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observe the psalmist's advice; Cease from anger, forsake wrath, fret not thyself in anywise to do evil.'


9. Contentedness doth imply a freedom from all solicitude and anxiety of mind, in reference to provision for our needs, and conveniences of life; according to those rules and precepts of casting our burthen and care on the Lord,' of 'being careful for nothing, but commending our affairs to God's ordering;' according to that most comfortable precept of our Lord, ‹ Take no care, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, How shall we be clothed? for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye want all these things.' If we do not thus, it is hardly possible that we should be content; if we do not depend on Providence, we cannot scape being often distracted with care, and perplexed with fear; we cannot cheerfully hope for any thing we need, nor be quietly secure of any thing we possess.

10. It requireth also that we should curb our desires, and confine them in the narrowest bounds we can; so as not to affect more in quantity, or better in quality, than our nature and state do require: if we must have superfluities, if we can only relish dainties, we shall never be pleased; for as nature hath limits, and is content with little; as there is no state in this world, the exigencies whereof may not be answered with a competence; so curiosity is an infinite and insatiable thing: ⚫ He that loveth pleasure shall be a poor man; he that loveth wine and oil shall not be rich;' that is, he which is curious and nice in his desires, will never have enough: the rule, which, according to St. Paul, should regulate our desires, is this; Having food and raiment, let us with them be satisfied:' if this will satisfy us, we may easily obtain satisfaction: a moderate industry, with God's blessing, will procure so much; God hath promised to bestow it; if this will not suffice, there is no sure way of getting or keeping more as God is nowise obliged to provide us superfluities, or concerned to relieve our extravagant longings; so we may fear that Providence will be ready to cross us in our cares and endeavors tending to those purposes; so that we shall be disappointed in the procurement, or disturbed in the fruition of such needless things. However,

he that is most scant in his desires, is likely to be most content in his mind: He,' as Socrates said, is nearest the gods (who need nothing) that needeth fewest things."

In fine, contentedness doth import that whatever our condition is, our minds and affections should be modelled and squared just according to it; so that our inclinations be compliant, our desires be congruous thereto, so that easily we can comport with the inconveniences, can relish the comforts, can improve the advantages sticking thereto; otherwise, like an illmade garment, it will sit unhandsome on us, and be troublesome to us. It is not usually our condition itself, but the unsuitableness thereof to our disposition and desires, (which soureth all its sweets, and rendereth its advantages fruitless,) that createth discontent; for, although it be very mean, others bear the same cheerfully; many would be glad thereof: if therefore we will be content, we must bend our inclinations and adapt our desires to a correspondence with our state.

If we are rich, we should get a large and bountiful heart, otherwise our wealth will hang loose about us; the care and trouble in keeping it, the suspicion and fear of losing it, the desire of amplifying it, the unwillingness to spend or use it, will bereave us of all true satisfaction therein, and render it no less unsavory to us, than unprofitable to others.

If we are poor, we should have a frugal, provident, industrious mind, sparing in desires, free from curiosity, willing to take pains, able to digest hardships; otherwise the straitness of our condition will pinch and gall us.

Are we high in dignity or reputation? we then need a mind well ballasted with sober thoughts, otherwise the wind of vanity will drive us into absurd behaviors, thence will dash us on disappointments, and consequently will plunge us into vexation and discontent.

Are we mean and low? we need a meek and lowly, a calm and steady spirit; not affecting little respects, or resenting the want of them; apt to pass over or to bear quietly petty affronts and neglects; not apt to be moved by words signifying contempt or disdain; else (being fretted with such things, which

* Ὁ ἐλαχίστων δεόμενος, ἔγγιστα θεῶν. Socr. in Xenoph. Apomn. iii.

in this ill-natured and hard-hearted world we may be sure often to meet with) we shall be uneasy in our minds, and impatiently wish a change of our state.

These and the like dispositions and affections of soul this duty containeth, or requireth: from hence should arise a correspondent external demeanor, and such actions as these which follow:

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1. We should restrain our tongues from all unseemly and unsavory expressions, implying dissatisfaction in God's proceedings, or displeasure at his providence; arguing desperation or distrust in God; such as were those of the discontented and impatient Israelites; They,' saith the psalmist, spake against God; they said, Can God furnish a table in the wilderness? Behold, he smote the rock, that the waters gushed out, and the streams overflowed; can he give bread also, can he provide flesh for his people?' Such as they used, of whom the prophet saith, When they shall be hungry, they will fret themselves, and curse their King and their God;' as those in the Apocalypse, who, being afflicted with deserved judgments, did blaspheme the name of God, which had power over those plagues ---blasphemed the God of heaven, because of their pains and their sores.' Into such profane enormities of language is discontent apt to break forth, questioning the power of God, or his willingness to succor us; venting wrath and displeasure toward him; charging him foolishly with injustice, or with unkindness, or with negligence, or with impotency; the abstaining from which behavior, under the sense of his bitter calamities, is a great commendation of Job; In all this,' it is said, Job sinned not, neither charged God foolishly.'

