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That which I intend then to treat of from these Words, is, That prefent Things, though our Condition be afflicted, should fuffice us: Or, that we should be well fatisfied in our present Condition, whatsoever it be. So the Words are exprely in the Greek, ἀρκόμενοι τοῖς παρᾶσι, heing contented with Things prefent; or letting Things prefent and at hand fuffice you. Reft fatisfied with what you have now, and be not too follicitous for the future.
This Leffon St. Paul teaches his Son Timothy, 1 Epift. Chap. vi. 8. Having Food and Raiment, let us be therewith content. But he did not teach it him before he had learnt it himself; for he tells the Philippians, he had arrived to a great Perfection in this Virtue. Phil. iv. 11, 12. I bave learnt in whatsoever ftate I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abafed, and I know how to abound: Every where (or at all Times) and in every thing I am inftructed, both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to fuffer need. This was a true Ifraelite indeed, in whom there was no Guile. He was not like that wicked Generation in the Wilderness (by whose fearful Example these Christian Hebrews are deterred from looking back, as they did toward Egypt, Chap. iii. & iv.) who when they were hungry knew not how to bear it, but murmured and Spake againft God, Saying, Can be furnish a Table in the Wilderness? He gave us Water, can be give Bread alfo ? Can be provide Flesh for his People? And when they were full, could no better bear that; but waxed fat,
and kicked against God; they ate and drank, and rofe up to play, i. e. became beaftly Idolaters. No; he knew how to be full, and how to be hungry and in both Conditions kept an equal, moderate, and contented Mind; neither murmuring and repining in one State, nor waxing too frolickfome and wanton in the other. Nay, whatsoever the Condition was, that is, whatsoever the Circumstances of it were; in whatsoever Time, or Place, or Thing it was, that he fuffered or abounded, he knew how to behave himself, and to be well pleased. Which is the Reason, I fuppofe, that he uses so many Expreffions of the fame Import; telling us, he had learned both how to be abafed and how to abound, bow to be full and how to be hungry, how to abound and to fuffer need. A Virtue highly admired by Heathens themselves; particularly by the Famous Royal Philofopher Antoninus, who praises Socrates upon this Account, and his own Father for treading in his Steps; who knew * ἀπέχεσθαι καὶ ἀπολαύειν τέτων, &c. both how to abstain from, and how to enjoy those Things, which other Men could not want thro' their Weakness, or by Reason of their Intemperance could not truly enjoy. This made him justly esteemed a Great Man, or, in his Phrase, a Man of a compleat and invincible Spirit; who, as he would not yield to the Temptations either of Poverty or Abundance; fo had not without much Pains and commendable Labour, attain'd
* Lib. I. c. 13.
fuch a strong Habit and firm Constitution of Mind. And indeed fo much St. Paul here intimates, as Theophylact well obferves, that it is a Matter of fome Labour and Discipline to bring a Man's felf into a Conformity with his Condition, and to continue the fame contented Person when that alters and changes from better to worse. For he faith, uador, I have learned ; which is as much as to fay, that eurasias deîzaj
Meλets, there is Need of Exercife, and Study is required to attain it. The greatest Apostle could not otherwife come by it. He had it not by Inspiration, as he had the Gift of Tongues, and Prophecies, and fuch like, ayns deαrd Tegyμa & donors; and therefore it is a Bufinefs of Learning and Meditation, (as Oecumenius speaks) to which we must use and exercise our felves, that by perpetual Practice we may come to this happy Temper; and after much Confideration prevail with our felves, in every State to be content.
It will be neceffary then, for your better learning of it, that I fhow you,
I. What this Contentment is.
II. What Reason there is for it. And
III. How we may attain it. Though indeed by understanding the Reason why we should be contented, we fhall learn, in great part, how to poffefs our felves of this Virtue,
I. For the Firft; To be contented with prefent Things, I fhall thus defcribe.
It is to feel fuch a Plenitude and Fulness in our Souls, that makes us fo well pleas'd in the Condition wherein we are, as not to fuffer the Defire of a Change to trouble our Spirit, or discompose our Duty.
It will be profitable, I think, to take this Description in Pieces; and by Parts to teach you this Leffon, which you are to learn. Which cannot be well done, without giving you fome Notice alfo, how the Apostles and all good Christians came to learn it.
ift, Then, I fay, it confifts in a Fulness of the Soul; for by a better Word than that, I know not how to exprefs it: All that is neceffary to be faid concerning the Nature of Contentment, is contain'd in it, and flows from it. Then we are well, when we find a Kind of Self-Sufficiency, as the Word vápnea fignifies; fuch a Repletion (if I may use that Phrafe) within our own Breasts, that we feel no Pain, nor Trouble of Emptiness there; nor require any thing more for our Satisfaction, than we have already. And fo the Word, which otherwhere is rendred Contentment, is in one place rendred Sufficiency. 2 Cor. ix. 8. And God is able to make all Grace abound toward you; that ye always having all Sufficiency in all things, may abound in every good Work. Og oopiar, faith Oecumenius; behold the Wisdom of the Apostle, who wishes them only a Sufficiency of Carnal Things, but of Spiritual an Abundance. Yet this Sufficiency is fo great a Bleffing, that they who have it, cannot be faid to want: And it depends, as B 4
you fhall hear, upon the Abundance of God's Grace towards us; which, when we confider, I will make us think a little of this World fufficient to our Satisfaction. But be it little or much that we enjoy, when any Soul is full, and hath enough, and faith, that it fufficeth, then it is contented. And fo that very Word, which the Apostle uses in my Text, is tranflated by our Interpreters, fob. xiv. 8. Show us the Father, and afrei, it fufficeth: There needs no more; we fhall be full enough. From which Place you may both learn what Contentment is, and where this Fulness or Sufficiency is to be found; even in God himself, in the Father of our Lord Jesus Chrift. God alone can fill the Soul of Man, who calls himself All-fufficient: And there is no fuch fatisfying Sight of him, as that which we have in his Son our Saviour, who hath revealed his Bleffed Nature and Will to our great Contentment. To him therefore we must go; for he that hath the Son, hath the Father allo; and he that hath him, hath all things.
But that we may not deceive our felves by a flight Pleasure in Words, Sounds, and Phrases; I fhall briefly fhow you, what this Fulness is, which a Chriftian Soul hath from God the Father of our Lord Jefus; and by that Means, wherein our true Contentment confists.
1. And in the first place you must understand, that there is a great Store and Plenty, no less than a Fulness of Divine Wisdom and Knowledge, which God hath bestowed on us; in which the Mind of Man, when he entertains it, and fully