« EdellinenJatka »
SERM. discovereth them to be, we shall have little cause to
which is wont to produce discontent.
12. We should to this purpose take especial care to search out through our condition, and pick thence the good that is therein, making the best we can of it, enjoying and improving it; but what is inconvenient or offensive therein declining it, diminishing it, tempering it so well as we may, always forbearing to aggravate it. There are in nature divers simples, which have in them some part or some juice very noxious, which being severed and cast away, the rest becometh wholesome food; neither indeed is there any thing in nature so venomous, but that from it, by art and industry, may be extracted somewhat medicinal and of good use when duly applied; so in most apparent evils lieth enclosed much good, which if we carefully separate, (casting away the intermixed dross and refuse,) we shall find benefit, and taste comfort thence; there is nothing so thoroughly bad, as, being well ordered and opportunely ministered, will not do us much good: so if from poverty we cast away or bear quietly that which a little pincheth the sense or grateth on the fancy, and enjoy the undistractedness of mind, the liberty, the leisure, the health, the security from envy, obloquy, strife, which it affordeth, how satisfactory may it become to us! The like conveniences are in disgrace, disappointment, and other such evils, which being improved may endear them to us : even sin itself (the worst of evils, the only true evil) may yield great benefits to us; it may render us sober and lowly in our own eyes, devout in imploring mercy, and thankful to God for it; merciful and charitable toward
others in our opinions and censures; more laborious SERM. in our good practice, and watchful over our steps: and if this deadly poison well administered yieldeth effects so exceedingly beneficial and salutary, what may other harmless (though unhandsome and unpleasant) things do, being skilfully managed !
13. It is a most effectual means of producing content, and curing discontent, to rouse and fortify our faith in God, by, with most serious attention, reflecting upon the arguments and experiments, which assure us concerning God's particular providence over all, over us. It is really infidelity (in whole or in part, no faith, or a small and weak faith) which is at the root, as of all sin, so particularly of discontent: for how is it possible, did we firmly believe, and with any measure of attention consider, that God taketh care of us, that he tendereth our good, that he is ready at hand to succour us, (how then, I say, is it possible,) that we should fear any want, or grievously resent any thing incident? But we, like St. Peter, are órcyómitos, of little faith, therefore we cannot walk on the sea, but in despair sink down: sometimes our faith is buried in oblivion or carelessness; we forget, or mind not that there is a Providence; but look on things as if they fell out casually or fatally; thence expect no redress from Heaven, so tumble into despair and disconsolateness. Sometimes, because God doth not in our time and our way relieve us or gratify us, we slip into profane doubt, questioning in our hearts whether he doth indeed regard us, or whether any relief is to be expected from him; not considering, that only God can tell when and how it is best to proceed; that often it is not expedient our wishes should be granted ; that we
SERM. are not wise enough or just enough to appoint or XLI. choose for ourselves; that it is impossible for God
to gratify every man; that it would be a mad world, if God in his government thereof should satisfy all our desires.
We forget how often God hath succoured us in our needs and straits, how continually he hath provided for us, how patiently and mercifully he hath
borne with us, what miracles of bounty and mercy he Ps. lxxviii. hath performed in our behalf; we are like that disPsal. cvi. 7, trustful and inconsiderate people, who remembered
not the hand of God, nor the day when he delivered them; remembered not the multitude of his mercies; but soon forgat his works, and waited not for his counsel; They forgat God their Saviour, who had done great things in Egypt, wondrous works in the land of Ham, and terrible things in the Red
sea. Psal. xxii. From such dispositions in us our discontents do 19. xlvi. 1. ixxxi. 1." spring; and we cannot cure them, but by recollectlix. 7. cxliv.no
living ourselves from such forgetfulness and negliPsal. lxxiii. gence; by shaking off such wicked doubts and dis26. xxvii. 1.89 cxl. 7. trusts; by fixing our hearts and hopes on him who
alone can help us; who is our strength, the strength of our heart, of our life, of our salvation.
Of him (to conclude) let us humbly implore, that he in mercy would bestow upon us grące to submit in all things to his will, to acquiesce in all his dispensations, gladly to embrace and undergo whatever he allotteth to us ; in every condition, and for all events befalling us, heartily to adore, thank, and bless him; even so to the ever blessed God, our gracious Maker and Preserver, be eternally rendered all glory, thanksgiving, and praise. Amen.
1 Pet. j. 21. Because also Christ suffered for us, leaving us an example,
that ye should follow his steps. IN these words two things appear especially ob- SERM.. servable; a duty implied, (the duty of patience,) and XLII. a reason expressed, which enforceth the practice of that duty, (the example of Christ.) We shall, using no more preface or circumstance, first briefly, in way of explication and direction, touch the duty itself, then more largely describe and urge the example.
The word patience hath, in common usage, a double meaning, taken from the respect it hath unto two sorts of objects, somewhat different. As it respecteth provocations to anger and revenge by injuries or discourtesies, it signifieth a disposition of mind to bear them with charitable meekness; as it relateth to adversities and crosses disposed to us by Providence, it importeth a pious undergoing and sustaining them. That both these kinds of patience may here be understood, we may, consulting and considering the context, easily discern: that which immediately precedeth, If when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable to God, relateth to good endurance of adversity; that which presently followeth, who when he was
SERM. reviled reviled not again, when he suffered he XLII.
threatened not, referreth to meek comporting with provocations: the text therefore, as it looketh backward, doth recommend the patience of adversities, as forward, the patience of contumelies. But seeing both these objects are reducible to one more general, comprising both, that is, things seeming evil to us, or offensive to our sense, we may so explicate the duty of patience, as to include them both.
Patience then is that virtue, which qualifieth us to bear all conditions and all events, by God's disposal incident to us, with such apprehensions and persuasions of mind, such dispositions and affections of heart, such external deportments and practices of life, as God requireth and good reason directeth. Its nature will, I conceive, be understood best by considering the chief acts which it produceth, and wherein especially the practice thereof consisteth; the which briefly are these :
1. A thorough persuasion, that nothing befalleth us by fate, or by chance, or by the mere agency of
inferior causes, but that all proceedeth from the disJob v. 6. pensation, or with the allowance of God; that afflic
tion doth not come forth of the dust, nor doth trou
ble spring out of the ground ; but that all, both Lam. iii.38. good and evil, proceedeth out of the mouth of the
Most High, according as David reflected when 2 Sam. xvi. Shimei reviled him: Let him, said the good king,
curse, because the Lord hath said unto him, Curse
David; and as Job, when he was spoiled of all his Job i. 21. goods, acknowledged, The Lord gave, and the
Lord hath taken away.
2. A firm belief, that all occurrences, however adverse and cross to our desires, are well consistent