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in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill towards men. Blessed be the Lord God, the God of Israel, who only doeth wondrous things. And blessed be His glorious name for ever: and let the whole earth be filled with His glory. Amen, and Amen."
Hebrews xiii. 5.
BE CONTENT WITH SUCH THINGS AS YE HAVE.
Many duties enjoined on us in the scripture may be denominated personal. Such are those which refer to the tempers and dispositions of the mind. The reality of our religion is to be proved by its effects upon our heart, as well as by its influence on our conduct. As candidates for a blessed immortality, we are required to " put off the old man, and to be renewed in the spirit of our mind." Unless our religion produce these effects, where is the evidence of our possessing that faith, which is so essentially connected with salvation? the principle that "worketh by love, purifieth the heart, and overcometh the world."
The subject on which your attention is requested, at present, is Contentment. This is a virtue excellent in itself, acceptable to God, and beneficial to its possessor. It is a Christian grace, the experience and exercise of which will, even in the present state, communicate a degree of heavenly felicity to the soul. It well deserves therefore our study to understand, and our endeavour to obtain it. Without further introductory remarks I shall proceed,
I. To consider the nature of contentment.
II. To notice some motives for its cultivation and exercise.
III. To point out the way in which it is obtained. I. The nature of contentment is to be considered. Let us observe then what this grace implies and
1. In the first place, contentment implies moderation in our desires of worldly good.
As believers and the disciples of Christ, it becomes us to be satisfied with what God is pleased to give us for the supply of our need, without any anxious desires for abundance. Is it not promised that " no good thing will He withhold from them that walk uprightly?" "Having food and raiment, therefore, let us be content." Let us remember the language and imitate the disposition of the patriarch Jacob :— "If God will be with me, and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat,' and raiment to put on, then shall the Lord be my God." Let us adopt the prayer of Agar: "Two things have I required of thee: deny me them not before I die. Remove from me vanity and lies: give me neither poverty nor riches ; feed me with food convenient for me: lest I be full and deny thee, and say, who is the Lord? or lest I be poor, and steal, and take the name of my God in vain." Has God blessed you with affluence? Evince your gratitude by a liberal disposal of His bounty. Pray for grace that you may use your abundance for the glory of God, and the benefit of your fellow creatures. "Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness; that, when ye fail, they may receive you into everlasting habitations." Are you poor? then, dear brethren, be frugal and industrious. Entreat the God of all grace to give you a contented mind, and to make you "rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love Him." Whatever our worldly circumstances may be, let us not be immoderately careful about what is termed bettering our condition. Prudence and diligence in our worldly concerns are necessary and commendable. But the anxious pursuit of wealth is prejudicial to our highest interests: it often ends in disappointment; and, what is of infinitely worse consequence, it entangles the soul in a perilous net. "They that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition.
2. Contentment implies patient submission to the dispensations of divine providence.
God's ways are often in the great deep: his footsteps are not known. Dispensations, which appear dark and mysterious to us, are conducted by the controlling and directing hand of Him, who does all things wisely and well. Are we exercised with trials and afflictions? They are intended for our good. He chastens us "for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness." "All things work together for good to them that love God; to them that are the called according to his purpose." Acquiescence in the good pleasure of God is therefore at all times our duty: and it is a duty, which will produce peace and consolation in its exercise. The early Christians, in the midst of their heaviest afflictions, rejoiced. "They took joyfully the spoiling of their goods; they counted it all joy when they fell into divers temptations :—they were sorrowful, yet always rejoicing." Every trial has a voice to us, and is calculated to teach us some important lesson. Hence the prophet says, "Hear the rod, and Him who hath appointed it." Does God, my brethren, exercise you with afflictions? Then despise not the chastening of the Almighty; patiently submit to his dispensations; inquire into their design, and pray that your "light affliction, which is but for a moment, may work out for you a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory." Thus Samson's riddle will be verified in your own experience: "Out of the eater will come forth meat; and out of the strong will come forth sweetness."
3. This grace implies that whatever our condition may be, we are not to use any unlawful means for its improvement.
Are we brought into tribulation and adversity? Are trials and conflicts upon us? Then should we patiently continue under them, rather than attempt to break the yoke, and burst the bonds, which God has laid upon us. Do our afflictions arise from the