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little kindness. An occurrence took place, held him in their fearful grasp; but, pro soon after they had landed on these shores, tected by Omnipotence, he is in that dreadthat is on several accounts interesting, and ful situation perfectly safe, and the raging very susceptible of moral improvement. elements are finally compelled to resign
The sacred historian informs us, that their prey. But now, what an ocean tem“ when Paul had gathered a bundle of pest could not accomplish, seemed likely to sticks, and laid them on the fire, there came be effected by a small animal. The God a viper out of the heat, and fastened on his of providence frequently in this manner hand. And when the barbarians saw the displays his power, by signally preserving venomous beast hang on his hand, they men in scenes of imminent danger, and by said among themselves, No doubt this man arming insignificant causes with fatal power is a murderer, whom, though he hath escaped over human life. Thus, one man is drowned the sea, yet vengeance suffereth not to live. in a small river by the upsetting of a boat, And he shook off the beast into the fire, and perhaps the first time he was ever in one; felt no harm. Howbeit, they looked when while another spends his whole life upon he should have swollen, or fallen down dead the sea, and, after braving a thousand storms, suddenly : but after they had looked a great dies at last in his bed. One man faces while, and saw no harm come to him, they death in a hundred combats, and escapes changed their minds, and said that he was unhurt; another is killed by a splinter or a god,” Acts xxviii. 3—6. The incidents a pebble. A traveller, after passing through which are here recorded to have befallen countless hardships and dangers in his Paul, and the hasty comments of the simple foreign travels, after breathing the most natives thereupon, are each of them cha. sickly atmosphere, and enduring the most racteristic: the former, of the unexpected wasting fatigues and privations, returns home appearance of events, and their as often un- in perfect health, and then, in the midst of expected issue ; the latter, of the religious friends and comforts, and means of preservviews, if we may so call them, of these ing health, he sickens and dies. The wisdom uninstructed pagans.
of this particular feature of Divine ProviPaul, with the rest of the ship's company, dence is very apparent. It enables us to had been for upwards of two weeks in the indulge hopes of preservation, in the greatest very jaws of death; tossed about in a shat- dangers; and in the greatest apparent safety, tered vessel upon a tempestuous sea. So it forbids us wholly to abandon fear. Exextreme was their peril, that, “ all hope of posed to the artillery of the fiercest elements, being saved was taken away,” and the we are perfectly safe, if God bid them spare terror produced by their sense of danger us; and, ah! how often is death met, when was such as to annihilate their desire for he is least of all expected. food. Yet it pleased Him, whom the winds It is impossible for those who believe and seas obey, to permit no life to be lost; but that satan is “ the prince of the power of the manner in which they reached the land of the air,” and “ the enemy of all righsufficiently indicates the danger of their teousness,” not to recognize his interference situation, for some saved themselves by in the successive dangers with which the swimming, “ and the rest, some on boards, apostle was threatened. He doubtless foreand some on broken pieces of the ship. saw the revolution that Paul would ac. And so it came to pass that they all escaped complish in his dominions at Rome, and safe to land.”
he therefore endeavoured, if possible, to Thus, having escaped from the furious destroy him before he could reach the city. elements, surrounding a comfortable fire, But “ He that sitteth in the heavens” frusand amongst a kind people—who would not
trated his hellish purposes. have pronounced them out of danger ? We now direct our attention to the simple Yet while, perhaps, congratulating one and unaffected sentiments uttered by the another on their astonishing deliverance, a people of Melita, with reference to the incivenomous reptile rose out of the burning dent which befel the apostle. We are told materials, and fastened on the hand of Paul; that “when the barbarians saw the vea reptile, the sting of which the natives nomous beast hang on his hand, they said appear to have thought deadly. Hence, among themselves, No doubt this man is sudden destruction seemed to spring up in a murderer, whom, though he hath escaped what might be deemed a moment of perfect the sea, yet vengeance suffereth not to live." safety! and thus manifold, uncontrollable, But when Paul had shaken off the beast and often unforeseen, are the evils which into the fire and felt no harm, and they, exmeet us in the journey of life.
