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SE R M O N X.
Phil. iv. II.
therewith to be content.
OU have lately been exhorted to the
Duty of Patience : which consists in bearing well such Things, as immediately and necessarily give Uneasiness : and now I proceed to that of Contentment under such, as disturb us only on Reflection and Comparison. One should think, that they who need not suffer any Thing, would not; yet very often such, as feel no positive Evil, that is worth naming, are very far from being at Ease. Multitudes are dissatisfied, and some extremely miserable, with very
little other Cause for it, than the unreasonable Workings of their own Minds. Instead of contriving to be as happy as they can in their Condition, which is plainly the 02
wise Part, they set themselves to find out, why they should be wretched in it, and accordingly become fo. Were they only to desire with Moderation any proper good Thing, which they have not, or endeavour with Moderation to obtain it, this would be always void of Blame, often worthy of Praise: they would be pleased, perhaps improved also, if they succeeded; and composed, though they failed. But vain Man extends his Wishes and his Claims far beyond these Bounds : and will enjoy na Peace within, because he is not, in this or that Respect, what he might have been, or what others are.
But fuppose he were all that he wishes, how doth he know, that he should not quickly with for more, with the same tormenting Eagerness, or that his Wishes would ever end? For there would be just the fame Ground for new ones, His Complaint at present is, not that he positively suffers any Thing, but that he wants something. Now something is, and must be always, wanting to finite Beings, be they raised ever so high: else they would be infinite. The fallen Angels were unspeakably above human Rank; yet they felt a Dehciency, and absurdly repined at it; Heaven
was not good enough for them, and so they were cast down to Hell. Men imagine, that were they but in such or such a State, they should never be tempted to think of any Thing
But this is only a Sign, that they do not know themselves. In Proportion as their Situation was raised, their Prospect would be enlarged : and they would long to be Masters of all within their View. Success would encourage them to hope for greater Success yet : and besides, they would be difappointed in the Felicity they promised themselves from what they have got ; but instead of learning from thence, in what real Felicity lies, would go on to seek for it in something else ; and be at least as remote from it, as they were before. We see this perpetually, or with the smallest Attention may see it, in the Case of others : and it is astonishing Partiality, that we cannot believe it would be our own. Nay, perhaps we see it is our own Case, as far as we have advanced hitherto : and yet are weak enough to imagine it would be quite otherwise, could we but advance a few Steps more : whereas in Truth, he that is uneasy merely because he hath not all he would, never will be easy till he grows
Happily we none of us difquiet ourselves about every Thing that we have not. did, how blameable and how pitiable should we be! We all know Numbers of Things, that we should be very glad of, and yet can bear the Want of them very well : and why not the Want of others as well ? What is impossible, it would be Madness to covet. What we cannot obtain, is the same in Relation to us, as if it were impoffible in itself. Therefore we should never think of it. And what is very unlikely to be got, should scarcely be more minded, than if we knew that absolutely we could not get it. But
will say, how shall we put these Things out of our Minds ? Turn them to something else. Recollect the Comforts that and rejoice in them. All of us have many such. Reasonably good Health, wholsome Food and refreshing Sleep, a Provision of the other Necessaries of Life, a Share of its Conveniences, Acquaintance that are agreeable to us, Friends that wilh us well, and, upon Occasion, would Thew it, Opportunities of easy and chearful Conversation, the good Opinion and Efteem of those about us, the very Sight of the Sun and the View of the Face of Na
ture, are Things, every one of them designed and fitted to give us Pleasure, if we would but be so kind to ourselves as to take it. Conscioufness, that through the Grace of God's holy Spirit we mean, and on the Whole behave well, Persuasion that, through the Merits of his blessed Son, we are interested in his Favour, Hopes that his fatherly Providence will watch over us here, and his Goodness make us perfectly happy hereafter, these are Blessings of a higher Order, which we all may
have ; and as no one ought to be, or with Reason can be, content without them, so every one surely may well be content with them ; and think himself enough distinguished by such Mercies, let him have ever so few Advantages besides. And we should accustom ourselves to look, more than we do, on the bright Side of our Condition ; not in order to grow vain and contemptuous upon it, which is the common Use that is made of contemplating it, but to enjoy it with humble Complacency. We should place a just Value on all our greater Comforts : and fetch out of the very least as much as they will afford us. Applying our Minds to become easy and satisfied is evidently right: but why should