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BV 4811 .A8 1841 
Ashe, Simeon, d. 1662. 
A treatise on divine 


the scene turn, and God puts thee under the 
hlack-rod ? Whereas he useth a rod, he might 

"^■^ ^ 'Spistle to the reader. 




M. W. DODD, 




the scene turn, and God puts thee under the 
hlack-rod ? Whereas he useth a rod, he might 
use a ^'" 

Epistle to the reader. 

Christian Reader : 

Having seriously considered the great dis- 
honour done to Ahnighty God, as well as the 
prejudice which doth arise to our own selves, 
by the sin of discontent — a catholic and epi- 
demical sin — it did at first put me upon the 
study of this subject. Nor is it inconsistent to 
handle this next in order to the Christian 
Charter. I showed you before the great things 
which a believer hath in reversion — Things to 
come are his. And here behold a Christian's 
holy and gracious deportment in this life, 
which discovers itself in nothing more emi- 
nently than in Contentment. Discontent is to 
the soul, as a disease to the body ; it puts out 
of temper, and doth much hinder its regular 
and sublime motions heavenward. Discontent 
is hereditary ; and no doubt but it is much 
augmented by the many sad eclipses and 
changes that have fallen out of late in the 

ed, because sinful. That which should, 
us out of love with this sullen distemper, is 
the contemplating the beautiful Queen of Con- 
tentment. For my part, I know not any orna- 
ment in religion that doth bespangle a Chris- 
tian, or glitter in the eye of God and man, 
more than this of contentment ; nor, certainly, 
is there any thing wherein all the Christian 
virtues do work more harmoniously, or shine 
more transparently, than in this orb. Every 
grace doth act its part here, and help to keep 
the soul in its proper frame. This is the true 
philosopher's stone, which turns all into gold — 
this is the curious enamel and embroidery of 
the heart, which makes Christ's spouse all 
glorious within. How should every Christian 
be ambitious to wear such a sparkling diamond ! 
If there be a blessed life before we come at 
heaven, it is the contented life. And why not 
contented ? Why art thou wroth, and why is 
thy countenance fallen? Gen. iv. 6. Man, of 
all creatures, hath the least cause to be discon- 
tented. Canst thou deserve any thing from 
God ? Doth he owe thee any thing ? What, if 


the scene turn, and God puts thee under the 
black-rod ? Whereas he useth a rod, he might 
use a scorpion ; he might as well destroy thee, 
as whip thee. Why, then, art thou so queru- 
lous ? Why dost thou give way to this irra- 
tional and unthankful sin of discontent ? The 
good Lord humble his own people from 
nourishing such a vnper in their breast, as 
doth not only cut out the bowels of their com- 
fort, but spits venom in the face of God hirn- 
self. Oh, Christian ! who art overspread with 
this fretting leprosy, thou carriest the man of 
sin about thee ; for thou settest thyself above 
God, as if thou wert wiser than he, and wouldst 
saucily prescribe him what condition is best 
for thee. Oh this devil of discontent ! which 
whomsoever it possesseth, it makes his heart a 
little hell. I know there will not be perfect 
contentment here in this life. Perfect plea- 
sure is only at God^s right hand ; yet we may 
begin here to tune our instrument, before we 
play the sweet lesson of contentment exactly 
in heaven. I should be glad if this little piece 
might be like Moses casting the tree into the 
waters, Exod. xv. 25, to make the uncouth 
bitter condition of life more sweet and pleasant 


to drink of. I have once more adventured into 
public. This piece I acknowledge to be but a 
homespun one ; some better hand might have 
made a more curious draught: but, having 
preached upon the subject, I was earnestly 
solicited by some of my hearers to publish it ; 
and although it is not dressed in that rich at- 
tire of eloquence as it might, yet I am not about 
poetry or oratory, but divinity. Nor is this in- 
tended for fancy, but practice. If I may here- 
in do any service, or cast but a mite into the 
treasury of the Church's grace, I have my de- 
sire. The end of our living is to live to God, 
and to lift up his name in the world. The 
Lord add an effectual blessing to this work, 
and fasten it as a nail in a sure place. He of 
his mercy make it as spiritual physic, to purge 
the ill-humour of discontent out of our hearts, 
that so a crown of honour may be set upon the 
head of Religion, and the crystal streams of 
Joy and Peace may ever run in our souls — 
which is the prayer of him who is desirous to 
be a faithful orator for thee at the Throne of 

From mv Study, at St. Slephen's, 
Walbrook, May 3, 1653. 



A WORD spoken in due season, how good is 
it ! Prov. XV. 23. As God giveth to his 
creatures their meat in season, Psal. civ. 27, so 
his faithful stewards provide for his household 
their portion of meat in due season. Luke xii. 
42. And as it is with corporal food, the 
season addeth much both to the value and use- 
fulness thereof: in like manner it is with food 
spiritual. In this regard, the brokenness of 
these times — wherein the bosoms of most people 
are filled w^ith disquietude, and their mouths 
withmurmurings — may well render this Treatise 
more acceptable. The seas are not so stormy 
as men's spirits are tempestuous, tossed to and 
fro with discontent, Eccles. iii. 11. And now 
the Lord, who maketh every thing beautiful 
in his time, hath most seasonably put into thy 
hand a profitable discourse to calm unquiet 
hearts. Adam, in Paradise, dashed upon the 
rock of discontent — which some divines con- 


ceive was his first sin. This, with many in- 
stances more in Scripture, together wath our 
own sad experience, doth both speak our dan- 
ger and call for caution. Now godliness is 
the only sovereign antidote against this spread- 
ing disease ; and God's grace alone, being 
settled and exercised in the heart, can cause 
steadiness in stormy times, Heb. xiii. 9. Where- 
as contentment ariseth either from the fruition 
of all comforts, or from a not desiring of some 
which we have not. True piety doth put a 
Christian into such a condition : hereby we 
both possess God, and are taught how to im- 
prove Him who is the only satisfying ever- 
lasting Portion of his people, Psal. xvi. 5, 6. 
Matt. viii. 20. Psal. Ixxiii. 25, 26. Herein 
Christ, though poor in this w^orld, greatly re- 
joiced. " The Lord is the portion of my in- 
heritance ; the lines are fallen unto me in 
pleasant places. Yea, I have a goodly herit- 
age." Upon this account, also, Jacob said — / 
have nothing, Gen. xxxiii. 11 ; or, as it is in 
the original, / have all. God the Father, and 
Christ his Son, had sweet satisfaction in each 
other, when there was no other being, Prov. 
viii. 30, 31. Therefore such who possess and 


