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SERM. is the word of the Lord, which thou hast spoken ; so even the pagan sage discerned, when he thus rebuked a malecontent; You slave, do you forsooth desire any thing, but what is best? and is not that only best, which seemeth best to Gode?
3. We should even be satisfied in our mind, that, according to God's purpose, all events do tend and conduce to our particular welfare; being not only good to us as members of the world, and in order to more general ends, but serving towards our private benefit and advantage. We may be ready perhaps to confess, that whatever happeneth may be indeed just and fit in some distant and occult respects; but hardly can we be induced to allow, that what we feel offensive to our sense and fancy is really good for us, or was meant for our benefit; we cannot easily discern any thing of love or favour in such matters: Job v. 17. those sort of aphorisms, in holy scripture, Happy is the man whom God correcteth; As many as I love, Prov.iii.12. I rebuke and chasten; sound strangely, and are
James i. 12.
huge paradoxes to us; such is our blindness of mind,
c ̓Ανδράποδον, ἄλλο γὰρ θέλεις, ἢ τὸ ἄμεινον; ἄλλὸ οὖν τι ἄμεινον, ἢ τὸ θεῷ δοκοῦν; Arr. xi. 7.
take the saddest accidents and sharpest afflictions, SERM. coming upon us by Providence, to be no other than fatherly corrections, or friendly rebukes, designed to render us good and happy; as arguments therefore and instances of especial good-will toward us; conceiving under every dispensation that we do, as it were, hear God speaking to us, as he did to those in the prophet; I know the thoughts, that I think to- Jer. xxix. ward you, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.
Ps. cxlv. 9.
4. Hence we are to believe, that our present condition (whatever it be to carnal or worldly sense) is in right judgment, all things considered, the best; most proper, most desirable for us; better than we, if it were at our discretion and choice, should put ourselves into for that God (the Saviour of all men, 1 Tim. ii. 4. who desireth that no man should perish; who is xxxiii. 11. good to all, and whose tender mercies are over all2 Pet. iii.9. his works; who exceedingly tendereth the welfare of his children and subjects) doth ever (here in this life, the time of merit and trial) with a most wise goodwill design our best good; and by the most proper methods (such as do best suit our circumstances and capacities) doth aim to draw us unto happiness; and accordingly doth assign a station for us most befitting in order to that great end: we therefore should think ourselves well placed, because we are where God doth set us; that we have enough, because we have what God allotteth us.
There are other more particular judgments, which contentedness involveth, or which are required toward it; such as these that nothing originally is due to us, but all cometh purely from divine favour and bounty; that all adversities are justly and de
SERM. servedly inflicted on us, as the due wages, or natural fruits of our sins; that our happiness dependeth not on any present enjoyments or possessions, but may well subsist without them; that a competency (or so much as sufficeth to maintain our life without intolerable pain) ought to satisfy our desires: but these and the like judgments will come opportunely to be considered as motives to the practice of the duty.
(2.) From such acts of our mind, or intellective part, concerning things incident to us, should proceed the following dispositions of will and affection.
1. We should entertain all occurrences, how grievous soever to us, with entire submission, and resignation of our will to the will of God; wholly acqui
escing in his good pleasure; saying in our hearts
Luke xxii. after our Lord, Let not my will, but thine be done;
2 Sam. xv. 26.
1 Sam. iii. with good Eli, It is the Lord, let him do what seemeth him good; with David, Behold here I am, let him do to me as seemeth good to him; even with Socrates, If so it pleaseth God, so let it be; with Epictetus, I always chiefly will that which cometh to pass; for I account that better which God willeth, than what I will myself; I will adhere as a minister and follower to him, I pursue, I affect, I simply will with him: looking upon them as sent from God, we should heartily bid them welcome, we should kindly embrace them, we should use them M. Anton. with all fair respect: άonášeobαι тà ovμßaiverra, (to hug,
3. 4. 2. 17.
