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which are dry breasts, and cannot fill the heart; so till the soul return to God, it can have no true rest nor contentment. We may say enough to stop the mouths of the discontented, whatever they be; but no considerations will avail to work true contentment in a person out of Christ, more than a hungry child will be reasoned into quietness while you give him no bread. Therefore the great and,
First, Direction for contentment is, that ye take God for your God in Christ, as he offers himself to you in the gospel. The great thing that ye want is a rest to your heart, and satisfaction to the unbounded desires thereof, to possess that which if you had, your desires would be stayed, and ye would covet no more. I know, your false hearts and your foolish tongues have said, O, if I had such and such a created thing, I would be content, I would desire no more! But when ye got it, was it so indeed ? was there not still a want? So it will be to the end. But here is the way to contentment: Jesus Christ, in whom dwells the fulness of the Godhead, offers himself to be yours. Accept of him by faith and then the sun is up with you, and ye will be content, though the candles of creature-comforts be put out. The wise merchant is content with the loss of all when he finds the one pearl, but not till then, Matth. xiii. 45, 46. Thus the foundation of full contentment is laid. And so I may go on to shew you
further how to attain it. Therefore, 2. Believe that God is your God in Christ; apprehend him by faith as your portion; and contentment with your condition will follow of course, though your condition be very gloomy, Heb. iii. 17. Full contentment with one's condition goes in equal pace with a man's clearness as to his interest in Christ. Let that be darkened, and he shall find himself grow more fretful and uneasy with crosses in the world. Let that be rising clearer and clearer, and the more clear it grows, his cross will grow the lighter, and easier to be borne.
If any should say, There is a particular thing in my condition that above all things I cannot be easy under; there is something I would have,
and God sees it not meet to give it me: what shall I do to be content under it. I would say, be what it will, go to God, and make a solemn exchange of that thing. If he has kept that from you, he offers you as good and better, that is to say, himself, instead of it. And do you renounce that thing, and give up with it, and take
Christ instead of it; and having taken him so, believe that ye have him instead of it. Say, Lord, there is an empty room in this heart of mine, such a comfort would I have to fill it ; but thou seest meet to refuse it; therefore I give up
with it; thy will be done; but I take thyself instead thereof to fill up that room. And now I have made the exchange, and Christ is to me instead of that which I want. So shalt thou find thy heart satisfied. And if God see the comfort meet for thee, thou art then in the fairest way to get it too, Psal. Xxxvii. 4.
This is the way of the gospel to full contentment, viz. the way of believing, by which all Christian duties are done, and gospel-graces are nourished in the heart. And to let you see the efficacy of these means for contentment, consider,
1. The heart of man is an empty hungry thing, that must be filled with something, and cannot abide want. Therefore it is, that when people miss their desired satisfaction in one thing, they go to make it up by another. Mordecai's not bowing to Haman discontented him, and he went to make it up by a revenge on all the Jews. But the misery is, there is a want in that thing too. It is like the putting of an empty spoon in the child's mouth, that may stop it for a moment; but as soon as it finds it is disappointed, and there is nothing in it, it falls a-crying again. Now, this directs you to that which infallibly makes up the want, and in which there is no want. And it is a sad matter, that those who have tried so many ways to make up their wants, will not try this too.
2. God is the Fountain of all perfection, and whatever is desirable in the creature is in an eminent way in God, Mat. xix. 17. If the sun shine in at your windows, ye do not complain for want of candle-light. If all the vessels in your house were emptied of water, and the fountain were brought into it, ye are at no loss, but in better case than before, Even so, if all created streams should dry up, if ye have God for your God, ye may say indeed, that ye want these created things, but ye have all the good that was in them, in another, to wit, in God. Ye want the vessels, but ye want not the water of comfort that was in them, for ye have it in God.
3. Having God for your God, ye have all in the promise, Rev. xxi. 7. He is unreasonably dissatisfied that has a good stock in bills and bonds from a sure hand, though he has little in his pocket, especially when all that is needful will be
upon them answered on demand. He that has the lively faith of his inheriting all things at length, will find it none of the most difficult tasks to be served with very little for the present.
4. Lastly, Having God for your God, the nature of your afflictions is altered. Your crosses are changed from curses into blessings, and however heavy they be, they run in the channel of the covenant to the common end of all covenant. blessings, your good, Rom. viii. 28. This
way of believing in order to contentment is, 1. A sure way, which will infallibly produce it, as surely as the laying of a hungry babe to a full breast will stay it. How many ways do men try for this which all inisgivebut this cannot misgive, seeing God in Christ is a full contenting object. And if our faith were perfect, our contentment would be so too. When faith is perfected in sight in heaven, the saints will be warm without clothes, full without meat, and rich without money, for God will be all to them.
2. A short way, by which we may come quickly at it. What a far way about do men go for contentment, while they compass the creation for it, and when all is done miss it? But here we may say, · Be not afraid, only believe, Mark v. 96.
3. The only way; there is no other way to come at it. Fulness in the world will not do it; for as the estate enlarges, the desire enlarges too, and knows no bounds till it comes to that which is infinite; and thither it cannot come till it comes to God. A kingdom could not content Ahab, discontent crept in under a crown on his head, 1 Kings xxi. 4. If ye do not take up your soul's rest in God as your God in Christ, no considerations will prevail to content you. But if ye do, there are several considerations that may be of good use to you. As,
1. Consider, that the heaviest thing in thy lot comes out of a friend's hand. It is good news to Zion in the worst of times, 'How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace, that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation, that şayeth unto Zion, Thy God reigneth ! Isa. lii. 7. Whoever be the instruments of our affliction, and whose hand soever be heavy on us, we meet with nothing but what comes through our Lord's fingers, John v. 22. The Father hack committed all judgment unto the Son. And will we not venture our outward condition in his hand, on which we venture ourselves for eternity? A tongue, far less a hand, cannot move against us but by him, 2 Sam. xvi. 10.
2. Consider how unmeet you are to carve for yourselves; • and should it be according to thy mind ?' Job xxxiv. 33. How weak are ye to discern your true interest ? Could ye venture to plot yourselves through the rocks and shelves in the world? No, ye dare not, if ye know yourselves. Why will ye not then resign yourselves to wise Providence ? But, say, ye, it is only in some things we would have it so or so. Ay, bụt Christ will be steersman for thee through the whole, or not at all
. He will not share the government with thee; and there is no reason he should, for thou art weak, and seest not far off. There is many a pleasant green path in the world that leads into the lion's den, and many a rugged way that leads into a paradise : thou seest the hithermost end of the way, but not the far end; he sees it.
3. Have ye not already lived to see your hopes and fears both baffled by the conduct of wise Providence? As for the hopes ye have conceived of the choice of your own wilful will, have ye not been sometimes made to let the knife drop with shame, after ye have cut your fingers in carving for yourself; like Lot, not daring to stay in all the plain, though some time before he built his own nest in the heart of it? And for your fears of the conduct of Providence, have ye not seen how God has drawn you to your good against your will, and that it was good ye were crossed in such a matter, and that such a project of yours was baffled? Seeing, then, we are such bunglers at the carving of our lot, it is reasonable we quit the knife, and give it over, as Jacob did in Joseph's case.
4. Consider, that there is much about the ordering of thy lot, infinitely more than thou art master of thyself. Believe it,
(1.) That the seven eyes of Infinite wisdom are about it, Zech iii. 9; Now, in the multitude of counsellers there is safety. There is no chance-work in the world, no random work in thy condition ; it is not a work huddled up in a kaste. The scheme of it was drawn from eternity, and lay before the Lord, without any need of alteration. Every thing in thy condition, however late brought forth, was from eternity in the womb of the wise decree, Zech. vi. 1.
(2.) That there is a soft hand of grace and goodness about it, Rom. viii. 28; A gracious Providence brings it forth out of the womb of the decree: why should we not then embrace it, and welcome it into the world? There is a stream of
goes through all the dispensations of providence to the Lord's people. Now, when Infinite Wisdom, tempered wità grace and good-will, orders our lot, is it not reasonable, that we be fully content with it? Hence I ipfer,
1. Thy condition, whatever it is, is for God's honour; for it is ordered by him who does all for that end, and cannot fail of his design. Though thou dost not see how it is so, thou mayest believe that is so, upon this ground. Providence runs much under ground, so as weak man cannot see how the means answer the end: but God sees it, and that is enough. This is a contenting consideration to a grą. cious soul, that will be pleased with that which may glorify God, Phil. i. 20.
2. Thy condition is good for thee, Rom. viii. 28; That may be good that is not pleasant; it may bring profit that brings no pleasure. God loves to work by contraries, to bring health to the soul out of sickness of the body, to en. rich his people by poverty, to do them good by crossing of them, and blow them to their harbour by teeth-winds.
3. Nay, it is best for thee. If thou be a child of God, thy present lot in the world is the best thou couldst have for the present. Infinite Wisdom sees it is so ; and grace and good-will makes it so. All God's works are perfect in their kind, Deut. xxxii. 4; Will vain man come after God, and tell him how to mend his work? If it were not fittest for his own holy ends, it were not perfect. Nay, if thou be not in Christ, those things in thy lot which thou art discontented with, thy crosses and afflictions, are best for thee; for if any thing in tlıy lot bring thee to God, it will be this. Which brings me to a fifth thing.
5. Consider, that those things in thy lot which thou art so ready to be discontented with, are truly necessary for thee, Lam. üi, 39; If thou couldst want them, thou wouldst not get them; for God takes no pleasure merely in inaking his creatures miserable. If thy lot be afflicted, know that