Page images

agide the Thoughts of them. I cannot dig ( faith he) and to beg I am ashamed. He had lived too much like a Gentleman in his Stewardship to en. dure either of these, or to stint himself to such a pittance as he could hope to attain to by either of them.

By Digging let us understand any honest Labour, Trade, or Profession; and Begging, a Living by the Bounty and Charity of others. And these are the only honest Ways of Living in this World, which I can say, that God allows us, and well approves of. But neither of these two please the Steward, and the Reason of it we shall fee presently.

Such Men as he are not willing to be tied up to God's Allowance, that's too narrow and scane for their Appetites. Pride and Luxury will not be contented with a Competence, nor stinted by Rules, nor think we any but our Selves fic Carerers or Carvers for them. Men stand divided into two Sorts, the one of such as are able and well fitted by God ro labour in one way or other, either of bodily or mental Labour, whereby they may be useful to the World, and do some good in their Generation. The other is of them who through Age or weakness, or by any Providence of God, are become unable to labour in any kind. The only Way of Living, which God approves of for the former Sort, is honest Labour, whereby some good Service is done to Men's Souls or Bodies, according to the Ability which God hath given to every one, and the Station he is at present in. For the later, who are unable to Labour, if God have not given them Friends who have made a competent Provision for them, or enabled them to provide for themselves, com


God won either by David go trust in because we

manding every one that can to Labour for them, forando he has granted them a License to ask and receive their Charity, and expects they should take thankfully what is given them, and praising God for it, serve the World by their Prayers, as others do by their Labours.

Why are we not then contented to live as God would have us? Why will it not fuffice us to live either by Digging or Begging, why, because we have not learn'd to trust in God > And why dare we not trust in him, but because we know him nor ? They that know thy Name ( faith David) will put their truft in thee ; for thou, LORD, haft not forsaken them that seek thee. Psal. 9, 10. Trust in the LORD, and do good, So Mall thou dwell in the Land, and verily thou shalt be fed. Psal. 37. 3. But so Brutish are we many of us, that we desire to know nothing but the Vanities of this World, we have no desire co know God, and therefore we know him not, neither dare we trust him. We had rather relý upon our own Inventions and Devices. Did we think God wiser and better than we are, and did we believe his word and promise, we would ra. ther trust to him than to our sclves. God hath promised to feed us so long as wc labour in doing good, and trust to him for a blessing on our labour ; buc hach he promiss'd co feed our Lusts 100? If not, we will not chank him ; for we account not our felves fed, so long as these are not fed; neither can we think God so good to us, as we are to our selves, if he do not provide for all the inordinate desires of our flesh. Do ing Evil therefore will do us, we think, better Service than doing Good. If we want not ne

ceffaries cellaries for the support of Nature, yet we fear we shall want superfluities for the pampering of our Bodies, if we have not cunning lifts of our own, such as Rich Men's Stewards are, many of them, too well acquainted with. Were we God's Sheep, we would know his Voice, and follow him which way foever he would lead us, and esteem that Pafture the best, which he feeds us in; and would always satisfie our felves with his Allowance, and Provision, saying, the LORD is our Shepherd, we shall not want. Pfal. 23. 1.

I cannot dig, saith he; that is, I cannot take pains, my Business hath been to see others labour, I was never brought up to it, but have had a more gentile Education. He faith, not indeed, why he cannot, but 'cis easy to understand why, he cannor, because he will not, for that's all usually, which such mean by saying, I cannot. 'Tis true, there be some that cannot labour to any purpose, so as to do good either to themselves or others by their Labour, they are disabled for it, and have Infirmities enouglı to labour under all their Days; had the Steward been one of these, his plea for his not labouring had been good, none better than I cannot, if hc lay the truth, and none would serve his turn but this. No Man can be bound to Impollibili. ties, but if this were the truth, yet would the lecond Plea fail him for that very reason; for because he cannot labour, therefore ought he not to be ashamed to beg, or to live by the Labour and Charity of others. O how hardly are we brought either to obey God's Command,or to submit to, and be contented with his Allowance! If we can dig, he commands we fhould live by Dig.

ging, and if we cannot, he alloweth us to live by Begging. But we can away with neither; whatever is God's Will, and our Duty, we have some idle Pretence or other to shuffleit off with, and make some shift or other to stop the Mouch of Conscience. All is either above our strength;: and we cannot; or below our Quality, and we are asham'd of it.

Know we must, that Labour of one fort or o. ther, is the Duty of all who have Ability for it. God exempts not one of us from it, so long as he is able to undergo it. He keeps no idle Gentlemen in his Family, but such as shall one Day be made to pay dear for their idleness. Every one is to Live by an honest and profitable Cala ling, and to do some good Service in his Place to what height foever either his Estate, or the Favour of his Prince, harh advanc'd hin;. Labour was at first, whilst Man was innocent, a Task enjoined him by his Maker, bura very pleasant one. He that was made Lord of the inferiour World under God, had his Work to do in it ap. pointed him by God. He was placed in a Garden, where all things afforded both Profic and Delight; but he was not put there only to walk, or fic, and take his Pleasure, but to keep and dress the Garden; and this was a pleasure to him. It was his Sin that made Labour hard, and for his Sin God made hard Labour a part of his Punishment. In the Sweat of thy Face ( faith God ) thou shalt eat thy Bread. At first Labour was a pleasant Task to be perform'd in Obedience to God, it is since that become a heavy Burden, but fuch, as in Dury to God, ought wich inuch pacience to be born. He that will either o


bey God's Command, or submit to the Punishment of his Sin, that is, he that will not Live in open Rebellion against God, muft Labour fo long as he is able. · And this abundanıly answers the idle Gentleman's plea for a vain course of Life, which is, That he needs nor Labour, he is because of his Estate from under the Law of Neceflity, and because of his Rank and Quality above such mean Drudgery. His condition in the World is a sufficient Dispensation to him from all Labour. Now what's all this, but to make the fame use of God's goodness, as some Men do of their Prince his Favour, that is, to grow, by being too plentifully fed, too wanton to obey their Feeder, to grow 100 great for Government, and too goodly in their own Eyes to live in Subjection? What's this, but to say in effect, that God gives those Servants in the Family the best Wages, who do him the least Service? Or that he loves to see a Company of gay things about him which do no good, but stand like fine Pictures to be looked on? Yea, what faith the Gentleman in this, but that he is one of the things that the World may best spare, and that he is ambitious to be thought good for nothing, like the Barren Figtree, making some shew and flourish, but cumbering the Ground, and drawing away the Nourishment from more useful things, and so fit only to be cur down; or like the unsavory Salt, which having lost its proper vertue of seasoning other things, deserves only to be trodden under Foot of Men? He that pleads a Dispensation from Labour, doth himself no better Office, than to prove Men ought to look upon him as a despicable Thing.

[ocr errors]


« PreviousContinue »