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possess beyond or above others. A blessing is in reality not the less valuable because others possess it as well as ourselves; and yet it requires some generosity of temper to see this. It is for the want or defect of this temper that the love of God obtains so little in the heart of man-that there is so much less gratitude towards Him than might be expected from reasonable creatures to such a benefactor. Health and liberty, the perfect enjoyment of our limbs and reason, the use of our understanding and the faculties of our mind, are blessings beyond all price; yet because others possess them as well as ourselves, because they are only common to us with almost every man we meet, they are seldom in our thoughts-seldom subjects either of satisfaction to ourselves, or of gratitude to God. Not one man in ten reflects from whom he receives these blessings, or continues to receive them. If we are not indulged with riches and honours, and high stations, with the means and knowledge of luxury and show; unless we are distinguished by those favours which, from the nature of them, must be confined to a few, we can see nothing in our own condition to be thankful for. Could this narrowness of mind be once so far got rid of, as to allow us to estimate the blessings we enjoy according as they are in themselves, and not by the comparison with others, there are few who might not find enough in their condition to excite sentiments of complacency and content, certainly of gratitude towards God.
Discontent, considered in a religious view, besides that it indisposes us for the duties of our station, by making us lazy or careless about them-besides that it sometimes puts men upon advancing themselves by unjust or forcible means-is utterly inconsistent with a religious temper of mind. It destroys, as we have already said, the love and gratitude we owe to God. It is not to be expected that men should be, nor is it found in fact that they are, capable of much affection towards God, whilst they are discontented with the condition in which he has placed them. When we confer favours, if, instead of observing satisfaction and gratitude in the person obliged, we meet with nothing but impatience, complaint, and discontent, we are naturally and justly offended with such obstinacy of temper: nor do I know any reason why the same temper should not be offensive to God, especially when it is considered that the favours we are able to confer upon one another bear no proportion to those which God has bestowed upon us all.
Discontent, again, argues too great a fondness for the world and for the concerns and advantages of it a fondness, I mean, greater than is consistent with our expectations and pursuits of a better. Were this world a man's all, it would be difficult to offer any considerations that could abate his passion for it, alleviate his disappointment, or soothe his complaints but when another, and a better existence, and of longer duration, is held out to us, such a pro
spect is calculated, one would think, to moderate our attachment to the present, and our solicitude and concern about it. The differences and distinctions of human life, which so much affect and perplex us when placed beside this great object, appear what they are, too diminutive to provoke our jealousy or discontent. For these two reasons, contentment in us Christians appears to be our duty as well as our happiness, and as such, is enjoined by St. Paul : "having food and raiment," he writes to Timothy, "let us be therewith content ;" and to the Hebrews he commands, "be content with such things as ye have." But above all precepts does he recommend this virtue by his own example: "I have learnt," says he, "in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound; every where, and in all things, I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need." There is something very great and affecting in these words, and quite of a piece with that fortitude and firmness of mind which distinguished St. Paul's character upon all occasions.
From what has been said, then, it appears that when we repine at our own condition, and covet other men's, we, for the most part, impose upon ourselves -that we are the dupes of a delusion-natural enough, no doubt, but of which a proper exertion of judgement and reflection will get the better; that when we indulge this fretful, discontented, dis
satisfied humour, we cherish a narrow-mindedness, which overlooks the many and great blessings we enjoy, because in common perhaps with most others, in order to torment ourselves with the thought of some fewer, some single advantage which is denied to us; that this frame of mind is both extremely unfavourable to all sense of affection and gratitude to God Almighty, and also too much binds down our souls to this world, and prevents any due preparation for, and progress to another.
2 SAM. XVII. 23.
And when Ahithophel saw that his counsel was not followed, he saddled his ass, and arose, and gat him home to his house, to his city, and put his household in order, and hanged himself, and died, and was buried in the sepulchre of his father.
THE crime of suicide prevailing amongst us beyond the example of any other Christian age or country, and the lawfulness of it being maintained, as it is said, by many, it becomes high time to look into the question, to see whether this practice is, or is not, forbidden to the Christian moralist.
I set out with observing, that to those who regard death as the termination of their being, this question becomes a mere computation of interest, a single comparison of the evils of life with its advantages; and according as one or the other shall appear to preponderate, a wise man will relinquish his existence or preserve it. In which estimate, however, we shall do well to remember that the prospect of many evils is worse than the presence; that though circumstances change not, we shall; that time may dissolve those