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I. cxix. 6.
this will yield a man so ample and firm a satisfaction SERM. of mind, as will bear down the sense of any incumbent evils; this will beget such hope in God, and so good assurance of his favour, as will supply the want of all other things, and fully satisfy us, that we have no cause to be troubled with any thing here; he that by conscientious practice hath obtained such a hope, is prepared against all assaults of fortune with an undaunted mind and force impregnable; He will, Ps. cxii. as the Psalmist saith, not be afraid of any evil tidings, for his heart is fixed, trusting in the Lord. Maintaining this will free us from all anxious care, transferring it upon God; it will breed a sure confidence, that he will ever be ready to supply us with all things convenient, to protect and deliver us from all things hurtful; ensuring to us the effect of that promise, by the conscience of having performed the condition thereof: Seek ye first the kingdom of God Matt.vi. 33. and its righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.
This was that which supported the apostles and kept them cheerful under all that heavy load of distresses which lay upon them; Our rejoicing is this, 1 Cor. i. 12. could they say, the testimony of our conscience, that 16. in simplicity and godly sincerity-we have had our 1. xxiv. 16. conversation in this world.
I Pet. iii.
It is the want of this best pleasure, that both rendereth the absence of all other pleasures grievous, and their presence insipid: had we a good conscience, we could not seem to want comfort; as we could not truly be unhappy, so we could hardly be discontent; without it, no affluence of other things can suffice to content us. It is an evil conscience that giveth an edge to all other evils, and enableth them sorely to
SERM. afflict us, which otherwise would but slightly touch XLI. us; we become thence uncapable of comfort, seeing
not only things here upon earth to cross us, but heaven to lower upon us; finding no visible succour, and having no hope from the power invisible; yea having reason to be discouraged with the fear of God's displeasure. As he that hath a powerful enemy near cannot abide in peace, without anxious suspicion and fear; so he that is at variance with the Almighty, who is ever at hand, ready to cross and punish him, what quiet of mind can he enjoy? There is no peace to the wicked.
2. The contemplation of our future state is a sovereign medicine to work contentedness and to cure
Ep. 201. (ad Theclam.)
I Thess. iv. discontent: as discontent easily doth seize upon, and Vid. Naz. cleaveth fast to souls, which earnestly do pore and dote upon these present things, which have in them nothing satisfactory or stable; so if we can raise our minds firmly to believe, seriously to consider, and worthily to prize the future state and its concernments, we can hardly ever be discontent in regard to these things. Considering heaven and its happiness, how low and mean, how sordid and vile, how unworthy of our care and our affection, will these 2 Cor. vii. inferior things appear! how very unconcerned shall
we see ourselves to be in them, and how easily thence shall we be content to want them! What, shall any of us be then ready to say, doth it concern me in what rank or garb I pass my few days here? what considerable interest can I have in this uncertain and transitory state? what is any loss, any disgrace, any cross in this world to me, who am a citizen of heaven, who have a capacity and hope of the immense riches, the incorruptible glories, the perfect
16. &c. v.
and endless joys of eternity? This was that which SERM. sustained the holy apostles in all their distresses; For XLI. this cause, saith St. Paul, we faint not-while we look Cor. iv. not on the things which are seen, but on the things 7. which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal: and, I reckon, saith he again, that the suf. Rom. viii. ferings of this present life are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.
If likewise we do with faith and seriousness consider the dismal state below of those, who are eternally secluded from all joy and bliss, who are irrecoverably condemned to utter darkness and the extremity of horrible pain, how tolerable, how pleasant, how very happy will the meanest state here appear to be! how vain a thing will it then seem to us to be, to dislike, or to be troubled with any worldly thing; to account any chance happening to us to be sad or disastrous! What, shall we say then, each of us, is this same loss to the loss of my soul and all its comforts for ever? what is this want to the perpetual want of heavenly bliss? what is this short and faint pain to the cruel pangs of endless remorse, to the weeping and gnashing of teeth in outward darkness, to everlasting burnings?
Thus infinitely silly and petty must all concernments of this life appear to him, who is possessed with the belief and consideration of matters relating to the future state; whence discontent, in regard to them, can hardly find access to his mind.
3. Constant devotion is an excellent instrument and guard of content, an excellent remedy and fence against discontent.
It is such in way of impetration, procuring the
SERM. removal or alleviation of our crosses: for God hath
6. cvii. 6.
Psal. cxlv. him in truth; he will fulfil the desire of them that Jam. iv. 8. fear him; he also will hear their cry, and will save Psal.xxx them. The poor man crieth, and the Lord heareth him, and saveth him out of all his troubles; the holy scripture is full of such declarations and promises, assuring us of succour from our distresses upon our supplication to God; whence St. Paul thus Phil. iv. 7. adviseth against all solicitude: Be careful for no16. lxxxvi. thing, but in every thing by prayer and supplicaI, 4, 17. 2 tion with thanksgiving let your request be made known to God: and (addeth, signifying the consequence of this practice) the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Jesus Christ.
It likewise performeth the same by procuring grace and aid from God, which may enable and dispose us to bear all evils well, which is really much better than a removal of them; for that hence they become wholesome and profitable to us, and causes of present good, and grounds of future reward: thus 2 Cor.xii. 9. when St. Paul besought God for deliverance from 1 Cor. x.13. his thorn in the flesh, the return to him was; My grace is sufficient for thee; for my strength is made perfect in weakness: it was a greater favour to receive an improvement of spiritual strength, occasioned by that cross, than to be quite freed from it.
Devotion also hath immediately of itself a special efficacy to produce content. As in any distress it is a great consolation, that we can have recourse to a good friend, that we may discharge our cares and
our resentments into his bosom; that we may de- SERM. mand advice from him, and, if need be, request XLI. his succour; so much more it must be a great comfort, that we can in our need approach to God, who is infinitely the most faithful, the most affectionate, the most sufficient friend that can be; always most ready, most willing, most able to direct and to relieve us: he desires and delights, that in the day of Psal.lxxvii. our trouble we should seek him; that we should. xxvii. 8. pour forth our hearts before him; that we should 1 Sam.i.15. cast our burdens and our cares upon him; that we 1 Pet. v. 7. should, upon all occasions, implore his guidance and xxvii. 11. aid: and complying with his desires, as we shall xliii. 3. assuredly find a successful event of our devotions, so exliii. 10. we shall immediately enjoy great comfort and plea-Jer. xxxi. 9. sure in them.
cv. 4. lxii. 8.
Psal. v. 8.
The God of all consolation doth especially by this channel convey his comforts into our hearts; his very presence (that presence, in which the Psalmist saith there is fulness of joy) doth mightily warm Ps. xvi. 11. and cheer us; his Holy Spirit doth, in our religious intercourse with him, insinuate a lightsome serenity of mind, doth kindle sweet and kindly affections, doth scatter. the gloomy clouds of sadness; practising it, we shall be able to say with the Psalmist, In the Ps. xciv. 19. multitude of my thoughts within me thy comforts delight my soul.
Humbly addressing ourselves to God, and reverently conversing with him, doth compose our minds and charm our passions, doth sweeten our humour, doth refresh and raise our spirits, and so doth immediately breed and nourish contentedness.
It also strengtheneth our faith, and quickeneth our hope in God, whereby we are enabled to support Isa. xxvi. 3.
BARROW, VOL. II.