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would be a very happy world, compared with what it is at present, if every person were contented in his state, whatever it might be.
In order to learn any lesson, whether theoretical or practical, mathematical or moral, which may be set us, the first thing is, to understand it. What, then, is it for a person to be content in his state, whatever it may be? I an
pose, that Paul, or any other saint,
First. That a person's being contented in his state, does not imply, that he is entirely satisfied with his condition, in itself consid-ly. ered. In the passage above quoted, the apostle does not say, that he was always pleased with his state itself, whatever it might be. The particle, therewith, which appears in the translation, is not found in the original, and was injudiciously inserted by the translators. cording to the original, and to the true meaning of the apostle, the passage should read thus, "I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, to be content." He was always content in his state, but not always with his state. These are two things, quite distinct from each other. It is not possible for every person always to be satisfied with his state, in itself considered.Some are in a state of poverty and want; which is very undesirable in itself, and with which no person can, or ought to be pleased. Some are in a state of ignominy and disgrace, like the apostles, who were viewed as "the filth of the earth, and the off-scouring of all things;" but this is very irksome, in itself, to all men, who naturally covet the esteem and applause of their fellow creatures. Some, again, are in a state of extreme bodily pain, with which it is impossible to be pleased; while others are smarting under the rod of affliction, which, in itself, is not joyous, but grievous. There is no reason to sup
Secondly. A person's being contented in his state, whatever it may be, does imply, that, all things considered, he is willing, for the present, to be in it. Nothing is more obvious, than that a person may view the same thing, as undesirable in itself, and desirable on the whole. Hard labour is disagreeable in itself to all mankind; and yet how many are content to labour, day after day, for the reward which they receive? Much study is a weariness to the flesh;' and yet many are content, from various motives, to apply themselves to intense study for many years. Men are willing to do and to suffer many things, on the whole, which are extremely disagreeable in themselves. Though no person can be completely satisfied with his state, in this world, simply considered; yet many persons have been content, on the whole, to be in the state in which they were: and in this sense, every person may be contented in his condition, whatever it may be. The thing is possible. However difficult the lesson may seem, the apostle, it appears, though subject to peculiar trials and sufferings, had learned it: "I have learned, in whatever state I am, to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and
The way is now prepared, to say, affirmatively, that such contentment, in one's condition, as has been described, can be derived only from a belief and love of this great truth, that all the circumstances of mankind in this life, are
in all things I am instructed, both be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need-" Contentment, in any condition, le then, is attainable. But, here the interesting question arises, How is such a happy frame of mind to st be obtained? From what consider-ordered by God. That this is a
truth, reason teaches, and sacred scripture asserts. The Providence of God is as evident from the light of nature, as his existence. As He made, so He upholds and governs the world. The laws of nature are but the uniform modes of his operation. On Him all creatures and things are constantly dependent, for all their properties, motions and circumstances. We accordingly read, in the sacred pages, that in God we live, and are moved, and have our being' that He fixes the bounds of our habitations'-that not a sparrow falleth to the ground without Him'-that He wounds and heals, kills and makes alive’—that He forms the light and creates darkness, makes peace and creates evil' that from Him cometh down every good and every perfect gift-that there is not evil in a city, and the Lord hath not
