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SERMON XXXIX.

OF CONTENTMENT.

Phil. iv. II.

I have learned in whatever fate, &c.

SERM. 111. FARTHER, if we consider our condition, (be it what XXXIX. it will, how poor, how mean, how despicable and forlora

soever,) we can have from it no reasonable ground of discontent.

1. Our condition in this world cannot, if rightly estimated, and well managed, be extremely bad, or sorrowful; nothing here can occur insupportable, or very grievous in itself; we cannot, if we please, want any thing confderable, and the defeet whereof may not be supplied, or supported by far better enjoyments. If we have high opinions of some things, as very excellent, or very needful for us, it is no wonder if we do want them, that our condition is unpleasant to us; if we take other things for huge evils, then, if they be incumbent on us, we can hardly scape being displeased : but if we thoroughly look through such things, and scan them exa&ly, valuing them, not according to fallaeious impressions of sense, or illufive dreamings of fancy, but according to sound dictates of reason, we may find, that neither absence of the former, nor the presence of the latter doth make our condition much worse, or render our case deplorable.

We are, for instance, poor: that condition, rightly

weighed, is not so very sad: for what is poverty? what Test.de but the absence of a few superfluous things, which please

Pat. 7.

Arift.

wanton fancy rather than answer need a; without which SERM. nature is easily satisfied, and which if we do not affect, we XXXIX. cannot want? what is it but to wear coarse clothes, to feed on plain and simple fare, to work and take some pains, to fit or go in a lower place, to have no heaps of cash, or hoards of grain, to keep no retinue, to have few friends, and not one flatterer? and what great harm in this ? It is a state, Vid. Plut. in which hath its no small conveniences and comforts, its ariit. happy fruits and consequences; which freeth us from many cares and distractions, from many troubles and crosses, from many encumbrances, many dangers, many temptations, many fore distempers of body and soul, many grievous mischiefs, to which wealth is exposed; which maintaineth health, industry, and fobriety; disposeth us to feed heartily, to move nimbly, to sleep sweetly; which preserveth us from luxury, from satiety, from Roth and unwieldiness b. It yieldeth difpofition of mind, freedom and leisure to attend the study of truth, the acquist of virtue. It is a state which many have borne with great cheerfulness; many (very wise men) have voluntarily embraced; which is allotted by divine wisdom to most men; and which the best men often do endure; to which God hath declared an especial regard, which the mouth Pfal. 3. 14. of truth hath proclaimed happy; which the Son of God

“Ixviji. 10. hath dignified by his choice, and sanctified by his par- lxix. 33.

..lxxii. 4, 18. taking deeply thereof: and can such a condition be very - loathsome? can it reasonably displease us?

cxlvi. 7.

cxlvii. 2. Again, thou art, suppose, fallen into disgrace, or from Lukevi. 20. honour and credit art depressed into a state of contempt Jam, ii. 5. and infamy? This also rightly prized is no such wretchedness; for what doth this import? what, but a change of opinion in giddy men, which thou dost not feel, which thou art not concerned in, if thou pleaseft; which thou

xv, 10.

cxl. 12.

• Te do egzugájar' isao što sroepúzce

Eis teus apagadoùs xenergi' oux vis per Bior. Socrat,

Si vis vacare animo, aut pauper fis oportet, aut pauperi fimilis.
Multis ad philofopbandum obftitere divitiæ ; paupertas expedita eft, fecura
eft. Son. Ep. 17.
Sæpius pauper & fidelius ridet. Sen. Ep. 80.

e, then 's the breat all tom

SERM. never hadst reason much to regard, or at all to rely upon? XXXIX. what is thy loss therein ? it is the breaking of a bubble,

the sinking of a wave, the changing of a wind, the cracking of a thing most brittle, the flipping away of a thing most fugacious and Nippery : what is honour, and fame, but thought ? and what more Aitting, what sooner gone away than a thought? And why art thou displeased at the loss of a thing so very llender, and lim? If thou didit know its nature, thou canst not be disappointed ; if thou didst not, it was worth thy while to be thus informed by experience, that thou mayest not any more regard it. Is the contempt, thou hast incurred, from thy fault? bear the consequence thereof patiently, and do thy best by removing the cause to reverse the effect : is it undeserved and causeless? be satisfied in thy innocence, and be glad that thou art above the folly and injustice of those who contemn thee. Let thy affections rather be employed in pity of theirs, than in displeasure for thy own case. Did, let me ask thee again, the good opinion of men please thee? that pleasure was fond and vain, and it is well thou art rid of it: did it not much affect thee? why then doit thou much grieve at the loss thereof? Is not also thy fortune in this kind the same with that of the best men ? have not

those who have deserved most honour, been exposed to Job xxx. 1, most contempt? But now, Job could say, they that are

younger than I have me in derifon, they abhor me, they Pf. xxii. 6, flee far from me, and spare not to spit in my face. And, I 7.

