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and choose the causes, but loathe, and cannot abide the cer- SERM. tain consequences; fo fond in our conceits, so perverse are

XXXVIII. we in our affections: Wherefore doth the living man com- Lam.iii. 39. plain, for the punishment of his fins ? so well might the Prophet demand and expoftulate.

We may farther, looking on ourselves, consider ourselves as fervants to God, or rather as llaves, absolutely subject to his disposal; and shall any servant, shall a mere Nave presume to choose his place, or determine his rank in the family? Shall he appoint to himself what office he will discharge, what garb he shall go in, what diet he must have; what he will do, and how he shall be accommodated ? Is it not fit that all these things should be left to our Master's discretion and pleasure? It is most reasonable that we should thoroughly acquiesce in his determination : even a Pagan philosopher could teach us, that this is reasonable; who thus piously directeth his speech to God: For the rest use me to what thou pleasest. I do .confent unto thee, and am indifferent. I refuse nothing which seemeth good to thee. Lead me whither thou wilt ; put on me what garment thou pleasest. Wilt thou have me to be a governor or a private man, to stay at home or to be banished away, to be poor or to be rich? I will, in respect to all these things, apologize for thee with menf; thus did Epictetus say, and such speech well becometh our relation to God : servants should be content with their masters' appointments and allowances; they should not only themselves forbear to find fault with, but be ready to maintain his proceedings against any, who shall presume to reprehend or blame them. Especially such servants as we are, who, after we have done all things commanded us, muft Luke xvii. acknowledge that we are unprofitable servants ; such as can bring no considerable benefit to our Lord, or anywise advance his state ; such as therefore cannot challenge any wages from him, more than he out of niere favour is

10.

Χρώ μοι λοιπόν ως άν θίλης. Ομογνωμονώ σοι, ίσος ειμί. Ουδέν παραιέμαι των σοι δοκόντων. “οπι 9ίλεις άγι, ήν θέλεις εσθήτα σερί9ις. "Αρχειν με θέλεις, ιδιοσεύειν, μένειν, φεύγειν, πίνεσθαι, πλουτεν και εγώ σοι υπέρ πάντων τούτων προς Sous évadzárous áronsyroopas. Arr. ii. 16.

VOL. II.

A a

SERM. pleased to allow : could we by our labours enrich God, XXXVIII. or raise him in dignity, or procure delight to him, it might

seem congruous that he should answerably reward us; but as he getteth nothing by us, so we cannot require any thing from him : our best services do indeed rather need pardon, than deserve any reward: no man hath lived so well, that he can pretend any thing from God, that he is not indeed much behind hand in his accounts with God, having received from God far more of benefit than he can return to him in service: no man, without extreme presumption and arrogance, can offer to prescribe, in what measure, or what manner God should reward him.

Again, if we consider ourselves as the children of God, eit by birth or nature, or by adoption and grace, how can we be discontent for any thing? Have we not thence great reason to hope, or rather to be confident, that we shall never want any good thing, (necessary or convenient for us,) that no great evil shall ever opprefs us? For is not God hence by paternal disposition inclined, is he not in a manner, by paternal duty, engaged, in all needful occasions, to supply and fuccour us? Can we, without great profaneness, and no less folly, surmise, that he, which is so immensely good, will be a bad (an unkind, or a negle&tful) Father to us ? No, as there is no other father in goodness comparable to him, so none, in real effects of

benignity, can come near him ; fo our Lord affureth us : Matt.vii.11. If ye, faith he, being evil, know how to give good things

unto your children ; how much more will our heavenly Father give good things to his children that ask him?

If we consider ourselves as Christians, we have still more reason to practise this duty: as such, we are not only pofsessed of goods abundantly sufficient to satisfy our desires ; we have hopes able to raise our minds above the sense of all present things; we have entertainments that ever may divert our minds, and fill our hearts with comfort: but we

have also an assurance of competent supplies of temporal 1. Tim.iv. 8. goods ; for, Godliness is profitable to all things, having the

promise both of the present life, and of that which is to Matt.vi. 33. come: and, If we seek for the kingdom of heaven, and its

. righteousness, all these things shall be added unto us. It is SERM. indeed strangely unhandsome for a Chriftian ever to droop, XXXVIII. or to be disconfolate; for a friend of God, and an heir of heaven, to think he wants any thing, or fear that he shall ever want; for him, whose treasure and heart are above, to be so concerned with any thing here, as deeply to resent it.

