« AnteriorContinuar »
And as it is needful to every condition, so is it also to erery vocation. Is man a governor, or a superior in any capacity ? then what is he but a public servant, doomed to continual labor; hired, for the wages of respect and pomp, to wait on his people ? and he must look watchfully to his own steps who is to guide others by his authority and example. And with regard to those who move in a lower orb of subjection or service, who knows not that to make a good servant, fidelity and diligence must concur? whereof the first supposes the last: other instances cited on this head.
11. It may also deserve our consideration, that it is industry, to which the public state of the world, and of each commonweal therein, is indebted for its being advanced above rude barbarism : also for the invention and perfection of useful arts and sciences, the stately fabrics which we admire, and the commodious habitations which we enjoy, &c.
12. Industry is commended to us by all sorts of examples, deserving our regard and imitation : all nature is a copy thereof, and the whole world a glass, wherein we may behold this duty represented to us : examples of all the creatures around us, of rational and intelligent natures, of our blessed Saviour, of the inhabitants of heaven, yea of God himself, of whom our Lord says, My father worketh still. And shall we alone be idle, whilst all things are so busy ?
13. Lastly, if we consider, we shall find the root and source of all the inconveniences, the mischiefs, the wants of which we complain, to be our sloth ; and there is hardly one of them, which commonly we might not prevent or remove by industry. Conclusion.
OF INDUSTRY IN GENERAL.
ECCLESIASTES, CHAP. IX.-VERSE 10.
Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with all thy might.
INDUSTRY, which the divine preacher in this text recommendeth to us, is a virtue of a very diffusive nature and influ
a ence; stretching itself through all our affairs, and twisting itself with every concern we have ; so that no business can be well managed, no design accomplished, no good obtained without it: it therefore behoveth us to conceive a high opinion of it, and to inure our souls to the practice of it, on all occasions : in furtherance of which purposes I formerly, not long since, did propound several motives and inducements; and now proceed
shall represent divers other considerations serviceable to the same end.
1. We may consider that industry is productive of ease itself, and preventive of trouble: it was no less solidly, than acutely and smartly advised by the philosopher Crates, * " Whether,' said he, • labor be to be chosen, labor; or whether it be to be eschewed, labor, that thou mayest not labor; for by not laboring, labor is not escaped, but is rather pursued;' and St. Chrysostom + doth on the same consideration urge industry, because • Sloth,' saith he, “is wont to spoil us, and to yield us much pain.' No man can cozen nature, escaping the labor to which he was born; but rather attempting it, will delude himself, then finding most, when he shunneth all labor.
* Crates, Ep. 4.
+ Chrys, in Joh. Orat. 36.
Sloth indeed doth affect ease and quiet, but by affecting them doth lose them; it hateth labor and trouble, but by hating them doth incur them; it is a self-destroying vice, not suffering those who cherish it to be idle, but creating much work, and multiplying pains unto them; engaging them into divers necessities and straits, which they cannot support with ease, and out of which, without extreme trouble, they cannot extricate themselves: of this the preacher doth afford us a plain instance;
By much slothfulness,' saith he, the building decayeth, and through idleness of the hands the house droppeth through.' A little care taken at first about repairing the house, would have saved its decay and ruin, and consequently the vast charge and trouble, becoming needful to re-edify it: and the like doth happen in most other cases and occurrences of life: idleness commonly doth let slip opportunities and advantages, which cannot with ease be retrieved; it letteth thi fall into a bad case, out of which they can hardly be recovered.
The certain consequences of it (disgrace, penury, want of ex- . perience, disobliging and losing friends, with all the like mischiefs) cannot be supported without much disquiet; and they disable a man from redressing the inconveniences into which he is plunged.
But industry, by a little voluntary labor taken in due place and season, doth save much necessary labor afterward, and by moderate care doth prevent intolerable distress; and the fruits of it (wealth, reputation, skill, and dexterity in affairs, friendships, all advantages of fortune) do enable a man to pass his life with great ease, comfort, and delight.
