The Art of Divine Contentment

by Thomas Watson

(part 2)

Divine MOTIVES to Contentment.

I. Consider the EXCELLENCY of contentment. Contentment is a flower which does not grow in every garden. You would think it were excellent if I could prescribe a remedy or antidote against poverty. Behold, here is that which is more excellent, for a man to be poor—and yet have enough! Contentment teaches a man how to abound—in the midst of poverty. Contentment is a remedy against all our trouble, an alleviation to all our burdens, the cure of to every worry. Contentment, though it be not properly a grace (it is rather a disposition of mind,) yet in it there is a happy mixture of all the graces: it is a most precious compound, which is made up of faith, patience, meekness, humility, etc. which are the ingredients put into it. Now there are these seven rare excellencies in contentment.

First excellency. A contented Christian carries heaven with him. For, what is heaven—but that sweet repose and full contentment that the soul shall have in God. In contentment there are the first-fruits of heaven. There are two things in a contented spirit, which make it like heaven.

(1.) God is there; something of God is to be seen in that heart. A discontented Christian is like a rough tempestuous sea; when the water is rough you can see nothing there; but when it is smooth and serene, then you may behold your face in the water. (Proverbs 27:19) When the heart rages through discontent, it is like a rough sea, you can see nothing there, unless it is passion and murmuring; there is nothing of God, nothing of heaven in that heart! But by virtue of contentment, the heart becomes like the sea when it is smooth and calm, there is a face shining there; you may see something of Christ in that heart, a representation of all the graces.

(2.) Rest and peace are there. O what a peace is kept in a contented heart! What a heaven! A contented Christian, is like Noah in the ark; though the ark was tossed with waves, Noah could sit and sing in the ark. The soul that is gotten into the ark of contentment, sits quiet, and sails above all the waves of trouble; he can sing in this spiritual ark. The wheels of the chariot move—but the axle stirs not; the circumference of the heavens is carried about the earth—but the earth moves not out of its center. When we meet with motion and change in the creatures round about us, a contented spirit is not stirred nor moved out of its center. The sails of a mill move with the wind—but the mill itself stands still, an emblem of contentment; when our outward estate moves with the wind of providence—yet the heart is settled through holy contentment; and when others are shaking and trembling in times of trouble, the contented spirit can say, as David, "O God my heart is fixed!" (Psalm 57:7) What is this, but a piece of heaven?

Second excellency. Whatever is defective in the creature, is made up in contentment. A Christian may lack the comforts that others have—the land, and possessions; but God has instilled into his heart that contentment which is far better: in this sense that saying of our Savior is true, "he shall receive a hundred fold." (Mat. 19:29) Perhaps he who ventured all for Christ, never has his house or land again: yes—but God gives him a contented spirit, and this breeds such joy in the soul, as is infinitely sweeter than all his houses and lands which he left for Christ.

It was sad with David in regard of his outward comforts, he being driven from his kingdom; yet in regard of that sweet contentment he found in God, he had more comfort than men have in the time of harvest and vintage. (Psalm 4:7) One man has house and lands to live upon, another has nothing, only a small trade; yet even that brings in a livelihood. A Christian may have little in the world—but he drives the trade of contentment; and so he knows as well how to lack, as to abound. O the rare art, or rather miracle of contentment!

Wicked men are often disquieted in the enjoyment of all things. But the contented Christian is joyful in the lack of all things! But how does a Christian come to be contented in the deficiency of outward comforts? A Christian finds contentment distilled out of the breasts of the promises. He is poor in purse—but rich in promise. There is one promise that brings much sweet contentment into the soul: "Those who seek the Lord shall not lack any good thing." (Psalm 34:10) If the thing we desire is good for us—we shall have it. If it is not good, then the not having is good for us. The resting satisfied with the promise gives contentment.

Third excellency. Contentment makes a man in tune to serve God. It oils the wheels of the soul and makes it more agile and nimble; it composes the heart, and makes it fit for prayer, meditation, etc. How can he who is in a passion of grief, or discontent, "attend upon the Lord without distraction?" Contentment prepares and tunes the heart. First you prepare the violin, and wind up the strings, before you play a score of music. Just so, when a Christian's heart is wound up to this heavenly frame of contentment, then it is fit for duty. A discontented Christian is like Saul, when the evil spirit came upon him—O what jarrings and discords does he make in prayer! When an army is put into a disorder, then it is not fit for battle; when the thoughts are scattered and distracted about the cares of this life, a man is not fit for devotion. Discontent takes the heart wholly off from God, and fixes it upon the present trouble, so that a man's mind is not upon his prayer—but upon his trouble. Discontent disjoints the soul; and it is impossible now that a Christian should go so steadily and cheerfully in God's service. O how lame is his devotion!

The discontented person gives God but a half-duty, and his religion is nothing but an external exercise, it lacks a soul to animate it. David would not offer that to God that cost him nothing." (2 Sa. 24:24) Where there is too much worldly care, there is too little spiritual cost in a duty. The discontented person does his duties by halves; he is just like Ephraim, "a cake not turned;" (Ho. 7:8) he is a cake baked on one side; he gives God the outside but not the spiritual part; his heart is not in duty; he is baked on one side—but the other side dough; and what profit is there of such raw undigested services? He who gives God only the skin of worship, what can he expect more than the shell of comfort? Contentment brings the heart into frame, and only then, do we give God the flower and soul of a duty, when the soul is composed. Now a Christian's heart is intent and serious. There are some duties which we cannot perform as we ought, without contentment, such as:

(1.) To rejoice in God. How can he rejoice—who is discontented? he is fitter for repining, than rejoicing.

(2.) To be thankful for mercy. Can a discontented person be thankful? He can be fretful, not thankful.

(3.) To justify God in his proceedings. How can he do this who is discontented with his condition? he will sooner censure God's wisdom, than clear his justice. O then, how excellent is contentment, which does prepare, and as it were, string the heart for duty? Indeed contentment does not only make our duties light and agile—but acceptable to God. It is this that puts beauty and worth into them; for contentment settles the soul. Now, as it is with milk, when it is always stirring, you can make nothing of it—but let it settle a while, and then it turns to cream: when the heart is overmuch stirred with disquiet and discontent, you can make nothing of those duties. How thin, how fleeting and tedious are they! but when the heart is once settled by holy contentment, now there is some worth in our duties, now they turn to cream.

Fourth excellency. Contentment is the spiritual pillar of the soul. It fits a man to bear burdens. He who has a contented heart—is invincible under sufferings. A contented Christian is like the camomile, the more it is trodden upon—the more it grows. As medicine works disease out of the body—so does contentment work trouble out of the heart. Thus it argues, "if I am under reproach, God can vindicate me; if I am in need, God can relieve me." "You shall not see wind, neither shall you see rain—yet the valley shall be filled with water." (2 Ki. 3:17) Thus holy contentment keeps the heart from fainting.

In the autumn, when the fruit and leaves are blown off, still there is sap in the root. Just so, when there is an autumn upon our external felicity, the leaves of our estate drop off—still there is the sap of contentment in the heart. A Christian has life inwardly, when his outward comforts do not blossom. The contented heart is never out of heart.

Contentment is the golden shield, which beats back all discouragements. Humility is like the lead to the net—which keeps the soul down when it is rising through passion; and contentment is like the cork in the net—which keeps the heart up when it is sinking through discouragements. Contentment is the great under-prop; it is like the steel beam, which bears whatever weight is laid upon it; nay, it is like a rock which breaks the waves.

It is astonishing to observe the same affliction lying upon two men—how differently they respond to it. The contented Christian is like Samson, who carried away the gates of the city upon his back; he can go away with his cross cheerfully, and makes nothing of it: the other is like Issachar, couching down under his burden. (Ge. 49:14) The reason is, the one is discontent, and that breeds fainting. Discontent swells the grief, and grief breaks the heart. When this sacred sinew of contentment begins to shrink, we go limping under our afflictions. We know not what burdens God may exercise us with; let us therefore preserve contentment; as is our contentment, such will be our courage. David with his five stones and his sling defied Goliath, and overcame him. Get but contentment into the sling of your heart; and with this sacred stone you may both defy the world and conquer it; you may break those afflictions, which otherwise would break you.

Fifth excellency. Contentment prevents many sins and temptations.

First, Contentment prevents many SINS. Where contentment is lacking—there is no lack of sin! Discontentedness with our condition is a sin that does not go alone—but is like the first link of the chain, which draws all the other links along with it. In particular, there are two sins which contentment prevents:

(1.) Contentment prevents impatience. Discontent and impatience are twins: "This evil is of the Lord—why should I wait on the Lord any longer!" (2 Ki. 6:33) As if God were so bound—that he must give us the mercy just when we desire it. Impatience is no small sin; as will appear if you consider whence it arises. It is for lack of faith. Faith gives a right notion of God; it is an intelligent grace; it believes that God's wisdom tempers— and his love sweetens all ingredients. This works patience. "Shall I not drink the cup which my Father has given me?"

Impatience is the daughter of infidelity. If a patient has a bad opinion of the physician, and thinks that he comes to poison him, he will take none of his remedies. Just so, when we have a prejudice against God, and think that he comes to kill us, and undo us—then we storm and cry out, like a foolish man, who cries out "away with the remedy!" though it is in order to a cure. Is it not better that the remedy smart a little—than the wound fester and rankle?

Impatience is for lack of love of God. We will bear his reproofs, whom we love not only patiently—but thankfully. "Love thinks no evil." (1 Cor. 13:5). Love puts the fairest, and most kind gloss upon the actions of a friend; "love covers a multitude of evil." If it were possible for God in the least manner to err, which were blasphemy to think—love would cover that error! Love takes everything in the best sense, it makes us bear any stroke. "Love endures all things." (1 Cor. 13:7) Had we love to God—we would have patience.

Impatience is for lack of humility. An impatient man was never humbled under the burden of sin. He who studies his sins, the numberless number of them, how they are twisted together, and sadly accented; is patient and says, "I will bear the indignation of the Lord, because I have sinned against him." The greater noise drowns the lesser noise; when the sea roars—the rivers are still. Just so, he who lets his thoughts expatiate about sin, is both silent and amazed—he wonders that it is no worse with him.

How great then is this sin of impatience! And how excellent is contentment, which is a counterpoise against this sin! The contented Christian believing that God does all in love, is patient, and has not one word of complaint. That is the sin that contentment prevents.

(2.) Contentment prevents murmuring, a sin which is a degree higher than the other; murmuring is quarreling with God, and inveighing against him; "they spoke against God." (Nu. 21:5) The murmurer essentially says, that God has dealt wrongly with him, and he has deserved better from him. The murmurer charges God with folly and unkindness. This is the language, or rather blasphemy of a murmuring spirit; "God might have been a wiser and better God to me." The murmurer is a mutineer. The Israelites are called in the same text murmurers and rebels: (Nu. 17:10) and is not rebellion as the sin of witchcraft? You who are a murmurer, are in the account of God as a witch, a sorcerer, as one that deals with the devil: this is a sin of the first magnitude.

Murmuring often ends in cursing: Micah's mother fell to cursing when the talents of silver were taken away, (Ju. 17:2) so does the murmurer when a part of his estate is taken away. Murmuring is the devil's music. This is that sin which God cannot bear, "How long shall I bear with this evil congregation, which murmurs against Me?" (Nu. 14:27) Murmuring is a sin which whets the sword against a people: it is a land-destroying sin; "neither murmur you as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer." (1 Cor. 10:10) Murmuring is a ripening sin; without mercy it will hasten England's funerals. O then, how excellent is contentment, which prevents this sin! To be contented, and yet murmur is an impossibility. A contented Christian acquiesces in his present condition, and does not murmur—but admire. Herein appears the excellency of contentment; it is a spiritual antidote against sin.

Secondly, Contentment prevents many TEMPTATIONS. Discontent is a devil which is always tempting.

1st. Discontent puts a man upon sinful means. He who is poor and discontented, will attempt anything; he will go to the devil for riches! He who is proud and discontented, will hang himself, as Ahithophel did when his counsel was rejected. Satan takes great advantage of discontent; he loves to fish in these troubled waters. Discontent both eclipses reason, and weakens faith! It is Satan's policy, that he usually breaks over the hedge where it is weakest; discontent makes a breach in the soul, and usually at this breach the devil enters by a temptation, and storms the soul.

How easily can the devil by his logic dispute a discontented Christian into sin? He forms such a argument as this, "he who is in need must study self-preservation: but you are now in need; therefore you ought to study self-preservation." Hereupon to make good his conclusion, he tempts to the forbidden fruit, not distinguishing between what is needful, and what is lawful. "What?" says he, "do you lack a livelihood? never be such a fool as starve—take the rising side at a venture, be it good or bad; "eat the bread of deceit, drink the wine of violence." Thus you see how the discontented man is a prey to that sad temptation to steal.

