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out; and therefore upon it reasons thus; And having food and raiment, let us be therewith content, 1 Tim. vi. 7, 8. and that is enough for the present state, and is more than we shall carry with us, or shall hereafter have any need of; and this was what made Job contented with the loss of all he had; Naked came I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return thither; and now, as if he should say, I am stripped of all, I am but as I was when I was born, and shall be again when I die; and therefore I am content; the Lord gave all that I have had from my birth, and the Lord has taken away, and he has taken only what he gave, and to which he had a right; blessed be the name of the Lord, Jobi. 21. and the like argument the wise man makes use of to shew how fruitless and unprofitable it is for a man to be anxious to get perishing riches, and which his son, begotten by him, may not enjoy; but come into the world naked, and go out in like manner, Eccles. v. 14-16. and this is a reason urged by the Psalmist, why it should give no pain and uneasiness to persons at the increase of the riches of others; since, when he dies he shall carry nothing away; so that as it will be no longer his, it will remain to be enjoyed by others, Psalm xlix. 16, 17.
11. The unalterable will of God is an argument exciting contentment; who does according to his will, as in the armies of the heavens, so among the inhabitants of the earth; he gives to every one their portion in this life as he thinks fit. What they have, is not to be attributed to their wisdom and sagacity, and to their diligence and industry, however commendable these may be; but is to be ascribed to the sovereign will and pleasure of God, who does all things after the counsel of his will, in the wisest and best manner; and therefore men should be content; and after all, they cannot make things otherwise than they are; for for who can make that straight which he hath made crooked? Eccles. ix. 11. nor can any man, with all his care and thought, add one cubit to his stature» or make any change in his condition and circumstances, than what is according to the will of God.
III. Unworthiness to enjoy the least favour and mercy at the hand of God, should engage us to be content with what we have: we have reason to say, aɛ Jacob did, I am not worthy of the least of all thy mercies, not of the bread we eat, nor of the clothes we wear; yea if God was to deal with us according to our deserts, we should be stripped of all; and, indeed, it is of the Lord's mercies we are not consumed; and therefore have great reason to be content; since we merit nothing, have forfeited all, and cannot claim any thing as our due; what is enjoyed is pure favour.
Iv. A consideration of the great things which God has done for us; a dwelling in our thoughts, and meditation on what may excite thankfulness in us; a recollection of the benefits of every kind which God has conferred upon us, may tend very much to make us contented with what we have, giving thanks unto his name; where there is a proper sense of favours, there will be thankfulness; and where there is thankfulness there will be content.
v. The great promises God has made to his people of good things, here and hereafter, on the fulfilment of which they may depend, are sufficient to make and contented; this is an argument used by the apostle to engage to contentment, Heb. xiii. 5. where he says, I will never leave thee nor forsake thee! which promise itself, containing every favour and blessing, and securing every thing that can be needful for comfort and happiness, is of itself enough to excite to contentment. But besides this, there are many other exceeding great and precious promises; as, they that fear the Lord shall lack no good thing; that God will supply all their need; that his grace will be suffici_ ent for them; that as their day is, their strength shall be; yea, godliness has the promise of this life, and of that which is to come; and therefore that, with contentment, is great gain.
vi. Eternal glory and happiness; which is promised, prepared, and laid up for the saints, and which they will most certainly enjoy, may serve to make them content with present things, and even with some things that are not agreeable to the flesh; thus Moses, having respect unto the recompence of rewar', and a view of invisible things, cheerfully suffered affliction with the people of God, and esteem reproach for Christ's sake greater riches than the treasures in Egypt; the sufferings of this present life are not to be compared with the glory of another; and though the saints now may have their evil things, they will nereafter have their good things, and shall be fully satisfied when they awake in the divine likeness; and therefore for the present should be content with their lot and portion.
VII. The saints and people of God have all things in hand, or in promise, or in sure and certain hope; All things are yours; and therefore they may say, as Jacob did, I have enough, or I have all things; I am content God as given us all things richly to enjoy; all things pertaining to life and godliness, both grace and glory; and what more can be desired?
