[Page] OF CONTENTMENT, Patience and Resignation TO THE WILL of GOD. SEVERAL SERMONS.

By ISAAC BARROW, D. D. Late Master of Trinity College in Cambridge, and One of his MAJESTY'S Chaplains in Ordinary.

Never before Printed.

LONDON, Printed by M. Flesher, for Brabazon Aylmer, at the Three Pigeons against the Royal Exchange in Cornhill, 1685.

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TO Her Royal Highness THE PRINCESS ANNE OF DENMARK.

MADAM,

THE acceptance his late Majesty of Glorious Cle­mency vouchsafed to some survi­ving Sermons of this Authour, my deceased Son, incourages me to beg the like from your Royal Highness now that I am to ex­pose [Page] another of his productions, as a little Moses in a paper Ark, and I hope the Subject of these Discourses (Contentment, Pati­ence, Resignation) will not ren­der them an improper present; for, as all loyal Subjects rejoyce in, and thereby in some measure partake of, the prosperities of the Royal Family; so, your Roy­al Highnesses Goodness, which crowns the other felicities of your Person and Fortune, will not per­mit you to be exempted from a sympathy with their condition whom the Harmony of Divine Providence requires to move in a lower sphere. May your Royal Highness never have the occasion to exercise the Vertues of the af­flicted, [Page] but onely the opportunity to pity and relieve them, shall ever be the hearty prayer of

Your Royal Highnesses most humble and most obedient Servant, Thomas Barrow.

THE CONTENTS.

SERMON I, II, III, IV, V. PHIL. IV. 11. I have learned in whatever state I am, therewith to be content. Page 1, 42, 68, 105, 156.

SERMON VI. 1 PET. II. 21. Because also Christ suffered for us, lea­ving us an example, that ye should follow his steps. Page 195.

SERMON VII. LUK. XXII. 42. Nevertheless, let not my will, but thine be done. Page 239.

OF CONTENTMENT.

The First Sermon.

PHIL. IV. 11.‘I have learned in whatever state I am, [...]. therewith to be content.’

IN these words by the example of an eminent Saint is recommen­ded to us the practice of an ex­cellent duty, or vertue: a practice in it self most worthy, very gratefull to God, and immediately of great be­nefit to our selves; being indeed ne­cessary toward the comfortable en­joyment of our lives: It is contented­ness, the vertue, which of all other [Page 2] doth most render this world accepta­ble, [...]. Arist. Eth. I. 7. and constituteth a kind of tem­poral heaven; which he that hath, is thereby ipso facto in good measure happy, whatever other things he may seem to want; which he that wan­teth, doth, however otherwise he be furnished, become miserable, and car­rieth a kind of hell within him: it cannot therefore but well deserve our best study about it, and care to get it; in imitation of S. Paul, who had learned in whatever state he was, therein to be content.

In discoursing upon which words I shall consider two particulars; first the vertue it self (contentedness in every state) the nature of which I shall endeavour to explain; then the way of attaining or producing it, im­plyed by S. Paul in the words, I have learned.

I. For explication of the vertue: The word here expressing it is, [...], which signifieth self-sufficien­cy, or having enough of ones self; [...]. Arr. 3. 24. the which is not to be understood ab­solutely, as if he took himself to be [Page 3] independent in nature, able to subsist of himself, not wanting any support or comfort without himself (for this is the property and privilege of the great El-shaddai, who alone subsisteth of himself, needing toward his being and felicity nothing without himself; this is repugnant to the nature of man, who is a creature essentially depen­dent for his being and subsistence, in­digent of many things for his satisfac­tion and welfare) but relatively, con­sidering his present state, the circum­stances wherein he was, and the capa­cities he had; which by God's dispo­sal and providence were such, that he could not want more, than he had in his possession, or reach. He meant not to exclude God, and his provi­dence; but rather supposed that as the ground and cause of his self-sufficien­cy; according as otherwhere he ex­presseth it: Not as if we were sufficient 2 Cor. 3. 5. of our selves, but our sufficiency is of God: Nor did he intend to exclude the need of other creatures otherwise than as considered without his pos­session, or beyond his power; But he meaneth onely, that he did not desire [Page 4] or lack more than what God had supplyed him with; had put into his hand, or had set within his reach; that his will did sute to his state, his desire did not exceed his power.

This is the meaning of the word, which the Apostle useth; but for the more full and clear understanding the vertue it self, we shall first consider the object, about which it is conver­sant, then the several acts, which it requireth, or wherein the exercise thereof consisteth.

1. The object of contentedness is the present state of things whatever it be (whether prosperous or adverse, of eminency or meanness, of abun­dance or scantness) wherein by di­vine providence we are set: [...], the things in which we are, that is our present condition, with all its circumstances: so it may be generally supposed, considering that it is ordi­nary, and almost natural for men (who have not learned as S. Paul had done, or are not instructed, and ex­ercised in the practice of this duty) to be dissatisfied, and disquieted in e­very state; to be always in want of [Page 5] something; to find defects in every fortune; to fansie they may be in bet­ter case, and to desire it earnestly: If we estimate things wisely, rich men are more liable to discontent than poor men. It is observable, that pro­sperity is a peevish thing, and men of highest fortune are apt most easily to resent the smallest things: a little neglect, a slight word, an unpleasing look doth affect them more, than re­proaches, blows, wrongs do those of a mean condition.

Prosperity is a nice and squeamish thing, and it is hard to find any thing able to please men of a full and pro­sperous state, which being uncapable of bettering in substantial things they can hardly find matter of solid delight. Whereas a poor estate is easily com­forted by the accession of many things which it wanteth: a good meal, a small gift, a little gain, or good suc­cess of his labour doth greatly please a poor man with a very solid pleasure: but a rich man hath nothing to please him, but a new toy, a puff of ap­plause, success at a horse-race, at bowls, at hunting; in some petty [Page 6] sport and pastime, which can yield but a very thinn and transitory satis­faction to any man not quite brutifi­ed and void of sense: whence conten­tedness hath place, and is needfull in every condition, be it in appearance never so prosperous, so plentifull, so pleasant. In the fulness of his sufficien­cy, Job 20. 22. he shall be in straits.

The formal object thereof may in­deed seem to be a condition distastfull Chrys. Tom. 7. p. 68. to our sense, or cross to our fancy; an adverse or strait condition; a condition of poverty, of disgrace, of any great inconvenience or distress in­cident to us in this world; but since the most men are absolutely in such a condition, exposed to so many wants and troubles; since many more are needy comparatively, wanting the conveniencies that others enjoy, and which themselves affect; since there are few, who in right estimation are not indigent and poor, that is who do not desire and fansie themselves to want many things which they have not (for wealth consisteth not so much in the possession of goods, as [...]n apprehension of freedom from want, [Page 7] and in satisfaction of desires) since care, trouble, disappointment, satiety and discontent following them, do not onely haunt cottages, and stick to the lowest sort of people, but do even frequent palaces, and pursue men of highest rank; therefore any state may be the object of contented­ness; and the duty is of a very gene­ral concernment; Princes themselves need to learn it; the lessons teaching it, and the arguments persuading it may as well sute the rich and noble, as the poor and the paisant; so our Apostle himself doth intimate in the words immediately following our Text; I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound; Every Phil. 4. 12. where, and in all things I am instruc­ted both to be full, and to be hungry; both to abound and to suffer need; he had the art not onely to manage well both conditions, but to be satisfied in either.

But seeing real adversity, poverty and disgrace have naturally the stron­gest influence in disturbing and dis­ordering our minds; that contented­ness is plainly most needfull in such [Page 8] cases, as the proper support, or me­dicine of our mind in them; that other states do need it onely as they, by fancy or infirmity, do symbolize or conspire with these; therefore un­to persons in these states we shall more explicitely apply our directions, and persuasions, as to the proper and primary subjects of contentedness; the which by analogy, or parity of reason may be extended to all others, who from imaginary wants and di­stresses do create displeasure to them­selves. So much for the object, or the subject of the vertue.

2. The acts, wherein the practice thereof consisteth (which are neces­sary ingredients, or constant symp­tomes of it) belong either to the mind and understanding, or to the will and appetite, or to external demeanour and practice; being 1. right opinions and judgments of mind, 2. fit disposi­tions and affections of heart, 3. out­ward good actions and behaviours, in regard to our condition and the e­vents befalling us; the former being as the root and stock, the latter as the fruits and the flowers of the duty: [Page 9] unto which may be reduced the cor­respondent negations, or absence of bad judgments, affections and de­portments in respect to the same ob­jects.

(1.) As to our opinions and judg­ments of things contentedness requi­reth, that

1. We should believe our condition whatever it be to be determined by God; and that all events befalling us do proceed from him; at least that he permitteth and ordereth them, ac­cording to his judgment and pleasure: that [...], Soph. Aj. Lor. Lam. 3. 38. Amos 3. 6. 1 King. 12. 15, 24. all (as the Prophet singeth) both good and evil proceedeth out of the mouth of the most High; that Afflicti­on (as Job said) cometh not forth of the dust, neither doth trouble spring out of the ground; as a thing arising spontaneously, or sowed by the hand of some creature, but rather descen­deth from him, who saith, I form the Es. 45. 7. light, and create darkness; I make peace, and create evil; I the Lord doe all these things.

We are apt, when any thing fal­leth out unpleasant to us, to exclaim [Page 10] against fortune, and to accuse our Atque Deos, atque astra vocat crudelia mater. stars; or to inveigh against the se­cond causes, which immediately of­fend us, ascribing all to their influ­ence; which proceeding doth argue in us a Heathenish ignorance and infi­delity, or at least much inconside­rateness, and impotency of mind; that our judgment is blinded and clou­ded, or perverted and seduced by ill passions; for that in truth there is not in the world any occurrence merely fortuitous, or fatal (all being guided and wielded by the powerfull hand of the All-wise, and Almighty God) there is no creature which in its agen­cy doth not depend on God, as the instrument of his will, or subordinate thereto; wherefore upon every event, we should, raising our minds above all other causes, discern and acknow­ledge God's hand; as David did, when Shimei cursed him; Let him 2 Sam. 15. 10. (said the good King) curse, because the Lord hath said unto him, Curse David; as Job did, when he was risled of his goods, The Lord (said he) gave, and the Lord hath taken away; as our Sa­viour Job 1. 21. did, when in regard to the sore [Page 11] hardships he was designed to undergo, he said, The Cup which my Father hath Joh. 18. 11. given me, shall I not drink?

2. Hence we should always judge every thing which happeneth to be thoroughly good and fit, worthy (all [...], &c. Theod. Ep. 136. things considered) to be appointed, or permitted by that Sovereign Go­vernour of things; not entertaining any harsh thoughts of God, as if he were not enough wise, just, or benign in ordering us to be afflicted or cros­sed; but taking all occurrences to be well consistent with all God's holy perfections and attributes.

We are apt to conceit, that the world is ill ordered, when we do not thrive and prosper therein; that every thing is irregu­lar, Placeat homini quicquid Deo placuit. Sen. Ep. 75. which squareth not to the models of our fancy; that things had gone much [...]. Theod. Ep. 15. better, if our designs had found success; but these are vain, and perverse con­ceits; for that certainly is [...]. Id. Ep. 18. most good, which seemeth good to God; his will is a perfect standard of right, [Page 12] and convenience, his eye never aimeth wrong, his hand never faileth to hit the mark of what is best; All his Psal. 25. 10. 145. 17. paths are mercy, and truth; He is righteous in all his ways, and holy in all his works: So did King Hezekiah rightly judge, when upon denuncia­tion of a sad doom to his countrey and posterity, he replied to the Prophet; Good is the word of the Lord, which 2 King. 20. 19. thou hast spoken; so even the Pagan Sage discerned, when he thus rebuked a malecontent; You slave, do you for­sooth [...]; Arr. 11. 7. desire any thing, but what is best? and is not that onely best, which see­meth best to God?

3. We should even be satisfied in our mind that according to God's purpose all events do tend and con­duce to our particular welfare; being not onely good to us as members of the world, and in order to more ge­neral ends, but serving toward our private benefit and advantage. We may be ready perhaps to confess, that whatever happeneth may be indeed just and fit in some distant, and oc­cult respects, but hardly can we be induced to allow, that what we feel [Page 13] offensive to our sense and fancy, is really good for us, or was meant for our benefit; we cannot easily discern any thing of love or favour in such matters: Those sort of Aphorisms, in Holy Scripture, Happy is the man, Job 5. 17. Jam. 1. 12. Rev. 3. 19. Prov. 3. 12. whom God correcteth; As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten; sound strangely, and are huge Paradoxes to us; such is our blindness of mind, and dulness of apprehension: but God knoweth with so exact a skilfulness to manage things, that every particular occurrence shall be advantageous to the person, whom it toucheth; and accordingly to each one he dispenseth that which is most sutable to him; whence, as frequently it is necessary for our good that we should be cros­sed (for that indeed otherwise we should often much harm, sometime we should quite undoe our selves) so it always, when God so ordereth it, is to be deemed most profitable, and wholsome for us: we are therefore in reason obliged to take the saddest ac­cidents, and sharpest afflictions, co­ming upon us by providence, to be no other than fatherly corrections, or [Page 14] friendly rebukes, designed to render us good and happy; as arguments therefore and instances of especial good-will toward us; conceiving un­der every dispensation that we do as it were hear God speaking to us, as he did to those in the Prophet: I Jer. 29. 11. know the thoughts, that I think toward you, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.

4. Hence we are to believe, that our present condition (whatever it be to carnal, or worldly sense) is in right judgment, all things considered, the best; most proper, most desirable for us; better than we, if it were at our discretion and choice, should put our selves into: for that God (the Savi­our 1 Tim. 2. 4. Ezek. 33. 11. 2 Pet. 3. 9. Psal. 145. 9. of all men, who desireth that no man should perish; who is good to all, and whose tender mercies are over all his works; who exceedingly tendreth the welfare of his children and sub­jects) doth ever (here in this life, the time of merit and trial) with a most wise good-will design our best good; and by the most proper methods (such as do best sute our circumstances and capacities) doth aim to draw us unto [Page 15] happiness; and accordingly doth as­sign a station for us most befitting in order to that great end; we therefore should think our selves well placed, because we are where God doth set us, that we have enough, because we have what God allotteth us.

There are other more particular judgments, which contentedness in­volveth, or which are required to­ward it; such as these; that nothing originally is due to us, but all cometh purely from divine favour and boun­ty; that all adversities are justly, and deservedly inflicted on us, as the due wages, or natural fruits of our sins; that our happiness dependeth not on any present enjoyments or possessions, but may well subsist without them; that a competency (or so much as suf­ficeth to maintain our life without in­tolerable pain) ought to satisfie our desires; but these, and the like judg­ments will come opportunely to be considered as motives to the practice of the duty.

(2.) From such acts of our mind or intellective part concerning things in­cident to us, should proceed the fol­lowing [Page 16] dispositions of will and affec­tion.

1. We should entertain all occur­rences, how grievous soever to us with entire submission, and resigna­tion of our will to the will of God; wholly acquiescing in his good plea­sure; saying in our hearts after our Lord; Let not my will, but thine be Luk. 22. 42. done; with good Eli, It is the Lord, 1 Sam. 3. 18. let him doe what seemeth him good; with David, Behold here I am, let 2 Sam. 15. 26. him doe to me as seemeth good to him; even with Socrates, If so it pleaseth [...]. Arr. 3. 7. M. Anton. 3. 4. 2. 17. 10. 11. 12. 1. God, so let it be; with Epictetus, I always chiefly will that, which cometh to pass; for I accompt that better which God willeth, than what I will my self; I will adhere as a minister and follower to him, I pursue, I affect, I simply will with him: looking upon them as sent from God we should heartily bid them welcome, we should kindly embrace them, we should use them with all fair respect: [...] (to hug, or kindly to embrace things incident) [...] (to love things dispensed by providence) are precepts, [Page 17] which even as dictated by natural rea­son Philosophers do much inculcate.

This excludeth all rebellious insur­rections, and swellings of mind a­gainst providence, such as argue that we dislike God's government; that were we able we should struggle with God's will; that we gladly would shake off his yoke; all such ill resent­ment and repining at our lot, which maketh God's hand grievous, and his yoke uneasie to us; such affections as the Wiseman toucheth, when he saith; The foolishness of man perverteth his Prov. 19. 3. way, and his heart fretteth against the Lord.

2. We should bear all things with steady calmness and composedness of mind, suppressing, or quelling those tumults, those storms, those excesses of passion, which the sense of things disgustfull is apt to excite; such as Let no man be moved by these afflicti­ons, [...]. Chrys.) 1 Thess. 3. 3. are immoderate grief, fierce anger, irksome despair, and the like. No adversity should so ruffle our minds, as to defeat or pervert the use of our reason, so as to hinder us from per­ceiving, or performing what beco­meth us, so as to engage us into any [Page 18] irregular, or unseemly behaviour.

3. We should indeed bear the worst events with an [...], that is with a sweet and chearfull disposition of [...]. 2 Cor. 7. 10. mind, so as not to be put out of hu­mour; not to be dejected, or quite discouraged by them, not to fall into that heaviness, which (as the Wiseman Prov. 12. 22. saith) maketh the heart of man to stoop; but rather finding delight and complacence in them, [...]. 2 Cor. 12. 10. as considering whence they come, whither they aim and tend: such was the disposition and demeanour of the Apostles and primi­tive [...]. Col. 1. 11. good Christians in the midst of their most grie­vous adversities and sufferings; they Act. 5. 41. rejoyced, &c. they did take joyfully the Heb. 10. 34. spoiling of their goods, they did ac­compt it all joy, when they fell into di­vers Jam. 1. 2. tribulations; they were [...], as grieved but 2 Cor. 6. 10. always rejoycing; their state was grie­vous, but their heart was constantly chearfull. Such a constant frame of mind we should maintain, so conti­nually prepared we should be against all [Page 19] contingencies, that nothing should happen amiss to us, so as deeply to affect us, or to unsettle us in our hu­mour; that every thing from God's hand should be acceptable; that no sadness may seise on us, at least that we do not indulge or cherish it; that in no wise we suffer any regret to quench that spiritual comfort and joy in God; which becometh the upright Psal. 33. 1. 97. 12. Phil. 4. 4. 3. 1. 2 Cor. 13. 11. 1 Pet. 4. 13. (as the Psalmist saith) and which we are so often enjoined perpetually to maintain, as in all cases, so particu­larly under afflictions and trials. We cannot indeed hardly be content, if we are not chearfull: for it is hard to be altogether on the suffering and bea­ring hand, without any pleasure: the mind can hardly stand in a poise, so as neither to sorrow or joy: we can­not digest adversity, if we do not re­lish it; we shall not submit to it as his will, if we do not take it for an argument of his love: [...], I (saith 2 Cor. 12. 10. S. Paul) have a liking or pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake; for when I am weak then I am strong.

[Page 20] 4. We should with faith and hope rely and wait on God for the remo­val, or easement of our afflictions; or however we should confide in him for grace, and strength to support them well: as our Saviour did, when he prayed, Father, if thou be willing re­move Luk. 22. 42. this Cup; as they did in the Prophet, who said, In the way of thy judgments, O Lord, we have waited on Isa. 26. 8. 33. 2. thee; according to that rule in the Lamentations; It is good that a man Lam. 3. 26. should both hope, and wait quietly for the Salvation of the Lord; and those precepts in the Psalms; Rest in the Psal. 37. 7. 24. 17. Psal. 40. 1. 33. 20. 62. 1. 25. 3. 69. 6. 44. 19. 16. 8. Lord, and wait patiently for him; wait upon the Lord, be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart.

We should in any case be ready with the holy Psalmist thus to inter­rogate, and sustain our selves: Why Psal. 42. 2. art thou cast down, O my Soul, why art thou so disquieted within me? Hope thou in God, for I shall yet praise him, for the help of his countenance.

Remembring, and considering, that (as we are expresly taught in Scrip­ture, and as all our Religion doth clearly suppose) God knoweth to rescue 2 Pet. 2. 3. 1 Pet. 5. 7. [Page 21] the Godly out of tribulation, (he know­eth the proper season, when it is fit to doe it) that he is faithfull, and will Matt. 6. 25. 1 Cor. 10. 13. not suffer us to be tempted above what we are able, but will with the tempta­tion also make a way to escape, that we may be able to bear it; reflecting, I say, on these certain points of Chri­stian truth, we should never sorrow 1 Thess. 4. 13. as those who are without hope; we should never despair of a good rid­dance from our adversity, when it shall be seasonable or beneficial for us; we should always be assured of a com­fortable Isa. 40. 31. Mic. 7. 7. support under it, which is u­sually better than deliverance from it; our minds should never sink into de­spondency, or disconsolateness: that this is practicable in the worst case, we have conspicuous instances to as­sure us; it hath been the practice of most illustrious and excellent persons, particularly of the holy Apostles; ne­ver 2 Cor. 4. 8. 1 Cor. 4. 11. was any condition, in outward respects and appearance, more forlorn and dismall than was theirs; yet it no-wise bereaved them of hope, or courage; We (they could say) are troubled on every side, yet not distres­sed; [Page 22] we are perplexed but not in de­spair, persecuted but not forsaken, cast down but not destroyed.

5. We should indeed not so much as faint, or languish in our minds up­on any such occasion; no adversity should impair the forces of our reason or our spirit; should enervate our cou­rage, or slacken our industry; should render us sick, or weak in heart; for, If (saith the Wise-man) thou faint Prov. 24. 10. in the day of adversity, thy strength is small; ('tis the sign of an infirm mind) 2 Cor. 4. 16. Rev. 2. 3. 2 Thess. 3. 13. Gal. 6. 9. Heb. 12. 3. and [...], not to faultre or de­cay, [...], not to be dissolved or disjointed in our souls (as the body is in scorbutick distempers) are rules prescribed to us in such cases: we do —nunc ani­mis opus est, nunc pectore firmo. then indeed need a sirm and robust constitution of soul; we should then bear up most resolutely and stoutly: the encouragement of Moses to the people, entring upon battel, may well be accommodated to us, in regard to our conflict with adversities; Let not Deut. 20. 3. your hearts faint, fear not and do not tremble, neither be ye terrified be­cause of them.

[Page 23] 6. We should not be weary of our condition, or have irksome longings for alteration; but with a quiet indif­ferency, and willingness of mind lie under it, during God's pleasure; ac­cording to the Wise-man's advice; My Son, despise not the chastning of Prov. 3. 11. the Lord, neither be weary of his cor­rection; and that of the Apostle, en­forced by our Lord's example; Consi­der Heb. 12. 3. him, that endured such contradic­tion of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied, and faint in your minds. We should not think God slow, or his time long and tedious, as if he were forgetfull of us, or backward to succour us; as the Psalmist was incli­ned to doe, when in the day of trouble he brake forth into these conceits and expressions; Will the Lord cast off for Psal. 77. 7, 1 [...]. ever, and will he be favourable no more; Is his mercy clean gone for ever, doth his promise fail for evermore; Hath God forgotten to be gratious; hath he in anger shut up his tender mercies? thus he in a sad mood was apt to think and speak; but recol­lecting himself he perceived it was his errour, and confessed it was his [Page 24] fault thus to imagine; I said, it was mine infirmity; and it will be ours likewise, if we entertain such concep­tions and resentments: we should with the same mind endure our pre­sent state, as we do pass through a hard winter, or a time of foul wea­ther, taking it for seasonable and fit, because the wise Authour of nature hath so appointed and ordered it.

7. We should by adverse accidents be rendred lowly in our own eyes, and sober in our conceits of our selves; meek and gentle, tender and pliable in our temper and frame of spirit; sensible of our unworthiness and mean­ness, of our natural frailty, penury and misery, of our actual offences and miscarriages; deeply affected in re­gard to the awfull majesty and pow­er, to the perfect holiness, and strict justice of God: they should quell our haughty stomach, they should supple our stiff wilfulness, they should soften our hard hearts, they should mitigate our peevish humours; to effect these things is usually the design of such accidents and it is ever the best fruit of them: this is that, which S. Peter [Page 25] adviseth to, when he saith: Be hum­bled 1 Pet. 5. 6. under the mighty hand of God; which God approveth, and encoura­geth with a gratious promise, when he saith;—To this man will I look, even to him, that is of a poor and Esa. 66. 2. contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word: this disposition is an insepara­ble adherent to contentedness; he that hath not his spirit thus broken, or mollified, will hardly be content in any state; he that is haughty in con­ceit, and sturdy in humour will eve­ry where find that, which will cross, and disturb him.

8. It is required that we should, notwithstanding any meanness, any hardness of our condition, be meekly and kindly af­fected It à plerumque contingit, ut dum aliquos fratres no­stros in quantulacunque re­quie constitutos in mediis nostris anxietatibus cogita­mus, non parva ex parte recreemur, tanquam & nos ideò ipsi quietiùs tranquilli­úsque vivamus. Aug. Ep. 144. toward others, be­ing satisfied and pleased with their more prospe­rous state. We should not be angry with the world, because we do not thrive, or flourish in it; we should not be sullen, or peevish toward any man, because his fortune is better than ours; we should not repine or [Page 26] grudge at the good success of any our brethren, because we want the like our selves; we should rather re­joyce Rom. 12. 15. with those that rejoyce; inno­cently filching some pleasure from them, or borrowing some satisfaction from their enjoyments. It is humane thus to doe, because of the natural cognation and friendship of men; it is more especially Christian, because of our spiritual consanguinity; by vir­tue whereof we are so knit together, and made members each to other, that Rom. 12 15. if (as S. Paul telleth us) one member 1 Cor. 12. 26. suffer, all the members suffer with it, and if one member be honoured, all the members should rejoyce with it: we can hardly be content without thus appropriating the goods, and sharing in the delights of others; he can ne­ver be content, who looketh with an evil eye upon other mens prosperity; he cannot doe well himself who loveth not to see his neighbour doe well; numberless occasions will happen to discompose and vex him.

Adversity impatiently born is apt to sour our spirits, and render us fro­ward toward men; especially when [Page 27] it proceedeth from the unkindness, ingratitude, or treachery of friends, or of persons obliged to us for our good will, or for benefits done to them; but nothing should render us unkind­ly disposed toward the world, nothing should extinguish charity in us to­ward any man; so plain reason teach­eth us, so great examples enforce; Mo­ses did not lose his affection towards his Countreymen, because he was by one of them threatned away into ba­nishment and vagrancy; the Apostles became not disaffected to the world, because it misused and persecuted them; our Lord did continue most earnestly to desire, and laboriously to endeavour the good of those who most despitefully used him; Like theirs, in all cases, should our disposition be; we should ever observe the Psalmist's advice; Cease from anger, forsake wrath, fret not thy self in any wise to Psal. 37. 8. doe evil.

Again,

9. Contentedness doth imply a freedom from all solicitude and anxi­ety of mind, in reference to provision for our needs, and conveniencies of [Page 28] life; according to those rules and pre­cepts of casting our burthen and care 1 Pet. 5. 7. Psal. 37. 5. 55. 23. Phil. 4. 6. upon the Lord, of being carefull for nothing, but commending our affairs to God's ordering; according to that most comfortable Precept of our Lord, Take Matt. 6. 31. no care, saying, what shall we eat, or what shall we drink, or how shall we be cloathed; for your heavenly Father knoweth, that ye want all these things: If we doe not thus, it is hardly possible that we should be content; if we do not depend on Providence, we cannot escape being often distracted with care, and perplexed with fear; we cannot chearfully hope for any thing we need, nor be quietly secure of any thing we possess.

10. It requireth also that we should curb our desires, and confine them in the narrowest bounds we can; so as not to affect more in quantity, or bet­ter [...]. Epic. ad Me­noec. Ventre nihil novi frugali­us. Juv. Sat. 5. in quality, than our nature and state do require: if we must have su­perfluities, if we can onely relish dain­ties, we shall never be pleased; for as nature hath limits, and is content with little; as there is no state in this world, the exigencies whereof may not be [Page 29] answered with a competence; so cu­riosity is an infinite, and insatiable thing: He that loveth pleasure shall Prov. 21. 17. be a poor man; he that loveth wine and oil shall not be rich; that is, he [...]. Cl. Alex. Paed. 2. 1. 1 Tim. 6. 8. which is curious and nice in his desires, will never have enough: The rule, which (according to St. Paul) should regulate our desires, is this; Having food and rayment, let us with them be satisfied: if this will satisfie us, we may Si ad natu­ram vives nunquam eris pauper; si ad opinionem, nunquam di­ves. Epic. Sen. Ep. 16. easily obtain satisfaction; a moderate industry, with God's blessing, will pro­cure so much; God hath promised to bestow it; if this will not suffice, there is no sure way of getting or keeping more; As God is no-wise obliged to provide us superfluites, or concerned to relieve our extravagant longings; so we may fear, that Providence will be ready to cross us in our cares and endeavours tending to those purposes; so that we shall be disappointed in the procurement, or disturbed in the frui­tion of such needless things: Howe­ver he that is most scant in his desires, [...]. Socr. in Xe­noph. Apomn. 3. is likely to be most content in his mind: He (as Socrates said) is nearest the Gods (who need nothing) that needeth few­est things.

[Page 30] In fine, contentedness doth import, that whatever our condition is, our mind and affections should be model­led, and squared just according to it; so that our inclinations be complyant, our desires be congruous thereto, so that easily we can comport with the inconveniencies, can relish the com­forts, can improve the advantages sticking thereto; otherwise like an ill made Garment, it will sit unhand­somely upon us, and be troublesome to us. It is not usually our condition it self, but the unsutableness thereof to our disposition and desires (which sowreth all its sweets, and rendreth its advantages fruitless) that createth discontent; for (although it be very mean) others bear the same chearful­ly; many would be glad thereof; if therefore we will be content, we must bend our inclinations, and adapt our desires to a correspondence with our state.

If we are rich, we should get a large and bountifull heart, otherwise our wealth will hang loose about us; the care and trouble in keeping it, the sus­picion and fear of losing it, the desire [Page 31] of amplifying it, the unwillingness to spend or use it, will bereave us of all true satisfaction therein, and render it no less unfavoury to us, than unpro­fitable to others.

If we are poor, we should have a frugal, provident, industrious mind, sparing in desires, free from curiosity, willing to take pains, able to digest hardships, otherwise the straitness of our condition will pinch and gall us.

Are we high in dignity or reputa­tion? we then need a mind well bal­lasted with sober thoughts, otherwise the wind of vanity will drive us into absurd behaviours, thence will dash us upon disappointments, and conse­quently will plunge us into vexation and discontent.

Are we mean and low? we need a meek and lowly, a calm and steady spirit; not affecting little respects, or resenting the want of them; apt to pass over or to bear quietly petty af­fronts and neglects; not apt to be mo­ved by words signifying contempt or disdain; else (being fretted with such things, which in this ill-natur'd and hard-hearted World we may be sure [Page 32] often to meet with) we shall be un­easie in our minds, and impatiently wish a change of our state.

These, and the like dispositions and affections of soul this duty contain­eth, or requireth: from hence should arise a correspondent external demea­nour, and such actions as these which follow.

1. We should restrain our Tongues from all unseemly and unsavoury ex­pressions, implying dissatisfaction in God's proceedings, or displeasure at his Providence; arguing desperation or distrust in God; such as were those of the discontented and impatient Is­raelites; They (saith the Psalmist, Psal. 78. 19. Num. 21. 5. spake against God; they said, Can God furnish a table in the wilderness? be­hold he smote the rock that the waters gushed out, and the streams overflowed; can he give bread also, can he provide flesh for his people? Such as they used, of whom the Prophet saith—When Isa. 3. 21. Rev. 19. 9, 11, 21. they shall be hungry, they will fret themselves, and curse their King and their God; as those in the Apocalypse, who being afflicted with deserved judgments, did blaspheme the name [Page 33] of God, which had power over those plagues—blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores. Into such prosane enormities of language is discontent apt to break forth, questioning the power of God, or his willingness to succour us; vent­ing wrath and displeasure toward him; charging him foolishly with injustice, or with unkindness, or with negli­gence, or with impotency; the ab­staining from which behaviour, under the sense of his bitter calamities, is a great commendation of Job; In all Job. 1. 22. [...]. this ('tis said) Job sinned not, nei­ther charged God foolishly.

2. We should indeed forbear any the least complaint, or murmuring, in [...]. Hom. Od. [...]. Jud. 15, 16. regard to the dispensations of Provi­dence; or upon dissatisfaction in the state allotted us: St. Jude saith, that God in the last day will come, to exe­cute judgment, and to convince men of all their hard speeches, which ungodly sinners have spoken against him: these (subjoineth he) are [...], murmurers, that complain of their lot; which signifieth the hei­nousness and extreme dangerousness [Page 34] of this practice. Wherefore doth the Lam. 3. 39. living man complain? is the Prophet's question, implying it to be an unrea­sonable and blameable practice. Where­fore the advice of David is good; to suppress all complaint, to be still and silent in such cases: Be still (saith Psal. 46. 10. 4. 4. 37. 7. he) and know that I am God, and Be silent to the Lord; the which Precepts his practice may seem well to inter­pret and back; I was, saith he, dumb, Psal. 39. 9. [...]. Hom. [...]. v. Job 40. 4. I opened not my mouth, because it was thy doing: and accordingly Job, Be­hold (said he, after having considered all the reasons he could imagine of God's proceedings) I am vile, what shall I answer thee? I will lay my hand upon my mouth. And thus our Savi­our, when he was oppressed and afflict­ed, opened not his mouth. Is. 53. 7.

3. Yea it is our duty, in these cases, to spend our breath in declaring our satisfaction in God's dealing with us; [...]. Chrys. ad Olymp. Ep. 11. Psal. 119. 75. acknowledging his wisedom, justice and goodness therein; blessing and praising him for all that hath befallen us; each of us confessing after Da­vid; I know, O Lord, that thy judg­ments are right, and that thou in faith­fulness [Page 35] hast afflicted me; imitating Job, who upon the loss of all his goods did say no more than this; The Lord gave, Job 1. 21. and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.

4. We should abstain from all irre­gular, unlawfull and unworthy cour­ses toward the removal or remedy of our needs, or crosses, chusing rather to abide quietly under their pressure, than by any unwarrantable means to relieve, or relaxe our selves; rather bearing patiently, than violently, like those in the Prophet, breaking our yoke, Jer. 5. 5. and bursting our bands. Take heed, re­gard Job 36. 21. not iniquity; for this hast thou chosen rather than affliction. We should rather continue poor, than by couze­nage, or rapine endeavour to raise our fortune; we should rather lie under disgrace and contempt, than by sinfull or sordid compliances strive to acquire the respect and favour of Men; we should rather willingly rest in the lowest condition, than doe as those, who by disturbing the world, by fo­menting disorders and factions, by sup­planting their neighbours welfare, by venting slanders and detractions, do [Page 36] labour to amplifie their estate: we should rather endure any inconveni­ence or distress, than have recourse to ways of evading them, disallowed by God; doing as the Jews did, who in their straits, against the declared pleasure of God, set their faces toward Jer. 42. 15. 2. 18. 13. Isa. 30. 2. 36. 6. 31. 1. Ezek. 17. 15. Aegypt, strengthned themselves in the strength of Pharaoh, trusted in the staff of that broken reed. In neglect or dif­fidence toward God, to embrace such aids, is (as God in the Prophet decla­reth) a very blameable and mischie­vous folly: Ephraim (saith he) is like a silly dove without heart; they call to Aegypt, they go to Assyria—Woe unto them, for they have fled from me; destruction unto them, because they Hos. 7. 11, 13. have transgressed against me. We may consider how St. Paul reproveth the Corinthians for seeking a redress of wrong, scandalous and dishonourable to the Church: Now therefore it is 1 Cor. 6. 7. utterly a fault among you, that ye go to law one with another; Why do ye not rather take wrong; why do ye not rather suffer your selves to be defrau­ded? even to right our selves in a way, whereby any dishonour may [Page 37] come to God, or damage to his Church is not to be approved; and better it is in the Apostle's judgment, to bear any injury or damage our selves: Bet­ter it is (saith St. Peter) if the will 1 Pet. 3. 17. 4. 19. of God be so, that we suffer for well­doing, than to doe ill. And, Let them, who suffer according to the will of God, commit the keeping of their souls to him in well-doing, as unto a faithfull Creatour; is another wholsome ad­vice of that great Apostle.

5. We should, notwithstanding any adversity, proceed in our affairs (such as God requireth, or reason putteth us upon) with alacrity, courage and in­dustry; performing however, so far as our circumstances do permit, what is good and fit for us: No disappoint­ment or cross, no straits or grievan­ces of condition should render us list­less, or lazy; but rather it should quicken and inflame our activity; this being a good way to divert us from the sense of our misfortunes, and to comfort us under their pressure; as al­so the readiest way to remove or to a­bate them, [...], to order the present well, what ever it [Page 38] be; to make the best of a bad matter, [...]. Ant. 4. 26. 6. 2. to march forward whither reason calls (how difficultly soever, or slowly it be) in a rough or dirty way; not to yield to difficulties, but resolutely to encounter them to struggle lustily [...]. Id. 12. 1. Tanè cede ma­lis, [...]ed contra audenti [...] i. [...]. with them, to endeav [...]our with all our might to surmount them; are acts worthy of a manly reason and cou­rage; to direct ill accidents to good ends, and improve them to honest u­ses, is the work of a noble vertue. If a bad game be dealt us, we should not presently throw up, but play it out so well as we can; so perhaps we may save somewhat, we shall at least be busie till a better come. Put thy trust in the Lord, and be doing good, Psal. 37. 3. is the Psalmist's advice in such a case; and it is a practice necessary to the procuring and maintaining content; If we be not otherwise well employ­ed, we shall be apt, in our thoughts, to melancholize, and dote upon our mischances, the sense of them will fas­ten upon our spirits, and gnaw our hearts.

6. We should behave our selves fairly and kindly toward the instru­ments [Page 39] and abettors of our adversity; toward those who brought us into it, and those who detain us under it, by keeping off relief, and those who for­bear to afford the succour we might expect; forbearing to express any wrath or displeasure, to exercise any revenge or enmity toward them; but rather, even upon that score, bearing good will, and expressing kindness to­ward them; not onely as to our bre­thren, whom, according to the gene­ral Law of Charity, we are bound to love, but as to the servants of God in this particular case, and the instru­ments of his pleasure toward us; con­sidering, that by maligning or moles­ting them, we do express ill resent­ments of God's dealing with us, and, in effect, through their sides, do wound his Providence; thus did the good King behave himself toward Shimei, when he was bitterly reproached and cursed by him; not suffering (upon this accompt, because he was God's instrument of afflicting himself) that 2 Sam. 15. 7. any harm should be done unto him: thus the holy Apostles being reviled 1 Cor. 4. 1 [...]. did bless, being defamed did entreat; [Page 40] thus our Lord demeaned himself to­ward his spitefull adversaries; who, when he was reviled, did not revile a­gain; 1 Pet. 2. 23. 3. 9. when he suffered, did not threa­ten, but committed it to him that judg­eth righteously. In all these cases we should at least observe the rules and advices of the Wise-man; Say not, I Prov. 24. 29. 20. 22. will doe so to him as he hath done to me, I will render to the man according to his work; Say thou not I will re­compence evil; but wait on the Lord, and he shall save thee.

Discontent usually consisteth not so much in displeasure for the things we suffer, as at the persons who bring them on us, or who do not help to rid us from them; it is their presumed injury or discourtesie which we do fret at; such passions therefore toward men being discarded, our evils present­ly will become supportable, and con­tent easily will ensue. As men in any sickness or pain, if their friends are about them (affording comfort or assistence) do not seem to feel any thing, and forbear complaining; so if the world about us doth please us, if we bear no disaffection or grudge to­ward [Page 41] any person in view, our adversi­ty will appear less grievous, it will in­deed commonly be scarce sensible to us.

In these and such like acts, the duty and vertue of contentedness doth espe­cially reside; or it is employed and exercised by them: And so much may suffice for the explication of its nature: I come now to consider the way of at­taining it, intimated by St. Paul here, when he saith, I have learned.

The Second Sermon.

PHIL. IV. 11.I have learned, &c.’

THESE words signifie how contentedness may be attain­ed, or how it is produced: It is not an endowment innate to us; it doth not arrive by chance into us; it is not to be purchased by any price; it springeth not up of it self, nor ari­seth from the quality of any state; but it is a product of discipline; I have learned.

It is a question debated in Plato, [...], whether vertue be to be learned: St. Paul plainly resol­veth it in this case by his own expe­rience [Page 43] and testimony. What Seneca saith in general of vertue (Nature giveth not Non dat natu­ra virtutem, ars est bmunt fieri. Sen. Ep. 89. Virtus etiam­si quosdam impetus exna­tura sumit, ta­men persicien­da doctrinâ est. Quintil. 12. 2. vertue; it is an art to become good) is most true of this vertue; it is an art, with which we are not born, no more than with any other art or science; the which, as other arts, cannot be ac­quired without studious application of mind, and industrious exercise: No art indeed requireth more hard study and pain toward the acquiry of it, there being so many difficulties, so many obstacles in the way thereto: We have no great capacity, no to­wardly disposition to learn it; We must, in doing it, deny our carnal sense, we must settle our wild fancy, and suppress fond conceits; we must bend our stiff and stubborn inclinati­ons; we must repress and restrain wanton desires; we must allay and still tumultuous passions; we must cross our humour, and curb our tem­per; which to doe is a hard chapter to learn: Much consideration, much practice, much contention and dili­gence are required thereto.

Hence it is an art which we may observe few do much study; and of [Page 44] the students therein few are great pro­ficients; so that Qui fit, Mecoenas? Horace's question, How comes it to pass, that no body liveth content with the lot assigned by God? wanted not sufficient ground.

However it is not like the Quadra­ture of the circle, or the Philosophers Stone, an art impossible to be learned, and which will baffle all study: there are examples which shew it to be ob­tainable; there are rules and precepts, by observing which we may arrive to it.

And it is certainly a most excellent piece of learning; most deserving our earnest study: no other science will yield so great satisfaction, or good use; all other sciences, in comparison there­to, are dry and fruitless curiosities; for were we Masters of all other know­ledge, yet wanted the skill of being content, we should not be wise or happy; happiness and discontent are [...] (things incompatible.)

But how then may this skill be learned? I answer, chiefly (divine grace concurring) by these three ways. 1. By understanding the rules [Page 45] and precepts, wherein the practice thereof consisteth. 2. By diligent exercise, or application of those rules to practice; whereby the habit will be produced. 3. By seriously consi­dering, and impressing upon our minds those rational inducements (suggest­ed by the nature and reason of things) which are apt to persuade the practice thereof. The first way I have alrea­dy endeavoured to declare; the second wholly dependeth upon the will and endeavour of the learner; the third I shall now insist upon, propounding some rational considerations, apt (by God's help) to persuade contented­ness, and serving to cure the malady of discontent. They may be drawn from several heads; from God, from our selves, from our particular condi­tion or state; from the world, or ge­neral state of men here; from the par­ticular state of other men in compari­son to ours; from the nature and con­sequences of the duty it self; Every thing about us well examined and pon­dered, will minister somewhat indu­cing and assisting thereto.

[Page 46] I. In regard to God we may consi­der, that equity doth exact, and grati­tude 1 Sam. 3. 18. requireth, and all reason dicta­teth, that we should be content; or that in being discontented we behave our selves very unbeseemingly and unworthily, are very unjust, very in­gratefull, and very foolish toward him.

1. Equity doth exact this duty of us, and in performing it we act justly toward God, both admitting his due right, and acknowledging his good exercise thereof: That saying in the Gospel, Is it not lawfull for me to doe Matt. 20. 15. what I will with mine own? is a most evident maxime of equity; it is therefore the natural right, and pre­rogative of God (as the Creatour and Preserver, and consequently the ab­solute Lord, Owner and Governour of all things) to assign his station, and allot his portion to every person, as he judgeth good and convenient; it is most just that inviolably he should enjoy this right; He being al­so infinitely wise and good, it is like­wise most just to acknowledge that [Page 47] he doth perfectly well manage this right; Now by contentfull submission to God's disposal of things, we do wor­thily express our due regard to both these, avowing his right, and appro­ving his exercise thereof; but by dis­content and regret at what happen­eth, we do in effect injure God in both those respects, disavowing his right, and impeaching his manage­ment. We do thereby so renounce his right, as (so far as conceit and wish do reach) to invade it, and u­surp it to our selves; signifying, that in our opinion things ought not to be ordered according to his judgment and pleasure, but after our fancy and hu­mour; we claim to our selves the pri­vilege of controlling his estate, and dispensing his goods, so as to be our own carvers, and to assume to our selves so much as we think good; we imply, that, if we were able, we would extort the power out of his hands, and manage it our selves, modelling the world according to our conceits and desires.

We do also (since we cannot but perceive the other attempt of dispos­sessing [Page 48] God to be frivolous and fruit­less) Multos inveni aequos adver­sus homines, adversus Deos neminem: Sen. Ep. 93. in effect charge God with mis­demeanour, with iniquity or infirmi­ty in his distribution and disposal of things; intimating, that in our opini­on he doth not order them so justly, or so wisely as might be (not so well as we in our wisedom and justice should order them) for did we con­ceive them managed for the best, we could not but judge it most unreaso­nable to be aggrieved, or to complain: so heinously insolent, and unjust are we in being discontent. In earnest, Which is most equal, that God should have his will, or we? For shame we shall say God: Why then do we not contentedly let him have it?

'Tis indeed, if we consider it, the highest piece of injustice that we can be guilty of; exceeding that which we commit in any other sort of disobedi­ence. For as in any State Seditious Mutining is the greatest crime, as most directly violating the Majesty, and sub­verting the authority of the Prince; so in the World, none may be supposed more to offend and wrong its Sove­reign Governour, than such malecon­tents, [Page 49] who dislike and blame his pro­ceedings: Even a Heathen could teach [...]. Arr. 1. 12. us, that it is our duty to subject our mind to him that administreth all things, as good Citizens to the Law of the Commonwealth; if we do not we are rebellious and seditious, which is the highest pitch of injustice toward our most Gratious Sovereign.

Again, there can be no greater in­jury, or affront offered to God, than to give him the lie, by questioning his 1 Joh. 5. 10. veracity or fidelity; this discontent plainly doth involve: for God hath expresly declared himself ready upon all occasions to doe us good; he hath promised to care for us, and never to Matt. 6. 25, 36. Heb. 13. 5. forsake us, or leave us destitute; which word of his if we did not distrust, and take him to be unfaithfull, we could not be discontent: As no man is dis­pleased with his condition, or suspici­ous of want, who knoweth that he hath abundant supply of all he can need in a sure place; that he hath a person most able, most willing, most faithfull engaged to succour him; so did we believe God to be true, who hath promised to help us, we could [Page 50] not be discontented for fear of any want.

We must at least, in so doing, sus­pect God to be deficient in goodness toward us, or unwilling to help us; or we must apprehend him impotent, and unable to perform what he would, and what he hath promised, for us (like those Infidels, who said, Can God furnish a table in the wilderness? Psal. 78. 19. Can he give bread also, can he provide flesh for his people?) which conceits of God are also very unworthy, and injurious to him.

2. Gratitude requireth of us this duty: for we having no right, or title to any thing; all that we have com­ing from God's pure bounty; he ha­ving upon us all (whatever our con­dition comparatively is, or may seem to us) freely conferred many great Iniquus est qui muneris sui arbitrium dan­ti non relin­quit, avidus qui non lucri loco habet quod accepit, sed damni quod reddidit, &c. Sen. ad Polyb. 29. benefits, common to all men among us (our being, life, reason, capacity of eternal happiness, manifold spiritu­al blessings, incomparably pretious and excellent) we in all reason should be thankfull for these, without cra­ving more, or complaining for the want of other things. Whereas also [Page 51] all events (how cross soever to our sensual conceits, or appetites) are by God designed, and dispensed for our good, gratitude requireth, that we should thank God for them, and not murmur against them.

Surely if instead of rendring God thanks for all the excellent gifts, which he most liberally (without any pre­vious obligation to us, or desert of ours) hath bestowed on us, and con­tinueth to bestow, we fret, and quar­rel, that he doth not in smaller mat­ters seem to cocker us, we are extreme­ly ingratefull, and disingenuous to­ward him: If any great person here should freely bestow on us gifts of huge value (high preferment, or much wealth) but with good reason, as we might presume, should withhold from us some trisle, that we fansie or dote on, should we not be very unwor­thy, if we should take it ill, and be angry with him for that cause? The case is plainly the same; God hath in the frankest manner bestowed on us innumerable and inestimable goods, in comparison whereto any comfort or convenience of our state here is [Page 52] very trivial and despicable; Are we not therefore very ingratefull, if we heinously resent the want of any such things; if upon any such accompt we disgust his Providence? Do we not deal, beyond all expression, unwor­thily with God, in so much underva­luing the goods which he hath given us, or doth offer us, and hath put in our reach? He hath made us capable of the greatest goods imaginable, and faithfully upon easie terms proffereth them to us; he even tendereth him­self (himself, the immense and all­comprehending good, the fountain of all joy and bliss) to be fully enjoyed by us; his wisedom he offereth to in­struct and guide us, his power to pro­tect and guard us, his fullness to sup­ply us, his goodness to comfort us; he offereth his love and favour to us, in having which we virtually, and in ef­fect have all things; becoming there­by, in the highest degree, rich and ho­nourable and happy; And is it not then outrageous unworthiness to prize any other thing (any petty accom­modation of this transitory life, any pitifull toy here) so much, as to be [Page 53] displeased for the want thereof; as if all this were not enough to satisfie our needs, or satiate our desires; as if notwithstanding all these immense effusions (yea as it were profusions) of bounty upon us, we could be indi­gent or unhappy? Shall we (to use that holy and most ingenuous consi­deration of Job) receive so much good Job 2. 10. from the bountifull hand of God, and shall we not contentedly receive, or bear so small evils from him? Evils indeed in name, and to gross sense, but not so in reality, not so in effect, at least not so in God's design; but rather [...], &c. said Philagri­us in a grie­vous Disease. Naz. Ep. 66. [...]. Naz. de se. Ep. 63. Prov. 3. 11. things very convenient and profitable for us; which is another aggravation of our ingratitude; for

Are we not also very ingratefull in misapprehending, and disliking that, which God doeth out of very gratious intentions toward us; in loathing his fatherly and friendly dispensations; the fatherly chastisements and friend­ly disciplines, which he unwillingly is forced (is I say forced by his own great love, and by our pressing needs) to inflict or impose upon us? Surely our ill opinion of, or despising (as the [Page 54] Wise-man calleth it) these unpleasant blessings is no small fault; Neither will our not discerning (out of affec­ted dulness, and stupid pravity not dis­cerning) the wisedom of God's me­thods, and the wholsomeness of the means he useth to better us, excuse us from foul ingratitude.

3. Again, upon many accompts, reason farther dictateth in respect to [...]. Xe­noph. de Socr. God, that we should be content: be­cause it is most reasonable to acqui­esce in God's choice of our state, he being infinitely more wise than we, and infinitely better understanding what is good for us than we can do: because he is well affected to us, and more truely loveth us than we do our selves; because he hath a just right, Charior est il­lis homo quàm sibi. and irresistible power to dispose of us, the which (whatever we can doe, how­ever we resent it) he will effectually make use of, whence it is extremely foolish to be discontent: foolish it is to be dissatisfied with the results of his wisedom, adhering to our vain appre­hensions; foolish to distrust his good­ness in compliance with our fond self­love; foolish to contest his unquesti­onable [Page 55] right and uncontrollable power, having nothing but mere impotency to oppose against them; no less than downright madness it is to fret and fume at that which we can no-wise [...]. Philem. help, to bark at that which lodgeth in heaven so far high above us, to solicite deaf necessity with our ineffectual wailings; for if we think, that our dis­pleasure will affect God, that our com­plaints will incline him to alter our condition, or comply with our wishes, we do conceit vainly, and without any ground; sooner may we, by our ima­gination, stop the tides of the Sea, or turn the streams of Rivers backward; sooner, by our cries, may we stay the [...]. Hom. Il. [...]. Sun, and change all the courses of the Stars, than by our passionate resent­ments or moanfull clamours we can check the current of affairs, or alter that state of things, which is by God's high decree established: discontented behaviour will rather fasten our con­dition, or remove it into a worse place; [...]. Eurip. as it highly doth offend God, and en­creaseth our guilt, so it moveth God to continue, and to augment our evils. Thus lifting up our eyes to heaven, and [Page 56] considering the reference our disposi­tion and demeanour hath to God, will induce us to bear our case contented­ly.

II. Again, Reflecting upon our selves, we may observe much reason Lam. 3. 39. to be content with our state; in what­ever capacity we look upon our selves, it in reason becometh us, we in duty are obliged to be so.

As men and creatures we naturally are indigent and impotent; we have no just claim to any thing, nor any possession maintainable by our power; all that we have, or can have, cometh from most pure courtesie and bounty; wherefore how little soever is allow­ed us, we have no wrong done us, nor can we justly complain thereat: Such beggars as we are must not pretend to be chusers; if any thing be given us we may beglad, we should be thank­full. It is for those who have a right, and a power to maintain it, to resent and expostulate, if their due be with­held; but for us that never had any thing, which we could call our own; that have no power to get or keep any [Page 57] thing, for us that came into the world naked and defenseless, that live here in continual, absolute and arbitrary de­pendance for all our livelihood and subsistence, to contest with him that maintaineth us, or to complain of his dealing, is ridiculously absurd and vain.

Upon a moral accompt we have less reason to challenge ought, or to complain of any thing; for we de­serve nothing but evil: If we rightly esteem and value our selves, any thing will seem good enough for us, any con­dition will appear better than we de­serve: duly examining the imperfecti­ons and infirmities of our nature, the disorder and depravedness of our hearts, the demeanours and enormi­ties of our lives, we cannot but appre­hend, that we are even unworthy of the crumbs which fall from our masters ta­ble; Matt. 15. 17. we cannot but acknowledge with the good Patriarch, that we are less than the least of God's mercies. Con­sidering Gen. 32. 10. our natural unworthiness, we shall see that we deserve not so much as those common benefits which all men enjoy, and without which we [Page 58] cannot subsist; so that in regard to them we shall be ready to acknow­ledge with the Psalmist; Lord what is man that thou takest knowledge of him, or the Son of man, that thou makest ac­compt Psal. 44. 3. Job 7. 27. of him? Trying our hearts, and examining our ways, we shall soon discover it to be abundant mercy, that we are not utterly deprived of all good things, stript of all comforts, yea dis­possessed of our very being and life it self; that we are obliged to acknow­ledge with those in the Lamentations, It is of the Lord's mercies that we are Lam. 3. 22. not consumed, because his compassions fail not. Were we sar better than we are, yet it would not become us to contest with him, to whose disposal and judgment we are subject; as Job teacheth us: Behold (saith he) God Job 9. 12, &c. taketh away, who can hinder him, who will say unto him, what doest thou? If he will not withdraw his anger, the proud [...] helpers do stoop under him; how much less shall I answer him, and chuse out my words to reason with him; whom though I were righteous, I would not answer, but I would make supplication to my judge; but for us, men so un­righteous (Job 9. 32.) [Page 59] and guilty, to debate with, to question the proceedings of our Judge it is much more unseemly.

Nothing can be more absurd, than for men so deeply indebted, than for sinners so very obnoxious to wrath, to be aggrieved in any state: Shall we, who are conscious to our selves of so many great sins against our God; who by wilfull transgressions, or slothfull neglects, have so much affronted and offended him; who have so little re­quited his love, and so much abused his patience; who have born so little fruit, and rendred him so little service, shall we be angry that our humour is not pleased in all things? Shall we af­fect to swim in plenty, to wallow in pleasure, to bask our selves in ease; to be fed with dainties, to be gaily cloathed, to flourish in a brave and splendid condition, to be worshipped and honoured, who deserve not the meanest competence, or lowest re­spect, to whom it is a great favour that we are permitted to subsist, whom strict justice would often have cast in­to utter misery and disconsolateness? [Page 60] It is not surely for such persons to be dissatisfied with any thing in this world, but to bless God's exceeding mercy, that they abide there on this side of the bottomless pit; 'tis their part, with most submissive patience, to bear whatever is inflicted on them, humbly saying with him in the Prophet, I will bear the indignation of the Lord, Mic. 7. 9. because I have sinned against him. See­ing, whatever our crosses or sufferings be, we cannot but confess to God with those in Ezra, Thou hast punish­ed F [...]r. 9. 13. us less than our iniquities deserve; being gainers upon the matter, having so much of our debt remitted in ef­fect, being in comparison to what was due to us very tolerably, yea very fa­vourably dealt with, Why should we be dissatisfied? If in such cases men should deal so favourably with us, we should be much pleased, and ready to thank them; Why then should we take it ill of God, when he, even in his hardest proceedings against us, ex­presseth so much indulgence and mer­cy?

If we must be displeased, and lust to complain, we have reason much [Page 61] rather to accuse our selves, than to ex­claim at Providence, to bewail our sins, than to deplore our fortune: for our evils are not indeed so much the voluntary works of God, who doth not afflict willingly, or grieve the children Lam. 3. 33. [...]. of men, as the natural products of our sins, which we do wilfully commit: It is (as the Prophet speaketh) our Jer. 5. 25. sins that withhold good things from us; and bring evil things upon us: Fools, Psal. 107. 17. because of their transgression, and be­cause of their iniquities, are afflicted. We make adversity necessary, or ex­pedient for us, then we cry out upon Jer. 17. 10. 21. 14. 32. 19. 6. 19. it: we labour in Planting, but cannot brook the fruit of our doings; we, like prodigals, fling away our estate in wanton profusions, then complain of want; we affect and chuse the cau­ses, but loath, and cannot abide the certain consequences; so fond in our conceits, so perverse are we in our af­fections: Wherefore doth the living man complain, for the punishment of his Lam. 3. 39. sins? so well might the Prophet de­mand and expostulate. [...]

We may farther, looking on our selves, consider our selves as servants [Page 62] to God, or rather as slaves, absolutely subject to his disposal; And shall any servant, shall a mere slave presume to chuse his place, or determine his rank in the family? Shall he appoint to himself what office he will discharge, what garb he shall go in, what diet he must have; what he will doe, and how he shall be accommodated? Is it not fit that all these things should be left to our Master's discretion and plea­sure, it is most reasonable that we should thoroughly acquiesce in his de­termination: even a Pagan Philoso­pher could teach us, that this is rea­sonable; who thus piously directeth his Speech to God: For the rest use me to what thou [...]. Arr. 2. 16. pleasest. I do consent un­to thee, and am indifferent. I refuse nothing which seem­eth good to thee; lead me whither thou wilt; put on me what garment thou plea­sest: Wilt thou have me to be a governour or a private man, to stay at home or to be banished away, to be poor or to be rich? I will, in respect to all these things, [Page 63] apologize for thee with men; thus did Epictetus say, and such speech well be­cometh our relation to God: servants should be content with their Masters appointments and allowances; they should not onely themselves forbear to find fault with, but be ready to main­tain his proceedings against any, who shall presume to reprehend or blame them. Especially such servants as we are, who, after we have done all things Luc. 17. 10. commanded us, must acknowledge, that we are unprofitable servants; such as can bring no considerable benefit to our Lord, or any-wise advance his state; such as therefore cannot chal­lenge any wages from him, more than he out of mere favour is pleased to allow: Could we, by our labours, en­rich God, or raise him in dignity, or procure delight to him, it might seem congruous that he should answera­bly reward us; but as he getteth no­thing by us, so we cannot require any thing from him: our best services do indeed rather need pardon, than de­serve any reward; No man hath lived so well, that he can pretend any thing from God, that he is not indeed much [Page 64] behind-hand in his accompts with God, having received from God far more of benefit than he can return to him in service: No man, without ex­treme presumption and arrogance, can offer to prescribe, in what mea­sure, or what manner God should re­ward him.

Again, if we consider our selves as the children of God, either by birth or nature, or by adoption and grace, How can we be discontent for any thing? Have we not thence great rea­son to hope, or rather to be confident, that we shall never want any good thing (necessary or convenient for us) that no great evil shall ever op­press us? For is not God hence by paternal disposition inclined, is he not, in a manner, by paternal duty, enga­ged, in all needfull occasions, to sup­ply and succour us? Can we (with­out great profaneness, and no less fol­ly) surmise, that he, which is so im­mensly good, will be a bad (an un­kind, or a neglectfull) Father to us? No, as there is no other Father in goodness comparable to him, so none, in real effects of benignity, can come [Page 65] near him; so our Lord assureth us: If ye (saith he) being evil, know how Matt. 7. 11. to give good things to your children; How much more will your heavenly Fa­ther give good things to his children that ask him?

