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SERM. ordering; according to that most comfortable precept of our Lord, Take no care, saying, What shall Matt.vi.31.we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, How shall we be clothed? for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye want all these things. If we do not thus, it is hardly possible that we should be content; if we do not depend upon Providence, we cannot scape being often distracted with care, and perplexed with fear; we cannot cheerfully hope for any thing we need, nor be quietly secure of any thing we possess.
10. It requireth also that we should curb our desires, and confine them in the narrowest bounds we can; so as not to affect more in quantity, or better in quality, than our nature and state do require: if we must have superfluities, if we can only relish dainties, we shall never be pleased; for as nature hath limits, and is content with little; as there is no state in this world, the exigencies whereof may not be answered with a competence; so curiosity is an Prov. xxii. infinite and insatiable thing: He that loveth pleasure shall be a poor man; he that loveth wine and oil shall not be rich; that is, he which is curious and nice in his desires will never have enough': the rule, which, according to St. Paul, should regulate 1 Tim. vi. 8. our desires, is this; Having food and raiment, let us with them be satisfied: if this will satisfy us, we may easily obtain satisfaction: a moderate industry, with God's blessing, will procure so much; God hath
h Ἥδιστα πολυτελείας ἀπολαύουσιν οἱ ἥκιστα ταύτης δεόμενοι. Epic. ad Menæc.
Ventre nihil novi frugalius. Juv. Sat. v. 6.
' Αἱ κατὰ φύσιν ὀρέξεις αὐταρκείᾳ περιορίζεται. Cl. Alex. Pad. ii. * Si ad naturam vives nunquam eris pauper; si ad opinionem, nunquam dives. Epic. Sen. Ep. 16.
promised to bestow it; if this will not suffice, there is SERM. no sure way of getting or keeping more: as God is nowise obliged to provide us superfluities, or concerned to relieve our extravagant longings; so we may fear that Providence will be ready to cross us in our cares and endeavours tending to those purposes; so that we shall be disappointed in the procurement, or disturbed in the fruition of such needless things. However, he that is most scant in his desires, is likely to be most content in his mind: He, as Socrates said, is oxitwv δεόμενος, ἔγε nearest the gods (who need nothing) that needeth fewest things.
γιατα θεῶν. Socr.in Xe noph. A
In fine, contentedness doth import, that, whatever pomu. iii. our condition is, our minds and affections should be modelled and squared just according to it; so that our inclinations be compliant, our desires be congruous thereto; so that easily we can comport with the inconveniences, can relish the comforts, can improve the advantages sticking thereto; otherwise, like an ill-made garment, it will sit unhandsome upon us, and be troublesome to us. It is not usually our condition itself, but the unsuitableness thereof to our disposition and desires, (which soureth all its sweets, and rendereth its advantages fruitless,) that createth discontent; for, although it be very mean, others bear the same cheerfully; many would be glad thereof: if therefore we will be content, we must bend our inclinations, and adapt our desires to a correspondence with our state.
If we are rich, we should get a large and bountiful heart, otherwise our wealth will hang loose about us; the care and trouble in keeping it, the suspicion and fear of losing it, the desire of amplifying it, the unwillingness to spend or use it, will bereave us of
SERM. all true satisfaction therein, and render it no less unsavoury to us, than unprofitable to others.
If we are poor, we should have a frugal, provident, industrious mind, sparing in desires, free from curiosity, willing to take pains, able to digest hardships; otherwise the straitness of our condition will pinch and gall us.
Are we high in dignity or reputation? we then need a mind well ballasted with sober thoughts, otherwise the wind of vanity will drive us into absurd behaviours, thence will dash us upon disappointments, and consequently will plunge us into vexation and discontent.
Are we mean and low? we need a meek and lowly, a calm and steady spirit; not affecting little respects, or resenting the want of them; apt to pass over or to bear quietly petty affronts and neglects; not apt to be moved by words signifying contempt or disdain ; else (being fretted with such things, which in this ill-natured and hard-hearted world we may be sure often to meet with) we shall be uneasy in our minds, and impatiently wish a change of our state.
These and the like dispositions and affections of soul this duty containeth or requireth: from hence should arise a correspondent external demeanour, and such actions as these which follow:
1. We should restrain our tongues from all unseemly and unsavoury expressions, implying dissatisfaction in God's proceedings, or displeasure at his providence; arguing desperation or distrust in God; such as were those of the discontented and impatient Ps. lxxviii. Israelites; They, saith the Psalmist, spake against
Num. xxi. God; they said, Can God furnish a table in the wilderness? Behold, he smote the rock, that the
waters gushed out, and the streams overflowed; can SERM. he give bread also, can he provide flesh for his people? Such as they used, of whom the prophet saith, When they shall be hungry, they will fret Isa. iii. 21. themselves, and curse their King and their God; as those in the Apocalypse, who, being afflicted with deserved judgments, did blaspheme the name of God, Rev. xvi. 9, which had power over those plagues-blasphemed "1, 2 the God of heaven, because of their pains and their sores. Into such profane enormities of language is discontent apt to break forth, questioning the power of God, or his willingness to succour us; venting wrath and displeasure toward him; charging him foolishly with injustice, or with unkindness, or with negligence, or with impotency; the abstaining from which behaviour, under the sense of his bitter calamities, is a great commendation of Job; In all this, it is said, Job sinned not, neither charged God foolishly'.
2. We should indeed forbear any the least complaint or murmuring, in regard to the dispensations of Providence; or upon dissatisfaction in the state allotted us: St. Jude saith, that God in the last day will come, to execute judgment, and to convince men Jude 15,16. of all their hard speeches, which ungodly sinners have spoken against him: these, subjoineth he, are yoyYvoτai μeμlíμopos, murmurers, that complain of their lot; which signifieth the heinousness and extreme dangerousness of this practice. Wherefore Lam.iii. 39. doth the living man complain? is the prophet's question, implying it to be an unreasonable and blameable practice. Wherefore the advice of David is good; to
I Job i. 22. Οὐκ ἔδωκεν ἀφροσύνην τῷ Θεῷ.
10. iv. 4.
SERM. suppress all complaint, to be still and silent in such XXXVII. cases: Be still, saith he, and know that I am God; Psal. xlvi. and, Be silent to the Lord; the which precepts his practice may seem well to interpret and back; I was, saith he, dumb; I opened not my mouth, because it was thy doing: and accordingly Job, Job x1.4. Behold, (said he, after having considered all the reasons he could imagine of God's proceedings,) I am vile; what shall I answer thee? I will lay my hand upon my mouth. And thus our Saviour, when Isa. liii. 7. he was oppressed and afflicted, opened not his
3. Yea it is our duty, in these cases, to spend our breath in declaring our satisfaction in God's dealing with us"; acknowledging his wisdom, justice, and goodness therein; blessing and praising him for all that hath befallen us; each of us confessing after Psal. cxix. David, I know, O Lord, that thy judgments are right, and that thou in faithfulness hast afflicted me; imitating Job, who, upon the loss of all his Job i. 21. goods, did say no more than this; The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.
4. We should abstain from all irregular, unlawful, and unworthy courses toward the removal or remedy of our needs or crosses, choosing rather to abide quietly under their pressure, than by any unwarrantable means to relieve or relax ourselves;
rather bearing patiently than violently, like those Jer. v. 5. in the prophet, breaking our yoke, and bursting
Πάσχειν ἄλγεα πολλὰ βίας ὑποδέγμενος ἀνδρῶν. Οd. Ε.
n Δόξα τῷ Θεῷ πάντων ἕνεκεν. Οὐ γὰρ παύσομαι τοῦτο ἐπιλέγων ἀεὶ ἐπὶ Tão μa Tois ovμẞaivovai. Chrys. ad Olymp. Ep. 11.