Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave…
I. CONSIDER THE MATTER OF THIS COUNSEL AND EXHORTATION; and that is, that we would use great diligence and industry about that which is our proper work and business in this life; and this may very probably comprehend in it these two things —
1. Diligence in our great work and business, that which equally concerns every man; I mean the business of religion, in order to the eternal happiness and salvation of our souls. This consists in these two things —
(1) In a sincere care and endeavour of universal obedience to God by the conformity of our lives and actions to His laws.
(2) In case of sin and miscarriage, in a sincere repentance for our sins, and a timely care to be reconciled to God.
2. Diligence in that province and station which God hath appointed us, whatever it be; whether it consists in the labour of our hands, or in the improvement of our minds, in order to the gaining of knowledge for our own pleasure and satisfaction, and for the use and benefit of others; whether it lie in the skill of government, and the administration of public justice; or in the management of a great estate, of an honourable rank and quality above others, to the best advantage, for the honour of God, and the benefit and advantage of men, so as, by the influence of our power and estate, and by the authority of our example, to contribute all we can to the welfare and happiness of others.
II. SOME CONSIDERATIONS TO EXCITE OUR CARE AND DILIGENCE IN THIS GREAT WORK WHICH GOD HATH GIVEN US TO DO IN THIS WORLD, I mean chiefly the business of religion, in order to the eternal happiness and salvation of our souls.
1. Consider the nature of our work, which is such as may both excite and encourage our diligence and care about it. It is indeed a service, but such as is our perfect freedom; it is the service of God, whom to serve is the greatest honour that man or any other creature is capable of; it is obedience, but even obedience, considering our ignorance and frailty, is much wiser and safer for us than a total exemption from all law and rule; for the laws which God hath given us are not imposed upon us merely for His will and pleasure, but chiefly for our benefit and advantage. So that to obey and please God is in truth nothing else but to do those things which are really best for ourselves.
2. Consider how great our work is, and then we shall easily be convinced what care it requires, what diligence it calls for from us.
3. Consider what incredible pains men will take, what diligence they will use, for bad purposes, and for ends infinitely less considerable. "Thieves will rise and travel by night to rob and kill, and shall we use no care, no vigilance, to save ourselves?"
4. Consider that when we come to die, nothing will yield more true and solid consolation to us than the remembrance of a useful and well-spent life, a life of great labour and diligence, of great zeal and faithfulness in the service of God; and, on the contrary, with what grief and regret shall we look back upon all these precious hours which we have so fondly misplaced in sin and vanity I
5. Consider that the degrees of our happiness in another world will certainly bear a proportion to the degrees of our diligence and industry in serving God and doing good. And it is an argument of a mean spirit not to aspire after the best and happiest condition which is to be attained by us.
6. Consider that this life is the time of our activity and working, the next is the season of retribution and recompense; we shall then have nothing to do, but either to reap and enjoy the comfort of well-doing, or to repent the folly of an ill-spent life, and the irreparable mischief which thereby we have brought upon ourselves.
(J. Tillotson, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest.