« EdellinenJatka »
SERM. removal or alleviation of our crosses : for God hath
XLI. promised that he will give good things to those that Matt. vii. ask him ; The Lord is nigh unto all that call upon Psal. cxlv. him in truth; he will fulfil the desire of them that Jam. iv. 8. fear him; he also will hear their cry, and will save Psal. xxxiv. them. The poor man crieth, and the Lord heareth 6. cvii. 6. men. The poor man CTIIN,
him, and saveth him out of all his troubles; the holy scripture is full of such declarations and promises, assuring us of succour from our distresses
upon our supplication to God; whence St. Paul thus Phil. iv. 7. adviseth against all solicitude: Be careful for no16. lxxxvi. thing, but in every thing by prayer and supplicaxliv. 23.; tion with thanksgiving let your request be made
known to God: and (addeth, signifying the consequence of this practice) the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Jesus Christ.
It likewise performeth the same by procuring grace and aid from God, which may enable and dispose us to bear all evils well, which is really much better than a removal of them; for that hence they become wholesome and profitable to us, and causes
of present good, and grounds of future reward : thus 2 Cor. xii.9. when St. Paul besought God for deliverance from 1 Cor. x.13. his thorn in the flesh, the return to him was; My
grace is sufficient for thee; for my strength is made perfect in weakness : it was a greater favour to receive an improvement of spiritual strength, occasioned by that cross, than to be quite freed from it.
Devotion also hath immediately of itself a special efficacy to produce content. As in any distress it is a great consolation, that we can have recourse to a good friend, that we may discharge our cares and
our resentments into his bosom ; that we may de- SERM. mand advice from him, and, if need be, request his_XLI. succour; so much more it must be a great comfort, that we can in our need approach to God, who is infinitely the most faithful, the most affectionate, the most sufficient friend that can be; always most ready, most willing, most able to direct and to relieve us : he desires and delights, that in the day of Psal. Ixxvii. our trouble we should seek him; that we should cv.4.lxii.8. pour forth our hearts before him ; that we should po
ud i Sam.i.15. cast our burdens and our cares upon him; that we. Pet. V.7. should, upon all occasions, implore his guidance and xxvii. 11.
xxxi. 3. aid : and complying with his desires, as we shall xliii. 3. assuredly find a successful event of our devotions, so cxliii. 10.** we shall immediately enjoy great comfort and plea-Jer. Ixxi.
lxi. 2. sure in them.
The God of all consolation doth especially by this channel convey his comforts into our hearts; his very presence (that presence, in which the Psalmist saith there is fulness of joy) doth mightily warm Ps. xvi. 11. and cheer us; his Holy Spirit doth, in our religious intercourse with him, insinuate a lightsome serenity of mind, doth kindle sweet and kindly affections, doth scatter. the gloomy clouds of sadness; practising it, we shall be able to say with the Psalmist, In the Ps. xciv.19. multitude of my thoughts within me thy comforts delight my soul.
Humbly addressing ourselves to God, and reverently conversing with him, doth compose our minds and charm our passions, doth sweeten our humour, doth refresh and raise our spirits, and so doth immediately breed and nourish contentedness.
It also strengtheneth our faith, and quickeneth our hope in God, whereby we are enabled to support Isa. xxvi. 3.
BARROW, vol. II. LI
SERM. our present evils, and peace of mind doth spring up
within us. Psal. lxxiii. It inflameth our love unto God, in sense of his 26. lxix. 16. xxiii. 4.
o gracious illapses, thence rendering us willing to endure any want or pain for his sake, or at his appointment.
It, in fine, doth minister a ravishing delight, abundantly able to supply the defect of any other pleasures, and to allay the smart of any pains whatever; rendering thereby the meanest estate more acceptable and pleasant than any prosperity without it can be. So that if we be truly devout, we can hardly be discontent; it is discosting from God, by a neglect of devotion or by a negligence therein, that doth expose us to the incursions of worldly regret and sorrow.
