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Neither must we forget that the believer feels himself to be an habitual pensioner on the Lord's mercy and bounty. He owns that he has no resources in himself: he can neither earn nor buy any thing, but indeed owes an immense debt of which he cannot pay the smallest part. He sues continually for pardon, through the sacrifice of the divine Redeemer, who bare the wrath due to our sins, that his salvation might consist with the honour of the law and government of God: and he is a constant suppliant at the mercy-seat of his offended Sovereign, expecting invaluable blessings from his royal bounty. He lives by faith; "Christ " is made of God to him wisdom, righteousness, "sanctification, and redemption." From his fulness his wants are continually supplied; and he experiences that his prayers are answered, his strength renewed, his hope encouraged, and his heart comforted, by "waiting upon the Lord." And shall a criminal thus favoured be dissatisfied? If he yield to murmurs or impatience under the common troubles of life, his inconsistency can only be equalled by his glaring ingratitude.
"Being justified by faith, we have peace with "God through our Lord Jesus Christ." When thus reconciled, we are admitted into a covenant of friendship; " and truly our fellowship is with "the Father and the Son." In proportion to our faith we enjoy peace of conscience, and the privilege of bringing all our cares, fears, sorrows, wants, and temptations to him by humble prayer; "casting all our care on him who careth for us." We become interested in all " the exceeding great and "precious promises" of the gospel, and that oath
by which the new covenant is confirmed, in order "that we might have a strong consolation, who "have fled for refuge to lay hold on the hope set "before us." We are assured, "that all things "work together for good to them that love God, "who are the called according to his purpose:" and these considerations must powerfully tend to produce inward tranquillity, and that " "God which passeth all understanding."
At the same time the godly man, in the exercise of faith, sees and acknowledges the hand of God in all the events of life. While we employ our thoughts on men or second causes, we become fretful and peevish: but when we view trials and injuries as the appointment of God, and realize his wisdom, righteousness, and truth in them, our hearts are rendered quiet and submissive. "It is the Lord, let him do what seemeth him good." "The Lord gave and the Lord hath "taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord." "The cup which my Father hath given me, shall "I not drink it?" Such are the effects of regarding our abode, provision, employment, and even our crosses and sorrows, as appointed by our reconciled Father; and welcoming them as salutary medicines, or necessary though painful operations, intended for our highest advantage. Nor is this exercise of faith ever wholly separated from the happy experience, that our confidence is warranted, and our expectations answered; for in numerous instances we find those things, which seemed most against us, eventually conducive to our present comfort and future advantage.
It would engage us too long to pursue the sub
ject into its various particulars. Reverential fear, admiring love, spiritual worship, well regulated passions, holy affections, with every hope and earnest of heavenly felicity, might easily be shewn to promote genuine permanent contentment.-On the contrary, whatever men may pretend or imagine, "the wicked are like the troubled sea, when "it cannot rest, whose waters cast forth mire and "dirt. There is no peace saith my God for the "wicked." Poets and novelists have beautifully described contentment, and have often charmed their admirers into a momentary oblivion of their sorrows but this has made way for subsequent dissatisfaction with every situation and employment in real life. And all men of information know very well, that many of those very writers have rankled with envy and discontent, because the public has not rewarded their ingenuity with liberality proportioned to their self-estimation!The citizen fancies that contentment dwells in rural obscurity; the rustic concludes that it may be found in the splendour and pleasures of the metropolis. Courtiers pretend to think that this pleasing companion is inseparable from retirement: the poor erroneously imagine that it may be found in palaces. Britons amuse themselves with descriptions of Arcadian groves: the Arcadians would probably conclude that none are so happy as the inhabitants of this favoured isle. But pride, ambition, an uneasy conscience, resentment, disproportionate or disappointed expectation, the insipidity of enjoyment when novelty ceases, the common troubles of life, and the dread of death, render men dissatisfied and uneasy in every place
and station from the throne to the cottage. They who have it in their power are continually shifting from one place and pursuit to another; and such as are excluded from this privilege envy, grudge, and murmur. The world resembles a number of people in a fever, who relish nothing, are always restless, and try by incessant change of place or posture to escape from their uneasy sensations; but all their efforts are in vain. Does not this single consideration prove, that godliness is the health of the soul, and that without it there can be no abiding contentment?
II. Then we inquire, in what respects godliness with contentment is great gain.
There are certain ends, for which especially men desire riches. They suppose the coveted acquisition would add to their present comfort: secure them against many future disasters; furnish materials for future enjoyment; prove an advantage to their children; enable them to confer benefits on their friends and relatives; and put it in their power to be extensively useful. Perhaps all the reasons, for which men pursue riches, may be referred to these heads: for when avarice becomes so extreme, that money is coveted without any regard to its use, it degenerates into a kind of deplorable insanity.
But it may easily be shewn that "godliness with " contentment" answers every one of these purposes far better than any increase of wealth. The wisest of men, who perhaps also was the wealthiest, says experimentally, "when goods increase, they "are increased that eat them: and what good is "there to the owners thereof, saving the beholding
"of them with their eyes?" It is undeniable
Nor does the rich man enjoy any pleasure with higher relish than formerly: he soon loses the exhilaration of new acquisitions and improvements: he has less to hope and more to fear than other men his abundance and leisure often excite him to improper indulgences: his situation feeds the distemper of his soul; and in proportion as wicked passions predominate true enjoyment languishes. Something unpossessed, or unattainable, still makes him exclaim, "All this availeth me nothing:" "Mordecai will not bow to me:" "Naboth will "not sell me his vineyard!" while the attempt to obtain the coveted object, or revenge the