1. God is theirs, Father, Son, and Spirit; all the perfections of God are on their side, and exercised for their good? and all the divine Persons are theirs, and they have an interest in them; and what can they have more?-God the Father is theirs; he is their covenant-God; he says, I will be their God, and they shall be my people! and he not only avouches them to be his peculiar people; but they say, The Lord is my God! and avouch him, profess him, and claim their intsrest in him as such: he is their Father, and has declared hinself in covenant to be so; has predestinated them to the adoption of children. sent his Son to redeem them, that they might receive it; and his Spirit, to witness it unto them. He is their shield and exceeding great reward, as he promised to Abraham; he is their portion now and for ever; and what, not content!-Christ the Son of God is theirs; the gift of his Father's love, an unspeakable one he is; given as an head unto them; as an head of government, to rule over them and protect them; and an head of influence, to supply them; he is their husband, to love, nourish, and cherish them, as his own flesh, and to all whose
goods they have a common right; he is their Saviour and Redeemer from sin, Satan, the curse of the law, and wrath to come; he is their Mediator and Peacemaker, their Prophet, Priest, and King. All that belong to him are theirs; his righteousness is theirs, for justification; his blood is theirs, to cleanse and par. don them; his flesh is theirs, to feed upon by faith; his fulness theirs, to supply their wants; he is ALL in ALL unto them; and what, not content!-The Spirit of God is theirs; a gift which their heavenly Father has given them; and is given them to make known unto them the things which are freely given to them of God; he is the convincer of them of sin, righteousness and judgment; the illuminator of them in the knowledge of divine things; then quickener and sanctifier, their comforter, and the spirit of adoption to them; the earnest and seal of their future glory; theirs to begin, to carry on, and perfect the work of grace in them; and what, not content!-2. The covenant of grace is theirs; made with them, and made for them; all the stores of it theirs; the blessings of it, the sure mercies of David; the blessings of grace and of glory, provided and laid up in it; the promises of it, both respecting this life and that which is to come; and what, not content! 3. The gospel, and the ordinances of it, and the ministers of it, are theirs; All things are yours, whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, 1 Cor. iii. 21, 22. the whole scripture is written for their use, for their learning and instruction, for their comfort and edification; the gospel is ordained for their glory; and is sent into and published in the world for their good; and the ministers of it are their servants for Jesus's sake; they are gifts to the churches, to be their pastors and teachers; and have gifts given them to feed and instruct them; they are stewards of the mysteries of grace, and are appointed in the house of God, to give to every one their portion of meat in due season; and which surely must add to divine contentment. -4. Temporal things are theirs; Or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come, all are yours, 1 Cor. iii. 22. the world, and the fulness of it, belongs to Christ, who is heir of all things; and saints being joint-heirs with him, are as Abraham was, heirs of the world; and all things in it are theirs, and work together, and contribute to their good; and they at last shall inhabit the new earth. Life is theirs in every sense, corporal, spiritual, and eternal. And death is theirs, a blessing to them whenever it comes; which will deliver them from the troubles of this life, and enter them into the glories of another. Things present are theirs ; present mercies, no good thing is withheld from them needful for them, food to eat, and raiment to put on and things to come; the unseen glories of a future state; an inheritance incorruptible, reserved in heaven, a kingdom prepared from the foundation of the world. And surely all this is enough to give contentment!
OF THANKFULNESS TO GOD.
THANKFULNES follows contentment; a discontented man is not thankful for any thing; but a contented man is thankful for every thing. Thankfulness is a branch of godliness; none but a godly man is truly a thankful man: there are some things not to be named among saints, and are not becoming them; but this is; and rather becoming them than many other things, an unthankful saint is a very odd sound, if not a contradiction; unthankful and unholy, are charac ters joined together, and agree, 2 Tim. iii. 2. and so unthankful and evil, Luke vi. 36. and particularly none but an holy man can give thanks at the remembrance of the holiness of God, Psal. xcvii. 12. Concerning this gracious disposition of mind, thankfulness, may be observed,
I. The things for which thanks are to be given; and they are all things; the rule, according to the will of God, is giving thanks always for all things; and again, In every thing, or for every thing, give thanks, Eph. v. 20. I Thess. v. 18.
