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so it pleaseth God, so let it be;' with Epictetus, 'I always chiefly will that which cometh to pass; for I account that better which God willeth, than what I will myself; I will adhere as a minister and follower to him, I pursue, I affect, I simply will with him :' looking on them as sent from God, we should heartily bid them welcome, we should kindly embrace them, we should use them with all fair respect : koráčeodai tà ovußaivovra (to hug, or kindly to embrace things incident,) φιλείν τα απονεμόμενα (to love things dispensed by providence,) are precepts, which even as dictated by natural reason philosophers do much inculcate.
This excludeth all rebellious insurrection, and swellings of mind against providence, such as argue that we dislike God's government; that, were we able, we should struggle with God's will; that we gladly would shake off his yoke; all such ill resentment and repining at our lot, which maketh God's hand grievous, and his yoke uneasy to us; such affections as the wise man toucheth, when he saith, the foolishness of man perverteth his way, and his heart fretteth against the Lord.'
2. We should bear all things with steady calmness and composedness of mind, suppressing or quelling those tumults, those storms, those excesses of passion, which the sense of things disgustful is apt to excite; such as are immoderate grief, fierce anger, irksome despair, and the like. No adversity should so ruffle our minds, as to defeat or pervert the use of our reason, so as to hinder us from perceiving, or performing what becometh us, so as to engage us into any irregular or unseemly behavior.
3. We should indeed bear the worst events with an eiduuia, that is, with a sweet and cheerful disposition of mind, so as not to be put out of humor; not to be dejected or quite discouraged by them, not to fall into that heaviness, which, as the wise man saith, ‘maketh the heart of man to stoop ;' but rather finding delight and complacence in them, as considering whence they come, whither they aim and tend : such was the disposition and demeanor of the Apostles and primitive good Christians in the midst of their most grievous adversities and sufferings; "they rejoiced,' &c. they did take joyfully the spoiling of their goods, they did account it all joy when they fell into divers tribulations :' they were, ws Autoúpevol, àeà de xaiportes, “as grieved, but always rejoicing;' their state was grievous, but their heart was constantly cheerful. Such a constant frame of mind we should maintain, so continually prepared we should be against all contingencies, that nothing should happen amiss to us, so as deeply to affect us, or to unsettle us in our humor; that every thing from God's hand should be acceptable; that po sadness may seize on us, at least that we do not indulge or cherish it; that in nowise we suffer any regret to quench that spiritual comfort and joy in God, which becometh the upright,' as the psalmist saith, and which we are so often enjoined perpetually to maintain, as in all cases, so particularly under afflictions and trials. We cannot indeed hardly be content, if we are not cheerful; for it is hard to be altogether on the suffering and bearing hand, without any pleasure : the mind can hardly stand in a poise, so as neither to sorrow or joy; we cannot digest adversity, if we do not relish it; we shall not submit to it as his will, if we do not take it for an argument of his love : cüdokū, I, saith St. Paul, ' have a liking or pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.'
4. We should with faith and hope rely and wait on God for the removal or easement of our afflictions ; or, however, we should confide in him for grace, and strength to support them well : as our Saviour did, when he prayed, · Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup; as they did in the prophet, who said, “In the way of thy judgments, O Lord, we have waited on thee;' according to that rule in the Lamentations, It is good that a man should both hope, and wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord :' and those precepts in the Psalms, • Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for him ;' Wait on the Lord, he of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart.'
We should in any case be ready with the holy psalmist thus to interrogate and sustain ourselves : · Why art thou cast down, O my soul, why art thou so disquieted within me? Hope thou in God; for I shall yet praise him, for the help of his countenance.'
Remembering and considering that (as we are expressly taught in Scripture, and as all our religion doth clearly suppose) *God knoweth to rescue the godly out of tribulation;' (he knoweth the proper season, when it is fit to do it;) that he is faithful, and will not suffer us to be tempted above what we are able ; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that we may be able to bear it:' reflecting, I say, on these certain points of Christian truth, we should never ‘sorrow as those who are without hope ;' we should never despair of a good riddance from our adversity, when it shall be seasonable or beneficial for us; we should always be assured of a comfortable support under it, which is usually better than deliverance from it; our minds should never sink into despondency or disconsolateness : that this is practicable in the worst case, we have conspicuous instances to assure us; it hath been the practice of most illustrious and excellent persons, particularly of the holy Apostles ; never was any condition, in outward respects and appearance, more forlorn and dismal than was theirs; yet it nowise bereaved them of hope or courage : • We,' they could say, 'are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair ; persecuted, but not forsaken ; cast down, but not destroyed.'
