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SERM. These are the most proper inducements unto contented. XLI. ness, which, considering in the light of reason and holy

Scripture) the nature of the thing, suggested unto my meditation: there are beside some other means advisable, (some general, some more particular,) which are very conducible to the production of content, or removing discontent; which I shall touch, and then conclude.

1. A constant endeavour to live well, and to maintain a good conscience: he that doth this can hardly be dismayod or disturbed with any occurrence here; this will yield a man so ample and firm a satisfaclion of mind, as will bear down the sense of any incumbent evils; this will beget such hope in God, and so good assurance of his favour, as will supply the want of all other things, and fully satisfy us, that we have no cause to be troubled with any thing here; he that by conscientious practice hath obtained such a

hope, is prepared against all assaults of fortune with an unPsal. cxii

. daunted mind and force impregnable; He will, as the 1. cxix. 6. Psalmist saith, not be afraid of any evil tidings, for his heart

is fired, trusting in the Lord. Maintaining this will free us from all anxious care, transferring it upon God; it will breed a fure confidence, that he will ever be ready to supply us with all things convenient, to protect and deliver us from all things hurtful; ensuring to us the effect of that

promise, by the conscience of having performed the condiMatt. vi. 33. tion thereof : Seek ye first the kingdom of God and its right

eousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.

This was that which supported the Apostles and kept

them cheerful under all that heavy load of distresses which 1 Cor. i. 12. Jay upon them; Our rejoicing is this, could they say, the

testimony of our conscience, that in pmplicity and godly Acts xxi, fincerity-we have had our conversation in this world. . 16.

It is the want of this belt pleasure, that both rendereth the absence of all other pleafures grievous, and their presence insipid: had we a good conscience, we could not seem to want comfort; as we could not truly be unhappy, so we could hardly be discontent; without it, no affluence of other things can suffice to content us. It is an evil conscience that giveth an edge to all other evils, and enableth

i Pet. iii. 16.

Vid. Naz.

them forely to affiêt us, which otherwise would but slight- SERM. ly touch us; we become thence un capable of comfort, XLI. seeing not only things here upon earth to cross us, but heaven to lower upon us; finding no visible fuccour, and having no hope from the power invisible; yea having reason to be discouraged with the fear of God's displeasure. As he that hath a powerful enemy near cannot abide in peace, without anxious suspicion and fear; so he that is at variance with the Almighty, who is ever at hand, ready to crofs and punish him, what quiet of mind can he enjoy? There is no peace to the wicked.

2. The contemplation of our future state is a sovereign medicine to work contentedness and to cure discontent: 1 Theff. iv. as discontent easily doth seize upon, and cleaveth fast to do souls, which earnestly do pore and dote upon these present Ep. 201. things, which have in them nothing satisfactory or stable; clam.)

(ad Theso if we can raise our minds firmly to believe, seriously to consider, and worthily to prize the future state and its concernments, we can hardly ever be discontent in regard to these things. Considering heaven and its happiness, how low and mean, how fordid and vile, how unworthy of our care and our affe&tion, will these inferior things appear! how 2 Cor. vii. very unconcerned shall we see ourselves to be in them, and how easily thence shall we be content to want them! What, shall any of us be then ready to say, doth it concern me in what rank or garb I pass my few days here? what considerable interest can I have in this uncertain and transitory state? what is any loss, any disgrace, any cross in this world to me, who am a citizen of heaven, who have a capacity and hope of the immenfe riches, the incorruptible glories, the perfect and endless joys of eternity? This was that which sustained the holy Apostles in all their distresses; For this cause, faith St. Paul, we faint notwhile we 2 Cor. iv. look not on the things which are seen, but on the things which 16. &c. V. are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal: and, I reckon, Rom. viii. saith he again, that the sufferings of this present life are 18. not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.

31.

7.

SERM. If likewise we do with faith and seriousness consider the XLI. dismal state below of those, who are eternally secluded

from all joy and bliss, who are irrecoverably condemned to utter darkness and the extremity of horrible pain, how tolerable, how pleasant, how very happy will the meanest state here appear to be? how vain a thing will it then seem to us to be to dislike, or to be troubled with any worldly thing; to account any chance happening to us to be sad or disastrous? What, fhall we say then, each of us, is this fame loss to the loss of my soul and all its comforts for ever? what is this want to the perpetual want of heavenly bliss? what is this short and faint pain to the cruel pangs of endless remorse, to the weeping and gnashing of teeth in outward darkness, to everlasting burnings?

Thus infinitely filly and petty must all concernments of this life appear to him, who is poffeffed with the belief and consideration of matters relating to the future ftate; whence discontent, in regard to them, can hardly find access to his mind.