1. For temporal mercies; for God is the Father of mercies, even of all such mercies; the author and giver of them, and therefore thanks should be returned to him for them. 1. For our beings; to be, is better than not to be; and none could give us existence but God, the fountain of being; In him we live, and move, and have our being; that is, we have it from him, as well as are supported in it by him; It is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves: be thank ful unto him, and bless his name, Acts xvii. 28. Psalm c. 3, 4. the wonderful formation of man, the structure of his body, the symmetry and perfection of its parts, as well as soundness of limbs, are matter of praise and thankfulness. 2. For our life, which is from God; he giveth to all life, and breath, and ali things, Acts xvii. 25. some creatures have a being, and yet not life, as inanimate ones; some have life, yet only a vegetative one, as plants; and others only an animal one, as brutes; but God has given to man a soul, both living and rational; Adam's body was made out of the dust of the earth, and then God breathed into him the breath of life, and man became a living soul; and such a life every man has, which is a grant and favour from God, and therefore thanks should be given to him for it, and for all the mercies of life, and for that more than for them; since the life is more than meat, or drink, or raiment, and every thing by which life is nourished, supported, and made comfortable; and indeed, is preferable to all a man has besides. 3. For the preservation of our being and life by God; his visitation, which is every day, every morning. preserves our spirits; he upholds our souls in life; he is therefore truly called, the preserver of men, and is worthy of praise and thanksgiving on that account; the reason given is, not only because he has made the heaven, earth, and seas
and all therein; but because he preserveth them all, Nehem. ix. 5, 6.4. For our health, and for the continuance of it, and for restoration to it when it has been interrupted; health is a very valuable mercy, and without which the outward blessings of life cannot be comfortably enjoyed; and therefore is greatly to be desired, both by ourselves and for our friends; thus the apostle John wished for Gaius, thu he might prosper ant be in health, even as his soul prospered, 3 John, verse 2. and persons favoured with such a mercy have reason to be thankful; as also when it has been lost and restored again; thus Hezekiah, when recovered from his sickness said, The living, the living, he shall praise thee, as I ao this day, Isai. xxxviii. 9, 19. and a contrary behaviour, as it is very un bcconing, is justly resented; as in the case of the ten lepers, Luke xvii. 15-18. --5. For every mercy enjoyed, be it what it may; not only for life and health' for food and raiment, which are the principal mercies; but for every other, the least that can be thought of, Gen, xxxii. 10. Every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving; so that it seems the goodness of any creature-mercy to a man, depends upon his thankfulness for it; and this is the difference between a thankful and an unthankful man; and un thankful man thinks nothing good; and a thankful man thinks every thing good, and blesses God for it, 2 Tim. iv. 4. and this he does every day; mercies are returned every day, and are new every morning; and therefore men sensible of them will say, Blessed be the Lord, who daily loadeth us with benefits!
11. For spiritual inercies, of every kind.
First, For the means of grace, the gospel, and the ministry of it; and a great mercy it is to be under the sound of it; Blessed is the man that heareth me, the voice of wisdom, the gospel of Christ, though only externally, Prov. viii. 34. it is an happiness to be born in a land where the gospel is preached, and not among Pagans, Mahometans, and Papists, where there is a famine; not a fa mine for bread, nor a thirst for water, but of, hearing the word of the Lord, Amos viii. 11. and a dreadful judgment it is on a people when the Lord coinmands the clouds, the ministers of the word, that they rain no rain upon them, that is, preach not the gospel to them. The gospel was first restrained to the Jewish .people, and forbid to be preached to the Gentiles; but afterwards the apostles, had a commission to preach it to all nations; the Gentiles embraced it gladly, glorified it, or were greatly thankful for it; and when this is blessed to the conversion of sinners, it is matter of thankfulness; not only to them, but to all true believers, and to the ministers of the word: when the Jewish christians perceived that God had given repentance to the Gentiles also, they glorified God, or were thankful to him, and blessed his name; and when the apostles declared the con version of the Gentiles by the ministry of the word, it caused great joy among the brethren; and when they were successful in all parts, in making conquests. of souls to Christ, they could not but express their thankfulness to God, saying, Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, 2 Cor. ii. 14. and when it is food to believers, and is sweet to their taste, as the honey