Page images
PDF
EPUB

of the eye.

mat render us uneasy in the least. There is required a full contenerent, without a discontented glance

Much goes to the making up of it, all here required.

1. Hcarty renunciation of our own will, saying with the pattern of contentment, Not my will, but thine be done. We must no more be chusers for ourselves of our own lot; but as little children standing at the table, not to carve for themselves, but to take the bit that is given them. He shall chuse our inheritance for us, says the pfalmilt, Pfal. xlvii. 4. Shall not infinite wisdom rule the world? This lies in three things.

(1.) We must not determine the kind or fort of our comforts, as we often do, like petted. children, that will not have this the parent holds out, but that which they set their eye on.

Like Adam, whom the fruit of the tree of life could not ferve, but he would have the forbidden fruit. The de fire of fruit was natural, therefore not evil : other fruit would have served that delire if kept orderly; but the lufting desire could not want forbidden fruit, "Rachel had a husband, but she must have children too, Orpah must have a husband, Ruth wants both; but fhé determines nothing, but only she must have a God; and that she got, and both too,

(2.) We must not be positive as to the measure of our comforts, and there is no reason that beggars should be chufers. If the heart say of our comforts, They are too little, and of afilictions, they are too great, it flies in the face of this command, and of God's sovereignty, setting up for independency, 1 Tim. vi. 8. Having food and raiment, let us be therewith content, though the food be coarse, though scanty, doc. Nature is content with little, grace with less, and sets no measure; but the measure of luft can never be filled.

(3.) We must not be wilful in any thing, 1 Tim, vi. 9. They that will be rich fall into temptation

and a snare, &c. They that will have these things, and will not want them, will never be truly content till God's will be brought down to theirs; which will never be for altogether; and if in a particular it come to be so, they will readily get their will with a vengeance, as the Israelites in the wilderness got. Psal. ixxviii. 29. 30. 31. So they did eat, and were weli filled: for he gave them their own desire ; they were not estranged from their lust: but while their meat was yet in their mouths, the wrath of God came upon them, and few the fattest of them, and fmote down the chosen men of Israel. Thus we must renounce our own will.

2. Absolute resignation to the will of the Lord, Matth. xvi. 24. If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. We must give over the war betwixt our will and the will of God, and our will must run as a captive af. ter his triumphal chariot. His preceptive will is the rule of our duty; and his providential will must, with our consent, be the rule of our condition. Our will must follow his, as the shadow does the body without gainsaying. If he will let us have a created comfort, we must be content to keep it ; if not, we must be content to part with it. We must lie at the foot of providence, as a ball before him that tofses it, to be thrown up and cast down as our God fees meet. This providence will do with us whether we be willing or not; but if we are thus refigned, then our necessity is our obedience.

3. Entire submission to the will of God, 1 Sam. iii. 18. It is the. Lord : let him do what seemeth bim good. As they resign themselves to his difposal, they must stand to his decision, in the case. We must no more dispute the fovereignty with God, but allow the divine will and pleasure to carry it over the belly of our corrupt inclinations, and be disposed of by him as the weaned child is by the nurie. If that which is crooked cannot be made

straight, we must ply to it as it is ; if our lot be not brought up to our mind, we must bring down our mind to our lot, as Paul did, Phil. iv. 11. 12. Not that I speak in respect of want : for I have learned in whatsoever ftate I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to ebound : every where, and in all things I am instructed, both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to Suffer' need. In this subinillion to the will of the Lord the soul of content lies. For God does not subject the man only, or cast him down, as he can do the most discontented person, making him walk with the yoke wreathed about his neck, whether he will or net. But the man voluntarily submits himself to God's disposal in the whole of his condition, whatever his wants be. Whatever be wanting in our condition, if we would be content,

ist, We must submit to them as just, without coinplaining, as Cain did; saying with the prophet, Midah vïi9. I will bear the indignation of the Lord, because I have finned against bim, until he plead my cause, and execute judgement for me : he will bring me forth to the light, and I fall behold bis righteoulness

. We meet with no hardships in our lot, but what we have procured to ourselves. And it is but just that we kiss the rod, and be lilent under it. Let us complain of ourfelves, why not? only leave our complaints there; but not set our mouths against the heavens; no not in our hearts, for God knows the language of our hearts as well as our mouths. We must love his holiness and justice, in all the works thereof, though against ourfelves, Nay more,

2dly, We must be quiet under them, without murmuring, as tolerable, Lam. iii. 27. 28. 29. It is good for a man that he bear the yoke in his youth. He fitteth alone and keepeth filence, because he hath borne it upon him. He pulteth his mouth in the dus!, if so be there may be liope. So was Job at first, thus

his corrption got up at length, Job i. 22. In all this fob finned not, nor charged God foolishly. How of. ten do we cry out of insufferable affliction? yet we do bear up under it for all that, and would bear the better if we could be content and quiet under it. A meek and quiet spirit makes a light cross, for a proud unsubdued spirit_lays a great over. weight upon every cross; as Rachel's unquict fpirit made the want of children wonderfully heavy, which others go very quietly and contentedly un. der. Nay more,

zdly, We must be easy without those things we want, as things we can want, without anxiety to get them, Phil. iv. 12. Weaned hearts will be very easy without those things which others cannot digest the want of. What is the reason of so much unealiness in our condition, but that we are wcdded to this and i he other thing; and being exceeding glad of the having of it, we are exceeding uneafy at the parting with it,, as Jonah was with his gourd ? The contented man will be easy, and that not upon a sensible prospect, but on the faith of the promise, Phil. iv. 6. Be careful for nothing : but in every thing, by prayer, and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God. But more than that,

4thly, We must be well satisfied, and bear up comfortably under the want of them; ftanding upright when they are gone, as we did when we had them, or would do if we had them ; even as the house stands when the prop that it did lean upon is taken away, Hab. iii. 17. 18. Althgugh the figtree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines, the labour of the olive mall fail, and the fields shall gield no meat, the flock' Mall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the falls : yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation. it is a fad evidence of the corruption of our nature, that wofül lust after the creature that is bred and born with us; that our comfort waxeth and

cency in it.

taneth according to the waxing and waning of created enjoyments, and ebbs and flows as the breasts of the creature are full or empty. So, many lose all spirit and life in religion, when God pulls their worldly comforts from them; and even good people walk much discouraged and damped, not fo much with the sense of God's anger, as the affliction in their lot. But what is yet more,

Sthly, We must have a complacency in our condition, as what is good for us, otherwise we can have no full content. Observe the language of a contented mind, not only Just, but Good is the will of the Lord, Il. xxxix. ult. Content fuffers not a person to go drooping under God's yoke, but makes him carry it evenly with a sort of compla

Wise men have a pleasure in the working of physic, though it gripe them fore, if their phylician thinks it good for their health, and they think fo too. And grace fometimes finds a pleasure in pain, and a paradise within the thorny thicket of afflictions. See how the apostle gathered olive-berries off the thorn-hedge of crosses, - Cor. xii. 10. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecution, in distresses for Christ's fake : for when I am weak, them am I strong, Ay there is a refined pleasure there, to see how God stops the entry for provision, that lufts

may

be staived; how he cuts off the by.channels, that the whole stream of love inay run towards himself; how he pulls and holds off the man's burden, that he may run the more expeditely in the way to heaven, Nay more than all that,

ótbly, We must have a complacency in our condition, as that which is best for us for the time. Though he take health from thee, wealth, relations, &c. How is that possible. It is not easy to do it, but you must endeavour to see it ; for that must be belt that God judges beft, and by the event it appears that God fees that condition best for thee for the

« PreviousContinue »