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2. We should indeed forbear any the least complaint, or murmuring, in regard to the dispensations of Providence; or on dissatisfaction in the state allotted us: St. Jude saith that God in the last day will come, to execute judgment, and to convince men of all their hard speeches, which ungodly sinners have spoken against him: these,' subjoineth he,' are yoyyvorai μeμipopo, murmurers, that complain of their lot;' which signifieth the heinousness and extreme dangerousness of this practice. Wherefore doth the living man complain?' is the prophet's question, implying it to be an unreasonable and blame


able practice. Wherefore the advice of David is good; to suppress all complaint, to be still and silent in such cases: 'Be still,' saith he, and know that I am God;' and, Be silent to the Lord;' the which precepts his practice may seem well to interpret and back; I was,' saith he, dumb; I opened not my mouth, because it was thy doing:' and accordingly Job, Behold,' (said he, after having considered all the reasons he could imagine of God's proceedings,) ' I am vile; what shall I answer thee? I will lay my hand on my mouth.' And thus our Saviour, when he was oppressed and afflicted, opened not his mouth.'

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3. Yea it is our duty, in these cases, to spend our breath in declaring our satisfaction in God's dealing with us; acknowleging his wisdom, justice, and goodness therein; blessing and praising him for all that hath befallen us; each of us confessing after David, I know, O Lord, that thy judgments are right, and that thou in faithfulness hath afflicted me;' imitating Job, who, on the loss of all his goods, did say no more than this: The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.'

4. We should abstain from all irregular, unlawful, and unworthy courses toward the removal or remedy of our needs, or crosses, choosing rather to abide quietly under their pressure, than by any unwarrantable means to relieve or relax ourselves; rather bearing patiently than violently, like those in the Prophet, breaking our yoke, and bursting our bands.' Take heed, regard not iniquity; for this hast thou chosen rather than affliction.' We should rather continue poor, than by cozenage or rapine endeavor to raise our fortune; we should rather lie under disgrace and contempt, than by sinful or sordid compliances strive to acquire the respect and favor of men; we should rather willingly rest in the lowest condition, than do as those, who, by disturbing the world, by fomenting disorders and factions, by supplanting their neighbor's welfare, by venting slanders and detractions, do labor to amplify their estate: we should rather endure any inconvenience or distress, than have recourse to ways of evading them disallowed by God; doing as the Jews did, who in their straits, against the declared pleasure of God, set their faces toward Egypt,

strengthened themselves in the strength of Pharaoh, trusted in the staff of that broken reed.' In neglect or diffidence toward God, to embrace such aids, is, as God in the Prophet declareth, a very blameable and mischievous folly: Ephraim,' saith he, ' is like a silly dove without heart; they call to Egypt, they go to Assyria-Woe unto them, for they have fled from me; destruction unto them, because they have transgressed against me.' We may consider how St. Paul reproveth the Corinthians for seeking a redress of wrong, scandalous and dishonorable to the Church: Now, therefore, it is utterly a fault among you, that ye go to law one with another: Why do ye not rather take wrong? why do ye not rather suffer yourselves to be defrauded?' Even to right ourselves in a way whereby any dishonor may come to God, or damage to his church, is not to be approved; and better it is, in the Apostle's judgment, to bear any injury or damage ourselves: Better it is,' saith St. Peter, if the will of God be so, that we suffer for well-doing, than to do ill.' And, Let them, who suffer according to the will of God, commit the keeping of their souls to him in welldoing, as unto a faithful Creator,' is another wholesome advice of that great Apostle.

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5. We should, notwithstanding any adversity, proceed in our affairs (such as God requireth, or reason putteth us on) with alacrity, courage, and industry; performing however, so far as our circumstances do permit, what is good and fit for us: no disappointment or cross, no straits or grievances of condition should render us listless, or lazy, but rather it should quicken and inflame our activity; this being a good way to divert us from the sense of our misfortunes, and to comfort us under their pressure; as also the readiest way to remove or to abate them, Tò rapòv ev déσðal, to order the present well,' whatever it be; to make the best of a bad matter, to march forward whither reason calls, how difficultly soever, or slowly it be, in a rough or dirty way; not to yield to difficulties, but resolutely to encounter them, to struggle lustily with them, to endeavor with all our might to surmount them; are acts worthy of a manly reason and courage to direct ill accidents to good ends, and improve them to honest uses, is the work of a noble virtue. If a bad game be dealt us, we should not presently throw up, but play

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