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SERM. the help of relations or friends, the natural pity and
X.charity of our neighbours, will preserve us from
them; especially persons in any measure innocent can never come near them : there will therefore never fail some good matter of content in what remains; a few good things, well improved, may greatly solace us. But, however, let us imagine our case to be the worst that can be ; that a confluence of all temporal mischiefs and wants hath arrived, that we are utterly bereaved of all the comforts this world afforded ; that we are stripped of all our wealth, quite sunk in our reputation, deserted of every friend, deprived of our health and our liberty; that all the losses, all the disgraces, all the pains
which poor Job sustained, or far more and greater ixiywosy aus Toù (rov bie-than those, have together seized on us; yet we canBianu aru
and not have sufficient reason to be discontent; for that Jay natato- nevertheless we have goods left to us in our hands, šsvápenos di avroữ, &c. or within our reach, far surpassing all those goods Olymp. 2. we have lost, much outweighing the evils we do un
dergo : when the world hath done its worst, we remain masters of things incomparably better than it, and all it containeth; the possession whereof may, and, if we be wise, will abundantly satisfy us. We are men still, and have our reason left behind, which alone, in worth, exceedeth all the treasures of the world; in 'well using which, and thereby ordering all things for the best, we become more worthy, and more happy than the most fortunate fool on earth ; we may therein find more true satisfaction, than any wealth or any glory here can minister: we may have a good conscience left, (the sense of having lived
well heretofore, or at least a serious resolution to Prov. xv.15. live well hereafter,) and that is a continual feast,
e our res
yielding a far more solid and savoury pleasure, than SERM. the most ample revenue can afford: we may have XS hope in God, (the author and donor of all good things,) and thereby far greater assurance of our convenient subsistence and welfare, than all present • possessions can bestow; we have reserved a free access to the throne of grace, and thereby a sure means (grounded on God's infallible word and promise) of obtaining whatever is good for us; we have a firm right to innumerable spiritual blessings and privileges, each of them justly valuable beyond whole worlds of pelf; we can, in a word, (we can if we please,) enjoy God's favour, which immensely transcendeth all other enjoyments, which vastly more than countervaileth the absence of all other things : of this, by applying ourselves to the love and service of God, we are infallibly capable; of this no worldly force or fortune can despoil us; we having this, our condition cannot be poor, contemptible, or pitiful; it is indeed thereby most rich, glorious, and happy : for how can he be poor, that hath the Lord of all things always ready to supply him; who hath God, Psal. Ixxiii.
26. xvi. 5. as the Psalmist is wont to speak, to be his portion cxix. 57. for ever? how can he be despicable, that hath the cam honour to have the Sovereign Majesty of the world for his especial friend ? how can he be miserable who enjoyeth the fountain of all happiness, who hath the light of God's countenance to cheer him, who bath the consolations of God's holy Spirit to refresh and revive him ? what can he want, who, beside his present interest in all the needful effects of God's bountiful love, is an heir of heaven and everlasting bliss ? Seeing therefore it is in our power to be religious; seeing we may, if we will, (God's grace con
SERM. curring, which preventeth us to seek, which never is XXXIX. withheld from those who seek it,) be good Christians;
seeing nothing can hinder us from fearing God, or Rom. viii. can separate us from his love, neither can any thing
. .render our condition bad or unhappy, really disPs. xxxiv.9. tressed or needy: O fear the Lord, saith the Psalm
ist, for there is no want to them that fear him: the ningúcica s- young lions (or the rich, as the LXX. render it) do Lxx.**. lack and suffer hunger; but they that seek the Eccles. viii. Lord shall not want any good thing; and, Whoso . keepeth the commandment shall feel no evil thing, Ezra viii. saith the Wise Man; and, The hand of our God is
upon all them that seek him, saith the prophet; 1 Pet. iii.13. and, Who is he that shall harm you, (or do ill to
"wr you, or make you worse,) if ye be followers of that Rom. viii. which is good ? saith St. Peter; and, We know,
saith St. Paul, that to them who love God, all things 1 Tim.vi.6. cooperate for good; and, Godliness, saith he again,
with contentedness is great gain; that is, supposing we have the goods which piety ministereth, although we have nothing more, we are, if we can be content, very well to pass; it is abundantly sufficient for us.
Why then, I pray, are we discontent; what do we groan or grieve for? what is it that we do want? is it the use of reason, is it virtue, is it God's favour? then indeed we have good cause to be displeased; for the want of those things is indeed lamentable: but if we do want them, it is only ourselves that we should complain of; for we may have them if we will, and who can help it if we will not ? Who, if we shall wilfully deprive ourselves of them, will be concerned to mind our complaints ? But is it only a lump of trash, or a puff of honour, or a flash of pleasure, that we do need ? Is it that we cannot so delicately glut our bellies, or so finely clothe our SERM. backs, or so thoroughly soothe our fancies, as we could wish, that we so pitifully moan ? Is it being restrained in some respects from the swinge of our humour, is it that we are not so much regarded, or are slighted by some persons, is it that we are crossed in some design, that so discomposeth and discourageth us? then are we sottishly fond and childish in our conceits and our affections: for proper it is to children, whenas they want no solid or substantial goods, to wail for worthless toys and trinkets; it is for children, when they have not their will in petty and impertinent matters, to cry and lament; children are much affected with every word or little show that crosseth them : if we were (as St. Paul chargeth us to be) perfect men, if we had manly 1 Cor. xiv. judgments, and manly affections toward things, we ?'. should not so regard or value any of these temporal and transitory things, either good or evil, as by the want of one sort, or by the presence of the other, to be much disturbed; we should, with St. Paul, style any present evil, cò èra pòv tñs exitews, a lightness of 2 Cor. iv. affliction; we should with him reckon, that the suf-Rom. viii. ferings of this present time are not worthy to be 18. compared with the glories which shall be revealed to us; we should, with St. Peter, greatly rejoice, 1 Pet. i. 6. though for a season we are in heaviness, through manifold trials, or afflictions: we should esteem any condition here very tolerable, yea very good.
4. In truth, (if we will not mince the matter, and can bear a truth sounding like a paradox,) usually our condition is then better, when it seemeth worse; then we have most cause to be glad, when we are aptest to grieve; then we should be thankful, when
SERM. But further, it perhaps displeaseth us, that the XXXIX. course of the world doth not go right, or according
to our mind ; that justice is not well dispensed, that virtue is under hatches, that worth is not considered, that industry is not rewarded, that innocence and modesty are trampled upon; that favour, partiality, corruption, flattery, craft, impudence do carry all before them ; devouring all the encouragements due to honest industry: this may be observed, but why should it displease ? art thou guilty of contributing to this ? then mend; if not, then bear; especially seeing thou canst not help it; for so it hath always been and ever will be in the world, that things never have gone there as the wisest judge, or the best men desire: there have never been good men enough to sway the world ; nor will the few good men that are, be so active in promoting public good, as bad are in driving on their private designs. Doth not this course of things necessarily spring from the nature of men, which therefore we should no more be vexed at, than for that a serpent hath poison, or that a wasp hath a sting? we cannot wonder at it, why then should we be strangely affected by it ? could any man ever have been pleased, if this were a sufficient cause of displeasure? However the world goes, we may yet make a tolerable shift; God is engaged competently to provide for us; that should satisfy us. God observeth these things no less than we, and he can easily hinder them, yet he thinketh good to suffer them; and shall not we do so likewise? There is in fine appointed a judgment hereafter, when all these things shall be redressed and set straight; when justice and virtue shall triumph, when integrity and industry shall find their due recompense: it is