pecting that he should have swollen or The winds and waves, the most potent fallen down dead suddenly, having looked ministers of destruction, had for a long time a great while, and seen no harm come to him, they changed their minds, and said often mischievously perverted by an indisthat he was a god.”
criminate application. Justly founded on We have here a curious, and not an in- an innate perception of the turpitude and correct specimen of the versatility of popular demerit of vice, it is unrighteously fallacious opinion, and the slight grounds on which it when applied as a criterion of individual is often built. In one moment they judged character : Paul was neither a murderer Paul to be a murderer, in the next they when attacked by the snake, nor a god declared him to be a god. The apostle when he escaped its virulence. had before this witnessed the instability of
The truth of the matter is this : all sufpopular feeling. When he had cured a fering is to be considered as punitive, cripple at Lystra, the people were so amazed because, if sin had never been committed, at the power he had displayed, that they pain would never have been inflicted. Paractually endeavoured to pay him divine ticular vices, or habits of vicious conduct, honours ; yet, soon after, these same people by an established law, invariably draw after were persuaded by some Jews to stone him, them particular misfortunes and miseries. as they thought, to death.
Intemperance destroys health, idleness and But the observations of these barbarians negligence produce embarrassment and want, are chiefly interesting as a disclosure of their and crime is usually visited with disgrace, religious views. They, indeed, give us no imprisonment, or death. Again, in certain very high opinion either of their intellectual rare cases, misfortunes are more signally or religious attainments, and yet, through and decisively judicial. The “vengeance" them, we can discover the glimmering of of Heaven against daring offenders or guilty some important religious principles, ob- nations, is too visible to be denied by any scured indeed by folly and superstition. but the determined sceptic. The sturdy We recognize their belief in a supreme, or, philosopher may laugh at this as superat least, a higher Power ; for the ven. stition, but we are disposed to pay greater geance, of which the viper, as they supposed, deference to the common sense of common was the instrument, could be the vengeance people, when that harmonizes with the of no being less than God. The notion of word of God, than to his refined deduca supreme Being, either in one shape or tions. Such instances are not so obvious another, may be occasionally traced amongst or so numerous as to interfere with man's the most unenlightened nations. Whether free agency, or interrupt the usual train of the notion be innate or traditionary, its exist. events; but they occur with sufficient freence is equally inscrutable to the atheist. quency to prove that God has not aban. Doubtless the theology of this people would doned his government of this rebellious contain much error and absurdity, yet they province of his dominions. “Verily there appear to have had some idea of a superin- is a God that judgeth in the earth.” tending and retributive Providence. The un. But while we do not wholly discard the expected attack of the snake, connected with opinion, that judgments sometimes befal the very recent escape of Paul from ship. the wicked in this life, yet facts oblige us wreck, seemed to have struck their minds to exercise that sentiment with diffidence as a divine interposition. “ They said and caution. For the slightest survey of among themselves, No doubt this man is a the world will convince us, that in general murderer, whom, though he hath escaped the one event happeneth alike unto all;" seas, yet vengeance suffereth not to live.” that the righteous are no more secure from From the chain that he wore, they had the common calamities of life than the before been led to believe that he was a vicious and profane. Often the “ wicked culprit of some sort; and now, the dreadful are seen to be in great power, and to flourish fate to which they think him doomed, in- like the green bay-tree," while many pious duce them to think that he was a murderer. men are permitted to struggle in poverty
The conduct of man, not his condition, and pain. The following consideration will is the criterion of his character; yet a gene
remove all the difficulty which this apparent ration has existed, from the time of Job's dereliction of justice creates. friends to the present, who have permitted 1. External circumstances are not essential the latter to influence their judgment of to real happiness. The essence of happiness character, rather than the former. Indeed, consists in rectitude of heart and conduct, an instinctive propensity is found to exist in peace of conscience, the smile of heaven, in most ignorant people, to regard calamities and the hope of a happy immortality. He in the light of divine judgments. This who possesses these is happy, whatever be his sentiment, like most other vulgar sentiments, lot in life; and the whole world cannot may be traced to an important truth as its supply their absence. * A little that a original; but while true in principle, it is righteous man hath is better than the riches
NATURE AND EFFECTS OF IDLENESS.
