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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
content.” This was a lesson he had attained, not by the effects of his own natural powers, not by the reasonings of philosophy; but by the grace of God :not all at once, but by a long course of discipline. He had passed through many vicissitudes and trials; and through the sanctified use of them by divine grace, he had been taught and enabled to practise the great lesson of Christian contentment. Do you ask, then, how this grace is to be obtained ? I answer, in three ways.
1. First, from the doctrines, facts, and principles of the word of God.
Here you are taught motives which you can learn no where else. In the volume of divine revelation you are instructed in the knowledge of that God whose providence governs you and all your concerns. Here you learn the character of the majesty, the justice, the omnipotence, the infinite goodness, the unerring wisdom of the supreme Disposer of all human events. Influenced by motives derived from the knowledge of the attributes of Jehovah, dear as Isaac was to Abraham, at the divine command he was devoted to death; and had not He who issued the command prevented its execution, the obedient son would actually have been sacrificed by the loving father! Taught in the same school, Eli, warned of the divine judgments coming on his family, replied, “It is the Lord, let him do what seemeth him good." On the same principles, Aaron, on the melancholy death of his two sons, “ held his peace.” In the Bible we are taught the relation in which we stand
to God as his creatures--sinful creatures indeed, yet through grace made his children. Here we learn our manifold mercies. Here we are reminded of the shortness of our stay on earth ; and that as “we brought nothing into this world, so it is certain we can carry nothing out.” Here we learn the future state of man, when the brief period of his continuance on earth has reached its termination, in the everlasting misery of sinners and the eternal felicity of the righteous. These are facts, doctrines, and principles from which may be learned the mystery of Contentment.
2. Secondly, we are to learn this grace from the example of Christ.
We are to look, my brethren, to Jesus, not only as our Redeemer, but as our example. “Ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, who, though he was rich, became poor. He who was in the form of God, and thought it no robbery to be equal with God, took on him the form of a servant.” He who laid the foundation of the earth, and raised the fabric of the universe, had not, when upon earth, where to lay his head. “He went about doing good, but he was despised and rejected of men.” He was a partaker of flesh and blood, and knew the sensations of hunger, and weariness, and cold; but the conveniences and comforts which he needed, he found not. And, oh, with what patience, and submission, and contentment, did he bear all the afflictions and sorrows of humanity! Contemplate, dear brethren, his patience through the whole of his life; especially in
not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken ; cast down, but not destroyed.”
4. Once more, contentment requires that we should put away all envy and uncharitableness.
Let us be satisfied with the conduct and dispensations of Him upon whose shoulder the government is placed, the government of the church, and all its members; of the world and all its inhabitants; who reigns in righteousness, and rules in judgment. Shall we envy others because they are more happy or prosperous than ourselves? As believers, we should take pleasure in the happiness of others, rather than repine at their welfare. “Rejoice with them that do rejoice,” is the apostolical precept. As Christians, “we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another. And whether " one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it." Trying circumstances, if not borne with patience, have a tendency to sour our spirits, and to render us dissatisfied and peevish towards others, especially if our trials arise from the unkindness, ingratitude, or misconduct of our fellow creatures. But should this be the case, it ought not to stop the current of our charity. Moses did not lose his affection for the Israelites, because one of them sent him away into banishment. The apostles did not become uncharitable, because they were persecuted. They acted upon the advice of their Lord and Master, and so should we. “But I say
unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you ; that ye may be the children of your Father, which is in heaven : for he maketh his sun to arise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth his rain on the just and on the unjust. . . . . Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father, which is in heaven, is perfect.”
Before I proceed to the second head of the subject, it may be necessary to remark that true Christian contentment can only proceed from right principles. Some persons may be the subjects of a sort of natural contentment, the effect of insensibility, or lack of feeling. But this is a contentment, if it may be so called, like that of a log of wood which feels not the axe that strikes it. Others may possess a spurious species of the grace, produced by reasoning on the principles of fatal necessity. They may argue that it is folly to torment ourselves on what we cannot prevent, or to strive against the decrees of fate. But this is the contentment of a stoic, who pretends 'that pain is an imaginary evil, of which he can divest himself at will, by the face of a philosophy conferring happiness independent of situation and in spite of circumstances. But this is not “the patience of the saints,” nor the contentment inculcated by the religion of Jesus. Christian contentment proceeds from more solid arguments, and arises from much higher principles. It eyes the sovereignty of God, to which it is our duty to submit : it views his wis