If we consider our selves as Chri­stians, we have still more reason to practise this duty: As such, we are not onely possessed of goods abun­dantly sufficient to satisfie our desires; we have hopes able to raise our minds above the sense of all present things; we have entertainments that ever may divert our minds, and fill our hearts with comfort; but we have also an assurance of competent sup­plies of temporal goods; for, Godli­ness 1 Tim. 4. [...]. is profitable to all things, having the promise both of the present life, and of that which is to come: and, If we seek Matt. 6. 33. first the kingdom of heaven, and its righteousness, all these things shall be added unto us. It is indeed strangely unhandsome for a Christian ever to droop, or to be disconsolate; for a friend of God, and an heir of heaven to think he wants any thing, or fear that he shall ever want, for him, [Page 66] whose treasure and heart are above, to be so concerned with any thing here, as deeply to resent it.

Again, if we reflect upon our selves as rational men, How for shame can we be discontent? Do we not therein much disparage that ex­cellent perfection of our nature? Is it not the proper work of rea­son to prevent things hurtfull or of­fensive to us, when that may be done; to remove them, if they are remove­able; if neither of these can be com­passed, to allay and mitigate them; so that we may be able well to support them? Is it not its principal use to drive away those fond conceits, and to quell those troublesome passions, which create, or foment disquiet, and displeasure to us? if it cannot doe this, What doth it signifie? To what pur­pose have we it? Is not our condition really worse than that of brute beasts, if reason serveth onely to descry the causes of trouble, but cannot enable to bear it? All the reasons we have produced, and all that we shall produce against discontent, will, if we are reasonable men, and reason [Page 67] availeth any thing, have this effect upon us.

Wherefore considering our selves, our capacities, our relations, our acti­ons, it is most reasonable to be con­tent with our condition, and with whatever doth befall us.

The Third Sermon.

PHIL. IV. 11.I have learned in whatever state, &c.’

III. FArther, if we consider our condition (be it what it will, how poor, how mean, how despicable and forlorn 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 sor­rowfull; nothing here can occur in­supportable, or very grievous in it self; we cannot, if we please, want any thing considerable, and the de­fect whereof may not be supplied, or supported by far better enjoyments. [Page 69] If we have high opinions of some things, as very excellent, or very needfull for us, it's 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 exactly, valuing them, not according to fallacious impressions of sense, or illusive dreamings of fan­cy, but according to sound dictates of reason, we may find, that neither the 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 but the absence of a few superfluous Tert. de Pat. 7. things, which please wanton fancy rather than answer need; without which nature is easily satisfied, and which if we do not affect, we cannot want? what is it but to [...] [...]. Socrat. wear course clothes, to feed on plain and simple [Page 70] fare, to work and take some pains, to sit or go in a lower place, to have no heaps of cash, or hoards of grain, to keep no retinue, to have few Vid. Plut. in Arist. friends, and not one flatterer? and what great harm in this? It is a state, which hath its no small conveniences and comforts, its happy fruits and consequences; which freeth us from many cares and distractions, from many troubles and crosses, from ma­ny Si vis vacare animo aut pauper sis o­portet, aut pauperi simi­lis. Multis ad philosophan­dum obstitere divitiae; pau­pertas expedi­ta est, secura est. Sen. Ep. 17. Saepiùs pau­per, & fide­liùs ridet. Sen. Ep. 80. encombrances, many dangers, ma­ny temptations, many sore distempers of body and soul, many grievous mis­chiefs, to which wealth is exposed; which maintaineth health, industry and sobriety; disposeth us to feed heartily, to move nimbly, to sleep sweetly; which preserveth us from luxury, from satiety, from sloth and unwieldiness. It yieldeth disposition of mind, freedom and leisure to at­tend the study of truth, the acquist of vertue. It is a state, which many have born with great chearfulness; many (very wise men) have volunta­rily embraced; which is allotted by divine wisedom to most men; and which the best men often do endure; [Page 71] to which God hath declared an espe­cial Psal. 10. 14. 35. 10. 68. 10. 69. 33. 72. 4, 13. 140. 12. 146. 7. 147. 2. Luk. 6. 20. Jam. 2. 5. Isa. 66. 2. regard, which the mouth of truth hath proclaimed happy; which the Son of God hath dignified by his choice, and sanctified by his partaking deeply thereof: and can such a condition be very loathsome; can it reasonably dis­please us?

Again, thou art suppose fallen into disgrace, or from honour and credit art depressed into a state of contempt 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 pleasest; which thou never hadst reason much to re­gard, or at all to rely upon? 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 slipping a­way of a thing most fugacious and slippery; what is honour, and fame, but thought, and what more slit­ting, what sooner gone away than a thought? and why art thou displea­sed at the loss of a thing so very slen­der, [Page 72] and slimme? if thou didst 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 mayst not any more regard it. Is the contempt, thou hast incurred, from thy fault? bear the consequence thereof patient­ly, and doe 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 dost 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 most contempt? But now (Job could say) Job 30. 1, 10. they that are younger than I have me in derision,—they abhor me, they slee [Page 73] far from me, and spare not to spit in my face. And, I am, (could that Psal. 22. 6, 7. 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, they shake the head.—and, we are defamed, we are reviled, 1 Cor. 4. 12, 13. we are made as the filth of the world, and the off-scouring of all things unto this day, could the holy Apostles say; and He is despised and rejected of Isa. 53. 3. men—he was despised and we esteemed him not, was said of our Lord himself; and can this condition then in just e­steem be so very pitifull, or grievous?

But thou art perhaps troubled be­cause thou art wrongfully censured, odiously traduced and defamed, abu­sed by slander, or by detraction; Exempl. Je­remiae. Chrys. ad Olymp. 16. Gratias ago Deo meo, quod dignus sum quem mundus oderit. Hier. Ep. 39. (ad Asellam.) which asperseth thee with things whereof thou art no-wise guilty, or representeth thee in a character un­worthy of thee: Be it so; 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 [Page 74] 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 as goodness doth reproach, so it provo­keth [...]. Theod. Ep. 80. their malignity? Canst thou imagine to pass thy days in so unjust and spitefull a world without incur­ring such bad usage? can so 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 thy self in the conscience of thy endea­vouring to deserve and doe 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 doe them­selves far more mischief, than they can doe thee.

[Page 75] 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 thy self 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 more need to be humble in reflexion on thy self, than to swell with disdain in regard to his injury.

Thou shouldst improve this dealing, and make it wholsome 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, satisfie thy self by committing thy soul with patience in well-doing unto thy Judge, who assuredly will [Page 76] doe thee right, will protect thy repu­tation, and clear thy innocence: his judgment is onely worth regarding, be little concerned with any other. Theodor. Ep. 83.

Again, Being disappointed and crossed in the success of their pro­jects, or undertakings, is wont to put men, as they conceive, into a wofull case: but why so? why (let me ask thee, who art discontented upon this score) didst thou build much expecta­tion upon uncertainties? didst 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 silly 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 crossed, and rather confess thy fault, than complain of thy for­tune; if thou didst so, then be con­sistent with thy self, and acquiesce in his determination: In fine, what is thy loss 'tis of thy care and pain? would it have been much better, that [Page 77] thou hadst been careless or idle? but hast thou not in lieu of them got some wisedom and experience? hast thou not (if thy attempt was reaso­nable and worthy) exercised thy wit, thy courage, thy industry? hast 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 doest more, than conquer by thy defeat: however since the gain, the credit, the preferment thou didst aim at, and hast missed, are things in themselves of no great value, and such as thou mayst well live without, as other good men have done, thou canst not have much rea­son to be displeased upon this ac­compt, or to reckon thy condition very disastrous.

But friends, will some man say, have been unkind, have been ungrate­full, have been fickle and false, have neglected, have deserted, have be­trayed me? It was not an enemy, that Psal. 55. 7. reproached me, then I could have born it, &c. this is indeed commonly most grievous; yet being scanned will not [Page 78] render a man's condition so lamen­table: Jam sibi poe­nas dedit qui peccavit. Sen. de Gr. 2. 30. for, such misbehaviour of friends is more their calamity than ours: the loss of bad friends is no damage, but an advantage; 'tis but the loss of a mischief, and a trouble: the fewer we come to have of such, the more time we save, the less trou­ble we meet with, the greater secu­rity we enjoy. The kindness we have shewed, the obligations we have put on such, are not quite lost, they will bring the reward due to humanity, and fidelity; it will yield satisfaction to us, that however we have been kind and faithfull to them. The fi­delity of remaining true friends may satisfie us; however if all other friend­ships should fail, there is one remains, worth millions of other friends, who can never prove unfaithfull, or incon­stant, who never will be unmindfull of us, or deficient in kindness toward us.

The death of friends doth it may be oppress thee with sorrow. Vid. Sen. Ep. 63.

But canst thou lose thy best friend; canst thou lose the presence, the con­versation, the protection, the advice, [Page 79] the succour of God? is he [...], Theod. Ep. 68. not immortal, is he not immutable, is he not in­separable from thee? canst thou be destitute of friends, whilst he stands by thee? Is it not an affront, an hei­nous [...], &c. Theod. Ep. 14. indignity to him, to behave thy self, as if thy happiness, thy welfare, thy comfort had dependence on any other but him? is it not a great fault to be unwilling to part with any thing, Vid. Greg. Naz. Ep. 202. when he calleth for it?

Neither is it a loss of thy friend, but a separation for a small time; he is onely parted from thee as taking a little journey, Cur doles si periisse non credis? cur impatienter fe­r as subductum interim quem credis reversurum? profe­ctio est quam put as mortem. Tert. de Pat. 9. Sen. Ep. 63. or going for a small time to repose; within a while we shall be sure to meet again, and joyfully to con­gratulate, if we are fit in a better place, and more happy state; proemisimus, non amisimus; we have sent him thither before, not quite lost him from us.

Thy friend, if he be a good man (and in such friendships onely we can [Page 80] have true satisfaction) is Impatientia in ejusmodi & spei nostrae malè omina­tur, & fidem praevarica­tur, &c. Tert. ibid. himself in no bad conditi­on, and doth not want thee; thou canst not there­fore reasonably grieve for [...]; Naz. Or. 19. him; and to grieve onely for thy self is perverse self­ishness and fondness.

But thou hast lost a great comfort of thy life, and advantage to thy af­fairs here? is it truly so? is it indeed an irreparable loss, even secluding the consideration of God, whose friend­ship repaireth all possible loss? what is it, I pray, that was pleasant, con­venient, or usefull to thee in thy friend, which may not in good mea­sure be supplied here? was it a sense of hearty good-will, was it a sweet freedom of conversation, was it sound advice or kind assistence in thy af­fairs? and mayst thou not find those left, which are alike able, and wil­ling to minister those benefits? may not the same means, which knit him to thee, conciliate others also to be thy friends? he did not alone surely Vid. Sen. Ep. 63. possess all the good-nature, all the fi­delity, all the wisedom in the world, [Page 81] nor hath carried them all away with him? other friends therefore thou mayst find to supply his room: all good men will be ready, if thou art good, to be thy friends, they will heartily love thee; they will be rea­dy to chear thee with their sweet and wholsome society, to yield thee their best counsel and help upon any occa­sion: Is it not therefore a fond and unaccomptable affection to a kind of personality, rather than want of a real convenience that disturbeth thee?

In fine, the same reasons, which in any other loss may comfort us, should doe it also in this: neither a friend nor any other good thing we can enjoy under any security of not soon loosing it; our welfare is not an­nexed to one man no more than to a­ny other inferiour thing; this is the condition of all good things here to be transient and separable from us; and accordingly we should be affected toward them.

Fragile fractum est, mortale mortuum est.

[Page 82] But farther, it perhaps displeaseth us, that the course of the world doth not go right, or according to our mind; that justice is not well dispen­sed, that vertue is under hatches, that worth is not considered, that indu­stry is not rewarded, that innocence and modesty are trampled upon; that favour, partiality, corruption, flatte­ry, craft, impudence do carry all be­fore them; devouring all the encou­ragements due to honest industry: This may be observed, but why should it displease? art thou guilty of con­tributing to this? then mend; if not, then bear; especially seeing thou canst not help it; for so it hath always been, and ever will be in the world, that things never have gone there as the wisest judge, or the best men de­sire: there have never been good men enough to sway the world, nor will the few good men that are, be so ac­tive in promoting publick good, as bad are in driving on their private designs; doth not this course of things necessarily spring from the nature of men, which therefore we should no more be vexed at, than for [Page 83] that a serpent hath poison, or that a wasp hath a sting? we cannot won­der at it, why then should we be strangely affected by it? could any man ever have been pleased, if this were a sufficient cause of displeasure? However the world goes, we may yet make a tolerable shift, God is en­gaged competently to provide for us; that should satisfie us. God observeth these things no less than we, and he can easily hinder them, yet he thin­keth good to suffer them; and shall not we do so likewise? there is in fine appointed a judgment hereafter, when all these things shall be redres­sed and set streight; when justice and vertue shall triumph, when inte­grity and industry shall find their due recompence, 'tis but a moment to that time, and till then we may rest satisfied.

Thus if we do survey and rightly state things, which cause discontent, and seem to render our condition hard and sad, we shall find, that not from the things, but from our selves all the mischief proceeds: we by our imagi­nation give to the lightest things a [Page 84] weight, and swell the smallest things into a vast bulk; we fansie them ve­ry frightfull and dolefull, then we tremble and grieve at them. Mere names (the names of poverty, of dis­grace, of defeat) do scare us, without consulting reason, and considering how little terrible the things are themselves. We follow silly prejudi­ces, judging that highly good, which the vulgar admireth, that very evil, which the weakest sort of men are wont to complain of; hence so com­monly doth our case seem grievous. But in truth there is no condition so bad, but if we manage it well and wisely, if we bend our mind to com­ply with it, if we moderate our pas­sions about the accidents thereof, if we vigilantly embrace and enjoy the advantages thereof, may not be easily supportable, yea prove very comfor­table to us; it is our fond conceits, our froward humours, our perverse behaviours, which do create the trou­ble, which seemeth adherent to any condition, and embittereth every state; which from any slight occasion doth create vexation, and turneth every e­vent into disaster.

[Page 85] 2. As there is no condition here perfectly and purely good (not defi­cient in some convenien­ces, not blended with some —usque adeò nulla est sin­cera voluntas Solicitique aliquid laetis in­tervenit—Ovid. troubles) so there is none so thoroughly bad, that it hath not somewhat conve­nient and comfortable therein; sel­dom or never all good things do for­sake a man at once, or all mischiefs together assail him; some­what usually abideth, which Assuescendum conditioni suae; & quàm minimum de illa querendum, & quicquid habet circa se commodi ap­prehendendum est: nihil tam acerbum est, ex quo non aequus animus solatium inve­niat. Sen. de Tranq. an. cap. 10. well improved, or wisely enjoyed may satisfie a man, yea render his estate com­parable to theirs, who to vulgar eyes appear to be in the best condition: there is in every condition somewhat of good compensating for its evils, and reducing it to a balance with o­ther more plausible states. We are, suppose again, in poverty (that in­stance I propound usually, as the most ordinary ground of discontent) but have we therewith good health? then most rich men may envy us, and rea­sonably we should not exchange our state with many crazy Princes: have [Page 86] we therewith our liberty? that is an inestimable good, which often times the greatest men have wanted, and would have purchased with heaps of gold: have we therein a quiet mind, and a free use of our time? it is that, which wisest men have prized above any wealth, and which the chief men of the world would be glad to taste of: have we a clear reputation? we have then the best good that any wealth can yield, we have more than many can obtain in the most splendid for­tune: have we any friends sticking to us? that is more than the richest persons can assure themselves of, to whom it is near impossible to distin­guish the friends of their person from the flatterers of their fortune; it is a privilege and solace, which Princes are hardly capable to arrive at: have we a bare competency, sufficient to maintain our life? we thereby keep our appetites in better compass, and Prov. 27. 7. our faculties in greater vigour; we thence better relish all things; we in consequence thereof avoid the bur­thens, the diseases, the vices of sloth and luxury: have we farther (as if [Page 87] we are not very bad, we shall in this case assuredly have, humanity dispo­sing all men thereto) the compassion of men; is not this somewhat better, than that envy, that ill-will, that ob­loquy, which usually do attend wealth and prosperity? why then, if our poor state hath so manifold conveniences, do we so much distaste it? why do we so dwell and pore on the small in­conveniences we feel under it, over­looking or slighting the benefits we may enjoy thereby? This indeed or­dinarily is our folly and infirmity, that the want of any little thing, which we fansie or affect, doth hin­der us from satisfaction in all other things; One dead fly causeth all our Eccles. 10. 1. ointment to stink; the possession of a Kingdom will not keep us from being heavy and displeased (as Ahab was) 1 King. 21. 4. 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 insipid, our splendours appear dimme, [Page 88] every thing but that is a toy unto us: So capriciously, and unaccomptably prone are we to discontent.

3. Is our condition (let me ask again) so extremely bad, that it can­not be much worse? Are we sunk to the bottom 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 [Page 89] and our liberty; that all the losses, all the disgraces, all the pains which poor Job sustained, or far more and Job, who [...], &c. Chrys. ad Olymp. 2. greater than those have together sei­sed on us; yet we cannot have suffi­cient reason to be discontent; for that nevertheless we have goods left to us in our hands, or within our reach, far surpassing all those goods we have lost, much outweighing the evils we do undergoe: when the world hath done its worst, we remain Masters of things incomparably better than it, and all it containeth; the possession whereof may, and (if we be wise) will abundantly satisfie us. We are Men still, and have our reason left be­hind, which alone, in worth, exceed­eth all the treasures of the world; in well using which, and thereby order­ing all things for the best, we become 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 [Page 90] hereafter) and that is a continual feast, Prov. 15. 15. yielding a far more solid and savoury pleasure, than the most ample reve­nue can afford: we may have hope in God (the authour and donour 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 spiritual blessings, and privileges, each of them justly valuable beyond whole worlds of pelfe; we can, in a word (we can if we please) enjoy God's favour, which immensly transcen­deth all other enjoyments, which vastly more than countervaileth the absence of all other things; of this, by applying our selves to the love and service of God, we are infallibly capa­ble; of this no wordly force or for­tune can despoile us; we having this, our condition cannot be poor, con­temptible, or pitifull; 'tis indeed there­by most rich, glorious and happy: [Page 91] 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 speak) to be Psal. 73. 26. 16. 5. 119. 57. 142. 5. his portion for ever? How can he be despicable, that hath the honour to have the Sovereign Majesty of the 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 needfull effects of God's bountifull 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, which never is withheld from those who seek it) be good Christians; seeing nothing can hinder us from fearing God, or can separate us from his love, neither can any thing ren­der Rom. 8. 39. our condition bad or unhappy, re­ally distressed or needy: O fear the Lord (saith the Psalmist) for there Psal. 34. 9. [Page 92] is no want to them that fear him: The young Lions (or the rich, as the LXX. render it) do lack and suffer [...]. LXX. hunger; but they that seek the Lord shall not want any good thing; and, Whoso keepeth the commandment, shall Eccles. 8. 5. feel no evil thing, saith the Wise­man; and, The hand of our God is up­on all them that seek him, saith the Prophet; and, Who is he that shall Ezr. 8. 22. harm you; (or doe ill to you, or make you worse) if ye be followers of that 1 Pet. 3. 13. [...]. which is good? saith St. Peter; and We know (saith St. Paul) that to Rom. 8. 28. them who love God all things cooperate for good; and Godliness (saith he a­gain) 1 Tim. 6. 6. with contentedness is great gain; that is, supposing we have the goods which piety ministreth, although we have nothing more, we are, if we can be content, very well to pass; it is abundantly sufficient for us.

Why then, I pray, are we discon­tent? what we doe we groan or grieve for: What is it that we do want? Is it the use of reason, is it vertue, is it God's favour? then in­deed we have good cause to be dis­pleased; for the want of those things [Page 93] is indeed lamentable; but if we do want them, it is onely our selves 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 our selves of them, will be concerned to mind our complaints? But is it onely 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 cloath our backs, or so thoroughly sooth our fancies, as we could wish, 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, when as they want no solid or sub­stantial goods, to wail for worthless toies and trinkets; 'tis for children, when they have not their will in pet­ty and impertinent matters, to cry and lament; children are much affec­ted [Page 94] with every word, or little shew that crosseth them; If we were (as St. Paul chargeth us to be) perfect men, 1 Cor. 14. 20. if 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 [...], a lightness of affliction: we should with him 2 Cor. 4. 17. Rom. 8. 18. reckon, that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be com­pared with the glories which shall be revealed to us; we should with Saint Peter greatly rejoice, though for a sea­son 1 Pet. 1. 6. 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 condition 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 thankfull, [Page 95] 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 fansie, not hearing or regarding any dictate of reason) like beasts; prizing things merely according to present sense, or shew, not examining their intrinsick natures, or looking forward into their proper fruits and consequences.

Adversity (or a state, wherein we are not furnished with all accommo­dations gratefull to sense or fancy; or wherein —Multóque in rebus acerbis, Acriùs advertunt animos ad relligionem. Lucret. 3. p. 64. somewhat doth cleave to us offensive to those infe­riour powers of soul) is the thing which we chief­ly [...], &c. Chrys. in 2 Cor. Orat. 26. loath and abominate; whereas, in true judg­ment, nothing commonly is more necessary, more wholsome, more usefull and beneficial to us; no­thing is more needfull, or conducible to the health of our soul, and to our real happiness, than it: It is the school of wisedom, wherein our minds [Page 96] are disciplin'd and improved in the knowledge of the best things, whence it is termed [...], that is, instruc­tive chastisement; Psal. 119. 71. 1 Cor. 11. 32. so David found it; It is, said he, good for me that I have been afflicted, that I might learn thy statutes; and, our [...]. Lord himself, [...], Heb. 5. 8. He learned obe­dience from what he suffer­ed. It is the Academy Miraris tu, si Deus, ille bonorum amantissimus qui illos quàm optimos es­se atque excellentissimos vult, fortunam illis cum qua exerceantur assignat? Sen de Prov. 2. Deut. 8. 2. wherein vertue is acqui­red and exercised; so God meant it to his people; The Lord thy God (saith Moses) led thee this forty years in the wilderness, that he might humble thee, and prove thee. So the Wise-man saith, that by the sadness of the countenance the heart is made bet­ter; and, that stripes do cleanse the Eccles. 7. 3. inward parts of the belly. And, It Prov. 20. 30. yieldeth (saith the Apostle) the peace­able Heb. 12. 11. Jam. 1. 3. Rom. 5. 3. fruit of righteousness to them that are exercised thereby.

It is the furnace of the soul, where­in it is tried, cleansed and refined from the dross of vain conceits, of perverse [Page 97] humours, of vitious di­stempers: When (saith Job 23. 10. (Psal. 66. 10.) Eccles. 2. 5. Sap. 3. 5. (Isa. 1. 25. 48. 10. Mal. 3. 23. Dan. 11. 35.) Job) he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold: and, Gold (saith the Wise­man) is tried in the fire, and acceptable men in the furnace of Hence [...] (tri­al) is the usual word sig­nifying it. 1 Pet. 1. 6, &c. adversity.

It is the method whereby God re­claimeth sturdy sinners to goodness, engageth them to seek and serve him­self; so of the Israelites the Prophet saith, Lord, in Isa. 26. 16. 29. 19. Hos. 5. 15. Psal. 78. 34. 107. 4, &c. 84. 16. trouble have they visited thee, they poured out a prayer when thy chastning was upon them; so Manasses, when he 2 Chron. 23, 12. was in affliction he besought the Lord his God, and humbled himself greatly before the God of his Fathers; so Ne­buchadnezzar, Dan. 3. 34. after being driven from his Kingdom, his understanding re­turned unto him, and he blessed the most high, and praised and honoured him that liveth for ever. So David Psal. 119. 67. himself, Before, said he, I was afflict­ed I went astray, but now have I kept thy word.

[Page 98] It is that whereby God doth prepare men, and [...], &c. Chrys. Tom. 6. Or. 9. doth entitle them to the blessed rewards hereafter: Our light affliction (saith 2 Cor. 4. 17. St. Paul) which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; and, Ye (saith St Peter) Heb. 10. 36. [...], &c. greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in hea­viness 1 Pet. 1. 6. 4. 14. through manifold temptations; that the trial of your faith being much more pretious than of gold that perish­eth, though it be tried with fire, may be found unto praise, and honour, and glory, at the appearing of Jesus Christ. Such is the nature, such the use, such the fruits of adversity.

It is indeed scarce possible, that without tasting it some­what deeply, any man Nihil infelicius eo, cui nihil unquam evenit ad­versi, non licuit enim illi se experiri. Sen. de Pro­vid. 3. should become in good measure either wise or good. He must be very ignorant of himself (of his own temper and incli­nations, Non fert ullum ictum il­laesa felicitas, Ib, of the strength [Page 99] and forces of his reason) who hath not met with some rubs and crosses to try himself and them with: the greater part of things he must little understand, who hath not experien­ced the worst part: he cannot skill to wield and govern his passions, who never had them stirred up, and tossed about by cross accidents: he can be no good Pilot in matters of humane life, who hath not for some time sailed in a rough Sea, in foul wea­ther, among sands and shelves: he could have no good opportunity of employ­ing thoroughly, or improving his wit, his courage, his industry, who hath had no straits to extri­cate himself from, no dif­ficulties Quae latet, inque bonis cessat non cognita rebus, Apparet virtus, arguitúr (que) malis. Ovid. Trist. 4. 3. to surmount, no hardships to sustain: The vertues of humility, of pa­tience, of contentedness necessarily must be unknown to him, to whom no disgraces, no wants, no sore pains have arrived, by well enduring which, those vertues are learnt, and planted in the soul: Scarce can he be­come very charitable, or com­passionate to others, who never [Page 100] himself hath felt the smart of affliction, or inconve­niencies Non ignara mali mise­ris succurrere disco. Aen. 2. of any distress; for even, as the Apostle teacheth us, our Saviour himself was obliged to suffer tribulation, that he Heb. 2. 17, 18. 4. 15, 16. thence might become mercifull, and disposed to succour the afflicted. (No wonder, if he that liveth in continual prosperity, be a Nabal, churlish and dis­courteous, 1 Sam. 25. 6. 3. insensible of other mens grievances:) And how can he express much piety or love to God, who is not (in submission to God's will, and for his Cùm molestiae in hujus vitae fragilitate crebres­cunt, aeternam requiem nos desiderare compellunt. Mun­dus quippe iste periculosior est blandus, quàm mole­stus, & magis cavendus quum se illicit diligi, quàm cùm admonet, cogitque con­temni. Aug. Ep. 144. sake) put to suffer any thing grievous, or want a­ny thing desirable? When can he employ any great faith or hope in God, who never hath any visible need of succour, or relief from him, who hath other present aids to confide in? How can he pure­ly delight in God, and place his sole felicity in him? How can he tho­roughly relish spiritual things, whose affections are taken up by an afflu­ence of other goods, whose appetites [Page 101] are glutted with enjoyment of other delights? What but deprivation of these things can lay open the vanity, the deceitful­ness Ardua nam res est opi­bus non tradere mores. Mart. and slipperiness of them? What but crosses and disappointments here can withdraw our minds Munera ista fortunae pu­tatis? insidiae sunt. Sen. Ep. 8. Viscata beneficia. Ib. from a fond admiration, and eager affection to­ward this world? What but the want of these joys and satis­factions, can drive us to seek our fe­licity otherwhere? when the deceit Matt. 13. 22. of riches possesseth us, How can we judge right of things? when cares a­bout them distract us, How can we think about any thing that is good? 1 Tim. 6. 9. Luc. 10. 41. when their snares entangle us, and their clogs encumber us, How can we be free and expedite in doing good? when abun­dance Deut. 32. 15. Prov. 1. 32. 30. 9. Hos. 13. 6. Psal. 30. 6. Jer. 2 [...]. 21. Amos 6. 1, &c. fatneth our hearts, and ease softneth our spi­rits, and success pusseth up our minds; when pride, sensuality, stupidity and sloth (the al­most inseparable adherents to large and prosperous estates) do continually in­sinuate [Page 102] [...] themselves into us, What wise­dom, what vertue are we like to have? Seeing then adversity is so wholsome and use­full, Gratulari & gaudere nos decet dignatione divinae castigationis—O servum illum beatum, cujus emen­dationi Dominus instat; cui dignatur irasci, quem admo­nendi dissimulatione non de­cipit. Tertull. de Pat. 11. the remedy of so great mischiefs, the cause of so great benefits to us, Why should we be displeased therewith? to be displea­sed with it, is to be displea­sed [...], &c. Chrys. [...]. 5. with that which is most needfull, or most conve­nient for us, to be displea­sed with the health and welfare of our souls; that we are rescued from errours and vices, with all their black train of miseries and mischiefs; to be displeased that we are not detained under the reign of folly and wicked­ness, that we are not inevitably made fools and beasts. To be disgusted with Providence for afflic­tion or poverty, is no other [...]. Simpl. than as if we should be an­gry with our Physician for administring a purge, or for prescribing abstinence to [...]. Naz. Ep. 66. us; as if we should fret at our Chirurgeon for search­ing [Page 103] our wounds, or applying needfull corrosives; as if we should complain of the hand which draweth us from a precipice, or pulleth us out of the Jud. 23. fire. Many benefits (saith Seneca) have a sad and rough countenance, as to Beneficia multa trislem & asperam frontem habent, quemadmodum urere, & se­care, ut sanes. Sen. de Benef. 5. 20. burn and cut in order to healing: Such a benefit of God is adversity to us; and as such with a gladsome and thankfull mind should we receive it.

