ON THE REMEDIES AGAINST SPIRITUAL SLOTH
Consider first, that the sovereign remedy against spiritual sloth is the daily practice of consideration, particularly by meditating on those moving truths which either represent to us the infinite goodness of our God, his love for us, the passion of his Son, and those innumerable motives we have to love him and to be fervent in his service, or else denounce to us his many judgments, both in time and eternity, upon the obstinate opposers of his grace, and the rebels of his love. O what heart can be so far hardened by sloth as to stand out against such meditations as these, when frequently repeated? We have a God to serve, and a soul to save. This God is infinitely good, and good to us. He is all goodness, beauty, truth, and all perfection; he is infinitely lovely, and he is our ancient and eternal lover; his Son came down from heaven for the love of us; he employed his whole life in seeking out salvation; he even died for love of us; we have received and daily do receive many great benefits from him; his thought is always upon us. And shall not the consideration of all this goodness and love of his for us, oblige us to be fervent in the love of him, and diligent in his service? If we love him, and serve him as we ought, he will be our protector here, and our reward exceeding great hereafter. If we neglect his love and service, he threatens us with eternal evils, and death, judgment, and hell are always following us at our heels. And shall not the remembrance of all his promises on the one hand, and of all his threats and judgments on the other, effectually rouse us up out of our slothful indolence, and spur us on to labour in earnest for the securing our eternity?
Consider 2ndly, that another remedy against sloth is to reflect often, that the short time of this life is given us by our maker for nothing else but to labour therein, and to labour for eternity; that we can have no other stock to live on for eternity but what we provide and send before us, by working well during the twelve hours of this short day of our mortal life; that every moment of this time is precious, it is even worth an eternity, because by the good employment of every moment we may add to our eternal stock, and consequently to our eternal glory; that what we lose of it by sloth is lost for ever, and that the loss is irreparable; that the night will be quickly with us, in which no man can work, and therefore that we must husband well this short, this precious time, and spend it to the best advantage, labouring by good works to make our calling and election sure, 2 Pet. i. 10. Oh! what a strict account shall one day be demanded of us, of the employment of this whole time! And where shall the slothful hide their heads at that day?
Consider 3rdly, and set often before your eyes, in order to overcome all spiritual sloth, the life and death of the Son of God, the great pattern of a Christian, who was never idle, but always employed in doing the will of his Father. O how happy is the Christian that endeavours to be always employed in this manner! Read also, and meditate often on the lives of the saints, and excite yourself to fervour in the service of God, by their example and by the consideration of their eternal glory. O what pains do the children of this world daily take, what danger do they expose themselves to for the sake of a little dirt, which they must leave behind them to-morrow? And is it not a shame that Christians should not do as much for a happy eternity? Remember also on all occasions that the eye of your great master is always upon you; therefore take care to please him, not only by ever doing something – because such is his will and appointment – but also by labouring to perform all your actions with that perfection which becomes works done for so great a king.
Conclude to arm thyself, by these and such like considerations, against all the mischiefs that are otherwise to be apprehended from this pernicious vice of spiritual sloth; and that thou mayest keep thyself farther off from its approaches, beware of all tepidity or lukewarmness in the service of God. Often reflect upon the sentence that was past upon the barren fig-tree, Luke xiii., and fear lest, if thou also content thyself with a show of leaves, without bearing good fruit, the Lord of the vineyard may order thee also to be cut up and cast into the fire.