improve God, through Christ, cannot possibly 
be dissatisfied. The Almighty is the God of 
all grace, 1 Pet. v. 10, of all comforts, 2 Cor. 
i. 4, and of salvation, Psal. Ixviii. 20 ; in 
which respect neither deficiencies or disap- 
pointments, losses or crosses, can cause dis- 
quieting discontent in that bosom where Faith 
is commander in chief. The Prophet Habak- 
kuk rejoiced in the " God of his salvation, 
when the pestilence went before him," Hab. 
iii. 5, 11, 17, "and burning coals came forth 
of his feet ;" and when he supposed all crea- 
ture-succours, both for delight and necessity, to 
be quite removed. This, this is the life which 
Christians should endeavour, and may attain 
by the vigorous regular actings of precious 
faith. This is the gain of contentment, which 
comes in by godhness, when providences are 
black and likely to be bloody. Now, " the 
just shall live by his faith," Hab. ii. 4, Heb. x. 
23. That speech of the learned ]\Ir. Gataker 
is weighty, and well worth remarking — " A 
contented mind shows a religious heart ; and a 
discontented mind shows an irrehgious heart." 
This likewise was a holy breathing of the 
Rev. Dr. Hall in his Meditations — " I have 
somewhat of the best things; I will with 


thankfulness enjoy them, and will want the 
rest with contentment." By attaining and 
maintaining this frame of heart, we might have 
much of heaven on this side heaven. Holy 
contentment maketh them truly rich, whom the 
oppressing world maketh very poor. Hereby 
our sweetest morsels shall be well seasoned, 
and our bitterest portions well sweetened, Prov. 
xvii. 1. Had we learned to enjoy contentment 
in Jehovah, who is immutable and all-sufficient, 
this heavenly frame of spirit would never de- 
cay or change in the midst of the most ama- 
zing alterations in Church and State with 
which we are exercised : whereas, because 
we live alone upon sublunaries, therefore 
we are apt with Nabal to die upon the nest, 
1 Sam. XXV. 37, through dejectedness, upon 
the approach of imagined danger. When God 
seeth cause to cut us short of many creature ac- 
commodations, faith will moderate our desires 
after them ; assuring the soul, that nothing is 
withdrawn or withheld which might be really 
advantageous : and doubtless it is a great piece 
of happiness upon earth, not to long after that 
which the Lord is pleased to deny. Indeed, 
men act rather like Heathens than Christians, 
when they fret upon some particular inferior 


disappointments, notwithstanding God's lib- 
erality laid forth upon them in many other 
respects : as Alexander, the monarch of the 
world, was discontented, because ivy would 
not grow in his gardens at Babylon. Diogenes, 
the Cynic, was herein more wise ; w^ho, finding 
a mouse in his satchel, said, he saw that himself 
was not so poor, but some were glad of his 
leavings. Oh, how might we, if we had hearts 
to improve higher providences, rock our peevish 
spirits quiet by much stronger arguments ! Let 
us then lay before our eyes the practices of 
pious men, recorded in Scripture for our imita- 
tion, as Jacob, Agur, Paul, &c.. Gen. xxviii. 20, 
Prov. XXX. 8, 1 Tim. vi. 7, and let us charge 
home upon our consciences divine exhortations, 
backed with strong reasons, and encouraged 
with sweet promises. It w^as the grave counsel 
of holy Greenham — " Having food and raiment, 
take the rest as an overplus," Gen. xxxii. 10. 
Are we not less than the least of God's mer- 
cies ? Is not God our bountiful Benefactor ? 
Why then do we not rest contented with his 
liberal allowance ? Oh ! let us chide our 
wrangling spirits, and encourage confidence 
with contentment in God, as blessed David did, 
Psal. xliii. 4. My pen hath outrun my pur- 


pose when I undertook this preface ; but I will 
no longer, good reader, detain thee in the 
Porch, wherein I have designed to quicken and 
to prepare thee to the more fruitful improve- 
ment of this seasonable and useful Treatise, 
wherein the Author has exercised to good pur- 
pose both the Christian graces and ministerial 
gifts with which God hath enriched him. Here- 
in the doctrine of Christian contentment is 
clearly illustrated, and profitably applied ; the 
special cases — wherein, through change of 
providences, discontents are most commonly 
occasioned — are particularized, and preserva- 
tives applied to secure the soul. Although 
some other worthy divines have been helpful to 
the church of God by their discourses upon this 
subject ; yet there is much of peculiar use in 
this Treatise. The Apostle tells us that some 
manifestation of the Spirit is given to every 
man to profit withal. Thy soul-profit is pro- 
pounded as the Author's end in pubhshing this 
piece : and that this end may be accomplished, 
is the unfeigned desire and hearty prayer of 
him, who is 

Thy Servant in and for Christ, 

May 3, 1653. 





Phil. iv. 11. — I have learned, in whatsoever state lam, 
therewith to be content. 

The inspired Apostle in the former verses of 
this chapter has left, for our instruction, some 
useful and heavenly exhortations ; among the 
rest, to be careful for nothing ; but, in every 
thing, by prayer and supplication, with thanks- 
giving, let your request be made known unto 
God, V. 6c Not to exclude a prudential care ; 
for he that provideth not for his house, hath 
denied the faith, 1 Tim. v. 8. Nor yet a reli- 
gious care ; for we must give all diligence to 


make our calling and election sure, 2 Pet. i. 10. 
But to exclude all anxious care about the issue 
and event of things. Take no thought for your 
life, what you shall eat ; and in this sense it 
should be a Christian's care not to be careful. 
The word careful, in the Greek, comes from a 
primitive, that signifies. To cut the heart in 
pieces ; a soul-dividing care. Take heed of 
this. We are bid to commit our ways unto the 
Lord, Psal. xxxvii. 5. The Hebrew w^ord is, 
Roll thy way upon the Lord. It is our work to 
cast our care on him, 1 Pet. v. 7, but it is God's, 
work to take care. By our immoderacy, we 
take his work out of his hand. 

Care, when it is eccentric, either distrustful 
or distracting, is very dishonourable to God. It 
takes away his providence, as if he sat in hea- 
ven, and minded not what became of things 
here below ; like a man that makes a clock, 
and then leaves it go of itself. Immoderate 
care takes the heart off from better things ; 
and usually, while we are thinking how we 
shall do to live, we forget how to die. Care is 
a spiritual cancer, that doth waste and dispirit, 
and does no good to the soul. We may sooner, 
by our care, add di furlong to our grief, than a 


cubit to our comfort. God doth threaten it as 
a curse, They shall eat their bread with care-' 
fulness, Ezek. xii. 19. Better fast, than eat of 
that bread. Be careful for nothing. 

Now, lest any one should say — " Yea, Paul, 
thou preachest that to us which thou hast scarce 
Jearned thyself: hast thou learned not to be 
careful ?" The Apostle seems immediately to 
answer that, in the words of the text — I have 
learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to 
be content. 

Noble sentence! A speech worthy to be 
engraven upon our hearts and treasured up in 
our memory for ever. The text doth branch 
itself into these two general parts. 

I. The scholar, Paul — I have learned. 

IL The lesson— 7/1 every state to be content. 



The first Branch of the Text— The Scholar ; with the 
first Proposition. 

I. Begin with the first — i. The scholar, and 
his proficiency, / have learned : out of which I 
shall observe two things, by way of paraphrase. 

