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that befal them : let us not conclude, because we are more fortunate in this world than our neighbour, that therefore we are greater favourites with God than he. Perhaps God meant that these happy circumstances, as we account them, should be trials of our virtue, and, according as we use them, they hould prove a blessing or a curse. If we bear ourselves with an even and composed mind, and make use of those advantages we have above other men for the doing more good in the world than other men, and in the midst of our prosperity neither vainly please ourselves, nor defpise others, but walk reverentlyand humbly with our God in all our conversation; then we have some reason to conclude, that these things are really a blessing to us. But, on theother side, ifour prosperity tempts us to pride and insolence, to the forgetfulness of God and the contempt of men ; if we use the advantage of our power to oppress the weak, and of our wit to over-reach the fimple, and our wealth to minister to the purposes of vice and luxury, to make provifion for the flesh to fulfil the lusts thereof; then our great successes, by which we measure God's love to us, are not a blessing, but a curse. See then the folly and madness of those, that take not God for their strength; but trust to the multitude of their riches, and strengthen themselves in their wickedness, and think by these means to befortified against the evils of this life! Thereare numberless calamities, from which wealth and power can never shelter us: and therefore when a man lets go his trust in God, and takes fanctuary in the strength of his own wickedness, he will find himself miserably mistaken, when the day of adversity comes upon him. Our virtueis at least as much endangered by opulence, which administers numberless incentives toluxury, and temptations to insolence, as it is by poverty. Nay, fome who before seemed to want nothing but an ample fortune, as soon as they have acquired that, have from that time wanted almost every thing else to make them valuable. The heat and warmth of prosperity has called forth those vices, which lay dormant before under the rigour of poverty. What numbers have shortened their days by abandoning them. selves to all unmanly pleasures of a diffolute life; who, if they had not been born to an affluent independent state, might have made a distinguished figure in the world ? if they had not had a fortune to support their follies, and keep pace with their lewd desires; they might have thought it necessary to lay in a stock of moral and intellectual endowments. After all, I am far from denying, that riches gives us larger opportunities of doing good : that several make this use of them, and improve their own, by enlarging the common stock of happiness; their religion, like the altar, that sanctified the gold, stamping a value upon, and dignifying, their fortune: But this I affirm, that unless we guard against criminal excesses, riches will, as the apostle expresses it, bring us into a snare, and into many hurtful and foolish lusts, and such as drown men in perdition. Such considerations as these are the happy fruits of contentment, and must necessarily exclude all ambition from the heart possessed with them.
Thirdly, By this we are inabled also to make a necessary To cove- stand against covetoufness, which is such an inorditousness. nate desire of increasing our own substance, as tempts us to use the irregular methods of defrauding and deceivingour neighbour. Be not eagerly and anxiously desirous of what the providence of God hath not thought fit to allot thee: benotenvious at what others enjoy: benot discontented with thyown state and condition in the world. Such a desire of increasing our poffeffions, as tempts us at any time to use the irregular methods of defraudingorincroaching upon our neighbours, is finful. It will be wisdom to be easy, though we should compass no more than a subsistence: for covetourness is never satisfied. Don't we see men arrive at one enjoymentafteranother, which once seemed the top of theirambition? and yet they are so far from contentment, that their deGires grow faster than their substance; and they are as eager to improve a large estate, as if they were still drudging for food and raiment; which should be the bounds of our defires. Thus the miser has so closely associated the ideas of happiness and money, that he cannot part or keep them asunder even when near the concluding Icene of his life; and, at the lame time that he grows more indifferent to every person in the world, he becomes more strongly attached to the things of it. It was against hiscovetousness, or unbounded desire, that Chrift
faid, Take heed and beware of covetousness; for man's life confifteth not in the abundance of the things which he poffeffeth. Both reason and religion command a prudent care of our affairs ; and a contented mind will not allow us to exceed herein: which we also may do by engaging in more cares than we can manage with composure of mind, or by fuffering any cares to run out into anxiety and discontent. Because whoever from desire of gain do drown themselves in such a hurry of business as is beyond their capacity to manage, defeat their own end, and hurt their souls; not having a reasonable time to attend their better interests. Those, that are not satisfied with having acted the prudent part, and to leave the event to God, but torment and rack their minds about that which is not in their own power, take that thought for the morrow, which our Saviour has condemned.
