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 fiery coals in your bosom!

"Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise!" Proverbs 6:6