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trust the providence, which supports them ? Purs fue, like them, the course, which he has marked for you ; and doubtless you will receive fuch things as you need. “ Commit yourselves to him, for he is a faithful creator. Caft all your cares upon him, for he careth for you."
VI. These thoughts naturally introduce another Jeffon. Solomon sends the fluggard to the ants, that from them he may learn diligence, prudence and forethought.“ Go to the ant, thou fluggard, consider her ways, and be wise, which, having no guide, overseer, or ruler, provideth her meat in fummer, and gathereth her food in harvest.”
The man, who neglects the proper season of bufiness—who gives to Ileep and amusement the time which he owes to his own and his family's fupport; who fubftitutes fruitless wishes for active labours --who raises imaginary difficulties that he
may ex. cuse himself from neceffary duties, we call a flug. gard ; and Solomon calls him fo too. who are the reverse of this character in common life deserve it in the moral fenfe. Wholly occupied in the affairs of the world, they pay no attention to the culture of their minds, the correction of their tempers, the reformation of their lives, and their preparation for the world to come. It is the diligent hand which makes rich, in spiritual, as well as in temporal treafures. How much foever one may labour for treasures on earth, if he lays up none in heaven, he is ftill idle, and still poor.
Solomon 'counsels the fluggard to consider the ways, and learn the wisdom of the ant. She looks well to the future, “ providing her meat in fummer :" fhe improves the favorable opportunity, “ gathering her food in harveft :” she attends to her work with diligence, while the feafon lafts.
Thus she lives through winter, in which a thoufand more gay and musical insects perifh with hunger and cold.
All this she does, though she has no guide to prescribe her work; no overseer to urge her diligence, and no ruler, or judge to punith her neglect. How does this small and contemptible creature reprove the folly and negligence of men ?
Many give themselves to indolence, pleasure and diverlion, while their worldly necessities urge them to industry. Many devote themselves to the cares of the world; when there is one thing needful, which demands their attention. Many bestow all their thoughts and labours upon the interests of this mortal state, when they ought to look forward to the eternal world, and provide for a happy existence there. How is the day of salvation neglected ? How is the fine season of youth wasted ? How are fabbaths profaned ? How are the warnings of providence despised ? How are the strivings of the spirit resisted ?
Thus thousands live in loth and negligence, though they have a guide, overseer and ruler. There is a conscience within them, which re. proves their neglect ; there is a law given them to direct their conduct; there is an allseeing God, who inspects their actions, and who will bring ev. ery work into judgment with every secret thing, whether it be good or evil, and will render every man according to his doings.
Go, then, to the ant, thou fluggard ; consider her ways, and be wise.
I shall add only one example more. That in all our Christian condu& we may learn to unite innocence with prudence, and simplicity with caution, Chrift refers us to the serpent and the dove. “Behold,” says he to his disciples, “ I send
as lambs among wolves : be ye therefore wife as Serpents, and harmless as doves."
Our Lord, when he was on earth, would not commit himfelf to men ; for he knew what was in men.
The fame caution he injoins on his disciples. “ If they persecute you in this city, flee to another.” This probably is his intention, when he says, “ Be ye wife as ferpents.” For the wifdom of the ferpent lies principally in his art to obtain his fuftenance, and in his caution to avoid his enemies. But then our Lord instructs them, that with their wisdom they must join innocence, of which the dowe is a pattern. She is ever harmless and inoffensive : she never molefts other creatures : fhe makes no war on birds of a different species: with those of her own fpecies she asfociates in amity and peace ; and in her special friendships the is distinguished by her fidelity and love.
In times of danger, we are to consult our fafety. When evil threatens us, we are to foresee it, and hide ourselves. But whatever unjust designs we may suspect, we must use no finful artifice to defeat them. Whatever injuries we receive, we must indulge no thoughts of revenge. This is Saint Peter's advice to Christians in a time of persecution ; “ Let none of you suffer as an evil doer, or as a busybody in other men's matters ; yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed. For it is better, if the will of God be so, that ye fuffer for well doing than for evil doing. And let them, who suffer according to the will of God, commit themselves to him in well doing. For who is he that will harm you, if ye be followers of that which is good ?" But if any be so malignant, as to harm you
your goodness, remember, “ that when ye suffer for righteousness’ fake, happy are ye.”
We might farther pursue these illustrations under the guidance of scripture ; but perhaps they have already become tedious.'
There is one reflection, which here naturally arises ; that the beasts may be of moral, as well as fecular benefit to us. We employ them in our service, use them for our food, and from them collect materials for our clothing. But this is not all the use which we are to make of them ; we are to learn wisdom from them. And perhaps one reason, why God has placed us in a condition, which requires us to be conversant with them, is that we may thus gather moral instructions from the actions which we see in them.
It is, however, a humbling thought, that we should need instruction, and should fo often meet reproof from the animals, which we despise. Surely we are much fallen from the dignity of rational beings; we are much depraved in the disposition of our hearts; we are much corrupted in our fentiments and actions ; else God would not send us to learn wisdom and virtue from these inferior creatures. God has given us understanding, and made us wiser than the beasts of the field, or the fowls of heaven. But our understanding is darkened through the ignorance that is in us, because of the blindness of our hearts. Our reason is en. flaved to passion and luft. Our judgment is per. verted by earthly affections. Hence the brutal creatures are so often proposed to us as emblems of the wisdom and virtue, which we have lost and which we ought by all means to regain. Their example, however, is but a subordinate auxiliary to means more excellent and wonderful.
Let us rejoice in the rich and glorious provision, which God has made for our recovery from this difhonorable and dangerous apostacy. He has
given us a revelation from heaven. This teaches us, that all have finned, and fallen under condemnation to death and misery--that a saviour has come to redeem us by his blood that the divine spirit is shed down to renew us by his influ. ence and that God gives his holy spirit to them, who ask him. Convinced of our guilt and depravity, let us repair to the God of grace, supplicate his pardon in the name of his son, and implore the kind influence of that good fpirit, which is able to renew our hearts, subdue our lufts, brighten our understanding and purify our souls. And under this heavenly influence let us aspire to improvement in knowledge and virtue, and to the purity and perfection of our nature, that we may be qualified to associate with angels, and with them to dwell in the immediate presence of the crea. tor.