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position to the will of God, refusing what he would have us to accept, and embracing closely what he would have us to stand at a distance from. The corrupt fountain with its several streams is all here forbidden. We shall speak to them all as laid before us, tracing the streams to the fountainhead.
FIRST, the streams in which the distemper of the heart runs are here forbidden expressly, because these are most exposed to our view. Let us view,
FIRST, The tormenting passions, in which the corruption of nature vents itself; for sin is in its own nature misery. We need but go in the paths of sin to make us miserable, and in the high road of duty to make us happy. We shall consider the tormenting passion,
First, Of discontent with our own estate or condition. This is plainly here forbidden; for discontentment is presupposed to coveting; and there could be no covering of what we want without discontentment with what we have. The lusting gapings of the heart say, there is an uneasiness within. It is only the plague of discontentment that makes the heart cry, Give, give.
1. I will shew the evil of discontentment, and paint out this sin in its black colours. It is the hue of hell all over:
1. Discontent is, in the nature of it, a compound of the blackest ingredients, the scum of the corrupt heart boiling up, and mixed to make up this hellish composition.
ist, Unsubjection to and rebellion against the will of God, Hos. iv. 16. Israel slideth back as a backsliding heifer;' backsliding or refractory, that will not admit the yoke farther than it is forced on. The discontented heart cannot submit, but sets its foot aspar against the divine dispensation. Though God guides and governs the world, they are the malcontents, that are not pleased with the government, but mutiny against it. What pleases God, pleases not them; what is right in God's eyes, is evil in theirs. And nothing will please them, but to have the reins of government out of God's hands into their own; though, if their passion did not blind their judgment, they might see how they would quickly fire the little world of their own and others condition, if they had the reins in their own hand.
2dly, Sorrow of heart under the divine dispensation towards them. It is not according to their mind, and so their heart sinks in sorrow, 1 Kings xxi. 4; God crosses their will, and they pierce their own hearts with many sorrows; as if a man, because he cannot stop the course of the sun in the firmament, would wrap up himself in darkness.
And this is a killing sorrow, a sword thrust into a man's heart by his own hands, 2 Cor. vii. 10; It melts a man's heart within him; like a vulture, preys upon his natural spirits, tending to shorten his days. It makes him duinpish and heavy like Ahab, and is a heavy load above the burden of affliction. That is the black smoke of discontentment, which yet often breaks out into a fiery flame, as in the same case of Ahab, where Naboth fell a sacrifice to it.
3dly, Anger and wrath against their lot, Jude 16; Complainers. The word signifies such as are angry at their lot, and in the distributions Providence makes of the world, still complain that the least or worst part of it falls to their share. Thus the discontented do in their hearts bark at the mountains of brass, Zech. vi. 1; as dogs do at the moon, and with the same success. They are angry with God's dispensation, and their hearts rise against it, and snarl at it.
And this is a fretting anger, whereby men disquiet and vex themselves in vain, like men dashing their heads against the wall; the wall stands unmoved, but their heads are wounded. Like a wild bull in a net, the more he stirs, the faster is he held; so that still they return with the loss. Thus discontent is in the heart like a serpent gnawing the bowels, and makes a man as a moth to himself, consuming him, or a lion tearing himself, Job xviii. 4.
Lastly, There is a spice of heart-blasphemy in it; for it strikes very directly against God the Governor of the world, and accuses his administration; and for an evidence of this, it sometimes breaks out in words, Mal. iii. 13, 14, 15; • Your words have been stout against me, saith the Lord: yet ye say, What have we spoken so much against thee? Ye have said, It is vain to serve God: and what profit is it, that we have kept his ordinance, and that we have walked mournfully before the Lord of hosts? And now we call the proud happy: yea, they that work wickedness are set up; yea, they that tempt God are even delivered.' Discontent accuses him, (1.) Of folly, as if he were not wise enough to govern
the world. The peevish discontented person, in his false light, sees many laws in the conduct of Providence, and pretends to tell God how he may correct his work, and how it would be better. If the work of Providence be wisely done, why are we discontent with it? or would we be discontent with it, if we did not think we saw how it should be otherwise, and how it might be mended ?
(2.) Of injustice, as if he did us wrong. The Judge of all the earth cannot but do right. He cannot be bribed por biassed; yet the discontented heart rises against him, and blasphemes him as an acceptor of persons. It looks on his distributive justice (if we may so call it, for indeed all is his own, not ours) with an evil eye, and accuses him of par. tiality in not giving them as good as others, complaining of their share. On his corrective justice, as if they did not de. serve what he lays on them. For if we do deserve the evil in our lot, there is no wrong done us; and why do we then complain? And to fill up the measure, it accuseth him,
(3.) Of cruelty. Job, in a fit of discontent, speaks it out, chap. xxx. 21; "Thou art become cruel to me.' Thus goodness itself is blasphemed by the discontented, who behave as if they were under the hands of a merciless tyrant, who would sport himself with one's misery. Discontent fills the heart with black and hard thoughts of God, and repre, sents him as a rigid master and cruel lord, otherwise people would lay their hand on their mouth, and be content,
Some will say, that their discontent is with themselves, not with God, having brought theit cross on with their own hands. Ans. If it be the effect of your sin, ye may mourn for your sin, but ye should the rather be content with your lot. And as for mismanagements, there is a providence that reaches them, and so God is our party still : but nothing is more ordinary than that, Prov. xix. 3; · The foolishness of man perverteth his way; and his heart fretteth against the Lord.'
