The devil's tennis-ball
(Thomas Brooks, "The Privy Key of Heaven" 1665)
"Warn those who are idle." 1 Thessalonians 5:14
Take heed of an idle and
slothful spirit. An idle life
and a holy heart are far asunder. By doing nothing
men learn to do evil things. It is easy slipping out
of an idle life into an evil and wicked life. Yes, an
idle life is of itself evil, for man was made to be
active, not to be idle. Idleness is a mother-sin, a
breeding-sin; it is the devil's cushion--on which
he sits; and the devil's anvil--on which he frames
very great and very many sins. Look! as toads and
serpents breed most in standing waters, so sin
thrives most in idle people. Idleness is that which
provokes the Lord to forsake men's bodies, and
the devil to possess their souls.
No man has less means to preserve his body, and
more temptations to infect his soul, than an idle
person. Oh shake off sloth! The sluggish Christian
will be sleeping, or idling, or trifling; when he should
be in his closet a-praying. Sloth is a fatal sickness of
the soul; get it cured--or it will be your eternal bane.
Of all devils, it is the 'idle' devil which keeps men
most out of their closets. There is nothing that gives
the devil so much advantage against us as idleness.
Idleness is the time of temptation. An idle person
is the devil's tennis-ball, tossed
around by him
at his pleasure.
The fowler bends his bow and spreads his net for birds
when they are set, not when they are upon the wing.
So Satan shoots his most fiery darts at men, when
they are most idle and slothful.
Slothful and idle people commonly lie so long a-bed,
and spend so much precious time between the comb
and the mirror, and in eating, drinking, sporting, and
trifling; that they can find no time for private prayer.
Certainly such as had rather go sleeping to hell, than
sweating to heaven, will never care much for prayer.
And therefore shun sloth and idleness, as you would
shun a lion in your way, or poison in your food, or
coals in your bosom!