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they have done can be repaired. Sloth is like the slowly-flowing putrid stream, which stagnates in the marsh, breeds venomous animals, and poisonous plants; and infects with pestilential vapours the whole country round it. Having once tainted the soul, it leaves no part of it sound; and at the same time gives not those alarms to conscience, which the eruptions of bolder and fiercer emotions often occasion. The disease which it brings on, is creeping and insidious; and is, on that account, more certainly mortal.
One constant effect of idleness is, to nourish the passions, and of course, to heighten our demands for gratification; while it unhappily withdraws from us the proper means of gratifying these demands. If the desires of the industrious man be set upon opulence or rank, upon the conveniences or the splendour of life, he can accomplish his desires by methods which are fair and allowable. The idle man has the same desires with the industrious, but not the same resources for compassing his ends by honourable means. He must therefore turn himself to seek by fraud, or by violence, what he cannot submit to acquire by industry. Hence the origin of those multiplied crimes to which idleness is daily giving birth in the world; and which contributes so
much to violate the order, and to disturb the peace of society.-In general, the children of idleness may be ranked under two denominations or classes of men; both of whom may, too justly, be termed, The children of the devil. Either incapable of any effort, they are such as sink into absolute meanness of character, and contentedly wallow with the drunkard and debauchee, among the herd of the sensual, until poverty overtake them, or disease cut them off: Or they are such as, retaining some remains of vigour, are impelled, by their passions, to venture on a desperate attempt for retrieving their ruined fortunes. In this case, they employ the art of the fraudulent gamester to ensnare the unwary. They issue forth with the highwayman to plunder on the road; or with the thief and the robber, they infest the city by night. From this class, our prisons are peopled; and by them the scaffold is furnished with those melancholy admonitions, which are so often delivered from it to the crowd. Such are frequently the tragical, but well-known consequences of the vice against which I now warn you.
In the third, and last place, How dangerous soever idleness may be to virtue, are there not pleasures, it may be said, which attend it?
is there not ground to plead, that it brings a release from the oppressive cares of the world; and soothes the mind with a gentle satisfaction, which is not to be found amidst the toils of a busy and active life? This is an advantage which, least of all others, we admit it to possess. In behalf of incessant labour, no man contends. Occasional release from toil, and indulgence of ease, is what nature demands, and virtue allows. But what we assert is, that nothing is so great an enemy to the lively and spirited enjoyment of life, as a relaxed and indolent habit of mind. He who knows not what it is to labour, knows not what it is to enjoy. The felicity of human life depends on the regular prosecution of some laudable purpose or object, which keeps awake and enlivens all our powers. Our happiness consists in the pursuit, much more than in the attainment, of any temporal good. Rest is agreeable; but it is only from preceding labours that rest acquires its true relish. When the mind is suffered to remain in continued inaction, all its powers decay. It soon languishes and sickens; and the pleasures which it proposed to obtain from rest, end in tediousness and insipidity. To this, let that miserable set of men bear witness, who, after spending great part of their life in active in
dustry, have retired to what they fancied was to be a pleasing enjoyment of themselves in wealthy inactivity, and profound repose. Where they expected to find an elysium, they have found nothing but a dreary and comfortless waste. Their days have dragged on, in uniform languor; with the melancholy remembrance often returning, of the cheerful hours they passed, when they were engaged in the honest business and labours of the world.
We appeal to every one who has the least knowledge or observation of life, whether the busy, or the idle, have the most agreeable enjoyment of themselves? Compare them in their families. Compare them in the societies with which they mingle; and remark, which of them discover most cheerfulness and gaiety; which possess the most regular flow of spirits; whose temper is most equal; whose good humour most unclouded. While the active and diligent both enliven and enjoy society, the idle are not only a burden to themselves, but a burden to those with whom they are connected; a nuisance to all whom they oppress with their On whom does time hang so heavy, as on the slothful and lazy? To whom are the hours so lingering? Who are so often devoured with spleen, or obliged to fly to every expedient which can help them to get
rid of themselves? Instead of producing tranquillity, indolence produces a fretful restlessness of mind; gives rise to cravings which are never satisfied; nourishes a sickly effeminate delicacy, which sours and corrupts every plea
Enough has now been said to convince every thinking person, of the folly, the guilt, and the misery, of an idle state. Let these admonitions stir us up, to exert ourselves in our different occupations, with that virtuous activity which becomes men and Christians. Let us arise from the bed of sloth; distribute our time with attention and care; and improve to advantage the opportunities which Providence has bestowed. The material business in which our several stations engage us, may often prove not sufficient to occupy the whole of our time and attention. In the life even of busy men, there are frequent intervals of leisure. Let them take care, that into these, none of the vices of idleness creep. Let some secondary, some subsidiary employment, of fair and laudable kind, be always at hand to fill up those vacant spaces of life, which too many assign either to corrupting amusements, or to mere inaction. We ought never to forget, that entire idleness always borders either on misery or on guilt,