« ForrigeFortsæt »
spects both the motives upon which servants ought to act towards their masters, and the rule by which they should regulate themselves. Another instructor, a mere human teacher, would have had servants be faithful and diligent in their calling, that they might please and satisfy their masters; because, he would have said, that is the way of recommending one's self—that is the way of bettering our condition, and of keeping a good situation if we have one that is the way of obtaining and preserving a good name and a good character, upon which our livelihood and our success in the world depend.
He who has nothing to trust to but his hands and labour must recommend himself to an employment by industry, honesty, care, and sobriety. These qualities will constantly be sought for in servants ; and qualities contrary to these, laziness, carelessness, dishonesty, and drunkenness, will as constantly be avoided by all who need them. Therefore a prudent counsellor would suggest, if you have a view to pass your time creditably in your situation, and to have your service sought after—if you would maintain yourself and your family with decency, and have a maintenance always to trust to, secure to yourself by the regularity of your behaviour, as well as by the diligence, skilfulness, and activity of your service, the approbation of those who employ you, and of the neighbourhood in which you live: that will always do, and nothing else will. A merely human teacher, of experience in the world, would probably tell a
servant all this, and it is all true. But what
the Apostle? A divine monitor like Saint Paul puts the matter on a different foundation. He inculcates far higher views : “Do,” says he, “ the will of God from the heart, with good will doing service as to the Lord, and not to men ; knowing that whatever good thing any man doeth, the same shall he receive of the Lord, whether he be bond or free.” In which words three things are imported: First, that servants are to look up, not to the person who employs them, but to God as their master, doing service as to the Lord and not to man.” Secondly; that it is in truth God, and not man, that sets them their work and their task, “Do the will of God." Thirdly; they are to look to God, and not to man, for the reward of their faithful service, “Knowing this, that whatever good thing any man doeth, the same shall he receive of the Lord.”
First; the words of the text import this: if God is, so far, the proper master of all servants, then it is He, and not man, who has assigned them their works and their tasks. The foundation of the contract is, that the different lots and conditions of human life are all appointed by God, and that each man's calling and destination is that which God has fixed for him. The general frame of human society, and the origin and constitution of different societies, are points not understood by all, but all can understand some things in every society; for instance, that there must be masters and there must be ser
vants—some to direct and some to be directed. The business of the world must be carried on; and it is only by labour that we are all maintained. Our food and raiment, our habitations and accommodations, and in part our enjoyments, we owe to the hand of industry. Now there are but two methods possible -one is, every man working for himself, to supply himself with every thing he has occasion for—the second is, working for another. The former is the condition of savages, among whom, though every man toils night and day to procure himself food and clothing, every man is wretchedly and scarcely provided with either. In such a state, they who are best provided are worse off than the poorest inhabitant of this country can be. Therefore by such a rule, if it were possible to establish it, the poor would gain nothing, and all who are above poverty would lose a great deal. The second is the condition of civilized life, in which one man sets himself to work whatever he is qualified to carry on for the benefit of others, and is in return rewarded with the benefit of his industry in some other way. There goes through the different employments of life a general exchange. Service, in particular, is a fair exchange of maintenance for industry, of wages for labour. The exchange is honest and advantageous on both sides. The master is no less obliged to a good servant, than the servant to a good master. There must be property. The face of the earth would be a waste without it. The ground would be uncultivated, if no man had a property in it. No business of
any kind need or would be carried on, if they who carried it on had not a property in the produce and the profit: but if there be property at all, it must be regulated by some fixed rules; and let these rules be what they will, property will run into unequal masses. This is inevitable. The art of man cannot hinder it. One man will have a great deal to spare, another will want. But there is one species of property which every man is born to-the use of his liberty; and thanks be to God, things are in such a state with us that this, in general, is equal : but then to turn his strength, faculties, and activity to account, he must engage with some one who has that to spare which he stands in need of. He must give him what he has to give, namely, his personal service, in order to obtain from him what he must obtain, his maintenance; and there is no service in this country but what is founded in the interest of the servant himself. Now the reflection that arises from all this, and which is the reflection contained in the text, is, that some service necessarily results from the order and constitution of civil life; and since that order was of God Almighty's fixing, that constitution of His appointment, service also itself may be truly said to be the destination and contrivance of his Providence. The state is what God made and designed, because it is owing to that order of things which he has settled in the world ; but we are moreover to refer to His Providence the
state in which each finds himself: and this is true of the lowest as well as the highest-of the servant in his state as well as the prince upon his throne. We are all disposed into our different states by the appointment of God. Wherefore the business and duties of these several stations may justly be called the task which God has given us to perform ; and, be it what it will, whilst we perform it we are performing the will of God. A servant, therefore, as the Apostle admonishes, is doing service to the Lord. The work assigned him is assigned, not only by the will of man, but by the appointment of God; and therefore, as the Apostle proceeds, in the execution of that work he is to look, not merely to the favour of men, but to the approbation of God. Honesty and diligence in a servant are so far their own reward, that they ensure to him a good character, and nothing else will; and his character is his livelihood : but the Apostle of Christ, in giving this servant of his for his wages the reward of a future state, carries his disciple farther; he teaches him that, whatever be a man's state, if he discharge the duties and business of it, he will be rewarded for it by God Almighty. The words are these : “ Whatever good thing any man doeth, the same shall he receive of the Lord, whether he be bond or free."
Now as this is the principle and motive which the Apostle proposes, namely, the constant consideration that they are doing God's work, and in doing that work well are serving and pleasing him,