of many wicked.” A wicked man has a what the world calls moderate abilities, rise hell within him—the pains of which, riches considerably higher in the scale of intellicannot in the least mitigate. A good man gence and usefulness, by a careful cultivation has a heaven within him, which supplies of their talents, than by the brightest genius him with a lamp in the darkest providential united to a sluggish habit. Sloth paralyzes hour, which makes him buoyant under the the most powerful mind, and brings it to a greatest pressure of affliction.
level with the meanest capacity. But for 2. If calamities befal a good man, there sloth, thousands who have in all ages sunk is no injustice done him. Comparatively, into merited obscurity, might have arrived he may less deserve to suffer than some at the highest distinctions in life ; whilst others. But he is not innocent: he has many, with a happier temperament of mind, committed sins which, if they had been but with less abilities, have in every age visited with due punishment, would have become useful and honourable members of consigned him to perdition. Why then society. should a living man complain—a man for Natural talents should be considered as the punishment of his sins? A pious person the gift of God-a gift for the employment will always be disposed to say, under the of which all men are responsible; and most grievous sufferings, “ God exacteth of bence, whether a man possesses one, five, me less than my iniquity deserveth.”
or ten talents, he should employ them is of the Lord's mercies that I am not to the honour and glory of God, and for the consumed.”
benefit of his generation, assured that, when 3. The afflictions of good men, although his Lord cometh, if he have not multiplied they are to be regarded as general expressions them, “if he have laid them up in a napof divine indignation against sin, yet are kin,” if he have employed them to disad. graciously overruled for salutary purposes ; vantage, the consequences will be dreadful, they are employed as instruments of dis- and his doom irrevocable. What a stimulus cipline and correction, and in this view,
does this view of the subject give to the while they are of the highest value to the proper exercise of the bounteous and benechristian, they bespeak the most fatherly ficent gifts of Heaven! In despite however kindness on the part of God : “ For whom of these considerations, or rather in despite the Lord loveth he correcteth, even as a
of this fact, what vast multitudes continually father the son in whom he delighteth.”
indulge in idleness, and, by consequence, 4. Lastly, it is ever to be considered,
come under the denomination of those who that the present world is only an intro- misemploy and abuse their talents ! ductory scene, a state of trial, not of perfect
Habitual idleness undermines every virenjoyment or misery. The wheat and tares tue. It is the parent of the grossest vices to are suffered to grow together; both enjoy which human nature is subject. The mind the same sun, and are exposed to the same
of the indolent is unoccupied to any purblasts. But the day of final discrimination, pose, and, therefore, vice finds an easy decision, and retribution is approaching, in
ingress. Idle habits and vicious disposiwhich all present irregularities will be ad.
tions are intimately united. The evil pasjusted : “ Every work will be brought into
sions which are nourished and augmented judgment, with every secret thing, whether by sloth, rapidly overrun the mind, and it be good or bad," and then“ will every
hold it in continual thraldom. They gain man be rewarded according to his works."
a fearful ascendancy over the whole man, W. ROBINSON. and, if unrestrained by divine grace, conse
quent on a change of conduct, will soon bring their unhappy victim into the vortex of misery and despair.
It is natural for all men to desire good, to Exercise, appropriate and becoming ex. wish for an easy and comfortable station in ercise, essentially promotes the improvement society, or to become distinguished in the of the mind, and the health of the body; world. The diligent and upright man may whilst sloth, on the contrary, diseases the obtain these objects by legitimate means. one, and incapacitates the other for any But what chance has the sluggard to realize noble or vigorous effort. There is un- his desires herein! He either pursues gross doubtedly a difference among mankind with and criminal pleasures till poverty overtakes respect to natural abilities; but the dis- him, with all its concomitant ills, or till he tinction is by no means originally so great is prematurely cut off, and hurried unpre. as it is afterwards made, by diligence and pared into the presence of a justly offended perseverance on the one hand, and sloth God; or else, if he can exert so much vigour, and inactivity on the other. Men, with he attempts so retrieve his ruined circum
NATURE AND EFFECTS OF IDLENESS.
stances by violent and dishonest means- of such are frivolous in the extreme: a by public robbery or private theft. little elevates, and a little depresses them.
