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SERM, commonly do loath, do fret at, do wail for, we fall take XLI. the best, most innocent, most useful, most wholesome things
for such ; and accordingly these errors of our minds will be followed by a perverse practice, productive of difsatisfaction and displeasure to us. No man ever will be satisfied, who values things according to the price which fancy setteth on them, or according to the rate they bear in the common market; who distinguisheth not between good and famous, bad and infamous; who is affected accordingly with the want of those things, which men call good, with the presence of those, which they term bad.
But if we judge of things as God declareth, as impartial and cautious reason dictateth, as experience diligently observed (by their fruits and consequences) discovereth them to be, we shall have little cause to be affected by the want or presence of any such thing which is wont to produce discontent.
12. We should to this purpose take especial care to search out through our condition, and pick thence the good that is therein, making the best we can of it, enjoy. ing and improving it; but what is inconvenient or offensive therein declining it, diminishing it, tempering it so well as we may, always forbearing to aggravate it. There are in nature divers simples, which have in them some part or some juice very noxious, which being severed and caft away, the rest becometh wholesome food; neither indeed is there any thing in nature so venomous, but that from it, by art and industry, may be extracted somewhat medicinal and of good use when duly applied; so in most apparent evils lieth inclosed much good, which if we carefully separate, (casting away the intermixed dross and refuse,) we shall find benefit, and taste comfort thence; there is nothing so thoroughly bad, as, being well ordered and opportunely ministered, will not do us much good: so if from poverty we cast away or bear quietly that which a little pincheth the sense or grateth on the fancy, and enjoy the undistractedness of mind, the liberty, the leisure, the health, the security from envy, obloquy, strife, which
it affordeth, how fatisfa&tory may it become to us? The SERM. like conveniences are in disgrace, disappointment, and XLI, other such evils, which being improved may endear them to us: even sin itself (the worst of evils, the only true evil) may yield great benefits to us; it may render us sober and lowly in our own eyes, devout in imploring mercy, and thankful to God for it; merciful and charitable toward others in our opinions and censures; more laborious in our good practice, and watchful over our steps : and if this deadly poison well administered yieldeth effects so exceedingly beneficial and salutary, what may other harmless (though unhandsome and unpleasant) things do, being skilfully managed?
13. It is a most effectual means of producing content and curing discontent, to rouse and fortify our faith in God, by, with most serious attention, reflecting upon the arguments and experiments, which assure us concerning God's particular providence over all, over us. It is really infidelity (in whole, or in part, no faith, or a small and weak faith) which is at the root, as of all sin, fo particularly of discontent: for how is it possible, did we firmly believe, and with any measure of attention consider that God taketh care of us, that he tendereth our good, that he is ready at hand to succour us, (how then, I say, is it possible,) that we should fear any want, or grievously resent any thing incident? But we, like St. Peter, are óreyótison, of little faith, therefore we cannot walk on the sea; but in despair link down: sometimes our faith is buried in oblivion
or carelessness; we forget, or mind not that there is a ProEvidence; but look on things as if they fell out casually or
fatally; thence expect no redress from heaven, so tumble into despair and disconsolateness. Sometimes, because God doth not in our time and our way relieve us or gratify us, we flip into profane doubt, questioning in our hearts whether he doth indeed regard us, or whether any relief is to be expected from him ; not considering, that only God can tell when and how it is best to proceed; that often it is not expedient our wishes should be granted ; that we
Thould fatisfy al world, if God gratify every
SERM. are not wise enough or just enough to appoint or choose for XLI. ourselves; that it is impossible for God to gratify every
man; that it would be a mad world, if God in his government thereof hould satisfy all our desires.
We forget how often God hath succoured us in our needs and straits, how continually he hath provided for us, how patiently and mercifully he hath borne with us, what miracles of bounty and inercy he hath performed in our be
half; we are like that distrustful and inconsiderate people, Pra, Ixxviii, who remembered not the hand of God, nor the day when he Manevi delivered them; remembered not the multitude of his mer1J, 21. cies; but foon forgat his works, and waited not for his
counsel; They forgat God their Saviour, who had done great things in Egypt, wondrous works in the land of Ham, and terrible things in the Red Sea.