1. It is not, " I may," but " I have." The 
Apostle doth not say — " I have heard, that in 
every state I should be content, but I have 
learned.'''' Observe : " It is not enough for 
Christians to hear their duty, but they must 
learn their duty." 

It is one thing to hear, and another thing 
to learn ; as it is one thing to eat, and another 
thing to digest. St. Paul was a practitioner. 
Christians hear much ; but, it is to be feared, 
learn little. There were four sorts of ground 
in the parable, Luke viii. 5, and but one good 
ground. An emblem of this truth — many 
hearers, but few learners. There are two 
things which keep us from learning. 

1. Slighting what we hear. Christ is the 
Pearl of Price : when we disesteem this Pearl 


we shall never learn either its value, or its vir- 
tue. The Gospel is a rare mystery. In one 
place, it is called the Gospel of Grace ; in ano- 
ther, Acts, XX. 24, the Gospel of Glory ; be- 
cause in it, as in a transparent glass, the glory 
of God is resplendent: but he that hath learned 
to contemn this mystery, will hardly ever learn 
to obey it. He that looks upon the things of 
heaven, as things by the by ; and, perhaps, 
the driving of a trade, or carrying on some po- 
litic design, to be of greater importance ; this 
man is in the high road to destruction, and will 
hardly ever learn the things of his peace. Who 
will learn that which he thinks is scarce worth 
learning ? 

2. Forgetting what we hear, Jam. i. 25. If 
a scholar have his rules laid before him, and he 
forgets them as fast as he reads them, he will 
never learn. Aristotle calls the memory the 
scribe of the soul, and Bernard calls it the sto- 
mach of the soul ; because it hath a retentive 
faculty, and turns heavenly food into nourish- 
ment. We have great memories in other 
things ; we remember that which is vain. Cy- 
rus could remember the name of every soldier 
in his large army; we remember injuries. 


This is to fill a precious cabinet with dung ; 
but how soon do we forget the sacred truths of 
God ! We are apt to forget three things : our 
faults, our friends, our instructions. Many 
Christians are like sieves. Put a sieve into 
the water, and it is full ; but take it forth of the 
water, and it all runs out : so, while they are 
hearing of a sermon, they remember something ; 
but, take the sieve out of the water — as soon as 
they are gone out of the church — all is forgotten. 
Let these sayings, saith Christ, sink down into 
your ears, Luke v. 44. In the original, it is — 
Put these sayings into your ears: as a man, 
that would hide a jewel from being stolen, locks 
it up safe in his chest. Let them sink. The 
word must not only fall as the dew that wets 
the leaf, but as rain which soaks to the root of 
the tree, and makes it fructify. how often 
doth Satan, that fowl of the air, pick up the 
good seed that is sown ! 

Use. Let me put you upon a serious trial. 
Some of you have heard much ; you have lived 
forty, fifty, sixty years, under the blessed trum- 
pet of the Gospel : What have you learned ? 
You may have heard a thousand sermons, and 
yet not have learned one. Search your con- 


I. You have heard much against sin. Are 
you hearers, or are you scholars! 

How many sermons have you heard against 
covetonsness, that it is the root on which pride, 
idolatry and treason, do grow 1 2 Tim. ii. 4. 
One calls it a metropolitan sin : it doth twist a 
great many sins in w^ith it. There is hardly any 
sin, but covetousness is a main ingredient in it ; 
and yet you are like the two daughters of the 
horse-leech, which cry. Give, give. 

How much have you heard against rash 
anger ? That it is a short frenzy, a dry drunk- 
enness ; that it rests in the hosom of fools ; 
and, upon the least occasion, do your spirits 
begin to take fire ? How much have you heard 
against swearwg ? It is Christ's express man- 
date. Swear not at all, Matt. v. 34. This sin, 
of all others, may be termed. The unfruitful 
work of darkness, Eph. v. 11. It is neither 
sweetened with pleasure, nor enriched with 
profit, the usual vermilion w^herewith Satan doth 
paint sin. Swearing is forbidden with a suh- 
pcena. WTiile the swearer shoots his oaths, 
like flying arrows, at God, to pierce his glory, 
God shoots 2i flying roll of curses against him, 
Zech. V. 2, 3, and do you make your tongue a 


rocket, by whi(ih you toss oaths as tennis-balls ? 
Do you sport yourselves with oaths, as the 
Philistines did with Samson, which will at last 
pull the house about your ears ? Alas ! how 
have they learned what sin is, that have not yet 
learned to leave sin ? Doth he know what a 
viper is, that plays with it ? 

2. You have heard much of Christ. Have 
you learned Christ ? The Jews, as one saith, 
carried Christ in their Bibles, but not in their 
hearts, Rom. xiv., their sound went into all the 
earth, Rom. x. 18. The Prophets and Apostles 
were as trumpets, whose sound went abroad 
into .the world ; yet many thousands, who heard 
the noise of these trumpets, had not learned 
Christ. They have not all obeyed, verse 16. 

1. A man may know much of Christ, and 
yet not learn Christ. The devils knew" Christ, 
Matt. viii. 29. 

2. A man may preach Christ, and yet not 
learn Christ : as Judas. 

3. A man may profess Christ, and yet not 
learn Christ. There are many professors in 
the world that Christ will profess against, Matt. 
vii. 22,23. 

Quest. What is it then to learn Christ ? 


Answ. 1. To learn Christ is, to be made 
like Christ, when the divine characters of his 
holiness are engraven upon our hearts. " We 
all, with open face beholding as in a glass the 
glory of the Lord, are changed into the same 
image," 2 Cor. iii. 18. There is a transforma- 
tion. A sinner, viewing Christ's image in the 
glass of the Gospel, is transformed into that 
image. Never did any man look upon Christ 
with a spiritual eye, but went away quite 
changed. A true saint is a divine landscape, 
or picture, where all the rare beauties of Christ 
are lively portrayed and drawn forth. He hath 
the same spirit, the same judgment, the same 
will, with Jesus Christ. 

2. To learn Christ, is to believe him to be 
my Lrn'd and my God, John xx. 28, which is 
the actual application of Christ to ourselves ; 
and, as it were, the spreading of the sacred me- 
dicine of his blood upon our soul. You, that 
have heard much of Christ, and yet cannot, 
with an humble adherence, say, my Jesus and 
my God, be not offended if I tell you, the devil 
can say his creed as well as you. 

3. To learn Christ, is to live to Christ. 
When we have Bible-conversations, our lives. 


as rich diamonds, cast a sparkling lustre in the 
church of God, Phil. i. 27, and are, in some 
sense, parallel with the life of Christ, as the 
transcript with the original. So much for the 
first sentiment in the text. 



Containing the Second Proposition. 

II. This word / have learned, is a word im- 
porting difficulty. It shows how hardly the 
Apostle came by his contentment of mind. St. 
Paul did not come naturally by it, but he had 
learned it. It cost him many a prayer and tear 
— it was taught him by the Spirit of God. 