Contentment is a shield against poverty; for he who is contented, knows as well how to lack, as to abound. He will not sin to get a living; though his food grows short, he is content. He lives as the birds of the air—upon God's providence, and doubts not but he shall have enough to pay for his passage to heaven.

2d. Discontent tempts a man to atheism and apostasy. "Surely, there is no God to take care of things here below! Would he allow his holy people to be in need?" says discontent. "Throw off Christ's livery, desist from the religion!" Thus Job's wife being discontented with her condition, says to her husband, "do you still retain your integrity?" As if she had said, "do you not see, Job, what has become of all your religion? You fear God and eschew evil—and what are you the better? see how God turns his hand against you; he has smitten you in your body, estate, family—and do you still retain your integrity? What! still devout? still weep and pray for him? you fool, cast off religion, turn atheist!" Here was a sore temptation, which the devil handed over to Job by his discontented wife. Only his grace, as a golden shield, did ward off the blow from his heart, "you speak as one of the foolish women!"

"What profit is it," says the discontented person, "to serve the Almighty? Those who never trouble themselves about religion, are the prosperous men, and I in the mean while suffer need. I will just as well give over driving the trade of religion—if this be all my reward!" This logic often prevails. Atheism is the fruit which grows out of the blossom of discontent.

O then, behold the excellency of contentment! "If God is mine," says the contented spirit, "it is enough; though I have no lands or tenements, his smile makes heaven; his loves are better than wine. I have little in hand—but much in hope; my livelihood is short—but this is his promise, even eternal life! I am persecuted by malice—but better is persecuted godliness, than prosperous wickedness." Thus divine contentment is a spiritual antidote both against sin and temptation.

Sixth excellency. Contentment sweetens every condition. Christ turned the water into wine. Just so, contentment turns the bitter waters of Marah, into spiritual wine.

"Have I but little? Yet it is more than I deserve. This contented spirit is given in mercy; it is the fruit of Christ's blood—it is the legacy of free grace! A small present sent from a king—is highly valued. This little I have is with a good conscience; it is not stolen waters; guilt has not muddied or poisoned it; it runs pure. This little—is a pledge of more: this bit of bread—is a pledge of that bread which I shall eat in the kingdom of God! This little water in the cruise—is a pledge of that heavenly nectar which shall be distilled from the true vine! Do I meet with some crosses? My comfort is, if they are heavy—I have not far to go; I shall but carry my cross to Golgotha and there I shall leave it. My cross is light—in comparison with the weight of glory. Has God taken away my comforts from me? It is well--the Comforter still abides with me."

Thus contentment, as a honeycomb, drops sweetness into every condition. Discontent is a leaven which sours every comfort; it puts vinegar into every mercy, it doubles every cross. But the contented spirit sucks sweetness from every flower of providence; it can make poison into a choice morsel. Contentment is full of consolation.

Seventh excellency. Contentment is the best commentator upon providence; it makes a fair interpretation of all God's dealings. Let the providences of God be ever so dark or dismal, contentment construes them ever in the best sense. I may say of it, as the apostle of charity, "it thinks no evil." (1 Cor. 13:5) "Sickness (says contentment) is God's furnace to refine his gold, and make it sparkle the more! The prison is an oratory, or house of prayer. What if God melts away the creature from it? he saw perhaps my heart grew so much in love with it; had I been long in that fat pasture, I would have surfeited, and the better my estate had been, the worse my soul would have been. God is wise; he has done this either to prevent some sin—or to exercise some grace." What a blessed frame of heart is this!

A contented Christian is an advocate for God, against unbelief and impatience: whereas discontent takes everything from God in the worst sense; it censures God—and all that He does. But the contented soul takes all well; and when his condition is ever so bad, he can say, "truly God is good." (Psalm 73:1)

II. The second motive to contentment. A Christian has that which may make him content.

1. Has not God given you Christ? In him there are "unsearchable riches!" (Ep. 3:8) He is such a golden mine of wisdom and grace—that all the saints and angels can never dig to the bottom! As Seneca said to his friend Polybius, "never complain of your hard fortune—as long as Caesar is your friend." So I say to a believer, "never complain of your troubles—as long as Christ is your friend!" He is an enriching pearl, a sparkling diamond; the infinite luster of his merits makes us shine in God's eyes. (Ep. 1:7) In him there is both fullness and sweetness; he is unspeakably good. Pitch up your thoughts to the highest pinnacle, stretch them to the utmost bound, let them expatiate to their full latitude and extent—yet they fall infinitely short of these ineffable and inexhaustible treasures which are locked up in Jesus Christ! Is not this enough to give the soul contentment? A Christian who lacks necessities—yet having Christ, he has the "one thing needful."

2. Your soul is exercised and enameled with the graces of the Spirit, and is not here enough to give contentment? Grace is of a divine birth! it is the new plantation!. Grace is the flower of the heavenly paradise! it is the embroidery of the Spirit! Grace is the seed of God! (1 John 3:9) Grace is the sacred unction! (1 John 2:20) Grace is Christ's portraiture in the soul! Grace is the very foundation on which superstructure of glory is laid! O, of what infinite value is grace! What a jewel is faith! Well may it be called "precious faith." (2 Pe. 1:1) What is love—but a divine sparkle in the soul? A soul beautified with grace, is like a room richly hung with tapestry, or the sky bespangled with glittering stars.

These are the "true riches!" (Lu. 16:11) Is not here enough to give the soul contentment? What are all other things, but like wings of a butterfly, curiously painted—but they defile our fingers! Earthly riches cannot enrich the soul: oftentimes under silken apparel there is a thread-bare soul. Earthly riches are corruptible: "riches are not forever," as the wise man says. (Proverbs 27:24) Heaven is a place where gold and silver will not go. A believer is rich towards God! (Lu. 12:21) Why then, are you discontented? has not God given you that which is better than the world? What if he does not give you the box—if he gives you the jewel! What if he denies you pennies—if he pays you in diamonds! What if he denies you temporal mercies—if he give you spiritual mercies. What if the water in the bottle is spent—you have enough in the fountain! What need he complain of the world's emptiness—who has God's fullness!

"The Lord is my portion," says David, (Psalm 16:5) then let the lines fall where they will, in a sick-bed or prison, I will say, "the lines are fallen unto me in pleasant places, yes, I have a goodly heritage!" Are you not heir to all the promises? Have you not a guarantee of heavenly glory? When you let go your hold of natural life—are you not sure of eternal life? Has not God given you the pledge and first fruits of glory? Is not here enough to work your heart to contentment?

III. The third motive is—Be content, for else we confute our own prayers. We pray, "May your will be done." It is the will of God that we should are in such a condition; he has decreed it, and he sees it best for us—why then do we murmur, and are discontent at that which we pray for? either we are not in good earnest in our prayer, which argues hypocrisy; or we contradict ourselves which argues folly.

IV. The fourth motive to contentment is—Because now God has his end, and Satan misses of his end.

1. God has his end. God's end in all his providences, is to bring the heart to submit and be content. Indeed, this pleases God much—he loves to see his children satisfied with that portion he carves and allots them; it contents him—to see us contented. Therefore let us acquiesce in God's providence, now God has his end.

2. Satan misses of his end. The end why the devil, though by God's permission, did smite Job in his body and estate—was to perplex his mind; he vexed his body with the purpose that he might disquiet his spirit. He hoped to bring Job into a fit of discontent; and then that he would in anger, break forth against God. But Job being so well-contented with his condition—that he falls to blessing of God, and so he did disappoint Satan of his hope. "The devil will cast some of you into prison;" (Re. 2:10) why does the devil throw us into prison? It is not so much the hurting our body, as the molesting our mind, that he aims at; he would imprison our contentment, and disturb the regular motion of our souls—this is his design. It is not so much the putting us into a prison—as the putting us into a passion—which he attempts; but by holy contentment, Satan loses his prey, and misses of his end.

The devil has often deceived us; the best way to deceive him, is by contentment in the midst of temptation; our contentment will discontent Satan. O, let us not gratify our enemy! Discontent is the devil's delight! Now it is as he would have it, he loves to warm himself at the fire of our passions. Repentance is the joy of the angels—and discontent is the joy of the devils! As the devil dances at discord, so he sings at discontent. The fire of our passions makes the devil a bonfire! It is a kind of heaven to him—to see us torturing ourselves with our own troubles; but by holy contentment, we frustrate him of his purpose, and do as it were put him out of countenance.

V. The fifth motive is to contentment is—By contentment a Christian gains a victory over himself. For a man to be able to rule his own spirit—this of all others, is the most noble conquest. Passion denotes weakness; to be discontented is suitable to flesh and blood. But to be in every state content, reproached—yet content, imprisoned—yet content; this is above nature; this is some of that holy valor and chivalry which only a divine spirit is able to infuse. In the midst of the affronts of the world, to be patient; and in the changes of the world, to have the spirit calmed—this is a conquest worthy indeed of the garland of honor. Holy Job, divested and turned out of all, leaving his scarlet, and embracing the dunghill, (a sad catastrophe!) yet had learned contentment. It is said, "he fell down upon the ground and worshiped." (Job 1:20) One would have thought he should have fallen upon the ground and blasphemed! No, he fell and worshiped! He adored God's justice and holiness! Behold the strength of grace! here was a humble submission—yet a noble conquest; he got the victory over himself! It is no great matter for a man to yield to his own passions, this is facile and cowardly—but to content himself in denying of himself, this is sacred.

VI. The sixth great motive to work the heart to contentment is—The consideration that all God's providences, however cross or difficult, shall do a believer good. "And we know that all things work together for good, to those who love God." (Rom. 8:28) Not only all good things—but all evil things work for good; and shall we be discontented at that which works for our good? Suppose our troubles are sadly twisted together: what if sickness, poverty, reproach, law-suits, etc., unite and muster their forces against us? all shall work for good; our maladies shall be our medicines; and shall we repine at which shall undoubtedly do us good? "Unto the upright, there arises light in darkness." (Psalm 112:4) Affliction may be baptized Marah; it is bitter—but medicinal. Because this is so full of comfort, and may be a most excellent remedy against discontent, I shall a little expatiate. It will be inquired how the evils of affliction work for good? Several ways.

First, They instruct us—they TEACH us. The Psalmist having very elegantly described the church's trouble, (Psalm 74) prefixed this title to the psalm, a Maschil, which signifies a psalm giving instruction; and that which seals up instruction, works for good. God puts us sometimes under the black rod of discipline; "hear the rod, and who has appointed it." (Mi. 6:9) God makes our adversity our university. Affliction is a preacher; "blow the trumpet in Tekoa:" (Je. 6:1) the trumpet was to preach to the people; "be instructed, O Jerusalem." (Je. 6:8) Sometimes God speaks to the minister to lift up his voice like a trumpet, (Is. 58:1) and here he speaks to the trumpet to lift up its voice like a minister.

Afflictions teach us humility. We are commonly prosperous and proud, but corrections are God's corrosives to eat out the proud flesh. Jesus Christ is the lily of the valleys, (Can. 2:1) he dwells in a humble heart! God brings us into the valley of tears—that He may bring us into the valley of humility; "remembering my affliction and my misery, the wormwood and the gall; my soul has them still in remembrance, and is humbled in me. (La. 3:19,20) When men are grown proud, God has no better way with them, than to brew them a cup of wormwood.

Afflictions are compared to thorns, (Ho. 2:6) God's thorns are to prick the bubble of pride. Suppose a man runs at another with a sword to kill him; accidentally, it only lets out his abscess of pride; this does him good: God's sword is to let out the abscess of pride; and shall that which makes us humble, make us discontented?

Afflictions teach us repentance; "You have disciplined me—and I have been disciplined. After I strayed, I repented." (Jer. 31:18,19) Repentance is the precious fruit that grows upon the cross. When the fire is put under the still, the water drops. Just so, fiery afflictions make the waters of repentance drop and distill from the eyes; and is here any cause of discontent?

Afflictions teach us to pray better, "they poured out a prayer when Your chastening was upon them;" (Is. 26:16) before, they would say a prayer; now they poured out a prayer. Jonah was asleep in the ship—but awake and at prayer in the whale's belly. When God puts under the fire-brands of affliction, now our hearts boil over the more; God loves to have his children possessed with a spirit of prayer. Never did David, the sweet singer of Israel, tune his harp more melodiously, never did he pray better, than when he was in affliction. Thus afflictions instruct us; and shall we be discontent at that which is for our good?

