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II. The consequences of it
As industry and wealth, so idleness and want are very closely connected
[Circumstances occur in this world to interrupt the natural operation of causes and effects: but in general, where any man's subsistence depends upon his labour, the consequences of sloth or activity will be such as might be expected. In spiritual things the rule is absolute and invariable. Every man's progress will be according to his labour. Some indeed may enjoy more of comfort than others, from other causes than their own diligence: but every person's real proficiency in grace will be proportioned to the improvement he makes of the talents committed to him: without detracting at all from the grace of God, we may safely affirm, that the difference between one Christian and another in respect of victory over sin, and happiness in the divine life, must be traced in a very great measure to their different degrees of watchfulness in secret duties.]
This truth however will not appear in its full extent till the day of judgment
[At the time of harvest the care or negligence of the husbandman will very clearly appear: and, if we should suppose a man to have wholly neglected the cultivation of his fields, he would find himself destitute, while others were satiated with abundance; 'nor, if he were reduced to beggary, would he find any one to pity his forlorn condition. But his situation, deplorable as it would be, is not to be compared with that of a negligent Christian in the day of judgment. He will see others reaping a glorious harvest, while he is not permitted even to glean an ear: he will behold others “crowned with glory and honour and immortality," while nothing remains for him but
indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish.” The foolish virgins, who slept while they should have been procuring oil for their lamps, came and pleaded in vain for admittance, when the door was once shut against them: none but the wise virgins were suffered to participate the nuptial feast. In the same manner, the rich man, who lived only to the flesh, sought in vain for one drop of water to mitigate his anguish, while Lazarus, who had lived to nobler purposes, had a fulness of joy in Abraham's bosom. Thus also will it be with all, when the great harvest shall arrive: they, who had improved their season of grace, will be partakers of glory; while they, who had wasted it in sloth and self-indulgence, will reap the fruits of their folly, in deserved shame, in perpetual want, in unalleviated, unpitied; overlasting misery.]
1. Let us, in the view of this subject, take shame to ourselves
[How long has our season of grace been protracted; and what little improvement have we made of it! How apt are we to yield to sloth, and to defer the most important of all duties on slight and frivolous pretences, which we know beforehand will never satisfy our Judge! But what can ever equal this folly? A sluggard in temporal things may find some one to pity his distress; and may leam from his experience to amend. But who will ever pity the self-ruined sinner? Or what further opportunity for amendment will be afforded him? Let us then begin, and prosecute without remission, the work of our souls. Let us“ plow up the fallow ground, and sow in righteousness," knowing assuredly, that “the diligent hand shall make us rich,” and that, “ if we sow in tears we shall reap in joy.”]
2. Let us look forward with earnestness to the future harvest
[The husbandman waits with patience; in expectation that the harvest will compensate his labours. And will not our harvest repay all the exertions we can use; and all the self-denial we can exercise? Let us then put forth all the energies of our souls in preparing for that day. Let us not suffer any difficulties or discouragements to abate our ardour; but, “ whatever our hand findeth to do, let us do it with our might, ” and so much the more 'as we see the day approaching."]