From whence we may learn that, 2. Good 
things are hard to come hy. The business of 
religion is not so easy as most do imagine. / 
have learned, saith St. Paul. Indeed, you need 
not learn a man to sin. This is natural, Psal. 
Iviii., and therefore easy : it comes as w^ater out 
of a spring. It is an easy thing to be wicked : 
hell will be taken without storm, but matter of 
religion must be learned. To cut the flesh is 
easy ; but to prick a vein, and not to cut an 
artery is hard. The trade of sin needs not to 
be learned ; but Divine Contentment is not 
achieved without holy industry. I have learned. 

There are tw^o pregnant reasons why there 
must be so much study and exercise. 


1. Because spiritual things are against na- 
ture. Every thing in rehgion is antipodes to 
nature. There are, in rehgion, two things : 
faith, and practice ; and both are against nature. 

1. Faith, or matters of faith ; as, for a man to 
be justified by the righteousness of another ; to 
become a fool, that he may be wise : to save 
all, by losing all — this is against nature. 2. Mat- 
ters of practice. As, 1. Self-denial ; for a man 
to deny his own wisdom, and see himself Wind ; 
his own nrlU, and have it melted into the will 
of God ; plucking out the right eye, beheading 
and crucifying that sin, which is the favourite, 
and hes nearest to the heart : for a man to be 
dead to the world ; and, in the midst of want, 
to abound : for a man to take up the cross, and 
follow Christ, not only in golden, but bloody 
paths ; to embrace religion, when it is dressed 
in its night-clothes, all the jewels of honour 
and preferment being pulled off. This is 
against nature ; and, therefore, must be learned. 

2. Self-examination : for a man to take his 
heart, as a watch, all in pieces ; to set up a 
spiritual inquisition, or court of conscience, and 
traverse things in his own soul ; to take David's 
candle and lanthorn, Psal. cxix. 105, and 


search for sin ; nay, as judge, to pass the sen- 
tence upon himself, 2 Sam. xxiv. 17. This is 
against nature^ and will not easily be attained 
to without learning. 3. Self -reformation. To 
see a man, as Caleb, of another spirit, walking 
antipodes to himself, the current of his life al- 
tered, and running into the channel of religion 
— this is wholly against nature. When a 
stone ascends, it is not a natural motion, but a 
violent ; the motion of the soul heavenward, is 
a violent motion — it must be learned. Flesh 
and blood is not skilled in these things. Nature 
can no more cast out Nature, than Satan can 
east out Satan. 

2. Because spiritual things are above nature. 
There are some things in nature, that are hard 
to find out, as the causes of things, which are 
not learnt without study. Aristotle, a great 
philosopher, whom some have called an eagle 
fallen from the clouds ; yet could not find out 
the motion of the river Euripus, therefore threw 
himself into it. What then are divine things, 
which are in a sphere above nature, and beyond 
all human conception ? As the Trinity, the 
Lord's incarnation ; the mystery of faith, to 
believe against hope ; only God's Spirit can 


light our candle here. The Apostle calls these 
the deep things of God, 1 Cor. ii. 10. The 
Gospel is full of jewels, but they are locked up 
from sense and reason. The anoels in heaven 


are searching into these sacred depths, 1 Pet. 
i. 12. 

Use. Let us beg the Spirit of God to teach 
us : we must be divinely instructed. The eu- 
nuch could read, but he could not understand, 
till Philip joined himself to his chariot, Acts 
viii. 29. God's Spirit must join himself to our 
chariot ; he must teach, or we cannot learn. 
All thy children shall he taught of the Lord, 
Isa. liv. 13. A man may read the figure on the 
dial ; but he cannot tell how the day goes, un- 
less the sun shine upon the dial : we may read 
the Bible over, but we cannot learn to purpose 
till the Spirit of God shines into our hearts^ 
2 Cor. iv. 6. Oh, implore this blessed Spirit \ 
it is God's prerogative-royal to teach. I am 
the Lord thy God, that teacheth thee to proft^ 
Isa. viii. 17. Ministers may tell us our lesson, 
God only can teach us : we have lost both our 
hearing and eye-sight ; therefore are very unfit 
to learn. Ever since Eve listened to the Ser- 
pent, we have been deaf ; and since she looked 


on the tree of knowledge, we have been bhnd : 
bat when God comes to teach, he removes these 
impediments, Isa. xxxv. 5. We are naturally 
dead, Eph. ii. 1. \Mio will go about to teach 
a dead man ? Yet behold, God undertakes to 
make dead men to understand mysteries ! God 
is the grand Teacher. This is the reason the 
word preached works so differently upon men : 
two in a pew, the one is wrought upon effec- 
tually ; the other lies at the ordinances as a 
dead child at the breast, and gets no nourish- 
ment. What is the reason ? Because the 
heavenly gale of the Spirit blow^s upon one, and 
not upon the other. One hath the anointing of 
God, ichich teacheth him all things, 1 John ii. 27, 
the other hath it not. God's Spirit speaks 
sweetly, and often irresistibly. In that hea- 
venly doxology, none could sing the new song 
but those who were sealed in their foreheads. 
Rev. xiv. 3. The wicked could not sing it. 
Those that are skilful in the mysteries of salva- 
tion, must have the seal of the Spirit upon them. 
Let us make this our prayer — " Lord, breathe 
thy Spirit into thy Word :" and we have a 
Promise, which may add wings to prayer — " If 
ye then being evil, know how to give good 


gifts to your children, how much more shall 
your heavenly Father give his holy Spirit to 
them that ask him ?' Luke xi. 13. 

And thus much for the first part of the text, 
the scholar ; which I intended only as a short 
gloss or paraphrase. 



The second Branch of the Text— The Lesson itt^elf ; 
with the Proposition. 

II. I COME now to the second, which is the 
main thing — The lesson itself: In whatsoever 
state I am, therewith to he content. 

Here was a rare piece of learning, indeed ! 
and certainly more to be wondered at in St. 
Paul, that he knew how to turn himself to 
every condition, than all the learning in the 
world besides, which hath been so applauded 
in former ages by Julius Caesar, Ptolemy, Xeno- 
phon, the great admirers of learning. 

The text hath but a few words in li^In 
every state he content. But if that be true, 
which once Fulgentius said, that the most gol- 
den sentence is ever measured by brevity and 
suavity, then this is a most accomplished 
speech ; here is a great deal in a little. The 
text is like a precious jewel, little in quantity, 
but great in worth and value. 

The main proposition I shall insist upon is 
this, that a gracious spirit is a contented spirit. 


The doctrine of contentment is very superla- 
tive ; and till we have learned this, we have 
not learned to be Christians. 

1. It is a hard lesson. The angels in hea- 
ven had not learned it ; they were not con- 
tented : though their estate was very glorious, 
yet they were still soaring aloft, and aimed at 
something higher, Jude i. 6. The angels 
which kept not their first estate ; they kept not 
their estate, because they were not contented 
with their estate. Our first parents, clothed 
with the white robe of innocency in Paradise, 
had not learned to be content : they had aspi- 
ring hearts ; and, thinking their human nature 
too low and homespun, would be crowned 
with the Deity, and be as gods. Though they 
had the (Gen. iii. 5) choice of all the trees in 
the garden ; yet none would content them but 
the tree of knowledge, which they supposed 
would have been as eye-salve to have made 
them omniscient. Oh, then, if this lesson were 
so hard to learn in innocency, how hard shall 
we find it, who are clogged with corruption ! 