Secondly, Afflictions TEST us. (Psalm 66:10,11) Gold is not the worse for being tried, or grain for being fanned. Affliction is the touchstone of sincerity, it tries what metal we are made of; affliction is God's fan and his sieve. It is good that men be known; some serve God for a livery; they are like the fisherman, who makes use of the net, only to catch the fish; so they go a-fishing with the net of religion, only to catch preferment: affliction discovers these. Hypocrites will fail in a storm, true grace holds out in the winter-season. That is a precious faith which, like the stars, shines brightest in the darkest night. It is good that our graces should be brought to trial; thus we have the comfort, and the gospel the honor—and why then be discontented?

Thirdly, Afflictions are purgatives. These evils work for our good, because they purge out sin, and shall I be discontented at this? What if I have more trouble, if I have less sin? The brightest day has its clouds; the purest gold its dross; the most refined soul has some measure of corruption. The saints lose nothing in the furnace—but what they can well spare—their dross: is not this for our good? Why then should we murmur? "I am come to send fire on the earth." (Lu. 12:49) Tertullian understands it of the fire of affliction. God makes this like the fire of the three children, which burned only their bonds and set them at liberty in the furnace, so the fire of affliction serves to burn the bonds of iniquity. "By this therefore shall the iniquity of Jacob be purged: and this is all the fruit—to take away his sin." (Is. 27:9)

When affliction or death comes to a wicked man, it takes away his soul; when it comes to a godly man, it only takes away his sin; is there any cause why we should be discontented? God steeps us in the brinish waters of affliction, that he make take out our spots. God's people are his husbandry; (1 Cor. 3:9) the ploughing of the ground kills the weeds, and the harrowing of the earth breaks the hard clods: God's ploughing of us by affliction, is to kill the weeds of sin; his harrowing of us is to break the hard clouds of impenitency, that the heart may be fitter to receive the seeds of grace; and if this is the purpose of affliction, why should we be discontented?

Fourthly, Afflictions both exercise and increase our grace. Afflictions exercise our graces; everything is most in its excellency when it is most in its exercise. Our grace, though it cannot be dead—yet it may be asleep, and has need of awakening. What a dull thing is the fire when it is hid in the embers, or the sun when it is masked behind a cloud! A sick man is living—but not lively; afflictions quicken and excite grace. God does not like to see grace in the eclipse. Now faith puts forth its purest and most noble acts in times of affliction. God makes the fall of the leaf the spring of our graces. What if we are more afflicted—if graces be more active.

Afflictions increase grace; as the wind serves to increase and blow up the flame, so does the windy blasts of affliction augment and blow up our graces; grace is not consumed in the furnace—but it is like the widow's oil in the cruise, which increased by pouring out. The torch, when it is beaten burns brightest, so does grace when it is exercised by sufferings. Sharp frosts nourish the good grain—so do sharp afflictions nourish grace. Some plants grow better in the shade than in the sun; the shade of adversity is better for some than the sun-shine of prosperity. Naturalists observe that the colewort thrives better when it is watered with salt water than with fresh water, so do some thrive better in the salt water of affliction; and shall we be discontented at that which makes us grow and fructify more?

Fifthly, These afflictions do bring more of God's gracious presence into the soul. When we are most assaulted, we shall be most assisted; "I will be with him in trouble." (Psalm 91:15) It cannot be ill with that man with whom God is—by his powerful presence in supporting, and his gracious presence in sweetening the present trial. God will be with us in trouble, not only to behold us—but to uphold us, as he was with Daniel in the lion's den, and the three Hebrew children in the fiery furnace. What if we have more trouble than others—if we have more of God with us than others have? We never have sweeter smiles from God's face—than when the world begins to frown upon us. Your statutes have been my song; where? not when I was upon the throne—but "in the house of my pilgrimage." (Psalm 119:54)

We read, the Lord was not in the wind, nor in the earthquake, nor in the fire: (1 Ki. 19:11) but in a metamorphical and spiritual sense, when the wind of affliction blows upon a believer, God is in the wind; when the fire of affliction kindles upon him, God is in the fire—to sanctify, to support, to sweeten. If God is with us, the furnace shall be turned into a festival, the prison into a paradise, the earthquake into a joyful dance. O why should I be discontented, when I have more of God's gracious presence!

Sixthly, These evils of affliction are for good, as they bring with them certificates of God's love, and are evidences of his special favor. Affliction is the saint's livery; it is a badge of honor! That the God of glory should look upon a worm, and take so much notice of him—as to afflict him rather than lose him—is an high act of favor. God's rod is a scepter of dignity, Job calls God's afflicting of us, his magnifying of us. (Job 7:17) Some men's prosperity has been their shame, when others afflictions have been their crown.

Seventhly, These afflictions work for our good, because they work for us a far exceeding weight of glory. (2 Cor. 4:17) That which works for my glory in heaven, works for my good. We do not read in Scripture that any man's honor or riches work for him a weight of glory—but afflictions do; and shall a man be discontented at that which works for his glory? The heavier the weight of affliction, the heavier the weight of glory; not that our sufferings merit glory, (as the papists do wickedly teach,) but though they are not the cause of our crown—yet they are the way to it; and God makes us, as he did our captain, "perfect through sufferings." (He. 2:10) And shall not all this make us contented with our condition?

O I beseech you, look not upon the evil of affliction—but the good of affliction! Afflictions in Scripture are called "visitations." (Job 7:18) God's afflictions are but friendly visits. Behold here God's rod, like Aaron's rod blossoming; and Jonathan's rod, it has honey at the end of it. Poverty shall starve out our sins; the sickness of the body cures a sin-sick soul; O then, instead of murmuring and being discontented, bless the Lord! Had you not met with such a cross in the way—you might have gone to hell and never stopped!

VII. The seventh motive to contentment is—Consider the evil of discontent. Malcontent has a mixture of grief and anger in it, and both of these must needs raise a storm in the soul. Have you not seen the posture of a sick man? Sometimes he will sit up on his bed, by and by he will lie down, and when he is down he is not quiet; first he turns on the one side and then on the other; he is restless; this is just the emblem of a discontented spirit. The man is not sick—yet he is never well; sometimes he likes such a condition of life but is soon weary; and then another condition of life; and when he has it—yet he is not pleased; this is an evil under the sun. Now the evil of discontent appears in three things.

First Evil. The SORDIDNESS of it is unworthy of a Christian.

(1.) It is unworthy of his profession. It was the saying of a heathen, "bear your condition quietly; know you are a man;" so I say, "bear your condition contentedly, know you are a Christian." You professes to live by faith: what? and not be content? Faith is a grace which substantiates things not seen; (He. 11:1) faith looks beyond the present—it feeds upon promises; faith lives not by bread alone; when the water is spent in the bottle, faith knows where to have recourse. Now to see a Christian dejected in the lack of visible supplies, where is faith? "O," says one, "my estate in the world is down." Ay, and which is worse—his faith is down. Unless he has many outward comforts—he will not be content. True faith will trust God's heart—where it cannot trace his hand; and will venture upon God's promise though it has nothing in view.

You who are discontented because you have not all that you would, let me tell you—either your faith is a nonentity—or at best but an embryo. It is a weak faith which must have crutches to support it. Nay, discontent is not only below faith—but below reason: why are you discontented? Is it because you are dispossessed of such comforts? Well, and have you not reason to guide you? Does not reason tell you that you are but tenants at will? And may not God turn you out when he pleases? You hold not your estate by personal right—but upon God's favor and courtesy.

(2.) It is unworthy of the relation we stand in to God. A Christian is invested with the title and privilege of sonship, (Ep. 1:5) he is an heir of the promise. O consider the lot of free-grace which has fallen upon you! You are nearly allied to Christ, and of the blood royal; you are advanced in some sense, above the angels: "why are you, being the king's son, lean from day to day?" (2 Sa. 13:4) Why are you discontented? O, how unworthy is this! as if the heir to some great monarch should go pining up and down, because he may not pick such a flower.

Second Evil. Consider the SINFULNESS of discontent; which appears in three things; the causes, the accompaniments, the consequences of it.

(1.) It is sinful in the CAUSES.

The first cause of discontent is pride. He who thinks highly of his

deserts, usually is discontent with his condition. A discontented man is a proud man, he thinks himself better than others, therefore finds fault with the wisdom of God. "Should the thing that was created say to the One who made it—Why have you made me like this?" (Ro. 9:20) why am I not in better circumstances? Discontent is nothing else but the boiling over of pride!

The second cause of discontent is envy, which Augustine calls the sin of the devil. Satan envied Adam the glory of paradise, and the robe of innocency. He who envies what his neighbor has—is never contented with that portion which God's providence, parcels out to him. As envy stirs up strife, so it creates discontent: the envious man looks so much upon the blessings which another enjoys—that he cannot see his own mercies—and so does continually vex and torture himself. Cain envied that his brother's sacrifice was accepted, and his rejected; hereupon he was discontented, and presently murderous thoughts began to arise in his heart.

The third cause of discontent is covetousness. This is a foul sin. Whence are vexing lawsuits—but from discontent? and whence is discontent—but from covetousness? Covetousness and contentedness cannot dwell in the same heart. Avarice is never satisfied. The covetous man is like Behemoth, "behold he drinks up a river." (Job 40:23) "There are four things (says Solomon) which never have enough." I may add a fifth—the heart of a covetous man; he is continually craving. Covetousness is like a wolf in the breast, which is ever feeding. Because a man is never satisfied—he is never content.

The fourth cause of discontent is unbelief, which is akin to Atheism. The discontented person is ever distrustful. The provisions grow scanty, and the distrustful person asks, "I am in these great difficulties, can God help me? Can he prepare a table in the wilderness? Surely he cannot. My estate is exhausted, can God help me? My friends are gone, can God raise me up more? Surely the arm of his power is shrunk. I am like the dry fleece, can any water come upon this fleece? If the Lord would make windows in heaven, might this thing be?" (2 Ki. 7:2) Thus the anchor of hope, and the shield of faith, being cast away, the soul goes pining up and down. Discontent is nothing else but the echo of unbelief. Remember, distrust is worse than distress.

(2.) Discontent is evil in its ACCOMPANIMENTS, which are two:

1. Discontent is joined with a sullen melancholy. A Christian of a right temper should be ever cheerful in God: "serve the Lord with gladness;" (Psalm 100:2) A sign that the oil of grace has been poured into the heart, is when the oil of gladness shines in the countenance. Cheerfulness credits religion; how can the discontented person be cheerful? Discontent is a dogged, sullen humor. Because we have not what we desire, God shall not have a good work or look from us. This is like the bird in the cage, because she is pent up, and cannot fly in the open air, therefore beats herself against the cage, and is ready to kill herself. Thus that peevish prophet; "I do well to be angry, even unto death!" (Jon. 4:9)

2. Discontent is accompanied with unthankfulness. Because we have not all we desire, we never mind the mercies which we have. We deal with God as the widow of Zarephath did with the prophet: the prophet Elijah had been a means to keep her alive in the famine, for it was for his sake, that her meal in the barrel, and her oil in the cruise failed not. But as soon as ever her son dies, she falls into a passion, and begins to quarrel with the prophet: "O man of God, what have you done to me? Have you come here to punish my sins by killing my son?" (1 Ki. 17:18) So ungratefully do we deal with God: we can be content to receive mercies from God—but if he crosses us in the least thing, then, through discontent, we grow touchy and impatient, and are ready to fly upon God! Thus God loses all his mercies.

We read in Scripture of the thank-offering; the discontented person cuts God short of this; the Lord loses his thank-offering. A discontented Christian repines in the midst of mercies—as Adam who sinned in the midst of paradise. Discontent is a spider which sucks the poison of unthankfulness out of the sweetest flowers of God's mercies! Discontent is a devilish chemistry, which extracts dross out of the most pure gold. The discontented person thinks everything he does for God too much, and everything God does for him too little.

O what a sin is unthankfulness! It is an accumulative sin. I may say of ingratitude: "there are many sins bound up in this one sin." It is a voluminous wickedness! How full of sin is discontent! A discontented Christian, because he has not all the world, therefore dishonors God with the mercies which he has. God made Eve out of Adam's rib, to be a helper—but the devil has made an arrow of this rib, and shot Adam to the heart! Just so, discontent takes the rib of God's mercy, and ungratefully shoots at him—every blessing is employed against God. Thus it is oftentimes. Behold then how discontent and ingratitude are interwoven and twisted one within the other: thus discontent is sinful in its accompaniments.

(3.) Discontent is sinful in its CONSEQUENCES, which are these.

1. Discontent makes a man very unlike the Holy Spirit. The Spirit of God is a meek Spirit. The Holy Spirit descended in the likeness of a dove, (Mat. 3:16) a dove is the emblem of meekness; a discontented spirit is not a meek spirit.

