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is to be forwarded : by labour, under the blessing of Providence, the object of to-day is attained; by the labour of to-day are augmented the facilities of attaining similar objects to-morrow.
Labour is, in the next place, a powerful prefervative from fin. The unoccupied hand is a ready instrument of mischief. The unoccupied mind is a vacant field, in which the seeds of evil natural to the soil shoot with unlimited growth. On what day is the wickedness of the irreligious the most flagrant ? On the Sabbath : because to them it is a day of idleness. When are popular excesses most to be dreaded ? When Idlenefs gives the reins to licentiousness. Behold, this, faith the Lord God, was the iniquity of Sodom : pride, fulness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her (m). Abundance of idleness was among the primary sources of those enormities, which drew down the fiery deluge from above. He who‘listens not to the voice of temptation because employment prompts the answer, “ I have not leisure to attend to " thee:” though he has not attained the praise of virtue, may have escaped the guilt of transgression. vi (m) Ezek. xvi. 49. i P 2
OccuOccupation, restricted to laudable pursuits, claims a place among the fecondary causes, which pre-dispose men to progress in religion. Idleness is irreligious in itself, as a breach of duty: and contributes to form and establish a habit of mind not merely averse from all exertion ; but commonly marked by stronger repugnance to religious efforts and researches than to any other branch of employment.
Farther: Occupation, originating in Christian principles and directed to Chriftian purposes, is essential, not only to the Tefreshing enjoyment of leisure (for the rest that refreshes is reft after toil);' but to the acquisition of genuine composure, of serenity of conscience, of that peace of God which passeth all understanding, To be a blank in creation, a cumberer of the ground; to be torpid amidst surrounding industry; to be entrusted with talents, and employ them not for good; to owe infinite obligar tions, and withhold active evidences of gratitude ; to be commanded to occupy until the coming of your Lord, and to waste life in habitual disobedience with these features in your character is your mind at ease? Have you stable satisfaction within? Does not shame redden your cheek? Does pot alarm agitate your soul?
Single out from the passing crowd of examples a character habitually flothful : a character flumbering in lazy liftlefsness, or busied in the laborious idleness of folly. Single out a fluggard protracting night unto noon, sauntering in the irksomeness of inactivity, hearing in languid vacancy the news of the day; and killing time (weigh well the import of this his customary phrase), killing time evening after evening at the card table! Select a young man de voted to the chase and its attendant cares : er with skill worthy of a game-keeper, with ardour which might befit a favage in a wilderness constrained to a perilous war against the beasts of the field, dealing day after day and year after year destruction from his gun amidst the animal race. Select a young woman rolling round the vortex of dissipation, living to accomplishments and fashion and the song and the dance. Is this to improve life? Is this to watch againft fin? Is this to prepare the heart for religion? Is this to be a servant of Christ, who could not but be about his Father's business ? Shall the Idler, roused on the great day by the enquiry, “What has been thy oc"cupation,” reply to the Judge ; “I scoffed "not at thy word: I respected thine or
P 3 . “ dinances :
"dinances : I abstained from criminal gra“ tifications. Exempted by wealth. from “the necessity of labouring for subsistence; " I consigned my hours to ease and amuse< ment?”? You anticipate the answer Cast the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
Let not our investigations, my brethren, be closed without some brief and practical remarks,
Consider with attention proportioned to the importance of the subject the universal obligation to labour. If you wish to withdraw your shoulder from the burthen ; sufpect the soundness of your Christian profeflion. For those whom you love, even at the desire of those whom you love, you delight to labour. Do you love God, and loiter when he commands you to work for Him? Whatsoever thy band findeth to do, do it with all thy might: for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wifdom, in the grave whither thou goeft. Wbatfoever ye do, do it beartily; as to the Lord, and not unto men. God is not unrighteous ta forget your work and labour of love which re have fewed towards His name. And we desire that every one of you do fhew the
jame diligence to the full assurance of hope unto the end : that ye be not flothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises (12).
Secondly. Be frequent in proposing to yourself the enquiry, “What is my occu“pation?” Satisfy yourself, not merely that you are occupied, but that you are occupied in employments acceptable to God. To labour in trifles is not Chriftian occupation. To labour in sin is to labour for the devil. What numbers whom the sun rising and setting beholds in an unceasing hurry of occupation, shall appear at the hour of account to have been worse than idle! What numbers whose labours, highly useful to their friends or to their country, have filled the mouth of the world with praise, shall stand convicted in the hour of account as having never laboured for God! What doeft thou here, Elijah ? was the question of Jehovah to his prophet, who had relinquished in a moment of alarm the proper fcene of his labours. - Under every circumstance regard this question as addressed in conjunction with the former to yourself. Is this the place of duty ? Is this the labour of (n) Eccl. is, 6. Col. iii. 23. Hebr. vi. 10-123 M P4