2. It is of universal extent — concerns all. 
1. It concerns rich men. One would think it 
needless to press those to contentment, whom 


God hath blessed with great estates, but rather 
persuade them to be humble and thankful ; nay, 
but I say. Be content. Rich men have their 
discontents as well as others ; as appears, 
1. When they have a great estate, yet they are 
discontented that they have no more ; they 
would make the hundred talents a thousand. 
A man in wine, the more he drinks, the more 
he thirsts. Covetousness is a dry dropsy : an 
earthly heart is like the grave that is never 
satisfied. Therefore I say to you rich men — Be 

2. Rich men, if we may suppose them to be 
content with their estates, which is very seldom; 
yet, though they have estate enough, they have 
not honour enougli, Prov. xxx. 16 ; if their 
hams are full enough, yet their turrets are not 
high enough. They woidd be somebody in the 
w^orld, as Theudas, who boasted himself to he 
somebody ; they never go so cheerfully as when 
the wind of honour and applause fills their sails ; 
if this wind be down, they are discontented. 
One would think Haman had as much as his 
proud heart could desire ; he was set above all 
the princes, and advanced upon the pinnacle of 
honour to be the second man in the kingdom, 


Est. iii. 1 ; yet, in the midst of all his pomp, be- 
cause Mordecai would not uncover and kneel, 
he is discontented (verse 2), and full of wrath, 
(verse 5), and there is no way to assuage this 
pleurisy of revenge, but by letting all the Jews' 
blood, and offering them up in sacrifice. The 
itch of honour is seldom allayed without blood ; 
therefore I say to you rich men — Be content. 

3. Rich men, if we may suppose them to 
be content with their honour and magnificent 
titles, yet they have not always contentment in 
their relations. She that lies in the bosom, 
may sometimes blow the coals ; as Job's wife, 
who in a pet would have him fall out with God 
himself — Curse God, and die. Sometimes 
children cause discontent. How oft is it seen, 
that the mother's milk doth nourish a viper ! 
And he that once sucked her breast, goes about 
to suck her blood ! Parents do often of grapes 
gather thorns, and oi figs thistles. Children 
are a sweet-brier : like the rose, which is a fra- 
grant flower ; but, as a Basil saith, it hath its 
prickles. Our relative comforts are not all 
pure wine, but mixed ; they have in them more 
dregs than spirits, and are like that river Plu- 
tarch speaks of, where the waters in the morn- 


ing run sweet, but in the evening run bitter. 
We have no charter of exemption granted us in 
this hfe ; therefore rich men had need be called 
upon to be contented. 

2. The doctrine of contentment concerns 
poor men. You that do suck so liberally from 
the breasts of Providence, be content ; it is a 
hard lesson, therefore it had need be set upon 
the sooner. How hard it is, when the liveli- 
hood is even gone — a great estate boiled away 
almost to nothino; — then to be content ! The 
means of subsistence is in Scripture called our 
life, because it is the very sinews of life. The 
woman in the Gospel spent all her living icpon 
the physicians, Luke viii. 43, which, in the 
Greek, imphes, that she spent her whole life 
upon the physicians, because she spent the 
means by which she should live. It is much, 
when poverty hath clipped our wings, then to 
be content ; but, though hard, it is excellent : 
and the Apostle here had learnt, in every state 
to be content. 

God hath brought St. Paul into as great 
variety of conditions, as ever we read of any 
man, and yet he was content ; else, sure, he 
could never have gone through it with so much 


cheerfulness. See into what vicissitudes this 
blessed Apostle was cast — We are troubled on 
every side ! There was the sadness of his con- 
dition ; but, not distressed, there was his con- 
tent in that condition. We are perplexed ; 
there is his affliction : but not in despair ; there 
is his contentment. And if w^e read a little fur- 
ther — " In afflictions, in necessities, in distresses, 
in stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults," &c., 
2 Cor. vi. 4, there is his trouble. And behold 
his content — " As having nothing, yet possess- 
ing all things," verse 10. When the Apostle 
was driven out of all ; yet, in regard of that 
sweet contentment of mind, w-hich was like 
music in his soul, he possessed all things. We 
read a short map or history of his sufferings — 
"In prisons more frequent, in death oft," &c. 
2 Cor. xi. 23, 24, 25. Yet behold the blessed 
frame and temper of his spirit — "I have learned, 
in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be con- 

Which way soever Providence did blow, he 
had such heavenly skill and dexterity, that he 
knew how to steer his course. For his out- 
w^ard estate he was indifferent ; he could be 
either on the top of Jacob's Ladder, or the bot- 


torn ; he could sing either the dirge or the an- 
them ; he could be any thing that God would 
have him. " I know how to want, and how to 
abound." There is a rare pattern for us to 
imitate ! Paul, in regard of his faith and cou- 
rage, was like a cedar ; he could not be stirred : 
but, for his outward condition, he was like a 
reed, bending every way with the wind of Pro- 
vidence. When a prosperous gale did blow 
upon him, he could bend with that — I know 
how to be full ; and when a boisterous gust of 
affliction did blow, he could bend in humility 
with that — / know how to he hungry. St. 
Paul was, as Aristotle speaks, like a die that 
hath four squares; throw it which way you 
will, it falls upon a bottom : let God throw the 
Apostle which way he would, he fell upon this 
bottom of contentment. A contented spirit is 
like a watch; though you carry it up and 
down with you, yet the spring of it is not sha- 
ken, nor the wheels out of order, but the watch 
keeps its perfect motion : so it was with St. 
Paul ; though God had carried him into various 
conditions, yet he was not lifted up with the 
one, nor cast down with the other. The spring 
of his heart was not broken, the wheels of his 


affection were not disordered, but kept their 
constant motion toward Heaven- — still content. 
The ship that Hes at anchor may sometimes be 
a httle shaken, but never sinks : flesh and blood 
may have its fears and disquiets, but Grace 
doth check them. A Christian, having cast 
anchor in Heaven, his heart never sinks : a 
gracious spirit is a contented spirit. 

This is a rare lesson ! Paul did not learn it 
at the feet of Gamaliel — I am instructed, Phil, 
iv. 11. "I am initiated into this holy mystery :" 
as if he had said — " I have gotten the divine 
art, I have the secret of it." God must make 
us right artists. If we should put some men 
to an art that they are not skilled in, how unfit 
would they be for it ! Put a husbandman to 
limning or drawing pictures, what strange work 
would he make ! This is out of his sphere. 
Take a limner that is exact in laying of colours, 
and put him to plough, or set him to planting 
and grafting of trees ; this is not his art, he is 
not skilled in it. Bid a natural man live by 
faith ; and, when all things go cross, he con^ 
tented : you bid him do that he has no skill 
in ; you may as well bid a child guide the 
stern of a ship. To live contentedly upon God, 


in the deficiency of outward comforts, is an art 
which flesh and hlood hath not revealed : nay, 
many of God's own children, who excel in 
some duties of religion ; when they come to this 
of contentment, how do they stumble ! They 
have scarcely commenced scholars in the school 
of Christ. 



