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this frame of mind, we cannot sincerely make those confessions and supplications, or present those sacrifices of praise and thanksgiving, which are peculiar to Christianity. Now every reflecting man must perceive, that deep humility, accompanied with cheering hope, exceedingly tends to produce contentment. A vast proportion of the impatience and fretfulness of mankind results from a false estimate of their own merits and consequence. This induces them to consider their trials great, their comforts few and trivial, the least affront intolerable, and every kind and degree of respect inadequate, except unqualified adulation and submission. But such views of Jehovah and the adoring seraphim, as filled Isaiah with self-abasement; or such apprehensions of the divine majesty, as caused Job to "abhor himself, " and repent in dust and ashes;" would give them very different views in these respects. Did they enter into the feelings of the apostle, when he called himself the "chief of sinners," and "less than "the least of all saints;" were they ready to own with the centurion, "Lord, I am not worthy that "thou shouldest come under my roof;" or with John Baptist, "I am not worthy to loose his shoe" latchet;" a total revolution would take place in all their sentiments and sensations about outward comforts and trials, and the usage they meet with from those around them. The sharpest affliction would then appear light and momentary, compared with their deserts; the meanest provision would be received with lively gratitude; while with the patriarch they confessed, "we are not "worthy of the least of all thy mercies:" the most
unfavourable situation or disagreeable employment would be considered as better than they have a right to expect: and under the greatest injuries or affronts they would submit to the justice of God, who may correct or punish by whatever instruments he pleases.
Humble thoughts of themselves reconcile men to obscure stations, mean circumstances, and common occupations, as most suited to them: and, when they are evidently called to more public services, they enter on them with reluctance and diffidence; except as lively faith renders them superior to their fears, and a sense of duty engages them to proceed. Such men are ready to stoop, and "in honour to prefer others;" they do not complain of being buried in situations, where they are undervalued or neglected. They "think so"berly of themselves, and as they ought to think;" and this secures them from manifold disappointments and vexations, to which other men are exposed. That, it has been said, 'will break a proud 'man's heart, which will scarcely break a humble 'man's sleep :' and it is certain that many of the troubles of life affect our peace almost in exact proportion to the degree of our pride or humility. The common opinion, therefore, that self-abasement produces melancholy, and that a favourable opinion of ourselves tends to cheerfulness, is an egregious mistake. The former may indeed depress the spirits, when connected with misapprehension, ignorance, and unbelief; and the latter may produce a flow of agreeable sensations, when nothing occurs to ruffle the mind. Such a state, however, is so seldom to be expected in this chang
ing world, and amidst the mortifications to which self-sufficiency exposes men; that the cheerfulness depending on it must be extremely precarious: while patience, meekness, hope in God, and humble gratitude evidently conduce to an uniform composure and serenity; the direct contrast to disappointed pride and ambition, rankling resentment, sickening envy, and rebellious murmurs.
Even godly sorrow for sin, when accompanied with a humble hope of mercy, produces a tender pleasure, a melting sweetness, a serious joy, a heart-felt satisfaction; which far exceed the utmost refinements of sinful indulgence. Repentance itself, which men postpone under the notion that it is the bane of comfort, is the source of the purest and most permanent rejoicing; and the true Christian must consider those seasons, in which, melted into contrition for his sins, he sowed the seed of his future harvest with penitent tears, as but little removed from the happiest hours of his life.
Faith likewise, which in its varied exercises constitutes a most important part of evangelical godliness, is intimately connected with contentment. As" the evidence of things not seen," it sets before us the holy heart-searching God, and causes us to speak and act as in his immediate presence. This powerfully tends to calm our tumultuous passions, to awe our souls into adoring submission, and to encourage confidence and humble expectation. Faith descries an invisible world, and places us on the verge of eternity, as about to launch into that boundless ocean. With this prospect before us, the concerns of time shrink into insignificancy: and all that disparity of rank
or fortune, which subsists among dying men, and about which their contests, cares, and discontents are principally excited, appear like a fleeting dream, a pageant passing over the stage. Our trials also are perceived to be transient and unimportant: we feel it to be a weakness and folly greatly to disquiet ourselves about such trifles; and discover that our wisdom consists in being careful to discharge our duty, while on our pilgrimage. So that, if "we looked more to the "things which are not seen," and less to "the "things which are seen," we should certainly become more satisfied with our lot, and less anxious about our temporal provision.
Faith beholds especially the unseen Saviour; and, crediting the sure testimony of God, contemplates him in all the scenes of his life and death. And, whether we look to the stable and manger at Bethlehem; to the cottage and carpenter's shop at Nazareth; or to the well in Samaria, where Jesus wearied with his journey sat down at noon and craved a draught of water: whether we follow him to the desert, where he was "a hungered" while tempted by the devil; to the field, where with up-lifted hands and eyes he gave thanks for the barley bread and small fishes; or to the meals which he and his disciples may be supposed to have made on the broken fragments of that humble feast or whether we meditate on his general poverty, who" had not where to lay his head;" his scanty maintenance, at one time earned with the sweat of his brow, at another received as the alms of his followers; every object may teach us, "in whatever state we are therewith to be content."
If we turn our thoughts to the contradiction, contempt, and insult, the injustice and cruelty, to which he voluntarily submitted; to the patience, meekness, serenity, and love which he manifested; or to the glorious event of his sufferings and death; we may, in every one of these reflections, as it were, hear him say, "Is it nothing to you all ye "that pass by? Was ever sorrow like unto my sorrow?" Nor can we select one scene which does not most powerfully inculcate resignation, contentment, and thankfulness, whatever our circumstances and difficulties may be. For who has meaner provision, or is more injuriously treated, than the holy one of God, the spotless sacrifice for our numberless transgressions?
Faith receives also the instruction of scripture, concerning the necessity, nature, and glory of the Redeemer's undertaking, and obedience unto death upon the cross: and this suggests further motives to humble submission, admiring gratitude, and cheerful acquiescence in the will of God. The worth of our immortal souls, the evil and desert of sin, our ruined condition as sinners, and the unavailing nature of all earthly possessions or distinctions, with various other interesting subjects, are most emphatically enforced by Emmanuel's cross. Thus, while induced to use every means of securing our salvation; we cannot but grow more indifferent to subordinate interests, and better satisfied with a low and afflicted condition. In this school St. Paul learned contentment amidst his multiplied sufferings: yet, were we placed in his situation we should have far better reasons for our dissatisfaction, than we have been hitherto able to allege.