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IN OUR PARTICULAR CALLING, AS GENTLEMEN.
Rom. xii. 11.
Not slothful in Business.
I HAVE largely treated upon the duty recommended in this precept, and urged the observance of it in general, at a distance: I now intend more particularly and closely to apply it, in reference to those persons who seem more especially obliged to it, and whose observing it may prove of greatest consequence to public good; the which application may also be most suitable and profitable to this audience: those persons are of two sorts ; the one Gentlemen, the other Scholars,
I. The first place, as civility demandeth, we assign to Gentlemen, or persons of eminent rank in the world, well allied, graced with honour, and furnished with wealth ; the which sort of persons I conceive in a high degree obliged to exercise industry in business.
This at first hearing may seem a little paradoxical and strange; for who have less business than Gentlemen ? who do need less industry than they? He that hath a fair estate, and can live on his means, what hath he to do, what labour or trouble can be exacted of him, what hath he to think on, or trouble his head with, but how to invent recreations and pastimes to divert himself, and spend his waste leisure pleasantly? Why should not he be allowed to enjoy himself, and the benefits which nature or fortune have freely dispensed to him, as he thinketh best, without offence? Why may he not say with the rich man in the Gospel,
Soul, thou hast much goods laid up
for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry”? Is it not often said by the wise man, that there is “nothing better under the sun, than that a man should make his soul to enjoy good” in a cheerful and comfortable fruition of his estate? According to the passable notion and definition, “ What is a Gentleman but his pleasure ?"
If this be true, if a Gentleman be nothing else but this, then truly he is a sad piece, the most inconsiderable, the most despicable, the most pitiful and wretched creature in the world: if it is his privilege to do nothing, it is his privilege to be most unhappy, and to be so will be his fate, if he live according to it; for he that is of no worth or use, who produceth no beneficial fruit, who performeth no service to God, or to the world, what title can he have to happiness ? What capacity thereof? What reward can he claim? What comfort can he feel? To what temptations is he exposed! What guilts will he incur !
But in truth it is far otherwise : to suppose that a Gentleman is loose from business, is a great mistake; for indeed no man hath more to do, no man lieth under greater engagements to industry than he.
He is deeply obliged to be continually busy in more ways than other men, who have but one simple calling or occupation allotted to them; and that upon a triple account; in respect to God, to the world, and to himself.
1. He is first obliged to continual employment in respect to God.
He, out of a grateful regard to divine bounty for the eminency of his station, adorned with dignity and repute, for the plentiful accommodations and comforts of his life, for his exemption from those pinching wants, those meaner cares, those sordid entertainments, and those toilsome drudgeries, to which other men are subject, is bound to be more diligent in God's service, employing all the advantages of his state to the glory of his munificent
Benefactor, to whose good providence alone he doth owe them; for “ who maketh him to differ" from another? And “ what hath he that he did not receive" from God's free bounty?
In proportion to the bulk of his fortune, his heart should be enlarged with a thankful sense of God's goodness to him; his mouth should ever be filled with acknowledgment and praise; he should always be ready to express his grateful resentment of so great and peculiar obligations.
He should dedicate larger portions of that free leisure which God hath granted to him, in waiting upon God, and constant performances of devotion.
He, in frequently reflecting on the particular ample favours of God to him, should imitate the holy Psalmist, that illustrious pattern of great and fortunate men; saying after him, with his spirit and disposition of soul; “ Thou hast brought me to great honour, and com