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Condition; if we will not refufe to receive it, nor fhut it out of our Hearts. snim
For thus, you know, I defcribed the Nature, of Chriftian Contentment: That it is fuch a Fulness in our Souls, as makes us fo well pleafed in the Condition wherein we are, that we do not fuffer the Defire of a Change to trouble our Spirit, or difcompofe our Duty. Every Word in this Defcription is worthy to be confidered; and therefore I refolved to take it in Pieces, and fet before you, by Parts, this Leffon, which the Apoftic himself, he tells us elfewhere, had learned, and here endeavours to teach others.
I began with the firft Word, and declared, as far as I cou'd at once, wherein that Fulness con fists, which will make us fay, as St. Philip did to our Saviour, apre, it fufficeth
And I fhewed you, (1.) What a Fulnefs there is of Divine Wisdom and Heavenly Knowledge, wherewith our Lord has replenished us. And (2.) What a Fulnefs of Love, called by the Apoftle the Fulness of God, this is apt to infpire us withal. And (3.) How this makes us to abound in good Works, and to be filled with the Fruits of Righteousness. (4.) What Fulness of Hope alfo, and (5.) Fulness of Joy, which fprings from feveral Heads, the Grace of our Lord Jefus Chrift hath communicated to all those who understand, and believe, and obey his Holy Gospel.
6. There is a Sixth Thing remaining to compleat this Fulnefs, which we also find there mentioned, arifing from the Society and sweet
Converse that we have with good People, cfpe-
And truly it is a great Satisfaction, which the Company of thote we love is wont to yield us. The very Remembrance of them is fo delightful that Gregory Nazianzen doubts not to fay, that this is * ὅρος τῆς ἀνθρωπίνης Ουδαιμονίας, Aysu mchapμitutos, the very utmost Bound and Term of Human Felicity; or, if you will call it fo, of the Bleffedness of this Life. Nature it felf most strongly inclines all Creatures to it, as Ariftotle obferves; there being no Beafts of the Earth, or Fowls of the Air, or Fishes of the Sca, no living Creatures, whether Wild or Tame, but take a kind of Contentment to be with others of the like Kind with themselves.
* Epift. 71. ad Posthum.
therefore Mankind must be much more inclin'd to Society, because, if it be fuch as it fhou'd, its Pleasure is not without great Profit; and all the Pleasure of other Things wou'd lose much of its Sweetness, if it was without this. For no Man would chufe to abound in all Kind of Wealth and Delight that is in the World, and be tied withal to love no body, nor be loved of
If we had therefore nothing else but this, in which we are fo much pleased, it might ferve to ease us in many Cafes, and rid us of the Trouble of many Thoughts which elfe wou'd moleft us, and fupply the Abfence of divers Things, the Want of which is apt to discompofé us. The very Sight of the Countenance of our Friends, is fometimes able alone to scatter à Cloud that was upon our Spirit; their Words are healing Medicines; their Kindness and hearty Love is a reviving Cordial; their zealous Concernment for our Good, puts Life and Vigor into us; and their fervent Defires for our Happiness, adds Strength to our Hopes, and is able to recover them out of a Swooning Fit.
Now if this have fo much Power naturally and alone, then added to all the reft that I have already mentioned, and as it is refined by Chrift Jefus, it cannot fail to compleat our Contentment as much as this World will allow. For that Wisdom, that Love, that Piety, that Holy Hope and Joy in our Lord, which tempers and fweetens all the Paffions of the Soul, render those in whom they are, the most. Excellent, the moft
most Useful, and the most Unchangeable Friends. And if Friendship be the very Salt of Life (as Wife Men have faid) without which it wou'd be nauseous and unfavoury; then nothing could defign us a greater Benefit, and project to give a greater Relish to all the Enjoyments (and Miferies too) of Life, than Chriftian Religion: Which intended to make all that believe on Christ our Friends, and incline them to embrace us with the Love of Brethren and Sifters, or as the Members of the fame Body do one another. And though Chriftianity hath not obtained this happy End, yet look how many good and truly virtuous Souls there are, fo many Well-willers you have to pray for you, to pity you, to relieve you, to affift you with their Counfel, and all other ways that are in their Power. For
φίλοι πάντες ἀλλήλων καὶ συγγενεῖς δι κατὰ Θεὸν ζῶντες καὶ τῷ αὐτῷ ἐυαγγελίῳ 5οι χεντε, (as the fame Greg. Naz. fpeaks) they are all Friends and Kindred to each other, who live according to God, and walk after the Rule of the fame Gospel. And the nearer and ftricter Friendship we contract with any of these, still the more happy we are; becaufe they will be the more concerned for us, and have the dearer and tenderer Affection to us in all our Needs. And what is there that hinders us from fo doing? It being no Injustice to the reft, to have a more than ordinary Kindness for fome. † Tide Sintov, as the aforefaid Great Man fpeaks in another Place;
+ Epift. 47.
Epift. 43. ad Greg. Nyff.
What is there more just and righteous than God? And yet, though he be the Maker and Lord of all alike, he was pleased to chufe unto himself a peculiar People out of the reft of Mankind, and named them Ifrael; and was not afraid that he fhould be therefore accounted unjuft or unequal,
Abrabam had the Title of the Friend of God, without any Injury to any body elfe. And he that had Abraham for his Friend, was not with out a choice and peculiar Good, that would add much to his Contentment and Satisfaction, and make him a better Neighbour also to the reft of the World.
It is impoffible he fhou'd be poor, who hath any Store of these Riches. Ob học ipfum vivo tranquillius, &c. faith Erafmus*: For the Sake of this very Thing, I live in the greater Tranquillity; because I take that to be among my Goods, which my fincere Friends poffefs. I can never imagine my felf deftitute, as long as I have any of thefe remaining. There is no Poffeffion more precious than this; in which, above all other Things in the World, I acquiefce'; and comfort my felf against all the Croakings of the Frogs. Nay, fometimes in one Person Christians find a great Treafure; who will help to illuminate their Mind with his Knowledge, and warm their Spirit by the Ardency of his Love to God, and comfort them (as St. Paul fpeaks, 2 Cor. i. 4.), when they are in Trouble, by the Comforts wherewith be himself was comforted of God,
* Lib. 27. Ep: 7: