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SERM. out of his hands, and manage it ourselves, modelling the XXXVIII. world according to our conceits and desires.
We do also, (since we cannot but perceive the other atMultos in- tempt of dispossessing God to be frivolous and fruitless,) in veni æquos effect, charge God with misdemeanour, with iniquity or homines, infirmity in his distribution and disposal of things ; intiadversus Deos nemi. mating, that in our opinion he doth not order them so nem. Sen. justly or so wisely as might be, (not so well as we in our Ep. 93.
wisdom and justice should order them;) for did we conceive them managed for the best, we could not but judge it most unreasonable to be aggrieved, or to complain : so heinously insolent and unjust are we in being discontent. In earnest, which is most equal, that God should have his will, or we? For shame we shall fay, God: why then do we not contentedly let him have it?
It is indeed, if we consider it, the highest piece of injuftice that we can be guilty of, exceeding that which we commit in any other fort of disobedience. For as in any ftate feditious mutining is the greatest crime, as most directly violating the majesty, and subverting the authority of the prince; so in the world, none may be supposed more to offend and wrong its sovereign Governor, than such malecontents, who dislike and blame his proceedings: even a Heathen could teach us, that it is our duty to fubject our mind to him that administereth all things, as good citizens to the law of the commonwealth b; if we do not, we are rebellious and feditious, which is the highest pitch of injustice toward our most gracious Sovereign.
Again, there can be no greater injury or affront offered 1 John v.1o. to God, than to give him the lie, by questioning bis
veracity or fidelity ; this discontent plainly doth involve:
for God hath expressly declared himself ready upon all Matt.vi. 25, occasions to do us good; he hath promised to care for us, pleased with his condition, or suspicious of want, who SERM. knoweth that he hath abundant supply of all he can need XXXVIII. in a sure place; that he hath a person most able, most willing, most faithful, engaged to succour him; so, did we believe God to be true, who hath promised to help us, we could not be discontented for fear of any want.
and never to forsake us, or leave us deftitute; which word
• Την αυτού γνώμην υποτάσσειν των διοικούντι τα όλα, καθάπερ οι αγαθοί aire rem róun rñs róasws. Arr. i. 12.
We must at least, in so doing, suspect God to be deficient in goodness toward us, or unwilling to help us ; or we must apprehend him impotent, and unable to perform what he would, and what he hath promised for us, (like those infidels, who faid, Can God furnish a table in the Pr. lxxviii. wilderness? Can he give bread also, can he provide flesh for 19. his people?) which conceits of God are also very unworthy, and injurious to him.
2. Gratitude requireth of us this duty: for we having no right or title to any thing; all that we have coming from G. d's pure bounty; he having upon us all (whatever our condition comparatively is, or may seem to us) freely conferred many great benefits, common to all men among us, (our being, life, reason, capacity of eternal happiness, manifold fpiritual blessings, incomparably precious and excellent,) we in all reason should be thankful for these, without craving more, or complaining for the want of other things. Whereas also all events, how cross foever to our sensual conceits or appetites, are by God defigned and dispensed for our good, gratitude requireth that we should thank God for them, and not murmur against them.
Surely if, instead of rendering God thanks for all the excellent gifts which he most liberally (without any previous obligation to us, or defert of ours) hath bestowed on us, and continueth to bestow, we fret, and quarrel, that he doth not in smaller matters seem to cocker us, we are extremely ingrateful and disingenuous toward him. If any great person here should freely bestow on us gifts of
Iniquus eft qui muneris fui arbitrium danti non relinquit, avidus qui non lucri loco habet quod accepit, fed damni quod reddidit, &c. Sen. ad Polyb. 99.
SERM. huge value, (high preferment or much wealth,) but with XXXVIII. good reason, as we might presume, should withhold from
us some trifle, that we fancy or dote on, should we not be very unworthy, if we should take it ill and be angry with him for that cause? The case is plainly the same : God hath in the frankest manner bestowed on us innumerable and inestimable goods, in comparison whereto any comfort or convenience of our state here is very trivial and despicable: are we not therefore very ingrateful, if we heinously resent the want of any such things; if, upon any such account, we disgust his Providence? Do we not deal, beyond all expression, unworthily with God, in fo much undervaluing the goods which he hath given us, or doth offer us, and hath put in our reach? He hath made us capable of the greatest goods imaginable, and faithfully upon easy terms proffereth them to us; he even tendereth himself (himself, the immense and all comprehending good, the fountain of all joy and bliss) to be fully enjoyed by us : his wisdom he offereth to instruct and guide us; his power, to protect and guard us; his fulness, to supply us; his goodness, to comfort us; he offereth his love and favour to us, in having which we virtually and in effect have all things; becoming thereby, in the highest degree, rich and honourable and happy: and is it not then outrageous unworthiness to prize any other thing (any petty accommodation of this transitory life, any pitiful toy here) so much, as to be displeased for the want thereof; as if all this were not enough to satisfy our needs, or satiate our desires; as if, notwithstanding all these immense effu
fions (yea as it were profufions) of bounty upon us, we Job ii. 10. could be indigent or unhappy? Shall we, to use that
holy and most ingenuous consideration of Job, receive fo much good from the bountiful hand of God, and shall we not contentedly receive or bear so small evils from him? Evils indeed in name and to gross sense, but not so in reality, not so in effect, at least not so in God's defignd;
Ευχαριστω σοι πάτερ, ώ ποιητα των σων ανθρώπων––ότι έκοντας ημάς εν Tais, &c. said Philagrius in a grievous disease. Naz. Ep. 66.
