صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

he did not find fufficient Caufe, upon fecond Reflection, both to repent and be afhamed of. But, on the other Hand, how calm is the Mind, how ferene the Countenance, how mild the Language, how engaging the Behaviour, how fweet the Sleep, how grateful the Repaft, how profperous the fpiritual Eftate, how happy and delightful the whole Life of him, that has brought his angry Paffions under Subjection; that is at Peace with himself, and at Peace with the whole World; that is neither devifing Mischief against others, nor fufpecting any to be contrived against himself! So true is the Obfervation of the wife Man, that he, who is flow to Anger, is of great Understanding, but he, that is hafty of Spirit, exalteth Folly.

But, above all, the Folly or Wisdom of these different Tempers will then appear, when this fhort Scene of Things fhall be fhifted; when we fhall be removed into an immortal World of Spirits, and have, each of us, our Souls forted into their proper Place and Company; when the Proud and Arrogant, the Peevish and Quarrelfome, shall be configned to the fad Abode of Spirits of their own Complexion, there to wrangle out a long Eternity in perpetual Feuds and Contentions, in perpetual vexing and tormenting one another; while the Meek and Gentle, the Quiet and Peaceable, fhall be received into the Society of heavenly Lovers, into the Regions of Peace and Tranquillity, and into the Bofom of that bleffed Jefus, who, in our own Nature, fet us the Example of this moft excellent Virtue, that we might follow his Steps.

To this Purpose therefore let it finally be confidered, that, how mean and despicable a Figure soever the Man of a meek and pacifick Temper may seem to make in this World of Tumult and Confufion, yet the Time will come, when Perfons, that have raised the greateft Noife and Buftle,


thofe Sons of Thunder and reftlefs Intrigue, that have laid the World waste, and turned it upfide down, to gratify their boundless Ambition and ungoverned Appetites, fhall take up the Sentiment of the wife Son of Syrach, and say, This is he, whom we had fometimes in Derifion, and for a Proverb of Reproach: We Fools, then it fhall be, accounted his Life Madness, and his End to be without Honour; but how is he now numbered among the Children of God, and his Lot is among the Saints!

Of Contentment.


NDER the Regulation of our Paffions and Affections, we may not improperly place the Art of Contentment, which confifts in fuch an Acquiefcence and good Pleasure in that Condition of Life, wherein the Providence of God has placed us, as will not fuffer the Defire of Change to trouble our Spirit, and discompose our Duty; as will engage us to entertain all Occurrences of Life, and even the feverest Dispensations of Heaven, not only with Patience and Submiffion, which was a Point infifted on before, not only with Calmness and Compofedness, which may proceed fometimes from a Stupidity of Temper, but with a real Complacency and Chearfulness of Mind; counting it all Joy, as the Apoftle terms it, when we fall into divers Temptations; because we know. the trying of our Faith worketh Patience, and, if Patience have her perfect Work, she will make us perfect and intire, wanting nothing.

To discover the Reasonableness then of being habitually well-pleased with our State and Condition, of what Kind foever it be, let us,

I. Look up to God, in whom we live, move, and bave our Being; and in him confider the ample Provifion he has made for our Neceffities. Our Neceffities

[ocr errors]

Neceffities indeed, if we confult Nature, are not many; the chief Things for Life, as the Son of Syrach computes them, are Water, and Bread, and Cloathing, and an Houfe to cover Shame; and of these the Generality of Mankind are not deftitute: For, though they may not have them poured into their Laps by Birth-right and Inheritance, yet they have them by their daily Industry and Acquifition, which, perhaps, is as good a Tenure. The great Apostle St Paul, though he might have exacted a Maintenance of the Church, in Behalf of his Ministry, yet thought himself rich enough, while he was able to work for his Living. He rejoices, indeed, in the Love of the Philippians, who had been fo kind, as to make a Contribution for him; but he takes Care to inform them, that he did not rejoice fo much, because they had made him rich, as because they had done their Duty, and were rich in good Works: Not that I fpeak in Refpect of Want, fays he, for I have learned, in whatsoever State I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abafed, and I know how to abound; everywhere, and in all Things, I am inftructed, both to be full, and to be hungry, both to abound, and to fuffer Need: Nevertheless, ye have well done, in that ye did communicate with my Affliction.