From such difpofitions in us our discontents do spring; Pial. xxii: and we cannot cure them, but by recollecting ourselves 19. xlvii. Ixxxi. a." from such forgetfulness and negligence; by shaking off lix.7.cxliv. such wicked doubts and difirulis; by fixing our hearts and Pyar. Ixxiii. hopes on him, who alone can help us; who is our strength,
1. 'the firength of our heart, of our life, of our falration. ex..
Of him (to conclude) let us humbly implore, that be in mercy would betiow upon us grace to submit in all things to his will, to acquiesce in all his dispensations, gladly to embrace and undergo whatever he allotteth to us; in every condition, and for all events befalling us, heartily to adore, thark, and bless him: eren so to the ever ble led God, our gracious Jaker and Preserver, be cremally rendered all glory, thankigiving, and praise. Amer.
SER MON XLII.
1 Pet. ii. 21.
Because also Christ suffered for us, leaving us an example,
that ye should follow his steps.
IN these words two things appear especially observable; SERM. a duty implied, (the duty of patience) and a reason XLII. expressed, which enforceth the practice of that duty, (the example of Chrift.) We shall, using no more preface or circumstance, first briefly, in way of explication and direction, touch the duty itself, then more largely describe
and urge the example. - The word patience hath, in common usage, a double meaning, taken from the respect it hath unto two sorts of
objects, somewhat different. As it respecteth provocations : to anger and revenge by injuries or discourtesies, it fig
nifieth a disposition of mind to bear them with charitable meekness; as it relateth to adversities and crosses difposed to us by Providence, it importeth a pious undergoing and sustaining them. That both these kinds of patience may here be understood, we may, consulting and considering the context, easily discern: that which immediately precedeth, If when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceplable to God, relateth to good endurance of adversity; that which presently followeth, who when he was reviled, reviled not again, when he suffered he threatened not, referreth to meek comporting with provocations: the text therefore, as it looketh back
SERM. ward, doth recommend the patience of adversities, as , XLII. forward, the patience of contumelies. But seeing both
these objects are reducible to one more general, com. prising both, that is, things seeming evil to us, or offensive to our sense, we may so explicate the duty of patience, as to include them both.
Patience then is that virtue, which qualifieth us to bear all conditions and all events, by God's disposal incident to us, with such apprehensions and persuasions of mind, fuch difpofitions and affections of heart, such external deportments and practices of life, as God requireth and good reason directerh. Its nature will, I conceive, be understood best by considering the chief acts which it produceth, and wherein especially the practice thereof consisteth; the which briefly are these:
1. A thorough persuasion, that nothing befalleth us by fate, or by chance, or by the mere agency of inferior
causes, but that all proceedeth from the dispensation, or Job v. 6. ' with the allowance of God; that affliction doth not come
forth of the dust, nor doth trouble spring out of the ground; Lanı. iii.38. but that all, both good und evil, proceedeth out of the mouth
of the Most High, according as David reflected when Shi2 Sam. xvi. mei reviled him : Let him, faid the good king, curse, le
cause the Lord hath said unto him, Curse David; and as
Job, when he was spoiled of all his goods, acknowledged, Job i. 21. The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away.
2. A firm belief, that all occurrences, however adverse and cross to our desires, are well consistent with the juftice, wisdom, and goodness of God; so that we cannot reasonably disapprove, repine at, or complain of them;
but are bound and ready to avow with the Pfalmift, that Pfal. xxv. all his paths are mercy and truth; he is righteous in all 10. cxlv. his ways, and holy in all his works ; to judge and say with 2 Kings ix. Hezekiah, Good is the word of the Lord, which thou haft 19. lal. cxis, Spoken; to confess with David unto him, I know, O Lord,
that thy judgments are right; and that thou in faithfulness hast afflicted me.
3. A full satisfaction of mind, that all (even the moft bitter' and fad accidents) do (according to God's purpose)