These are general remedies and duties both in this and all other regards necessary, the which yet we may be induced to perform in contemplation of this happy fruit (contentedness) arising from them. Further,
4. It serveth toward production of contentedness to reflect much upon our imperfection, unworthiness, and guilt; so as thereby to work in our hearts a lively sense of them, and a hearty sorrow for them: this will divert our sadness into its right channel, this will drown our lesser grief by the influx of a greater. It is the nature of a greater apprehension or pain incumbent to extinguish in a manner, and swallow up the sense of a lesser, although in itself grievous; as he that is under a fit of the stone doth scarce feel a pang of the gout; he that is assaulted by a wolf will not regard the biting of a flea. Whereas then, of all evils and mischiefs, moral evils
are incomparably far the greatest, in nature the most SERM.
XLI. ugly and abominable, in consequence the most hurtful and horrible”; seeing, in St. Chrysostom's language, excepting sin, there is nothing grievous or Oiðiv duvèy terrible among human things; not poverty, not rivo, da
mot twv úvagusickness, not disgrace, not that which seemeth the most
Le jóvn. cu fsmost extreme of all evils, death itself; those being vía, ei vósos,
opz Übees, names only among such as philosophate, names of ovx isúpsa, calamity, void of reality; but the real calamity this, &c. a Chris to be at variance with God, and to do that which Videos displeaseth him ; seeing evidently, according to just Olymp. Ep. estimation, no evil beareth any proportion to the 'Theod. 1. evil of sin, if we have a due sense thereof we can hardly be affected with any other accident; if we can keep our minds intent upon the heinous nature and the lamentable consequences of sin, all other evils cannot but seem exceedingly light and inconsiderable ; we cannot but apprehend it a very silly and unhandsome thing to resent or regard them: what, shall we then judge, is poverty, in comparison to the want of a good conscience ? what is sickness, compared to distemper of mind and decay of spiritual strength? what is any disappointment, to the being defeated and overthrown by temptation? what any loss, to the being deprived of God's love and favour? what any disgrace, to the being out of esteem and respect with God? what any unfaithfulness or inconstancy of friends, to having deserted or betrayed our own soul? what can any danger signify to that of eternal misery, incurred by offending God? what pressure can weigh against the load of guilt, or what pain equal that of stinging remorse? in fine, what condition can be so bad as that of a wretched sinner? any case surely is tolerable, is desirable, is
et ad Ste
SERM. lovely and sweet, in comparison to this : would to XLI.
God, may a man in this case reasonably say, that I were poor and forlorn as any beggar; that I were covered all over with botches and blains as any lazar; that I were bound to pass my days in an hospital or a dungeon ; might I be chained to an oar, might I lie upon the rack, so I were clear and innocent : such thoughts and affections, if reflecting on our sinful doings and state do suggest and impress, what place can there be for resentment of
other petty crosses ? 2 Cor. vii. Contrition also upon this score is productive of a Vid. Chrys, certain sweetness and joy, apt to quash or to allay ad Demet. l ol
all worldly grief: as it worketh a salutary repenth. tom. ance not to be repented of, so it therewith breedeth
a satisfactory comfort, which doth ever attend repentance : he that is very sensible of his guilt, cannot but consequently much value the remedy thereof, mercy; and thence earnestly be moved to seek it; then, in contemplation of divine goodness, and considering God's gracious promises, will be apt to conceive faith and hope, upon his imploring mercy, and resolution to amend; thence will spring up a cheerful satisfaction, so possessing the heart, as to expel or to exclude other displeasures : a holy and a worldly sadness cannot well consist together.
5. Another good instrument of contentedness is sedulous application of our minds to honest employment. Honest studies and cares divert our minds, and drive sad thoughts from them : they cheer our spirits with wholesome food and pleasant entertainments; they yield good fruits, and a success accompanied with satisfaction, which will extinguish or temper discontent: while we are studious or active,