« VorigeDoorgaan »
SERM, affect, doth hinder us from fatisfaction in all other things: XXXIX. One dead fly causeth all our ointment to stink; the poffefEcclef. x. T. fion of a kingdoni will not keep us from being heavy and 2 Kings xxi. displeased, as Ahab was, if we cannot acquire a small
vineyard near us; on that one thing our head runs continually, our heart is wholly set, we can think on, we can taste nothing else; the want of that, notwithstanding all our affluence, doth pinch us; our dainties thence do prove infipid, our splendours appear dim, every thing but that is a toy unto us : so capriciously and unaccountably prone are we to discontent.
3. Is our condition, let me ask again, so extremely bad, that it cannot be much worse? Are we funk to the bot. tom of all calamity? No surely; God's providence will not suffer, the state of things here can never admit that to be; here are succours always ready against extremities; our own wit and industry, the help of relations or friends, the natural pity and charity of our neighbours, will preserve us from them; especially persons in any measure innocent can never come near them : there will therefore never fail some good matter of content in what remains; a few good things, well improved, may greatly solace us. But, however, let us imagine our case to be the worst that can be; that a confluence of all temporal mischiefs and wants hath arrived, that we are utterly bereaved of all the comforts this world afforded; that we are stripped of all our wealth, quite sunk in our reputation, deserted of every
friend, deprived of our health and our liberty; that all Job, who the losses, all the disgraces, all the pains which poor Job ixivars min tü (ai die sustained, or far more and greater than those, have togeBó28) Bso ther seized on us; yet we cannot have sufficient reason to Sar xata= be discontent; for that nevertheless we have goods left to To bi moglo us in our hands, or within our reach, far surpasling all Chrys, and those goods we have lost, much outweighing the evils we
do undergo : when the world hath done its worst, we re. main masters of things incomparably better than it, and all it containeth; the possession whereof may, and, if we be wise, will abundantly satisfy us. We are men still, and have our reason left behind, which alone, in worth, ex
ceedeth all the treasures of the world; in well using which, SERM. and thereby ordering all things for the best, we become XXXIX. more worthy, and more happy than the most fortunate fool on earth; we may therein find more true satisfaction, than any wealth or any glory here can minister : we may have a good conscience left, (the sense of having lived well heretofore, or at least a serious resolution to live well hereafter,) and that is a continual feas, yielding a far more Prov. IV.15. folid and favoury pleasure, than the most ample revenue can afford: we may have hope in God, (the author and donor of all good things,) and thereby far greater assurance of our convenient subsistence and welfare, than all present possessions can bestow; we have reserved a free access to the throne of grace, and thereby a sure means (grounded on God's infallible word and promise) of obtaining whatever is good for us; we have a firm right to innumerable fpiritual blessings and privileges, each of them justly valuable beyond whole worlds of pelf; we can, in a word, (we can if we please,) enjoy God's favour, which immensely transcendeth all other enjoyments, which vastly more than countervaileth the absence of all other things : of this, by applying ourselves to the love and service of God, we are infallibly capable ; of this no worldly force or fortune can despoil us; we having this, our condition cannot be poor, contemptible, or pitiful; it is indeed thereby most rich, glorious, and happy: for how can he be poor, that hath the Lord of all things always ready to supply him ; who hath God, as the Psalmist is wont to Pfal. lxxije speak, to be his portion for ever? how can he be despicable, 26. vi. 5.
C, cxix. 57. that hath the honour to have the Sovereign Majesty of the cxlii. 5. world for his especial friend ? how can he be miserable who enjoyeth the fountain of all happiness, who hath the light of God's countenance to cheer him, who hath the consolations of God's Holy Spirit to refresh and revive him ? what can he want, who, beside his present interest in all the needful effects of God's bountiful love, is an heir of heaven and everlasting bliss ? Seeing therefore it is in our power to be religious; seeing we may, if we will, (God's grace concurring, which preventeth us to seek,
SERM, which never is withheld from those who seek it,) be good XXXIX. Christians; seeing nothing can binder us from fearing Rom. viii. God, or can separate us from his love, neither can any 39. thing render our condition bad or unhappy, really difPfal. xxxiv. trefled or needy: O fear the Lord, saith the Pfalmift, for 9. there is no want to them that fear him: the young lions (or nabor i. the rich, as the LXX. render it) do lack and suffer hunger; .LXX.
surar. but they that seek the Lord shall not want any good thing; Ecclef. viii. and, Whofo keepeth the commandment shall feel no evil
... thing, faith the Wise Man; and, The hand of our God is Ezra viii.
upon all them that feek him, faith the Prophét; and, Who 1.Pet. iij. 13. is he that Mall harm you, (or do. ill to you, or make you 'O xarsonv.
worse,) if ye le followers of that which is good ? faith St. Rom. viii. Peter; and, We know, faith St. Paul, that to them who 28. love God, all things cooperate for good; and, Godliness, 1 Tim. vi. 6. saith he again, with contentedness is great gain; that is,
supposing we have the goods which piety ministereth, although we have nothing more, we are, if we can be con. tent, very well to pass; it is abundantly sufficient for us.
