Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise: Which having no guide, overseer, or ruler, Provideth her meat in the summer, and gathereth her food in the harvest. How long wilt thou sleep, O sluggard? when wilt thou arise out of thy sleep? Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep: So shall thy poverty come as one that travelleth, and thy want as an armed man.
‘It is a shame’-said the heathen philosopher-‘not to learn morals from the small animals’ Yet what a proof is it of the degradation of the fall, that “man, created in the image of God,” and made wiser than the creation (Gen. 1:26. Job, xxxv. 11), should be sent, as here, to this insignificant school for instruction! The ant, having no guide to direct her work, no overseer to inspect her, or ruler to call her to account yet I gathereth with diligent foresight the summer and harvest store for her winter need. Let the sluggard consider her ways, and be wise. He sleeps over his work, and, if for a moment half-hearted by some rousing call, still pleads for a little sleep, and folds his hands to sleep. Present ease is all he calculates on, all he provides for. The future he carefully keeps out of sight, to be provided for, like the present, when it comes. Thus life runs to waste. Poverty comes step by step as one that travelleth, and, like an armed man. With irresistible violence. (Chapter 10:4; 13:4; 19:15, 24; 20: 4; 21:25; 24:33, 34.)
Perhaps he perverts his Master’s word to excuse his sloth. But, if we are to “take no anxious thought for the morrow” (his true meaning), are we to take none at all? Care is a duty, a parental obligation (2 Cor. 12:14. Comp. Gen. 30:30; 41:33), and therefore, a component part of godliness. Carefulness is a sin (Luke 10: 41. 1 Cor. 7:32), a needless burden to ourselves and unworthy distrust of God. (Matt. 6:25-33.) The diligent use of providential means honours God. (Chapter 10:5; 24:27.)
But much more loudly would we call to the spiritual sluggard. Thou art sleeping away the opportunities of grace “striving to enter in at the strait ate” (Luke 13:24); taking thy salvation for granted; hoping that thou shalt “reap that which thou hast not sown, and gather where thou hast not strawed” (Matthew 25:26)-Go o the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise. Improve, after this pattern, the summer and harvest season-the time of youth, the present, perhaps the only, moment. The ant hath no guide. How many guides have you-conscience-the Bible-ministers! (Job 32: 8. Ps. 119: 105. Mal. 2:7.) She has no overseer. You are living before Him, whose eyes are as a flame of fire.” (Chapter 15:3, Rev. 1:14, 2:18.) She has no ruler callingher to account. “Every one of us must give account of himself unto God.” (Rom. 14:2.) How long hen wilt thou sleep, O sluggard? – is the solemn remonstrance of ty God. (Comp. chapter 1:22. 1 Kings 18:21.) Thy sleep is not like that of the body refreshing at the dawn of day; but it is that of the poisoned draught, heavier and heavier; the slumber of death, “Awake, thou that sleepest, and Christ shall give thee light.” (Eph. 5:14.) Slight not the call of the present moment. The spell grows stronger as resistance is delayed. Ever day’s slumber makes it more improbable, whether thou wilt ever awaken at all. The intended struggle of to-morrow is a delusion. A thousand such tomorrows there may be; and yet thou mayest be found at last perishing in thy poverty, and the King of terror will come as an armed man to summon thee to judgment.
But how one is made to feel that from this dep slumber no voice but Omnipotence can rouse! Enter the sluggard’s chamber; put aside his curtain; hang over is bed; sound a solemn cry in his ears-How long? Endeavour even to open his eyelids to see the light of day; and yet the spell is too strong for man. He shifts his posture, murmurs his cry-a little more sleep-and slumbers again. Christian! You feel the helplessness of your work. Then call in the power of God in your brother’s behalf-“Lighten his eyes, lest he sleep the sleep of death.” (Ps. 13:3.)
And then as for thyself-grow in intense energy in thy high calling. Remember, faith without diligence is slumbering delusion. Faith is the practical energy of a living faith. Always, therefore, look at sloth, not as n infirmity, but as a sin, affecting the whole man; growing upon us with unperceived power. Allow it therefore no rest, no time to root itself. Resist it in all its forms-bodily mental, spiritual: indulgence of sleep and appetite: self-pleasing in all its subtle and plausible workings. Live by rule. Have your time strictly arranged. Be employed in early work for God. Store the mind with useful knowledge; ever reserving the first place for an industrious and prayerful study of the book of God. “Mortify” this baneful lust “through the Divine Spirit” (Rom. 8:13); drawing all your motives from the death (Ibid. 6:6), the life (Mark. 1.32-35), the rules of Christ (Luke 9:23. Rom. 13:11-14.) Victory will soon declare for you; and how enriching will be the spoil!