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seem to cocker us, we are extremely ingrateful and SERM. disengenuous toward him. If any great person here should freely bestow on us gifts of huge value, (high preferment or much wealth,) but with good reason, as we might presume, should withhold from us some trifle, that we fancy or dote on, should we not be very unworthy, if we should take it ill and be angry with him for that cause? The case is plainly the same: God hath in the frankest manner bestowed on us innumerable and inestimable goods, in comparison whereto any comfort or convenience of our state here is very trivial and despicable: are we not therefore very ingrateful, if we heinously resent the want of any such things; if, upon any such account, we disgust his providence? Do we not deal, beyond all expression, unworthily with God, in so much undervaluing the goods which he hath given us, or doth offer us, and hath put in our reach? He hath made us capable of the greatest goods imaginable, and faithfully upon easy terms proffereth them to us; he even tendereth himself (himself, the immense and all-comprehending good, the fountain of all joy and bliss) to be fully enjoyed by us: his wisdom he offereth, to instruct and guide us; his power, to protect and guard us; his fulness, to supply us; his goodness, to comfort us; he offereth his love and favour to us, in having which we virtually and in effect have all things; becoming thereby, in the highest degree, rich and honourable and happy: and is it not then outrageous unworthiness to prize any other thing (any petty accommodation of this transitory life, any pitiful toy here) so much, as to be displeased for the want thereof; as if all this were not enough to satisfy our needs, or satiate our desires;
SERM. as if, notwithstanding all these immense effusions XXXVIII. (yea as it were profusions) of bounty upon us, we Job ii. 10. could be indigent or unhappy? Shall we, to use that holy and most ingenuous consideration of Job, receive so much good from the bountiful hand of God, and shall we not contentedly receive or bear so small evils from him? Evils indeed in name and to gross sense, but not so in reality, not so in effect, at least not so in God's designd; but rather things very convenient and profitable for us; which is another aggravation of our ingratitude; for
Are we not also very ingrateful in misapprehending and disliking that, which God doeth out of very gracious intentions toward us; in loathing his fatherly and friendly dispensations; the fatherly chastisements and friendly disciplines, which he unwillingly is forced (is, I say, forced by his own great love and by our pressing needs) to inflict or impose Prov.iii.11. upon use? Surely our ill opinion of, or despising, as the Wise Man calleth it, these unpleasant blessings is no small fault; neither will our not discerning (out of affected dulness and stupid pravity not discerning) the wisdom of God's methods, and the wholesomeness of the means he useth to better us, excuse us from foul ingratitude.
3. Again, upon many accounts, reason further dictateth in respect to God, that we should be content: because it is most reasonable to acquiesce in Tai-God's choice of our state, he being infinitely more ¿yaðάi. Wise than we, and infinitely better understanding
Εὔχετο πρὸς τοὺς θεοὺς ἁπλῶ; τἀγαdiva,
ὡς τοὺς θεοὺς
ὁ Εὐχαριστῶ σοι πάτερ, ὦ ποιητὰ τῶν σῶν ἀνθρώπων--ὅτι ἄκοντας ἡμᾶς Tae, &c. said Philagrius in a grievous disease. Naz. Ep. 66. e Ἐπειδὰν τὸ μὴ πάσχειν οὐκ ἔχω, τοῦτό γε τῷ πάσχειν παρακερδαίνω, τὸ φέρειν, καὶ τὸ εὐχαριστεῖν. Naz. de Se. Ep. 63.