The Resolving of some (Questions. 

For the illustrating of this doctrine, I shall 
propound these questions : 

Quest. 1. Whether a Christian may not be 
sensible of his condition, and yet be contented ? 

Answ. Yes ; for else he is not a Saint, but 
a stoick. Rachel did well to weep for her 
children — there was nature ; but her fault was, 
she refused to be comforted — there was discon- 
tent. Christ himself was sensible, when he 
sweat great drops of blood, and said — Father, 
if it he possible, let this cup pass from me, 
Matt. xxvi. 39; yet He was contented, and 
sweetly submitted his will. JYevertheless, not 
as I will, hut as thou wilt. The Apostle bids us 
humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God, 
1 Pet. V. 6, which we cannot do unless we are 
sensible of it. 

Quest. 2. Whether a Christian may not 
lay open his grievances to God, and yet be con- 
tented ? 

Answ. Yes — Unto thee have I opened my 


cause, Jer. xx. 12. And David 'poured out his 
complaint before the Lord, Psal. cxliii. 2. We 
may cry to God, and desire him to write down 
all our injuries : shall not the child complain to 
his Father ? When any burden is upon the 
spirit, prayer gives vent : it easeth the heart. 
Hannah's spirit was burdened — / am, says she, 
a woman of a troubled spirit, 1 Sam. i. 15. 
Now, having prayed and wept, she went away, 
and was no more sad : only here is the differ- 
ence between a holy complaint, and a discon- 
tented complaint ; in the one w^e complain to 
God; in the other, we complain of God. 

Quest. 3. What is it, properly, that con- 
tentment doth exclude ? 

Answ. There are three things which con- 
tentment doth banish out of its diocese, and 
can by no means agree w^ith them. 

1. It excludes a vexatious repining. This 
is properly the daughter of Discontent — I mourn 
in my complaint, Psal. Iv. 2. He doth not say, 
" I murmur in my complaint." Murmuring is 
no better than mutiny in the heart; it is a 
rising up against God. When the sea is rough 
and unquiet, it casts forth nothing but foam : 
when the heart is discontented, it casts forth 


the foam of anger, impatience, and sometimes 
little better than blasphemy. Murmuring is 
nothing else but the scum which boils off from 
a discontented heart. 

2. It excludes an uneven discomposure. 
When a man saith — " I am in such straits, 
that I know not how to revolve or get out : I 
shall be undone !" Head and heart are so ta- 
ken up, that a man is not fit to pray, or medi- 
tate, &c., he is not himself. Just as when an 
army is routed, one man runs this way, and 
another that, the army is put into disorder : so 
a man's thoughts run up and down distracted. 
Discontent doth dislocate and unjoint the soul ; 
it pulls off the w^heels of devotion. 

3. It excludes a childish despondency ; and 
this is usually consequent upon the other. A 
man being in a hurry of mind, not knowing 
which way to extricate or wind himself out of 
the present trouble, begins to faint and sink 
under it. For care is to the mind as a burden 
to the back, it loads the spirits, and with over- 
loading sinks them. A despondent spirit is a 
discontented spirit. 



Showing the Nature of Contentment. 

Having answered these questions, I shall, 
in the next place, come to describe contentment. 

It is a sweet temper of spirit, whereby a 
Christian carries himself in an equal poise in 
every condition. The nature of this will ap- 
pear more clear in these three general rules. 

1. Contentment is a divine thing. It be- 
comes ours, not by acquisition, but infusion. 
It is a slip taken off from the Tree of Life, and 
planted by the Spirit of God in the soul ; it is 
a fruit, that grows not in the garden of phi- 
losophy, but is of a heavenly birth : it is, there- 
fore, very observable, that Contentment is 
joined with Godhness, and goes in equipage — 
"But godliness, with contentment, is great 
gain," 1 Tim. vi. 6. Contentment being a 
consequent of godliness, or a companion to it, 
I call it divine, to contradistinguish it from that 
contentment which .a moral man may arrive at. 
Heathens have seemed to have this content- 
ment ; but it was only the shadow and picture 


of it ; the heryl, not the true diamond. Theirs 
was but civil, this is sacred ; theirs was only 
from principles of reason, this of religion ; 
theirs was only Jighted at Nature's torch, this 
at the Lamp of Scripture. Reason may a lit- 
tle teach contentment : as thus — " Whatever 
my condition be, this is that I am born to ; and, 
if I meet with crosses, it is but a catholic 
misery— all have their share : why, therefore, 
should I be troubled ?" Reason may suggest 
this ; and, indeed, this may be rather constraint 
than content : but, to live securely and cheer- 
fully upon God, in the abatement of creature 
supplies, religion can only bring this into the 
soul's exchequer. 

2. Contentment is an intrinsical thing. 
It lies within a man ; not in the bark, but the 
root. Contentment hath both its fountain and 
stream in the soul. The beam hath not its 
light from the air. The beams of comfort, 
which a contented man hath, do not arise from 
foreign comforts, but from within. As sorrow 
is seated in the spirit, the heart knows its oion 
grief, Prov. xiv. 10 ; so contentment lies with- 
in the soul, and doth not depend upon exter- 
nals. Hence I gather, that outward troubles 


cannot hinder this blessed contentment. It is 
a spiritual thing, and ariseth from spiritual 
grounds, viz. The apprehension of God's love. 
When there is a tempest without, there may- 
be music within. A bee may sting through 
the skin, but it cannot sting to the heart. Out- 
ward afflictions cannot sting to a Christian's 
heart, where contentment lies. Thieves may 
plunder us of our money and plate, but not of 
this pearl of contentment, unless we are wil- 
ling to part with it ; for it is locked up in the 
cabinet of the heart. The soul which is pos- 
sessed of this rich treasure of contentment, is 
like Noah in the ark, that can sing in the midst 
of a deluge, or as Paul and Silas in the prison. 
3. Contentment is an habitual thing. It 
shines, with a fixed light, in the firmament of 
the soul. Contentment doth not appear only 
now and then, as some stars which are seen 
but seldom, it is a settled temper of the heart : 
one action doth not denominate it. He is not 
said to be a liberal man, that gives alms once 
in his life ; a covetous man may do so : but he 
is said to be liberal, that is given to liberality, 
Rom. xii. 13 ; that is, who, upon all occasions, 
is wiUing to indulge the necessities of the poor 


— SO he is said to be a contented man, that is 
given to contentment. It is not casual, but 
constant. Aristotle, in his rhetoric, distin- 
guisheth between colours in the face that arise 
from 'passion, and those which arise from com- 
plexion. The pale face may look red w^hen it 
blusheth ; but this is only a passion : he is said 
properly to be ruddy and sanguine, who is con- 
stantly so ; it is his complexion. He is not a 
contented man, who is so upon an occasion, 
and perhaps when he is pleased, but who is so 
constantly ; it is the habit and complexion of 
his soul. 