2. Discontent makes a man like the devil; the devil being swelled with the poison of envy and malice, is never content. Just so, is the malcontent. The devil is an unquiet spirit, he is still "walking about," (1 Pe. 5:8) it is his rest to be walking. And herein is the discontented person like him; for he goes up and down vexing himself, "seeking rest, and finding none." The malcontent is the devil's picture!

3. Discontent disjoints the soul, it untunes the heart for duty. "Is any among you afflicted, let him pray." (Ja. 5:13) But, is any man discontented? how shall he pray? "Lift up holy hands without wrath." (1 Ti. 2:8) Discontent is full of wrath and passion; the malcontent cannot lift up pure hands; he lifts up leprous hands—he poisons his prayers! Will God accept a poisoned sacrifice! Chrysostom compares prayer to a fine garland; those who make a garland, their hands had need to be clean. Prayer is a precious garland, the heart that makes it, had need to be clean. Discontent throws poison into the spring. Discontent puts the heart into a disorder and mutiny, and such as one cannot serve the Lord "without distraction."

4. Discontent sometimes unfits for the very use of reason. Jonah, in a passion of discontent, spoke no better than blasphemy and nonsense: "I do well to be angry—even unto death!" (Jon. 4:9) What? to be angry with God! and to die for anger! Sure he did not know what he said! When discontent rules, then, like Moses, we speak unadvisedly with our lips. This humor even suspends the very acts of reason.

5. Discontent does not only disquiet a man's self—but those who are near him. This evil spirit troubles families, parishes, etc. If there is but one string out of tune, it spoils all the music. Just so, one discontented spirit makes jarrings and discords among others. It is this ill-humor which breeds quarrels and law-suits. Whence are all our contentions—but for lack of contentment? "What is the source of the wars and the fights among you? Don't they come from the cravings that are at war within you?" (Ja. 4:1) in particular from the craving of discontent. Why did Absalom raise a war against his father, and would have taken off not only his crown—but his head! Was it not his discontent? Absalom would be king. Why did Ahab stone Naboth? was it not discontent about the vineyard? Oh this devil of discontent! Thus, you have seen the sinfulness of it.

Third Evil. Consider the FOOLISHNESS of discontent. I may say, as the Psalmist, "surely they are disquieted in vain:" (Psalm 39:6) which appears thus,

1. Is it not a vain simple thing to be troubled at the loss of that which is in its own nature, perishing and changeable? God has put a vicissitude into the creature; all the world rings changes; and for me to meet with inconstancy here on earth—to lose a friend, estate, to be in constant fluctuation; is no more than to see a flower wither or a leaf drop off in autumn! There is an autumn upon every comfort, a fall of the leaf. Now it is extreme folly to be discontented at the loss of those things which are in their own nature, loseable. What Solomon says of riches, is true of all things under the sun, "they take wings—and fly away!" Noah's dove brought an olive-branch in its mouth—but presently flew out of the ark, and never more returned. Such and such a comfort, brings to us honey in its mouth—but it has wings; and to what purpose should we be troubled, unless we had wings to fly after and overtake it?

2. Discontent is a heart-breaking. "By sorrow of the heart, the spirit is broken." (Proverbs 15:13) It takes away the comfort of life. There is none of us, but may have many mercies if we can see them; now because we have not all we desire, therefore we will lose the comfort of that which we have already. Jonah having his gourd smitten, a withering vanity—was so discontented, that he never thought of his miraculous deliverance out of the whale's belly; he takes no comfort of his life—but wishes that he might die. What folly is this! We must have all or none; herein we are like children, that throw away the piece which is cut for them, because they may have no bigger. Discontent eats out the comfort of life!

Besides, it were well if it were seriously weighed, how harmful this is even to our health; for discontent, as it does discruciate the mind—so it does pine the body. It frets as a moth; and by wasting the spirits, weakens the vitals. The cancer of discontent harms both the body and the mind—and is not this folly?

3. Discontent does not ease us of our burden—but it makes it heavier. A contented spirit goes cheerfully under its affliction. Discontent makes our grief as unsupportable as it is unreasonable. If the leg is well, it can endure a fetter and not complain; but if the leg is injured, then the fetters trouble. Discontent of mind, is the sore which makes the fetters of affliction more grievous. Discontent troubles us more than the trouble itself! It steeps the affliction in wormwood. When Christ was upon the Cross, the Jews brought him gall and vinegar to drink, that it might add to his sorrow. Discontent brings to a man in affliction, gall and vinegar to drink! This is worse than the affliction itself. Is it not folly for a man to embitter his own affliction?

4. Discontent spins out our troubles the longer. One is discontented because he is in need, and therefore he is in need because he is discontented; he murmurs because he is afflicted, and therefore he is afflicted, because he murmurs. Discontent delays and adjourns our mercies. God deals herein with us, as we do with our children—when they are quiet and cheerful, they shall have anything; but if we see them cry and fret, then we withhold from them. Just so, we get nothing from God by our discontent, but blows! The more the child struggles, the more it is beaten: when we struggle with God by our sinful passions, he doubles his strokes; God will tame our peevish hearts. What did Israel get by their peevishness? they were within eleven days journey to Canaan; and now they were discontented and began to murmur, so God leads them a march of forty years long in the wilderness. Is it not folly for us to adjourn our own mercies? Thus you have seen the evil of discontent.

VIII. The eighth motive to contentment is this: Why is not a man content with that which he has? Perhaps if he had more he would be less content. Covetousness is cancer which is never satisfied. The world is such that the more we have—the more we crave. The world cannot fill the heart of man. When the fire burns, how do you quench it? not by putting oil in the flame, or laying on more wood—but by withdrawing the fuel. When the appetite is inflamed after riches, how may a man be satisfied? not by having just what he desires—but by withdrawing the fuel, and by moderating and lessening his desires. He who is contented has enough! A man in a fever thirsts; how do you satisfy him? not by giving him liquid things, which will inflame his thirst the more; but by removing the cause, and so curing the distemper. The way for a man to be contented, is not by raising his estate higher—but by bringing his heart lower!

IX. The ninth motive to contentment is—The shortness of life. Life is "but a vapor," says James. (Ja. 4:14) Life is a wheel ever-running. The poets painted time with wings to show the volubility and swiftness of it. Job compares it to a swift runner, (Job 9:25). Our life is indeed like a day. Infancy is as it were the day-break, youth is the sun-rising, adulthood is the sun in the meridian, old age is sun-setting, sickness is the evening—then comes the night of death. How quickly is this day of life spent! Oftentimes this sun goes down at noon-day; life ends before the evening of old age comes. Nay, sometimes the sun of life sets presently after sun-rising. Quickly after the dawning of infancy, the night of death approaches. O, how short is the life of man!

The consideration of the brevity of life, may work the heart to contentment. Remember you are to be here but a day; you have but a short way to go—and what is the need of a long provision for a short way? If a traveler has but enough to bring him to his journey's end—he desires no more. We have but a day to live, and perhaps we may be in the twelfth hour of the day. If God gives us but enough to bear our charges, until night, it is sufficient, let us be content. If a man had the lease of a house—but for two or three days, and he should begin building and planting, would he not be judged very foolish? Just so, when we have but a short time here, and death calls us presently off the stage—to thirst immoderately after the world, and pull down our souls to build up an estate—is an extreme folly.

Therefore, as Esau said once, in a profane sense, concerning his birth-right, "I am at the point of death—so what profit shall this birth-right do to me?" so let a Christian say in a religious sense, "I am at the point of death, my grave is going to be made—so what good will the world do to me? If I have but enough until sun-setting, I am content."

X. The tenth motive to contentment is—Consider seriously the nature of a prosperous condition. There are in a prosperous estate three things,

1. There is more TROUBLE in a prosperous condition. Many who have abundance of all things to enjoy—yet have not so much contentment and sweetness in their lives, as some who go to their hard labor. Sad, anxious thoughts often attend a prosperous condition. Worry is the evil spirit which haunts the rich man—and will not allow him to be quiet. When his chest is full of gold—his heart is full of worry, either how to manage, or how to increase, or how to secure what he has gotten. O the troubles and perplexities which attend prosperity! The world's high seats are very uneasy. Sunshine is pleasant—but sometimes it scorches with its heat. The bee gives honey—but sometimes it stings! Just so, prosperity has its sweetness—and also its sting! "But godliness with contentment is great gain." 1 Timothy 6:6. Never did Jacob sleep better, than when he had the heavens for his canopy, and a hard stone for his pillow. A large estate is but like a long trailing garment, which is more troublesome than useful.

2. In a prosperous condition there is more DANGER; and that two ways:

First, in respect of a man's SELF. The rich man's table is often his snare; he is ready to engulf himself too deep in these sweet waters. In this sense it is hard to know how to abound. It must be a strong brain which can bear heady wine. Just so, he has need have of much wisdom and grace, to know how to bear a prosperous condition; either he is ready to kill himself with worry—or to glut himself with luscious delights. O the hazard of honor, the damage of prosperity! Pride, lust, and worldliness, are the three worms which breed in prosperity. (De. 32:15) The pastures of prosperity are dangerous. How soon are we ensnared upon the soft pillow of ease! Prosperity is often a trumpet which sounds a retreat—it calls men off from the pursuit of religion. The sun of prosperity often dulls and puts out the fire of piety! How many souls has the cancer of abundance killed? "People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs." (1 Timothy 6:9-10)

The world is full of golden sands—but they are quick-sands! Prosperity, like smooth Jacob, will supplant and betray! A great estate, without much vigilance—will be a thief to rob us of heaven! Such as are upon the pinnacle of honor, are in most danger of falling. A more humble condition, is less hazardous. The little boat rides safely along, when the gallant ship with its large mast and top-sail, is cast away. Adam in paradise was overcome, when Job on the dung-hill was a conqueror. Samson fell asleep in Delilah's lap. Just so, some have fallen so fast asleep on the lap of ease and plenty, that they have never awaked until they have been in hell!

The world's fawning—is worse than its frowning! It is more to be feared when it smiles—than when it thunders. Prosperity, in Scripture, is compared to a candle; "his candle shined upon my head:" (Job 29:3) how many have burnt their wings about this candle! The corn being over-ripe, withers; and fruit, when it mellows, begins to rot. Just so, when men mellow with the sun of prosperity, commonly their souls begin to rot in sin! "How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!" (Lu. 18:24) His golden weights keep him from ascending up the hill of God! And shall we not be content, though we are placed in a lower orb? What if we have not as much of the world, as others do? We are not in so much danger! As we lack the riches of the world—so we lack their temptations. O the abundance of danger—which is in abundance!

When men's estates are low, they are more serious about their souls, and more humble. But when they have abundance, then their hearts begin to swell with their estates. Bring a man from the cold, starving climate of poverty—into the hot southern climate of prosperity—and he begins to lose his appetite to godly things, he grows weak—and a thousand to one if all his religion does not die! But bring a Christian from a rich flourishing estate into a low condition—and he has a better appetite after heavenly things, he hungers more after Christ, he thirsts more for grace, he eats more of the Bread of Life; this man is now likely to live and hold out in his piety. Be content then, with moderation; if you have but enough to pay for your passage to heaven, it suffices. "If we have food and clothing—we will be content with these." 1 Timothy 6:8

Secondly, a prosperous condition is dangerous in regard of OTHERS. A great estate, for the most part, draws envy to it; whereas in little there is quiet. David a shepherd was quiet—but David a king was pursued by his enemies. Envy cannot endure a superior; an envious man knows not how to live—but upon the ruins of his neighbors; he raises himself higher—by bringing others lower. Prosperity is an eye-sore to many. Such sheep as have most wool—are soonest fleeced. The barren tree grows peaceably; but the fruit-laden tree shall have many savage suitors. O then be contented to carry a lesser sail! He who has less revenues, has less envy. Such as make the greatest show in the world, are the bulls-eye for envy and malice to shoot at!

3. A prosperous condition has in it, a greater RECKONING; every man must be responsible for his talents. You who have great possessions in the world, do you use them for God's glory? Are you rich in good works? Grace makes a private person—a common good. Do you disburse your money for public uses? It is lawful, in this sense, to put out our money to use. O let us all remember that we are but stewards; and our Lord and Master will before long say, "give an account of your stewardship!" The greater our estate—the greater our responsibilities; the more our revenues—the more our reckonings. You who have but little in the world—be content. God will expect less from you—where He has sowed more sparingly.