Again, if we reflect upon ourselves as rational men, how for shame can we be discontent? Do we not therein much difparage that excellent perfection of our nature ? Is it not the proper work of reason to prevent things hurtful or offenlive to us, when that may be done; to remove them, if they are removable; if neither of these can be compassed, to allay and mitigate them; so that we may be able well to support them? Is it not its principal use to drive away those fond conceits, and to quell those troublesome passions, which create or foment disquiet and difpleasure to us? If it cannot do this, what doth it signify? To what purpose have we it? Is not our condition really worse than that of brute beasts, if reason ferveth only to descry the causes of trouble, but cannot enable to bear it? All the reasons we have produced, and all that we shall produce against discontent, will, if we are reasonable men, and reason availeth any thing, have this effect upon us.

Wherefore considering ourselves, our capacities, our relations, our actions, it is most reasonable to be content with our condition, and with whatever doth befall us.

SERMON XXXIX. ·

OF CONTENTMENT.

PHIL. iv. II.

I have learned in whatever state, &c. SERM. 11. FARTHER, if we consider our condition, (be it what XXXIX. it will, how poor, how mean, how despicable and forlorn

soever, we can have from it no reasonable ground of difcontent.

1. Our condition in this world cannot, if rightly estimated, and well managed, be extremely bad, or forrowful; nothing here can occur insupportable, or very grievous in itself; we cannot, if we please, want any thing confiderable, and the defect whereof may not be supplied, or supported by far better enjoyments. If we have high opinions of some things, as very excellent, or very needful for us,

it is no wonder if we do want them, that our condition is unpleasant to us; if we take other things for huge evils, then, if they be incumbent on us, we can hardly scape being displeased : but if we thoroughly look through such things, and scan them exactly, valuing them, not according to fallacious impressions of sense, or illusive dreamings of fancy, but according to sound dictates of reason, we may find, that neither absence of the former, nor the presence of the latter doth make our condition much worse, or render our case deplorable.

We are, for instance, poor: that condition, rightly weighed, is not so very sad : for what is poverty? what but the absence of a few superfluous things, which please

Tert. de
Pat. 7.

Arift.

wanton fancy rather than answer need“; without which SERM. nature is easily satisfied, and which if we do not affect, we XXXIX. cannot want? what is it but to wear coarse clothes, to feed on plain and fiinple fare, to work and take some pains, to fit or go in a lower place, to have no heaps of cash, or hoards of grain, to keep no retinue, to have few friends, and not one flatterer? and what great harm in this ? It is a state, Vid. Plut. in which hath its no small conveniences and comforts, its happy fruits and consequences; which freeth us from many cares and distractions, from many troubles and crosses, from many encumbrances, many dangers, many temptations, many fore distempers of body and soul, many grievous mischiefs, to which wealth is exposed; which maintaineth health, industry, and fobriety; disposeth us to feed heartily, to move nimbly, to seep sweetly; which preserveth us from luxury, from satiety, from Noth and unwieldiness b. It yieldeth disposition of mind, freedom and leisure to attend the study of truth, the acquist of virtue. It is a state which many have borne with great cheerfulness; many (very wise men) have voluntarily embraced; which is allotted by divine wisdom to most men; and which the best men often do endure; to which God hath declared an especial regard, which the mouth Pfal. x. 14. of truth hath proclaimed happy; which the Son of God \XXV: 10. hath dignified by his choice, and fanctified by his par-lxix. 33.

Ixxii. 4, 13. taking deeply thereof: and can such a condition be very c.1. 12: loathsome? can it reasonably displease us?

Again, thou art, suppose, fallen into disgrace, or from Lukevi. 20. honour and credit art depressed into a state of contempt Jam, ii: 5: and infamy? This also rightly prized is no such wretchedness ; for what doth this import? what, but a change of opinion in giddy men, which thou dost not feel, which thou art not concerned in, if thou pleasest; which thou

Ixviii. 10.

cxlvi. 7. cxlvii. 2.

Jfa. lxvi. 2.

• Τα δ αργυρώματ' έστιν ήτο πορφύρα

Είς τους τραγωδούς χρήσιμ' ουκ εις τον βίον. Socrat. "Si vis vacare animo, aut pauper sis oportet, aut pauperi fimilis.

Multis ad philofophandum obftitere divitiæ; paupertas expedita eft, fecura eft. Sen. Ep. 17. Sæpius pauper & fidelius ridet. Sen. Ep. 60.

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