nations is it derived, from what sources does it flow? To prepare ththe way for an answer, it may be observed, in the first place, that no person can derive contentinent Irom a belief that his condition in the world happens by chance. This seems to be the belief of maby, unmeaning or absurd as it is. If the phrase have any meaning, it must be, that events take place, without design and without a cause. But what is there, in such a belief, to reconcile a man to his condition? Upon this absurd supposition, there is no reason why one's circumstances are what they are; and it is altogether uncertain, whether any good, either to himself or others, will ever result from the evils which he experiences. It may be observed, in the next place, that contentment in one's condition, is not to be derived from a belief, that events take place by a natural necessity, and cannot, in the nat-done it-and that of Him, and ure of things, be otherwise than through Him, and to Him, are all they are. Such a belief excludes things.' The Providence of God the idea of design in the events of is universal; He "worketh all life, and leaves no ground. to ex- things after the counsel of his own pect, that they will issue in any will." And a belief of this sublime desirable ends. Such a belief may truth, furnishes ample ground of make a man silent and sullen un- contentment to every person in the der the ills of life; but it can nev-world, be his condition what it may. er make him contented and cheer- For, ful. The notion of a fatal neces- First. If Divine Providence is sity, as it cannot render that universal, and every person's conpleasant, which is painful in itself;dition in life, is ordered by God, so it furnishes no ground to believe, that what is disagreeable in itself considered, may be desirable on the whole. To a child of sorrow, it would be difficult to say, whether unmeaning chance, or blind fate, presents the most dark and cheerless prospect
then no one has any reason to complain of injustice, let his condition be ever so distressing. "Shall not the Judge of all the earth, do right?" Mankind are all sinners, and deserve evil at the hand of their Creator and Moral Governour. The 'miseries of this life' are trifles
compared with the desert of sin; 1. A person may be truly and for the wages of sin is death." perfectly contented, who both deWhy, then, should a living man sires and strives to improve his concomplain, a man for the punish-dition. It is quite a mistake, to ment of his sins? Under the sever-suppose, that contentment necessaest trials of life, it becomes men to consider, that it is of the Lord's mercies that they are not consumed.'
rily puts an end to all effort to remove the evils and increase the comforts of life. Contentment is not apathy, but approbation of the Secondly. If the Providence of will of God. And, though every God is universal; then it is best, person may know, that it is the all things considered, that every will of God, that his present condiperson should be in his present tion should be as it is; yet no one condition. God is ever able to re- knows, that it is the will of God, move all the evils which men feel, that he should remain in his presand to avert those which they fear. ent condition. Contentment, thereHe can do all his pleasure. He fore, is perfectly consistent with has placed every person in his pres- the duty enjoined upon every man, ent situation, because He sees it to be diligent in some honest and wisest and best, on the whole, to useful calling, and to endeavour place him there. He never afflicts to provide for his own, and espewillingly, nor grieves the children cially those of his own household. of men. If God has placed any One may be contented in his conone in a painful and afflictive con-dition, while he is not slothful dition, it is because He saw it to in business, but fervent in spirit, be necessary for his own Glory, serving the Lord.' and the greatest good of his moral kingdom. And this, surely, must be a source of contentment to every man, in every condition of life.
Thirdly. If the Providence of God orders the temporal circumstances of men; then every one, who is truly contented, has reason to believe, that it is, on the whole, best for himself, to be at present, as he is. Those, who are reconciled to the allotments of Providence, are the friends of God, with whom he deals as with sons, and corrects them for their good. They are upright in the way; and no good thing will God withhold from upright souls. The apostle assures us, that all things shall work together for good to them that love God;' and hence he could say, "Our light affliction, which is for a moment, worketh for us an exceeding and eternal weight of glory."
The preceding observations lead to the following Inferences.
2. It is not correct, to say, that in order to be contented, one must endeavour to lower his desires to his condition, and not to raise his condition to his desires. Neither the one, nor the other, is necessary to true contentment. No person can lower his desires to his condi tion, in this world; nor can any one, in this world, raise his condition to his desires. Contentment does not result from having things, in all respects, as one would desire to have them, in themselves considered, but from the consideration, that all things are, on the whole, as God would have them. Hence, one may be contented, without suppressing any rational desire, and without ever possessing all that, which, in itself considered, his heart could wish.