3. Constant devotion is an excellent instrument and guard of content, an excellent remedy and fence against difcontent.

It is such in way of impetration, procuring the removal

or alleviation of our crofles: for God hath promised that Matt. vii. he will give good things to those that ask him ; The Lord is Pfal.cxlv. nigh unto all that call upon him in truth; he will fulfil the

defire of them that fear him; he also will hear their cry, Psal. xxxiv, and will save them. The poor man crieth, and the Lord 6. cvii. 6. heareth him, and saveth him out of all his troubles ; the holy

Scripture is full of such declarations and promises, assuring us of succour from our distresses upon our supplication to

God; whence St. Paul thus adviseth against all solicitude: Phil

. iv. 7. Be careful for nothing, but in every thing by prayer and 16.1xxxvi

. fupplication with thanksgiving let your request be made

known to God: and (addeth, signifying the consequence xliv. 23.)

of this practice) the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Jesus Christ.

It likewise performeth the same by procuring grace and

18. Jam. iv.s

1, 4, 17.

9.

13.

aid from God, which may enable and dispose us to bear all SERM. evils well, which is really much better than a removal of XLI. them; for that hence they become wholesome and profitable to us, and causes of present good, and grounds of future reward: thus when St. Paul befought God for deliver- 2 Cor. xii. ance from his thorn in the flesh, the return to him was; My grace is sufficient for thee; for my strength is made 1 Cor. I. perfect in weakness: it was a greater favour to receive an improvement of spiritual strength, occasioned by that cross, than to be quite freed from it.

Devotion allo hath immediately of itself a special efficacy to produce content. As in any distress it is a great confolation, that we can have recourse to a good friend, that we may discharge our cares and our resentments into his bosom; that we may demand advice from him, and, if need be, request his succour; so much more it must be a great comfort, that we can in our need approach to God, who is infinitely the most faithful, the most affectionate, the most sufficient friend that can be; always most ready, most willing, most able to direct and to relieve us: he defires and delights, that in the day of our trouble we should Pfal. Isxvii. seek him; that we should polir forth our hearts before him; that we should cusi our burdens and our cares upon him; 8. that we should, upon all occasions, implore his guidance and aid: and complying with his desires, as we shall assuredly Pfal.lv. 22. find a successful event of our devotions, so we shall imme- Pfal. v.s. diately enjoy great comfort and pleasure in them.

The God of all confolation doth especially by this chan- xlii. 3. nel convey his comforts into our hearts; his very presence (that presence, in which the Psalmist saith there is fulness of \xi. 2.

Jer. xxxi. 9. joy) doth mightily warm and cheer us; his Holy Spirit Pfal. xvi. doth, in our religious intercourse with him, infinuate a 11. lightsome serenity of mind, doth kindle sweet and kindly affections, doth scatter the gloomy clouds of sadness; practising it, we shall be able to say with the Psalmist, In the Pfal. xcir. multitude of my thoughts within me thy comforts delight 19.

2. xxvi. 8. cy. 4. lxii.

i Sam. i. 15.

xxvii. 11. xxxi. 3.

cxxxix. 24. cxliii. 10.

my soul.

Humbly addressing ourselves to God, and reverently conversing with him, doth compose our minds and charm

Psal. lxxiii.

SERM. our passions, doth sweeten our humour, doth refresh and XLI. raise our spirits, and so doth immediately breed and nou

rish contentedness.

It also strengtheneth our faith, and quickeneth our hope Isa. xxvi. 8. in God, whereby we are enabled to support our present

evils, and peace of mind doth spring up within us.

It inflameth our love unto God, in sense of his gracious 26.lxix.16. illapses, thence rendering us willing to endure any want or Ixxi. 20. pain for his fake, or at his appointment.

It, in fine, doth minister a ravishing delight, abundantly able to supply the defect of any other pleasures, and to allay the smart of any pains whatever; rendering thereby the meanest estate more acceptable and pleasant, than any prosperity without it can be. So that if we be truly devout, we can hardly be discontent; it is discosting from God, by a neglect of devotion or by a negligence therein, that doth expose us to the incursions of worldly regret and forrow.

These are general remedies and duties both in this and all other regards necessary, the which yet we may be induced to perform in contemplation of this happy fruit (contentedness) arising from them. Farther,

4. It serveth toward production of contentedness to reflect much upon our imperfection, unworthiness, and guilt; so as thereby to work in our hearts a lively sense of them, and a hearty sorrow for them: this will divert our sadness into its right channel, this will drown our lesler grief by the influx of a greater. It is the nature of a greater apprehension or pain incumbent to extinguish in a manner, and swallow up the sense of a lesser, although in itself grievous; as he that is under a fit of the stone doth scarce feel a pang of the gout; he that is assaulted by a wolf will not regard the biting of a flea. Whereas then, of all evils and mischiefs, moral evils are incomparably far the greatest, in nature the most ugly and abominable, in

consequence the most hurtful and horrible; seeing, in ordir durà St. Chrysostom's language, excepting hin, there is noziw, and thing grievous or terrible among human things; not po* kuwpria verty, not fickness, not disgrace, not that which seemeth the porn' * rs

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