2. Industry doth beget ease, by procuring good habits, and facility of acting things expedient for us to do. By taking pains to day we shall need less pains to-morrow; and by continuing the exercise, within a while we shall need no pains at all, but perform the most difficult tasks of duty, or of benefit to us, with perfect ease, yea commonly with great pleasure. What sluggish people account hard and irksome (as to rise early, to hold close to study or business, to bear some hardship) will be natural and sweet; as proceeding from another nature, raised in us by use.
Industry doth breed assurance and courage, needful for the
undertaking and prosecution of all necessary business, or for the performance of all duties incumbent on us.
No man can quite decline business, or disengage himself from duty, without infinite damage and mischief aceruing to himself : but these an industrious man (confiding in this efficaeious quality) will set on with alacrity, and dispatch with facility, his diligence voiding obstacles, and smoothing the way to him; whenas idleness, finding some difficulties, and fancying more, soon dishearteneth, and causeth a man to desist from action, rather choosing to crouch under the burden, than by endeavor to carry it through, to discharge himself thereof: whence as to an industrious man things seeming difficult will prove easy, so to a slothful person the easiest things will appear impossible; according to Solomon's observation : • The way,' saith be, 'of a slothful man is an hedge of thorns, but the way of the upright is made plain ;' whereas a slothful man, being apt to neglect his obligations, is opposed to an upright man, who hath a conscionable regard to them, and is willing to take pains in the discharge of them : so it is declared, that to the one the way is rough and thorny, to the other beaten and expedite.
And again, “The slothful man,' saith he, doth say, There is a lion without, I shall be slain in the streets :' he is very apt to conceit, or to pretend imaginary difficulties and hazards, and thence to be deterred from going about his business, or doing his duty. This consideration St. Chrysostom doth propose, exciting to an earnest pursuit of virtue ; because, There is,' saith he, nothing so easy, which our great sloth doth not represent very grievous and burdensome; nothing so painful and difficult, which diligence and willingness do not show to be very easy.'
3. We may consider that industry will sweeten all our enjoyments, and season them with a grateful relish; for as no man can well enjoy himself, or find sound content in any thing, while business or duty lie unfinished on his hand ; so when he hath done his best toward the dispatch of his work, he will then comfortably take his ease, and enjoy his pleasure ; then his food doth taste savorily, then his divertisements and recreations have
a lively gustfulness, then his sleep is very sound and pleasant, according to that of the preacher, * The sleep of a laboring man is sweet.'
4. Especially those accommodations prove most delightful, which our industry hath procured to us; we looking on them with a special tenderness of affection, as on the children of our endeavor ; we being sensible at what costs of care and pain we did purchase them. If a man getteth wealth by fraud or violence, if he riseth to preferment by flattery, detraction, or any bad arts, he can never taste any good savor, or find sound comfort in them; and from what cometh merely by chance, as there is no commendation due, so much satisfaction will not arise. It is the wise man's observation, The slothful man roasteth not that which he took in hunting,' and therefore it cannot be very grateful to him; but, addeth he, the substance of a diligent man is precious :' that is, what a man compasseth by honest industry, that he is apt highly to prize ; he triumpheth in it, and (in St. Paul's sense innocently) boasteth of it; he feeleth a solid pleasure and a pure complacency therein : the manner of getting it doth more please him than the thing itself; as true hunters do love the sport more than the quarry, and generous warriors more rejoice in the victory than in the spoil : for, our soul,' as St. Chrysostom discourseth, is more affected with those things, for which it hath labored; for which reason,' addeth he, God hath mixed labors with virtue itself, that he might endear it to us.' Yea, farther,
5. The very exercise of industry immediately in itself is delightful, and hath an innate satisfaction, which temperéth all annoyances, and even ingratiateth the pains going with it.
The very settlement of our mind on fit objects, or its acquiescence in determinate action, conducing to a good end, whereby we are freed of doubt, distraction, and fastidious listlessness, doth minister content.
The reflexion on our having embraced a wise choice, our proceeding in a fair way, our being in chace of a good purpose, doth breed complacence.
To consider that we are spending our time accountably, and