5. We should indeed not so much as faint or languish in our minds on any such occasion ; no adversity should impair the forces of our reason or our spirit; should enervate our courage, or slacken our industry; should render us sick or weak in heart; for, .If,' saith the wise man, “thou faint in the day of adversity, thy strength is small,' (it is the sign of an infirm mind,) and, un ékkareiv, ‘not to falter' or decay, mi éclúeotai,
not to be dissolved,' or disjointed, in our souls,’ (as the body is in scorbutic distempers,) are rules prescribed to us in such cases: we do then indeed need a firm and robust constitution of soul; we should then bear up most resolutely and stoutly: the encouragement of Moses to the people, entering on battle, may well be accommodated to us in regard to our conflict with adversities; • Let not your hearts faint, fear not and do not tremble, neither be ye terrified because of them.'
6. We should not be weary of our condition, or have irksome longings for alteration; but, with a quiet indifferency
and willingness of mind, lie under it during God's pleasure ; according to the wise man's advice ; • My son, despise not the chastening of the Lord, neither be weary of his correction ;' and that of the Apostle, enforced by our Lord's example ; · Consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.' We should not think God slow, or his time long and tedious, as if he were forgetful of us, or backward to succor us, as the psalmist was inclined to do, when in the day of trouble be brake forth into these conceits and expressions : Will the Lord cast off for ever, and will he be favorable no more? Is his mercy clean gone for ever, doth his promise fail for evermore ? Hath God forgotten to be gracious ? hath he in anger shut up his tender mercies ?' Thus he in a sad mood was apt to think and speak; but, recollecting himself, he perceived it was his error, and confessed it was his fault thus to imagine ; “I said, it-was mine infirmity;' and it will be ours likewise if we entertain such conceptions and resentments : we should with the same mind endure our present state, as we do pass through a hard winter, or a time of foul weather, taking it for seasonable and fit, because the wise Author of nature hath so appointed and ordered it.
7. We should by adverse accidents be rendered lowly in our own eyes, and sober in our conceits of ourselves; meek and gentle, tender and pliable in our temper and frame of spirit; sensible of our unworthiness and meanness, of our natural frailty, penury, and misery, of our actual offences and miscarriages ; deeply affected in regard to the awful majesty and power, to the perfect holiness and strict justice of God; they should quell our haughty stomach, they should supple our stiff wilfulness, they should soften our hard hearts, they should mitigate our peevish humors : to effect these things is usually the design of such accidents, and it is ever the best fruit of them : this is that which St. Peter adviseth to, when he saith, · Be humbled under the mighty hand of God ;' which God approveth, and encourageth with a gracious promise, when he saith, To this man will I look, even to him that is of a poor and contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word ;' this disposition is an inseparable adherent to contentedness ; he that bath not his spirit thus broken, or mollified, will hardly be content in any stąte ; he that is haughty in conceit, and sturdy in humor, will everywhere find that which will cross and disturb him.
8. It is required that we should, notwithstanding any meanness, any hardness of our condition, be meekly and kindly affected toward others, being satisfied and pleased with their more prosperous state. We should not be angry with the world, because we do not thrive or flourish in it; we should not be sullen or peevish toward any man, because his fortune is better than ours; we should not repine or grudge at the good success of any of our brethren, because we want the like ourselves; * we should rather rejoice with those that rejoice ;' innocently tilching some pleasure from them, or borrowing some satisfaction from their enjoyments. It is human thus to do, because of the natural cognation and friendship of men ; it is more especially Christian, because of our spiritual consanguinity ; by virtue whereof we are so knit together, and made 'members each to other,' that if, as St. Paul telleth us, one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; and if one member be honored, all the members should rejoice with it:' we can hardly be content without thus appropriating the goods, and sharing in the delights of others; he can never be content, who looketh with an evil eye on other men's prosperity; he cannot do well himself who loveth not to see his neighbor do well; numberless occasions will happen to discompose and vex him.
Adversity impatiently borne is apt to sour our spirits, and render us froward toward men; especially when it proceedeth from the unkindness, ingratitude, or treachery of friends, or of persons obliged to us for our good-will, or for benefits done to them : but nothing should render us unkindly disposed toward the world, nothing should extinguish charity in us toward any man ; so plain reason teacheth us, so great examples enforce : Moses did not lose his affection towards his countrymen, because he was by one of them threatened away into bavishment and vagrancy; the Apostles became not disaffected to the world, because it misused and persecuted them; our Lord did continue most earnestly to desire and laboriously to endeavor the good of those who most despitefully used him: like theirs, in all cases, should our disposition be; we should ever