3. Contentment is consistent with a great degree of unhappiness. One may be contented in his condition, while he is subjected both to pain of body and sorrow
things exclusively, are never satis-
much and enjoy nothing; while
5. It is important, that the doctrine of Divine Providence should be preached, in all its extent. This doctrine, as we have seen, lays the only foundation for contentment, amidst the toils and trials, the
4. Saints are the only happy persons in the world. They are viewed, by many, as of all men most miserable; and this is one reason, why sinners are unwilling to become saints. It is true, that the best of saints are not perfectly happy on this side Heaven; and it is also true, that they are frequent- wants and woes' of life. None ly less happy here, than they might but those, who believe that the be, and would be, if they were Providence of God extends to all more holy. But, at the same time, events, and that it is always the it may be made to appear, that result of infinite wisdom and goodsaints possess all the real, substan-ness, ever feel contented, either in tial happiness, enjoyed in this world. For though their worldly possessions are often few, and their afflictions many; yet they are sometimes content with such things as they have;' which is more than can ever be truly said of the wicked. Contentment does not arise from the abundance of one's -possessions; but from supreme love to God and joy in his government. Those who seek their own
ON REVIVALS OF RELIGION.
One of the topics which was proposed to be discussed in these essays, was the distinction between a genuine and a spurious revival. The writer is sensible that this is a part of the subject which requires
adversity or prosperity. To preach the doctrine of the universal Providence or agency of God, is therefore to furnish mankind with the means of contentment, the highest happiness known upon earthWhereas a denial of this doctrine, tends to drain the last drop of com fort from the cup of affliction, and to resign the victim of want and suffering, either to stoical stupidity or inconsolable sorrow.
an abler pen than his own. He' has no expectation of doing it justice. It is by far the most important part, and one on which other parts very much depend. Yet, as he has given some attention to it, he would venture to submit to his readers such thoughts as have occurred to him, and hope that
| a spurious kind. In others, there is reason to hope that much of it is genuine. But while I think every proper means should be used to guard ourselves and others against a fatal mistake in a matter of such immeasurable importance, I should be afraid to assume the responsibility of deciding in the gross upon any work with which I have been acquainted. I could not venture to say, this is all right, and that is all wrong. By the Searcher of hearts they must be judged. "The Lord knoweth them that are his."
Having made these preliminary observations, I shall now proceed to enquire, what is a spurious revival? The answer to this question is easy. A spurious revival is a revival of false religion. When
some more experienced hand will supply his deficiencies, and correct his errors, if such there should be. That too much may not be expected, I would observe, that it appears to me not easy to distinguish, in every instance, between a genuine and a spurious revival. There are many points of resemblance. A genuine and a spurious revival have many things in common; and they are such things as are most likely to attract the attention of superficial observers, while the marks of distinction are discovered only on closer examination, and by more discriminating minds. There is another reason why it is not easy to distinguish one revival from another, so that we may be authorized to say, this is genuine, and that is spuri-false religion is in more lively and ous. It is this; in no instance, vigorous exercise in the hearts of probably, is a revival so genuine, those who have embraced it, and as to be free from spurious cases; when numbers become the subjects and perhaps few, if any, are so of a false experience, and false spurious, that there are not some religion is thus greatly increased, genuine cases intermixed. I will there is a spurious revival. But go further.-There is, probably, the great enquiry is, what is false no instance of a work of grace up-religion! To this, I answer, withon the heart of an individual, no instance of genuine Christian experience, which is not accompanied by more or less of that which, when alone, constitutes a false experience. The great adversary of souls has been a close observer of the work of God for almost six thousand years; and it would be strange if he had not, in that time, learnt how to imitate it so skilfully as to impose upon many. When the Son of Man sows good seed in his field, the enemy comes and sows his tares. And they both spring up together. In some fields In some fields the wheat predominates, in others the tares. In few, if any, is either to be found entirely mixed. In some of those excitements which are denominated revivals at this day, there is reason to fear that a very great part of the work is of
out hesitation, all selfish religion is false religion. No matter what are its forms of devotion, or its professed objects of worship; no matter what character it ascribes to the Divinity, or by what name it calls him; no matter whether it professes to acknowledge the authority of the scriptures, or to be regulated by the precepts of Mahoinet; no matter whether it is called Deism, Gentilism, Judaism, or Christianity; if it is a selfish religion, it is not the religion of the Gospel.-The religion which Christ taught his disciples, is a religion of benevolence. It consists in love to God, and love to man. While selfish religion sets up self as supreme, and teaches us to love God only as an Almighty servant to us, the religion of the gospel sets up God as supreme, and teach