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In discoursing on these words, I will,
1), Consider the character of the person whom the wise man here addresses. And,
2dly, The counsel or advice which he gives him ; and will then conclude with a practical improvement of the subject.
I begin with the character of the person to whom this advice is addressed. " the ant," faith Solomon, “ thou flug“ gard;" and the character of the fluggard is so minutely described in this book, and in the book of Ecclesiastes, that any of us may soon be acquainted with it.
Solomon obferves in general, that sloth casteth into a deep sleep; and he represents the fluggard in this state, in the verses immediately following my text. When it is said to him, “ How long wilt thou sleep, O “ sluggard ? when wilt thou arise out of
thy sleep?" instead of being affected with the just reproach, he begs earnestly for farther indulgence, “ Yet a little sleep, a little
flumber, a little folding of the hands to “ sleep,"_" As the door turneth upon its
“ hinges, hinges, so doth the Bothful man upon his . bed.” At length, when fleep itself bath become wearifome, and he hath risen from his bed, he hath changed his situation only to give a new indulgence to his sloth. “He hi* deth his hand in his bosom," and will not so much as “ bțing it to his mouth again.” He spends his time in fruitless wishes: The soul of the luggard · desireth, and hath not,” Tomorrow is always a day of labour, to-day is al ways spent in idleness: And thus“ the desire 5 of the slothful killeth him, because his hands a refuse to labour.” He is discouraged by the lealt opposition : " The way of the floth“ ful man is as a hedge of thorns,” Every difficulty furnisheth him with an excuse for his idleness : “ The luggard will not plow 4 by reason of the cold." Nay, rather than want an excyle, he creates imaginary dangers to himself: He faith, “ There is a lion $6 without, I Shall be laid in the streets.” At length, " By much fothfulņes& the building ** decays, and through the idleness of the “ hands the house droppeth through.". “ His field and his vineyard are grown over simise with thorns: nettles cover the face there
şi of: and the fone-wall is broken down.” Thus, % Poverty cometh upon him like one " that travaileth, and his want as an armed
man, till drowsiness at laft clothes him
ff with rągs.
Such is the picture which Solomon draws of the luggard; and the features are so Atrongly marked, that there is no room to doubt that it was drawn from the life,
Whether there are persons in the present state of fociety to whom all the parts of this character agree, is a question which every man will answer to himself, either from his knowledge, or experience, . The charge is indeed to complex, that it might be difficult perhaps to prove it in its full extent againg any one individual.
We know well who they are whose hands refuse to labour, who are clothed with rags, and make poverty not only their complaint, but their argument. But though the idle vagrant is plainly described and condemned by these articles, there are other parts of the charge against which he might offer a plau, Gble defence. He might answer to the charge of exceffive sleep, that he riseth as early, or at leaft is as soon abroad, as any from whom he can expect an alms : and that he is so far from hiding his hand in his bosom, that he stretchesh it forth from morning to night, to levy contributions from every passenger he fees. Nay, to strengthen his defence, might" he not argue, that as the Preacher was a king, persons of a higher rank were far more likely to be the objects of his attention, many of whom eat the bread of idleness, and labour as little as the beggar? And as he speaks of fields and vineyards, that this shows him to have had fluggards of a superior order in his eye, who originally possessed some property, and held a station above the lower tribes of the people. By this defence, he will certainly elude some articles of the charge. Enough, however, will still remain to evince his right to the character in the text. And what he throws off from himself doth not fall to the ground, but will bear hard on the idle and voluptuous in the higher ranks of life. At the same time, there are some articles in the charge, to which those of a better station would no doubt object in their turn. They might attempt to evade the charge of fluggishness, by alledgın, that though indeed they apply themselves to no active businefs or employment, yet the fatigues of dress, of ceremony, and of equipage; the anxieties of gaming, and the attendance on fashionable amusements, render the pursuit of pleasure in the present age, as toilsome and laborious as any mechanical employment whatsoever. And that fo far from being clothed in rags, which Solomon makes the badge of a sluggard, the fact is, that So. lomon himself, in all his glory, was not arrayed like one of them.
Were this a controversy of any importance, it would be an easy matter to detect the fallacy of these reasonings, and to show, that the defences on both sides are weak and frivolous. But this would be an idle waste of time ; for as neither of the parties can deny that some parts of the description apply to them, it is of little consequence to which of them the larger share of it belongs.
But lloth is not confined to the common affairs of life, nor the character of a flug