XI. The eleventh motive to contentment is—The EXAMPLE of those who have been eminent for contentment. Examples are usually more forcible than precepts. Abraham being called out to hard service, and such as was against flesh and blood, was content. God bid him offer up his son Isaac. This was great work: Isaac was the son of his old age; the son of his love; the son of the promise; Christ the Messiah was to come from his line, "in Isaac shall your seed be called." So that to offer up Isaac seemed not only to oppose Abraham's reason—but his faith too; for, if Isaac dies, the world, for ought he knew—must be without a Mediator. Besides, if Isaac must be sacrificed, was there no other hand to do it, but Abraham's? Must the father needs be the executioner? Must he who was the instrument of giving Isaac his being, be the instrument of taking it away? Yet Abraham does not dispute or hesitate—but believes "against hope," and is content with God's prescription: so, when God called him to leave his country, he was content.

Some would have argued thus: "What! leave my friends, my native soil, my prosperous situation, and become a wandering pilgrim?" Abraham is content. Besides, Abraham went blindfold, "He did not know where he was going." God held him in suspense; he must go wander—he knows not where; and when he does come to the place which God has laid out for him, he knows not what oppositions he shall meet with there. The world seldom casts a favorable aspect upon strangers. Yet he is content, and obeys; "he sojourned in the land of promise." (He. 11:9)

Behold a little his pilgrimage. First, he goes to Haran, a city in Mesopotamia. When he had sojourned there a while, his father dies. Then he moved to Canaan; there a famine arises; then he went down to Egypt; after that he returns to Canaan. When he comes there, it is true he had a promise—but he found nothing to answer expectation; he had not there one foot of land—but was an exile. In this time of his sojourning he buried his wife; and as for his dwellings, he had no sumptuous buildings—but lived in tents: all this was enough to have broken any man's heart. Abraham might think thus with himself: "is this the land I must possess? here is no probability of any good; all things are against me!" Well, is he discontented? No! God says to him, "Abraham, go, leave your country," and this word was enough to lead him all over the world; he is presently upon his march. Here was a man who had learned to be content.

But let us descend a little lower, to heathen Zeno, of who Seneca speaks, who had once been very rich, hearing of a shipwreck, and that all his goods were drowned at sea: "Fortune," says he, (he spoke in a heathen dialect) "has dealt with me, and would have me now study philosophy." He was content to change his course of life, to leave off being a merchant, and turn a philosopher. And if a heathen said thus, shall not a Christian say, when the world is drained from him, "God would have me leave off following the world, and study Christ more, and how to get to heaven!" Do I see an heathen contented, and a Christian disquieted? How did heathens vilify those worldly things, which Christians did magnify? Though they knew not God, or what true happiness meant; yet, they would speak very sublimely of a deity, and of the life to come, and for those elysian delights, which they did but imagine—so they undervalued and despised the things here below! It was the doctrine they taught their scholars, and which some of them practiced, that they should strive to be contented with a little; they were willing to make an exchange, and have less gold—and more learning. And shall not we be content then, to have less of the world—so that we may have more of Christ! May not Christians blush to see the heathens content with little of this world—and to see themselves so elatted with the love of earthly things, that if they begin a little to abate, and their provisions grow short, they murmur, and are like Micah, "You took away the gods I made. What else do I have?" (Judges 18:24) Have heathens gone so far in contentment, and is it not sad for us to be discontent?

These heroes of their time, how did they embrace death itself! Socrates died in prison; Herculus was burnt alive; Cato, who Seneca calls the portrait of virtue, was thrust through with a sword; but how bravely, and with contentment of spirit did they die? "Shall I (said Seneca) weep for Cato, or Regulus, or the rest of those worthies, who died with so much valor and patience?" These severe afflictions did not make them alter their countenance—and do I see a Christian appalled and amazed? Death did not affright them—and does it distract us? Did the spring-head of nature rise so high? and shall not grace, like the waters of the sanctuary, rise higher? We that pretend to live by faith—may we not go to school to them who had no other pilot but reason to guide them?

Nay, let me come a step lower, to creatures void of reason; we see that every creature is contented with its allowance; the beasts with their provender, the birds with their nests; they live only upon providence. And shall we make ourselves below them? Let a Christian go to school to the ox and the donkey to learn contentedness! We think that we never have enough, and are always storing up. "Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?" (Mat. 6:26) It is an motive which Christ brings to make Christians contented with their condition; the birds do not store up—yet they are provided for, and are contented. But if you are discontented, you are much worse than they are. Let these examples quicken us.

XII. The twelfth motive to contentment is—Whatever affliction or trouble a child of God meets with—it is all the hell he shall ever have! Whatever eclipse may be upon his name or estate—it is a little cloud which will soon be blown over—and then his hell is past. Death begins a wicked man's hell. Death ends a godly man's hell. Think with yourself, "What is my affliction? It is but a temporary hell. Indeed if all my hell is here on earth--it is but an easy hell. What is the cup of affliction, compared to the cup of damnation!"

Lazarus could not get a crumb; he was so diseased that the dogs took pity on him, and as if they had been his physicians, licked his sores. But this was an easy hell—the angels quickly fetched him out of it! If all our hell is in this life—and in the midst of this hell we may have the love of God, and then it is no more hell—but paradise! If all our hell is here, we may see to the end of it; it is but skin-deep, it cannot touch the soul. It is a short-lived hell. After a dreary night of affliction, comes the bright morning of glory! Since our lives are short—our trials cannot be long. As our riches take wings and fly away—so do our sufferings. Let us learn to be content, whatever our circumstances.

XIII. The thirteenth motive to contentment is this—To have much of the world, and to lack contentment, is a great judgement. For a man to have a huge stomach, that whatever food you give him—he is still craving and is never satisfied—this is a great judgement upon the man! Likewise, you who are a devourer of money, and yet never have enough—but still cry, "give, give!" this is a sad judgement! "They shall eat, and not have enough." (Ho. 4:10) The throat of a malicious man is an open sepulcher, (Ro. 3:13) so is the heart of a covetous man. Covetousness is not only a sin—but the punishment of a sin! It is a secret curse upon a covetous person; he shall thirst, and thirst, and never be satisfied! "Whoever loves money never has money enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income." (Ec. 5:10) And is not this a curse!

It was a severe judgement upon the people of Judah, "You have food to eat, but not enough to fill you up. You have wine to drink, but not enough to satisfy your thirst." (Haggai 1:6) O let us take heed of this plague! Did not Esau say to his brother, "I have enough, my brother," (Gen. 33:9); and shall not a Christian say so much more. It is sad that our hearts should be dead to heavenly things—that they are a sponge to suck in earthly vanities!

All that has been said, should be sufficient to work our minds to heavenly contentment.


In the next place, I come to lay down some necessary cautions. Though I say a man should be content in every estate—yet there are three estates in which he must not be contented.

I. He must not be contented in a NATURAL estate. Here we must learn not to be content.

A sinner in his natural state, is under the wrath of God, (John 3:16) and shall he be content when that dreadful vial is about to be poured out upon him! Is it nothing to lie forever under the scorchings of divine fury? "Who can dwell with everlasting burnings!"

A sinner, as a sinner, is under the power of Satan, (Ac. 26:18) and shall he be content in this dreadful state! Who would be contented to stay in the enemies' quarters? While we sleep in the lap of sin, the devil does to us as the Philistines did to Samson— he cut out the lock of our strength, and put out our eyes! Be not content, O sinner, in this estate! For a man to be in debt, body and soul; in fear every hour to be arrested and carried prisoner to hell—shall he now be content? Here I preach against contentment. Oh get out of this condition! I would hasten you out of it—as the angel hastened lot out of Sodom; (Gen. 19:15) There is the smell of the fire and brimstone upon you!

The longer a man stays in his sin, the more does sin strengthen. It is hard to get out of sin, when the heart as a garrison is supplied and fortified by sin. A young tree is easily removed—but when the tree is once rooted, there is no stirring of it. Just so, you who are rooted in your pride, unbelief, impenitency, it will cost you many a hard pull before you are plucked out of your natural estate! (Jer. 6:16) It is a hard thing to have a brazen face and a broken heart! "He travails with iniquity;" (Psalm 7:14) be assured, the longer you travail with your sins, the more and the sharper pangs you must expect in the new birth. O be not contented with your natural estate! David says, "why are you cast down, O my soul?" (Psalm 43:5) But a sinner should say to himself, why are you not disquieted, O my soul? Why is it that you lay afflictions so to heart, and can not lay sin to heart? It is a mercy when we are disquieted about sin. A man had better be at the trouble of setting a bone, than to be lame, and in pain all his life. Blessed is that trouble that brings the soul to Christ! It is one of the worst sights to see a bad conscience quiet. Of the two, better is a fever than a lethargy. I wonder to see a man in his natural estate content. What! content to go to hell!

II. Though, in regard of externals, a man should be in every estate content—yet he must not be content is such a condition wherein God is apparently dishonored. If a man's trade be such that he must trespass upon a command of God, and so make a trade of sin—he must not content himself in such a condition; God never called any man to such a calling as is sinful; a man in this case, had better lose some of his gain, so he may lessen some of his guilt. So, for servants who live in a profane family—the suburbs of hell—where the name of God is not called upon, unless when it is taken in vain—they are not to content themselves in such a place, they are to come out of the tents of these sinners; there is a double danger in living among the profane.

1. Lest we come to be infected with the poison of their evil example. Joseph, living in Pharaoh's court, had learned to swear "by the life of Pharaoh." (Ge. 42:15) We are prone to suck in example: men take in deeper impressions by the eye—than the ear. Dives was a bad pattern, and he had many brethren that seeing him sin, trod just in his steps, therefore says he, "I beg you to send him to my father’s house—because I have five brothers—to warn them, so they won’t also come to this place of torment!" (Lu. 16:27,28) Dives knew which way they went. It is easy to catch a disease from another—but not to catch health. The bad will sooner corrupt the good—than the good will convert the bad. Take an equal quantity and proportion, so much sweet wine with so much sour vinegar; the vinegar will sooner sour the wine than the wine will sweeten the vinegar.

Sin is compared to the plague, (1 Ki. 8:37) and to leaven, (1 Cor. 5:7) to show of what a spreading nature it is. A bad master makes a bad servant. We do as we see others do before us, especially those who are above us. If the head is sick, the other parts of the body are distempered. If the sun shines not upon the mountains, it must needs set in the valleys. We pray, "lead us not into temptation!" Lot was the world's miracle, who kept himself fresh, in Sodom's salt water.

2. By living in an evil family, we are liable to incur their punishment. "Pour out Your wrath on the families that don’t call on Your name." (Jer. 10:25) For lack of pouring out of prayer, the wrath of God was ready to be poured out! It is dangerous living in the tents of Kedar. When God sends his flying scroll, written within and without with curses, it enters into the house of the thief and the perjurer, "and consumes the timber and the stones thereof." (Ze. 5:4) Is it not of sad consequence to live in a profane family, when the sin of the master pulls his house about his ears? If the stones and timber be destroyed, how shall the servant escape? And suppose God does not send a temporal scroll of curses in the family, there is a spiritual scroll, and that is worse. "The Lord’s curse is on the household of the wicked!" (Proverbs 3:33) Be not content to live where religion dies.

"Salute the brethren, and Nymphas, and the church which is in his house." (Col. 4:15) The house of the godly is a little church—but the house of the wicked is a little hell. (Proverbs 7:27) Oh, incorporate yourselves into a pious family; the house of a godly man is perfumed with a blessing. "The Lord’s curse is on the household of the wicked, but He blesses the home of the righteous." (Proverbs 3:33) When the holy oil of grace is poured on the head, the savor of this ointment sweetly diffuses itself, and the virtue of it runs down upon the skirts of the family. Pious examples are very magnetic and forcible. Seneca said to his sister, "though I leave you not wealth—yet I leave you a good example." Let us ingraft ourselves among the saints. By being often among the spices—we come to partake of their fragrance.

III. The third caution is, though in every condition we must be content—yet we are not to content ourselves with a little grace. Grace is the best blessing. Though we should be contented with a competency of estate—yet not with a competency of grace. It was the end of Christ's ascension to heaven, to give gifts; and the end of those gifts, "that we may grow up into him in all things who is the head, even Christ. (Ep. 4:15) Where the apostle distinguishes between our being in Christ, and our growing in him; our maturing, and our flourishing. Do not be content with a little piety.