Idleness, long and recklessly indulged in, They have discarded virtue, the, sustainer either leads to the gallows, or brings a man of the human mind under trials and disapto hopeless penury and a miserable death. pointments, and its best guide amidst the If we see a man totally given up to sloth, animating but dangerous smiles of fortune. we are sure to find in him loose thoughts The recollection of the past brings nothing and unhallowed desires. His mind be- to console, but much to harass and perplex comes corrupt. He is not only a useless, them; and the future seems only to add but a dangerous member of society. And fresh opportunities for an eager pursuit of how can the contrary be expected? The vain and empty pleasures. mind, from its very nature must be em- The idle are invariably selfish. They ployed, either well or ill, either idly or live in the world without being of any adlaudably. If the body be not employed; vantage to it; the interests of their fellowif the mind be not engaged in some laudable creatures around them they never consult; or lawful pursuit, the man who so mis- and even their own eternal interests are too employs his powers, mental or bodily, will much out of the question: their main object surely be highly obnoxious to the Author of seems to be the gratification of their desires, every good and perfect gift, and prove him. and the enjoyment of as much ease, or of as self a nuisance, a very pest to that order of uninterrupted a succession of pleasures, as the social compact, to uphold and strengthen can be obtained. which, it is the bounden duty of every one Society is connected by different links; to give his best assistance.
and as a chain is injured or rendered useless If we do not introduce order into our by even one broken link, so every unworthy affairs, if we have not stated times for the member of society is injurious to the body performance of the several duties of life, if politic. It is useless to say that an idle we give way to corrupting amusements, man only injures himself or his family. and suffer them to encroach upon the hours There is no man so low but that he may of study and of labour—we shall soon have have imitators; and he that sets a pernibitterly to lament our inconsiderate and cious example, and does not add his mite criminal conduct. Idleness is an insidious to the public weal, may well be denominated enemy. Thousands have been ruined by an enemy to his species, to himself, and to it, and thousands are daily placed in the his God. greatest jeopardy by suffering themselves to From the king upon the throne down to be led into the snare. The poor imme- the meanest of his subjects—all are the diately taste its bitter fruits, by being ex- several links of one common chain, and reposed to the miseries of want and starvation, sponsible for the manner in which they perand at such junctures have often arisen, in form their several duties. They are mutually their breasts, those unjust thoughts, those dependent on each other. It is the industry dishonest resolutions, which are sure ulti. of a nation that adds splendour, dignity, mately to terminate in ignominy and ruin. and stability to the throne. It is a wise, But it is not to the poor alone that idleness well-ordered, and unanimous government is dangerous. What station soever a man that purchases peace and tranquillity to a may hold in society, how elevated soever nation, protects its civil and religious liberhis rank may be, he should find properties, and gives to civilized life its greatest employment for his mind, else he may rest charms, and its most valuable benefits. All assured, it will soon be filled with ideas the may be well employed in their several reverse of order and regularity-ideas which spheres. By these means, and by no other, will disturb his peace of mind, and control can rulers and subjects unitedly purchase, his future actions.
what cannot be individually or separately Great numbers are perpetually occupied purchased, becoming dignity and splendour in searching after amusements. They choose on the one hand, and on the other the companions of like dispositions, whose blessings of good and righteous government. minds are equally dissipated with their own, Kings and governments, to be good must and unite with them in one continued round not be idle, must not revel in luxury and of pernicious pleasures. Such characters ignoble ease. Indeed, no stations are menare often seemingly busy in the accomplish- tally so arduous as those of good kings and ment of their ends; but their objects, which their responsible servants. are of the worst possible description, are It is the especial duty of subjects, in connected with idleness of the most dan- return for the enjoyment of social happiness, gerous tendency-idleness too inveterate to religious privileges, personal security, and the be easily eradicated. The minds, moreover, protection of their property, to attend actively
NATURE AND EFFECTS OF IDLENESS.
