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improving our talents to good advantage, (to the service of God, the benefit of our neighbor, the bettering of our own state,) is very cheering and comfortable.
And whereas in all labor,' as the wise man telleth us, there is profit,' the foresight of that profit affordeth pleasure, the foretasting the good fruits of our industry is very deli
Hope, indeed, doth ever wait on industry : and what is more delightful than hope? This is the incentive, the support, the condiment of all honest labor; in virtue whereof the husbandman toileth, the merchant trudgeth, the scholar ploddeth, the soldier dareth with alacrity and courage, not resenting any pains, not regarding any hazards, which attend their undertakings: this the holy Apostles tell us did enable them with joy to sustain all their painful work and hazardous warfare ; enjoining us also as to work with fear,' so to • rejoice in hope.
In fine, industry doth free us from great displeasure, by redeeming us from the molestations of idleness, which is the most tedious and irksome thing in the world, racking our soul with anxious suspense and perplexing distraction; starving it for want of satisfactory entertainment, or causing it to feed on its own heart by doleful considerations; infesting it with crowds of frivolous, melancholic, troublesome, stinging thoughts; galling it with a sense of our squandering away precious time, of our slipping fair opportunities, of our not using the abilities and advantages granted us, to any profit or fruit : whence St. Chrysostom saith very truly, that there is nothing more unpleasant, more painful, more miserable, than a man that hath nothing to do: is not this,' saith he, worse than ten thousand chains, to hang in suspense, and be continually gaping, looking on those who are present ?"* Indeed the strictest imprisonment is far more tolerable, than being under restraint by a lazy humor from profitable employment: this inchaineth a man hand and foot, with more than iron fetters: this is beyond any imprisonment; it is the very entombment of a man, quite in effect sequestering him from the world, or debarring him from any valuable con.
* Chrys. in Act, Or. 35,
cerns therein. And if liberty be élovola autot payias,' a power of doing what one liketh best;' then is he, who by his sloth is disabled from doing any thing wherein he can find any reasonable satisfaction, the veriest slave that can be ; from which slavery industry freeing us, and disposing us to perform cheer. fully whatever is convenient, thereby doeth us a great pleasure. Farther,
6. Let us consider that industry doth afford a lasting comfort, deposited in the memory and conscience of him that prac. tiseth it. It will ever, ou his reviewing the passages of his life, be sweet to him to behold in them testimonies and monuments of his diligence; it will please him to consider that he hath lived to purpose, having done somewhat considerable : that he hath made an advantageous use of his time ; that he hath well husbanded the talents committed to him; that he hath accomplished (in some measure) the intents of God's bounty, and made some return for his excellent gifts. What comfort, indeed, can any man have, yea, how sore remorse must he feel, in reflecting on a life 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 ; as the shadow and appear. ance of a man; in having 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 endeavored no requital to the munificent goodness of his Maker, of his Preserver, 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 neighbor, 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 bath 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 labor to the public welfare ? How can such a man look inward on himself with a favorable 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 labor or the liberality of others; to pilfer a livelihood 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 on the honey gathered by others' labor; 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 implieth, when he saith, · Them that are such we command 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 instance 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 might have challenged a comfortable subsistence from his disciples, in recompense for the incomparable 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 labor, than any. wise to seem burdensome or troublesome to them: These hands,' said he, have ministered to my necessities, and to them that are with me. I have showed you all things, that so laboring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of our Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive. This was the practice of him, who was in • labors most abundant;' and such is the genius of every man, who on principles of conscience, reason, and honor, is industrious. Of him it may be said, as of Solomon's good housewife, . She seeketh wool and flax, and worketh willingly with
, her hands; she is like the merchants' ship, she bringeth her
food from afar; she looketh well to her household, 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 cipher 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 ; be wants leisure and opportunity of granting audience to the solicitations of sinful pleasure; and is apt to answer them with a non vacal; 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 idle one is spoiled by numberless bad spirits.” The case of men ordinarily is like to that of Ægisthus,
nc nil ageretur, amavit;
rather than do nothing, he was ready to do ill; he not having business to employ his thoughts, wanton desires did msinnate 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 David, 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 misdemeanor, which did create to him so much sorrow, did make such a spot in his life, and leave such a blur on bis me
* Cass. de Iostit. X. 23.
mory; 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 teacheth 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 stip in; ill company doth entice, ill example is regarded, every temptation doth object and impress itself with great advantage and force; men in such a case being apt to close and comply with 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,' saith Ezekiel, 'this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom; pride, fulness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her :' bence 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 follow. ing 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 busy-bodies.' 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 replepyázeolar, 'over-work, or be too busy in matters not belonging to them., intruding themselves into the affairs of their neighbors : for there is a natural connection between these things, since every man must be thinking, must be doing, must be saying somewhat, to spend his leisure, to uphold conversation, to please himself, and gratify others, to appear somebody among his companions; to avoid the shame of being