If with a diligent obser­vation we consult experi­ence, we shall find, that Horrorem operis fructus excusat. Tert. Scorp. 5. as many have great cause to bewail, that they have been rich, that they have been blinded and cor­rupted with prosperity, that they have received their consolation here; Luc. 6. 24. Jam. 5. 1. Am 6. 1, &c. so many have great reason to be glad, that they have been poor, Let our condition be what it will, we are the same. It doth not change us in our intrinsick worth, or state. It is but a gar­ment about us, or as wea­ther. —Ego utrùm, Nave ferar magnâ an parvâ, ferar unus & idem. Hor. Epist. 2. 2. that they have been disap­pointed, that they have tasted the bitter cup; it having instructed and cor­rected them; it having rendred them sober and considerate; industrious [Page 104] and frugal, mindfull of God, and de­vout toward him: And what we may rejoice in, when past, Why should we not bear contentedly when pre­sent? Why should not the expectati­on of such good fruits satisfie us?

Why should not such a condition, being so plainly better in it self, seem also better unto us? we cannot, if we are reasonable, but approve it in our judgment; Why then are we not ful­ly reconciled unto it in our affection?

The Fourth Sermon.

PHIL. IV. 11.I have learned in whatsoever state, &c.’

5. BUT farther; Let our state be, as to quality, what it will, good or bad, joyfull or unpleasant, we may yet consider, that it cannot be desperate, it may not be lasting; for there is not any neces­sary connexion between the present and the future; wherefore, as the pre­sent being momentany and transient, can little trouble us, so the future be­ing unknown, and uncertain, should not dismay us. As no man reaso­nably can be elevated with confi­dence [Page 106] in a good state, presuming on its duration, (Boast not thy self of to­morrow, for thou knowest not what a Prov. 27. 1. day may bring forth;) so no man should be dejected for a bad one, in suspicion that Multa intervenient qui­bus vicinum periculum vel prepe admotum aut subsi­stat aut desinat, aut in ali­enum caput transeat. Sen. it will abide long; seeing neither (considering the frequent vicissitudes that occur, and the flux nature of all things here) is each of them, in it self, stable; and the continuance of each absolutely dependeth on God's arbitrary disposal; and as God often doth overturn prosperity, to hu­mane judgment most firmly ground­ed, so he most easily can redress the to appearance most forlorn ad­versity; and he, being e­specially the helper of the helpless, doth frequently Psal. 72. 12. 107. 9. 10. 4. 106. 9. Job 12. 21. Psal. 107. 40. Isa. 25. 5. Job 5. 11. Isa. 2. 11. Psal. 18. 27. perform it: As he poureth contempt upon Princes, and weakeneth the strength of the mighty; so he raiseth the poor out of the dust, and lifteth the needy out of the Psal. 113. 7. 107. 41. dunghill: He casteth down the mighty from their seat, and exalt­eth [Page 107] the humble and meek: He send­eth the rich empty away, and filleth the hungry with good things. He ma­keth Job 5. 18. sore, and bindeth up, he woundeth, 1 Sam. 2. 7. and his hands make whole.

Considering therefore the reason of things, and [...], &c. Theod. Ep. 14. the nature of God, if our state be at present bad or sorrowfull, we have more reason to hope for its a­mendment, than to fear its continuance. If indeed Sperat adversis, metuit secundis, Alteram sortem benè prae­paratum pectus. Hor. Carm. 2. 10. things went on in a fatal track, merely according to a blind and heedless chance, or a stiff and unalterable ne­cessity; if there were no remedy from God's Providence, or support by his grace to be expected (although even then there would be no reason to grieve, or complain (grief would be unreasonable because unprofitable, complaint would be vain, because for­tune and fate are deaf) yet our infir­mity might somewhat excuse that idle proceeding; but since not a Sparrow falleth to the ground, not a hair of our Matt. 10. 29, 30. Luc. 21. 18. head perisheth; nothing at all passeth [Page 108] otherwise, than by the voluntary dis­position of a most wise and gratious God; since he doth always strictly view, and is very sensible of our griefs; yea doth in a manner sympathize with them (according to those pa­thetical expressions in the Prophets; His bowels Hos. 11. 8. Jer. 31. 10. Isa. 63. 9, 15. sound; and are troubled, his heart is turned within him; In all their afflictions Luc. 12. 29, 31. Heb. 13. 5. Matt. 6. 33. Phil. 4. 6. 1 Pet. 5. 7. Psal. 55. 23. 37. 5. he was afflicted.) Since he farther hath by promise obliged himself to care for us, to support, and succour us; we have all reason to hope, yea firmly to be­lieve (if at least we can find in our hearts to hope, and to believe) that we shall, as soon as it is good and ex­pedient for us, find relief and ease; we shall have that [...], that seasonable succour, of which the Apostle to the Hebrews speak­eth. Heb. 4. 6.

Hope lieth at the bottom of the worst condition that can be; The Job 5. 16. poor (saith Job's friend) hath hope; and the rich can have no more; the future being equally close to both; [Page 109] the one can have no greater assurance to keep what he hath, than the other hath to get what he needeth; yea clearly the poor hath the advantage in the case; for God hath more decla­red, that he will relieve the poor man's want, than that he will pre­serve the rich man's store: If then we have in every condition a hope pre­sent to us, Why do we grieve as those 1 Thes. 4. 13. Heb. 6. 19. who have no hope? having ever ready the best anchor that can be to rest up­on (for in this rolling sea of humane affairs, there is no firmer anchor than hope) Why do we let our minds be tossed with discontentfull solicitudes and fears? Why do we not rather (as the Apostle injoineth) rejoice in hope, Rom. 12. 12. than grieve out of despair? Why do we not as the Prophet adviseth, hope and wait quietly for the salvation of Lam. 3. 25. the Lord? the effect of so reposing our selves for the future on God's Providence would be perfect content, and peace, according to that of the Prophet, Thou wilt keep him in perfect Isa. 26. 3. peace, whose mind is stayed in thee, be­cause he trusteth in thee; And that of the Wise-man, A patient man will bear for Ecclus. 1. 23. [Page 110] a time, and afterwards joy shall spring up unto him.

The truth is, and it seemeth very observable, in order to our purpose, that most discontent ariseth not from the sense of incumbent evil, but from fuspicion, or fear of somewhat to come; Although God at present dis­penseth a competency of food and rayment, although we are in a to­lerable condition, and feel no extremi­ty of want or pain, yet not descrying the way of a future provision for us, answerable to our desires, we do trou­ble our selves; which demeanour im­plieth great ignorance, and infidelity; We think God [...], Chrys. ad Stagir. 2. obliged in kindness, not onely to bestow upon us what is needfull in its sea­son, but to furnish us with stores, and allow us secu­rities; we must have somewhat in hand, or we cannot trust him for the future; this is that which our Saviour cautioneth against, as the root of discontent and sign of diffidence; Take no thought for the morrow, for the Matt. 6. 34. morrow shall take thought for the [Page 111] things of it self, sufficient to the day is the evil thereof: An advice no less pious, than Calamitosus est animus futuri anxius, & ante mi­seriam miser. Sen. Ep. 18. manifestly full of reason and wisedom; For what a palpable folly is it to an­ticipate that evil which we would avoid; then, Ne sis miser ante tempus; cùm illa quae velut immi­nentia expavisti, fortasse nunquam ventura sint, cer­tè nondum venerint, &c. Sen. Ep. 13. when we earnestly desire to put off sorrow, to pull it toward us; to feel that mischief, which possibly shall never be; to give it a being in our fancy, Quod juvat dolori suo occurrere? satis citó dole­bis cúm venerit. Ibid. which it may never have in nature? Could we fol­low this advice, never re­senting evils before they Quoties incerta erunt ma­ria, tibi fave. Ib. come, never prejudging a­bout future events against God's Pro­vidence, and our own quiet; con­stantly depending on the Divine care for us; not taking false alarms, and trembling at things, which shall ne­ver come near us; not being distur­bed with panick fears, no discontent could ever seise upon us; for the pre­sent is ever supportable; our mind [Page 112] cannot be overwhelmed by the pangs of a transitory moment.

If we need farther encouragement for application of this remedy, we have manifold experiments to assure its vertue: as there are in­numerable Promises, that Lam. 3. 25. Isa. 30. 18. 40. 31. 49. 23. Psal. 25. 3. 37. 9. 9. 10. 2 Chron. 28. 9. Ezra 8. 22. Amos 5. 4. 2 Chron. 15. 2. none who hope in God shall be disappointed, so there are many illustrious examples of those, whom God hath in remarkable manner, and wonderfull measure relieved from wants and distresses, raising them out of deepest poverty, contempt and worldly wretchedness, into most emi­nent degrees of wealth and prosperi­ty: Look (saith the Hebrew Sage) Ecclus. 2. 10. into the ancient generations, and see; Who hath trusted in the Lord, and hath been ashamed? Or who hath abi­den in his fear, and hath been forsa­ken? Or who hath invoked him, and he did over-look (or despise him?) If we look into those generations, we may there find Joseph out of slavery, and out of prison, advanced to be the chief Governour of a most flourish­ing [Page 113] Kingdom: Moses from an exile, and a vagrant, made the Redeemer and Commander of a populous Nati­on: Job out of extreme poverty and Job 42. 10. 1. 3. disgrace, restored to be in wealth and honour twice greater than the greatest men of the East: Daniel out of capti­vity, and persecution, become Presi­dent of the greatest Monarchy on earth David raised out of great meanness to highest dignity, restored out of extreme straits into a most prosperous state; according to those Psal. 71. 18. 69. 29. 18. 36. words of admiration and acknowledg­ment; O what great troubles and ad­versities hast thou shewed me; and yet didst thou turn and refresh me, yea and broughtest me from the deep of the earth again: Thou hast brought me to great honour, and comforted me on every side: Thus hath God emi­nently done with divers, thus we may be assured that he will doe com­petently with us, if with the like faith and patience, we do, as they did, rely and wait upon him.

6. But farther, imagine or suppose, that our condition (so irksome to us at present) will certainly hold on to [Page 114] the utmost; yet consider also, that it soon will cease, and change of it self: since we are mortal, our evils cannot be perpetual, we cannot long be in­fested with them.

As it may debase, and embitter all the prosperity in the world, to con­sider, that it is very fading and short-lived, that its splendour is but a blaze, its pleasure but a flash, its joy but as the crackling of thorns; so it should abate, and sweeten any adversi­ty, Eccl. 7. 6. (Psal. 27. 13. I had fainted, if I had not belie­ved to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. to remember, that it is passing away, and sud­denly will be gone. Put, I say, the worst case that can be, that it were certainly determined, and we did as certainly know it, that those things which cause our displeasure, should continue through our whole life; yet since our life it self will soon be spun out, and with it all our world­ly evils will vanish, Why are we trou­bled? What is said of our selves must in consequence be truely applied to them; They flee like a shadow, and con­tinue 1 Chron. 29. 15. Psal. 78. 39. Jam. 4. 14. not; they are winds passing and coming not again; they are vapours ap­pearing [Page 115] for a little time, and then va­nishing away; they wither like grass, Psal. 90. 5. Isa. 64. 6. 40. 6. and fade away as a leaf; they may die before us, they cannot out-live us: our life is but a hand breadth; And Psal. 39. 5. can then our evils have any vast bulk? Our age is as no­thing. And can any cros­ses Omnia brevia tolerabilia esse debent etiamsi mag­na. Cic. Lael. therein be then any great matter? How can any thing so very short be very into­lerable? It is but [...], being (as St. Peter speaketh) a little while yet aggrieved; it is but 1 Pet. 1. 6. [...], a small quantity what­ever it be of time, as the Apostle to the Hebrews saith, that we need Heb. 10. 26, 27. patience; it is but [...], an affliction for a 2 Cor. 4. 17. present moment; and therefore, as St. Paul intimateth, light and inconsi­derable that we are to undergo. We have but a very narrow strait of time to pass over, but we shall land on the firm, and vast continent of eternity; when we shall be freed from all the troublesome agitations, from all the perillous storms, from all the nauseous qualms of this navigation; [Page 116] death (which may be very near, which cannot be far off) is a sure haven from all the tempests of life, a safe refuge from all the persecutions of the world, an infallible medicine for all the diseases of our mind, and of our state: it will enlarge us from all re­straints, it will discharge all our debts, it will ease us from all our toils, it will stifle all our cares, it will veil all our disgraces; it will still all our com­plaints, and bury all our disquiets; it will wipe all tears from our eyes, and banish all sorrow from our hearts: it perfectly will levell all conditions, setting the high [...]. [...]. P [...]ocyl. and low, the rich and poor, the wise and ignorant all together upon even ground; smothering all the pomp and glories, swallowing all the wealth and treasures of the world.

It is therefore but holding out a while, and all our molesta­tion, of its own accord, [...] [...]. Plut. ad Apoll. will expire; time certain­ly will cure us; but it is better that we should owe that benefit to reason, and let it pre­sently [Page 117] comfort us: It is better, by ra­tional consideration, to work content in our selves, using the brevity and frailty of our life as an argument to sustain us in our adversity, than onely to find the end thereof as a natural and necessary means of evasion from it.

Serious reflexions upon our mor­tality, is indeed, upon many accompts, a powerfull antidote against discon­tent; being apt to extirpate the most radical causes thereof.

Is it because we much admire these worldly things, that we so much grieve for the want of them? this will quell that admiration; For how can we admire them, if we consider, how in regard to us they are so very transitory, and evanid? How can we deem them much worth the having, when we can, for so little time, enjoy them, must so very soon quite part from them?

How can we dote on the world, seeing The world (as St. John saith) 1 Joh. 2. 27. 1 Cor. 7. 31. Eccl. 1. 3, &c. 1 Pet. 2. 24. passeth away, and the desire thereof?

How can we value any worldly glory, since All the glory of men is (as [Page 118] St. Peter telleth us) as the flower of the grass; since, as the Psalmist saith) Man in honour abideth not, but is like Psal. 49. 12. 82. 6. the beasts that perish?

How can we set our heart on riches, Prov. 27. 24. 11. 4. considering that Riches are not for ever, nor can (as the Wise-man saith) deliver from death; that, as Saint James admonisheth, The rich man fa­deth Jam. 1. 11. in his ways; that it may be said to any rich man, as it was to him in the Gospel; Thou fool, this night thy life shall be required of thee, and what Heb. 11. 25. thou hast prepared to whom shall it fall? How can we fansie pleasure, see­ing it is but [...], a very temporary fruition; seeing how­ever Cor. 15. 32. we do eat, or drink, or play, it followeth, the morrow we shall die?

How can we even admire any secu­lar wisedom, or knowledge, seeing that it is (as the Psalmist telleth us) true of every man, that —his breath goeth forth, he returneth to Psal. 46. 4. his earth, in that very day his thoughts perish; particularly it is seen that wise­men die, no otherwise than as the foo­lish, and brutish person perisheth; that, Psal. 49. 10. as Salomon with regret observed, There Eccles. 9. 10. 3. 14. [Page 119] is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisedom in the grave whither we are going.

Do we admire the condition of those, who, upon the stage, do appear in the state of Kings, do act the part of wealthy men, do talk gravely and wisely like Judges or Philosophers for an hour or two? If we do not ad­mire those shadows and mockeries of state, Why do we admire any ap­pearances upon this theatre of the world, which are scarce a whit less deceitfull, or more durable than they?

Is it an envious or disdainfull re­gret at the advantages of others before us (of others perhaps that are un­worthy and unfit, or that are, as we conceit, no more worthy and capable than our selves) that gnaweth our heart? is it, that such persons are more wealthy, more honourable, in greater favour or repute, than we, that vexeth us? the consideration how lit­tle time those slender preeminences will last, may (if better remedies want due efficacy) serve toward root­ing out that disease; the Psalmist doth [Page 120] several times prescribe it; Fret not Psal. 37. 1, 2. thy self (saith he) against evil doers, neither be thou envious against the workers of iniquity, for they shall soon be cut down like the grass, and wither as the green herb; and, again, Be not Psal. 49. 17. afraid when one is made rich, and when the glory of his house is encreased; for when he dieth he shall carry nothing away, his glory shall not descend after him: and he being fallen into this scurvy distemper, did follow his own prescription, I was, saith he, envious Psal. 73. 3, 17. at the foolish, when I saw the prosperi­ty of the wicked—untill I went into the sanctuary of God, then understood I their end; surely thou didst set them in slippery places—How are they brought into desolation as in a moment? So likewise doth Solomon prescribe: Let not (saith he) thine heart envy Prov. 23. 17, 18. sinners; Why not? because surely there is an end, and thine expectation shall not be cut off: there will be a close of his undeserved prosperity, and a good success to thy well-grounded hope. So whatever doth breed discontent, the reflexion upon our mortal and frail state will be apt to remove it.

[Page 121] It was that which comforted Job, and fortified his patience under so grievous pressures; All the days of my appointed time (said he) I will wait till Job 14. 14, 1. my change come: He would not be wea­ry while he lived of his afflictions, be­cause the days of man are few, and full Gen. 47. 9. of trouble: If they are full of trouble, and that be a sadning consideration; yet they are few, and that maketh a­mends, that is comfortable.

7. I add, that it is somewhat con­solatory to consider, that the worse our condition is here, the better we may hope our future state will be; the more trouble and sorrow we en­dure, the less of worldly satisfaction we enjoy here, the less punishment we have to fear, the more comfort we may hope to find hereafter; for as it is a wofull thing to have received our portion, to have enjoyed our consola­tion in this life, so 'tis a happy thing to have undergone our pain here. A Purgatory under ground is probably a fable; but a purgatory upon earth hath good foundations; God is wont so to order it, that all men, that espe­cially good men, shall undergo it: for, [Page 122] What Son is there whom the Father Heb. 12. 7. [...] Tim. 3. 12. doth not chasten? All that will live godly in Christ Jesus, must suffer per­secution.

8. A like consolation it is to consider, that wealth and prosperity are great talents, for the improvement of which we must render a strict accompt, so that to whom much is given, from him much shall be required; so that they are, in effect, a burthen; from which poverty includes an exemption; for the less we have, the less we have to doe, the less we are responsible for; our burthen is smaller, our accompt will be more easie.

9. I shall in reference to our condi­tion, and the nature of those things which cause our discontent, but pro­pose one consideration more, or ask one question: What is it that we do want, or wait [...]. Epict. 3. 24. for? Is it any good we want, which by our care and industry we can pro­cure? Is it any evil that afflicteth us, which by the like means we can evade? if it be so, Why then do we not vigorously apply our selves [Page 123] to the business? Why do we not, in­stead of idle vexation, and ineffectual complaints, use [...] [...]. Aur. Carm. the means offered for our relief? Do we like and love trouble? let us then be content to bear it; let us hug it, and keep it close; if not, let us em­ploy the forces afforded us by nature, and by occasion, to repell and re­move it.

But if we grieve and moan, be­cause we cannot obtain some good above our reach, or not decline some unavoidable evil, what doe we there­by but palpably express our folly, and wilfully heighten our woe; adding voluntary displeasure to the heap of necessary want or pain; impressing more deeply on our selves the sense of them? in such a case pa­tience is instead of a re­medy, —Levius sit patientià Quicquid corrigere est nefas. Hor. which, though it do not thoroughly cure the malady, yet it somewhat alleviateth it, preventing many bad symptomes, and Animus aequus optimum est aerumnae condimentum. Plaut. Rud. asswaging the paroxysms thereof. What booteth it [Page 124] to winse and kick against our for­tune? to doe so will inflame us, and [...]. Chrys. [...]. 3. [...]. Theod. Ep. 15. make us foam, but will not relieve or ease us: If we cannot get out of the net, or the cage, to flutter and flounce will doe nothing but batter and bruise us.

But farther, to allay our discon­tents, let us consider the world, and general state of men here.

1. Look first upon the world, as it is commonly managed, and ordered by men: thou perhaps art displeased, that thou dost not prosper and thrive therein, that thou dost not share in the goods of it; that its accommoda­tions and preferments are all snapt from thee; that thy pretences are not satisfied, and thy designs fail; this thou dost take to be somewhat hard, and unequal; and therefore art grie­ved. But if thou art wise, thou shouldst not wonder; if thou art good, thou shouldst not be vexed hereat: for [Page 125] thou hast not, perhaps, any capacity for this world; thy temper and dis­position are not framed to s [...]e with its way; thy principles and rules do clash with it, thy resolutions and de­signs do not well comport with pro­sperity here; thou canst not, or wilt not use the means needfull to compass worldly ends: Thou perhaps hast a meek, quiet, modest, sincere, steady disposition; thou canst not be prag­matical, and boisterous, eager and fierce, importunately troublesome, in­tolerably confident, unaccomptably versatile, and various: Thou hast cer­tain pedantick notions about right and wrong, certain Romantick fancies a­bout another world (unlike to this) which thou dost stiffly adhere to, and which have an influence upon thy actions: thou hast a squeamish conscience, which cannot relish this, cannot digest that advantageous course of proceeding; a scrupulous humour, that hampereth thee, and curbeth thee from attempting many things which would serve thy purpose; thou hast a spice of silly generosity, which ma­keth divers profitable ways of acting [Page 126] (such as forging and feigning, sup­planting others by detraction and ca­lumny, soothing and flattering people) to be below thee, and unworthy of thee; Thou thinkest thy self obliged, and art peremptorily resolved to ob­serve strict rules of justice, of humani­ty, of charity, to speak as thou mea­nest, to doe as thou wouldst be done to, to wrong no man any-wise, to con­sider and tender the case of other men as thine own: Thy designs are honest and moderate, conducible to (or at least consistent with) the publick good, injurious, or hurtfull to no man; Thou carriest on thy designs by fair ways, by a modest care, and harmless diligence; nor canst be drawn to use any other, how seemingly needfull soever, which do savour of fraud, vio­lence, any sort of wrong or baseness: Thou hast an honest pride and haugh­tiness of mind, which will not let thee condescend to use those sly tricks, crooked ways and shifts, which com­monly are the compendious and most effectual ways of accomplishing de­signs here: Thou art, in fine (like Helvidius Priscus) in thy dealings [Page 127] and proceedings, pervicax recti, wil­fully and peevishly honest: Such an one perhaps thou art, and such is thy way; And canst thou hope to be any body, or get any thing here? Shall such a superstitious fop, such a con­scientious simpleton, such a bashfull sneaksby, so phantastick a philosopher pretend to any [...]. Naz. Ep. 63. thing here? No, thou art here piscis in arido, quite out of thy element; this world is not for thee to thrive in.

This world is for worldlings to possess, and enjoy: It was (say the Rabbins) made for the presumptuous; and although God did not altogether design it for them, yet men have al­most made it so: They are best qua­lified to thrive in it, who can lustily bustle, and scramble; who can fierce­ly swagger and huff; who can fawn; who can wind and wriggle like a Ser­pent; who can finely cog and gloze; who can neatly shuffle and juggle; who can shrewdly Quod facillimum factu est, pravus, & callidus b [...] ­nos & modestos antcibus, Tac. Hist. 1. over-reach and undermine others; those slippery wi­ly artists, who can veere [Page 128] any whither with any wind; those men of impregnable confidence, who can insist upon any pretences; who can be indefatigably and irresistibly urgent, nor will be repulsed or baf­fled by any means; those who have a temper so laxe and supple, that they can bend it to any compliance advan­tageous to them; who have a spirit so limber, that they can stretch it any whither; who have face enough, and conscience little enough to doe any thing; who have no certain princi­ples, but such as will sort with their in­terests; no rules but such Lesbian and leaden ones, that easily may be accom­modated [...]. Ael. 13. 39. to their purposes: whose designs all tend to their own private advan­tage, without any regard to the pub­lick, or to the good of others; who can use any means conducible to such designs, bogling at nothing which ser­veth their purpose; not caring what they say, be it true or false; what they doe, be it right or wrong, so it seem profitable: this is called wisedom, pru­dence, dexterity, ability, knowledge [Page 129] of men, and of the world, and I know not what beside; in the Scripture, the wisedom of the world, and of the flesh, craft, guile, deceit, [...], &c. For such persons it is to flourish in this world; Behold, these (saith the Psalmist) Psal. 73. 12. 5, 7. are the ungodly, who prosper in the world; and who encrease in riches; They are not in trouble as other men, neither are they plagued like other men; Their eyes stand out with fat­ness, they have more than heart could wish: They it is who love the world, 1 Joh. 2. 16. who seek it, who study and labour for it, who spend all their time, and employ all their care about it; And is it not fit they should have it? Is it not a pity they should miss it? Is it not natural, that they who sow to the flesh, should reap from the flesh? Should not they who use the proper means, obtain the end? Should not they arrive at the place, who proceed in the direct road thither?

But for thee, who canst not find in thy heart to use the means, why dost thou hope to compass the end; or grieve for not attaining it? Why dost thou blend and jumble such inconsi­stences [Page 130] together, as the eager desires of this, and the hopes of another world? It becometh not such a gallant to whine, and pule. If thou wilt be brave, be brave indeed; singly, and thoroughly; be not a double-hearted mongrel; think not of satisfying thy mind, and driving on other interests together; of enjoying the conceit of being an honest man, with the design of being a rich or great man; of arri­ving to the happiness of the other world, and attaining prosperity in this; Wouldst thou enjoy both these? What conscience is there in that? Leave rather this world unto those, who are more fit for it, who seem better to deserve it, who venture so much, and take such pains for it; do not go to rob them of this slender re­ward; but with content see them to enjoy the fruits of their labour and hazard: Be thou satisfied with the consequences of thy vertuous resoluti­ons and proceedings; if it be worth thy while to live innocently, modest­ly and conscientiously, doe it, and be satisfied; spoil not thine expectations by repining at the want of those [Page 131] things, which thy circumstances ren­der incompatible with them; Follow effectually the holy Patriarchs, and Apostles, who, without regret, forsook all, and chearfully went thither, whi­ther conscience and duty called them; if thou art not willing to doe so, Why dost thou pretend to the same princi­ples, or hope for the like rewards? But leaving the consideration of the world as man hath made it; Consi­der that this world is not in its nature, or design, a 1 Cor. 10. 13. [...]. Job. 7. 1. Chrys. ad Stag. 2. (p. 106.) place of perfect ease and convenience, of pure de­light and satisfaction: What is this world but a region of tumult and trouble; a theatre of vanity and disasters; the kingdom of care, of fear, of grief and pain; of sa­tiety, of disappointment, of regret and repentance? we came not hither to doe our will, or enjoy our pleasure; we are not born [...], &c. Plut. ad Apollon. to make laws for our selves, or to pick our condition here: No, this world is a place of ba­nishment from our first countrey, and the original felicity we were designed [Page 132] to; this life is a state of travel toward another better countrey, and seat of rest: and well it is, in such cases, (well it is, I say, for us as exiles, and travel­lers) if we can find any tolerable ac­commodation, if we can make any hard shift; It should not be strange to us, if in this our peregrination we do meet with rough passages, foul ways, hard lodging, scant or course fare; if we complain of such things, we do not surely consider where we are, whence we came, whither we are going; we forget that we are the sons of Adam, the heirs of sin and sorrow, who have sorfeited our rest and joy upon earth; we consider not, how unavoidable the effects are of that fatal condemnation and curse, which followed our first transgression; we mind not that the perfecti­on and purity of the bles­sings we have lost is not [...], &c. Chrys. [...]. 5. to be found on this side the celestial paradise. This world is purposely made somewhat unpleasant to us, lest we should over­much delight in it, be unwilling to [Page 133] part with it, wish to set up our rest here, and say, Bonum est esse hîc; It is good for us to be here.

This life is a state of probation and exercise, like to that (which prefigu­red and represented it) of God's peo­ple in the wilderness, wherein God leadeth us Deut. 8. 23. [...]. Chrys. ad Stagir. 2. through many difficulties and hazards, in many wants and hardships, to humble and prove us, in or­der to the fitting us for a­nother more happy state.

No temptation therefore (or affliction) can seize [...]. 1 Cor. 10. 3. upon us, but such as is hu­mane; that is, such as is natural and proper to men, 'tis the consideration, which Ecclus. 40. 1. [...], &c. St. Paul useth to comfort and support us in troubles; and a plainly good one it is, for see­ing Man (as Eliphaz saith) is born Job 5. 7. to trouble as the sparks fly upward; that nothing is more natural to any thing, than trouble is Vid. Max. Tyr. diss. 25. p. 244. to us; if we are displeased therewith, we are in effect [Page 134] pleased that we are men; it implieth that we gladly It was the doom of man to eat his bread in sorrow all the days of his life. Gen. 3. 17. would put off our nature, and cease to be our selves; we grieve that we are come to live in this world; and as well might we be vexed that we are not Angels; or that we are not yet in heaven, Eccl. 1. 14. All is va­nity and vexation of spi­rit. which is the onely place exempt from inconvenien­cies and troubles, where alone there is no sorrow, no clamour, no pain. Apoc. 21. 4.

It hath always been, and it will ever be an universal com­plaint and lamentation, [...]. that the life of man and trouble are individual com­panions, [...]. Eu­ [...]ip. continually, and closely sticking one to the other; that life and misery are but several names of Quid est diu vivere, ni­si diu torqueri? Aug. the same thing; that our state here is nothing else, but a combination of various evils (made up of cares, of labours, of dan­gers, of disappointments, of discords, of disquiets, of diseases, of manifold pains and sorrows) that all ages, [Page 135] from wailing infancy to querulous de­crepitness, and all conditions, from the carefull sceptre to the painfull spade, are fraught with many great inconveniencies pe­culiar [...]. Hesiod. to each of them; that all the face of the earth is overspread with mischiefs as with a general and perpetual deluge; that nothing perfectly sound, nothing safe, nothing stable, nothing serene is here to be found; this with one sad voice all mankind resoundeth; this our Po­ets are ever moanfully singing, this our Philosophers do gravely incul­cate; this the experience of all times loudly proclameth; For what are all histories but continual registers of the evils incident to men; what do they all describe, but wars and slaughters, mutinies and seditions, tumults and confusions, devastations and ruines? What do they tell us, but of men fu­riously striving together, circumvent­ing, spoiling, destroying one another? What do we daily hear reported, but cruel broils, bloudy battels, and tragi­cal events; great numbers of men slain, wounded, hurried into captivity; [Page 136] cities sacked and rased, countries ha­rassed and depopulated; kingdoms and commonwealths overturned? What do we see before us but men carking, toiling, bickering; some worn out with labour, some pining away for want, some groaning un­der pain? And amidst so many common miseries and misfortunes, in so ge­nerally Ferre quam sortem pati­untur omnes Nemo recuset. Sen. Troad. confused and dis­mal a state of things, is it not ridiculously absurd for us, doth it not argue in us Ideò mihi videtur rerum naturae, quod gravissimum fecit, commune fecisse, ut crudelitatem fati consolare­tur aequalitas. Sen. ad Polyb. 21. a prodigious sondness of self-love, heinously to re­sent, or impatiently to be­moan our particular, and private crosses? May not reasonably that expostulation of Jeremy to Ba­ruch reach us? The Lord saith thus, Behold that which I have built, I Jer. 45. 4, 5. will break down; and that which I have planted I will pluck up, even this whole land; And seekest thou great things for thy self? seek them not; for behold I will bring evil on all flesh.

