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Reasons pressing to Holy Contentment.

Having opened the nature of contentment, I come next to lay down some reasons or arguments to contentment, which may preponderate with us.

The first is, God’s precept. It is charged upon us as a duty: “be content with such things as you have.” (He. 13. 5) The same God, who hath bid us believe, hath bid us be content: if we obey not, we run ourselves into a spiritual premunire. God’s word is a sufficient warrant; it hath authority in it, and must be a supersedeas, or sacred spell to discontent. Ipse dixit was enough among Pythagoras’s scholars: “be it enacted,” is the royal style. God’s word must be the star that guides, and his will the weight that moves our obedience; his will is a law, and hath majesty enough in it to captivate us into obedience; our hearts must not be more unquiet than the raging sea, which at his word is stilled.

The second reason enforcing contentment, is, God’s promise: for he hath said “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” (He. 13. 5) Here God hath engaged himself, under hand and seal for our necessary provisions. If a king should say to one of his subjects, I will take care of thee; as long as I have any crown-revenues, thou shalt be provided for; if thou art in danger, I will secure thee, — if in want, I will supply thee; would not that subject be content? Behold, God hath here made promise to the believer, and as it were entered into bond for his security, “I will never leave thee;” shall not this charm down the devil of discontent: “Leave thy fatherless children with me, I will preserve them alive.” (Jer. 49. 11) Methinks I see the godly man on his death-bed much discontented, and hear him complaining what will become of my wife and children when I am dead and gone? They may come to poverty: saith God, “trouble not thyself, be content, I will take care of thy children; and let thy widow trust in me.” God hath made a promise to us, that he will not leave us, and hath entailed the promise upon our wife and children; and will not this satisfy? True faith will take God’s single bond, without calling for witnesses.

Be content, by virtue of a decree. Whatever our condition be, God the umpire of the world hath from everlasting decreed that condition for us, and by his providence ordered all appurtenances thereunto. Let a Christian often think with himself, who hath placed me here, whether I am in a high sphere, or in a lower. Not chance or fortune, as the purblind heathens imagined; no, it is the wise God that hath by his providence fixed me in this orb. We must act that scene which God would have us; say not, such an one hath occasioned this to me; look not too much at the under-wheel. We read in Ezekiel, of a “wheel within a wheel.” (Ez. 1. 16) God’s decree is the cause of the turning of the wheels, and his providence is the inner-wheels that move all the rest. God’s providence is that helm which turns about the whole ship of the universe. Say then, as holy David, “I was dumb, I opened not my mouth, because thou, Lord, didst it.” (Ps. 39. 9) God’s providence, which is nothing else but the carrying on of his decree, should be a counterpoise against discontent; God hath set us in our station, and he hath done it in wisdom. We fancy such a condition of life is good for us; whereas if we were our own carvers, we should often cut the worst piece. Lot, being put to his choice did choose Sodom, which soon after was burned with fire. Rachel was very desirous of children, “give me children or I die,” and it cost her her life in bringing forth a child. Abraham was earnest for Ishmael, “O that Ishmael might live before thee!” but he had little comfort either of him or his seed; he was born a son of strife, his hand was against every man, and every man’s hand against him. The disciples wept for Christ’s leaving the world, they chose his corporeal presence: whereas it was best for them that Christ should be gone, for else “the comforter would not come.” (Jno. 16. 7) David chose the life of his child, “he wept and fasted for it;” (2 Sam. 12. 16) whereas if the child had lived, it would have been a perpetual monument of his shame. We stand oft in our own light; if we should sort, or parcel out our own comforts, we should hit upon the wrong. Is it not well for the child, that the parent doth choose for it? were it left to itself, it would perhaps choose a knife to cut its own finger. A man in a paroxysm calls for wine, which if he had, it were little better than poison; it is well for the patient, that he is at the physician’s appointment. The consideration of a decree determining, and a providence disposing of all things that fall out, should work our hearts to holy contentment. The wise God hath ordered our condition; if he sees it better for us to abound, we shall abound; if he sees it better for us to want, we shall want; be content to be at God’s disposal.

God sees, in his infinite wisdom, the same condition is not convenient for all; that which is good for one, may be bad for another; one season of weather will not serve all men’s occasions, one needs sunshine, another rain; one condition of life will not fit every man, no more than one suit of apparel will fit every body; prosperity is not fit for all, nor yet adversity. If one man be brought low, perhaps he can bear it better; he hath a greater stock of grace, more faith and patience; he can “gather grapes of thorns”, pick some comfort out of the cross: every one cannot do this. Another man is seated in an eminent place of dignity; he is fitter for it; perhaps it is a place that requires more parts of judgment, which every one is not capable of; perhaps he can use his estate better, he hath a public heart as well as a public place. The wise God sees that condition to be bad for one, which is good for another; hence it is he placeth men in different orbs and spheres; some higher, some lower. One man desires health, God sees sickness is better for him; God will work health out of sickness, by bringing the body of death, into a consumption. Another man desires liberty, God sees restraint better for him; he will work his liberty by restraint; when his feet are bound, his heart shall be most enlarged. Did we believe this, it would give a check to the sinful disputes and cavils of our hearts: shall I be discontented at that which is enacted by a decree, and ordered by a providence? Is this to be a child or a rebel?

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