Why then, I pray, are we discontent; what do we groan or grieve for? what is it that we do want? is it the use of reason, is it virtue, is it God's favour? then indeed we have good cause to be displeased; for the want of those things is indeed lamentable : but if we do want them, it is only ourselves that we should complain of; for we may have them if we will, and who can help it if we will not? Who, if we shall wilfully deprive ourselves of them, will be concerned to mind our complaints ? But is it only a lump of trash, or a puff of honour, or a flash of pleasure, that we do need? Is it that we cannot so delicately glut our bellies, or so finely clothe our backs, or so thoroughly foothe our fancies, as we could with, that we so pitifully moan? Is it being restrained in Some respects from the swinge of our humour, is it that we are not so much regarded, or are slighted by some persons, is it that we are crossed in some design, that so discomposeth and discourageth us? then are we sottishly fond and childish in our conceits and our affections : for proper it is to children, whenas they want no solid or substantial
id trials, tolera.. will no
goods, to wail for worthless toys and trinkets; it is for SERM. children, when they have not their will in petty and imper- XXXIX. tinent matters, to cry and lament; children are much affected with every word, or little shew that crosseth them: if we were (as St. Paul chargeth us to be) perfect men, if 1 Cor. xiv, we had manly judgments, and manly affections toward *** things, we should not so regard or value any of these temporal and transitory things, either good or evil, as by the want of one sort, or by the presence of the other, to be much disturbed; we should, with St. Paul, style any present evil, tò éda@gòv tñs Sablews, a lightness of affliction; we 2 Cor. iv. should with him reckon, that the sufferings of this present om. viii. time are not worthy to be compared with the glories which 18. shall be revealed to us; we should, with St. Peter, greatly 1 Pet. i. 6. rejoice, though for a season we are in heaviness, through manifold trials, or afflictions: we should esteem any condition here very tolerable, yea very good.
4. In truth, (if we will not mince the matter, and can bear a truth sounding like a paradox,) usually our condi. tion is then better, when it seemeth worse; then we have most cause to be glad, when we are aptest to grieve; then we should be thankful, when we do complain : that it appeareth otherwise to us, it is because in our taxations of things we do ordinarily judge (or rather not judge, but fancy, not hearing or regarding any dictate of reason) like beasts; prizing things merely according to present sense or shew, not examining their intrinfic natures, or looking forward into their proper fruits and consequences.
Adversity (or a state, wherein we are not furnished with all accommodations grateful to sense or fancy; or wherein somewhat doth cleave to us offensive to those inferior powers of soul) is the thing which we chiefly loathe and abominate; whereas, in true judgment, nothing commonly is more necessary, more wholesome, more useful and beneficial to us; nothing is more needful, or conducible to the health of our soul, and to our real happiness, than it: it is the school of wisdom, wherein our minds are disciplined and improved in the knowledge of the best things, whence it is termed Faidia, that is, instructive VOL. II.
SERM. chastisementh: fo David found it ; It is, said he, good for XXXIX. me that I have been afflicted, that I might learn thy statutes; Pial. cxix. and our Lord himself, fue cedev ápūv štade, He learned obe
dience from what he suffered. It is the Academy wherein
virtue is acquired and exercised i; fo God meant it to his Κρινόμενοι
4. Vou people: The Lord thy God, faith Mofes, led thee this forty υπό Κυρίε Ρ" Fundivó years in the wilderness, that he might humble thee, and
prove thee. So the Wise Man faith, that by the sadness of Deut.viii. 2. the countenance the heart is made better ; and, that stripes
". do cleanse the inward parts of the belly. And, It yieldeth, Prov. xx. saith the Apostle, the peaceable fruit of righteousness to Heb. xii. them that are exercised thereby.
It is the furnace of the soul, wherein it is tried, cleansed, James i. 3. Rom. v. 3. and refined from the dross of vain conceits, of perverse Job xxiii. humours, of vicious distempers : When, saith Job, he hath (Pfal. Ixvi. tried me, I shall come forth as gold; and, Gold, saith the
, Wise Man, is tried in the fire, and acceptable men in the Ecclef. ii. 5. Sap. iii. 5. furnace of adverhty k. .
5. It is the method whereby God reclaimeth sturdy finners Mal. iii. 23. to goodness, engageth them to seek and serve himself: so
5:4" of the Israelites the Prophet faith, Lord, in trouble have Isa. xxvi. they visited thee, they poured out a prayer when thy chasten. 16.xxix.19. Hof. v. 15. ing was upon them ; so Manasses, when he was in affic
xxviii. tion he befought the Lord his God, and humbled himself 34. cvii. 4, &c. Ixxxiv. greatly before the God of his fathers; so Nebuchadnezzar,
on. after being driven from his kingdom, his understanding xxiii. 12. returned unto him, and he blessed the Most High, and Dan. iii.34.
Hec. praised and honoured him that liveth for ever ; so David Pfal.cxix. himself, Before, said he, I was afflicted I went astray, but 67. now have I kept thy word.
It is that whereby God doth prepare men, and doth
(Ifa. i. 25. xlviii. 10.
h- multoque in rebus acerbis,
Acrius advertunt animos ad relligionem. Lucret. iii. p. 64.
i Miraris tu, fi Deus, ille bonorum amantiffimus qui illos quam optimos effe atque excellentiffimos vult, fortunam illis cum qua exerceantur afignat? Sin. de Prov. 2.
k Hence Fugeomès (trial) is the usual word signifying it. 1 Pet. i. 6, &c.