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which every man is qualified to take up: when the manufacturer quits his loom, and the artisan lays down his tools, in order to contrive plans for reforming the state, and to constitute societies for carrying his plans into execution; what can be expected to follow from such a spirit, if it were to become prevalent, but the most direful confusion ? Were the rashness of some, whose intentions are innocent, the only evil to be dreaded, the danger would be less. But it is always to be apprehended that the operations of such persons are directed by men who have deeper designs in view; who seek to embroil the state in order to bring forward themselves; whose aim it is to rise into eminence, though it were on the ruins of public tranquillity and order. Let such men, if any such there be, consider well what the consequences may be, of fomenting the spirit of presumptuous innovation. It is a dangerous weapon which they attempt to wield. By the agitation which they raise among a blind multitude, they are giving impulse to the motions of a violent engine, which often discharges its explosions on the heads of those who first touched its springs.
Upon the whole, let us, my brethren, be thankful that our grounds of discontent, whether founded on real or imaginary grievances, are so few; and that, for so great a number of public blessings, we have reason to bless the God of Heaven. We live in a land of pure religion, of liberty and laws, and under a just and mild government. However the opinions of men may differ about this or that political measure adopted by government, it may with confidence be said, that we have much reason to respect those
rulers, under whose administration the empire, though engaged in a hazardous and expensive war, has all along continued to hold a high rank among the nations of Europe, and has attained to that flourishing state of commerce, opulence, and safety, in which we behold it at this day: insomuch that perhaps the greatest dangers we have to apprehend, arise from the jealousy with which rival nations behold our superiority at sea, and our wealth and strength at home.—Let our prayers ascend frequently to Heaven for the continuance of those blessings; for the peace of our Jerusalem ; for peace within her walls, and prosperity within her palaces; and let the admonition of Scripture never be forgotten ; My son, fear thou God; honour the king ; and meddle not with them that are given to change. *
* Prov. xxiv, 21. 1 Peter, ii. 17.
On a CONTENTED MIND.
2 KINGS, iv. 13.
Say now unto her, " Behold thou hast been careful for
“ us with all this care; what is to be done for thee? “ Wouldst thou be spoken for to the King, or to the “ Captain of the Host ?" And she answered, “I “ dwell among mine own people.'
A PIOUS and respectable woman of Shunem had
exercised great hospitality to the prophet Elisha. In order to accommodate him in his various journeyings, she had caused a chamber to be built for him, adjacent to her house, where he might be furnished with all that, according to the simplicity of those times, was wanted for his entertainment. In the text, the Prophet, by his servant Gehazi, acknowledges the obligations he lay under to this good woman for her care and attention; and being at that time in favour with the king of Israel, desires to know, whether, in return for her kindness, he should apply to the king, or the captain of the host, in her behalf, and procure advancement to her in rank and
, fortune. Her answer bespeaks all the modesty of one who was satisfied and contented with her present lot. Without any affectation of uncommon virtue, or any haughty contempt of the prophet's offers, she
mildly replies, “ I dwell among mine own people. " I dwell in the condition to which I was born; in
my native land; among my original connections, " and persons of my own rank; and living there in
peace, I have no desires of aspiring to a higher 66 rank.'
The temper of this worthy Shunamite, who could so properly set bounds to her desires, and enjoy her present condition with contentment, is what I now propose to your imitation. It stands in opposition to that restless and discontented spirit which so often sets men at variance with their condition in the world, makes them look with contempt on that state of life and sphere of action which Providence has allotted them; and encouraging every real or supposed discouragement to prey upon their minds, makes them pine for some change of fortune.
It is proper, however, to observe, that this moderation of spirit which I am now recommending, is not inconsistent with our having a sense of what is uneasy or distressing in our lot, and endeavouring, by fair means, to render our condition more agreeable. Entire apathy, or passive indifference to all the circumstances of our external state, is required by no precept of religion. What a virtuous degree of contentment requires and supposes, is, that, with a mind free from repining anxiety, we make the best of our condition, whatever it is: enjoying such good things as God is pleased to bestow upon us, with a thankful and cheerful heart; without envy at those who appear more prosperous than us; without any attempt to alter our condition by unfair means; and without any murmuring against the Providence of Heaven. In that state in which it pleased God. “ to place me at my birth, I am ready to remain, as
long as it shall be his pleasure to continue me there. “ He has placed me among my equals. Such com“ forts as he saw meet for me to possess, he has “ bestowed. These I shall study to improve; and
by his kind providence favouring my industry and “ application, I may hope they will be increased. In " the mean time, I rest satisfied; and complain not. “ I dwell among mine own people."
But if this acquiescence in our condition is to be considered as belonging to that contentment which religion requires, what becomes, it will be said, of that laudable ambition, which has prompted many boldly to aspire with honour and success far beyond their original state of life? -I readily admit, that on some among the sons of men, such high talents are bestowed, as mark them out by the hand of God for superior elevation; by rising to which, many, both in ancient and modern times, have had the opportunity of distinguishing themselves as benefactors to their country and to mankind. But these are only a few scattered stars that shine in a wide hemisphere; such rare examples afford no model for general conduct. - It is not to persons of this description that I now speak. I address myself to the multitude; to the great body of men in all the various walks of ordinary life. Them I warn of the danger of being misled by vanity and self-conceit, to think themselves deserving of a much higher station than they possess.
I warn them, not to nourish aspiring desires for objects beyond their power of attaining, or capacity of enjoying; and thereby to render themselves unhappy in their present condition, and dissatisfied with all that belongs to it. — By this