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SERMON XL.

OF CONTENTMENT.

PHIL. iv. 11.

I have learned, in whatsoever state, &c.

5. BUT further: Let our state be, as to quality, SERM. what it will, good or bad, joyful or unpleasant, we XL. may yet consider, that it cannot be desperate, it may not be lasting; for there is not any necessary connection between the present and the future: wherefore, as the present, being momentary and transient, can little trouble us, so the future, being unknown and uncertain, should not dismay us. As no man reasonably can be elevated with confidence in a good state, presuming on its duration, (Boast not thyself Prov. xxvii. of to-morrow, for thou knowest not what a day may1. bring forth;) so no man should be dejected for a bad one, in suspicion that it will abide long; seeing neither (considering the frequent vicissitudes that occur, and the flux nature of all things here) is each of them in itself stable; and the continuance of each absolutely dependeth on God's arbitrary disposal; and as God often doth overturn prosperity, to human judgment most firmly grounded, so he most easily can redress the to appearance most forlorn adversity;

a Multa intervenient quibus vicinum periculum vel prope admotum aut subsistat aut desinat, aut in alienum caput transeat. Sen.

XL.

12. cvii. 9.

Job xii. 21.

SERM. and he, being especially the helper of the helpless, doth frequently perform it: as he poureth contempt Psal. lxxii. upon princes, and weakeneth the strength of the x. 4. cri. 9. mighty; so he raiseth the poor out of the dust, and Ps. cvii.40. lifteth the needy out of the dunghill: he casteth Isa. xxv. 5 down the mighty from their seat, and exalteth the Isa. ii. 11. humble and meek: he sendeth the rich empty away, and filleth the hungry with good things. He maketh sore, and bindeth up; he woundeth, 1 Sam. ii. 7. and his hands make whole.

Job v. II.

Psal. xviii.

cvii. 41. Job v. 18.

27.

Ps. cxiii. 7.

Considering therefore the reason of things, and the nature of God, if our state be at present bad or sorrowful, we have more reason to hope for its amendment, than to fear its continuance. If indeed things went on in a fatal track, merely according to a blind and heedless chance, or a stiff and unalterable necessity; if there were no remedy from God's providence, or support by his grace to be expected; (although even then there would be no reason to grieve or complain; grief would be unreasonable, because unprofitable, complaint would be vain, because fortune and fate are deaf;) yet our infirmity

18.

might somewhat excuse that idle proceeding; but Matt. x. 29, since not a sparrow falleth to the ground, not a Luke xxi. hair of our head perisheth; nothing at all passeth otherwise than by the voluntary disposition of a most wise and gracious God; since he doth always strictly view, and is very sensible of our griefs, yea doth in a manner sympathise with them, (according to those Hos. xi. 8. pathetical expressions in the prophets: His bowels

b Τοῖς γε νοῦν ἔχουσι καὶ σώφρονι λογισμῷ κεχρημένοις οὐδὲν τῶν ἀνθρωπίνων ἀδόκητον, οὐδὲν γὰρ τούτων σταθερὸν ἢ βέβαιον, &c. Theod. Ep. 14.

Sperat adversis, metuit secundis,

Alteram sortem bene præparatum pectus. Hor. Carm. ii. 10.

20.

sound, and are troubled; his heart is turned within SERM. XL. him; In all their afflictions he was afflicted :) since he further hath by promise obliged himself to care Jer. xxxi. for us, to support and succour us; we have all rea- Isa.lxiii. 9, son to hope, yea firmly to believe, (if at least we can Luke xii. find in our hearts to hope and to believe,) that we Heb. xiii. 5. shall, as soon as it is good and expedient for us, find Matt.vi.3.3. relief and ease; we shall have that ekaipov Bondela, 1 Pet. v. 7. Psal. Iv. 23. that seasonable succour, of which the apostle to the xxxvii. 5. Hebrews speaketh.

29, 31.

Phil.

Heb. iv. 6.

13.