[Page 137] 4. Again, if we more closely and particularly survey the states of other men (of our brethren every where, of our neighbours all about us) and compare our case with theirs, our condition hardly can appear to us so bad, but that we have many consorts and associates therein; many as ill, many far worse bestead than our selves. How many of our brethren in the world may we observe conflicting with extreme penury and distress; how many undergoing continual hard drudgeries to maintain their lives; how many sorely pinched with hun­ger and cold; how many tortured with grievous sickness; how many oppressed with debt; how many shut up under close restraint; how many detained in horrible slavery; how many by the wasting rage of war rifled of their goods, driven from their homes, dispossessed of all com­fortable subsistence? How many, in sine, passing their lives in all the in­conveniencies of rude, beggarly, sor­did and savage barbarism? And who of us have, in any measure, tasted of these, or of the like calamities? Yet [Page 138] are these sufferers, all of them, the same, in nature, with us; many of them (as reason, as humility, as cha­rity do oblige us to believe) deserve as well, divers of them much better than our selves: What reason then can we have to conceive our case so hard, or to complain thereof? Were we the onely persons exposed to trou­ble, or the single marks of adverse fortune; could we truly say with the Prophet; Behold, if there be any sor­row like my sorrow: We might seem Lam. 1. 12. a little unhappy; but since we have so much good company in our con­ceived woe; since it is so ordinary a thing to be poor, and distressed; since —Nec rara videmus Quae pateris; casus multis, hic cognitus & jam. our case is (as the Poet speaketh) not rare, but Tritus, & è medio fortunae ductus acervo. Juv. Sat. 13. v. 8. commonly known, trite, and drawn out from the heap of lots, offered to men by fortune: since pitifull objects do thus environ and enclose us; 'tis plainly reasonable, humane and just, that we should without murmur­ing Te nunc delicias extra communia censes Ponendum, &c. Juv. Sat. 13. v. 140. take, and bear our lot: For what privilege have [Page 139] we to alledge, that we rather than o­thers should be untouched by the grie­vances, to which mankind is obnoxi­ous? Whence may we pretend to be the special favourites, mignons, priva­do's and darlings of fortune? Why may not God well deal with us, as he doth with other men; what grounds have we to challenge, or to expect, that he should be partial toward us; why should we imagine, that he must continually doe miracles in our be­half, causing all those evils, which fall upon our neighbours all about, to skip over us; bedewing us, like Gideon's Jud. 6. 37. fleece, with plenty and joy, while all the earth beside is dry; causing us, like the three children, to walk in this Dan. 3. 25. wide furnace, unscorched and un­singed by the flames encompassing us? Are we not men framed of the same mold; are we not sinners guilty of like offences, with the meanest pea­sant, the poorest beggar, the most wretched slave (if so, then a parity of fortune with any men doth be­come us, and may be due to us; then it is a perverse and unjust froward­ness to be displeased with our lot; we [Page 140] may, if we please, pity the common state of men, but we cannot reasona­bly complain of our own; doing so plainly doth argue, that we do un­measurably overprize, and overlove our selves. When once a great King did excessively, and obstinately grieve for the death of his wife, whom he tenderly loved, a Philosopher obser­ving it, told him,‘That he was ready to comfort him by restoring her to life, supposing onely, that he would supply what was needfull to­ward the performing it;’ the King said‘he was ready to furnish him with any thing;’ the Philosopher an­swer'd, ‘That he was provided with all things necessary, except one thing; what that was the King de­manded;’ he replied, That if he would upon his wifes Tomb inscribe the names of three persons, who never mour­ned, she presently would revive: the King, after enquiry, told the Philoso­pher, That he could not find one such man: Why [...]. Jul. Ep. 38. then, O absurdest of all men (said the Philosopher smi­ling) art thou not ashamed to moan as if thou hadst [Page 141] alone fallen into so grievous a case; whenas thou canst not find one person, that ever was free from such domestick affliction: So might the naming one person, exempted from inconvenien­cies, like to those we undergo, be safe­ly proposed to us as a certain cure of ours; but if we find the condition im­possible, then is the generality of the case a sufficient ground of content to us; then may we, as the wise Poet advi­seth, [...]. Menand. solace our own evils by the evils of others, so frequent and obvious to us.

5. We are indeed very apt to look upward toward those few, who, in supposed advanta­ges Nulli ad aliena respicien­ti sua placent. Sen. de Ira. 3. 31. of life (in wealth, dig­nity, or reputation) do seem to transcend, or to precede us, grudging and repining at their for­tune; but seldom do we cast down our eyes on those innumerably many good people, who lie be­neath us in all manner of —Ne (que) se majori pau­periorum Turbae comparet, hunc at (que) hunc superare laboret: Ut cùm carceribus, &c. Hor. Sat. 1. accommodations, pitying their mean, or hard con­dition; like racers we look [Page 142] forward, and pursue those who go be­fore us, but reflect not backward, or consider those who come behind us: two or three out-shining us in some slender piece of prosperity, doth raise dissatisfaction in us; while the dole­full state of millions doth little affect us with a­ny Indè fit ut nemo, qui se vixisse beatum Dicat, &c. Hor. Sat. 1. regard or compassion: hence so general discon­tent springeth, hence so few are sa­tisfied with their condition; an epi­demical eye-sore molesting every man; for there is no man, of whatsoever con­dition, Si vis gratus esse adver­sus Deos, & adversus vitam tuam, cogita quàm multos antecesseris. Sen. Ep. 15. who is not in some desirable things out-strip­ped by others; none is so high in fortune, but ano­ther Nunquam erit felix, quem torquebit felicior. Sen. de Ira. 3. 31. Vid. Ib. in wit or wisedom, in health, or strength, or beau­ty, in reputation or esteem of men may seem to excell him; he therefore looking with an evil or en­vious eye on such persons, and with senseless disregard passing over the rest of men, doth easily thereby lose his ease and satisfaction from his own estate: whereas if we would consider [Page 143] the case of most men, we should see a­bundant reason to be satisfied with our own; if we would a little feel the ca­lamities of our neighbours, we should little resent our own crosses; a kind­ly commiseration of others more grievous disasters would drown the sense of our lesser disappointments.

If with any competent heedfullness we view persons and things before us, we shall easily discern, that what ab­solutely seemeth great and weighty, is indeed comparatively very small and light; that things are not so unequally dispensed, [...]. Plut. Apoll. but that we have our full share in good, and no more than our part in evil; That at worst we are Extremi primorum, extre­mis us (que) priores. Hor. E­pist. 2. 2. that Socrates had reason to suppose, that, if we should bring into one com­mon stock all our mishaps, so that each should receive his portion of them, gladly the most would take up their own, and go their ways; that consequently it is both iniquity, and folly in us to complain of our lot.

6. If even we would take care di­ligently to compare our state with the [Page 144] state of those, whom we are apt most to admire and Magna servitus est mag­na fortuna, &c. Sen. ad Polyb. 26. envy, it would afford mat­ter of consolation, and con­tent unto us. What is the state of the greatest persons (of the worlds Princes and Grandees) what but a state encompassed with snares, and temptations numberless; which with­out extreme caution, and constancy, force of reason, and command of all appetites, and passions cannot be a­voided; and seldom are? What but a state of pompous trouble, and gay servility, of living in continual noise and stir, environed with crowds and throngs, of being subject to the ur­gency of business, and the tediousness of ceremony; of being abused by per­fidious servants, and mocked by vile slatterers; of being exposed to com­mon censure and obloquy, to misre­presentation, misconstruction and slan­der; having the eyes of all men in­tent upon their actions, and as many severe judges as watchfull spectatours of them; of being accomptable for many mens faults, and bearing the blame of all miscarriages about them; [Page 145] of being responsible, in conscience, for the miscarriages, and mishaps which come from the influence of our coun­fels, our examples, &c. of being pes­ter'd and pursu'd with pretences, with suits, with complaints, the necessary result whereof is to displease or pro­voke very many, to oblige or satisfie very few; of being frequently enga­ged in resentments of ingratitude, of treachery, of neglects, of defects in duty, and breaches of trust toward them; of being constrained to comply with the humours and opinions of men; of anxious care to keep, and jealous fear of losing all; of danger and being objected to the traiterous attempts of bold male-contents, of fierce zealots and wild fanaticks; of wanting the most solid and savoury comforts of life, true friendship, free conversation, certain leasure, privacy, and retiredness, for enjoying them­selves, their time, their thoughts as they think good; of satiety and be­ing cloyed with all sorts of enjoy­ments: In fine, of being paid with false coin for all their cares and pains, receiving for them scarce any thing [Page 146] more, but empty shews of respect, and hollow acclamations of praise; (whence the Psal­mist Personata felicitas. Seh. Ep. 80. might well say, Sure­ly men of low degree are Psal. 62. 9. vanity, and men of high de­gree a lye; a lye, for that their state cheateth us, ap­pearing —Adulandi certa­men est, & unum omnium amicorum officium, una cen­tentio quis blandissimè fal­lat. Sen. de Benef. 6. 30. so specious, yet be­ing really so inconvenient, and troublesome.) Such is the state of the greatest Vid. optimè disserentem. Vid. & de Clem. 1. 19. Et ad Polyb. 26. men; such as hath made wise Princes weary of themselves, ready to ac­knowledge, Antigonus. Nescitis ami­ci, quid mali sit imperare, &c. Saturninus apud Vopis­eum. that if men knew the weight of a Crown, none would take it up; apt to think with Hic situs est Adrianus VI. qui nihil sibi in vita infelicius duxit, quàm qu d imperavit. Lud. Guicciard. P. Jovius in vit. Pope Adrian, who made this Epitaph for himself; Here lieth Adrian the Sixth, who thought nothing in his life to have befallen him more unhappy, than that he ruled: Such, in fine, their state, as upon due conside­ration we should, were it offered to our choice, never embrace; such in­deed, as in sober judgment, we cannot [Page 147] prefer before the most narrow and in­feriour fortune: How then can we reasonably be displeased with our con­dition, when we may even pity Em­perours and Kings, when, in reality, we are as well, Nihil difficilius quàm be­nè imperare. Diocles. apud Vopisc. in Aureliano. perhaps are much better than they?

7. Farther, it may induce, and engage us to be content, to consider what commonly hath been the lot of good men in the Consider what calami­ties great, powerfull, glo­rious men have endured; Croesus, Polycrates, Pom­pey, &c. Sen. de Ira. 3. 25. world: we shall, if we sur­vey the histories of all times, find the best men to have sustained most grievous crosses and trou­bles; [...]. (Aristides, Phocion, Epaminondas, Pelopidas) Ael. xi. 9. 11. 43. fcarce is there in ho­ly Scripture recorded any person eminent and illu­strious for goodness, who hath not tasted deeply of Lamachus, Socrates, E­phialtes. wants and distresses. A­braham, the Father of the Abel, N [...]e, &c. Chrys. Tom. 6. p. 107. faithfull, and especial friend of God, was called out of his countrey, and from his kindred, to wander in a strange land, andlodge in tents, without any fixed habitation.

[Page 148] Jacob spent a great part of his life in slavish toil, and in his old age was in reflexion upon his life moved to say, that the days of his pilgrimage had Gen. 47. 9. been few and evil. Joseph was ma­ligned and persecuted by his brethren, sold away for a slave, slandered for a Psal. 105. 18. most heinous crime, thrust into a grie­vous prison, where his feet were hurt with fetters, and [...] his soul came into iron. Moses was forced to fly a­way for his life, to become Socrates, Cato, Regu­lus, Phocion, & c. Mag­num exemplum nisi mala fortuna non invenit. a vagabond in a foreign place, to feed sheep for his livelihood; to spend after­ward the best of his life in contesting with an obstinately perverse Prince, and in leading a mistrustfull, refracta­ry, mutinous people, for forty years time, through a vast and wild desart. Job, what a stupendious heap of mischiefs did to­gether Vid. Chrys. Tom. 5. Orat. 27. p. 168. & Tom. 6. Or. 10. p. 107. Job 13. 27. fall, and lie heavy upon him? (Thou writest bitter things against me, he might well say.) David, How of­ten was he plunged in saddest extre­mity, and reduced to the hardest shifts; [Page 149] being hunted like a par­tridge in the wilderness by 1 Sam. 26. 20. an envious Master, forced to counterfeit madness for [...]. Chrys. in Mart. Aegypt. T. 5. 522. his security among barba­rous infidels; dispossessed of his kingdom, and perse­cuted by his own most fa­voured son; deserted by his servants, reproached and scorned by his subjects. [...], Chrys. in 2 Cor. Orat. 27. Elias was driven long to sculk for his life, and to shift for his livelihood in the wilderness. Jeremy was treated as an impostour and a traitour, and cast into a miry dungeon; finding matter from his sufferings for his dolesull lamentations, and having thence occasion to exclaim, I am the Lam. 3. 1. man that have seen affliction by the rod of his wrath, &c. Which of the Pro­phets Act. 7. 52. were not persecuted, and misu­sed? as St. Stephen asked. The Apo­stles were pinched with all kinds of 1 Cor. 4 & 7. want, harassed with all sorts of toil, exposed to all manner of hazards, per­secuted with all variety of contume­lies, and pains that can be imagined: [Page 150] Above all, our Lord himself beyond Chrys. Tom. 6. Or. 93. Isa. 53. 3. expression was a man of sorrow, and acquainted with grief, surpassing all men in suffering as he did excell them in dignity, and in vertue; extreme poverty, having not so much as where Matt. 8. 20. to lay his head, was his portion; to undergo conti­nual [...]. Theod. Ep. 132. labour, and travel, without any mixture of carnal ease or pleasure, was his state; in return for the highest good will, and choicest benefits, to receive most cruel hatred, and grie­vous injuries, to be loaded with the bitterest reproaches, the foulest slan­ders, the forest pains, which most spite­full malice could invent, or fiercest rage inflict, this was his lot: Am I poor? so may one say, was he to ex­tremity; am I slighted of the world? so was he notoriously; Am I disap­pointed, and crossed in my designs? so was he continually, all his most painfull endeavours having small ef­fect; Am I deserted, or betrayed of friends? so was he by those who were most intimate, and most obliged to [Page 151] him? Am I reviled, slandered, misused? Was not he so beyond all comparison most outrageously?

Have all these, and many more, of whom the world was not worthy, un­dergone Heb. 11. 38. all sorts of inconvenience, be­ing destitute, afflicted, tormented; And shall we then disdain, or be sorry to be found in such company? Having Heb. 12. 1. such a cloud of Martyrs, let us run with patience the race that is set before us. Is it not an honour, should it not be a comfort to us, that we do, in conditi­on, resemble them? If God hath thus dealt with those, who of all men have been dearest to him, shall we take it ill at his hands, that he, in any man­ner, dealeth so with us? Can we pre­tend, can we hope, can we even wish to be used better, than God's first-born, and our Lord himself hath been? If we do, are we not monstrously fond and arrogant? especially considering, that it is not onely an ordinary for­tune, but the peculiar character of God's chosen, and children, to be of­ten crossed, checked and corrected; Even Pagans have observed it, and a­vowed there is great reason for it; [Page 152] God (saith Seneca) hath a fatherly Sen. de Pro­vid. c. 2. mind toward good men; and strongly loveth them—therefore after the manner of severe parents, he educateth them hardly, &c. The Apostle doth in express terms assure us thereof; for, whom (saith he) the Lord loveth, he chastneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chast­ning, God dealeth with you as with sons—but if ye be without chastise­ment, Heb. 12. 6, 7, 8. whereof all (that is, all good men, and genuine sons of God) are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons. Would we be illegitimated, or expunged from the number of God's true children; would we be devested of his special regard and good-will? if not, Why do we not gladly embrace, and willingly sustain ad­versity, which is by him­self Ecclus. 2. 1. [...] declared so peculiar a badge of his children, so constant a mark of his fa­vour? If all good men do (as the Apostle asserteth) partake thereof; shall we, by displeasure at it, shew, that we desire to be assuredly none of that party, that we affect to be [Page 153] discarded from that holy and happy society? Verily; verily I say unto you, that ye shall weep and lament, but the Joh. 16. 20. world shall rejoyce. It is peculiarly the lot of Christians, as such, in con­formity to their afflicted Saviour; they are herein predestinated to be confor­mable Rom. 8. 29. to his image; to this they are appointed. (Let no man, saith Saint Paul, be moved by these afflictions, for 1 Thes. 3. 3. Phil. 3. 10. ye know, that we are appointed there­unto:) to this they are called (if when ye doe well, saith St. Peter, and 1 Pet. 2. 20, 21. suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God; for even here­unto were ye called) this is propoun­ded to them as a condition to be undertaken, and undergone by them as such; they are by profession cru­cigeri, bearers of the cross; (If any one will come after me, let him deny himself, and take Matt. 16. 24. 10. 38. 2 Tim. 3. 12. Joh. 16. 33. [...] Quotam partem angusti­arum perpessus sum qui cru­ci milito. Hier. ad Asellam, Ep. 99. Act. 14. 22. Vid. Greg. Naz. Ep. 201. (ad Theclam.) up his cross and follow me; Every one that will live godly in Christ Jesus, must suffer persecution) by this are they admitted into the state of Christians; (by many afflictions we must en­ter [Page 154] into the Kingdom of heaven) this doth qualifie them for enjoying the glorious rewards, which their religi­on propoundeth; (We are coheirs with Christ; so that, if we suffer to­gether, 2 Tim. 2. 12. we shall also together be glori­fied with him; If we endure, we shall (Phil. 3. 10.) also reign with him; It is a privilege of Christians, in favour be­stowed on them; [...]. Phil. 1. 29. Our glory. Eph. 3. 13. [...]. Heb. 10. 36. Faith and Patience are consorts. Heb. 6. 12. Apoc. 13. 10. And shall we then pretend to be Christians, shall we claim any benefit from thence, if we are unwilling to submit to the Law, to attend the call, to comply with the terms thereof? Will we enjoy its privi­leges, can we hope for its rewards, if we will not contentedly undergoe what it requireth? Shall we arrive to the end it propoundeth, without going in the way it prescribeth, the way which our Lord himself doth lead us in, and himself hath trod before us?

In fine, seeing adversity is, as hath been declared, a thing so natural to all men, so common to most men, so incident to great men, so proper to good men, so peculiar to Christi­ans, [Page 155] we have great reason to observe the Apostles advice; Beloved, wonder 1 Pet. 4. 12. not concerning the fiery trial, which is to try you, as if some strange thing hap­pened to you; we should not wonder at it as a strange, or uncouth thing, that we are engaged in any trouble or inconvenience here; we are con­sequently not to be affected with it as a thing very grievous.

The Fifth Sermon.

PHIL. IV. 11.I have learned in whatsoever state I am, &c.’

MOreover considering the nature 1 Tim. 6. 6. [...]. of this duty it self, may be a great inducement and aid to the prac­tice of it.

1. It is it self a sovereign remedy for all poverty and all sufferance; re­moving them, or allaying all the mis­chief they can doe us. It is well and truly said by S. Austine, Interest non Aug. de Civ. Dei. 1. 8. qualia, sed qualis quis patiatur; It is no matter what, but how disposed a man suffereth: the chief mischief any adversity can doe us is to render us discontent, in that consisteth all the [Page 157] sting, and all the venome thereof; which thereby being voided, adversi­ty can signifie nothing prejudicial, or noxious to us; all distraction, all di­stemper, all disturbance from it is by the antidote of contentedness preven­ted or corrected. He that hath his desires moderated to a temper sutable with his condition, that hath his pas­sions composed and settled agreeably to his circumstances, what can make any grievous impression on him, or render him any-wise miserable? He that taketh himself to have enough, what doth he need? he that is well­pleased to be as he is, how can he be better? what can the largest wealth, or highest prosperity in the world yield more, or Cui cum paupertate bent convenit, dives est. Sen. Ep. 2. Nemo aliorum sensu miser est, sed suo; & ideò non pos­sunt cujusquam falso judicio esse miseri, qui funt verè conscientiâ suâ beati. Nulli beatiores sunt, quàm qui hoc sunt quod volunt. Salv. de Gubern. Dei, 1. better than satisfaction of mind? he that hath this most essential ingredient of felicity, is he not thence in effect most fortunate? is not at least his conditi­on as good as that of the most prosperous?

2. As good do I say? yea is it not plain­ly much better, than can arise merely [Page 158] from any secular prosperi­ty? for satisfaction sprin­ging [...], &c. Chrys. ad O­lymp. Ep. 3. Vid. p. 73. [...]. Chrys. ad Olymp. Ep. 16. Vid. Epist. 6. & ad Olymp. Ep. 3. (p. 75.) de Josepho. from rational consi­deration, and vertuous dis­position of mind is indeed far more pretious, more noble and worthy, more solid and durable, more sweet and delectable, than that which any possession, or fruition of worldly goods can afford: The [...], 1 Pet. 3. 4. incorruptibility (as St. Peter speaketh) of a meek and quiet spirit is before God of great price; before God, that is, according to the most upright and certain judgment it is the most pretious and valuable thing in the world: There is (the Philosopher Ecce par Deo dignum vir bonus cum mala fortuna compositus. Sen. de Provid. could say) no spectacle more worthy of God (or gratefull to him) than a good man gallantly combating with ill for­tune. Not to be discomposed or di­stempered in mind, not to fret or whine, when all things flow prospe­rously and according to our mind, is no great praise, no sign of wisedom, or argument of goodness; it cannot [Page 159] be reckoned an effect of sound judg­ment, or vertuous affection, but a natural consequent of such a state: But when there are evident occasions, and urgent temptations to displeasure, when present sense and fancy do prompt and provoke to murmuring, then to be satisfied in our mind, then to keep our passions in order, then to maintain good humour, then to re­strain our tongue from complaint, and to govern our demeanour sweet­ly, this is indeed honourable and handsome; to see a worthy man su­stain crosses, wants, disgraces with e­quanimity and chearfulness is a most goodly sight: such a person to a ju­dicious mind appeareth in a far more honourable and invidious state, than any prosperous man: his vertue shi­ning in the dark is far more bright and fair: this (as St. Peter saith, in 1 Pet. 2. 19. a like case) is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God suffereth grief; if, in our case (we may say af­ter him) a man out of conscientious deference to God's will, doth conten­tedly undergo adversity, this God is ready to take for an obligation on [Page 160] himself, and will be dispo­sed, Honesta res est lata pau­pertas. Epic. [...]. Chrys. [...]. in a manner to thank him (or to reward him) for it: this indeed amoun­teth to a demonstration that such a person is tru­ly wise and really good: so is the satisfaction of a contented poor man more worthy: And it is no less more sweet and comfortable, than that of any rich man, pleasing himself in his enjoy­ments: contentedness satisfieth the mind of the one, abundance doth one­ly satiate the appetites of the other; the former is immaterial and spright­ly, the complacence of a man; the latter is gross and dull, like the sen­suality of a beast; the delight of that sinketh deep into the heart, the plea­sure of this doth onely float in the outward senses, or in the fancy; one is a positive comfort, the other but a negative indolency in regard to the mind: The poor good man's joy is wholly his own, and home-born, a lovely child of reason and vertue; the full rich man's pleasure cometh from without, and is thrust into [Page 161] him by impulses of sensible objects.

Hence is the satisfaction of conten­ted adversity far more constant, solid and durable, than that of prosperity; it being the product of immutable reason abideth in the mind, and can­not easily be driven thence by any corporeal impressions, which imme­diately cannot touch the mind; where­as the other, issuing from sense, is sub­ject to all the changes, inducible from the restless commotions of outward causes affecting and altering sense: whence the satisfaction proceeding from reason and vertue, the longer it stayeth the firmer and sweeter it groweth, turning into habit, and working nature to an agreement with it; whereas usually the joys of wealth and prosperity do soon degenerate in­to fastidiousness, and terminate in bit­terness; being honey in the mouth, but Apoc. 10. 10. Job 20. 20, 22. soon becoming gall in the bowels. No­thing indeed can affect the mind with a truer pleasure, than the very con­science of discharging our duty to­ward God in bearing hardship, impo­sed by his providence, willingly and well. We have therefore much rea­son [Page 162] not onely to acquiesce in our straits but to be glad of them, see­ing they do yield us an opportunity of immediately obtaining goods more excellent and more desirable, than a­ny prosperous or wealthy man can easily have, since they furnish us with means of acquiring and exercising a vertue worth the most ample fortune; yea justly preferable to the best estate in the world; a vertue, which indeed doth not onely render any condition tolerable, but sweetneth any thing, yea sanctifieth all states, and turneth all occurrences into blessings.

3. Even the sensible smart of ad­versity is by contentedness somewhat tempered and eased; the stiller and quieter we lie under it, the less we feel its violence and pungency: It is tum­bling and tossing, that stirreth the ill humours, and driveth them to the parts most weak, and apt to be affec­ted with them; the rubbing of our sores is that which enflameth and ex­asperateth them: where the mind is calm, and the passions settled, the pain of any grievance is in compari­son less acute, less sensible.

[Page 163] 4. Whence if others in our distress are uncharitable to us, refusing the help they might, or should afford to­ward the rescuing us from it, or re­lieving us in it, we hereby may be charitable and great benefactours to our selves; we should need no anodyne to be ministred from without, no suc­cour to come from any creature, if we would not be wanting to our selves, in hearkning to our own rea­son, and enjoying the consolation which it affordeth. In not doing this, we are more uncharitable and cruel to our selves, than any spitefull enemy or treacherous friend can be; no man can so wrong or molest us, as we do our selves by admitting or fostering discontent.

5. The contented bearing of our condition is also the most hopefull and ready means of bettering it, and of re­moving the pressures we lie under.

It is partly so in a natural way, as disposing us to embrace and employ the advantages which occur condu­cible thereto; for as discontent blin­deth men so that they cannot descry the ways of escape from evil, it dis­spiriteth [Page 164] and discourageth them from endeavouring to help themselves, it depriveth them of many succours and expedients, which occasion would af­ford for their relief; so he that being undisturbed in his spirit hath his eyes open, and his courage up, and all his natural powers in order, will be al­ways ready and able to doe his best, to act vigorously, to snatch any op­portunity and employ, any means to­ward the freeing himself from what appeareth grievous to him.

Upon a supernatural accompt con­tent is yet more efficacious to the same purpose: for chearfull submis­sion to God's will doth please him much, doth strongly move him to withdraw his afflicting hand, doth ef­fectually induce him to advance us into a more comfortable state: Of all vertues there is none more acceptable to God than patience. God will take it well at our hands if we do conten­tedly receive from his hand the worst things: 'tis a monstrous thing not to receive prosperity with gratefull sense, but it is heroical with the same mind to receive things unpleasant: he that [Page 165] doth so [...], Chrys. Tom. 6. Or. 89. he suffereth loss as a man, but is crowned as a lover of God. Besides that it is an unreaso­nable Vid. Chrys. ad Stag. 1. & 2. (p. 106.) thing to think of enjoying both rest and pleasure here, and the re­wards hereafter; our consolation here with Dives, and our refreshment here­after with Lazarus.

Be humbled (saith S. Peter) under 1 Pet. 5. 6. the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time ( [...], when it is opportune and seasonable) and, Be humbled (saith S. James) before Jam. 4. 10. the Lord, and he will exalt you, and, When (saith Job's friends) men are cast Job 22 29. (Luk. 14. 11. 18. 14.) down, then thou shalt say there is lif­ting up, and he will save the humble person. God with favourable pity hearkeneth to the groans of them who are humbly contrite under his hand, and reverently tremble at his Isa. 66. 2. 57. 15. word; he reviveth the spirit of the humble; He is nigh to the broken of heart, and saveth such as are of a con­trite Psal. 34. 18. 51. 17. 147. 3. spirit; He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds; He proclaimeth blessedness to the poor in spirit, and to those that mourn, Matt. 5. 3, 4. [Page 166] because they shall find comfort and mercy; all which declarations and promises are made concerning those, who bear adversity with a submiss and contented mind; and we see them effectually performed in the ca­ses of Ahab, of the Ninivites, of Ne­buchadnezzar, of Manasses, of Heze­kiah, of David; of all persons men­tioned in holy Scripture, upon whom adversities had such kindly operations. But discontent and impatience do of­fend God, and provoke him to conti­nue his judgments, yea to encrease the load of them: to be sullen and stubborn is the sure way to render our condition worse and more intole­rable: for, who hath hardned himself Job 9. 4. against God and prospered? The Pha­raohs and Sauls, and such like persons, Jer. 2. 30. 5. 3. Isa. 9. 13. [...]. 5. 26. 10. who rather would break than bend, who being dissatisfied with their con­dition chose rather to lay hold on other imaginary succours, than to have recourse to God's mercy and help; those, who (like the refracta­ry Israelites) have been smitten in vain as to any quiet submission or conversion unto God, what have they [Page 167] but plunged themselves deeper into wretchedness?

It is indeed to quell our haughty stomach, to check our froward hu­mour, to curb our impetuous desires, to calm our disorderly passions, to suppress our fond admiration and ea­ger affection toward these worldly things, in short to work a contented mind in us, that God ever doth in­flict any hardships on us, that he cros­seth us in our projects, that he detai­neth us in any troublesome state; untill this be atchieved, as it is not expedient that we should be eased, as relief would really be no blessing to us; so God (except in anger and judgment) will no-wise grant or dis­pense it; it would be a cruel mercy for him to doe it; If therefore we do wish ever to be in a good case as to this world, let us learn to be conten­ted in a bad one: Having got this disposition firmly rooted in our hearts, we are qualified for deliverance and preferment; nor will God sail in that due season to perform for us what he so often hath declared and promised; his nature disposeth him, his word [Page 168] hath engaged him to help and com­fort us.

These are the most proper induce­ments unto contentedness, which con­sidering (in the light of reason and holy Scripture) the nature of the thing, suggested unto my meditation: there are beside some other means advisable, (some general, some more particular) which are very conducible to the production of content, or re­moving discontent; which I shall touch, and then conclude.