It is not enough that there is life—but there must be fruit. Barrenness in the law was accounted a curse: the further we are from the fruit, the nearer we are to cursing. (He. 6:8) It is a sad thing when men are fruitful only in the unfruitful works of darkness. Be not content with a grain or two of grace. "My Father is glorified by this: that you produce much fruit and prove to be My disciples." (John 15:8) O covet more grace! never think you have enough. We are bid to covet the best things. (1 Cor. 12:31) It is a heavenly ambition, when we desire to be high in God's favor. It is a blessed contentment when all the strife is "who shall be most holy". Paul, though he was content with a little of the world—yet not with a little grace. "I do not consider myself to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: forgetting what is behind and reaching forward to what is ahead, I pursue as my goal the prize promised by God’s heavenly call in Christ Jesus." (Ph. 3:13,14) A true Christian is a wonder; he is the most contented—and yet the least satisfied. He is contented with a morsel of bread, and a little water in the cruise—yet never satisfied with his grace; he pants and breathes after more. This is his prayer, "Lord, more conformity to Christ, more communion with Christ!" He would sincerely have Christ's image more lively pictured upon his soul. True grace is always progressive. As the saints are called lamps and stars, in regard of their light—so they are called trees of righteousness, (Is. 61:3) for their growth. They are indeed like the tree of life, bringing forth several sorts of fruit.

A true Christian grows in beauty. Grace is the best complexion of the soul; it is at the first plantation, like Rachel, fair to look upon; but still the more it lives, the more it sends forth its rays of beauty. Abraham's faith was at first beautiful; but at last did shine in its orient colors, and grew so illustrious, that God himself was in love with it, and makes his faith a pattern to all believers.

A true Christian grows in sweetness. A poisonous weed may grow as much as the corn; but the one has a harsh sour taste, the other mellows as it grows. A hypocrite may grow in outward dimensions, as much as a child of God, he may pray as much, profess as much: but he grows only in magnitude, he brings forth only sour grapes, his duties are leavened with pride; the other ripens as he grows; he grows in love, humility, faith, which do mellow and sweeten his duties, and make them come off with a better relish. The believer grows as the flower, he casts a fragrancy and perfume.

A true Christian grows in strength: he grows still more rooted and settled. The more the tree grows, the more it spreads its root in the earth: a Christian who is a plant of the heavenly Jerusalem, the longer he grows, the more he incorporates into Christ, and sucks spiritual juice and sap from him. He is a dwarf in regard of humility—but a giant in regard of strength—he is strong to do duties, to bear burdens, resist temptations.

He grows in the exercise of his grace; he has not only oil in his lamp—but his lamp is also burning and shining. Grace is agile and dexterous. Christ's vines flourish; (Ca. 6:11) hence we read of "a lively hope, (1 Pe. 1:3) and "a fervent love;" (1 Pe. 1:22) here is the activity of grace. Indeed sometimes grace is a sleepy habit of the soul, like sap in the vine, not exerting its vigor, which may be occasioned through spiritual sloth, or by reason of falling into some sin; but this is only for a while: the spring of grace will come, "the flowers will appear, and the fig-tree put forth her green figs." The fresh gales of the Spirit sweetly revive and nourish grace. The church of Christ, whose heart was a garden, and her graces as precious spices, prays for the heavenly breathings of the Spirit, that her sacred spices might flow out. (Ca. 6:16)

A true Christian grows both in the kind and in the degree of grace. To his spiritual living he gets an augmentation, "Make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ." (2 Pe. 1:5-8) Here is grace growing in its kind. And he goes on "from faith to faith;" (Ro. 1:17) there is grace growing in the degree; "we are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, because your faith grows exceedingly;" (2 Th. 1:3) it increases over and above.

The apostle speaks of those spiritual plants which were laden with gospel-fruit. (Ph. 1:11) A Christian is compared to the vine, (an emblem of fruitfulness) he must bear full clusters: we are bid to perfect that which is lacking in our faith. (1 Th. 3:10) A Christian must never be so old as to be past bearing; he brings forth fruit in his old age. (Psalm 92:14) A heaven-born plant is ever growing; he never thinks he grows enough; he is not content unless he adds every day to his spiritual stature. We must not be content just with so much grace as will keep life and soul together, a grain or two will not suffice—but we must be still increasing, "with the increase of God." (Col. 2:19) We had need renew our strength as the eagle. (Is. 40:31) Our sins are renewed, our temptations are renewed, our needs are renewed—and shall not our strength be renewed? O be not content with grace in its infancy! You look for degrees of glory, be Christians of high degrees. Though a believer should be contented with a little estate—yet not with a little piety. A Christian of the right breed, labors still to excel himself, and come nearer to that holiness in God, who is the original, the pattern, and prototype of all holiness.

Showing how a Christian may know whether he has learned this Divine Art of Contentment

Thus having laid down these three cautions, I proceed, in the next place, to an use of trial. How may a Christian know that he has learned this lesson of contentment? I shall lay down some characters by which you shall know it.

1. A contented spirit is SILENT when under afflictions. "I was silent; I would not open my mouth, for You are the one who has done this!" (Psalm 39:9) Contentment silences all dispute: "he sits alone and keeps silence." (La. 3:28)

There is a sinful silence—when God is dishonored, his truth wounded, and men hold their peace, this silence is a loud sin. And there is a holy silence—when the soul sits down quiet and content with its condition. When Samuel tells Eli that dreadful message from God, "that judgment is coming for his family," (1 Sa. 3:13,14) does Eli murmur or dispute? No! he has not one word to say against God: "It is the Lord's will. Let him do what he thinks best." A discontented spirit says as Pharaoh, "who is the Lord?" why should I suffer all this? why should I be brought into this low condition? "who is the Lord?" But a gracious heart says, as Eli, ""It is the Lord's will. Let him do what he thinks best." When Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, had offered up strange fire, and fire went from the Lord and devoured them, (Le. 10:1) is Aaron now in a passion of discontent? No! "Aaron held his peace." A contented spirit is never angry—unless with himself for having hard thoughts of God. When Jonah said, "I do well to be angry," this was not a contented spirit, it was not fitting for a prophet.

2. A contented spirit is a CHEERFUL spirit. Contentment is something more than patience; for patience denotes only submission, contentment denotes cheerfulness. A contented Christian is more than passive; he does not only bear the cross—but take up the cross. (Mat. 6:24) He looks upon God as a wise God; and whatever he does, it is in order to a cure. Hence the contented Christian is cheerful, and with the apostle, "I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties." (2 Cor. 12:10) He does not only submit to God's dealings—but rejoices in them! He does not only say, "just is the Lord in all that has befallen me," but "good is the Lord." This is to be contented. A sullen melancholy is hateful to God. It is said, "God loves a cheerful giver," (2 Cor. 9:7) yes and God loves a cheerful liver! We are bid in Scripture, "not to be anxious," but we are not bid not to be cheerful. He who is contented with his condition, does not abate of his spiritual joy; and indeed he has that within him which is the ground of cheerfulness; he carries a pardon sealed in his heart! (Mat. 9:2)

3. A contented spirit is a THANKFUL spirit. This is a degree above cheerfulness; "in everything giving thanks." (1 Th. 5:18) A gracious heart spies mercy in every condition, therefore has his heart pitched up to thankfulness. Others will bless God for prosperity—but he blesses him for affliction. Thus he reasons with himself; am I in need? God sees it better for me to lack than to abound; God is now dieting me, he sees it better for my spiritual health sometimes to be kept fasting; therefore he does not only submit—but is thankful. The malcontent is ever complaining of his condition; the contented spirit is ever giving thanks. O what height of grace is this! A contented heart is a temple where the praises of God are sung forth—not a sepulcher wherein they are buried.

A contented Christian in the greatest straits, has his heart enlarged and dilated in thankfulness; he often contemplates God's love in election—he sees that he is a monument of mercy, therefore desires to be a pattern of praise. There is always thankful music in a contented soul; the Spirit of grace works in the heart like new wine, which under the heaviest pressures of sorrow, will have a vent open for thankfulness: this is to be content.

4. He who is content, no condition comes amiss to him; so it is in the text, "in whatever condition I am." A Christian should be content in any and every situation; either to lack or abound. The people of Israel knew neither how to abound, nor yet how to lack; when they were in need they murmured; "can God prepare a table in the wilderness?" and when they ate, and were filled, then they lifted up the heel. Paul knew how to manage every state; he could be either a note higher or lower; he was in this sense an universalist, he learned to be content whatever the circumstances. If he was in prosperity, he knew how to be thankful. If he was in adversity, he knew how to be patient; he was neither lifted up with the one, nor cast down with the other.

Thus a contented Christian knows how to respond to any condition. We have those who can be contented in some conditions—but not in every estate; they can be content in a wealthy estate, when they have the streams of milk and honey; while Gods candle shines upon their head—now they are content—but if the wind turns and is against them—now they are discontented. While they have a silver crutch to lean upon—they are contented; but if God breaks this crutch—now they are discontented. But Paul had learned in every estate to carry himself with an equanimity of mind. Others could be content with their affliction—if God would allow them to pick and choose. They could be content to bear such a cross of their choosing; they could better endure sickness than poverty; or bear loss of estate than loss of children; if they might have a cross of their own choosing—they would be content. A contented Christian does not go to choose his cross—but leaves God to choose for him; he is content both for the kind of the affliction and the duration of the affliction. A contented spirit says, "let God apply whatever medicine he pleases, and let it lie on as long as it will; I know when it has done its cure, and eaten the venom of sin out of my heart, God will take it away."

In a word, a contented Christian, being sweetly captivated under the authority of the Word, desires to be wholly at God's disposal, and cheerfully lives in whatever circumstances that God has placed him in.

5. He who is contented with his condition—to rid himself out of trouble, will not turn himself into sin. I deny not but a Christian may lawfully seek to change his condition: so far as God's providence goes before, he may follow. But when men will not follow providence but run before it, as he who said, "this evil is of the Lord, why should I wait any longer. (2 Ki. 6:33) If God does not open the door of his providence, they will break it open—and wind themselves out of affliction by sin; bringing their souls into trouble! This is far from holy contentment, this is unbelief broken into rebellion. A contented Christian is willing to wait God's leisure, and will not stir until God opens a door. The contented Christian says, with reverence, "God has cast me into this condition; and though it is sad, and troublesome, yet I will not stir, until God by a clear providence fetches me out." Thus those brave spirited Christians; "they accepted not deliverance," (He. 11:35) that is, upon base dishonorable terms. They would rather stay in prison, than purchase their liberty by carnal compliance.

Estius observes on the place, "they might not only have had their enlargements—but been raised to honor, and put into offices of trust—yet the honor of Christ was dearer to them, than either liberty or honor." A contented Christian will not remove, until as the Israelites, he sees a pillar of cloud and fire going before him. "It is good that a man should both hope, and quietly wait for the salvation of the Lord." (La. 3:26) It is good to wait God's leisure—and not to extricate ourselves out of trouble—until we see the star of God's providence pointing out a way to us!

A Christian Directory, or RULES about Contentment.

I proceed now to an use of direction, to show Christians how they may attain to this divine art of contentment. Certainly it is feasible, others of God's saints have reached to it. Paul here had it; and what do we think of those we read of, in that little book of martyrs, (Hebrews 11) who had trials of cruel mockings and scourgings, who wandered about in deserts and caves—yet were contented. It is possible to attain to this divine art of contentment. And here I shall lay down some rules for holy contentment.

Rule 1. Advance FAITH. All our disquiets issue from unbelief. It is this which raises the storm of discontent in the heart. O set faith a-work! It is the property of faith to silence our doubtings, to scatter our fears, to still the heart when the passions are up. Faith works the heart to a sweet serene composure. It is not having fancy food and raiment—but having faith, which will make us content. Faith chides down passion. When reason begins to sink—let faith swim! How does faith work contentment?

1. Faith shows the soul that whatever its trials are—that they are all from the hand of a loving heavenly father. It is indeed a bitter cup—but "shall I not drink the cup which my father has given me to drink?" Faith shows the soul that whatever its trials are—that they are all sent in love to my soul. God corrects me, with the same love with which he crowns me; God is now training me up for heaven. He is only polishing his 'jewels'. These sufferings bring forth patience, humility, even the peaceful fruits of righteousness. (He. 12:11) And if God can bring such sweet fruit out of our stock, let him graft me wherever and however he pleases. Thus faith brings the heart to holy contentment.

2. Faith sucks the honey of contentment out of the hive of the promise. Christ is the vine, the promises are the clusters of grapes which grow upon this vine, and faith presses the sweet wine of contentment out of these spiritual clusters of the promises. I will show you but one cluster, "the Lord will give grace and glory;" (Psalm 84:11) here is enough for faith to live upon. The promise is the flower out of which faith distills the spirits and quintessence of divine contentment. In a word, faith carries up the soul, and makes it aspire after more generous and noble delights than the earth affords, and to live in the world—above the world. Would you live contented lives? Live up to the height of your faith.

