Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise:
In this land and in this age, in England in the nineteenth century, there is little room for the sluggard; there is comparatively little temptation to sluggishness; the force of a rushing stream carries all along with it at a rapid pace. Nevertheless, it is true -
I. THAT SOME MEN FIND THEMSELVES UNDER SPECIAL TEMPTATION TO SLOTH. This may be a matter of
(1) bodily infirmity, the misfortune of an exceptional physical constitution;
(2) mental disposition, inherited from others, and to a large extent deserving of pity rather than censure;
(3) moral character, the impress of a bad habit - a spiritual result which has to be blamed as much as to be deplored.
II. THAT IT IS TO BE REGARDED AS UNWORTHY OF CHRISTIAN MANHOOD.
1. It is rebuked by the humbler creation (vers. 6-8). That which the ant does instinctively, and without any intelligent guide or instructor, we ought to do, who are endowed with reason, and who have so many human teachers and friends to direct, admonish, and. prompt us; who have, moreover, the admonitions of a Divine Teacher and Friend to enlighten and quicken us.
2. It is contemptible in the sight of man, our brother. There is something more than a tone of strong remonstrance, there is a perceptible admixture of contempt in the address, "Thou sluggard" (ver. 6), and also in the raillery of the ninth and tenth verses, "How long wilt thou sleep!... Yet a little sleep," etc. The industrious man cannot look at the slothfulness of the sluggard, at the supineness of the careless, at the dilatoriness of the half-hearted, without irrepressible feelings of aversion and contempt; he is compelled to scorn them in his heart.
III. THAT IT MUST BE OVERCOME IN OUR OWN TEMPORAL INTERESTS. (Ver. 11.) Sloth soon ends in ruin. Bankruptcy waits on negligence. Temporal ruin comes:
1. Unexpectedly. "Poverty comes as one that travelleth." It has started a long time, it has traversed many a road, crossed many a valley, surmounted many a hill; but, though travelling long, it is only in sight during the last ten minutes of its journey. So ruin begins its course as soon as a man neglects his duties; it travels far and long, its form is hidden behind the hills, it is only just toward the last that its countenance is seen and recognized; then, before he expected it, Poverty stares him in the face, and grasps his hand with cruel clutch.
2. Irresistibly. "Want as an armed man." At last no measures can be taken. Friends are alienated, relatives are wearied, all good habits are gone, the courage which might have risen to the occasion is broken by continued sluggishness of spirit; the man is disarmed of every weapon, and is at the mercy of well armed Want. Indolence not only brings about ruinous circumstances, but it robs us of the spirit by which adversity might be met and mastered; it places us helpless at the feet of the strong. Let us, then, be up and doing; for while sloth is rebuked on every side, and leads down to inevitable ruin, on the other hand, diligence
(1) is in accordance with the will of God concerning us (Romans 12:11; 1 Timothy 5:8; 2 Thessalonians 3:6-14);
(2) commands a genuine prosperity (see ch. 22:29);
(3) braces the character and imparts spiritual strength;
(4) places us in a position to show kindness to the unfortunate (Ephesians 4:28);
(5) in the sphere of religion ensures ultimate and complete salvation (2 Peter 1:5, 10, 11; 2 Corinthians 5:9). - C.
Parallel VersesKJV: Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise: