« הקודםהמשך »
SERM. whereof may not be answered with a competence; so XXXVII. curiofity is an infinite and insatiable thing: He that loveth Prov. xxi. pleasure Mall be a poor man; he that loveth wine and oil
Shall not be rich; that is, he which is curious and nice in his desires, will never have enoughi: the rule, which, ac
cording to St. Paul, should regulate our desires, is this ; 1 Tim.vi. 8. Having food and raiment, let us with them be satisfied:
if this will satisfy us, we may easily obtain satisfactionk: a moderate industry, with God's blessing, will procure so much; God hath promised to bestow it ; if this will not suffice, there is no sure way of getting or keeping more: as God is nowise obliged to provide us superfluities, or concerned to relieve our extravagant longings; so we may fear, that Providence will be ready to cross us in our cares and endeavours tending to those purposes ; so that we shall be disappointed in the procurement, or disturbed in the fruition of such needless things. However, he that
is most scant in his desires, is likely to be most content in o inexisw his mind : He, as Socrates said, is nearest the gods (who διόμενος, έγ
need nothing) that needeth fewest things. Socr, in Xe.
In fine, contentedness doth import, that whatever our noph. A. pomn. iii.
condition is, our minds and affections should be modelled and squared just according to it; so that our inclinations be compliant, our desires be congruous thereto, so that easily we can comport with the inconveniencies, can relish the comforts, can improve the advantages sticking thereto; otherwise, like an ill-made garment, it will fit unhandsome upon us, and be troublesome to us. It is not usually our condition itself, but the unsuitableness thereof to our disposition and desires, (which foureth all its sweets, and rendereth its advantages fruitless,) that createth difcontent; for, although it be very mean, others bear the fame cheerfully; many would be glad thereof: if therefore we will be content, we must bend our inclinations, and adapt our desires to a correspondence with our state.
Αι κατά φύσιν ορέξεις αυταρκεία περιορίζεται. Cl. Αlex. Ped. ii. 1. k Si ad naturam vives nunquam eris pauper ; si ad opinionem, nunquam dives. Epic. Sen. Ep. 16.
If we are rich, we should get a large and bountiful SERM. heart, otherwise our wealth will hang loose about us; the
XXXVII. care and trouble in keeping it, the suspicion and fear of losing it, the desire of amplifying it, the unwillingness to spend or use it, will bereave us of all true fatisfaction therein, and render it no less unfavoury to us, than unprofitable to others.
If we are poor, we should have a frugal, provident, induftrious mind, sparing in desires, free from curiosity, willing to take pains, able to digest bardships; otherwise the straitness of our condition will pinch and gall us.
Are we high in dignity or reputation? we then need a mind well ballasted with sober thoughts, otherwise the wind of vanity will drive us into absurd behaviours, thence will dash us upon disappointments, and confequently will plunge us into vexation and discontent.
Are we mean and low? we need a meek and lowly, a calm and steady spirit ; not affecting little respects, or resenting the want of them ; apt to pass over or to bear quietly petty affronts and neglects; not apt to be moved by words fignifying contempt or disdain ; else (being fretted with such things, which in this ill-natured and hard-hearted world we may be sure often to nieet with) we shall be uneafy in our minds, and impatiently wish a change of our state.
These and the like dispositions and affections of foul this duty containeth, or requireth : from hence should arise a correspondent external demeanour, and such actions as these which follow :
1. We should restrain our tongues from all unseemly and unfavoury expressions, implying dissatisfaction in God's proceedings, or displeasure at his providence; arguing desperation or distrust in God; such as were those of the discontented and impatient Israelites; They, faith the Pfal.lxxviii. Pfalmist, Spake against God; they said, Can God furnish a Num. xxi. table in the wilderness ? Behold, he jimote the rock, that the 5. waters gushed out, and the streams overflowed ; can he give bread also, can he provide flish for his people? Such as they used, of whom the Prophet faith, When they shall Ifa. iii. 21.
SERM. be hungry, they will fret themselves, and curse their King XXXVII. and their God; as those in the Apocalypse, who, being Rev. xvi. 9, affiated with deserved judgments, did blaspheme the name 11, 21.
of God, which had power over those plagues blafphemed the God of heaven, because of their pains and their fores. Into such profane enormities of language is discontent apt to break forth, questioning the power of God, or his willingness to fuccour us; venting wrath and displeasure toward him ; charging him foolishly with injustice, or with unkindness, or with negligence, or with impotency; the abstaining from which behaviour, under the sense of his bitter calamities, is a great commendation of Job; In all this, it is said, Jou finned not, neither charged God foolishly'.
2. We should indeed forbear any the least complaint, or murmuring, in regard to the dispensations of Provi
dence; or upon dissatisfaction in the state allotted us: Jude 15,16. St. Jude faith, that God in the last day will come, to
execute judgment, and to convince men of all their hard Speeches, which ungodly finners have spoken against him: these, fubjoineth he, are yoyyusal usuliyoipos, murmurers,
that complain of their lot; which fignifieth the heinousLam.ii. 39. ness and extreme dangerousness of this pradice. Where
fore doth the living man complain ? is the Prophet's question, implying it to be an unreasonable and blamable practice. Wherefore the advice of David is good; to
fuppress all complaint, to be still and filent in such cases : Pfal. xlvi. Be fill, faith he, and know that I am God; and, Be plent 10. iv. 4. to the Lord; the which precepts his practice may seem Pr. xxxix. well to interpret and back; I was, saith he, dumb; I
opened not my mouth, because it was thy doing m; and acJob xl. 4. cordingly Job, Behold, (faid he, after having considered
all the reafons he could imagine of God's proceedings,) I am vile ; what shall I answer thee? I will lay my hand
1 Job i. 22. ουκ έδωκεν άφροσύνην τω Θεώ. 'Αλλ' έχε σιγή μυθον, επίτρεψον δε θεοίσι. Ηom. Od, τ.
diwrn Πάσχειν άλγια πολλά βίας υποδίγμενος ανδρών. Οd. Ε.
upon my mouth. And thus our Saviour, when he was op- SERM. pressed and afflicted, opened not his mouth.
XXXVII. 3. Yea it is our duty, in these cases, to spend our Ifa. liii. 7. breath in declaring our satisfaction in God's dealing with us n; acknowledging his wisdom, justice, and goodness therein ; blessing and praising him for all that hath befallen us; each of us confesling after David, I know, O Pfal. cxix. Lord, that thy judgments are right, and that thou in faithfulness haft afflicted me ; imitating Job, who, upon the lofs of all his goods, did say no more than this; The Lord Job i. 21. gave, and the Lord hath taken away ; blessed be the name of the Lord.
4. We should abstain from all irregular, unlawful, and unworthy courses toward the removal or remedy of our needs, or crosses, choosing rather to abide quietly under their pressure, than by any unwarrantable means to relieve or relax ourselves ; rather bearing patiently than violently, like those in the Prophet, breaking our yoke, Jer. V. 5. and bursting our bands. Take heed, regard not iniquily ; Job xxxvi. for this hast thou chosen rather than affliction. We should 21. rather continue poor, than by cozenage or rapine endeavour to raise our fortune; we should rather lie under disgrace and contempt, than by finful or fordid compliances strive to acquire the respect and favour of men; we should rather willingly rest in the lowest condition, than do as those, who, by disturbing the world, by fomenting disorders and fa&ions, by supplanting their neighbour's welfare, by venting Nanders and detractions, do labour to amplify their estate : we should rather endure any inconvenience or distress, than have recourse to ways of evading them disallowed by God; doing as the Jews did, who in their straits, against the declared pleasure of God, fet Jer. xlii. 15.
ii. 18, 13. their faces toward Egypt, strengthened themselves in the strength of Pharaoh, trusted in the staff of that broken reed. xxxvi. 6. In neglect or diffidence toward God, to embrace such aids, is, as God in the Prophet declareth, a very blam- 15.
Isa, XIX. 2,
xxxi. 1. Ezek, xvii.
• Δόξα τω Θεώ πάντων ένεκεν. Ου γαρ παύσομαι στο επιλίγων αιλ επί πάσι μω Tois surbainevei. Chryf. ad Olymp. Ep. 11.
SERM. able and mischievous folly : Ephraim, faith he, is like a XXXVII. pilly dove without heart ; they call to Egypt, they go to Hof. vii. 11, Allyria-Woe unto them, for they have fled from me;
destruction unto them, because they have transgressed against
We may consider how St. Paul reproveth the Co
rinthians for seeking a redress of wrong, scandalous and 1 Cor. vi. 7. dishonourable to the Church: Now, therefore, it is utterly
a fault among you, that ye go to law one with another; Why do ye not rather take wrong? why do ye not rather suffer yourselves to be defrauded ? Even to right ourselves in a way whereby any dishonour may come to God, or damage to his Church, is not to be approved ; and better
it is, in the Apostle's judgment, to bear any injury or 1 Pet. iii.27. damage ourselves : Better it is, faith St. Peter, if the will
of God le so, that we suffer for well-doing, than to do ill. And, Let them, who suffer according to the will of God, commit the keeping of their fouls to him in well-doing, as unto a faithful Creator, is another wholesome advice of that great Apostle.
5. We should, notwithstanding any adversity, proceed in our affairs (such as God requireth, or reason putteth us upon) with alacrity, courage, and industry; performing however, so far as our circumstances do permit, what is good and fit for us : no disappointment or cross, no straits or grievances of condition should render us listless, or lazy, but rather it should quicken and inflame our activity; this being a good way to divert us from the sense of our miffortunes, and to comfort us under their pressure; as also the readiest way to remove or to abate them, tò rapòu Déo-fas, to order the present well, whatever it beo; to make the best of a bad matter, to march forward whither reason calls, how difficultly soever, or Nowly it be, in a rough or dirty way; not to yield to difficulties, but resolutely to encounter them, to struggle lustily with them, to endeavour with all our might to furmount them P; are acts worthy of a manly reason and courage : to direct ill ac• Κιρδαντίον το παρόν συν εύλογισία. Αnt. iv. 26. vi. 2. Το παρόν απευθύνειν προς όσιότητα και δικαιοσύνην. 14. xii. 1. P Tu ne cede malis, sed contra audentior ito.