1. A constant endeavour to live well, and to maintain a good con­science: he that doeth this can hard­ly be dismay'd or disturb'd with any occurrence here; this will yield a man so ample and firm a satisfaction of mind, as will bear down the sense of any incumbent evils; this will be­get such hope in God, and so good as­surance of his favour, as will supply the want of all other things, and ful­ly satisfie us, that we have no cause to be troubled with any thing here; He that by conscientious practice hath obtained such a hope is prepared a­gainst all assaults of fortune with an [Page 169] undaunted mind and force impregna­ble; He will (as the Psalmist saith) Psal. 112. 1. 119. 6. not be afraid of any evil tidings, for his heart is fixed trusting in the Lord. Maintaining this will free us from all anxious care, transferring it upon God; it will breed a sure confidence, that he will ever be ready to supply us with all things convenient, to pro­tect and deliver us from all things hurtfull; ensuring to us the effect of that promise, by the conscience of ha­ving performed the condition thereof: Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and Matt. 6. 33. its righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.

This was that which supported the Apostles and kept them chearfull un­der all that heavy load of distresses which lay upon them; Our rejoycing 1 Cor. 1. 12. 1 Pet. 3. 16. Act. 23. 1. 24. 16. is this (could they say) the testimony of our conscience, that in simplicity and godly sincerity—we have had our con­versation in this world.

'Tis the want of this best pleasure, that both rendreth the absence of all other pleasures grievous, and their presence insipid; Had we a good con­science we could not seem to want [Page 170] comfort; as we could not truly be unhappy, so we could hardly be dis­content; without it no affluence of other things can suffice to content us. It is an evil conscience that giveth an edge to all other evils, and enableth them sorely to afflict us, which other­wise would but slightly touch us; we become thence uncapable of com­fort, seeing not onely things here up­on earth to cross us, but heaven to lowre upon us; finding no visible suc­cour, and having no hope from the power invisible; yea having reason to be discouraged with the fear of God's displeasure. As he that hath a powerfull enemy near, cannot abide in peace, without anxious suspicion and fear; so he that is at variance with the Almighty, who is ever at hand, ready to cross and punish him, what quiet of mind can he enjoy? There is no peace to the wicked.

2. The contemplation of our fu­ture state is a sovereign medicine to work contentedness, and to cure dis­content: 1 Thess. 4. 18. Vid. Naz. Ep. 201. (ad The­clam.) as discontent easily doth seise upon, and cleaveth fast to souls, which earnestly do pore and dote up­on [Page 171] these present things, which have in them nothing satisfactory or stable; so if we can raise our minds firmly to believe, seriously to consider, and worthily to prize the future state and its concernments, we can hardly ever be discontent in regard to these things. Considering heaven and its happiness, how low and mean, how sorbid and vile, how unworthy of our care and our affection will these inferiour things ap­pear? how very unconcerned shall we 2 Cor. 7. 31. see our selves to be in them, and how easily thence shall we be content to want them? What, shall any of us be then ready to say, doth it concern me in what rank or garb I pass my few days here? what considerable in­terest can I have in this uncertain and transitory state? what is any loss, any disgrace, any cross in this world to me, who am a citizen of heaven, who have a capacity and hope of the immense riches, the incorruptible glo­ries, the perfect and endless joys of eternity? This was that which sustai­ned the holy Apostles in all their di­stresses; For this cause (saith S. Paul) 2 Cor. 4. 16. &c. 5. 7. we faint not—while we look not on [Page 172] the things which are seen, but on the things which are not seen, for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal; and I reckon (saith he again) Rom. 8. 18. that the sufferings of this present life are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.

If likewise we do with faith and seriousness consider the dismal state below of those, who are eternally se­cluded from all joy and bliss, who are irrecoverably condemned to utter darkness, and the extremity of hor­rible pain, how tolerable, how plea­sant, how very happy will the mea­nest state here appear to be? how vain a thing will it then seem to us to be to dislike, or to be troubled with any worldly thing; to accompt any chance happening to us to be sad, or disastrous? What, shall we say then each of us, is this same loss to the loss of my soul and all its comforts for ever? what is this want to the perpetual want of heavenly bliss? what is this short and faint pain to the cruel pangs of endless remorse, to [Page 173] the weeping and gnashing of teeth in outward darkness, to everlasting bur­nings?

Thus infinitely silly and petty must all concernments of this life appear to him, who is possessed with the belief and consideration of matters relating to the future state; whence discon­tent in regard to them can hardly find access to his mind.

3. Constant devotion is an excel­lent instrument and guard of content, an excellent remedy and fence against discontent.

It is such in way of impetration, procuring the removal, or alleviation of our crosses: for God hath promised that he will give good things to those Matt. 7. 11. Psal. 145. 18. Jam. 4. 8. Psal. 34. 6. 107. 6. that ask him; The Lord is nigh unto all that call upon him in truth; he will fulfill the desire of them that fear him; he also will hear their cry, and will save them. The poor man crieth, and the Lord heareth him, and saveth him out of all his troubles; the holy Scrip­ture is full of such declarations and promises assuring us of succour from our distresses, upon our supplication to God; whence S. Paul thus adviseth [Page 174] against all solicitude: Be carefull for Phil. 4. 7. (Psal. 25. 16. 86. 1, 4, 17. 44. 23.) nothing, but in every thing by prayer, and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God: And (addeth signifying the conse­quence of this practice) the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Jesus Christ.

It likewise performeth the same by procuring grace and aid from God, which may enable and dispose us to bear all evils well, which is really much better than a removal of them; for that hence they become wholsome and profitable to us, and causes of pre­sent good, and grounds of future re­ward; thus when St. Paul besought 2 Cor. 12. 9. God for deliverance from his thorn in the flesh, the return to him was; My 1 Cor. 10. 13. grace is sufficient for thee; for my strength is made perfect in weakness: it was a greater favour to receive an improvement of spiritual strength, occasioned by that cross, than to be quite freed from it.

Devotion also hath immediately of it self a special efficacy to produce content. As in any distress it is a [Page 175] great consolation, that we can have recourse to a good friend, that we may discharge our cares and our re­sentments into his bosome; that we may demand advice from him, and, if need be, request his succour; so much more it must be a great com­fort, that we can in our need ap­proach to God, who is infinitely the most faithfull, the most affectionate, the most sufficient friend that can be; always most ready, most willing, most able to direct and to relieve us: he desires, and delights, that in the day of our trouble we should seek him; Psal. 77. 2. 27. 8. 105. 4. 62. 8. 1 Sam. 1. 15. Psal. 55. 22. 1 Pet. 5. 7. Psal. 5. 8. 27. 11. 31. 3. 43. 3. 139. 24. 143. 10. 61. 2. Jer. 31. 9. that we should pour forth our hearts before him, that we should cast our burthens, and our cares upon him; that we should upon all occasions implore his guidance and aid: And complying with his desires as we shall assuredly find a successfull event of our devoti­ons, so we shall immediately enjoy great comfort and pleasure in them.

The God of all consolation doth e­specially by this chanel convey his comforts into our hearts; his very presence (that presence, in which the Psal. 16. 11. Psalmist saith there is fulness of joy) [Page 176] doth mightily warm and chear us; his Holy Spirit doth in our religious entercourse with him insinuate a light­some serenity of mind, doth kindle sweet and kindly affections, doth scatter the gloomy clouds of sadness; practising it we shall be able to say with the Psalmist, In the multitude of Psal. 94. 19. my thoughts within me thy comforts de­light my soul.

Humbly addressing our selves to God, and reverently conversing with him doth compose our minds, and charm our passions, doth sweeten our humour, doth refresh and raise our spirits, and so doth immediately breed and nourish contentedness.

It also strengthneth our faith, and quickneth our hope in God, where­by we are enabled to support our pre­sent Isa. 26. 3. evils, and peace of mind doth spring up within us.

It enflameth our love unto God, in sense of his gratious illapses, thence Psal. 73. 26. 69. 16. 23. 4. 71. 20. rendring us willing to endure any want or pain for his sake, or at his appointment.

It in fine doth minister a ravishing delight, abundantly able to supply [Page 177] the defect of any other pleasures, and to allay the smart of any pains what­ever; rendring thereby the meanest estate more acceptable and pleasant, than any prosperity without it can be. So that if we be truly devout we can hardly be discontent; It is dis­costing from God by a neglect of de­votion, or by a negligence therein, that doth expose us to the incursions of worldly regret and sorrow.

These are general remedies and du­ties both in this and all other regards necessary, the which yet we may be induced to perform in contemplation of this happy fruit (contentedness) a­rising from them. Farther

4. It serveth toward production of contentedness to reflect much upon our imperfection, unworthiness and guilt; so as thereby to work in our hearts a lively sense of them, and a hearty sorrow for them; this will divert our sadness into its right cha­nel, this will drown our lesser grief by the influx of a greater. It is the nature of a greater apprehension or pain incumbent to extinguish in a manner, and swallow up the sense of [Page 178] a lesser, although in it self grievous; as he that is under a fit of the stone doth scarce feel a pang of the gout; he that is assaulted by a wolf will not regard the biting of a flea. Whereas then of all evils and mischiefs moral evils are incomparably far the grea­test, in nature the most ugly and a­bominable, in consequence the most hurtfull and horrible; seeing (in Saint Chrysostome's language) Excepting sin, there is no­thing [...], &c. Chrys. [...]. 6. Vid. ad Olymp. Ep. 13. ad Theod. 1. grievous or terrible among humane things; not poverty, not sickness, not disgrace, not that which seemeth the most extreme of all evils, death it self; those being names onely among such as philosophate, names of calamity, void of reality, but the real calamity this, to be at vari­ance with God, and to doe that which displeaseth him; seeing evidently ac­cording to just estimation no evil bea­reth any proportion to the evil of sin, if we have a due sense thereof, we can hardly be affected with any o­ther accident; If we can keep our minds intent upon the heinous na­ture, [Page 179] and the lamentable consequen­ces of sin, all other evils cannot but seem exceedingly light and inconside­rable; we cannot but apprehend it a very silly and unhandsome thing to resent or regard them: what (shall we then judge) is poverty in comparison to the want of a good conscience? what is sickness compared to distem­per of mind, and decay of spiritual strength? what is any disappointment to the being defeated and overthrown by temptation? what any loss to the being deprived of God's love and fa­vour? what any disgrace to the being out of esteem and respect with God? what any unfaithfulness or inconstan­cy of friends to having deserted or be­trayed our own soul? what can any danger signifie to that of eternal misery, incurred by offending God? what pressure can weigh against the load of guilt, or what pain equal that of stinging remorse? in fine, what con­dition can be so bad as that of a wret­ched sinner? any case surely is tole­rable, is desirable, is lovely and sweet in comparison to this: would to God, may a man in this case reasonably say, [Page 180] that I were poor and forlorn as any beggar; that I were covered all over with botches and blains as any La­zar; that I were bound to pass my days in an hospital or a dungeon; might I be chained to an oar, might I lie upon the rack, so I were clear and innocent: Such thoughts and af­fections if reflecting on our sinfull do­ings and state do suggest and impress, what place can there be for resent­ment of other petty crosses?

Contrition also upon this score is productive of a certain sweetness and joy apt to quash or to allay all world­ly grief: as it worketh a salutary re­pentance 2 Cor. 7. 10. Vid. Chrys. ad Demet. & ad Stelech. Tom. 6. not to be repented of, so it therewith breedeth a satisfactory com­fort, which doth ever attend repen­tance: He that is very sensible of his guilt, cannot but consequently much value the remedy thereof, mercy; and thence earnestly be moved to seek it; then in contemplation of divine goodness, and considering God's gra­tious promises, will be apt to conceive faith and hope, upon his imploring mercy, and resolution to amend; thence will spring up a chearfull satis­faction, [Page 181] so possessing the heart, as to expell or to exclude other displeasures: a holy and a worldly sadness cannot well consist together.

5. Another good instrument of con­tentedness is sedulous application of our minds to honest employment. Honest studies and cares divert our minds, and drive sad thoughts from them: they chear our spirits with wholsome food and pleasant entertain­ments; they yield good fruits, and a success accompanied with satisfaction, which will extinguish or temper dis­content: while we are studious or ac­tive, discontent cannot easily creep in, and soon will be stifled.

Idleness is the great mother and the nurse of discontent; it layeth the mind open for melancholy conceits to en­ter; it yieldeth harbour to them, and entertainment there; it depriveth of all the remedies and allays which bu­siness affordeth.

Reciprocally discontent also beget­teth idleness, and by it groweth: they are like ice and water, arising Mater me genuit. each out of the other: we should therefore not suffer any sadness so to [Page 182] encroach upon us, as to hinder us from attending to our business (the honest works and studies of our cal­ling) for it thereby will grow stron­ger and more hardly vincible.

6. A like expedient to remove dis­content is good company. It not [...]. onely sometimes ministreth advices and arguments for content, but rai­seth the drooping spirit, erecting it to a loving complaisance, drawing it out towards others in expressions of kindness, and yielding delight in those which we receive from others, infec­ting us by a kind of contagion with good humour, and instilling pleasant Idea's into our fancy, agreeably di­verting us from sad and irksome thoughts: discontent affecteth retire­ment and solitude, as its element and food; good company partly starveth it by smothering sad thoughts, partly cureth it by exhilerating discourse. No man hardly can feel displeasure, while friendly conversation entertai­neth him; no man returneth from it without some refreshment and ease of mind.

[Page 183] 7. Having right and lowly con­ceits of our selves is a most sure guar­dian and procurer of content: for an­swerable to a man's judgment of him­self are his resentments of the dealing he meeteth with from God or man. He that thinks meanly as he ought of himself, will not easily be offended at any thing; any thing, will he think, is good enough for me; I deserve no­thing from God, I cannot deserve much of man; if I have any compe­tence of provision for my life, any tolerable usage, any respect, it is more than my due, I am bound to be thank­full: but he that conceiteth highly (that is vainly) of himself, nothing will satisfie him; nothing, thinks he, is good enough for him, or answera­ble to his deserts; no body can yield him sufficient respect; any small neg­lect disturbeth and enrageth him: he cannot endure that any man should thwart his interest, should cross his humour, should dissent from his opi­nion; Hence seeing the world will not easily be induced to conceit of him as he doth of himself, nor to comply with his humours and pre­tences, [Page 184] it is impossible that he should be content.

8. It conduceth to this purpose to contemplate and resent the publick state of things, the interest of the world, of our countrey, of God's Church. The sense of publick cala­mities will drown that of private, as unworthy to be considered or com­pared with them; The sense of pub­lick prosperity will allay that of par­ticular misfortune. How (will a wise and good man say) can I desire to prosper and flourish, while the State is in danger or distress? how can I grieve, seeing my countrey is in good condition? is it just, is it handsome that I should be a non-conformist ei­ther in the publick sorrow or joy? Indeed

9. All Hearty Charity doth great­ly alleviate discontent. If we bear such a good-will to our neighbour as to have a sincere compassion of his evils, and complacence in his good, our case will not much afflict us. If we can appropriate and enjoy the pro­sperity, the wealth, the reputation, of our neighbour, by delighting in [Page 185] them, what can we want; what can displease us? If our heart is enlarged in pity for the misfortunes of others, it cannot be contracted with grief for our own: our sorrow, like water, be­ing thus diffused, cannot be so deep but it will be more fruitfull; it will produce such effects as will comfort and please us; It is a stingy selfishness which maketh us so very sensible of crosses and so uncapable of comfort.

10. Again, if we will attain con­tentment, we must take heed of set­ting our affection upon any worldly thing whatever, so as very highly to prize it, very passionately to affect it, very eagerly to pursue it; so as to conceive our happiness in any measure to hang on it or stick thereto: If there be any such thing, we shall be disappointed in the acquist, or the re­tention of it; or we shall be dissatis­fied in its enjoyment.

So to adhere in affection to any thing is an adulterous disloyalty to­ward our Maker and Best friend; from which it is expedient that we should be reclaimed; whence God (in just anger, or in kind mercy) [Page 186] will be apt to cross us in our attempts to get it, or to deprive us of its pos­session; whence the displeasure will follow, which always attendeth a se­paration from things we love. But if we be suffered to obtain or to retain it, we shall soon find dissatisfaction therein; being either disgusted with some bitterness in it (such as doth lurk in every sensible good) or being cloyed with its lusciousness: it after a small enjoyment will become either distast­full or insipid.

This, according to continual expe­rience, is the nature of all things, plea­sant onely to sense or fancy, presently to satiate: no beauty can long please the eye, no melody the ear, no deli­cacy the palate, no curiosity the fan­cy; a little time doth waste away, a small use doth wear out the pleasure, which at first they afford: novelty commendeth and ingratiateth them; distance representeth them fair and lovely; the want or absence of them rendreth them desirable; but the pre­sence of them dulleth their grace, the possession of them deadneth the appe­tite to them.

[Page 187] New objects with a gentle and gratefull touch warble upon the cor­poreal organs, or excite the spirits in­to a pleasant frisk of motion; but when use hath levigated the organs, and made the way so smooth and ea­sie that the spirits pass without any stop, those objects are no longer felt, or very faintly; so that the pleasure ceaseth.

Onely those things which reason (religious and sound reason) doth ap­prove, do yield a lasting (undecay­ing, unalterable) satisfaction; if we set our affections on them, we cannot fail of content: In seeking them we cannot be disappointed, for God (without any reservation or excepti­on) hath promised to bestow them upon those who seriously and dili­gently seek them: nor can we be dis­possessed of them; God will not take them away, and they lie beyond the reach of any other hand: Having them then we cannot but fully and durably be satisfied in the fruition of them; the longer we have them the more we shall like them; the more we taste them the better we shall re­lish [Page 188] them: time wasteth not, but im­proveth the sense of their unfading beauty and indefectible sweetness.

11. It is of great influence toward contentedness with an earnest and im­partial regard to contemplate things, as they are in themselves, devested of tragical appearances, in which they are wrapt by our own inconsiderate fancy, or which vulgar prejudices do throw upon them: As all things, loo­ked upon by the corporeal eye through a mist, do seem bigger than in reali­ty they are, so to the eye of our mind all things (both good and evil) seem hugely enlarged, when viewed through the foggs of our dusky ima­gination, or of popular conceit. If we will esteem that very good, which with a gay appearance dazleth our imagination, or which the common admiration and applause of men re­commendeth, the most vain and worthless, the most dangerous, the most mischievous things often will appear such; and if we please to ac­compt those things greatly bad which look ugly or horridly to imagination, which are defamed by the injudicious [Page 189] part of men; or which men common­ly do loath, do fret at, do wail for, we shall take the best, most innocent, most usefull, most wholsome things for such; and accordingly these er­rours of our minds will be followed by a perverse practice, productive of dissatisfaction 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 [Page 190] condition, and pick thence the good that is therein, making the best we can of it, enjoying 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 cast away, the rest becometh wholsome 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 ministred will not doe 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, [Page 191] the leisure, the health, the se­curity from envy, obloquy, strife, which it affordeth, how satisfactory may it become to us? The like con­veniences are in disgrace, disappoint­ment, and other such evils, which being improved may endear them to us: Even sin it self (the worst of evils, the onely true evil) may yield great benefits to us; it may render us sober and lowly in our own eyes, devout in imploring mercy, and thankfull to God for it; mercifull and charitable toward others in our opinions and censures; more laborious in our good practice, and watchfull over our steps: and if this deadly poison well admini­stred yieldeth effects so exceedingly beneficial and salutary, what may o­ther harmless (though unhandsome, and unpleasant) things doe, being skilfully managed?

13. It is a most effectual means of producing content, and curing discon­tent, to rowse and fortifie our faith in God, by with most serious attention reflecting upon the arguments and experiments, which assure us concer­ning God's particular providence over [Page 192] 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, so 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 [...], of little faith, therefore we cannot walk on the sea; but in despair sink down: sometimes our faith is buried in oblivion or carelesness; we forget, or mind not that there is a provi­dence; but look on things as if they sell 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 gratifie us we slip 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 onely God can [Page 193] tell when, and how it is best to pro­ceed; that often it is not expedient our wishes should be granted; that we are not wise enough, or just e­nough to appoint or chuse for our selves; that it is impossible for God to gratifie every man; that it would be a mad world, if God in his govern­ment thereof should satisfie 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 born with us; what miracles of bounty and mercy he hath performed in our behalf; we are like that dis­trustfull and inconsiderate people, who remembred not the hand of God, Psal. 78. 42. nor the day when he delivered them; remembred not the multitude of his Psal. 106. 7, 13, 21. mercies; but soon 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 dispositions in us our discontents do spring; and we can­not [Page 194] cure them, but by recollecting our selves from such forgetfulness and negligence; by shaking off such wic­ked Psal. 22. 19. 46. 1. 81. 1. 59. 7. 144. 1. doubts and distrusts; by fixing our hearts and hopes on him, who a­lone can help us; who is our strength, Psal. 73. 26. 27. 1. 140. 7. the strength of our heart, of our life, of our salvation.

Of him (to conclude) let us hum­bly implore, that he in mercy would bestow 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, thank and bless him: Even so to the Ever Blessed God, our gratious maker and preserver, be eternally rendred all glory, thanksgiving and praise.

Amen.

OF PATIENCE.

The Sixth Sermon.

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; a duty im­plied (the duty of patience) and a reason expressed, which enforceth the practice of that duty (the example of Christ.) We shall (using no more Preface, or circumstance) first brief­ly, in way of explication and directi­on, touch the duty it self, then more largely describe, and urge the exam­ple.

[Page 196] 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 signifieth a disposition of mind to bear them with charitable meekness; as it relateth to adversities and crosses disposed 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 doe well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is ac­ceptable to God, relateth to good en­durance of adversity; that which pre­sently followeth, who when he was re­viled, reviled not again, when he suf­fered he threatned not, referreth to meek comporting with provocations: The Text therefore, as it looketh backward, doth recommend the pati­ence of adversities, as forward, the patience of contumelies. But seeing both these objects are reducible to one [Page 197] more general, comprizing 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 vertue, which qualifieth us to bear all conditions, and all events, by God's disposal inci­dent to us, with such apprehensions and persuasions of mind, such disposi­tions and affections of heart, such ex­ternal deportments, and practices of life as God requireth, and good reason directeth. 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 inferiour causes, but that all proceedeth from the dispen­sation, or with the allowance of God, (that, Affliction doth not come forth of the dust, nor doth trouble spring out Joh 5. 6. of the ground; but that all, both good Lam. 3. 38. and evil proceedeth out of the mouth of the most high) according as David [Page 198] reflected, when Shimei reviled him; Let him (said the good King) curse, 2 Sam. 16. 10. because the Lord hath said unto him, curse David; and as Job, when he was spoiled of all his goods, acknowledg­ed, The Lord gave, and the Lord hath [...]ob 1. 21. taken away.

2. A firm belief, that all occurren­ces (however adverse, and cross to our desires) are well consistent with the justice, wisedom 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 Psalmist, that, All his paths are mercy and truth; He is righ­teous in all his ways, and holy in all his Psal. 25. 10. 145. 17. works; to judge and say with Hezeki­ah, Good is the word of the Lord, which thou hast spoken; to confess with Da­vid 2 King. 20. 19. unto him, I know, O Lord, that thy judgments are right; and that thou Psal. 119. 75. in faithfulness hast afflicted me.

3. A full satisfaction of mind, that all (even the most bitter, and sad ac­cidents) do (according to God's Job 5. 17. Jam. 1. 12. Prov. 3. 12. Heb. 12. 5. Rev. 3. 19. purpose) tend, and conduce to our good; acknowledging the truth of those divine Aphorismes; Happy is [Page 199] the man whom God correcteth; whom the Lord loveth he correcteth, even as a Father the Son, in whom he delighteth. As many as I love I rebuke, and chasten.

4. An entire submission, and resig­nation of our wills to the will of God; suppressing all rebellious insurrections, and grievous resentments of heart a­gainst his providence; which may dispose us heartily to say after our Lord, Let not my will, but thine be Luc. 22. 42. done; with good Eli, It is the Lord, 1 Sam. 3. 18. Let him doe what seemeth him good; with David, Here I am, let him 2 Sam. 15. 26. doe to me as seemeth good to him; yea even with Socrates, If so it plea­seth God, so let it be.

5. Bearing adversities calmly, chear­fully and courageously; so as not to be discomposed with anger, or grief; not to be put out of humour, not to be dejected or disheartned; but in our disposition of mind to resemble the primitive Saints, who were [...], 2 Cor. 6. 10. as grieved, but always rejoycing; who took joyful­ly Heb. 10. 34. the spoiling of their goods, who ac­compted Jam. 1. 2. it all joy when they fell into divers tribulations.

[Page 200] 6. A hopefull confidence in God for the removal or easement of our afflictions, and for his gratious aid to support them well; agreeable to those good rules and precepts? It is good that a man should both hope, and wait Lam. 3. 26. quietly for the salvation of the Lord; Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for him; wait on the Lord, be of good Psal. 37. 7. 37. 14. courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart; according to the pattern of David, who, in such a case, thus rou­sed and staid himself: Why art thou Psal. 42. 5. cast down, O my soul, and why art thou disquieted within me? hope thou in God, for I shall yet praise him for the help of his countenance; and after the holy Apostles, who in their most for­lorn estate could say, We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are [...] Cor. 4. 8. perplexed, but not in despair; persecu­ted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed.

7. A willingness to continue, du­ring God's pleasure, in our afflicted state, without weariness, or irksome longings for alteration; according to that advice of the Wiseman; My son, despise not the chastning of the Lord, Prov. 3. 11. [Page 201] neither be weary of his correction; and that of the Apostle, back'd with our Lord's example; Considering him that endured such contradiction of sinners Heb. 12. 3. against himself, lest ye be weary, and faint in your minds.

8. A lowly frame of mind (that is, being sober in our conceits of our selves, sensible of our unworthiness, and meanness, of our natural frailty, penury, and wretchedness; of our manifold defects and miscarriages in practice; being meek and gentle, ten­der and pliable in our temper, and frame of spirit; being deeply affect­ed with reverence and dread toward the awfull majesty, mighty power, perfect justice and sanctity of God; all this) wrought by our adversity effectually, according to its design, quelling our haughty stomach, soft­ning our hard hearts, mitigating our peevish humours; according to Saint Peter's injunction, Be humbled un­der the mighty hand of God; and God's 1 Pet. 5. 6. own approbation joined with a gra­tious promise, To this man will I look; even to him that is of a poor and Ez. 66 2. contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word.

[Page 202] 9. Restraining our tongues from all discontentfull complaints, and mur­murings, all prophane, harsh, unsa­voury expressions, importing displea­sure, or dissatisfaction in God's deal­ings toward us, arguing desperation or distrust in him; such as were those of the impatient and incredulous Is­raelites; They spake against God, and said, can God furnish a table in the Psal. 78. 19, 20. wilderness? behold he smote the rock, that the waters gushed out, and the streams overflowed; can he give bread also, can he provide flesh for his people? Such as they used, of whom the Pro­phet said —When they shall be hungry, they will fret themselves, and curse Isa. 8. 21. their King, and their God; such as they were guilty of, whom St. Jude calleth [...], murmurers, and querulous persons (or such as found fault with their lot) Jud. 16. that which is styled, charging God foolishly; for abstaining from which (notwithstanding the pressure of his most grievous calamities) Job is commended (where 'tis said, Job sin­ned not, neither charged God foolishly) that which the Prophet condemneth Job 1. 22. [Page 203] as unreasonable in that expostulation; Wherefore doth the living man com­plain? Lam. 3. 39. In such cases we should smo­ther our passions in a still and silent Psal. 37. 7. 46. 10. 4. 4. demeanour, as the Psalmist advised, and as he practised himself: I was Psal. 39. 9. dumb (saith he) and opened not my mouth, because it was thy doing. Yea contrariwise patience requireth

10. Blessing and praising God (that is, declaring our hearty satisfaction in God's proceedings with us, acknow­ledging his wisedom, justice and goodness therein, expressing a grate­full sense thereof, as wholsome and beneficial to us) in conformity to Job, who, upon the loss of all his comforts, did thus vent his mind: The Lord gave, and the Lord hath Job 1. 21. taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.

11. Abstaining from all irregular and unworthy courses toward the re­moval, or redress of our crosses; chu­sing rather to abide quietly under their pressure, than by any unwar­rantable means to relieve or relaxe our selves; contentedly wearing, ra­ther than violently breaking our yoke, Jer. 5. 5. [Page 204] or bursting our bonds; rather continu­ing poor, than striving to enrich our selves by fraud or rapine; rather ly­ing under contempt, than by sinfull or sordid compliances attempting to gain the favour and respect of men; rather embracing the meanest condi­tion, than labouring by any turbulent, unjust, or uncharitable practices to am­plifie our estate; rather enduring any inconvenience, or distress, than setting our faces toward Aegypt, or having re­course Jer. 42. 15. to any succour, which God dis­alloweth; according to what is impli­ed in that reprehension of St. Paul, Now therefore it is utterly a fault a­mong you, because ye go to law one 1 Cor. 6. 7. with another; Why do ye not rather take wrong; why do ye not rather suf­fer your selves to be defrauded? and in that advice of St. Peter; Let them that suffer according to the will of God, 1 Pet. 4. 19. commit the keeping of their souls to him in well-doing, as unto a faithfull creatour.

12. A fair behaviour toward the instruments and abettors of our afflic­tion; those who brought us into it, or who detain us under it, by keep­ing [Page 205] off relief, or sparing to yield the succour which we might expect; the forbearing to express any wrath or displeasure, to exercise any revenge, to retain any grudge, or enmity to­ward them; but rather even upon that score bearing good-will, and shewing kindness unto them; unto them, not onely as to our brethren, whom according to the general law of charity we are bound to love, but as to the servants of God in this par­ticular case, or as to the instruments of his pleasure toward us; consider­ing that by maligning or mischiefing them, we do signifie ill resentment of God's dealings with us, and in effect through their sides, do wound his providence: thus did the pious King demean himself, when he was bitter­ly reproached, and cursed by Shimei; 2 Sam. 16. 7. not suffering (upon this accompt) any harm or requital to be offered to him; thus did the holy Apostles, who being reviled did bless, being persecu­ted 1 Cor. 4. 12. did bear it, being defamed did en­treat; thus did our Lord deport him­self toward his spitefull adversaries, who being reviled did not revile again; 1 Pet. 2. 23. 3. 9. [Page 206] when he suffered did not threaten, but committed it to him that judgeth righ­teously.