CCCCIV. THE SINFULNESS OF MURMURING
Prov. xix. 3. The foolishness of man perverteth his way, and
his heart fretteth against the Lord. THE wickedness of the heart is deep and unsearchable
They who do not watch its motions, have no idea of its depravityBut they who diligently examine it may
discover many evils
And by the light of God's word attain considerable knowledge and
The disposition mentioned in the text deserves special attention I. Illustrate the disposition here spoken of
The careless and ungodly world are ever ready to cast blame on God 1. On account of their sins [They give the rein to every evil thought and desire
expose themselves to every kind of temptation
-lay innumerable stumbling-blocks in their own way
And thus become enslaved by vicious lusts and appetites-
They condemn even God himself as the author of their sins
This was the conduct of Adam immediately after the falla And it is too often imitated by his guilty descendants-] 2. On account of their sorrows
[Sorrow is entailed on all as the punishment of the first transgression
But most of the afflictions which men suffer are brought on them by their own folly
Some involve themselves in distress through sloth or intemperance
Others ruin themselves by imprudence and extravaganceBut all under their calamities “fret against the Lord”
They are full of invectives against those that have been the more immediate occasions of their trouble
They consider their lot as hard and severe
And thus do they reflect on Providence rather than on themselves
Cain, the first-born of Adam, indulged this malignant spirit,
Nor are there any sons of sorrow who do not follow his example-]
Nor are believers themselves wholly free from this disposition
[They watch and pray against their besetting sinYet are sometimes brought under the power of it
On these occasions they are tempted to fret against the Lord
They are ready to expostulate with him like those of olda_ They forget how justly they might have been eternally forsaken
a Gen. iii. 12. He obliqucly condems God for giving the woman. to him. > Numb. xvi. 11, 41. cGen. ir. 18, 14.
d Isaiah lviii. 3.
And that the remaining power of their sins is the consequence both of former habits, and of present neglects
Under afflictions also they feel too much proneness to murmur
What sinful impatience did the holy Elijah manifest!
Even Job himself preserved not wholly a becoming temper
This disposition however is most hateful in the sight of God II. The evil of it
It betrays the most deplorable ignorance
[God is not, nor can be, the author of sinHe maintains in all things the character given of himsHence St. James shews the folly of casting blame on God"
Nor can God punish any of us more than our iniquities deserve
Hence the expostulation of the prophet is unanswerable
Besides, to fret against God is not the way to interest him in our behalf
Nor will it tend to the peace and composure of our own spirits
It is as unprofitable to us as it is unjust towards him
True wisdom would teach us to humble ourselves in his presence
And to renew our supplications with greater earnestness
This conduct is as sure to succeed, as the other is to fail of successk-] It manifests the most obstinate impenitence
[Both sins and sorrows ought to produce humilityWhen they increase our rebellion, our state is almost desperatel
How awfully does such a temper characterize God's enemies!m_
And make us resemble those that are consigned over to perdition!
Surely nothing more heinous can be laid to our charge
[To fret and murmur is, in fact, to reprove God
ei Kings xix. 4.
p Job vii. 15, 16.
6 Deut. xxxii. 4.
God himself considers it as a direct attack upon him
And can any thing be more presumptuous in such worms as we!
St. Paul reprobates this impiety with holy indignation
And every one who allows himself in it, must answer it at his peril-]
We conclude with suitable ADVICE
1. Let us search into the occasions of our sins and sorrows
(We may be surprised into sin by a sudden temptationBut may trace our fall to preceding unwatchfulness
Nor can we expect God to keep us, if we neglect to keep ourselves
We are rarely earnest enough in using the means of safety We are too backward to meditation, prayer, and fasting
Our afflictions also may have come without any misconduct on our part
Bụt who has not merited them by his sins?
Men should only be considered as instruments in God's hands
And the consideration of his will should silence every murmur-] 2. Let us always be careful to justify God
[We may not always be able to account for his dispensations
But we should not on that account doubt the equity of them Whatever we suffer, we should not " charge God foolishly”
Under the darkest dispensations we should say as the Psalmist
If we wait we shall see the wisdom of many things which now seem utterly inexplicable
We may rest assured that David's assertion shall be verified]
3. Let us see what improvement may be made of our troubles
[There is no rod which has not a voice to us-Our very sins may be permitted, in order to humble us- ~ And to make us more thankfully cleave to the SaviourOur trials, of whatever kind, are to purge away our drossAnd to fit us for our eternal rest To view them in this light will greatly compose our minds
Instead of fretting against the Lord, we shall be thankful 10 him
And instead of increasing our misery, we shall make it a mean of joy-]
o Mal. iii. 13, 14.
p Rom. ix. 20.
Ps. xvii. 13, 14. tPs. li. 4.