Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord;
I. THE IMPORTANCE AND THE ADVANTAGES OF SERVING THE LORD. Piety is enforced in these respects. Its obligation is indispensable; its beauty is supreme, and its utility is universal. It is not so much a single virtue, as a constellation of virtues. Here reverence, gratitude, faith, hope, love, concentre their rays, and shine with united glory. The most illiterate man, under the impressions of true devotion, and in the immediate acts of Divine worship, contracts a greatness of mind that raises him above his equals. Thereby, says an admired ancient, we build a nobler temple to the Deity than creation can present. Piety is adapted to the notions of happiness and chief good which all men entertain, although these notions were as various in themselves as the theories of philosophers have been about their object. Hither let the man of the world turn, that he may find durable riches, more to be desired than gold and all earthly possessions. Piety is the foundation of virtue and morality. True devotion strengthens our obligations to a holy life, and superadds a new motive to every social and civil duty. A good man is the guardian angel of his country. I shall only add on this head, that by serving the Lord here, we have an earnest and anticipation of the happiness of the heavenly state. Here the sun faintly beams, as in the dubious twilight; there he shines forth in full meridian glory.
II. TO EXPLAIN THAT FERVOUR OF SPIRIT SO REQUISITE IN THE EXERCISES OF DEVOTION, AND ENFORCE IT WITH A FEW ARGUMENTS.
1. By fervour of spirit, in general, is meant an uncommon application of mind in the performance of any thing, a warmth bordering upon transport, that moves every spring of the heart, and carries all before it, to gain its end. So that by a fervency of spirit in serving the Lord must be understood an ardent and active desire of loving the Lord, of worshipping Him in sincerity, and obeying His commands with all our heart, with all our soul, with all our mind, and with all our strength. True fervour of spirit proceedeth from above. It is a beam from the Father of lights, pure and benign, which at once enlightens and warms the mind.
2. To engage us more effectually to the performance of this part of our duty, let us consider the general obligations we lie under, as rational creatures, to serve the Lord with fervency of spirit, and then the particular obligations that arise from Christianity.
(1) In the first place, as the Almighty is the Creator of the world, and the Father of the human race, He is likewise their Preserver, and the Author of order and harmony in the universe. Seeing then He upholds our existence, and is the Parent of so many mercies, has He not, as our supreme Benefactor, a title to the service of our whole lives, and to all the fervent of our spirits?
(2) This will appear still more when we consider the superior obligations which we are laid under by Christianity. While many nations are sitting in darkness and the shadow of death, on us hath the Sun of Righteousness arisen in full glory. What thanks, what services, shall we not then render to our Supreme Benefactor, who has translated us from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of His Son!
Parallel VersesKJV: Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord;