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in which it has pleased God to place them. These are the wheat, or “good seed,' which, like wholesome grain in a piece of well-cultivated land, spring up into thriving plants, which are at once both ornamental and useful; and bring forth, “ some thirty,
some sixty, and some an hundred fold." But the parable tells us, that " while men “ slept, the enemy came and sowed the “tares.” If we look into the world, or search into our own conduct, we shall find that mischief is, and always has been, the consequence of men being off their guard ; and that they are never so near sin, as when they are idle, careless, or inattentive. That idlepess is the mother of vice, indeed, is a fact which long experience and much observation have converted into a proverb. The scriptures hold the same language; and admonish men to honest diligence, both for the good of their souls, and the prosperity of their worldly concerns.
« 'In all labour " there is profit ; and the labour of the "righteous tendeth to everlasting life.” “ He becometh poor that dealeth with a “ slack hand; but the hand of the diligent “ inaketh rich.” “He that tilleth his land 6 shall be satisfied with bread; but he that “ followeth. vain persons is void of under“ standing, and shall have poverty enough."
To all which, St. Paul adds this earnest ex. bortation to the christian converts, to an honest and active discharge of the business of their different callings in life. “ beseech you, brethren, that ye increase “ more and more; and that ye study to be
quiet, and to do your own business, and * to work with your own hands, as we com"manded you ; that ye may walk honestly os towards them that are without; and that
ye may have lack of nothing.” To be convinced, indeed, how dangerous idleness is, and what a good opportunity it affords to the Devil to ruin a man's soul, it is only necessary to look at the situation of any man who gives himself up to this fatal vice. We shall see him in his appearance ragged and filthy; we shall hear him in his language loose and blasphemous. If he depend upon his labour for support, we shall find that he is almost entirely unemployed, both from his own dislike to toil, and because no prudent man will employ a person who neglects to do what he is directed to perform. If he have a family, the consequences of his idleness will be manifest, in a badly ordered house, without conveniences or even neces. saries; in a wretched, ill-treated wife, and a miserable circle of starving, diseased children, untamed and ragged as the wild ass's colt. The man himself, cast off by all the respectable part of society, who will not, of course, encourage a character that does not deserve encouragement; despised by all the worthy and industrious of his own rank and situation in life; rather than live in solitary wretchedness, cleaves to the company of men as idle and worthless as himself; spends his wasted time in drinking and debauchery; and to supply his vices, commits those crimes which, sooner or later, bring him to shame and punishment. Such, my friends, is a real pi&ture of idleness, and its consequences; and so true is that saying of the wise man,“ slothfulness shall clothe man
rags ; and the idle soul shall suffer hunger.
The desire of the slothful kil" leth him; and the end thereof is death."
But, to proceed with the parable. 66 the servants of the house holder came and
" said unto him, Sir, didst not thou sow “good seed in thy field ? from whence then “ hath it'tares?' He saith unto them, an enemy
hath done this. The servants said unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up? But he said, Nay, lest,
while ye gather up the tares, ye root up “ also the wheat with them. Let both
grow together until the harvest ; and in « the time of harvest I will say to the reape
pers, gather ye together firse the tares, « and bind them in bundles to burn them; 6 but gather the wheat into my barn.'
As long as the world continues, my friends, the tares must be mixed with the wheat ; and bad and good men will continue to inhabit it. In consequence of this, there must always be some intercourse between the virtuous and the vicious ; the business of the world, indeed, could not go on without it; because we are all dependent upon each other, and have, occasionally, need of one another's assistance or service. But, though we are thus obliged to mix, in some degree, with those whose principles are bad, and practices wicked ; and, as the Apostle
says, must go out of the world,"if we would avoid them aftogether ; yet it is by no means necessary, that we should be intimate with such people, or choose them for our companions or friends. There is an old and a very true saying," tell me what company “ you keep, and I'll tell
you are. A man who really loves God, and is anxious to go to heaven when he dies, would as soon thrust his hand into the fire, as hold it out in friendship to any one, whose life is notoriously bad ; who makes a jest of things sacred; and openly professes neither to
« God, nor regard man." Christian charity, it is true, will lead him to pray for such an one ; to admonish, advise, or exhort him
; to assist him in distress; or to do him any act of neighbourly kindness. But all this is a very different thing from that of making him a friend or companion, while he continues in an impenitent and profligate state. To have any fondness for the society of such a man as this, is a sure sign, that the vices which he practises are not disagreeable to ourselves; that our love of religion and virtue is all a pretence; that, though we may maintain the form,” we know nothing of the power, of godliness ;” and that, though we openly profess to be the servants of CHRIST, we are in our hearts the slaves of the Devil. But, even if we should not be thus corrupt, when we first form an intimate acquaintance with such a man as I have described ; yet we may depend upon it, that nuch intercourse with him will at length make us as bad as himself. Wickedness, like many bodily diseases, is very catching; and to live a great deal with vice, is a sure way of becoming vicious. Our ears will soon grow familiar with bad expressions ; our conscience, after a short time, will cease to be shocked with wicked principles; and