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others need not feel mortified on account of that obligation; considering how we have all one Head, and a Lamb to our chief Shepherd. "For we are his people and the sheep of his pasture." (Ps. c. 2.)
And there are also two sorts of pasture that we enjoy under the auspices of our universal shepherd; being temporal and spiritual, like our nature and nourishment, and lying also different ways,-one more towards the world, as it is said, "Man goeth forth to his work and to his labour," (Ps. civ. 23,) the other more towards retirement, as we also read, “But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet; and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly." (Mat. vi. 6.) A few observations on either of these parts distinctly may not be unacceptable from one who would not be a lover in tongue only to any who would love themselves in deed, as they ought; not being too high or haughty at the same time to take these observations in good part: and first
1. In the temporal department: of which, though I do not profess an extensive knowledge of the same, I have still a few words to say, a few blossoms to offer to the sheep, hoping to be excused for carrying on this allusion, as I find the same convenient and well authorized, and have no objection myself to make one in this figurative person, any more than David had when he sang "The Lord is my Shepherd."
1, The first thing I would observe then, is, that whatever pasture or condition the kindly ordering hand of Providence may conduct us to, we should learn to be content therewith; not breaking bounds, and invading the pastures of the fat sheep, unless we wish also to be killed. We may feed our own enclosure to the very hedges, but not go beyond them; and if our provision should happen to run short notwithstanding, as the poor sheep must expect, it will be a wiser part to keep nibbling and not lose a mouthful by unavailing complaints, than to be
bleating and starving. For, if we remark, a sheep will be found to thrive better in shortish keep than in a pasture that is too gross for his digestion.
2, As sheep are naturally made for society, and society is their natural safeguard by keeping them under the eye of the shepherd, the advantage of society is so great and agreeable for them, that it may deserve to rank in a line with pasture, being almost as good as meat and drink : except
3, When there happen to be a shabby sheep, or one that is infected with some impoverishing disease; as idleness, or drunkenness, or lewdness, or sedition, or any other habit tending to ruin: when such society is either to be avoided or admitted with caution. It may be painful, to see an old comrade languish in solitude like a flystricken sheep; but the good of the community will often require such a sacrifice. And generally it may be said, that we owe this duty to ourselves in respect of the poor as a sort of counterpart to that before described. For, as much as it is our duty to assist others in danger or distress, so much is it likewise to take care for ourselves in all circumstances. But
4, The poor, who are able to do so, that is to take care of themselves, have very erroneous notions sometimes of the process. For they will call it sometimes taking care of themselves when they are really drowning the best part of themselves, that should be; I mean their senses. Persons of that class are not sufficiently aware sometimes of the disadvantage of an overloaded stomach in work, and especially at harvest. They think very absurdly that on such extraordinary occasions the more they eat and drink, the more they can work: not taking into consideration the task or labour which the stomach and other digestive organs will have to support at the same time and from the same general fund of strength. Whereas the effect of putting too hard upon these organs is very sensibly felt in the defection of the external muscles of the
arms, legs, neck, eyes, mouth, and in short, of the whole body. Take, for example, a man in liquor, and see how it is with his standing, sitting, speaking, seeing-to leave alone walking. Why he cannot even hold up his head, nor speak without stammering, nor see without confusion, if he can keep his eyes from sleep; and then, adding the effect of gluttony to drunkenness, it will be no wonder, if an apoplexy should overtake the misdeeming wretch in this horrid condition.
5, I am sorry to observe, that men of the labouring class, and young men in particular, have seldom clear notions of their own importance, nor are sufficiently sensible of the point where their advantage lies; and how much better an endowment they might have than the rich, because more simple and concentrated, if they could but know it. For a man of that class who is blessed with health of body, a sound mind, and a fair character is as rich as a lord: he has nothing to fear either from flattery or neglect: he is not a slave to fashion and caprice; and not often exposed to the calamity of unavoidable leisure. But when a young man is simple enough to throw away his strength on women, or liquor, or any other bad and debilitating habit, there may be no end to his calamities: he is subject to every sort of woe: he sins against his own body; (Cor. I. vi. 18;) yes, and against his own soul likewise.
6, And it is the same too with the other sex in every respect. The wife of a labouring man will bid as fair for comfort, respectability and a state of grace, as that of the first man in the parish as long as she is worthy to be an honest man's wife. Which certainly seems much to say: and say so much I certainly should for a woman of that sort: who at once contributes her strength and energies to the maintenance of a family with all the prudence in management, sincerity in conversation, and humility in demeanour which may be expected in her station as well as in a higher she is indeed a wife for an honest man.
But women must be expected to differ in quality, as well as men-in prudence, and industry and in every other gift. Thus one woman who has the care of her husband's wages will make them go as far again as another. One will put away her humble utensils after dinner; and before her husband can well be got to his work, in a house as clean as silver be mending his shirt, or spinning for a new one while with another-cups and platters, if she have any, are often left to look after themselves in an house like a pig-sty or a gaol; and as the husband goes one way to work, the wife shall go another to idle gossip: that is, supposing the relation of man and wife to be real between them; which it may not, and especially where there are these evil habits, so often as it should be. I do not remark this with a view to disparage any who may be so circumstanced, but to caution others, that they may be more circumspect, more useful, consequently more important in society, and more comfortable in themselves.
7, It is generally supposed by their inferiors who have not an opportunity of learning better, that the wealthier class are an idle sort of people: but I wish the poorer were not more so, that their poverty might be less. I would not be thought an advocate for wealthy drones: but I must say in justice to some who are not obliged to work, that they work as hard as any who are, and much harder too in some cases. Indeed there can be no comparison either for quality or intensity between the labour of some who work in courts, in castles, in compting houses, and that of others who work in the fragrant fields and shady plantations. So
8, In the female department likewise; how common a case is it, for the mistress to work harder than her maid! -perhaps to be sewing and mending, while the maid shall be playing the fool out of doors, or gossiping over a cup of tea within! And while the mistress, after making and mending for her own family, is set to work on clothing for the poor, her poorer maids, so far from find
ing time, as they might, to assist at this benevolent work, will hardly contrive to mend their own stockings. How pitiful a figure do these make in the comparison ! How unworthy are they of the comforts they enjoy, and might enjoy if they would! Little do persons of either sex and of every description who act a menial part reflect on their just importance in aiding and releasing others, as they may sometimes, for parts of the greatest consequence to society; still finding leisure for themselves afterwards and between whiles, that is sweetened by early rising and industry! It is not an easy matter to estimate a man's obligation to servants of this class over and above the wages that are paid them. For their wages shall bear no proportion sometimes to their earnings and if that is not to be expected, a word of advice sometimes to the master or mistress, or only the common duties of the household duly performed may still continue the obligation on their side; which is one instance of what I call, THE SHEEP PASTURING THE SHEP
2. But the sort of pasture chiefly alluded to in Scripture, and of convenience pointed out to us by this figure is of a spiritual kind: it is pasture for the mind and soul; being so denominated from its effect rather than its substance. For carnal food may be spiritual pasture according to its purpose, as we find in the sacrament of the Lord's supper; so may a thing taken outwardly likewise, as the sprinkling of water: and that, without a miracle in either instance. This is what our Owner has provided for us, and supplies by his servants. The part of the sheep is only to take, eat, and ruminate upon the food so provided for them, like manna for the wandering Israelites; inasmuch as our pasture also comes from above, though it comes on another day; " that which was no gathering day for them," (Exod. xvi. 25,) being our best, when we are happy enough to make the best use of it: I mean Sunday.