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"that the mower filleth not his hand, nor he that "bindeth sheaves his bosom."*
The faults and follies of men will yield a revenue of profit to the pious observer; the fruitless field of the slothful, will to him be instructive; he will consider it well; and out of the eater will come forth meat, and out of the strong, or bitter and distasteful, will come forth sweetness. "Whoso is "wise and will observe these things, even he shall "understand the loving kindness of the Lord."
The example of Solomon, the royal author of the Book of Proverbs, should be imitated by each of us in our daily walks or rides. The works of God were to him an opened volume replete with the most valuable lessons-he found
"Tongues in the trees, books in the running brooks, "Sermons in stones, and good in every thing."
Although the wisest of mortals, he accepted a confirmation of his excellent principles from the industry of the ants, and disdained not to take a lesson from the weeds in the field of the sluggard.† If our minds
* Psalm cxxix. 7, 8.
+ ↑ "And God gave Solomon wisdom and understanding exceed
ing much, and largeness of heart, even as the sand which is on the sea-shore. And Solomon's wisdom excelled the wisdom of "all the children of the east country, and all the wisdom of
are open to instruction, we shall be learners everywhere, and be taught by every thing. "To him that "hath shall be given." Our language will then be, As I went by such a field, whether cultivated or neglected, I looked upon it and received instruction.
Alas! how affecting is the thought, that many like the sluggard are furnishing instruction to others, by what proves their own ruin, both in this world and that which is to come. Impenitent sinners, whose certain end is destruction, are saying by their present misery, as they will hereafter by their unceasing groans, "The way of transgres"sors is hard." May we take the warning, lest we go to the same place of torment !
From a field overgrown with weeds, we may learn many moral and religious truths. May we not well consider in the first place,
"Egypt. For he was wiser than all men; than Ethan the Ezra"hite, and Harman, and Chalcol, and Darda, the sons of Mahol; "and his fame was in all nations round about. And he spake "three thousand proverbs; and his songs were a thousand and "five. and he spake of trees, from the cedar tree that is in Lebanon, even unto the hyssop that springeth out of the wall: he spake also of beasts, and of fowl, and of creeping things, and "of fishes. And there came of all people to hear the wisdom of
Solomon, from all Kings of the earth, which had heard of his "wisdom.”—1 Kings, iv. 29–34.
The disgrace, the crime, and penalty of sloth, in reference to worldly concerns?
How dishonourable to any one are lazy habits! The paternal field, the valuable vineyard which descended by inheritance from the industrious and prudent parent, and which passing into the possession of the indolent son, gave him the fair importance which follows the purse, are now become the memorial of his disgrace.
Surprize is expressed that one with so many advantages, should unworthily sacrifice all to such sluggish dispositions; "Lo! his field was grown "over with thorns!" A price was put into his hands, but he had no heart to improve it; he gradually neglected his affairs
"The thorn and the thistle
"Grew broader and higher-”
The stone wall, firm and reared by frequent efforts, was slowly injured until at length it is broken down; he no longer can conceal the indolent and hidden indulgences which he daily allowed himself on his couch and his bed, he proclaims to all who walk by the way, that he is a fool:* he lives contemptible, and dies despised.
* Ecclesiastes, x. 2.
His crime is great and agravated; he has sinned against God, whose is the earth and the fulness thereof, and who waited even on the disobedient, to bless his partial labors: nor is it any trivial offence to sport with God's natural favors, and to waste the means of improvement he bestows.
Indolence is a sin against society. Solomon, as a magistrate, rode through his territory, to see if the public property, and such is the produce of the land, was well managed; for persons are not at liberty to neglect those services which will increase the means of public support. In this sense we are responsible to God, and ought to be to the magistrate. And surely, if he that withholdeth the corn in time of general necessity from the market is criminal, he must be far more so, who diminishes the supply by lazy and sluggish habits, he has wasted the corn he has sowed; for by omitting to weed his ground, the thorns have grown up and choked it, and rendered the earth unfruitful.
Every sin becomes its own punishment, but none more evidently than sloth: it clothes a man with rags, it greatly wastes property, and poverty with all its distressful consequences will come like an armed man. And does the evil stop here? Certainly not; its effects on the soul resemble those on the body; it renders the
mind diseased and impoverished; destitute of all suited clothing and defence; the spirit becomes the prey of every temptation; the wild beasts of society and every wandering incitement to evil, find a ready entrance to such a heart. And surely the eternal destiny of the unprofitable servants will be as awful as theirs, who have been guilty of more active violations of God's will. "And cast
ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: "there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth*.”
But secondly, much religious instruction may be obtained from such a spectacle.
1. We are reminded that the human heart is fertile in weeds, that they spring up in society, and in the mind of every individual.
Pride, covetousness, sensuality, and malice, are the nettles and thorns which are natural to the unblessed and stony soil of the unrenewed heart, and the roots and seeds of every unsanctified disposition, may yet be discovered even in their breasts who are God's husbandry.
No field, however well tilled, is without some weeds, but it is only in the field of the slothful,
*Matthew, xxv. 30.