Page images

First, let us speak of God, of his perfections, and government of the world, from which to every person of reflection who believes in God at all, there cannot but arise some cure to the discontents and griefs of the heart. For, had it been left to ourselves what to devise or wish, in order to secure peace to us in every state, what could we have invented so effectual as the assurance of being under the government of an Almighty Ruler, whose conduct to his creatures can have no other object but their good and welfare?

-Above all, and independent of all, He can have no temptation to injustice or partiality. Neither jealousy nor envy can dwell with the Supreme Being. He is a rival to none, he is an enemy to none, except to such as, by rebellion against his laws, seek enmity with him. He is equally above envying the greatest, or despising the meanest of his subjects. His dispensations, it is true, are often dark and unaccountable to us; but we know the reason of this to be, that we see only a part of them, and are not yet able to comprehend the whole. This we well know, that we ourselves are often the

very worst judges of what is good or ill for us in this life. We grasp at the present, without due regard to consequences : and whether these consequences are to carry the advantages we had promised ourselves, or be pregnant with future evils, is what we cannot foresee. Experience has taught us a thousand times, that God judges better for us than we judge for ourselves. Often have we seen that what we considered at the time as sore disappointment, has proved in the issue to be a merciful providence; and that, if what we once eagerly wished for had been obtained, it would have been so far from making us happy,


that it would have produced our ruin.— The reflection of Solomon, Who knoweth what is good for man in this life, all the days of his vain life which he spendeth as a shadow ?* should often occur to every one who is given to discontent. Placed as we are, in the midst of so much ignorance with respect to the means of happiness, and at the same time under the government of a wise and gracious Being, who alone is able to effect our happiness, acquiescence in his disposal of our lot, is the only disposition that becomes us as rational creatures. To fret and repine at every disappointment of our wishes, is to discover the temper of froward children, not of men, far less of Christians. Christians, amidst all their grievances, have ever these promises to comfort them; that if they cast their care upon God he will care for them ; that out of evil he bringeth forth good; nay, that at last he shall make all things work together for good to them who love him.

In the second place, in order to correct discontent, let us attend to ourselves and our own state. Let us consider two things there; how little we deserve, and how much we enjoy. As to deserving in the sight of God, the great disposer of our lot, we know that we have no claim. We are all sinners; who are so far from having a title to challenge favours as our due, that we must acknowledge it to be of God's mercies that we are not consumed. As to deserving from the world, we are apt indeed sometimes to make high and unreasonable pretensions; yet, surely, very conceited we must be, if we be not disposed to

* Eccles. vi. 12.

[ocr errors]

admit, that there are many of at least equal merit with us, whose condition in the world is no better, perhaps much worse than ours; who yet make no complaints, whose discontents are not heard. How much splendid genius is buried in forgotten neglect and obscurity? How much real worth and merit is driven forth to suffer all the hardships of a stormy life, while we dwell among our own people? Look into your state, my brethren, and, before you give vent to peevishness, make a fair and just estimate of all the blessings you enjoyin comparison with others. You would willingly, I know, exchange your condition, in part, with many. .

You would gladly have the wealth of this man ; you would have the high reputation and honour of another; the health,

' perhaps, and firm vigour of a third. But, I ask, Who is there with whom you would wish to make a total exchange; to forego altogether your present

; self; and to be just what he is, in mind and in body, as well as in outward estate? If this be an exchange, which few, I apprehend, are willing to make, does not this argue, that each man, on the whole, is sufficiently pleased with himself; that there are, in every situation, certain comforts, and certain grounds of self-complacency and satisfaction, which ought in reason to be employed as remedies against discontent?

In the last place, consider the state of the world around you.-- You are not happy. You dwell, you admit, among your own people. But there, say you, “ How many vexations do I occasionally experience ? “ Sometimes distressed for want of health ; some“ times disappointed in my plans, and straitened in


my circumstances; at other times afflicted with “ domestic troubles : so that I am far from being as " I would wish to be.”. -Pray, my brother, who is there that lives in every respect just as he would wish to live? First, find out such a person; look through all conditions and ranks, and try if you can discover one who will tell you that he has no complaint or uneasiness whatever, before


allow self to repine at your present situation. Do you presume to indulgè discontent, merely because you are included in the common lot; because you are not exempted from bearing your share of the common burden? What is human life to all, but a mixture of some scattered joys and pleasures, with various cares and troubles ?

You have, perhaps, set your heart on some one thing, which if you could attain it, you insist, would put an end to all your complaints, and give you full contentment. - Vain man! will no experience teach you wisdom? Have not you had the same opinion before this of some other object of your desire; and did

you not find that you was deceived in the enjoyment? Will you not then at last be persuaded that all which cometh, like all that is past, is vanity ? Vanity, believe it, is the indelible character imprinted on all human things. As far as happiness is to be found on earth, you must look for it, not in the world or the things of the world, but within yourselves, in your temper and your heart. Let the world change into one form or another as it will, it will be a vain world to the end; and you, to the end, will be discontented. It cannot give you what you seek. The sea saith, it is not in me; and the earth saith, it is not in me. Silver and gold are to no purpose

[ocr errors]

Are you

weighed for the price of it. The decree of the Almighty hath past, and cannot be reversed, that man should find his true contentment, under every condition, only in a good conscience and a wellregulated mind, in a holy life, and the hope of heaven.-- You call yourself a Christian. Does not that name import that you consider yourself as a pilgrim and a passenger on earth ; related in your expectations and hopes to a better world? Are not ashamed to betray, by your discontent, a spirit so inconsistent with such hopes and expectations, and at the time when you profess to be looking towards the end of your journey, to show so much uneasiness about all the little circumstances of accommodation by the way?- -Live by faith, my brethren, and you will live above this world and its discouragements. Dwell with God, and with things divine and immortal, and you shall dwell with true wisdom. You will find

) nothing so great in worldly events, as either to elate or deject you. Resting upon a principle superior to the world, you


possess your spirits in peace, and will learn that great lesson of heavenly philosophy, in whatever state you are, therewith to be content.


« PreviousContinue »