Rule 2. Labor for ASSURANCE. O let us get a saving interest cleared, between God and our souls! O, if there is an interest worth looking after, it is an interest between God and the soul! Labor to say, "My God." To be without money, and without friends, and without God too, is sad. But he whose faith flourishes into assurance, who can say, "I know whom I have believed!" (2 Ti. 1:2) that man has enough to give his heart contentment. When a man's debts are paid, and he can go abroad without fear of being arrested, what contentment is this! O, let your title to heaven be cleared! If God is ours, whatever we lack in the creature, is infinitely made up in him. Do I lack bread? I have Christ, the bread of life. Am I under defilement? his blood is like the trees of the sanctuary; not only for food—but medicine. (Ez. 47:12) If anything in the world be worth laboring for, it is to get sound evidences, that God is ours. If this is once cleared, what can come amiss? No matter what storms I meet with—iit is well with me, so long that I know where to put in for harbor. He who has God to be his God, is so well contented with his condition, that he does not much care whether he has anything else.

To rest in a condition where a person cannot say that God is his God, is matter of fear. If a person can truly say that God is his God—and yet is not contented—this is a matter of shame. "David encouraged himself in the Lord his God." (1 Sa. 30:6) It was sad with him—his city burnt, his wives taken captive, his all lost, and likely to have lost his soldiers' hearts too, (for they spoke of stoning him,) yet he had the ground of contentment within him; a saving interest in God, and this was a pillar of support to his spirit. He who knows God is his, and all that is in God is for his good—if this does not satisfy him, I know nothing that will.

Rule 3. Get a HUMBLE spirit. The humble man is the contented man; if his estate is low, his heart is lower than his estate, therefore he is content. If his esteem in the world is low—he who is little in his own eyes will not be much troubled to be little in the eyes of others. He has a lower opinion of himself, than others can have of him. The humble man studies his own unworthiness; he looks upon himself as "less than the least of God's mercies:" (Ge. 32:10) and then a little will content him! He cries out with Paul, that he is the chief of sinners, (1 Ti. 1:15) therefore does not murmur—but admire. He does not complain that his comforts are small. He thinks it is mercy, that he is out of hell, therefore he is contented. He does not go to carve out a more happy condition to himself; he knows that the worst piece which God cuts for him—is better than he deserves.

A proud man is never contented; he is one that has a high opinion of himself; therefore under small blessings, he is disdainful; and under small crosses, he is impatient. The humble spirit is the contented spirit; if his cross is light—he reckons it the inventory of his mercies; if his cross is heavy—yet he takes it upon his knees, knowing that when his estate is worse, it is to make him the better. Where you lay humility for the foundation, contentment will be the superstructure.

Rule 4. Keep a clear CONSCIENCE. Contentment is the manna which is laid up in the ark of a good conscience! O take heed of indulging in any sin! It is as natural for guilt to breed disquiet—as for putrid matter to breed vermin. Sin lies as Jonah in the ship, it raises a tempest. If dust or splinters have gotten into the eye, they make the eye water, and cause a soreness in it; if the eye be clear, then it is free from that soreness. Just so, if sin has gotten into the conscience, which is as the eye of the soul, then grief and disquiet breed there. Keep the eye of conscience clear—and all is well. What Solomon says of a good stomach, I may say of a good conscience, "to the hungry soul every bitter thing is sweet." (Proverbs 27:7) So to a good conscience, every bitter thing is sweet; it can pick contentment out of the cross! A good conscience turns the bitter waters of Marah into sweet wine.

Would you have a quiet heart? Get a smiling conscience. I do not wonder to hear Paul say that he was content in every situation, when he could make that triumph, "I have lived in all good conscience to this day!" When once a man's reckonings are clear, it must needs let in abundance of contentment into the heart. Good conscience can suck contentment out of the bitterest slanders; "our rejoicing is this, the testimony of our conscience." (2 Cor. 1:12) In case of imprisonment, Paul had his prison songs, and could play the sweet lessons of contentment, when his feet were in the stocks! (Ac. 16:25) Augustine calls contentment, "the paradise of a good conscience!" And if it is so—then in prison we may be in paradise! When the times are troublesome, a good conscience makes a calm. If conscience be clear, what though the days are cloudy?

Is it not a contentment to have a friend always by to speak a good word for us? Such a friend is conscience. A good conscience, as David's harp, drives away the evil spirit of discontent. When anxious thoughts begin to arise, and the heart is disquieted, conscience says to a man, as the king did to Nehemiah, "Why is your countenance sad?" So says conscience, "Have not you the seed of God in you? are not you an heir of the promise? have not you a treasure which can never be plundered? Why is your countenance sad?" O keep conscience clear—and you shall never lack contentment! For a man to keep the pipes of his body—the veins and arteries—free from colds and obstructions, is the best way to maintain health. Just so, to keep conscience clear, and to preserve it from the obstructions of guilt—is the best way to maintain contentment. First, conscience is pure—and then peaceable.

Rule 5. Learn to DENY yourselves. Look well to your affections, and bridle them in. Do two things: mortify your desires; moderate your delights.

1. Mortify your desires. We must not be of the dragon's temper, which, they say—is so thirsty, that no water will quench its thirst. "Put to death the sinful, earthly things lurking within you. Have nothing to do with sexual sin, impurity, lust, and shameful desires." (Col. 3:5) Our desires, when they are inordinate, are evil. Crucify your desires—be as dead men—a dead man has no appetite!

How should a Christian martyr his desires?

(1.) Get a right judgment of the things here below; they are poor beggarly things. "Do not wear yourself out to get rich; have the wisdom to show restraint. Cast but a glance at riches, and they are gone, for they will surely sprout wings and fly off to the sky like an eagle" (Proverbs 23:4-5) The appetite must be guided by reason. The affections are the feet of the soul; therefore they must follow the judgment, not lead it.

(2.) Often seriously meditate of mortality. Death will soon crop these flowers which we delight in; and pull down the fabric of our bodies which we so garnish and beautify. Think, when you are locking up your money in your chest—that you shall shortly be locked up in your coffin!

2. Moderate your delights. Do not set your heart too much upon any creature comfort. What we over-love, we shall over-grieve. Rachel set her heart too much upon her children, and when she had lost them, she lost herself too! Such a vein of grief was opened, as could not be staunched, "she refused to be comforted." Here was discontent. When we let any creature creature lie too near our heart—when God pulls away that comfort—a piece of our heart is torn away with it! Too much fondness ends in frowardness. Those who would be content in the lack of comforts, must be moderate in the enjoyment of comforts. Jonathan dipped the rod in honey—he did not thrust it in. Let us take heed of engulfing ourselves in pleasure! It is better have a spare diet, than, by having too much, to glut ourselves.

Rule 6. Get much of HEAVEN into your heart. "You satisfy me more than the richest of foods. (Psalm 63:5) Spiritual things truly satisfy! The more that heaven is in us—the less earth that will content us. He who has once tasted the love of God, his thirst is much quenched towards earthly things. The joys of God's Spirit are heart-filling and heart-cheering joys; he who has these, has heaven begun in him! (Ro. 14:27) And shall not we be content to be in heaven? O get a heavenly heart! "Seek those things which are above." (Col. 3:1) Fly aloft in your affections, thirst after the graces and comforts of the Spirit! The eagle which flies high in the air, does not fear the stinging of the serpent. The serpent creeps on his belly, and stings only such creatures as creep upon the earth.

Rule 7. Look not so much on the dark side of your condition, as on the bright side. God chequers his providences, white and black—as the pillar of the cloud had its light side and dark side. Look on the light side of the estate; who looks on the back side of a landscape? Suppose you have lost much in a law-suit—there is the dark side; yet you have some land left—there is the light side. You have sickness in your body—there is the dark side; but you also have grace in your soul—there is the light side. You have a child taken away—there is the dark side; your husband lives—there is the light side. God's providences in this life are variously represented by those speckled horses among the myrtle-trees which were red and white. (Ze. 1:1) Mercies and afflictions are interwoven—God speckles his work.

"O," says one, "I lack such a comfort!" But weigh all your mercies in the balance—and that will make you content. If a man lacked a finger, would he be so discontented for the loss of that, as not to be thankful for all the other parts and joints of his body? Look on the light side of your condition, and then all your discontents will easily dissolve. Do not pore upon your losses—but ponder upon your mercies. What! Would you have no afflictions at all—and only all good things? Would you have no evil about you—who has so much evil in you? You are not fully sanctified in this life—how then think you to be fully satisfied in this life? Never look for perfection of contentment, until there is perfection of grace.

Rule 8. Consider in what a POSTURE we stand here in the world.

1. We are in a military condition—we are soldiers, (2 Ti. 2:3) A soldier is content with anything. Though he has not his stately house, his rich furniture, his soft bed, his full table—yet he does not complain; he can lie on straw as well as down; he minds not his lodging—but his thoughts run upon dividing the spoil, and the garland of honor which shall be set upon his head. For hope of this, is he content to run any hazard, and endure any hardship. Would it not be absurd to hear him complain, that he lacks such provision and is discontent to lie out in the fields? A Christian is a military person, he fights the Lord's battles, he is Christ's ensign bearer. Now, what though he endures hard fate, and the bullets fly about him? He fights for a crown—and therefore must be content!

2. We are in a nomadic condition—we are pilgrims and travelers. A man who is in a strange country, is contented with anything. Though he has not that respect or attendance which he looks for at home, nor is capable of the privileges and amenities of that place—he is content. He knows, when he comes into his own country, he has lands to inherit, and there he shall have honor and respect. So it is with a child of God, he is in a pilgrim condition; "I am a stranger with you, and a sojourner, as all my fathers were!" (Psalm 39:12) Therefore let a Christian be content; he is in the world—but not of the world: he is born of God, and is a citizen of the New Jerusalem! (He. 12:22) Therefore, though "he hungers and thirsts, and has no certain dwelling-place," (1 Cor. 4:11) yet he must be content: it will be better—when he comes into his own country.

3. We are in a mendicant condition—we are beggars. We beg at heaven's gate, "give us this day our daily bread." We live upon God's alms, therefore must be content with anything. A beggar must not pick and choose—he is contented with the scraps. Oh, why do you who are a beggar, murmur? Oh, why do you who are fed out of the alms-basket of God's providence, murmur?

Rule 9. Do not let your hope depend upon EXTERNAL things. Do not lean upon sandy pillars. We often build our comfort upon such a friend or estate—and when that prop is removed—all our joy is gone, and our hearts begin either to fail or fret! A lame man leans on his crutches—and if they break, he is undone! Let not your contentment go upon crutches, which may soon fail. The ground of contentment must be within yourself. The Greek word which is used for contentment, signifies self-sufficiency. A Christian has that within him—which is able to support him—that strength of faith, and good hope through grace, as bears up his heart in the deficiency of outward comforts. The philosophers of old, when their estates were gone—yet could take contentment in the goods of the mind—learning and virtue. And shall not a believer much more in the graces of the Spirit, that rich enamel and embroidery of the soul! Say with yourself, "if friends leave me, if riches take wings—yet I have that within me, which comforts me—a heavenly treasure! When the blossoms of my estate are blown off, still there is the sap of contentment, in the root of my heart! I have still a saving interest in God, and that interest cannot be broken off!" O never place your felicity in these poor and beggarly things here below!

Rule 10. Let us often compare our condition. Make this fivefold comparison.

1. Let us compare our condition and our desert together. If we have not what we desire—we have more than we deserve. For our mercies—we have deserved less. For our afflictions—we have deserved more.

First. In regard of our MERCIES—we have deserved less. What can we deserve? Can a man be profitable to the Almighty? We live upon free grace! Alexander gave a great gift to one of his subjects; the man being much taken with it, said, "this is more than I am worthy of!" "I do not give you this," said the king, "because you are worthy of it—but I give a gift like Alexander!" Whatever we have is not merit—but bounty! The least bit of bread is more than God owes to us! We can bring faggots to our own burning—but not one flower to the garland of our salvation. He who has the least mercy—will die in God's debt!

Secondly. In regard of our AFFLICTIONS—we have deserved more. "you have punished us less than our iniquities deserve. (Ex. 9:13) Is our condition sad? We have deserved it should be worse. Has God taken away our estate from us? He might have taken away Christ from us. Has he thrown us into prison? He might have thrown us into hell! He might as well damn us, as whip us! This should make us contented.

2. Let us compare our condition with others—and this will make us content. We look at them who are above us, let us look at them who are below us; we can see one in his silks, another in his sackcloth; one has a full cup of the choicest wine wrung out to him, another is mingling his drink with tears. How many pale faces do we behold, whom poverty has brought into a comsumption! Think of this—and be content.