Hope lieth at the bottom of the worst condition that can be: The poor, saith Job's friend, hath Job v. 16. hope; and the rich can have no more; the future being equally close to both, the one can have no greater assurance to keep what he hath, than the other hath to get what he needeth; yea clearly the poor hath the advantage in the case; for God hath more declared, that he will relieve the poor man's want, than that he will preserve the rich man's store: if then we have in every condition a hope present to us, why do we grieve as those who have no hope? 1 Thess. iv. having ever ready the best anchor that can be to rest Heb. vi. 19. upon, (for in this rolling sea of human affairs there is no firmer anchor than hope,) why do we let our minds be tossed with discontentful solicitudes and fears? why do we not rather, as the apostle enjoineth, rejoice in hope, than grieve out of despair? why Rom. xii. do we not, as the prophet adviseth, hope and wait Lam.iii. 26. quietly for the salvation of the Lord? The effect of so reposing ourselves for the future on God's providence would be perfect content and peace, according to that of the prophet, Thou wilt keep him in Isa. xxvi. 3. perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee; because he trusteth in thee; and that of the Wise Man,

12.

SERM. A patient man will bear for a time, and afterwards XL._joy shall spring up unto him.

Eccl. i. 23.

The truth is, and it seemeth very observable, in order to our purpose, that most discontent ariseth, not from the sense of incumbent evil, but from suspicion, or fear of somewhat to come; although God at present dispenseth a competency of food and raiment, although we are in a tolerable condition, and feel no extremity of want or pain, yet, not descrying the way of a future provision for us, answerable to our desires, we do trouble ourselves; which demeanour implieth great ignorance and infidelity : we think God obliged in kindness, not only to bestow upon us what is needful in its season, but to furnish us with stores, and allow us securities; we must have somewhat in hand, or we cannot trust him for the future this is that which our Saviour cautioneth

against, as the root of discontent and sign of diffiMatt. vi.34. dence; Take no thought for the morrow, for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself; sufficient to the day is the evil thereof: an advice no less pious, than manifestly full of reason and wisdom for what a palpable folly is it to anticipate that evil which we would avoid; then, when we earnestly desire to put off sorrow, to pull it toward us; to feel that mischief which possibly shall never be; to give it a being in our fancy which it may never have in natured? Could we follow this advice,

C Πολλῆς μικροψυχίας ἐστὶν ὑπὲρ τῶν ὕστερον συμβησομένων, ἢ μηδὲ ὅλως συμβησομένων τὴν ἀθυμίαν ἤδη καρποῦσθαι καὶ κόπτεσθαι. Chrys. ad Stagir. 2.

d Calamitosus est animus futuri anxius, et ante miseriam miser. Sen. Ep. 18.

Ne sis miser ante tempus; cum illa quæ imminentia expavisti,

XL.

never resenting evils before they come, never pre- SERM. judging about future events against God's providence and our own quiet; constantly depending on the Divine care for us; not taking false alarms, and trembling at things which shall never come near us; not being disturbed with panic fears; no discontent could ever sieze upon us: for the present is ever supportable; our mind cannot be overwhelmed by the pangs of a transitory moment.

Isa.xxx.18.

ix. 10.

Amos v. 4. 2 Chron.

If we need further encouragement for application Lam.iii. 25. of this remedy, we have manifold experiments to xl. 31. xlix. assure its virtue as there are innumerable pro-al.xxv. 3. mises that none who hope in God shall be dis- xxxvii. 9. appointed; so there are many illustrious examples 2 Chron. xxviii. 9. of those, whom God hath in remarkable manner and Ezr.viii.22. wonderful measure relieved from wants and distresses, raising them out of deepest poverty, con- xv. 2. tempt, and worldly wretchedness, into most eminent degrees of wealth and prosperity: Look, saith the Eccl. ii. 10. Hebrew Sage, into the ancient generations, and see; Who hath trusted in the Lord, and hath been ashamed? Or who hath abiden in his fear, and hath been forsaken? Or who hath invoked him, and he did overlook (or despise) him? If we look into those generations, we may there find Joseph, out of slavery and out of prison, advanced to be the chief governor of a most flourishing kingdom: Moses, from an exile and a vagrant, made the redeemer and commander of a populous nation: Job, out of ex

fortasse nunquam ventura sint, certe nondum venerint, &c. Sen. Ep. 13.

Quod juvat dolori suo occurrere? satis cito dolebis cum venerit. Ibid.

Quoties incerta erunt maria, tibi fave. Ibid.

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