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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 his last sufferings. "He was oppressed and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he opened not his mouth." As Christians, we are taught to expect sufferings as our lot, and to bear them with patience, as our duty. "For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example that ye should follow his steps." Consider him, therefore, as your example; and while you do this, look to him for his grace to enable you to follow it. "It has pleased the Father that in Christ should all fulness dwell," and for you it is treasured up that you may "receive out of it, and grace for grace." Though you can do nothing of yourself, you may do all things through Christ strengthening you. His example and his grace is sufficient to make you content with such things as you have.
3. Thirdly, true contentment is to be learned only from the teaching and agency of the Holy Spirit.
It never can be acquired by any efforts of man's natural powers, independent of the operation of the Spirit of God. Like all other Christian graces, it is produced by his influence; and the "fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance." In one sense, contentment may be said to be learned from the knowledge of the scriptures; and in another, from the example and grace of Christ. But who teaches the knowledge of the scriptures? It is the office of the Holy Ghost, whom the Father hath sent
in the name of Jesus, "to teach his people all things and to guide them into all truth." And who teaches the knowledge of Christ? The same divine agent is here also the only instructor. "The Holy Spirit takes of the things of Christ and reveals them unto us." "He opens the eyes of our understanding;" he teaches the doctrines and precepts of Christ; he renews the soul after the divine image, and implants in it all the graces of the religion of Jesus. But how are you to obtain his influence and agency? By prayer. "Ask, and it shall be given you: seek, and ye shall find: knock, and it shall be opened unto you. For if ye, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children; how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?"
I shall now draw to a conclusion by making two or three remarks arising from what has been said.
1. From this subject we learn what is one great cause that so much unhappiness exists in the world.
It is because there are so many who are destitute of that contentment which the text recommends. Men are murmurers and complainers, dissatisfied with the dispensations of the wise and holy providence of God. Their minds are restless and unquiet; "like the troubled sea, when it cannot rest; whose waters cast up mire and dirt." Are any of you, my friends, in the unhappy number of the discontented? Then, alas! you are enemies to your own peace. You look for satisfaction and contentment; but you seek them where they have never taken up their abode, and neglect the search where the blessings are to be found. Righteousness, and peace, and joy, are only to be obtained in the kingdom of God—in the possession of true religion. Some of you, perhaps, have been seeking for satistisfaction from the enemies that must necessarily deprive you of it. As professed Christians the vows of God are upon you. You have engaged to renounce the devil, the world, and the flesh. But instead of renouncing, you have submitted to their tyranny, and they have disappointed your expectations. Oh correct your mistake, and no longer give credit to the deceivers who would destroy you! Look to the Author of every good and perfect gift to change your inclinations and your desires, to adorn you with the graces of his Spirit, and to clothe you with the robe of his righteousness. And thus the "work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness, quietness and assurance for ever."
2. From this subject we are led to see some of the grounds of that misery which will be the portion of the wicked in a future state.
Unrenewed and ungodly men, carry with them into the eternal world the seeds of their own woe. There is no renovation of the soul after death. Whether we die under the influence of sin or of holiness, death will not change the elements either of the one or the other. "He that is unjust let him be unjust still: and he that is filthy let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still." "The wicked shall be turned into hell." But it is not my intention here to speak of hell as the "lake of fire and brimstone," where the wicked must dwell with "everlasting burnings, without hope of deliverance; and where "the smoke of their torment will ascend up for ever and ever." My purpose is, only to notice its misery in connexion with the subject we have been considering. Allow me, therefore, to observe, that as satisfaction and rest and peace, will dwell for ever in heaven; so discontent, and pride, and impatient despair, will abide for ever in hell. As the wicked will die with all their sins and unholy passions unsubdued, they would be inconceivably miserable without being "cast into hell, where the worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched." If the Almighty Judge should say, "Continue for ever in your evil;" this would be sufficient to fill their cup of woe to the brim, and to render them eternally wretched and miserable. To be happy, you must "be renewed in the spirit of your mind." Marvel not then at what our Lord says, "Ye must be born again :—except a man be born again, he cannot see nor enter into the kingdom of God." Observe Jesus does not arbitrarily say, he shall not, but he can not. It is impossible in the nature of things. "Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to the flesh, shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit, shall of the Spirit reap everlasting life."