13. Particularly in regard to those, who by injurious and offensive usage, do provoke us; patience importeth,

1. That we be not hastily, over­easily, not immoderately, not perti­naciously incensed with anger toward them; according to those divine pre­cepts, and aphorismes; Be slow to Jam. 1. 19. Eccles. 7. 9. Prov. 16. 32. 14, 17, 29. Rom. 12. 19. wrath; Be not hasty in thy spirit to be angry; for anger resteth in the bosome of fools. Give place to wrath (that is remove it.) Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil Eph. 4. 31, 26. Coloss. 3. 8. Matt. 5. 21, 24. Psal. 37. 8. speaking be put away from you, with all malice. Cease from anger, let go dis­pleasure, fret not thy self any wise to doe evil.

2. That we do not in our hearts harbour any ill-will, or ill-wishes, or ill designs toward them, but that we truely desire their good, and purpose to further it, as we shall have ability and occasion; according to that law (even charged on the Jews,) Thou shalt not bear any grudge against the Levit. 19. 18. children of thy people; but thou shalt [Page 207] love thy neighbour as thy self; and ac­cording to that noble command of our Saviour; Love your enemies, pray for them which despitefully use you, and Matt. 5. 44. Luc. 6. 27. persecute you.

3. That in effect we do not exe­cute any revenge, or for requital doe any mischief to them, either in word or deed; but for their reproaches ex­change blessings (or good words and wishes) for their outrages repay be­nefits, and good turns; according to those Evangelical rules; Doe good to Matt. 5. 44, 39. them that hate you, Bless them that curse you: Bless them that persecute you, bless and curse not: See that none Rom. 12. 14. 1 Thes. 5. 15. render evil for evil: Be pitifull, be 1 Pet. 3. 9. courteous, not rendring evil for evil, or railing for railing, but contrariwise blessing: If thine enemy hunger, feed Prov. 25. 21. Rom. 12. 20. him; if he thirst, give him drink: Say not I will doe to him as he hath Prov. 24. 29. 20. 22. done to me; I will render to the man according to his work: Say thou not I will recompence evil, but wait on the Lord, and he shall save thee.

14. In fine, patience doth include and produce a general meekness and kindness of affection, together with [Page 208] an enlarged sweetness, and pleasant­ness in conversation and carriage to­ward all men; implying, that, how hard soever our case, how sorry or sad our condition is, we are not there­fore angry with the world, because we do not thrive, or flourish in it; that we are not dissatisfied, or disgusted with the prosperous estate of other men; that we are not become sullen or froward toward any man, because his fortune excelleth ours; but that rather we do rejoice with them that Rom. 12. 15. rejoice; we do find complacence, and delight in their good success, we bor­row satisfaction and pleasure from their enjoyments.

In these, and the like acts, the pra­ctice of this vertue (a vertue, which all men, in this state of inward weak­ness, and outward trouble, shall have much need and frequent occasion to exercise) consisteth; unto which prac­tice, even Philosophy, natural reason, and common sense do suggest many inducements; the tenour of our holy faith and religion do supply more and better; but nothing can more clearly direct, or more powerfully ex­cite [Page 209] thereto, than that admirable ex­ample, by which our Text doth en­force it: some principal of those rati­onal inducements we shall cursorily touch, then insist upon this exam­ple.

It will generally induce us to bear patiently all things incident, if we consider, That it is the natural right and prerogative of God to dispose of all things, to assign our station here, and allot our portion to us; whence it is a most wrongfull insolence in us, by complaining of our state, to con­test his right, or impeach his manage­ment thereof; That we are obliged to God's free bounty for numberless great benefits and favours; whence it is vile ingratitude to be displeased for the want of some lesser conveniences; That God having undertaken, and pro­mised to support and succour us, it is a heinous affront to distrust him, and consequently to be dissatisfied with our condition; That seeing God doth infinitely better understand what is good for us, than we can do; he is better affected toward us, and more truly loveth us than we do our selves; [Page 210] he with an unquestionable right hath an uncontrollable power to dispose of us, it is most reasonable to acquiesce in his choice of our state; That since we have no claim to any good, or any pleasure, and thence in withholding any, no wrong is done to us, 'tis un­just and frivolous to murmur, or grumble; since we are, by nature, God's servants, it is fit the appoint­ment of our rank, our garb, our diet, all our accommodations, and employ­ments in his family, should be left en­tirely to his discretion and pleasure; That we being grievous sinners, less than the least of God's mercies, meri­ting no good, but deserving sore pu­nishment from him, it is just, that we should be highly content and thank­full for any thing on this side death and damnation; That our afflictions, being the natural fruits and results of our choice, or voluntary miscarriages, it is reasonable we should blame our selves rather than pick quarrels with Providence for them. That our con­dition, be it what it will, cannot, be­ing duly estimated, be extremely bad, or insupportably grievous; for that [Page 211] as no condition here is perfectly and purely good (not deficient in some accommodations, not blended with some troubles) so there is none that hath not its conveniencies and com­forts; for that it is our fond conceits, our froward humours, our perverse behaviours, which create the mischiefs adherent to any state; for that also how forlorn soever our case is, we can­not fail, if we please, of a capacity to enjoy goods far more than counter­vailing all possible want of these goods, or presence of these evils; we may have the use of our reason, a good con­science, hope in God, assurance of God's love and favour, abundance of spiritual blessings here, and a certain title to eternal glory and bliss hereaf­ter; which if we can have, our con­dition cannot be deemed uncomforta­ble. That indeed our adversity is a thing very good and wholsome, very profitable and desirable, as a means of breeding, improving and exercising the best vertues, of preparing us for, and entitling us to the best rewards. That our state cannot ever be despe­rate, our adversity probably may not [Page 212] be lasting (there being no connexi­on between the present and the fu­ture, vicissitudes being frequent, all things depending on the arbitrary dis­pensation of God, who doth always pity us, and is apt to relieve us.) That however our affliction will not out­live our selves, and certainly must soon expire with our life. That this world is not a place of perfect conve­nience, or pure delight; we come not hither to doe our will, or enjoy our pleasure, we are not born to make laws, or pick our condition here; but that trouble is natural and proper to us (We are born thereto, as the sparks Job 5. 7. 1 Cor. 10. 13. fly upwards.) No tribulation seiseth us, but such as is humane; whence 'tis reasonable that we contentedly bear the crosses sutable to our nature and state. That no adversity is in kind, or degree, peculiar to us, but if we survey the conditions of other men (of our brethren every where, of our neighbours all about us) and com­pare our case with theirs, we shall find, that we have many consorts, and associates in adversity, most as ill, ma­ny far worse bestead than our selves; [Page 213] whence it must be a great fondness and perversness to be displeased that we are not exempted from, but expo­sed to bear a share in the common troubles and burthens of mankind. That it hath particularly been the lot of the best men (persons most ex­cellent in vertue, and most deep in God's favour) to sustain adversity; and it therefore becometh us willing­ly and chearfully to accept it. That, in fine, patience it self is the best remedy to ease us in, to rescue us from ad­versity; for it cannot much annoy us, if we bear it patiently, God will, in mercy, remove it, if we please him, by demeaning our selves well under it; but that impatience doth not at all conduce to our relief, doth in­deed exasperate, and augment our pain: Such considerations may induce us to a patience in general respecting all sorts of evil.

There are also reasons particularly disposing to bear injuries and contu­melies from men calmly and meekly, without immoderate wrath, ranco­rous hatred, or spitefull revenge to­ward them: Because they do proceed [Page 214] from divine providence, disposing or permitting them (for the trial of our patience, the abasing our pride, the exercising of some other vertues, or for other good purposes) to fall up­on us; Because vindication of misde­meanours committed against us doth not appertain to us; we not being competent Judges of them, nor right­full executours of the punishments due to them; God having reserved to himself the right of decision, and power of execution: Vengeance is mine, saith the Lord, I will repay Rom. 12. 19. Heb. 10. 30. Deut. 32. 35, 36. Vid. Tert. de pat. cap. 10. it. Because we are obliged to inter­pret charitably the actions of our neighbour, supposing his miscarriages to proceed from infirmity, from mis­take, or from some cause, which we should be rather inclinable to excuse, than to prosecute with hatred, or re­venge. Because indeed our neigh­bours most culpable offences, as issuing from distemper of mind, are more reasonably the objects of compassion, and charity, than of anger, or ill-will. Because we are bound to forgive all injuries by the command of God, and in conformity to his example, who [Page 215] passeth by innumerable most heinous offences committed against himself: Gratious is the Lord, and full of com­passion, Psal. 145. 8. 86. 15. slow to anger, and of great mer­cy; long-suffering, and plenteous in mercy and truth; so must we be also, if we will be like him, or please him. Because we our selves, being subject to incur the same faults in kind, or greater in value, do need much par­don, and should thence be ready to al­low it unto others; both in equity, and in gratitude toward God; lest that in the Gospel be applied to us; O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that Matt. 18. 32▪ debt, because thou desiredst me; Shouldst not thou also have had com­passion upon thy fellow servant, even as I had pity on thee? Because God hath made it a necessary condition of our obtaining mercy; promising us fa­vour if we yield it, menacing us ex­tremity, if we refuse it: If ye for­give men their trespasses, your heaven­ly Matt. 6. 14. Ecclus. 8. 2. Matt. 18. 35. Ma [...]. 11. 25. father will also forgive you; But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your father forgive your trespasses. Because our neighbour suffering by our revenge in any man­ner [Page 216] (in his body, interest, or repu­tation) doth not any-wise profit us, or benefit our estate, but needlesly doth multiply and encrease the stock of mischief in the world; yea com­monly doth bring farther evil upon our selves, provoking him to go on in offending us, rendring him more im­placably bent against us, engaging us consequently deeper in strife and trou­ble: Because no wrong, no disgrace, no prejudice we can receive from men is of much consequence to us, if our mind be not disorder'd if we are free from those bad passions, which really are the worst evils that can be­fall us. Because, in fine, impatience it self is insignificant, and ineffectual to any good purpose; or rather produ­ceth ill effects; It doth not cure our wound, or asswage our grief; it re­moveth Idcircò quis te laedit ut do­leas, quia fructus laeden­tis in dolo [...]e laesi est. Tert. de pat. 8. Si patientiae incubabo, non dolebo; si non dolebo, ul­cisci non desi­derabo. Ib. 10. no inconvenience, nor repai­reth any damage we have received; but rather enflameth our distemper, and aggravateth our pain; more real­ly indeed molesting and hurting us, than the injury or discourtesie which causeth it: Thus briefly doth reason dictate to us the practice of all patience.

[Page 217] But the example proposed by the Apostle here, and otherwhere by Saint Paul (Let the same mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus—(by Phil. 2. 5. the Apostle to the Hebrews (Let us run with patience the race that is set Heb. 12. 1, 2. before us, Looking unto Jesus the au­thour and finisher of our faith—) by our Lord himself (Learn of me, for I am meek and lowly) that doth in Matt. 11. 29. a more lively manner express how in such cases we should deport our selves, and most strongly engageth us to com­ply with duties of this nature. Let us now therefore describe it, and recom­mend it to your consideration.

The example of our Lord was in­deed Vid. Tertull. de Pat. c. 3. Cypr. de Pat. T. 2. p. 315. in this kind the most remarka­ble that ever was presented, the most perfect that can be imagined: He was, above all expression, a man of sor­rows and acquainted with grief; he did Is. 53. 3. undertake, as to perform the best works, so to endure the worst acci­dents, to which humane nature is sub­ject; his whole life being no other than one continual exercise of pati­ence, and meekness, in all the parts, and to the utmost degrees of them: [Page 218] If we trace the footsteps of his life, from the sordid manger to the bloudy cross, we shall not be able to observe any matter of complacence, scarce any of comfort (in respect to his natural or worldly state) to have befallen him.

His parentage was mean, to appear­ance, and his birth, in all exteriour circumstances, despicable: Is not this the Carpenter's Son? were words of Matt. 13. 55. Marc. 6. 3. contempt and offence, upon all occa­sions thrown upon him.

His life was spent not onely in continual labour, and restless travel, but in hard poverty, yea in extreme penury, beneath the state, not onely of the meanest men, but of the most shifting beasts: The foxes have holes, Matt. 8. 20. and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.

For his necessary sustenance we find him often destitute of ordinary provi­sion Matt. 21. 18, 19. Nullius men­sam, tectúm­ve despexit. Tert. (as when he sought food from the barren fig-tree) often indebted for it to the courtesie, and (as it were) alms of the vilest people, of Publicans and Sinners: so [...], [Page 219] he was (as the Apostle saith) a beg­gar 2 Cor. 8. 9. for us.

Yet may we never perceive him a­ny-wise discontented with, or com­plaining of his condition; not discou­raged, or depressed in spirit thereby, not solicitously endeavouring any cor­rection or change thereof; but wil­lingly embracing it, heartily acquies­cing therein; and, notwithstanding all its inconveniencies, chearfully dis­charging his duties, vigorously pursu­ing his main designs of procuring glo­ry to God, and benefit to men.

Nor did he onely with content un­dergo the incommodities of a poor estate, but he was surrounded with continual dangers; the most power­full men of those times (enraged with envy, ambition, and avarice) de­sperately maligning him; and being incessantly attentive upon all occasi­ons to molest, hurt and destroy him: The world (as he saith himself, that Joh. 15. 18. is, all the powerfull and formidable part of the world) hating me; Yet did not this any-wise dismay, or distem­per him, nor cause him either to re­pine at his condition, or decline his [Page 220] duty. He utterly disregarded all their spitefull machinations, persisting immoveable in the prosecution of his pious and charitable undertakings, to the admiration of those who observed his demeanour: Is not this he (said they) whom they seek to kill? but lo Joh. 7. 25. he speaketh boldly.

He did indeed sometimes oppor­tunely shun their fury, and prudently Luc. 4. 30. Matt. 21. 27. 22. 18. did elude their snares, but never went violently to repell them, or to execute any revenge for them; improving the wonderfull power he was endew­ed with, altogether to the advantage of mankind, never to the bane or hurt of his malitious enemies.

Sensible enough he was of the cause­less hatred they bare him; ( [...], They, said he, have hated Joh. 15. 25. me for nothing;) and of their extreme ingratitude; yet never could he be provoked to resent, or requite their dealing; see how mildly he did expo­stulate the case with them; Then (saith St. John) the Jews took up stones to stone him: Jesus answered them, Ma­ny Joh. 10. 31. good works have I shewed you from my Father, for which of those do ye stone me?

[Page 221] To be extremely hated, and inhu­manely persecuted without any fault committed, or just occasion offered, is greatly incensive of humane passi­on; but for the purest, and strongest good-will, for the most unexpressible beneficence, to be recompenced with most virulent reproaches, most odious slanders, most outrageous misusages, How exceeding was that meekness, which without any signification of re­gret, or disgust, could endure it?

Out of most tender charity, and ar­dent desire of their salvation, he in­structed them, and instilled heavenly Matt. 23. 37. doctrine into their minds, what thanks, what reward did he receive for that great favour? to be reputed, and reported an impostour: [...], he (said they) doth impose Joh 7. 12. Matt. 27. 63. upon the people.

He took occasion to impart the great blessing of pardon for sin to some of them, confirming his autho­rity of doing it by a miraculous work of goodness; How did they resent such an obligation? by accompting Matt. 9. 3. &c. him a blasphemer: Behold (saith Saint Matthew) certain of the Scribes [Page 222] said within themselves, this man blas­phemeth: which most harsh and un­charitable censure of theirs he did not fiercely reprehend, but calmly discus­sed, and refuted by a clear reasoning; [...]; Wherefore con­ceive ye evil in your hearts; for whe­ther is easier to say, thy sins are for­given thee, or to say arise and walk? that is, Is it not credible that he, who can perform the one, may dis­pense Ingratos cu­ravit, insidi­atoribus ces­sit. Tert. the other?

He freed them from most grievous diseases, yea rescued them from the greatest mischief possible in nature, be­ing possessed by the unclean Fiend; Act. 10. 38. How did they entertain this mighty benefit, by most horrible calumny, ac­cusing him of Sorcery, or conspiracy with the Devil himself? The Phari­sees said, he casteth out Devils by the Matt. 9. 34. 12. 24. Prince of the Devils; yea thence at­tributing to him the very name and title of the grand Devil: If they have called the master of the house Beelze­bub, Matt. 10. 25. how much more (shall they de­fame) them of his houshold? Yet this most injurious defamation he no other­wise rebuketh, than by a mild dis­course, [Page 223] strongly confuting it; Every Matt. 12. 25. Kingdom (said he) divided against it self is brought to desolation—and if Satan cast out Satan, he is divided against himself; how then shall his Kingdom stand? that is, the Devil bet­ter understands his interest, than to assist any man in dispossessing himself.

He did constantly labour in re­claiming them from errour and sin, in converting them to God and good­ness, in proposing fair overtures of grace and mercy to them, in shewing them by word and practice the sure way to happiness; What issue was there of all his care and pains? What but neglect, distrust, disappointment, rejection of himself, of what he said, and what he did? Who hath believed Joh. 12. 38. our report, and to whom hath the arme of the Lord been revealed? was a Pro­phecy, abundantly verified by their carriage toward him.

These, and the like usages, which he perpetually did encounter, he con­stantly received without any passio­nate disturbance of mind, any bitter reflexions upon that generation, any revengefull enterprises against them; [Page 224] yea requited them with continued earnestness of hearty desires, and la­borious endeavours for their good.

We might observe the ingratefull disrespects of his own Countrymen, and kindred toward him, which he passeth over without any grievous dis­dain; rather excusing it, by noting that entertainment to have been no peculiar accident to himself, but usu­al to all of like employment; No Pro­phet (said he) is acceptable in his Luc. 4. 24. Matt. 13. 57. own countrey.

We might also mention his patient Non illi sal­tem civitati quae cum reci­pere noluer at iratus est, cum etiam discipu­li tam contu­melioso oppido coelestes ignes repraesentari voluissent. Tert. suffering repulses from strangers; as when being refused admittance into a Samaritane Village, and his disci­ples being incensed with that rude dis­courtesie, would have fire called down from heaven to consume those churls, he restrained their unadvised wrath, and thus expressed his admirable meek­ness; The Son of man is not come to destroy mens lives, but to save them. Luc. 9. 53, 56.

We might likewise remark his meek comporting with the stupid and Luc. 9. 41. Matt. 17. 17. Non peccato­res, non publi­canos asperna­tus est. Tert. perverse incredulity of his dis­ciples, notwithstanding so many preg­nant, and palpable inducements conti­nually [Page 225] exhibited for confirmation of their faith; the which he no other­wise, than sometime gently, admo­nisheth them of, saying, [...]; Matt. 8. 26. 14. 31. Why are ye fearfull, O ye of little faith? [...]; O thou of small faith, why didst thou doubt?

What should I insist on these, al­though very remarkable instances? since that one scene of his most grie­vous (shall I say, or glorious) passi­on doth represent unto us a perfect, and most lively image of the highest patience and meekness possible: of the greatest sorrow that ever was or could be, yet of a patience surmounting it; of the extremest malice that ever was conceived, yet of a charity oversway­ing it; of injury most intolerable, yet of a meekness willingly and sweet­ly bearing it? There may we observe the greatest provocations from all hands to passionate animosity of spi­rit, and intemperate heat of speech, yet no discovery of the least disorder­ly, angry, or revengefull thought, the least rash, bitter, or reproachfull word, but all undergone with clearest sere­nity [Page 226] of mind, and sweetness of carri­age toward all persons.

To Judas, who betrayed him, How doth he address himself? Doth he use such terms as the Man deserved, or as passion would have suggested, and rea­son would not have disallowed? Did he say, Thou most perfidious villain, thou monster of iniquity and ingra­titude; thou desperately wicked wretch; Dost thou, prompted by thy base covetousness, treacherously attempt to ruine thy gratious Master, and best Friend; thy most benign and bountifull Saviour? No, in stead of such proper language, he useth the most courteous and endea­ring terms: [...]; Matt. 26. 50. Friend (or companion) for what dost thou come? Or what is thy busi­ness here? a tacite charitable warn­ing there is to reflect upon his un­worthy and wicked action, but no­thing apparent of wrath, or re­proach.

From his own disciples and ser­vants, who had beheld his many mi­raculous works, and were indebted to him for the greatest favours, he [Page 227] reasonably might have expected a most faithfull adherence, and most diligent attendance on him in that juncture; yet he found them care­less, and slothfull: What then? How did he take it? Was he angry, did he upbraid, did he storm at them? Did he threaten to discard them? No; he onely first gently admonisheth them: What could ye not watch one hour with Matt. 26. 40, 45. me? then a little exciteth them, Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: he withall suggest­eth an excuse for their drowsiness and dullness; The Spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak; in fine, he indul­geth to their weakness, letting them alone, and saying, [...], Slee on now and take your rest.

When he foresaw they would be offended at his (to appearance) dis­astrous estate, and fearfully would de­sert him, he yet expressed no indigna­tion Matt. 26. 31. against them, or decrease of af­fection toward them upon that score; but simply mentioneth it, as uncon­cerned in it, and not affected there­by.

[Page 228] And the unworthy Apostacy of that disciple, whom he had especially favoured and dignified, he onely did mildly forewarn him of, requiting it foreseen by the promise of his own effectual prayers for his support and recovery; and when St. Peter had Luc. 22. 61, 62. [...]. committed that heinous fact, our good Lord onely looked on him with an eye of charity and compassion; which more efficaciously struck him, than the most dreadfull threat, or sharp reprehension could have done; Peter thereupon went out, and wept bit­terly.

When the High-Priests officer, up­on no reasonable occasion, did inju­riously and ignominiously strike him, he returned onely this mild expostu­lation: If I have spoken evil, bear Joh. 18. 23. Cypr. Epist. 65. witness of the evil; if well, why smi­test thou me? that is, I advise thee to proceed in a fair and legal way a­gainst me, not to deal thus boiste­rously and wrongfully, to thy own harm.

Even carefull and tender he was of those, who were the instruments of his suffering; he protected them from [Page 229] harm, who conducted him to execu­tion; as we see in the case of the High-Priests servant, whom (with Luc. 22. 51, &c. more zeal, than wherewith he ever regarded his own safety) he de­fended from the fury of his own friend, and cured of the wounds re­ceived in the way of persecuting him­self.

All his demeanour under that great trial was perfectly calm, not the least regret, or reluctancy of mind, the least contradiction, or obloquy of speech appearing therein; such it was as became the lamb of God, who Isa. 53. 7. was to take away the sins of the world, by a willing oblation of himself; such as did exactly correspond to the ancient Prophecies; He was oppres­sed, and he was afflicted, yet he open­ed not his mouth; he was brought as a Lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before the shearer is dumb, so he opened not his mouth; and, I gave Isa. 50. 6. my back to the smiters, and my cheeks to them that plucked off the hair; I hid not my face from shame and spit­ting.

[Page 230] Neither did the wrongfull slanders devised and alledged against him by suborned witnesses, nor the virulent invectives of the Priests, nor the bar­barous clamours of the people, nor the contemptuous spitting upon him, and buffeting him, nor the cruel scor­gings, nor the contumelious mocke­ries, nor all the bloudy tortures in­flicted upon him, wring from him one syllable importing any dissatisfac­tion in his case, any wrath conceived for his misusages, any grudge or ill­will in his mind toward his persecu­tours; but on the contrary, instead of hatred and revenge he declared the greatest kindness and charity toward them, praying heartily to God his Father for the pardon of their sins. Instead of aggravating their crime and injury against him, he did in a sort extenuate and excuse it, by conside­ration of their ignorance and mistake: Lord, (said he, in the height of his Luk. 23. 34. sufferings) forgive them, for they know not what they doe. The life they so violently bereaved him of, he did wil­lingly mean to lay down for the ran­some of their lives; the bloud they [Page 231] spilt he wished to be a salutary bal­same for their wounds and maladies; he most chearfully did offer himself by their hands a sacrifice for their of­fences. No small part of his afflicti­ons was a sense of their so grievously displeasing God, and pulling mischief on their own heads, a foresight of his kind intentions being frustrated by their obstinate incredulity and impe­nitence, a reflexion upon that inevi­table vengeance, which from the di­vine justice would attend them; this foreseen did work in him a distastfull sense, (more grievous than what his own pain could produce) and drew from him tears of compassion (such as no resentment of his own case could extort) for, When he was come near Luk. 19. 41. 13. 34. he beheld the City, and wept over it, saying; O that thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace.

If ever he did express any commo­tion of mind in reference to this mat­ter, it was onely then when one of his friends, out of a blind fondness of affection did presume to dissuade him from undergoing these evils; then in­deed [Page 232] being somewhat moved with in­dignation he said to St. Peter, Get thee Matt. 16. 23. behind me, Satan, for thou art an of­fence unto me; for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.

Neither was it out of a stupid in­sensibility or stubborn resolution that he did thus behave himself; for he Matt. 26. 37, 38. Luk. 22. 44. Joh. 12. 27. Matt. 26. 39. Heb. 5. 7. had a most vigorous sense of all those grievances, and a strong (natural) a­versation from undergoing them; as those dolorous agonies wherewith he struggled; those deadly groans he ut­tered; those monstrous lumps of bloud he swet out; those earnest prayers he made to be freed from them, declare; but from a perfect submission to the di­vine will, an entire command over his passions, an excessive charity toward mankind this patient and meek beha­viour did spring: The Cup which my Joh. 18. 11. father hath given me, shall I not drink it? O my Father, if it be possible, let Matt. 26. 39. Luk. 22. 42. this cup pass from me; nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt? Let Joh. 10. 18. 6. 51. not my will, but thine be done. No man taketh away my life, but I lay it down of my own accord; I will give my [Page 233] flesh for the life of the world: So doth our Lord himself express the true grounds of his passion and his pati­ence.

Such is the example of our Lord; the serious consideration whereof how can it otherwise than work patience and meekness in us; If He, that was the Lord of glory (infinitely excellent in dignity and vertue) did so readily embrace, did so contentedly endure such extremities of penury, hardship, disgrace and pain, how can we refuse them or repine at them? can we pre­tend to a better lot than he received, or presume that God must deal better with us than he did with his own dearest Son? Can we be displeased at a conformity to our Lord and Master? Can we without shame affect to live more splendidly, or to fare more de­liciously than he chose to doe? Shall we fret or wail, because our desires are crossed, our projects defeated, our interests any-wise prejudiced; when­as his most earnest desires, and his most painfull endeavours had so little of due and desired success: when He was ever ready, and had so constant [Page 234] occasion to say, Let not my will be done? Can we despise that state of meanness and sorrow which He from the highest sublimities of glory and beatitude was pleased to stoop unto? Can we take our selves for the want of any present conveniences or com­forts to be wretched, whenas the fountain of all happiness was desti­tute of all such things, and scarce did ever taste any worldly pleasure? Are we fit or worthy to be his disciples, if Luk. 14. 27. 9. 23. Matt. 10. 38. 16. 24. we will not take up his cross and fol­low him; if we will not go to his School (that School wherein he is said himself to have learnt obedience) Heb. 5. 8. if we will not con that lesson which he so loudly hath read out, and transcribe that copy which he so fair­ly hath set before us? Can we pre­tend to those great benefits, those high privileges, those rich and ex­cellent rewards, which he hath attai­ned for us, and which he proposeth to us, if we will not go on toward them in that way of patience which Heb. 2. 9, 10. Phil. 2. 9. he hath trod before us?

Can we also, if we consider him that endured such contradiction of sin­ners, Heb. 12. 3. [Page 235] be transported with any wrath­full or revengefull passion, upon any provocation from our brethren? Can we hope, or wish for better usage from men than our Lord did ever find? Can we be much displeased Quàm gravis causa sit ho­minis Chri­stiani servum pati [...] cùm prior [...] [...] Dominu [...] Cypr. E [...]. with any man for thwarting our de­sires or interests, for dissenting from our conceits, for crossing our humours, whenas he (to whom all respect and observance was due) did meet with so little regard or compliance in any way; continually did encounter re­pulses, disappointments, oppositions from the perverse and spitefull world? Can we be very jealous of our credit, or furious when our imaginary ho­nour (honour, that we never really deserved, or can justly claim, being guilty of so many great faults and sins) is touched with the least dis­gracefull reflexion, if we do well ob­serve and mind, that the most truly, and indeed onely honourable perso­nage (onely honourable, because one­ly innocent person) that ever was, had his reputation aspersed by the most odious reproaches, which dee­pest envy and malice could devise, [Page 236] without any grievous resentment, or being folicitous otherwise to assert or clear it than by a constant silence? Can we be exasperated by every pet­ty affront, (real or supposed) when the most noble, most courteous, most obliging person that ever breathed up­on earth was treacherously exposed to violence by his own servant, shame­fully deserted by his own most belo­ved friends, despitefully treated by those whom he never had offended, by those upon whom he had heaped the greatest benefits, without expres­sing any anger or displeasure against them, but yielding many signal testi­monies of tenderest pity and love to­ward them? Can we see our Lord treated like a slave and a thief, with­out any disturbance or commotion of heart; and we vile wretches upon e­very slight occasion swell with fierce disdain, pour forth reproachfull lan­guage, execute horrible mischief up­on our brethren? He indeed was sur­rounded with injuries and affronts; every sin that since the foundation of things hath been committed was an offence against him, and a burthen [Page 237] upon him; (God laid upon him the Isa. 53. 6. iniquities of us all) so many declared enemies, so many rebels, so many persecutours, so many murtherers he had as there have lived men in the world; for every sinner did in truth conspire to his affliction and de­struction; we all in effect did betray him, did accuse him, did mock, did scourge, did pierce and crucifie him; yet he forgave all offences, he died for all persons; while we were yet ene­mies, Rom. 5. 6, 8, 10. yet sinners he died for us, to re­scue us from death and misery: And shall we not then in imitation of him, for his dear sake, in gratitude, respect and obedience to him, be ready to bear the infirmities of our brethren, to forgive any small wrongs or offen­ces from them; whatever they doe Rependamus illi patienti­am, quam pro nobis ipse de­pendit. Tert. de Pat. 16. to us, to love them, and doe them what good we can? If so admirable a pattern of patience and meekness so immense cannot, what is there that can oblige or move us? I conclude with those doxologies to our so pa­tient and meek Redeemer;

[Page 238] Worthy is the Lamb that was slain, Apoc. 5. 12, 13. to receive power, and riches, and wise­dom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing. Blessing, and ho­nour, and glory, and power be unto him that sitteth upon the throne and to the Lamb for ever and ever.

