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attending constantly upon this very thing: and if SERM.
LII. these extremes, the highest and lowest of all vocations, are services of God; if the highest upon that score be tied to so much diligence, then surely all middle places, upon the same account of conscience toward God, do exact no less.
If he that hath one talent, and he that hath ten, must both improve them for God's interest; then he that hath two, or three, or more, is obliged to the same duty proportionably.
Every one should consider the world as the family of that great Paterfamilias, of whom the whole Eph. iii. 15. family in heaven and earth is named, and himself as an officer or servant therein, by God's will and designation constituted in that employment, into which Providence hath cast him; to confer, in his order and way, somewhat toward a provision for the maintenance of himself and of his fellow-servants. Of a superior officer our Lord saith, Who is Matt. xxiv. that faithful and wise servant, whom his lord hath made ruler over his household, to give them 42. their meat in due season? So the greatest men are as stewards, treasurers, comptrollers, or purveyors ; the rest are inferior servants, in their proper rank and capacity.
And he that with diligence performeth his respective duty (be it high and honourable, or mean and contemptible in outward appearance) will please God, as keeping good order, and as being useful to his service; so that, upon the reckoning, God will say to him, Well done, good and faithful servant, 1 Cor. xiv. thou hast been faithful over a few things; I will va make thee ruler over many things : enter thou into 21. the joy of thy Lord. But he that doeth otherwise
SERM. (behaving himself carelessly or sluggishly in his LII. business) will offend God, as committing disorder,
and as being unprofitable.
He committeth disorder, according to that of St. 2 Thess. iii. Paul; We hear there are some, which walk among
you disorderly, not working at all. His sentence Matt. xxv. and doom will be, according to our Lord, O thou
wicked and slothful servant-Cast the unprofitable servant into utter darkness; which words are spoken in relation to one who being a flatterer, or sluggard in his calling, did not improve the special talent intrusted with him for God's service.
In fine, if we are conscientiously industrious in our vocation, we shall assuredly find the blessing of God thereon; and that he thereby will convey good success, comfort, competent wealth, a fair reputation, all desirable good unto us; for as all these things are promised to industry, so the promise especially doth belong to that industry, which a man doth exercise in an orderly course of action in his own way; or rather in God's way, wherein divine Providence hath set him.
An irregular or impertinent laboriousness, out of a man's calling or sphere; a being diligent in other men's affairs, invading their office, (as if I a priest will be trading, a layman preaching,) may not claim the benefit of those promises, or the blessings of in
dustry: but a husbandman, who, with conscientious Prov. x. 4. regard to God, and confidence in him, is painful in
tilling his ground, may expect a good crop; a merchant, who (upon the same principle, with the like disposition) earnestly followeth his trade, may hope for safe voyages and good markets; a prince carefully minding his affairs may look for peace and
prosperity to his country; a scholar studying hard SERM. may be well assured of getting knowledge, and finding truth; all, who with honest diligence constantly do pursue their business, may confidently and cheerfully hope to reap the advantages suitable to it from the favourable blessing of God. So that we have all reason to observe the apostle's precept, Not to be slothful in business.
I should apply this doctrine to our own case, urging its practice by considerations peculiar to our vocation : but having already passed the bounds of time, I reserve the doing it to another opportunity.
Now the God of peace sanctify you wholly, and 1 Thess. v. make you perfect in every good work to do his will, Heb. xiii. working in you that which is well-pleasing in his o. sight, through our blessed Saviour Jesus Christ; to whom for ever be all glory and praise. Amen.
OF INDUSTRY IN OUR PARTICULAR CALL
ING, AS GENTLEMEN.
Rom. xii. 11.
Not slothful in business. SERM. I HAVE largely treated upon the duty recomLIII.
mended in this precept, and urged the observance of it in general, at a distance: I now intend more particularly and closely to apply it, in reference to those persons who seem more especially obliged to it, and whose observing it may prove of greatest consequence to public good; the which application may also be most suitable and profitable to this audience. Those persons are of two sorts; the one gentlemen, the other scholars.
I. The first place, as civility demandeth, we assign to gentlemen, or persons of eminent rank in the world, well allied, graced with honour, and furnished with wealth : the which sort of persons I conceive in a high degree obliged to exercise industry in business.
This at first hearing may seem a little paradoxical and strange; for who have less business than gentlemen? who do need less industry than they? He that hath a fair estate, and can live on his means, what hath he to do, what labour or trouble can be
Of Industry in our particular Calling, &c. 215
exacted of him, what hath he to think on, or trouble SERM. his head with, but how to invent recreations and
LIII. pastimes to divert himself, and spend his waste leisure pleasantly? Why should not he be allowed to enjoy himself, and the benefits which nature or fortune have freely dispensed to him, as he thinketh best, without offence? Why may he not say with the rich man in the gospel, Soul, thou hast much Luke xii. goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry? Is it not often said by the Wise Man, that there is nothing better under Eccles. ii. the sun, than that a man should make his soul 24, jii. 2?: to enjoy good in a cheerful and comfortable fruition 15. of his estate? According to the passable notion and definition, What is a gentleman but his pleasure?
If this be true, if a gentleman be nothing else but this, then truly he is a sad piece, the most inconsiderable, the most despicable, the most pitiful and wretched creature in the world: if it is his privilege to do nothing, it is his privilege to be most unhappy; and to be so will be his fate, if he live according to it; for he that is of no worth or use, who produceth no beneficial fruit, who performeth no service to God or to the world, what title can he have to happiness? What capacity thereof? What reward can he claim? What comfort can he feel? To what temptations is he exposed! What guilts will he incur !
But in truth it is far otherwise : to suppose that a gentleman is loose from business is a great mistake; for indeed no man hath more to do, no man lieth under greater engagements to industry than he.