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derly livers, 2 Thess. ii. 11. who either work not at all, or are busybodies, trifling intermeddlers in the affairs of others, to the neglect of their own; and requires that they study to be quiet, and to do their own business." 1 Thess. iv. 11. The wise Go. vernor of the universe has appointed to every one his proper place and work, and will rather reprove than reward those who are acting out of their own sphere. But as pride and sloth have many pleas, I shall endeavour to enforce the obligations to a life of useful activity, by observing,
1st. That the nature and reason of things require it. There are comparatively few whose circumstances are independent. Now it is highly unreasonable to live upon others without a mutual return of advantage. And to expect that sustenance should drop from the clouds, without labour and care of our own, is an absurdity so obvious and flagrant, that none are stupid enough to maintain it; yet their conduct'is not much wiser, who pretend to live upon providence while they live in sloth, and do not exert themselves in some proper business for their own support.
But let a per son's circumstances be what they will, the God of nature, who doeth nothing in vain, by having given us capacities and powers
for action, plainly intimates, that it is our duty to employ them in a rational and use? ful manner. Indeed, activity is so natural and delightful co man, that if idleness had the sanction of a law to enforce it, no doubt many would willingly pay their fine for liberty to work.
2d. It is the express command and appointment of God. Adam, before and after his fall, was placed in a state of action. In innocency, the wisdom of God chose a calling for him: “ The Lord God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden, to dress it, and to keep it." Gen. ii. 15. “If a noble birth, as one observes, a great estate, a small family, and a mind fitted for contemplation, would man from labour : none have so fair a plea for it as he." After the fall when labour was more difficult to him and less profitable, he was enjoined, in the sweat of his face to eat his bread, until he should return unto his dust." Gen, iii. 19. The command of Almighty God to all his posterity is, that “six days they should labour, and do all their work :" Exod. xx. 9. In this is plainly implied, that all should fill up their time with some proper employment, from one season of religious rest to another. For it is obvious to remark, that
the obligation to labour six days, is ex. pressed in as general terms, and is bound upon us by the same authority, as the religious observation of the seventh. Nor is the case changed under the gospel, by which men are commanded and exhorted, in the “name and authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, with quietness to work, and to eat their own bread.” 2 Thess. iii. 12. That his precepts might have greater force, he has given us his own example; for before his entrance into the ministerial office, we find him labouring in the carpenter's trade: Mark vi. 3. And if so divine a person stooped to a mean calling to teach us humility, di. ligence and industry, shall any who call him their master, refuse to imitate him herein ?
3d. Justice to our families and the public require it. The great author of our natures, has implanted in every being, love and affection to their tender offspring, which excites them to study and promote their happiness; but idleness and sloth obstruct those blessings by which the family might live comfortably, and be disposed of happily. And whatever profession of religion there may be, the sacred records warrant us to say, that “ if any provide not for his own, and especially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith,
and is worse than an infdel." 1 Tim. v. 8. How unnatural is the sight, when by the slothfulness of the parent, the children are clothed with rags? Or how can they rise up and call them blessed, who thus make them heirs to nothing but poverty and distress?
Nor is the regard we owe to the public to be overlooked. None should stand as cyphers in their generations, but so employ themselves as to be blessings in it, that their absence may be sensibly felt How many are employed to furnish us with the conveniences and necessaries of life: and how unreasonable is it to make no returns ? The industrious bees drive the useless drones from their little commonwealth; and indeed those deserve not the protection, that add not to the welfare of the public.
On these principles, and from a conviction that idleness was injurious to the constitutions and morals of
and just and mischievious to society, the anci. ent Greeks and Romans appointed magis. trátes to see that no persons spent their time in sloth; and severely punished those that thus offended. It was the general custom of the Jews to bring up their children to manual labour, how plentiful so
ever their circumstances were, or how polite soever their education was designed to be. On this account we find the apostle Paul, who had a learned education, under the greatest of their Rabbi's, working as a tent maker. The same custom is continu. ed in other nations to this day.
4th. Our own safety and comfort much depend upon it. The busy person like the bird upon the wing, escapes many of those snarės to which the indolent are exposed. It is hardly possible that a person should continue absolutely unemployed for any long time ; and he that is not doing what he ought, will be doing what he ought not ; the destroyer of souls can hardly wish for a fairer mark at which to direct his temp. tations, than an idle person. The sloth of Sodom is represented as one cause of the wickedness of it; Ezek. xvi. 49. and David's criminal indulgence seems to have been preceded by the same indisposition: 2 Sam. xi. 2. But an honest diligence subdues that pride, lust, and sensuality, which are cherished by sloth and indolence. What numbers have been cut off in the midst of life, or had their beings rendered uncomfortable while they lived, by the great variety of diseases which sloth and inactivity bring upon the human frame;