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SERM. us, but to strive against sin, to work righteousness, to perform duty with earnest intention of mind, and laborious activity? God, saith St. Chrysostom, hath parted virtue with us, and neither hath left all to be in us, lest we should be elated to pride, nor himself hath taken all, lest we should decline to sloth i
Indeed the very nature and essence of virtue doth consist in the most difficult and painful efforts of soul: in the extirpating rooted prejudices and notions from our understanding; in bending a stiff will, and rectifying crooked inclinations; in overruling a rebellious temper; in curbing eager and importunate appetites; in taming wild passions; in withstanding violent temptations; in surmounting many difficulties, and sustaining many troubles; in struggling with various unruly lusts within, and encountering many stout enemies abroad, which assault our reason, and war against our soul: in such exercises its very being lieth; its birth, its growth, its subsistence dependeth on them; so that from any discontinuance or remission of them it would soon decay, languish away, and perish.
What attention, what circumspection, and vigilancy of mind, what intention of spirit, what force of resolution, what command and care over ourselves doth it require, to keep our hearts from vain thoughts and evil desires to guard our tongue from wanton, unjust, uncharitable discourse; to render our steps uprightly and steadily in all the paths Chrys. in. of duty? Kai ri on iTovov Tv Ts ȧgerns; and what, as St. τί ἐπίπονον τῆς ἀρετῆς; Chrysostom asketh, of all things belonging to virtue is not laborious? It is no small task to know it, whe ein it con-sisteth, and what it demandeth of us; it is a far more painful thing to conform our practice unto its rules and dictates.
1'Εμερίσατο πρὸς ἡμᾶς τὴν ἀρετὴν ὁ Θεὸς, καὶ οὔτε ἐφ ἡμῖν ἀφῆκε τὸ πᾶν εἶναι, ἵνα μὴ εἰς ἀπόνοιαν ἐπαιρώμεθα, οὔτε αὐτὸς τὸ πᾶν ἔλαβεν, ἵνα μὴ εἰς ῥᾳθυμίαν απο *λívwμsv• ààà', &c. Chrys. Tom. 5. Or. 28.
Οὐδὲ γὰρ ἡ περὶ τὰ καλὰ τῶν ἀνθρώπων ἐγχείρησις δίχα τῆς ἄνωθεν βοηθείας τελειωθήσεται· ἐδὲ ἡ ἄνωθεν χάρις ἐπὶ τὸν μὴ σπεδάζοντα παραγένοιτ ̓ ἄν, ἀλλ ̓ ἑκάτερα συγκεκρᾶσθαι προσήκει, σπεδήν τε ἀνθρωπίνην, καὶ τὴν διὰ πίςεως ἄνωθεν καθήκεσαν συμμαχίαν εἰς τελείωσιν ἀρετῆς. Bas. Const. Mon. cap. 15.
If travelling in a rough way 1; if climbing up a steep hill; SERM. if combating stern foes, and fighting sharp battles; if crossing the grain of our nature and desires; if continually holding a strict rein over all our parts and powers, be things of labour and trouble, then greatly such is the practice of virtue.
? Thes. i.
Indeed each virtue hath its peculiar difficulty, needing much labour to master it: Faith is called gyo Tistus, the 1 Thes. i. 3. work of faith; and it is no such easy work, as may be ima- 11. gined, to bring our hearts unto a thorough persuasion about John vi. 29. truths crossing our sensual conceits, and controlling our
peevish humours; unto a perfect submission of our understanding, and resignation of our will to whatever God teacheth or prescribeth; to a firm resolution of adhering to that profession, which exacteth of us so much pains, and exposeth us to so many troubles.
Charity is also a laborious exercise of many good works; and he that will practise it, must in divers ways labour hardly; he must labour in voiding from his soul many dispositions deeply radicated therein by nature, opinion, and custom; envy, frowardness, stubbornness, perverse and vain selfishness; from whence wrath, revenge, spite, and malice do spring forth. He must labour in effectual performance of all good offices, and in catching all occasions Gal. vi, 10. of doing good; he must exert that xómov ȧyámns, that labour Heb. vi. 10. of love, whereof St. Paul doth speak; he must (as that Eph. iv. 28. holy Apostle directeth, not only in precept, but by his own practice) work with his own hands, that he may supply the wants of his neighbour.
1 Thes. i. 3.
Acts xx. 35.
Heb. x 23.
Heb. x. 36.
Hope itself (which one would think, when grounded 'A well, should be a no less easy than pleasant duty) doth Heb. vi. 19. need much labour to preserve it safe, straight, and stable, Thes. i. 3. among the many waves and billows of temptation assaying Heb. vi. 11. to shake and subvert it; whence a patience of hope is recommended to us; and we so often are exhorted to hold it fast, to keep it sure, firm, and unshaken to the end.