10. 11. 12. or kindly to embrace things incident,) piλeñv тà àño
veμóueva, (to love things dispensed by Providence,)
· Εἰ ταύτῃ θεοῖς φίλον, ταύτῃ γενέσθω.
4'Αεὶ μᾶλλον θέλω τὸ γινόμενον· κρεῖττον γὰρ ἡγοῦμαι, ὃ ὁ Θεὸς θέλει, ἢ ἐγώ· προσκείσομαι διάκονος καὶ ἀκόλουθος ἐκείνῳ, συνορμῶ, ὀρέγομαι, ἁπλῶς συνθέλω. Arr. iii. 7.
are precepts, which even as dictated by natural reason SER M. philosophers do much inculcate.
This excludeth all rebellious insurrection, and swellings of mind against Providence, such as argue that we dislike God's government; that, were we able, we should struggle with God's will; that we gladly would shake off his yoke; all such ill resentment and repining at our lot, which maketh God's hand grievous, and his yoke uneasy to us; such affections as the Wise Man toucheth, when he saith, The foolish- Prov.xix. 3. ness of man perverteth his way, and his heart fretteth against the Lord.
2. We should bear all things with steady calmness and composedness of mind, suppressing or quelling those tumults, those storms, those excesses of passion, which the sense of things disgustful is apt to excite; such as are immoderate grief, fierce anger, Let no man irksome despair, and the like. No adversity should by these afso ruffle our minds, as to defeat or pervert the use of undiva suiνεσθαι (i. e. our reason, so as to hinder us from perceiving or a performing what becometh us, so as to engage us into any irregular or unseemly behaviour.
3. We should indeed bear the worst events with an evbuuía, that is, with a sweet and cheerful disposition of mind, so as not to be put out of humour; not to be dejected or quite discouraged by theme, not to fall into that heaviness, which, as the Wise Prov. xii. Man saith, maketh the heart of man to stoop; but rather finding delight and complacence in them, as considering whence they come, whither they aim and tend: such was the disposition and demeanour of the apostles and primitive good Christians in the midst of their most grievous adversities and suffer
ε Ἡ κατὰ κόσμον λύπη θάνατον κατεργάζεται. 2 Cor. vii. 10.
Heb. x. 34.
SERM. ings; they rejoiced, &c. they did take joyfully the XXXVII. spoiling of their goods, they did account it all joy Acts v. 41. when they fell into divers tribulations: they were, James i. 2. ὡς λυπούμενοι, ἀεὶ δὲ χαίροντες, as grieved, but always rejoicing; their state was grievous, but their heart was constantly cheerful. Such a constant frame of mind we should maintain, so continually prepared we should be against all contingencies, that nothing should happen amiss to us, so as deeply to affect us, or to unsettle us in our humour; that every thing from God's hand should be acceptable; that no sadness may seize on us, at least that we do not indulge or cherish it; that in nowise we suffer any regret to quench that spiritual comfort and joy in God, which
Psal. xxxiii. becometh the upright, as the Psalmist saith, and
1. xcvii. 12.
Phil. iv. 4. which we are so often enjoined perpetually to main
1 Pet. iv.
2 Cor. xiii. tain, as in all cases, so particularly under afflictions and trials. We cannot indeed hardly be content, if we are not cheerful; for it is hard to be altogether on the suffering and bearing hand, without any pleasure the mind can hardly stand in a poise, so as neither to sorrow or joy; we cannot digest adversity, if we do not relish it; we shall not submit to it as his will, if we do not take it for an argument of his 2 Cor. xii. love: evdoк, I, saith St. Paul, have a liking or pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.
4. We should with faith and hope rely and wait on God for the removal or easement of our afflictions; or, however, we should confide in him for
· Εὐδοκῶ ἐν ἀσθενείαις, ἐν ὕβρεσιν, ἐν ἀνάγκαις, ἐν στενοχωρίαις ὑπὲρ Χριστοῦ. 2 Cor. xii. 1o.
Εἰς πᾶσαν ὑπομονὴν, καὶ μακροθυμίαν μετὰ χαρᾶς. Col. i. nr.