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SERM. (1.) As to our opinions and judgments of things, conXXXVII. tentedness requireth, that,
1. We should believe our condition, whatever it be, to be determined by God; and that all events befalling us do
proceed from him ; at least that he permitteth and orderSoph. Aj. eth them, according to his judginent and pleasure : Eùs to
Jeñ räs xai yeną x'qdupetai, all, as the Prophet fingeth, both Amos iii.6. good and evil, procecdeth out of the mouth of the Most High; i Kings xii.
that affliction, as Job said, cometh not forth of the dust, neither doth trouble spring out of the ground ; as a thing
arising spontaneously, or sowed by the hand of some creaTía. xlv. 7. ture, but rather descendeth from him, who faith, I form
the light, and create darkness; I make peace, and create
I the Lord do all these things.
We are apt, when any thing falleth out unpleasant to Atque us, to exclaim against fortune, and to accuse our stars; or
, aftra vocat to inveigh against the second causes which immediately crudelia offend us, ascribing all to their influence; which proceed
ing doth argue in us a heathenith ignorance and infidelity, or at least much inconsiderateness, and impotency of mind; that our judgment is blinded and clouded, or perverted and seduced by ill passions ; for that in truth there is not in the world any occurrence merely fortuitous, or fatal, (all being guided and wielded by the powerful band of the all-wise and almighty God,) there is no creature which in its agency doth not depend upon God, as the inftrument of his will, or subordinate thereto; wherefore upon every event we should, raising our minds above all
other causes, discern and acknowledge God's hand; as 2 Sam. xvi. David did, when Shimei cursed him; Let him, said the
good King, curse, because the Lord hath said unto him,
Curse David; as Job did, when he was rifled of his goods, Job i. 21. The Lord, said be, gave, and the Lord hath taken away ;
as our Saviour did, when, in regard to the sore hardships John xviii. he was designed to undergo, he said, The cup which my
Father haih given me, shall I not drink?
2. Hence we should always judge every thing which happeneth to be throughly good and fit, worthy (all things considered) to be appointeil, or permitted by that
Governor of things ; not entertaining any harsh thoughts SERM.
XXXVII. of God, as if he were not enough wise, just, or benign in ordering us to be afflicted or crossed ; but taking all occurrences to be well consistent with all God's holy perfections and attributes a,
We are apt to conceit, that the world is ill ordered, when we do not thrive and prosper therein; that every thing is irregular, which squareth not to the models of our fancy; that things had gone much better, if our designs had found success : but these are vain and perverse conceits; for that certainly is most good, which seemeth good to God b; his will is a perfect standard of right and convenience, his eye never aimeth wrong, his hand never faileth to hit the mark of what is best; All his paths are l'fa.xxv.10. mercy, and truth; he is righteous in all his ways, and holy in all his works; so did king Hezekiah rightly judge, when, upon denunciation of a fad doom to his country and posterity, he replied to the Prophet; Good is the word of the 2 Kings ax. Lord, which thou hast Spoken; so even the Pagan fage dif- 19. cerned, when he thus rebuked a malecontent; You Nave, do you for footh defre any thing, but what is best? and is not that only best, which seemeth best to God?
3. We should even be satisfied in our mind, that, according to God's purpose, all events do tend and conduce to our particular welfare; being not only good to us as members of the world, and in order to more general ends, but ferving towards our private benefit and advantage. We may be ready perhaps to confess, that whatever happeneth may be indeed just and fit in some distant and occult respects; but hardly can we be induced to allow, that what we feel offensive to our sense and fancy is
• Παραχωρήσωμεν τοίνυν παρακαλω τη σοφή του παντός κυβερνήτη, και σίρξωμεν τα οικονομίμενα, όποία ποτ' άν ή κάν θυμίρη, κάν λυτηρά, &c. Theod. Ep. 136.
• Placeat homini quicquid Deo placuit. Sen. Ep. 75.
Στίργον γαρ χρή τα σαρά της άρρήτη σοφίας πρυτανευόμενα, και ταυτα σάντως vsuis un oupe pigorra. Theod. Ep. 15.
οίδε γαρ ώς σοφός το συμφέρον, και ως αγαθός τούτο ημίν πραγματεύεται. Ιd. Ep. 18.
'Ανδράποδον, άλλο γαρ θέλεις, ή το άμεινον και άλλο ούν τι άμεινον, ή το θιά δοxsv ; Mr. xi. 7.
Rev. iii. 19.
SERM. really good for us, or was meant for our benefit; we cannot XXXVII. easily discern any thing of love or favour in such matters : Job v. 17. those sort of aphorisms, in holy Scripture, Happy is the James i. 12.
man, whom God correcteth; As many as I love, I rebuke Prov. iii. 12. and chasten ; found strangely, and are huge paradoxes to
us; fuch is our blindness of mind, and dulness of apprehenfion : but God knoweth with fo exact a skilfulness to manage things, that every particular occurrence shall be advantageous to the person, whom it toucheth; and accordingly to each one he dispenseth that which is most suitable to him ; whence, as frequently it is necessary for our good that we should be crossed, (for that indeed otherwise we should often much harm, sometimes we should quite undo ourselves,) so it always, when God so ordereth it, is to be deemed most profitable and wholesome for us: we are therefore in reason obliged to take the saddest accidents, and sharpest afflictions, coming upon us by Providence, to be no other than fatherly corrections, or friendly rebukes, designed to render us good and happy; as arguments therefore and instances of especial good-will toward us; conceiving under every dispensation that we do,
as it were, hear God speaking to us, as he did to those in Jer. xxix. the Prophet: I know the thoughts, that I think toward
you, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.
