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THE DUTY OF CONTENTMENT UNDER
ST. JOHN'S, BEDFORD ROW, LONDON,
Sundays March 9 and 16, 1817.
Το τέλειον αγαθόν αυταρκες είναι δοκεϊ–το δ' αύταρκες τιθεμεν και μονέμενον αιρετον ποιεί τον βίον και μηδενός ενδεά.
Arist, ΗΘΙΚ. ΝΙΚΟΜ. Α', ζ.
1 TIMOTHY, vi. 6.
But godliness with contentment is great gain. Virtues,' observes an eminent writer,' are like friends, necessary in all fortunes; but those are the best wbich are the friends of our sadness. No good man then can be friendless, nor bave reason to complain of the Divine Providence, or accuse the public disorder of things or his own infelicity, since God has appointed one remedy for all the evils in the world, and that is, a contented spirit'. This happy temper the Apostle speaks of in my text: he teaches us that it is inseparably connected with godliness ; and that the two are the greatest gain to us as sinful and disordered creatures. It is my inten
. tion to explain this interesting subject, which inust always be a seasonable one, but espe
· Bishop Jer. Taylor, Holy Living, Sect. IV.
cially at a time when the peculiar visitations of God on our country make it more necessary to show the nature of that humble acquiescence in his will under all circumstances, which the devout Christian will endeavour to cultivate,
To this end, let us consider,
1. The general instruction conveyed in my
text. II. The particular use which may be made
of it under our present circumstances.
And may God, who “ alone can order the unruly wills and affections of sinful men,” so bless what may be said, by the influences of his Holy Spirit, that we may know for ourselves the unspeakable advantage of a meek and quiet spirit, which in his sight is of great price!
I. We are first then to explain the general instruction conveyed in the text.
1. In doing this, we must begin by describing what godliness and contentment are. Godliness is a due regard to God in our affections and conduct. It is that disposition of mind
. which becomes the excellencies of God and our relations to him: for, as the command to live soberly respects the duties which we owe to'ourselves, and the command to live righteously, comprehends our duties towards our neighbour; so that of living godly, relates to our duties to the ever-blessed God. Godliness, then, includes in it a supreme regard to God, a sense of his presence and authority, an adoration of his works, a desire to please him, a fear of his anger, a dependence on his providence, a worship of him in his appointed ordinances, an obedience to his commands, and an aim at his glory. As an ungodly man is one who has not God in all his thoughts, and who lives as without God in the world; so à godly man is one who thinks of God and regards hiin continually, and who lives under the habitual and willing government of his laws.
This temper of mind must however always be considered in connexion with the dispensation of mercy, under which inan is placed in the Gospel. Man is a sinner, and fallen from God. He can only be restored to his service through a Mediator. Jesus Christ is the way, the truth, and the life; no man can come unto the Father but through him. Godliness, then, must begin by an entire conversion of the heart, and a compliance with the proposals of grace made to us, through the merits of Jesus Christ. The influences of the Holy Spirit then gradually form the true believer in Christ to all the exercises of godliness, and he advances in the
2 Titus, ii. 12.