Unto him that loved us, and washed Apoc. 1. 5. us from our sins in his bloud, and hath made us Kings and Priests unto God and his Father, to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever.

Amen.

OF RESIGNATION TO THE DIVINE WILL.

The Seventh Sermon.

LUK. XXII. 42.‘Nevertheless let not my will, but thine Matt. 26. 39. be done.’

THE great Controversie, mana­ged with such earnestness and obstinacy between God and Man, is this, whose will shall take place, his or ours: Almighty God, by whose constant protection and [Page 240] great mercy we subsist, doth claim to himself the authority of regulating our practice, and disposing our fortunes; but we affect to be our own masters and carvers; not willingly admitting any law, not patiently brooking any condition, which doth not sort with our fancy and pleasure: to make good his right, God bendeth all his sorces, and applieth all proper means both of sweetness and severity (persuading us by arguments, soliciting us by entrea­ties, alluring us by fair promises, sca­ring us by fierce menaces, indulging ample benefits to us, inslicting sore corrections on us, working in us and upon us by secret influences of grace, by visible dispensations of providence) yet so it is, that commonly nothing doth avail, our will opposing it self with invincible resolution and stiff­ness.

Here indeed the business pincheth; herein as the chief worth, so the main difficulty of religious practice consi­steth, in bending that iron sinew; in bringing our proud hearts to stoop, and our sturdy humours to buckle, so as to surrender and resign our wills [Page 241] to the just, the wise, the gratious will of our God, prescribing our duty, and assigning our lot unto us. We may accuse our nature, but it is our plea­sure; we may pretend weakness, but Chrys. Tom. 6. Or. 12. in 1 Cor. Or. 17. Tom. 5. Or. 28, 43. it is wilfulness, which is the guilty cause of our misdemeanours; for by God's help (which doth always pre­vent our needs, and is never wanting to those who seriously desire it) we may be as good as we please, if we can please to be good; there is no­thing within us that can resist, if our wills do yield themselves up to duty: to conquer our reason is not hard; for what reason of man can withstand the infinite cogency of those motives, which induce to obedience? What can be more easie, than by a thousand arguments, clear as day, to convince any man, that to cross God's will is the greatest absurdity in the world, and that there is no madness compara­ble thereto? Nor is it difficult, if we Quodeunque sibi imperavit animus obti­nuit. Sen. de Ira. 2. 12. resolve upon it, to govern any other part or power of our nature; for what cannot we doe, if we are willing? what inclination cannot we check, what appetite cannot we restrain, [Page 242] what passion cannot we quell or mo­derate; what faculty of our soul, or member of our body is not obsequious to our will? Even half the resolution with which we pursue vanity and sin, would serve to engage us in the ways of wisedom and vertue.

Wherefore in overcoming our will the stress lieth; this is that impreg­nable fortress, which everlastingly doth hold out against all the batteries of reason and of grace; which no force of persuasion, no allurement of favour, no discouragement of terrour can re­duce: this puny, this impotent thing it is, which grappleth with Omnipo­tency, and often in a manner baffleth it: And no wonder; for that God doth not intend to overpower our will, or to make any violent impres­sion on it, but onely to draw it (as it Hos. 11. 4. is in the Prophet) with the cords of a man, or by rational inducements to win its consent and compliance; our service is not so considerable to him, that he should extort it from us; nor doth he value our happiness at so low a rate, as to obtrude it on us. His victory indeed were no true victory [Page 243] over us, if he should gain it by main sorce, or without the concurrence of our will; our works not being our works, if they do not issue from our will; and our will not being our will, if it be not free; to compell it were to destroy it, together with all the worth of our vertue and obedience: wherefore the Almighty doth suffer himself to be [...]. Chrys. in 1 Cor. Orat. 2. withstood, and beareth re­pulses from us; nor com­monly doth he master our will otherwise, than by its own spontaneous conversion and sub­mission to him: if ever we be con­quer'd, as we shall share in the bene­fit, and wear a crown; so we must join in the combat, and partake of the victory, by subduing our selves: we must take the yoke upon us; for God is onely served by volunteers; he sum­moneth us by his Word, he attracteth us by his Grace, but we must freely come unto him.

Our will indeed of all things is most our own; the onely gift, the most proper sacrifice we have to offer; which therefore God doth chiefly de­sire, [Page 244] doth most highly prize, doth most kindly accept from us. Seeing then our duty chiefly moveth on this hinge, the free submission and resig­nation of our will to the will of God; it is this practice, which our Lord (who came to guide us in the way to happiness, not onely as a teacher by his word and excellent doctrine, but as a leader, by his actions and perfect example) did especially set before us; as in the constant tenour of his life, so particularly in that great exigency which occasioned these words, where­in, renouncing and deprecating his own will, he did express an entire submission to God's will, a hearty complacence therein, and a serious desire that it might take place.

For the fuller understanding of which case, we may consider, that our Lord, as partaker of our na­ture, and, in all things (bating sin) like unto us, had a natural humane will, attended with senses, appetites and affections, apt from objects inci­dent to receive congruous impressions of pleasure and pain; so that what­ever is innocently gratefull and plea­sant [Page 245] to us, that he relish'd with delight, and thence did encline to embrace; whatever is distastfull and afflictive to us, that he resented with grief, and thence was moved to eschew; to this probably he was liable in a degree beyond our ordinary rate; for that in him nature was most perfect, his complexion very delicate, his tem­per exquisitely sound and fine; for so we find, that by how much any man's constitution is more sound, by so much he hath a smarter gust of what is a­greeable or offensive to nature: If perhaps sometimes infirmity of body, or distemper of soul (a savage ferity, a stupid dulness, a fondness of conceit, or stiffness of humour, supported by wild opinions, or vain hopes) may keep men from being thus affected by sensible objects; yet in him pure na­ture did work vigorously, with a clear apprehension and lively sense, accor­ding to the design of our maker, when into our constitution he did implant those passive faculties disposing ob­jects to affect them so and so, for our need and advantage: if this be dee­meed weakness, it is a weakness con­nected [Page 246] with our nature, which he therewith did take, and with which [...]. Heb. 5. 2. (as the Apostle saith) he was encom­passed. Such a will our Lord had, and it was requisite that he should have it; that he thence might be qua­lified to discharge the principal in­stances of obedience, for procuring God's favour to us, and for setting an exact pattern before us; for God im­posing on him duties to perform, and dispensing accidents to endure, very cross to that natural will, in his com­pliance, and acquiescence thereto, his obedience was thoroughly tried; his vertue did shine most brightly; there­fore (as the Apostle saith) he was in Heb. 4. 15. 2. 10, 18. all points tempted; thence, as to me­ritorious capacity, and exemplary in­fluence, he was perfected through suf­fering.

Hence was the whole course of his life and conversation among men, so designed, so modelled, as to be one continual exercise of thwarting that humane will, and closing with the Divine pleasure: it was predicted of him, Lo I come to doe thy will, O God; Heb. 10. 7. Psal. 40. 7. Joh. 6. 38. 5. 30. 4. 34. and of himself he affirm'd, I came [Page 247] down from heaven not to doe my own will, but the will of him that sent me; whereas therefore such a practice is little seen in atchieving easie matters, or in admitting pleasant occurrences; it was order'd for him, that he should encounter the roughest difficulties, and be engaged in circumstances, most harsh to natural apprehension and ap­petite; so that if we trace the foot­steps of his life from the sordid man­ger to the bloudy cross, we can hard­ly mark any thing to have befallen him apt to satisfie the will of nature. Nature liketh respect, and loatheth contempt; therefore was he born of mean parentage, and in a most home­ly condition; therefore did he live in no garb, did assume no office, did exercise no power, did meddle in no affairs, which procure to men consi­deration and regard; therefore an im­postour, a blasphemer, a sorcerer, a loose companion, a seditious incendia­ry were the titles of honour, and the elogies of praise conferred on him; therefore was he exposed to the lash of every slanderous, every scurrilous, eve­ry petulant and ungoverned tongue.

[Page 248] Nature doth affect the good opini­on, and good will of men, especially when due in gratefull return for great courtesie and beneficence; nor doth any thing more grate thereon, than abuse of kindness; therefore, could he (the world's great friend and be­nefactour) say, the world hateth me; Joh. 5. 18, 25. therefore were those, whom he, with so much charity and bounty had in­structed, had fed, had cured of dis­eases (both corporal and spiritual) so ready to clamour, and commit out­rage upon him; therefore could he thus expostulate, Many good works Joh. 10. 31. have I shewed you from my father, for which of those works do ye stone me? therefore did his kindred slight him, therefore did his disciples abandon him, Joh. 13. 18. therefore did the grand traitour issue from his own bosome; therefore did that whole Nation, which he chiefly sought and laboured to save, conspire to persecute him, with most rancorous spite and cruel misusage.

Nature loveth plentifull accommo­dations, and abhorreth to be pinched with any want; therefore was ex­treme penury appointed to him; he [Page 249] had no revenue, no estate, no certain livelyhood, not so much as a house Matt. 8. 20. 17. 25. 21. 19. Luk. 8. 3. where to lay his head, or a piece of money to discharge the tax for it; he owed his ordinary support to alms, or voluntary benesicence; he was to seek his food from a fig-tree on the 2 Cor. 8. 9. way; and sometimes was beholden for it to the courtesie of Publicans; [...], he was (saith Saint Paul) a beggar for us.

Nature delighteth in case, in quiet, in liberty; therefore did he spend his days in continual labour, in restless travel, in endless vagrancy, going a­bout Joh. 4. 16. Matt. 4. 23. 8. 35. Act. 10. 38. Phil. 2. 7. Luk. 22. 27. Mark. 6. 6. Matt. 21. 28. and doing good; ever hastning thither, whither the needs of men did call, or their benefit invite; therefore did he take on him the form of a ser­vant, and was among his own fol­lowers as one that ministreth; there­fore he pleased not himself, but suted his demeanour to the state and circum­stances of things, complied with the manners and fashions, comported with the humours and infirmities of men.

Nature coveteth good success to its design and undertakings, hardly brooking to be disappointed and de­feated [Page 250] in them: therefore was he put to water dry sticks, and to wash Ne­groes; that is, to instruct a most dull and stupid, to reform a most perverse and stubborn generation; therefore his ardent desires, his solicitous cares, his painfull endeavours for the good of men did obtain so little fruit; had indeed a contrary effect, rather aggra­vating their sins than removing them, rather hardning than turning their hearts, rather plunging them deeper into perdition, than rescuing them from it: therefore so much in vain did he, in numberless miraculous works, display his power and good­ness, convincing few, converting few­er by them; therefore although he taught with most powerfull authori­ty, with most charming gracefulness, with most convincing evidence, yet, Who (could he say) hath believed Luk. 4. 22, 3 Ioh. 12. 38. our report? though he most earnestly did invite and allure men to him, of­fering the richest boons that heaven it self could dispense, yet, Ye will not Ioh. 5. 40. (was he forced to say) come unto me, that ye may be saved; although with assiduous fervency of affection he strove [Page 251] to reclaim them from courses tending to their ruine, yet how he prospered, sad experience declareth, and we may learn from that dolefull complaint, How often would I have gathered thy Luk. 13. 34. 19. 42. children together, as a hen doth gather her brood under her wings, but ye would not: [...], your will did not concur, your will did not submit.

In fine, natural will seeketh plea­sure, Mark 1. 13, 35. Luk. 5. 16. Joh. 4. 6, 31. Luk. 6. 12. Matt. 14. 23. and shunneth pain; But what pleasure did he taste; what inclinati­on, what appetite, what sense did he gratifie? How did he feast, or revell? How, but in tedious fastings, in fre­quent hungers, by passing whole nights in prayer, and retirement for devotion upon the cold mountains? What sports had he, what recreation Matt. 18. 12. did he take, but feeling incessant gripes of compassion, and wearisome roving in quest of the lost sheep? In what conversation could he divert himself, but among those, whose dol­tish incapacity, and froward humour, did wring from his patience those words, How long shall I be with you, Matt. 17. 17. how long shall I suffer you? What musick did he hear? What but the [Page 252] ratlings of clamorous obloquy, and furious accusations against him? to be desperately maligned, to be inso­lently mocked, to be styled a King, and treated as a slave; to be spit on, to be buffeted, to be scourged, to be drenched with gall, to be crowned with thorns, to be nailed to a cross; these were the delights which our Lord enjoyed, these the sweet com­forts of his life, and the notable pro­sperities of his fortune: such a porti­on was allotted to him, the which he did accept from God's hand with all patient submission, with perfect con­tentedness, with exceeding alacrity, never repining at it, never complai­ning of it, never flinching from it, or fainting under it; but proceeding on in the performance of all his duty, and prosecution of his great designs, with undaunted courage, with un­wearied industry, with undisturbed tranquillity and satisfaction of mind.

Had indeed his condition and for­tune been otherwise framed; had he come into the world qualified with a noble extraction; had he lived in a splendid equipage, had he enjoyed a [Page 253] plentifull estate and a fair reputation, had he been favoured and caressed by men; had he found a current of pro­sperous success, had safety, ease and pleasure waited on him; Where had been the pious resignation of his will, where the pretious merit of his obe­dience, where the glorious lustre of his example? how then had our frail­ty in him become victorious over all its enemies; how had he triumphed over the solicitations and allurements of the flesh; over the frowns and flat­teries of the world; over the malice and fury of hell; how then could he have so demonstrated his immense charity toward us, or laid so mighty obligations upon us?

Such in general was the case, and such the deportment of our Lord; but there was somewhat peculiar and beyond all this occurring to him, which drew forth the words of our Text: God had tempered for him a potion of all the most bitter and loath­some ingredients that could be; a drop whereof no man ever hath, or could endure to sip; for he was not onely to undergo whatever load hu­mane [Page 254] rage could impose, of ignomi­nious [...]. Lit. Gr. Lam. 2. 12. disgrace, and grievous pain; but to feel dismal agonies of Spirit, and those unknown sufferings, which God alone could inflict, God onely could sustain: Behold, and see, he might well say, if there be any sorrow like unto my sorrow, which is done un­to me; wherewith the Lord hath af­flicted me in the day of his fierce an­ger? He was to labour with pangs of charity, and through his heart to be pierced with deepest commiseration of our wretched case: he was to crouch under the burthen of all the sins (the numberless most heinous sins and abominations) ever com­mitted by mankind: he was to pass through the hottest furnace of divine vengeance, and by his bloud to quench the wrath of Heaven flaming out a­gainst iniquity; he was to stand (as it were) before the mouth of Hell, belching fire and brimstone on his face: his grief was to supply the de­fects of our remorse, and his suffe­ring in those few moments to coun­tervail the eternal torments due to us: He was to bear the hiding of God's [Page 255] face, and an eclipse of that favourable aspect in which all bliss doth reside; a case which he that so perfectly un­derstood, could not but infinitely re­sent: these things with the clearest apprehension he saw coming on him; and no wonder that our nature star­ted at so ghastly a sight; or that hu­mane instinct should dictate that pe­tition, Father if thou wilt, let this cup pass from me; words implying his most real participation of our infir­mity; words denoting the height of those sad evils which encompassed him with his lively and lowly resent­ment of them; words informing us, how we should entertain God's cha­stisements, and whence we must seek relief of our pressures (that we should receive them, not with a scornfull neglect or sullen insensibility, but with a meek contrition of soul; that we should entirely depend on God's pleasure for support under them, or a releasement from them) words which, in conjunction with those following, do shew how instantly we should quash and over-rule any insurrection of natural desire against the command [Page 256] or providence of God. We must not take that prayer to signifie any pur­pose in our Lord to shift off his pas­sion, or any wavering in resolution about it; for he could not any-wise mean to undoe that, which he knew done with God before the world's foundation; he would not unsettle that, which was by his own free un­dertaking, and irreversible decree; He that so often with satisfaction did [...], Luk. 22. 15. foretell this event, who with so ear­nest desire longed for its approach; who with that sharpness of indignati­on did rebuke his friend offering to divert him from it; who did again repress St. Peter's animosity with that serious expostulation, The cup which Joh. 18. 11. my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it? who had advisedly laid such trains for its accomplishment, would he decline it? Could that heart all burning with zeal for God and chari­ty to men admit the least thought or motion of averseness from drinking that cup, which was the Sovereign medicine administred by divine wise­dom for the recovery of God's Crea­tion? No; had he spake with such Matt. 26. 53. [Page 257] intent, legions of Angels had flown to his rescue; that word, which fra­med the worlds, which stilled the tempests, which ejected Devils, would immediately have scattered his ene­mies, and dashed all their projects a­gainst him; wherefore those words did not proceed from intention, but as from instinct, and for instruction; importing, that what our humane frailty was apt to suggest, that his divine vertue was more ready to smother; neither did he vent the for­mer, but that he might express the latter.

He did express it in real effect; immediately with all readiness ad­dressing himself to receive that unsa­vory potion; he reached out his hand for it, yielding fair opportunity and advantages to his persecutours; he lifted it up to his mouth, innocently provoking their envy and malice, he drank it off with a most steady calm­ness, and sweet composure of mind, with the silence, the simplicity, the meekness of a lamb, carried to the slaughter; no fretfull thought rising up, no angry word breaking forth, [Page 258] but a clear patience, enlivened with a warm charity, shining in all his be­haviour, and through every circum­stance of his passion.

Such in his life, such at his death was the practice of our Lord; in con­formity whereto we also readily should undertake whatever God proposeth, we gladly should accept whatever God offereth, we vigorously should perform whatever God enjoineth, we patiently should undergo whatever God imposeth or inflicteth, how cross soever any duty, any dispensation may prove to our carnal sense or hu­mour.

To doe thus, the contemplation of this example may strongly engage us: for if our Lord had not his will, can we in reason expect, can we in mo­desty desire to have ours? must we be cockered and pleased in every thing, whenas he was treated so coursely, and crossed in all things? can we grutch at any kind of service, or suf­ferance; can we think much (for our trial, our exercise, our correcti­on) to bear a little want, a little dis­grace, a little pain, when the Son of [Page 259] God was put to discharge the hardest tasks, to endure the sorest adversi­ties?

But farther to enforce these duties, be pleased to cast a glance on two considerations. 1. What the will is to which, 2. Who the willer is to whom we must submit.

1. What is the will of God? is it any thing unjust, unworthy, or disho­nourable, any thing incommodious or hurtfull, any thing extremely difficult, or intolerably grievous that God re­quireth of us, to doe or bear? No: he willeth nothing from us, or to us, which doth not best become us, and most behove us; which is not atten­ded with safety, with ease, with the solidest profit, the fairest reputation, and the sweetest pleasure.

Two things he willeth, that we should be good, and that we should be happy; the first in order to the second, for that vertue is the certain way, and a necessary qualification to felicity.

The will of God, saith St. Paul, is 1 Thess. 4. 3. our sanctification; what is that? what, but that the decays of our frame, and [Page 260] the defacements of God's image with­in us should be repaired; that the fa­culties of our Soul should be restored to their original integrity and vigour; that from most wretched slaveries we should be translated into a happy free­dom, yea, into a glorious kingdom; that from despicable beggary and base­ness we should be advanced to sub­stantial wealth, and sublime dignity; that we should be cleansed from the foulest desilements, and decked with the goodliest ornaments; that we should be cured of most loathsome diseases, and settled in a firm health of soul; that we should be delivered from those brutish lusts, and those de­vilish passions, which create in us a hell of darkness, of consusion, of vex­ation; which dishonour our nature, deform our soul, ruffle our mind, and wrack our conscience; that we should be endowed with those worthy dis­positions and affections, which do con­stitute in our hearts a heaven of light, of order, of joy and peace; dignifie our nature, beautifie our soul, clarifie and chear our mind; that we should eschew those practices, which never [Page 261] go without a retinue of wofull mis­chiefs and sorrows, embracing those which always yield abundant fruits of convenience and comfort; that in short, we should become friends of God, fit to converse with Angels, and capable of paradise.

God (saith St. Paul again) willeth 1 Tim. 2. 7. all men to be saved; He willeth not 2 Pet. 3. 9. (saith St. Peter) that any man should perish; He saith it himself, yea, he sweareth it, that he hath no plea­sure Ezek. 33. 11c in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked should turn from his way and live: And what is this will? what, but that we should obtain all the good whereof we are capable; that we should be filled with joy, and crowned with glory; that we should be fixed in an immovable state of happiness, in the perpetual enjoyment of God's favour, and in the light of his blissfull presence: that we should be rid of all the evils, to which we are liable; that we should be released from inextri­cable cable chains of guilt, from incurable stings of remorse, from being irreco­verably engaged to pass a disconsolate [Page 262] eternity in utter darkness, and ex­treme woe? Such is God's will; to such purposes every command, every dispensation of God (how grim, how rough soever it may seem) doth tend: and do we refuse to comply with that good will; do we set against it a will of our own, affecting things unwor­thy of us, things unprofitable to us, things prejudicial to our best interests; things utterly banefull to our souls? Do we reject the will that would save us, and adhere to a will that would ruine us; a foolish and a senseless will, which slighting the immense treasures of Heaven, the unfading glories of God's Kingdom, the ineffable joys of eternity doth catch at specious no­things, doth pursue mischievous tri­fles; a shadow of base profit, a smoak of vain honour, a flash of sordid plea­sure; which passeth away like the mirth of fools, or the crackling of Eccles. 7. 6. thorns, leaving onely foot, black and bitter behind it?

But at least e'er we doe thus, let us consider, whose will it is, that re­quireth our compliance.

[Page 263] It is the will of Him, whose will Psal. 148. 5. did found the earth and rear the hea­vens; Apoc. 4. 11. whose will sustaineth all things in their existence and operation; whose will is the great law of the world, which universal nature in all its motions doth observe; which reigneth in heaven, the blessed Spirits adoring it, which swayeth in hell it self, the cursed Fiends trembling at it; And shall we alone (we pitifull worms, crawling on earth) presume to murmure, or dare to kick against it?

It is the will of our Maker, who together with all our other faculties did create and confer on us the very power of willing: and shall we turn the work of his hands, the gift of his bounty against him?

It is the will of our Preserver, who together with all that we are or have, continually doth uphold our very will it self; so that without employing any positive force, merely by letting us fall out of his hand, he can send us and it back to nothing: and shall our will clash with that, on which it so wholly dependeth; without which [Page 264] it cannot subsist one moment, or move one step forward in action?

It is the will of our sovereign Lord, who upon various indisputable ac­counts hath a just right to govern us, and an absolute power to dispose of us: ought we not therefore to say with old Eli, It is the Lord, let him 1 Sam. 3. 8. doe to me as it seemeth good to him? Is it not extreme iniquity, is it not monstrous arrogance for us, in dero­gation to his will, to pretend giving law, or picking a station to our selves? Do we not manifestly incur high trea­son against the King of Heaven by so invading his office, usurping his au­thority, snatching his sceptre into our hands, and setting our wills in his throne?

It is the will of our Judge, from whose mouth our doom must proceed, awarding life or death, weal or woe unto us; and what sentence can we expect, what favour can we pretend to, if we presumptuously shall offend, oppose that will, which is the su­preme rule of justice, and sole foun­tain of mercy?

[Page 265] It is the will of our Redeemer; who hath bought us with an inesti­mable price, and with infinite pains hath rescued us from miserable capti­vity under most barbarous enemies, that obeying his will we might com­mand our own, and serving him we might enjoy perfect freedom; And shall we, declining his call and con­duct out of that unhappy state, be­reave him of his purchase, frustrate his undertakings, and sorfeit to our selves the benefit of so great redemp­tion?

It is the will of our best Friend; who loveth us much better than we do love our selves; who is concerned for our welfare as his own dearest interest, and greatly delighteth there­in; who by innumerable experiments hath demonstrated an excess of kind­ness to us; who in all his dealings with us purely doth aim at our good, never charging any duty on us, or dispensing any event to us, so much with intent to exercise his power o­ver us, as to express his goodness to­ward us; who never doth afflict or Lam. 3. 39. grieve us more against our will than [Page 266] against his own desire; never indeed but when goodness it self calleth for it, and even mercy doth urge there­to; to whom we are much obliged, that he vouchsafeth to govern and guide us, our service being altogether unprofitable to him, his governance exceedingly beneficial to us: And doth not such a will deserve regard, may it not demand compliance from us? to neglect or infringe it, what is it; is it not palpable folly, is it not foul disingenuity, is it not detestable ingratitude?

So doth every relation of God re­commend his will to us; and each of his attributes doth no less: for,

It is the will of him, who is most holy, or whose will is essential recti­tude: how then can we thwart it, without being stained with the guilt, and wounded with a sense of great ir­regularity and iniquity?

It is the will of him, who is per­fectly just; who therefore cannot but assert his own righteous will, and a­venge the violation thereof: is it then advisable to drive him to that point by wilfull provocation; or to run [Page 267] upon the edge of necessary severity?

It is the will of him, who is infi­nitely wise; who therefore doth in­fallibly know what is best for us, what doth most besit our capacities and circumstances; what in the final result will conduce to our greatest advantage and comfort: shall we then prefer the dreams of our vain mind before the oracles of his wisedom; shall we, forsaking the direction of his unerring will, follow the impulse of our giddy humour?

It is the will of him, who is im­mensely good and benign; whose will therefore can be no other than good will to us; who can mean nothing thereby but to derive bounty and mercy on us: Can we then fail of doing well, if we put our selves en­tirely into his hands; are we not our own greatest enemies, in withstan­ding his gratious intentions?

It is finally the will of him, who is uncontrollably powerfull; whose will therefore must prevail one way or other: either with our will, or against it, either so as to bow and satisfie us, or so as to break and plague us: for, [Page 268] My counsel (saith he) shall stand, and Isa. 46. 11. I will doe all my pleasure. As to his dispensations, we may fret, we may wail, we may bark at them, but we cannot alter or avoid them: sooner may we by our moans check the tides, or by our cries stop the Sun in his carriere, than divert the cur­rent of affairs, or change the state of things established by God's high de­cree; what he layeth on, no hand can remove; what he hath destined, no power can reverse; our anger therefore will be ineffectual, our im­patience will have no other fruit than to aggravate our guilt, and augment our grief.

As to his commands, we may lift Dan. 5. 23. up our selves against them, we may fight stoutly, we may in a sort prove Conquerours; but it will be a mise­rable Victory, the Trophies whereof shall be erected in Hell, and stand upon the ruines of our happiness; for while we insult over abused grace, we must fall under incensed justice: If God cannot fairly procure his will of us in way of due obedience, he will surely execute his will upon us in way of [Page 269] righteous vengeance; if we do not surrender our wills to the overtures of his goodness, we must submit our backs to the stroaks of his anger: He must reign over us, if not as over loyal Subjects to our comfort, yet as over stubborn Rebels to our confusi­on; for this in that case will be our doom, and the last words God will design to spend upon us, Those mine Luk. 19. 27. enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring them hither, and slay them before me.

Now the God of peace, that brought a­gain Heb. 13. 20. from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the bloud of the everlasting Covenant, make you perfect in every good work to doe his will, working in you that which is well pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever:

Amen.

FINIS.

A Catalogue of Books and Ser­mons, Writ by the Reverend Dr. Tillotson, Dean of Canterbury. Viz.

1. SErmons Preached upon several Occasions in two Volumes in Octavo.

2. The Rule of Faith, &c.

3. A Sermon Preached on the 5th. of November, 1678. at St. Margarets Westminster, before the Honourable House of Commons, upon St. Luke 9. 55, 56. But he turned, and rebuked them, and said, Ye know not what man­ner of Spirit ye are of; For the Son of man is not come to destroy mens lives, but to save them.

4. A Sermon Preached at the first General Meeting of the Gentlemen and others in and near London, who were Born within the County of York. Upon John 13. 34, 35. A new Com­mandment I give unto you, that ye love one another, &c.

5. A Sermon Preached before the King, at White hall, April 4th. 1679, upon 1 John 4. 1. Beloved, believe not every Spirit, but try the Spirits whether they are of God, &c.

[Page] 6. A Sermon Preached before the King, at White-hall, April 2d. 1680, upon Joshua 24. 15. If it seem evil un­to you to serve the Lord, chuse ye this day whom ye will serve.

7. The Lawfulness, and Obligati­on of Oaths: A Sermon Preached at the Assizes held at Kingstone upon Thames, July 21. 1681, upon Heb. 6. 16. And an Oath for Confirmation is to them an end of all Strife.

8. A Sermon Preached at the Fu­neral of the Reverend Mr. Thomas Gouge, November 4th. 1681, with an account of his Life, upon Luke 20. 37, 38. Now that the Dead are raised, even Moses shewed at the bush, &c.

9. A Persuasive to Frequent Com­munion in the Holy Sacrament of the Lord's Supper, Preached in two Ser­mons upon 1 Cor. 11. 26, 27, 28. For as oft as ye eat this Bread, and drink this Cup, ye do shew the Lord's Death till he come, &c.

10. A Sermon Preached at the Funeral of the Reverend Benjamin Whichcot, D. D. and Minister of Saint Lawrence Jewry, London, May 24th. 1683, upon 2 Cor. 5. 6. Wherefore we [Page] are always confident, knowing that whilst we are at home in the body we are ab­sent from the Lord.

11. A Discourse against Transub­stantiation.

THE WORKS of the Learned Dr. Isaac Barrow, late Master of Trinity College in Cambridge: Publi­shed by the Reverend Dr. Tillotson, Dean of Canterbury: in two Volumes in Folio.

The first containing Thirty two Sermons, preached upon several Oc­casions; an Exposition of the Lord's Prayer and the Decalogue; a Learned Treatise of the Pope's Supremacy, a Discourse concerning the Unity of the Church: also some Account of the Life of the Authour, with Alphabeti­cal Tables.

The Second Volume containing Sermons and Expositions upon all the Apostles Creed: with an Alphabetical Table; and to which may be also ad­ded the Life of the Authour.

Of Contentment, Patience and Re­signation to the Will of God: By Isaac Barrow, D. D.

All Printed for Brabazon Aylmer.

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