but rather things very convenient and profitable for us; SERM. which is another aggravation of our ingratitude ; for,
XXXVIII. Are we not also very ingrateful in misapprehending and diliking that, which God doeth out of very gracious intentions toward us; in loathing his fatherly and friendly dispensations; the fatherly chastisements and friendly disciplines, which he unwillingly is forced (is, I say, forced by his own great love and by our presling needs) to inflict or impofe upon use? Surely our ill opinion of, or de- Prov. iii. 11. Spisng, as the Wise Man calleth it, these unpleasant blefrings is no small fault; neither will our not discerning (out-of affected dulness and stupid pravity not discerning) the wisdom of God's methods, and the wholesomeness of the means he useth to better us, excuse us from foul ingratitude. 3. Again, upon many accounts, reason farther didateth Eizero argos
T's fins à. in respect to God, that we should be content: because it is
πλώς ταγαmost reasonable to acquiesce in God's choice of our state, he sa didóveis being infinitely more wife than we, and infinitely better un- xárdusu da derstanding what is good for us than we can do; because he çoras orcia
αγαθά ίσι. is well affected to us, and more truly loveth us than we do Xenoph. de ourselves; because he hath a just right, and irresistible power Charior eft to dispose of us, the which (whatever we can do, however illis homo
we resent it) he will effectually make use of; whence it is - extremely foolish to be discontent: foolish it is to be dif
satisfied with the results of his wisdom, adhering to our vain apprehensions; foolish to distrust his goodness in compliance with our fond self-love; foolish to contest bis unquestionable right and uncontrollable power, having 10thing but mere impotency to oppose against them; no less than downright madness it is to fret and fume at that'Eáy tiklaiwhich we can nowise help, to bark at that which lodgethods in heaven so far high above us, to folicit deaf necessity Philem. with our ineffe&tual wailings; for if we think that our displeasure will affect God, that our complaints will incline him to alter our condition or comply with our wishes, we do conceit vainly, and without any ground ;
• Επειδαν το μη πάσχειν ουκ έχω, τούτό γε τα τάσχειν παρακερδαίνω, το φέρειν, mai sò aixapettiv. Naz. de fe. Ep. 63.
SERM. sooner may we, by our imagination, stop the tides of the XXXVIII.
sea, or turn the streams of rivers backward; sooner, by Ου γάρ τις
our cries, may we stay the sun, and change all the courses
of the stars, than by our passionate resentments or moancolo gócio
. ful clamours we can check the current of affairs, or alter
that state of things, which is by God's high decree estaåvéyxn, s blished : discontented behaviour will rather fasten our conθεοίσι μη μάχε. . dition, or remove it into a worse place; as it highly doth Eurip.
offend God, and increaseth our guilt, so it moveth God to continue, and to augment our evils. Thus lifting up our eyes to heaven, and confidering the reference our dispofition and demeanour hath to God, will induce us to bear
our case contentedly. Lam. iii. II. Again, refleding upon ourselves, we may observe
much reason to be content with our state; in whatever capacity we look upon ourselves, it in reason becometh us, we in duty are obliged to be so.
As men and creatures, we naturally are indigent and impotent; we have no just claim to any thing, nor any poffesfion maintainable by our power; all that we have, or can have, cometh from most pure courtesy and bounty; wherefore how little soever is allowed us, we have no wrong done us, nor can we justly complain thereat: such beggars as we are must not pretend to be choosers; if any thing be given us, we may be glad, we should be thankful. It is for those who have a right and a power to maintain it, to resent and expoftulate, if their due be withheld: but for us, that never had any thing, which we could call our own; that have no power to get or keep any thing; for us, that came into the world naked and defenceless, that live here in continual, absolute, and arbitrary dependence for all our livelihood and subfiftence, to contest with him that maintaineth us, or to complain of his dealing, is ridiculously absurd and vain.
Upon a moral account we have less reason to challenge ought, or to complain of any thing; for we deserve nothing but evil : if we rightly esteem and value ourselves, any thing will seem good enough for us, any condition will appear better than we deserve : duly examining the