what is good for us than we can do; because he is SERM. well affected to us, and more truly loveth us than we do ourselves; because he hath a just right, and illis homo irresistible power to dispose of us, the which (what- quam sibi. ever we can do, however we resent it) he will effectually make use of; whence it is extremely foolish to be discontent: foolish it is to be dissatisfied with the results of his wisdom, adhering to our vain apprehensions; foolish to distrust his goodness in compliance with our fond self-love; foolish to contest his unquestionable right and uncontrollable power, having nothing but mere impotency to oppose against them; no less than downright madness it is to fret 'Ev and fume at that which we can nowise help, to bark, Eπλαίης, αν εύεται. at that which lodgeth in heaven so far high above us, Philem. to solicit deaf necessity with our ineffectual wailings; for if we think that our displeasure will affect God, that our complaints will incline him to alter our condition or comply with our wishes, we do conceit vainly, and without any ground; sooner may we, by our imagination, stop the tides of the sea, or turn the streams of rivers backward; sooner, by our où yde S πρήξις πέcries, may we stay the sun, and change all the çãło you. courses of the stars, than by our passionate resentments or moanful clamours we can check the cur-ù d'x' δ ̓ ἀνάγκῃ, καὶ rent of affairs, or alter that state of things which is on μάχου. by God's high decree established: discontented be- Eurip. haviour will rather fasten our condition, or remove it into a worse place; as it highly doth offend God, and increaseth our guilt, so it moveth God to continue, and to augment our evils. Thus lifting up our eyes to heaven, and considering the reference our disposition and demeanour hath to God, will induce us to bear our case contentedly.
II. Again, reflecting upon ourselves, we may observe much reason to be content with our state; in whatever capacity we look upon ourselves, it in reason becometh us, we in duty are obliged to be so.
As men and creatures, we naturally are indigent and impotent; we have no just claim to any thing, nor any possession maintainable by our power; all that we have, or can have, cometh from most pure courtesy and bounty; wherefore how little soever is allowed us, we have no wrong done us, nor can we justly complain thereat: such beggars as we are must not pretend to be choosers; if any thing be given us, we may be glad, we should be thankful. It is for those who have a right and a power to maintain it to resent and expostulate, if their due be withheld but for us, that never had any thing which we could call our own; that have no power to get or keep any thing; for us, that came into the world naked and defenceless, that live here in continual, absolute, and arbitrary dependance for all our livelihood and subsistence; to contest with him that maintaineth us, or to complain of his dealing, is ridiculously absurd and vain.
Upon a moral account we have less reason to challenge ought, or to complain of any thing; for we deserve nothing but evil: if we rightly esteem and value ourselves, any thing will seem good enough for us, any condition will appear better than we deserve: duly examining the imperfections and infirmities of our nature, the disorder and depravedness of our hearts, the demeanours and enormities of our lives, we cannot but apprehend that we are even Matt. xv. unworthy of the crumbs which fall from our Mas
ter's table; we cannot but acknowledge with the
good patriarch, that we are less than the least of SERM. God's mercies. Considering our natural unworthiness, we shall see that we deserve not so much as those common benefits which all men enjoy, and without which we cannot subsist; so that, in regard to them, we shall be ready to acknowledge with the Psalmist, Lord, what is man, that thou takest know- Ps. cxliv. 3. ledge of him; or the son of man, that thou makest Job vii. 27. account of him! Trying our hearts, and examining our ways, we shall soon discover it to be abundant mercy, that we are not utterly deprived of all good things, stript of all comforts, yea, dispossessed of our very being and life itself; that we are obliged to acknowledge, with those in the Lamentations, It is of Lam.iii.22. the Lord's mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. Were we far better than we are, yet it would not become us to contest with him, to whose disposal and judgment we are subject; as Job teacheth us: Behold, saith he, God Job ix. 12, taketh away, who can hinder him? who will say unto him, What doest thou? If he will not withdraw his anger the proud helpers do stoop under * Kúrn. him. How much less shall I answer him, and choose out my words to reason with him? Whom, though I were righteous, I would not answer, but I would (Job ix. 32) make supplication to my Judge: but for us, men so unrighteous and guilty, to debate with, to question the proceedings of our Judge, it is much more unseemly.
Nothing can be more absurd, than for men so deeply indebted, than for sinners so very obnoxious to wrath, to be aggrieved in any state: shall we, who are conscious to ourselves of so many great sins against our God; who, by wilful transgressions or slothful neglects, have so much affronted and offend