow, did make such a spot in his life, and leave such a blur on his memory ; whence yet we may draw some benefit, taking it as a profitable document and warning, how idleness doth expose the best men to danger.
Idleness is indeed the nursery of sins, which as naturally grow up therein as weeds in a neglected
field, or insects in a standing puddle; Idleness teachxxxiii. 27. eth much evil. It is the general trap, whereby every
tempter assayeth to catch our soul: for the mind being loose from care, Satan is ready to step in with his suggestions, the world presenteth its allurements, fleshly desires rise up; proud, froward, wanton cogitations slip in ; ill company doth entice, ill example is regarded, every temptation doth object and impress itself with great advantage and force; men in
Operans monachus uno dæmone pulsatur, otiosus vero innumeris spiritibus devastatur. Cass. de Instit. x. 23.
such a case being apt to close and comply with SERM.
LI. temptations, even to divert their mind, and entertain themselves, to cure their listlessness, to pass their time", committing sin for want of better occupation. Hence in places where there is least work, the worst sins do most prevail; and idleness therefore was by the prophet reckoned one of the three great sins of Sodom, parents of the rest: Behold, Ezek. xvi. saith Ezekiel, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom; pride, fulness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her: hence it seldom doth happen in any way of life, that a sluggard and a rakehell do not go together; or that he who is idle is not also dissolute.
9. Particularly industry doth prevent the sins of vain curiosity, pragmaticalness, troublesome impertinency, and the like pests of common life, into which persons not diligently following their own business will assuredly fall. We hear, saith St. Paul to the Thessalonians, that there are some who walk among you disorderly; working not at all, but are busybodies'. It is no wonder, if they did not work at all, that they should walk disorderly; or that quite neglecting their own concerns, they should Teplepráceobal, over-work, or be too busy in matters not belonging to them, intruding themselves into the affairs of their neighbours : for there is a natural connection between these things, since every man must be thinking, must be doing, must be say
Intendes animum studiis et rebus bonestis,
Hor. Ep. i. 2.
BARROW, VOL. III.