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example, and show

you

in himself what manner of person a good steward of the manifold grace of God ought to be. Measure this pattern, study this living directory. He was always doing good He never let slip an occasion of good. He sought such occasions, and found them everywhere ; and though he met with next to nothing but evil for good, he was never weary of repaying ingratitude with kindness. And why? He loved God perfectly ; therefore“

my meat,” he

says,

"is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work." * That

you
also
may

love God truly, if not perfectly, and at least may delight in doing his commandments, look again at Jesus Christ, and, through looking at him, you may learn how God loved you first, being yet his enemies." Consider the atonement of Jesus Christ, the Son of the Blessed, made man for you, and as man

you between the thieves. See here the riches of divine grace, and what a God he is whom you are so slow to serve !

Meditate on Christ's sufferings on your behalf, till

you understand something of the vastness of that goodwill which made him content to bear them ; and if then you are not ashamed of your unwillingness to pour out your whole souls to God, and give up all for Christ, at least pray to be made ashamed of it. And beseech the Lord,

dying for

John iv. 34.

that the sense of his tender mercies may so abide upon your hearts henceforth, as to stir you up to constant, undeviating, cheerful, and humble exertions in his service. Thus, from being the slaves of Satan, ye shall be turned into the freemen of God, and hear each of you at last that glorious summons, “ Enter thou into the joy of

thy Lord.” *

* Matt. xxv. 29.

404

SERMON XIX.

THE VINEYARD OF THE SLOTHFUL.

Prov. xxiv. 30–34.

I went by the field of the slothful, and by the

vineyard of the man void of understanding ; and, lo, it was all grown over with thorns, and nettles had covered the face thereof, and the stone wall thereof was broken down. Then I saw, and considered it well : I looked upon it, and received instruction. Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep : so shall thy poverty come as one that travelleth ; and thy want as an armed man.

We have here an account of a sight which the wise man saw; of the manner in which it affected his mind; of his wise determination to get instruction out of it, and of the reflections which he made upon it. He saw his neighbour's estate gone to ruin; he inquired within himself, for the practical purpose of obtaining a lesson of caution for his own guidance—how this had come to pass; and he perceived it to be the natural and necessary consequence of slothful habits. He records the matter, therefore, for our benefit ; and the Holy Spirit, under whose guidance he wrote, would have us learn the self-same lesson which he thought it so important to lay to heart.

The words, no doubt, are easily capable of an application to our spiritual concerns : but I mean to take them at present in their most literal and obvious sense. The subject, therefore, which I shall have to treat of is, The wickedness and ruinous consequences of sloth, as manifested in the neglect of our ordinary calling. And I beg that you will not imagine that I am going to enter herein upon any needless discussion, or to speak upon a subject which is either below the notice of a Christian minister, or one in which immortal souls and the honour of the Gospel are not concerned. The Almighty, in the passage before us, did no doubt mean to instruct us respecting the right ordering of our earthly businesses, and to require it of us that we should take heed to manage them well and uprightly, and, to that intent, industriously. And I trust, therefore, that I shall have no difficulty in making it appear to you, both that industry in worldly affairs is a very important part of religious duty, and that sloth in them is a gross sin against God :-as dangerous to our souls as almost any sin can be, and as necessary as any other to be repented of by ourselves, and atoned for by the blood of Christ.

I shall proceed then, by God's assistance,

I. First, to illustrate from the text the nature, progress, and effects of slothfulness in our ordinary callings.

II. Secondly, to explain the wickedness of this slothfulness in a christian view ; and,

III. Lastly, to exhort you to a contrary conduct on christian principles.

I. And first, the text very well illustrates the nature, progress, and effects of slothfulness in our ordinary callings.

“ I went by the field of the slothful, and by the vineyard of the man void of understanding ; and, lo, it was all grown over with thorns, and nettles had covered the face thereof, and the stone wall thereof was broken down. Then I saw, and considered it well : I looked upon it, and received instruction. Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep: so shall thy poverty come as one that travelleth ; and thy want as an armed man."

Here was great disorder already come to pass, , and inevitable ruin close at hand, and sloth the sole root and cause. Let us also consider the matter well, that we too may receive instruction.

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