am, could that great and good King say, a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and despised of the people: all

they that see me, laugh me to scorn ; they shoot out the lip, 1 Cor. iv. they make the head :- and, we are defamed, we are re

viled, we are made as the filth of the world, and the off

scouring of all things unto this day, could the holy ApoIfa. liii. 3. stles say; and, He is despised and rejected of men he was

despised and we esteemed him not, was said of our Lord himself: and can this condition then in just esteem be fo very pitiful, or grievous ?

But thou art perhaps troubled because thou art wrongfully censured, odioully traduced and defamed, abused by

10.

12, 13.

5 minnaar,

llander, or by detra&tion; which asperseth thee with things SERM. whereof thou art no-wise guilty, or representeth thee in a XXXIX. character unworthy of theec: be it fo; what then? why doth this so much affect thee?

Is not every man subject to these things ? are not the greatest men, are not the wisest men, are not the best men liable to the same? yea chiefly liable, excellency being the special mark of envy and obloquy? Can any good men escape free of them among so many bad men, whose doings 'Ara'o pin as goodness doth reproach, so it provoketh their malig-iya si es nity? Canst thou imagine to pass thy days in so unjust and diunjar

Theod. Ep. spiteful a world without incurring such bad usage? can so 80. many vain, so many bold, so many lawless tongues be tied up, or kept within compass of truth or equity ? Wilt thou suffer it to be in the power of any man at his pleasure so easily to discompose and vex thee? because he will be bad, shalt thou be miserable ? why dost thou not rather please thyself in the conscience of thy endeavouring to deserve and do well; in thy innocence, and clearness from the blame which they impose on thee; in thy having given no cause of such offence and outrage? why dost thou not rather pity their unworthiness and unhappiness, who stoop to so mean and base practices, than fret at them, as bad to thee? They do themselves far more mischief, than they can do thee. .

And why dost thou not consider, that indeed thou art guilty of many faults, and full of real imperfections, so that no man can easily derogate from thee more than thou deservest: he may indeed tax thee unjustly, he may miss in the particulars of his charge, he may discover groundless contempt and ill-will toward thee: but thou knowest thyself to be a grievous sinner, and it is just that thou shouldst be reproached, (God, for thy humiliation or thy correction, may have ordered him, as David said he might have ordered Shimei, to curse thee ;) thou hast therefore

+ Exempl. Jeremiæ. Chryf. ad Olymp. 16. Gratias ago Deo meo, quod dignus fum quem mundus oderit. Hier. Ep. 39. (ad Afellam.)

SERM. more need to be humble in reflection on thyself, than to XXXIX. swell with disdain in regard to his injury.

Thou shouldīt improve this dealing, and make it wholesome to thee, by taking occasion thence to correct thy real faults, and endeavouring to become truly more worthy; that so thy conscience may be a firm bulwark against all detraction and obloquy: in fine, satisfy thyself by committing thy soul with patience in well-doing unto thy Judge, who assuredly will do thee right, will protect

thy reputation, and clear thy innocence: his judgment Theodor. is only worth regarding, be little concerned with any

Ep. 83.

other.

Again, being disappointed and crossed in the success of their projects, or undertakings, is wont to put men, as they conceive, into a woful case: but why so? why, let me ask thee, who art discontented upon this score, didit thou build much expectation upon uncertainties? didft thou not foresee a possibility, that thy design might miscarry? and if so, why art thou not prepared to receive what happeneth? was it not an adventure? why then art thou troubled with thy chance? Is he not a filly gamester, that will fret and fume at a bad cast, or at the loss of a game? Didst thou refer the business to God's disposal and arbitrement ? if not, thou deservedst to be croffed, and rather confess thy fault, than complain of thy fortune : if thou didst so, then be consistent with thyself, and acquiesce in his determination : in fine, what is thy loss, is it of thy care and pain? would it have been much better, that thou hadft been careless or idle ? but hast thou not in lieu of them got some wisdom and experience? haft thou not (if thy attempt was reasonable and worthy) exercised thy wit, thy courage, thy industry? haft thou not (by thy defeat) got an opportunity to express equanimity and patience? if thou so improvest thy disappointment, thou art

a gainer by thy loss, thou dost more than conquer by thy . defeat: however, since the gain, the credit, the preferment

thou didit aim at, and hast mifled, are things in themselves of no great value, and such as thou mayest well live without, as other good men have done, thou canst not have

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