Reasons pressing to Holy Contentment. 

Having opened the nature of contentment, 
I come next to lay down some reasons or argu- 
ments to contentment, which may preponderate 
with us. 

The first is, God''s precept. It is charged 
upon as a duty. Be content with such things 
as you have, Heb. xiii. 5. The same God who 
hath bid us beheve, hath bid us be content ; if 
we obey not, we run ourselves into a state of 
discontent. God's word is a sufficient war- 
rant ; it hath authority in it, and must be a sa- 
cred spell to discontent. Be it so, w^as enough 
among Pythagoras' scholars — Be it enacted, is 
the royal stjde. God's words must be the star 
that guides, and his will the weight that moves 
our obedience. His word is a law, and hath 
majesty enough in it to captivate us into obe- 
dience : our hearts must not be more unquiet 
than the raging sea, which at his word is stilled, 
Matt. viii. 26. 

2. The second reason enforcing content- 


ment is, God^s promise ; for he hath said, I 
will never leave thee, nor forsake thee, Heb. 
xviii. 5, where God hath engaged himself un- 
der hand and seal for our necessary provisions. 
If a king should say to one of his subjects, I 
will take care for thee ; as long as I have any 
crown revenues thou shalt be provided for ; if 
thou art in danger I will secure thee ; if in 
w^ant I will supply thee ; w^ould not that sub- 
ject be content ? Behold, God hath here made 
a promise to the believer, and, as it were, en- 
tered into bond for his security. I will never 
leave thee. Shall not this charm the devil of 
discont( n'; ? Leave thy fatherless children 
with me, I will preserve them alive, Jerem. 
xlix. 11. Methinks I see the godly man on 
his death-bed much discontented, and hear him 
complaining, what w^ill become of my wife and 
children when I am dead and gone. They 
may come to poverty. God hath made a 
promise to us that he will not leave us, and 
hath entailed the promise upon our wife and 
children ; and w^ill not this satisfy ? True 
faith will take God's single bond without call- 
ing for witnesses. 

3. Be content: because our condition in 


life is according to the will of God, and he sits 
at the helm of all his providences, to make them 
subservient to his own glory and the good of 

Let a Christian often think with himself, 
who hath placed me here, w-hether I am in a 
higher state or lower ; not chance or fortune, 
as the poor blind heathens imagined. No : it 
is the all-wise God, that hath, by his providence, 
fixed me in this orb ; and we ought to be con- 
tent in that situation, w^here he has placed us. 
Say not such a one hath occasioned this to me. 
Look not too much at the under wheel. We 
read in Ezekiel, i. 16, of a wheel within a 
wheel. God's providence is the cause of the 
turning of the wheels, and his divine influence 
is the inner wheel that moves all the rest. 

God has a design in all his providences, to 
make all things w^ork together for good to them 
that love him. Say then, with David, I w^as 
silent because thou Lord didst it, Psalm xxxix. 9. 
God hath set us in our station, and he hath done 
it in wisdom, and this should be a counterpoise 
against our discontent. We fancy such a con- 
dition in life good for us ; whereas, if we were 
our own carvers, we should often cut the worst 


piece. Lot being put to his choice, did choose 
Sodom, Gen. xiii. 10, 11, which soon after was 
burnt with fire. Rachel was very desirous of 
children. Give me children, said she, or else I 
die, Gen. xxx. 1, and it cost her her life in 
brino^ino- forth a child. Abraham was earnest 
for Ishmael. that Ishmael may live before 
thee, Gen. xvii. 18. 

But he had little comfort, either of him or 
his seed : he was born a son of strife ; his hand 
was against every man, and every man's hand 
against him. The disciples wept for Christ's 
leaving the world ; they chose his corporeal pre- 
sence : whereas it was best for them that 
Christ should be gone, or else the Comforter 
would not come, John xvi. 7. David desired 
the life of his child, and he wept and fasted for 
it; but when he saw it was the will of God to 
take it, he cries out in the language of holy 
submission, I shall go to him, but he shall not 
return to me, 2 Sam. xii. 23. We often stand 
in our own light ; if we should sort or parcel 
out our own comforts, we should hit upon the 
wrong. Is it not well for the child, that the 
parent should choose for it 1 Were it left to 
itself, it would, perhaps, choose a knife to cut 


its own fingers. A man in a fit calls for wine, 
w^hich, if he had it, were little better than poi- 
son. It is well for the patient that he is at ihe 
physician's appointment. The consideration of 
God's overruling providence, in all our con- 
cerns in life, should work our hearts to holy con- 
tentment. The wise God hath ordered our condi- 
tion. If he sees it better for us to abound, we shall 
abound ; if he sees it better for us to want, we 
shall want. Be content to be at God's disposal. 
God sees, in his infinite wisdom, the same con- 
dition is not convenient for all. That which is 
good for one may be bad for another. One sea- 
son of weather will not serve ail men's occa- 
sions. One needs sunshine, another rain. One 
condition of life will not fit every man, no more 
than one suit of apparel will fit every body. 
Prosperity is not fit for all, nor yet adversity. 
If one man be brought low, perhaps he can 
bear it better. He hath a greater portion of 
grace, more faith and patience, he can gather 
grapes of thorns, and pick some comforts out of 
the cross. Every one cannot do this. Another 
man is seated in an eminent place of dignity. 
He is fitter for it. Perhaps it is a place requi- 
ring more parts and judgment, which every one 


is not capable of. Perhaps he can use his estate 
better ; he hath a pubhc heart as well as a pub- 
lic place. The all- wise God sees that condition 
to be bad for one which is good for another. 
Hence it is, he placeth men in different orbs 
and spheres, some higher, some lower. One 
man desires health. God sees sickness better 
for him. God will work health out of sickness, 
by bringing the body of sin into a consumption. 
Another man desires liberty. God sees restraint 
better ; for he will work his hberty by restraint. 
When his feet are bound his heart shall be most 
enlarged. Did we believe this, it would give 
check to the sinful disputes and cavils of our 
hearts. Shall I be discontented and murmur at 
the wise dispensations of God's providence 1 Is 
this to be a child or a rebel ? 




Showing how a Christian may make his Life com- 
foi table. 