4. Hence we are to believe, that our present condition (whatever it be to carnal or worldly sense) is in right judgment, all things considered, the best; most proper, most desirable for us; better than we, if it were at our
discretion and choice, should put ourselves into: for that 1 Tim. ii. 4. God (the Saviour of all men, who depreth that no man Ezek. xxxii. 11.
should perish; who is good to all, and whose tender mercies 2 Pet. iii. 9. are over all his works; who exceedingly tendereth the Pla. cxlv. 9.
welfare of his children and subjects) doth ever (here in this life, the time of merit and trial) with a most wise good-will design our best good; and by the most proper methods (such as do best fuit our circumstances and capacities) doth aiin to draw us unto happiness; and accordingly doth assign a station for us most befitting in order to
that great end: we therefore should think ourselves well SERM. placed, because we are where God doth set us ; that we XXXVII. have enough, because we have what God allotteth us.
There are other more particular judgments, which contentedness involveth, or which are required toward it; such as these: that nothing originally is due to us, but all cometh purely from divine favour and bounty; that all adversities are juftly and deservedly inflicted on us, as the due wages, or natural fruits of our fins; that our happiness dependeth not on any present enjoyments or poffeffions, but may well subsist without them; that a competency (or so much as sufficeth to maintain our life without intolerable pain) ought to satisfy our desires : but these and the like judgments will come opportunely to be considered as motives to the practice of the duty.
(2.) From such acts of our mind, or intellective part, concerning things incident to us, should proceed the fol- lowing dispositions of will and affection.
1. We thould entertain all occurrences, how grievous soever to us, with entire submission, and resignation of our will to the will of God; wholly acquiescing in his good pleasure; saying in our hearts after our Lord, Let not my Luke xxii. will, but thine ve done; with good Eli, It is the Lord, let 4's him do what seemeth him good ; with David, Behold here 18. I am, let him do to me as seemeth good to him ; even with 2 Sam. sv. Socrates, if so it pleaseth God, fo let it bec; with Epictetus, I always chiefly will that which cometh to pass; for I account that better which God willeth, than what I will myfelf; I will adhere as a minister and follower to him, I pursue, I affect, I hmply will with himd: looking upon them as sent from God, we should heartily bid them welcome, we should kindly embrace them, we should use theim with all fair refpect : ασπάζεσθαι τα συμβαίνοντα (to M. Anton. hug, or kindly to embrace things incident,) Pixeiv td moveu.-3. 4. 2. 17. usva (to love things dispensed by Providence,) are precepts, i
i Sam. iii.
10. 11. 12.
C Eί ταύτη θεούς φίλον, ταύτη γενέσθω.
• 'Αεί μάλλον θέλω το γινόμενον' κρείττον γαρ ηγούμαι, και ο Θεός θίλει, και εγώ προσπείσομαι διάκονος και ακόλουθος εκείνη, συνορμώ, ορέγομαι, απλώς συνθέλω. Arr. iii. 7.
SERM. which even as dictated by natural reason philosophers do XXXVII. much inculcate.
This excludeth all rebellious infurre&tion, and swellings of mind against Providence, such as argue that we dislike God's government; that, were we able, we should struggle with God's will; that we gladly would shake off his yoke; all such ill resentment and repining at our lot, which maketh God's hand grievous, and his yoke uneasy
to us; fuch affections as the Wife Man toucheth, when he Prov. xix. 3. faith, The foolishness of man perverteth his way, and his
heart fretteth against the Lord.
2. We thould bear all things with steady calmness and composedness of mind, suppressing or quelling those tu.
mults, those storms, those excesies of passion, which the Let no man sense of things disgustful is apt to excite; such as are imby these af- moderate grief, fierce anger, irksome despair, and the fictions ;, like. No adversity should fo ruffle our minds, as to defeat vietos (i. e. or pervert the use of our reason, so as to hinder us from Jaguêsioteen.
perceiving, or performing what becometh us, so as to Chryf.) 1 Theff. iii. engage us into any irregular or unfeemly behaviour.
3. We should indeed bear the worst events with an eúdunia, that is, with a sweet and cheerful disposition of mind, so as not to be put out of humour; not to be dejected
or quite discouraged by them', not to fall into that heaviProv. xii. ness, which, as the Wise Man faith, maketh the heart of
man to stoop ; but rather finding delight and complacence in them, as considering whence they come, whither they aim and tend : such was the disposition and demeanour of
the Apostles and primitive good Christians in the midst of Acts v. 41. their most grievous adversities and sufferingsf; they reHeb. I. 34.joiced, &c. they did take joyfully the Spoiling of their James i. 2. goods, they did account it all joy when they fell into divers 2 Cor.vi.10. tribulations : they were, ws Autóuevos, del dè xaiportes, as
grieved, but always rejoicing; their state was grievous, but their heart was constantly cheerful. Such a constant
• Η κατά κόσμον λύπη θάνατον κατεργάζεται. 2 Cor. vii. 10.
* Ευδοκώ εν ασθενείαις, εν ύβρισιν, εν ανάγκαις, εν στενοχωρίαις υπέρ Χριστού. 2 Cor. xj. 10.
Εις πάσαν υπομονήν, και μακροθυμίαν μετά χαράς. Col. i. .