Others say, that it is with the instruments of their trouble they are discontented. Ans. But consider that they are but instruments in God's hand, in the hand of his providence, and therefore ye should not be discontent. Say as David did to the sons of Zeruiah, 'What have I to do with you? so let him curse because the Lord hath said unto him, Curse David. Who shall then say, Wherefore hast thou done so ?' 2 Sam. xvi. 10; No creature can be more to us than God
makes it to be: if then God shall squeeze any creature dry of comfort to us, and we thereupon prove discontented, whatever we pretend, our hearts fret against the Lord, Exod. xvi. 2; compare ver. 7.
Thus ye see the picture of discontentment; and does it not look very black ? There are ounces and pounds of rebel. Kon against the will of God, killing sorrow and fretting anger, and hideous heart-blasphemy in it, wliile there is not one grain of religion or reason that goes into this hellish composition. If one should take it for a description of hell, he would not be far out ; for the truth is, discontent is a hell in the bosom, and a lively emblem of the pit of darkness.
2. ye view discontentment in the rise of it, ye will see further into the evil of it. It takes its rise from,
1st, A blinded judgment which puts darkness for light, and light for darkness, and cannot see into the wisdom of the conduct of Providence, that does all things well. When our blind minds begin to refine on the management of holy Providence, they are apt to produce discontent, which in respect of Providence is always unreasonable. See how good Jacob bewrays his folly and ignorance of the methods of providence, Gen. xlii. 36; Me have ye bereaved of my children : Joseph is not, and Simeon is not, and ye will take Benjamin away: all these things are against me. Compare with this the promise, Rom. viii. 28; • All things shall work rogether for good to them thar love the Lord, to those who are the called according to his purpose ; and also compare the event, and ye will see that all these things were for the benefit of the good Patriarch, and that of his numerous family.
Yea, oft-times so readily does it rise out of darkness, that i springs up from mere suspicion, misapprehension, and mis. take, so that a little eloud of that nature over the mind will in the end cover the mind with the blackness of discontent; as in the case of Ahab, 1 Kings xxi. 4; compare ver. 6; And indeed there is never a ground of discontent, but the blind mind does magnify it, and·lays to it such heaps of rubbish, as the heart is not able to stand under it, as in the case of Rachael, Gen. xxx. 1; When Rachael saw that she bare Jacob no children, Rachael envied her sister; and said unto Jacob, Give me children, or else I die,' Thus are our own dark minds the anvil on which our miseries are beat out into
greater breadth and length than they are of, as they come out of the hand of God, to the end they may cover our hearts with discontent. Happy is the man that can take up his cross as God lays it down, without adding more to it.
2dly, A proud heart. Hainan's pride discontented him for want of bows and cringes from Mordecai, which would never have troubled a humble man. A proud heart is a wide heart, Prov. xxviii. 25. Heb. It is not little that will fill it; it is long ere it will say, it is enough: and so it natively produces discontent. The devil is the proudest creature, and withal the most disconter.ted; for pride and discontent lodge always under one roof. And could we get blood let of the heart-vein of pride, we would see the swelling ulcer of discontent fall apace.
3. An unmortified affection to the creature, 1 Tim. vi. 9, 10; Jonah had a gourd, and he was exceeding glad of it, Jonah iv. 6; it is taken away, and then he was exceeding discontented, ver. 9; The heart takes such a hold of such and such a created comfort, that it becomes like a live limb of a man's body; so when it is rent away, what wonder one cry out, as if men were cutting a limb of him? No body cries out for the losing of a tree leg, because it has no communication with the members of the man's body, it is a dead thing. So, were our affection to the creature deadened to it, as it should be, discontent could have no access.
4. A spirit of unbelief. Want of faith marred the acceptance of Cain's offering, Heb. xi. 4 ; and opened the sluice of discontent on him too, Gen. iv. 5; Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell.' Discontent feeds on wants, faith brings in the supply of wants, and can feed on it, while it is yet in the promise. Where unbelief is, then no wonder discontent prevail
. A lively faith would kill discontent; whereas unbelief nourishes and cherishes it ; for it puts an effectual bar in the way of the rest of the heart, which it can never attain but in God.
3. View it in the effect, and it will appear very black. The tree is known by its fruits.
1st, It mars communion with and access to God. Muddy and troubled water receives not the image of the sun, as a clear and standing water will do. So a discontented heart is unfit for communion with a holy God, 1 Tim. ii. 8; . Can two walk together except they be agreed?' If one