to their several duties, and to uphold the it may, who does not exert himself, in his government under which they live, and by proper sphere, to advance the interests and which they prosper. Industry is necessary secure the comfort of his fellow-creatures, to the independence, the safety, yea, the ought to be looked upon in any other light very existence of governments : and when than as an enemy to his species, and treated it is considered, and nothing can be more accordingly. If any will not work, says plain, that the aggregate industry of a com- St. Paul, neither should he eat. munity is composed of individual interests If man will do nothing towards the mainand individual exertions, we shall imme- tenance of social order and happiness, he diately see the criminality of those who are ought not to enjoy the blessings derivable not only useless, but injurious members of therefrom. Those little busy insects, bees, society
“ which gather honey from every opening The higher and the lower ranks have their flower," and destroy the drones which will respective claims upon each other. Neither not co-operate with them in their daily can do without the other. Money, the cir- labour, might teach an instructive lesson to culating medium, and the representative of the drones in human society, and humble property, can purchase for the rich all the thein in their own estimation, were they but comforts, and even the superfluities of life, 'to give themselves to reflection, and lay without any labour of their own ; but then, their minds open to conviction. There are is it not the united labour of their inferiors characters, however, whose sluggish and in rank, that supplies them with the means of pernicious conduct, example, as well as enjoying the advantages of a superior for- precept, fails to correct and amend. Such, tune? The hand of industry, on the con- no motive can arouse from their inactivity trary, is invigorated, and the heart made glad, and sloth, and, therefore, they deserve by an adequate remuneration, with which nothing better than proscription from the the necessaries of life may be supplied, benefits and pleasures of that society, whose and perhaps many of its comforts enjoyed. true interests they rather retard than pro
But, though the rich seem to be above mote. want, owing to their having the means of In youth, the mind is most susceptible of obtaining what they desire, yet this con- impressions ; and it often happens that the sideration should not lead them to indulge impressions then formed remain with a man in slothful habits, nor to pamper themselves through life. If in youth, therefore, the with the good things of this life. Wealth, mind be suffered to lie dormant through a well employed, is a great blessing, but, if predilection for ignoble ease, or a desire to not, it will prove to its possessor the direst gratify a slothful disposition, there can be curse. The man who pursues his lawful but slender hopes that the man who has avocations with industry and success, will thus spent his early years, will, in future life, feel that calm complacency, that inward be a serviceable, much less a distinguished, satisfaction, to which the wealthy, who make member of society. a bad use of their riches, are utter strangers. Nothing can have a greater tendency to
The satisfaction, however, to be derived corrupt the mind than idleness. It is the from a proper distribution of wealth is very source of almost every other vice, of vices great. To make the widow's heart to leap the most odious and ruinous, vices that for joy, to console the fatherless, to assist the lead directly to the gallows. The man who needy, to search out with diligence the has once given way to it, lays his mind open abodes of penury, disease, and pain, and to to the reception of the worst of feelings. administer spiritual and temporal relief to He entertains thoughts which could never their wretched inmates, are some of the be cherished, and projects designs which privileges attached to wealth. Happy, thrice could never be formed, by a mind constihappy, that man, who considers himself but tuted as it ought to be--a mind invigorated the steward of what he possesses, and who, by bodily exercise, and bent upon the consequently, instead of pining away unem- vigorous exertion of all its powers. Thus, ployed hours, or smarting under the con- the corruption which begins in youth, sciousness of having employed them ill, retains its influence, and dishonours age. divides his time between the cultivation of The idle young man finds, when he his mind in his study, and the careful per- arrives at manhood, time to hang heavily formance of the active Christian duties of upon his hands. The mind, which should benevolence and beneficence in the world. then be full of energy, is in him inert. His Truly such a man may be pronounced innate love of ease reigns predominant over blessed.
every other feeling, and makes him indisIdleness is so inimical to the well-being posed to form designs capable of stimulatof society, that no man, be his station what ing him to a diligent exercise of his mental