The neceffity of this virtue, therefore, in opposition to covetoufness, will yet appear more clearly, upon
" Covetoula due consideration that covetousness is contrary to God, our neighbour, and ourselves : for, as our ry to our Saviour tells us, We cannot serve God and mam- duty to God. mon: so it is a general observation, that a covetous man makes his gain the fole object of his desires, prefers his worldly business to the care of his soul, and will risque his very falvation, by lying, cheating, and neglecting his duty to God, in order to make what, in the eye of the world, is called a good bargain; and sticks at no sin to compass his ends. * And, .
In regard to our neighbour: Covetousness is a breach both of justice and charity, for he, that makes no scru- To our ple to offend God, and to neglect the great duties neigbbour. of religion, in order to get money, will never be afraid to trick his neighbour. And as the love of money is the root of all evil, to the man that is swayed with that love, will not scruple to sacrifice both his neighbour's body, goods, and reputation, to gather riches to himself. .
In regard to ourselves: Does he not sell his soul for those things, which at last must perish with the body? To our. Yet this is the case of the covetous man; who, either felves.
• Sue Sunday 11. Sect. Il.
by unlawful means, seeketh to heap up riches, or, having this world's goods, fets his heart upon his wealth: for this is the sentence of the apostle: He shall not inherit the kingdom of heaven. Besides, it is too commonly seen, that he will scarce allow his own body the neceffary refreshments and conveniencies of life. Therefore, as we regard our present and future comfort and happiness, it is our duty to seek for the virtue of contentedness, which will guard us against this sin of covetousness; by which our body and soul are brought into misery. Our duty to God and charity to our neighbours induce us to take pleasure in the welfare of others, whether we share in it personally or not. Shall my eye be evil against my neighbour, because God is good to him? Contentment, as well as charity, envieth not. Whoever is possessed with contentment will not allow himself under any inconveniencies to venture upon the violation of his conscience to remove them; nor mend his circumstances by any acts of fraud or violence, or by making shipwreck of faith and a good conscience towards God and man.
II. If we observe the various mercies, which actually atHelp to con- tend us in every state, they will strongly oblige us tentedness. to be content. Our circumstances are never so low and uneasy in this world, but there are some mixtures of mercy and favour to be found therein. Though we lose some relation, yet others are left behind. Though we meet with some disappointments, yetare we not quite stript. See if there beno instances of a straiter condition than our own; andisit notina gratitude to God to overlook the advantageous parts of our condition? Short life, and theapproaches of death, speak the reasonableness of contentment with our present station : and view the finished misery of finners, that have shot the gulf, who have not so much as a drop of water to cool their tongues; then say, Wherefore shoulda living man complain? Anxiety and uneasiness is not the way to amend our circumstances. Discontent is not the way to the favours of providence; nor leads it to the proper steps for the obtaining our desires, but provokes God to becontrary tous, and discomposes our souls; adds the weight of guilt to any burthen; stops the enjoyment of the mercies we have, and our thankfulness for them; and
is the parent of many great fins, and a discouragement to our christian profession in the sight of all men. They, who are continually complaining of inconveniencies, seem capable of relishing any thing but heaven; for which a complaining temper will by no means prepare them. Whereas not to repine at the inconveniencies we meet with here may bring us to that place, where only there are no inconveniencies at all. And he, who is not discontented with a slender portion of blessings, may have the greatest blessing of all, the Deity to be his portion for ever and ever. But
The apostle had learned to be content, in whatever state he was; not because hecould chuse his condition, but because by the grace of God he could be reconciled to any state. Men misplace their discontent; they are very well fatif- No real fi. fied with what they are ; they are only disfatisfied tisfaction
without conwith what they have. Whereas the very reverse rentedness. ought generally to take place, and the only desire which we ought to set nó bounds to is that of increasing in goodness. Aðender allotment of worldly blessings will content an easy, modest, humble frame of mind: and no allotment whatever, no affluence how great foever, can satisfy an uneasy, restless, fretful temper, ever seeking rest and finding none, making to itself disquietudes when it meets with none, and improving them when it does. Our wants according to nature's measures are small, but according to fancy's they are infinite, Would men but be persuaded to make their nature and their reason the measure of their wants, they might always live next door to fatisfaction. People judge wrong, when they imagine to be assured of content, if they could obtain such a comfort, which their hearts are set upon; for when they are gratified in their desire, a worldly mind will outgrow their attainments, new wants will start up, and they will be as far from satisfaction as at their first setting out. Let us single out whom we please: yet there are very few, whom we would exchange conditions with, all circumstances considered, in every particular. Such an one we take to be, in general, very happy: but, if we descend to particulars, and take into the account, it may be, his age, or his health, or his perfon, or his abilities, or his temper, or his behaviour; we