Imatges de pÓgina
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IX.

SERM. pray for, desire, or expect, can come from

God alone, and no other; for his providence governs all things, both in Heaven above, and in earth beneath. Now to be discontented with any state or condition we may be in, is great ingratitude towards God, who, whatever we may want, at least gave us the little we have ; then to murmur because we have not more, is in every way to arraign God's providence, whose wisdom and goodness ought to be a pledge to us, that nothing is withheld but for wise and good purposes ; to exercise perhaps our patience, to prove our faith, to try our constancy; and all these with a view to our future reward and benefit. Lastly, we cannot discontentedly repine at our lot, without running great danger of forfeiting what God may have in store for us, if we do not murmur and repine. It must needs appear reasonable to think, that God will not bestow his best gifts hereafter on those who have despised and abused such gifts, as he has, of his mere mercy, already vouchsafed to them here below. Those who are so presumptuous here as to say,

that

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that God has not given them enough, may SERM. well be excluded from having more, when the Almighty comes to reward his faithful and obedient servants. But, on the contrary, what bounds can be set to the mercies and bounty of God hereafter, to those who shall in this life have submitted without murmuring and repining, to all his statutes and ordinances? With what transcendant riches may he crown the poor man in the world to come, who shall have borne his load of poverty with submission and patience ! With what glorious scenes of joy and happiness may he cheer the wretched and disconsolate, who shall in the midst of their distress here below have looked up to their God alone for succour and relief! What God may have in store for those who rely upon him is only to be described in the words of the Apostle, Eye bath not seen, nor ear beard, 'neither bave entered into the heart of man, the things which God " bas prepared for those that love him.Godliness, then, may well be represented as great gain, for Heaven is full of comforts and reward, for the good, let their

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condition

IX.

SERM. condition here below be what it will; and

this should serve particularly to recommend the virtue of contentment to those most destitute of the good things of this world, for this will be sure to put them, hereafter, upon a footing with the very richest of the sons of men.

The real treasures which a man should desire, are not the riches and luxuries of this world, which are all vain and transitory, liable to damage, loss, and abuse; but the treasures of Heaven, which nothing can impair, depreciate, or diminish ; and these treasures, let us be ever so poor and destitute at present, godliness with contentment will assuredly put us in possession of. The Apostle seems to allude to this, in the verse immediately following my text, and in which he certainly means to prove the reasonableness of his precept, “ For,” says he, “ we brought nothing into this world, « and it is certain we can carry nothing out;" that is, the things of this world have in fact only a transitory and precarious value; there has been a time when we were destitute of every thing, and a time

will come,

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when every thing we now pos- SERM. sess will be equally superfluous and unnecessary; therefore, our true gain will consist, not in multiplying our worldly goods and accommodations, but in conducting ourselves so that when we lay down this life, we may deserve the rewards, and honours, and pleasures of another. And this we shall do, if we rely upon God for what is to come, and rightly esteem what he has already bestowed; having food and rai

ment, then," the Apostle goes on to say, " let us be therewith content," which was well added, because it tends to shew, that Christianity, though it is calculated to exalt us above the concerns of this world, in a spiritual sense, yet never was designed. to withdraw men from the innocent and useful occupations of life. That desire of bettering our worldly condition, which gives birth to labour and industry, may be very well accompanied both with godliness and contentment. It is not only allowable, but exceedingly praise-worthy, to wish to advance both ourselves and families, by care and diligence, provided we are not, as

many

IX.

SERM. many are, impatient of success; we may

be as anxious as we please, to prosper and grow rich, provided we seek to do so only by the means of honest industry, and are content till we do prosper; not hurried into discontent by casual disappointments, nor ready to murmur so soon as the slightest obstacle is thrown in our way; and even if finally we fail of all success, if all our projects are defeated, and all our hopes thwarted, still it is likely to be our greatest gain if we learn to bear this disappointment properly ; surely it requires no great understanding to discover, that the Providence which manifestly ordained and overlooks all things, may have hindered our success for wise and gracious purposes. It is easy, at any time, to shew that prosperity might eventually be no gain : it often leads men into such extravagancies, both as to their actions and their desires, that indeed it

may well be expected to lead rather to great losses than great gains. If prosperity, by chance, leads to contentment, it seldom leads to godliness; the more we are satisfied with this world, the

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