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Let us at this time, for our improvement, attend,
I. To the exhortation of the apostle.
I. The exhortation given, is, “ Let us « not be weary in well doing.”
What a lamentable proof is this, of our corruption! For were we not sinners, would we ever be weary in doing our duty ? The fall has destroyed our ability to do good, and the effects of the fall cleave to the best of men. There is in all believers a “ body of sin and death,” on which Satan and the world operate, in a variety of ways, to prevent them from doing good. Thus to do is easy in itself, and pleasant; for God requires nothing but what is holy, just, and good; and, of course, obedience to his commandments would bring with it its own reward. Yet corrupt nature not only suggests, that the law is severe, but also, by its opposition, produces weariness in fulfilling its demands.
The grand adversary of souls, and this present world which lieth in wickedness, strengthen the influence of corrupt nature, so as to make the performance of duty, a
*difficult task. The ways in which the enemies of God and his Christ operate so as to succeed, are as various as the tempers, the conditions, and the habits of men. A detail of them cannot be given in one or two discourses. A mere outline can only be sketched at this time, and that necessarily imperfect. · Sometimes the difficulties attending daty, arise from the charms and allurements of the world, and sometimes from its frowns; sometimes from the atheistic and blasphemous suggestions of Satan, which he, with consummate skill, pours into the soul. To do well, is a great, a noble, a divine work. As such, in a world like this, and among men fallen and degraded, it is necessarily attended with trouble and sorrow. The motives which prompt to it, will be suspected and misrepresented. The deed itself will be construed into a libel upon themselves by many, and produce their ill-will and reproach. The finger of scorn will be pointed at him who performs the deed, and he will be ranked among the men who turn the world upside down. He will find the cry of the multitude against him, as it was against his Mas
ter in Jerusalem when they crucified him. His own passions will reluctate against the self-denial, the mortification of the members on earth which well-doing requires. His appetites will rebel, and there will be a war in the soul; the spirit lusting against the flesh, and the flesh against the spirit. The struggle is powerful, its consequences wearisome. The more so, because the reward is deferred. The evil experienced is present, while the good expected is future, and to be enjoyed at a distant day. Notwithstanding all these difficulties, we are exhorted not to be weary in well-doing. Or, in other words, we are exhorted to oppose all these difficulties, to hold out unto the end, to resist even unto blood. . The exhortation implies industry, fortitude, and perseverance; virtues which, each and all of them, stand opposed to the weariness of which mention is made.
1. The exhortation implies industry in well-doing. • We must be diligent in body and mind, to fulfil our various duties. Activity is the law of universal nature. You see it displayed in inanimate creation ; it discovers itself to your view in the various tribes of brutes which perish. May man, then, made a little lower than the angels, slumber in supineness ? No, by no means. He is bound to labour, as well as the other works of God. This was his duty while innocent; for he was placed in Paradise, to dress it and to keep it. His fall did not release him from this duty; but made the performance of it, before a delight, now burdensome and fatiguing. In the sweat of his face, he now eats his bread.
None of our race may be slothful or indolent with impunity; for by such conduct he impairs his health, and prepares for himself all the miseries of want. He also exposes his reputation to ruin ; for his wants, which are many, impel him to dishonourable, and oft-times unlawful means of support. But this is not all. His mind becomes debased; for industry is necessary to call into exercise, and mature his intellectual powers. These by pro. per cultivation, are capable of high improvements ; but, by neglect and sloth, they become utterly unfit for any worthy, great, or noble purpose. The possessor of them, in such a case, is but one grade removed
from the beasts of the field. How necessary then, is industry, for the mind as well as the body! It is necessary to obtain, under providence, a respectable and comfortable standing in life. No man can be useful or great without it. And I add, no one can be happy; for in a temporal view, a constant course of labour, besides procuring a competent support, prevents those cares and that lassitude which, originating in indolence, always destroy peace of mind.
If we look beyond time to eternity; if we regard our spiritual, in addition to our temporal interests, the necessity of industry becomes more evident. It is necessary for establishment in the divine life; for if we are not diligent in attending to what belongs to that life, how can we grow in knowledge? How can our faith be strengthened, our love increased, and our hope confirmed? Hence you find, one apostle exhorts, “ Give all diligence to make your “ calling and election sure,” and another, “ Work out your own salvation with fear and “ trembling," and Christ himself, “ Strive “ to enter in at the strait gate.” All these passages urge upon us the duty of industry