και σπουδής. Heb. iii. 6,
2 Pet. i. 10.
Temperance also surely demandeth no small pains m; it being no slight business to check our greedy appetites, to shun the enticements of pleasure, to escape the snares of company and example, to support the ill-will and reproaches of those zealots and bigots for vice, who cannot tolerate any nonconformity to their extravagances; but, as St. Peter 1 Pet. iv. 4. doth express it, think it strange, if others do not run with them to the same excess of riot, speaking ill of them for it.
What should I speak of meekness, of patience, of humility, of contentedness? Is it not manifest how laborious those virtues are, and what pains are necessary in the obtaining, in the exercise of them? what pains, I say, they require in the voidance of fond conceits, in the suppression of froward humours, in the quelling fierce passions, in the brooking grievous crosses and adversities, in the bearing heinous injuries and affronts ?
Thus doth all virtue require much industry, and it therefore necessarily must itself be a great virtue, which is the mother, the nurse, the guardian of all virtues; yea, which indeed is an ingredient and constitutive part of every virtue; for if virtue were easily obtainable or practicable without a good measure of pains, how could it be virtue? what excellency could it have, what praise could it claim, what reward could it expect? God hath indeed made the best things not easily obtainable, hath set them high out of our reach, to exercise our industry in getting them, that we might raise up ourselves to them, that being obtained, they may the more deserve our esteem and his reward.
Lastly, the sovereign good, the last scope of our actions, the top and sum of our desires, happiness itself, or eternal life in perfect rest, joy, and glory; although it be the suRom. vi. 23. preme gift of God, and special boon of divine grace, (rò dè Eph. ii. 8. água To Oo, But, saith St. Paul, the gift of God's grace is eternal life;) yet it also by God himself is declared to be the result and reward of industry; for we are
m Πάντες ἐξ ἑνὸς ςόματος ὑμνᾶσιν, ὡς καλὸν μὲν ἡ σωφροσύνη τε καὶ δικαιοσύνης χαλεπὸν μέν τοι καὶ ἐπίπονον. Plat. de Rep. 2.
Rom. ii. 6,
commanded to work out our salvation with fear and trem- SERM. bling, and to give diligence in making our calling and L. election sure by virtuous practice; and God, saith St. Paul, Phil. ii. 12. will render to every man according to his works; to them 2 Pet. i. 10. who, by patient continuance in well-doing, seek glory, and 7, 10. vi. honour, and immortality, eternal life; and, in the close of 22. God's book, it is proclaimed, as a truth of greatest moment, and special point of God's will, Blessed are they that do his Rev. xxii. commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life. Heb. xii. It is plainly industry which climbeth the holy mount; it is 22. industry which taketh the kingdom of heaven by force; it is industry which so runneth as to obtain the prize, which so 1 Cor. ix. fighteth as to receive the crown, which so watcheth as to se- Jam. i. 12. cure our everlasting interest to us.
Matt. xxiv. 42. xxv. 13.
Rev. iii. 3.
Thus do the choicest good things, of which we are capa- Luke xii. ble, spring from industry, or depend upon it; and no con-37 siderable good can be attained without it. Thus all the gifts of God are by it conveyed to us, or are rendered in effect beneficial to us; for the gifts of nature are but capacities, which it improveth; the gifts of fortune or providence are but instruments, which it employeth to our use; the gifts of grace are the supports and succours of it; and the very gift of glory is its fruit and recompence.
There are, farther, several other material considerations and weighty motives to the practice of this duty which meditation hath suggested to me: but these, in regard to your patience, must suffice at present; the other, together with an application proper to our condition and calling, being
reserved to another occasion.
OF INDUSTRY IN GENERAL.
ECCLES. ix. 10.
Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with all thy might.
SERM. INDUSTRY, which the divine Preacher in this text recommendeth to us, is a virtue of a very diffusive nature and influence; stretching itself through all our affairs, and twisting itself with every concern we have; so that no business can be well managed, no design accomplished, no good obtained without it. It therefore behoveth us to conceive a high opinion of it, and to enure our souls to the practice of it upon all occasions: in furtherance of which purposes I formerly, not long since, did propound several motives and inducements; and now, proceeding on, shall represent divers other considerations serviceable to the same end.
1. We may consider, that industry is productive of ease itself, and preventive of trouble. It was no less solidly, than acutely and smartly advised by the philosopher Crates, Whether, said he, labour be to be chosen, labour; or whether it be to be eschewed, labour, that thou mayest not labour; for by not labouring, labour is not escaped, but is rather pursued; and St. Chrysostomb doth, upon the same consideration, urge industry, because Sloth, saith he, is wont
a Εἴθ αἱρετὸν ὁ πόνος, πόνει· εἴτε φευκτὸν, πόνει, ἵνα μὴ πονῆς· διὰ γὰρ τῇ μὴ πόλ νεῖν οὐ φεύγεται πόνος, τῷ δὲ ἐναντίον καὶ διώκεται. Crates, Ep. 4.
b Ἡ ἀργία διαφθείρειν ἡμᾶς ἔἴωθες καὶ πολιν παξέχειν τὸν πόνον. Chrys. 12 Joh. Orat. 36.