The most difconfolate State is that of Sickness or Old-Age, in Conjunction with Poverty; but even here God has made a competent Provifion, by affigning all fuch, as have this double Load upon them, to the Care and Relief of the Rich. These he has made his Proxies and Reprefentatives upon fuch Occafions; and, though many of them fcandalously falfify their Truft in this Regard, yet, in all Parts, there are fome fcattered here and there, like Cities of Refuge in the Land, whereunto thofe, that are in Want and Diftrefs, may seasonably fly for Succour; infomuch, that, what


with the legal Provifions that are made in this Cafe, and what with the voluntary Contributions of the Charitable, few, very few, I hope, want the Things that are abfolutely neceffary; which the Apostle comprises in the fmall Compass of Food and Raiment, and proposes them as Materials fufficient for Content: For as it is an easier Thing to fatisfy the Cravings of an hungry, than to cure the Squeamishness of a furfeited Stomach; fo certainly the Difcontents of the Poor are much easier allayed, than those of the Rich. The Indigence of the one has contracted his Defires, and taught him to look no farther, than a little beyond bare Neceffaries; so that a moderate Alms fatisfies, and a liberal one transports him: But he, who, by perpetual Repletion, has his Defires ftretched and extended, is capable of no fuch Satisfaction. In fhort, he, who can put an End to his Wishes, (as the contented Man always does) with the fame Labour puts an End to his Uneafinefs too; for Uneafinefs is the natural Motive of Defire, and, reciprocally, he, whofe Defires are fatisfied, has all the Happiness, that is attainable in this Life. It is to be observed farther of the Bleffings of God, that the greater and more fubftantial they are, the more they are in Number, and of common Ufe. The four Elements, of Fire, Water, Air, and Earth, are appointed to fupply every Man's Occafions and Needs. The whole Hoft of Heaven, the Sun, Moon, and Stars, are by God divided to all Nations. The Sun fhines as bright on the poor Cottage, as on the most magnificent Palace; and the Stars have their benign Afpects, as well for him, that is behind the Mill, as for him, that fitteth on the Throne. All our Senfes, all the Members of our Bodies, all the Powers and Faculties of our Souls, which, by the Bleffing of God, most of us enjoy perfect and intire, are not only more in Num

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

ber, but of far greater Value, than what we fancy we want, in order to our Happiness. For, is not the Life more than Meat, fays our Saviour, and the Body than Raiment? Take no Heed, therefore, for your Life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your Body, what ye shall put on: "Hath $6 not God bestowed upon you that which is infi"nitely better than all thofe Things, about which "you are wont to be fo follicitous? And will he

deny you the lefs, who has granted you the ૬. greater Boon? Doth not your Heavenly Father "know that ye have Need of thefe Things? And "would he have made you with these Needs of "Meat, Drink, and Raiment, had he not like

wife taken Care to fupply them? What is "Houfe or Cloathing, if you look upon the cu"rious Fabrick of your Body, which he hath

reared? Or, what is Food, in Comparison of "that noble Life, which you feel yourfelves in"fpired with? Without all Controverfy, he will "never fuffer you to want fuch fmall Things,

who already has been fo liberal in bestowing "greater Benefits; efpecially fince these greater "Benefits cannot be fupported without the other.

Confider, as he adds, the Fowls of the Air: Becaufe God has given them a Body, therefore he "gives them Food, though they neither fow, nor "reap, nor gather into Barns, to lay up Provifion

for themselves: Are ye not much better than they? Defpair not then of his Providence: He << will be fo much the more careful of you, as you દ are better than Birds, and other fuch-like Crea"tures, who, without any Thought of their own, "find every Thing, that is needful for them, ❝ ready at Hand.”

Let us look up to God again, as the Ruler, as well as Benefactor, the great Difpofer, as well as Provider, for Mankind, and, under this View, we


« السابقةمتابعة »