EXHORTATIONS PROPER FOR SERVANTS.
SERVANTS make a considerable part of every clergyman's charge, and will always stand in need of a particular application. They have as many duties and temptations as other Christians, and have need of as much care--to implant the fear of God in their hearts, to encourage them to bear with patience the difficulties of their state, to teach them the duties of their calling, and to secure them from such sins as they are most subject to.
Servants ought not to imagine that the meanness of their condition will free them from being accountable to God for their behaviour in that state of life in which His providence has placed them. They are as capable of eternal happiness and as liable to eternal misery as the masters they serve; and as strict an account will be required of them. And therefore the Apostles are very particular in setting down the duties of their calling and the sins they ought to be most careful to avoid.
For example;--That they should be diligent in their business, not with eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but as the servants of Christ, in singleness of heart, fearing God; knowing that of the Lord they shall receive a reward.
They should be often put in mind to make a conscience of their master's interest, that nothing under their care be lost or wasted by their negligence. This is to shew all good fidelity.
To be exactly just and honest; not purloining, as the Apostle speaks, but remembering that he was an unjust steward, and not to be imitated by any honest servant, who made himself friends at his master's cost.
To bear with patience the orders and the reproofs of those to whom they are subject, not only to the good and gentle, but also to the froward. St. Peter saith expressly, that such submission is not only a duty, but a duty acceptable to God.
They should have a strict charge given them to avoid lying, which is hateful to God, and talebearing, which is the occasion of much sin and mischief. Not to corrupt their own or others' hearts and memories with filthy stories, wicked songs, or profane expressions. Never to be tempted by the authority of a wicked master, or by the example of a wicked fellow-servant, to do any thing that is unjust, extravagant, or any way unlawful. To avoid sloth and idleness, which are very bad characters of a servant.
They should be often called upon to be careful to keep the Lord's Day holy.
Servants have a special right and interest in that day, given them by God Himself,--not to spend it in idleness and vanity, but in going to church and hearing God's Word, and begging His grace, comfort, and blessing, that whatsoever their lot is in this life, they may not fail to be happy in the next.
For this reason they should be put in mind that their state of life does not excuse them from praying to God daily as well as they can, that they may faithfully discharge their duty and patiently bear the burden laid upon them; which the meanest servant will be better content with if he is put in mind of our blessed Lord, who though He was the Son of the Most High, yet He took upon Him the condition of a servant, to teach us humility, and that the lowest condition is acceptable to God, where people are careful to do the duties of such a state.
Lastly, Servants should know that labour is the punishment of sin appointed by God Himself, who passed this sentence upon Adam, In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread; condemning him and his posterity to labour and toil, that they might look for rest in heaven, since there is so little true satisfaction on earth. So that such as accept of this punishment, in submission to the appointment of God, have indeed a better title to pardon and happiness than such as spend their lives in ease and pleasure.