It is worse with them, who perhaps deserve better than we—and are higher in God's favor. Am I in prison? Was not Daniel in a worse place—the lion's den! Do I live in a poor cottage? look on those who are banished from their cottages. We read of the primitive saints, "Some were mocked, and their backs were cut open with whips. Others were chained in dungeons. Some died by stoning, and some were sawed in half; others were killed with the sword. Some went about in skins of sheep and goats, hungry and oppressed and mistreated." (He. 11:37,38)

Have you a gentle illness? look on those who are tormented with the stone, the gout, cancer etc. Others of God's children have had greater afflictions, and have borne them better than we. Daniel fed only upon vegetables and drank only water—yet was fairer than they who ate of the king's portion. (Dan. 1:15) Some Christians who have been in a lower condition, who have had only bread and water, have been more patient and contented, than we who enjoy abundance. Do others rejoice in affliction—and do we repine? Can they take up their cross and walk cheerfully under it—and do we under a lighter cross murmur?

3. Let us compare our condition with Christ's condition, when He was upon earth. What a poor, base condition was He pleased to be in for us! He was contented with anything. "For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich—yet for our sakes he became poor!" (2 Cor. 8:9) He could have brought down a house from heaven with him, or taken the high places of the earth—but he was contented to be in the wine-press, that we might be in the wine-cellar; and to live poor that we might be eternally rich! The feeding trough was his cradle, and the cobwebs were his canopy. He who is now preparing mansions for us in heaven—had none for himself on earth, "he had nowhere to lay his head." Christ took upon him the form of a servant. (Ph. 2:7) We do not read not that He had any money. When he needed money, he had to work a miracle for it. (Mat. 17:27) Jesus Christ was in a low condition. He was never high—but when he was lifted up upon the cross, and that was his greatest humility! He was content to live poor—and die cursed! O compare your condition with His—and learn to be content!

4. Let us compare our present condition—with what it once WAS—and this will make us content.

First, Let us compare our SPIRITUAL estate with what it was once. What were we—when we lay in our blood? We were heirs to hell, having no right to pluck one leaf from the tree of promise! It was a Christless and hopeless condition! (Ep. 2:12) But now God has cut off our destiny of hell and damnation. He has taken you out of the wild olive tree of nature—and engrafted you into Christ, making you living branches of that living vine! He has not only caused the light to shine upon you—but into you, (2 Cor. 6:6) and has made you an heir of all the privileges of divine sonship! Is not this enough to make the soul content.

Secondly, Let us compare our TEMPORAL estate with what it was once. Alas! We had nothing when we stepped out of the womb; "for we brought nothing into this world." (1 Ti. 6:7) If we have not that which we now desire—we have more than we brought with us! We brought nothing with us—but sin! Other creatures bring something with them into the world; the lamb brings wool, the silk-worm silk, etc. But we brought nothing with us—but sin! What if our condition at present is low? It is better than it was once; therefore, having food and clothing, let us be content. Whatever we have, God's providence fetches it unto us! And if we lose all—yet we have as much as we brought with us! This was what made Job content, "Naked I came out of my mother's womb!" (Job 1:21) As if he had said, though God has taken away all from me—yet why should I murmur? I am as rich as I was when I came into the world! I have as much left as I brought with me; naked I came I hither! Therefore blessed be the name of the Lord.

5. Let us compare our present condition—with what it shortly SHALL BE. There is a time shortly coming, when, if we had all the riches of the Indies, they would do us no good—we must die, and can carry nothing with us. So says the apostle, "We didn't bring anything with us when we came into the world—and we certainly cannot carry anything with us when we die!" (1 Ti. 6:7) Therefore it follows, "So if we have enough food and clothing, let us be content." Open the rich man's grave—and see what is there—you may find the miser's bones—but not his riches! Were we to live forever here on earth, or could we carry our riches into the eternal world—then indeed we might be discontented, when we look upon our empty money bags. But it is not so; God may presently seal a warrant for death to apprehend us—and when we die, we cannot carry our estate with us! Honor and riches do not descend into the grave—why then are we troubled at our outward condition? Why do we clothe ourselves with discontent? O lay up a stock of grace! Be rich in faith and good works—these riches will follow us! (Re. 14:13) No other coin but grace, will pass current in heaven, silver and gold will not go there. Labor to be rich towards God, (Luke 12:21) and as for other things, be not much concerned—for we shall carry nothing with us into the eternal world!

Rule 11. Do not to bring your condition to your mind—but bring your mind to your condition. The way for a Christian to be contented, is not by raising his estate higher—but by bringing his heart lower! It is not by making his barns wider—but his heart narrower. A whole kingdom will not content one man; another man is satisfied with a poor hut. What is the difference? The one tries to satisfy his lusts—the other his necessity. The one thinks what he may yet obtain—the other what he may spare.

Rule 12. Study the vanity of the creature. It matters not whether we have less or more of these earthly things—for they have vanity written upon their frontispiece. The world is like a shadow which declines. The world is delightful—but deceitful. The world promises more than it has—and it fails us when we have most need of it. All the world rings 'change', and is constant only in its disappointments! What then, if we have less of that which is at best but uncertain and changing? The world is as full of change—as of motion; so what if God cut us short in these passing vanities? The more a man has to do with the world—the more he has to do with vanity! The world may be compared to ice, which is smooth—but slippery! The world may also be compared to the Egyptian temples—very beautiful and sumptuous on the outside—but within nothing to be seen but the image of an ape! Every creature says concerning satisfaction, "it is not in me!" The world is not a filling comfort—but a flying comfort. The world is like a game at tennis; providence bandies her golden balls, first to one, then to another. Why are we discontented at the loss of these things—but because we expect that from them, that which they cannot give? "Jonah was exceeding glad of the gourd." (Jon. 4:6) What a vanity was that! Is it much to see a gourd smitten and withering?

Rule 13. Get the 'imagination' regulated. It is the 'imagination' which raises the price of things, above their real worth. What is the reason one flower is worth five dollars—and another perhaps not worth one penny? 'Imagination' raises the price—the difference is rather imaginary than real. Just so, the reason why it is better to have thousands than hundreds is—because men 'imagine' it so! If we could 'imagine' a lower condition to be better—as having less worry in it, and less accounting to give for it—it would be far more prized. The water from a paper cup, tastes as sweet as if it came out a golden chalice. Things are as we 'imagine' them. Ever since the fall, the 'imagine' is distempered; "God saw that the imagination of the thoughts of his heart, was only evil all the time." (Ge. 6:5) 'Imagination' looks at things through a 'magnifying glass'. Pray that God will sanctify your 'imagination'; a lower condition would content you, if the mind and 'imagination' were set right. Diogenes preferred his solitary life before Alexander's royalty. Fabricius was a poor man—yet despised the gold of King Pyrrhus. Could we cure our distempered 'imagination'—we would soon conquer our discontented heart!

Rule 14. Consider how little will suffice nature. The body is but a small thing—and is easily nourished. Christ has taught us to pray for our daily bread. Nature is content with a little. Not to thirst, not to starve—is enough. "Having food and clothing, let us be content." The stomach is sooner filled—than the eye! how quickly would a man be content, if he would study rather to satisfy his hunger—than his humor.

Rule 15. Believe that the present condition is best for us. The flesh is not a competent judge. Gluttons are for rich banquets—but a man who regards his health, is rather for solid food. Vain men imagine that a prosperous condition is best for them; whereas a wise Christian has his will melted into God's will, and thinks it best to be at God's will. God is wise—he knows best what we need; and if we could acquiesce in His providencial dealings with us—the quarrel would soon be at an end. O what a strange creature would man be—if he were what he could wish himself to be! Be content to be at God's allowance. God knows which is the fittest pasture to put his sheep in; sometimes a more sparse ground does well—whereas a lush pasture may rot. Do I meet with such a cross? By it, God shows me what the world is; he has no better way to wean me. Does God stint me in my temporals? He is now dieting me. Do I meet with losses? It is, that God may keep me from being lost. Every cross wind shall at last—blow me to the right port! Did we believe that condition best which God parcels out to us, we would cheerfully submit, and say, "the lines have fallen to me in pleasant places."

Rule 16. Do not too much indulge the flesh. The flesh is a worse enemy than the devil, it is a bosom-traitor! An enemy within—is worst! If there were no devil to tempt, the flesh would be another Eve—to tempt to the forbidden fruit. O take heed of giving way to it! Whence is all our discontent—but from our flesh? The flesh puts us upon the immoderate pursuit of the world. The flesh hunts for ease and luxury—and if it be not satisfied, then discontent begins to arise! O let it not have the reins! Martyr the flesh! In spiritual things the flesh is a sluggard; but in secular things, it is a horse-leech, crying "give, give!" The flesh is an enemy to suffering: it will never make a man a martyr. O keep it under control! Put its neck under Christ's yoke, stretch and nail it to his cross! Never let a Christian look for contentment in his spirit—until there is confinement in his flesh.

Rule 17. Meditate much on the glory which shall be revealed. There are great things laid up in heaven. Though things are sad for the present—yet let us be content in that it shortly will be better; it is but a short while—and we shall be with Christ, bathing ourselves in the fountain of love! We shall more never complain of needs and injuries! Our cross may now be heavy—but one sight of Christ will make us forget all our former sorrows! There are two things that should give contentment.

1. That God will make us able to bear our troubles. "God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it." (1 Cor. 10:13)

2. After we have suffered a while—we shall be perfected in glory! The cross shall be our ladder by which we shall climb up to heaven! Be content—the scene will soon alter; God will before long, turn out water into wine—the hope of this is enough to drive away all distempers from the heart. Blessed be God—it will shortly be better! "We have no continuing city here," therefore our afflictions cannot continue. A wise man always looks to the end of a matter; "The end of the just man is peace." (Psalm 37:37) Methinks the smoothness of the end—should make amends for the ruggedness of the way. O eternity, eternity! Think often of the eternal kingdom prepared. David was advanced from the field—to the throne! First he held his shepherd's staff—and shortly after the royal scepter. God's people may be put to hard services here on earth—but God has chosen them to be kings—to sit upon the throne with the Lord Jesus! This being weighed in the balance of faith, would be an excellent means to bring the heart to contentment.

Rule 18. Be much in prayer. The last rule for contentment is, be much in prayer. Beg of God, that he will work our hearts to this blessed frame. "Is any man afflicted? let him pray!" (Ja. 5:14) Just so, is any man discontented? let him pray. Prayer gives vent: the opening of a vein lets out bad blood. Just so, when the heart is filled with sorrow and disquiet, prayer lets out the bad blood. The key of a prayer, oiled with tears, unlocks the heart of all its discontents! Prayer is a holy charm, to drive away trouble. Prayer is the unbosoming of the soul—the unloading of all our cares into God's breast; and this ushers in sweet contentment. When there is any burden upon our spirits, by opening our mind to a friend we find our hearts greatly eased and quieted. It is not our strong resolutions—but our strong requests to God, which must give the heart ease in trouble. By prayer the strength of Christ comes into the soul—and where that is, a man is able to go through any condition. Paul could be in every state content; but that you may not think he was able to do this himself, he tells you that though he could lack and abound, and "do all things;" yet it was through Christ strengthening him. (Ph. 4:13)

Consolation to the Contented Christian.

The last use is of comfortan encouraging word to the contented Christian. If there is an heaven upon earth—you have it! O Christian! You may leap over your troubles, and, with the leviathan, laugh at the shaking of a spear. (Job 41:7) You are a crown to your profession; you hold it out to all the world—that there is virtue enough in piety, to give the soul contentment. You show the highest degree of grace. When grace is reigning in our hearts, it is easy for us to be content. But when grace is declining, and meets with crosses, temptations, agonies; now the heart becomes discontent.

To a contented Christian, I shall say two things for a farewell.

1. God is exceedingly pleased with such a frame of heart. God says of a contented Christian, as David once said of Goliath's sword, "there is none like that, give it to me!" If you would please God, and be men whom he delights in—be contented. God hates a froward spirit.

2. The contented Christian shall be no loser. What did Job lose, by his patience? God gave him twice as much as he had before. What did Abraham lose, by his contentment? he was content to leave his country at God's call: the Lord makes a covenant with him, that he would be his God. He changes his name; no more Abram—but Abraham, the father of many nations. (Ge. 17) God makes his seed as the stars of heaven; nay, honors, him with this title, "the father of the faithful." (Ge. 18:17) The Lord makes known his secrets to him, "shall I hide from Abraham the things that I will do?" God settles a rich inheritance upon him, that land which was a type of heaven, and afterwards translated him to the blessed paradise of glory!

God will be sure to reward the contented Christian. As our Savior said in another case, to Nathaniel, "You shall see greater things than these!" (John 1:50) So I say, are you contented, O Christian, with a little? You shall see greater things than these! God will distill the sweet influences of his love into your soul. He will bless the oil in your cruise; and when that is done, He will crown you with an eternal enjoyment of himself! He will give you heaven—where you shall have as much contentment as your soul can possibly thirst after!