It shows how a Christian may corae to lead 
a comfortable life, even a heaven upon earth, 
be the times what they, w^ill ; viz. by Christian 
contentment, Prov. xv. 13. The comforts of 
life doth not stand in having much ; it is Christ's 
maxim — Man^s life consisteth not in the abun- 
dance of things which he doth possess, Luke xii. 
15, but it is in being contented. Is not the bee 
as well contented with the feeding on the dew, 
or sucking from a flower, as the ox that grazeth 
on the mountains? Contentment lies within 
a man, in the heart ; and the way to be com- 
fortable is, not by having our barns filled, but 
our minds quiet. '' The contented man," saith 
Seneca, *' is the happy man." Discontent is 
a fretting humour, which dries the brains, 
wastes the spirits, corrodes and eats out the 
comfort of life. — Discontent makes a man that 


he doth not enjoy what he doth possess. A 
drop or two of vinegar will sour a whole glass 
of wine. Let a man have the affluence and 
confluence of worldly comforts, a drop or two 
of discontent will embitter and poison all. 
Comfort depends upon Contentment. Jacob 
went halting, when the sinew upon the hollow 
of his thigh shrank ; so when the sinew of con- 
tentment begins to shrink, we go halting in our 
comforts. Contentment is as necessary to keep 
the life comfortable, as oil is necessary to keep 
the lamp burning : the clouds of discontent do 
often drop the show^ers of tears. Would w^e 
have comfort in our lives, be content. Why 
dost thou complain of thy troubles ? It is not 
trouble that troubles, but discontent ; it is not 
the water without the ship, but the water that 
gets within the leak, w^hich drowns it. It is not 
outward affliction that can make the life of a 
Christian sad ; a contented mind would sail 
above these waters: but, when there's a leak 
of discontent open, and trouble gets into the 
heart, then it is disquieted, and sinks. 




A Check to the discontented Christian. 

Here is a just reproof to such as are discon- 
tented with their condition. This disease is al- 
most epidemical. Some, not content with their 
calHngs which God hath set them in, must be 
a step higher, from the plough to the throne ; 
wlo, hke the spider in the Proverbs, will take 
hold yyith their hands, and he in king^s palaces, 
Prov. XXX. 28. Others exalt themselves to the 
ministry without thinking on the importance of 
the work or duly considering the necessity of 
divine influence, and by thus manifesting the 
pride of the human heart they take to them- 
selves that honour which belongs to God only ; 
and some there be, who, without regard to fu- 
ture consequences, waste their time and ruin 
their souls by seeking that honour which comes 
from man. These do secretly tax the wisdom 
of God, that he hath not screwed them up in 
their condition a peg higher. Every man is 


complaining that his estate is no better, though 
he seldom complains that his heart is no better. 
One man commends this kind of hfe, another 
commends that ; one man thinks a country-life 
best, another a city -life. The soldier thinks it 
best to be a merchant, and the merchant to be 
a soldier. Men can be content to be any thing 
but what God will have them. How is it that 
no man is contented ? Very few Christians 
have learned St. Paul's Icvsson : neither poor 
nor rich know how to be content ; they cau 
learn any thing but this. 

1. If men are poor, they learn to be, 1. 
Envious. They malign those that are above 
them ; another's prosperity is an eye-sore. 
When God's candle shines upon their neigh- 
bour's tabernacle, this light offends them : in 
the midst of wants, men can in this sense 
abound ; viz. in envi/ and malice. An envious 
eye is an evil eye. 2. They learn to be queru- 
lous, still complaining, as if God had dealt 
hardly with them : they are ever telling of 
their wants ; they want this or that comfort ; 
whereas, their greatest want is a contented 
spirit. Those that are well enough content 
with their sins, yet are not content with their 


2. If men are rich, they learn to be covet- 
ous, thirsting insatiably after the world ; and, 
by an unjust means, scraping it together. Their 
right-hand is full of bribes, as the Psalmist ex- 
presseth it, Psal. xxvi. 10. Put a good cause 
in one scale, and a piece of gold in the other, 
and the gold weighs heaviest. " There are," 
saith Solomon, " four things that say, it is not 
enough,'^ Prov. xxx. 15. I may add a fifth, 
viz. the heart of a covetous man : so that neither 
poor nor rich know how to be content. 

Never, certainly, since the creation, did this 
sin of discontent reign, or rather rage, more 
than in our times ; never was God more dis- 
honoured. You can hardly speak with any, 
but the passion of his tongue betrays the dis- 
content of his heart ; every one lisps out his 
trouble, and here even the stammering tongue 
speaks too free and fluently. If we have not 
what we desire, God shall not have a good 
look from us ; but presently w^e are sick of 
discontent, and ready to die out of humour. K 
God will not give the people of Israel for their 
lusts, they bid him take their lives ; they must 
have quails to their manna. Ahab, though a 
king — and one would think his crown lands 


had been sufficient for him — yet is sullen and 
discontented for want of Naboth's vineyard. 
Jonah, though a good man and a prophet, yet 
ready to die in a pet, Jonah iv. 8 ; and because 
God killed his gourd — Kill me too, said he. 
Pvachel said, Give me children, or I die ; she 
had many blessings, if she could have seen 
them, but wanted this blessing of contentment. 
God will supply our wants, but must he satisfy 
our lusts too ? Many are discontented for a 
very trifle ; another hath a better dress, a richer 
jewel, a newer fashion. Nero, not content 
with his empire, w^as troubled that the musi- 
cians had more skill in playing than he. How 
fantastic are some, that pine away in discon- 
tent for the want of those things which, if they 
had, would but render them more ridiculous ! 



A persuasive to Contentment, 

It exhorts us to labour for contentment : 
this is that which doth beautify and bespangle 
a Christian ; and, as a spiritual embroidery, 
doth set him off in the eyes of the world. 

Object. But methinks I hear some bitterly 
complaining, and saying to me — " Alas ! how is 
it possible to be contented ! the Lord haih 
made my chain heavy, ^^ Lam. iii. 7, " he hath 
cast me into a very sad condition." 

Answ. There is no sin but labours either to 
hide itself under some mask ; or, if it cannot be 
concealed, then to vindicate itself by some 
apology. This sin of discontent 1 find very 
witty in its apologies ; which 1 shall first dis- 
cover, and then make a reply. We must lay 
it down for a rule, that Discontent is a sin — 
so that all the pretences and apologies where- 
w^ith it labours to justify itself, are but the pro- 
duction of Satan's temptations. 


The first Apology that Discontent makes — answered. 

The first apology which Discontent makes 
is this — " I have lost a child." Paulina, upon 
the loss of her children, was so possessed with 
a spirit of sadness, that she had like to haye 
entombed herself in her own discontent. Our 
love to relations is oftentimes more than our 
love to religion. 

Answ. 1. We must be content, not only 
when God gives mercies, but when he taketh 
them away. If we must in every thing give 
thanks, 1 Thes. v. 18, then in nothing be dis- 

2. Perhaps God has taken away the cis- 
tern, that he may give you the more of the 
spring ; he hath darkened the star-light, that 
you may have more sun-light. God intends 
you shall have more of himself ; and is not he 
better than ten sons ? Look not so much upon 
a temporal loss, as a spiritual gain : the com- 
forts of the world run dregs ; but those which 
come out of the granary of the Promise are 
purer and sweeter. 

3. Your child was not given, but lent. I 


have, saith Hannah, lent my son to the Lord, 
1 Sam. i. 2S. She lent him ! The Lord hath 
but lent him to her. Mercies are not entailed 
upon us, but lent : what a man lends, he may 
call for again when he pleases. God hath put 
out a child to thee awhile to nurse ; w^ilt thou 
be displeased if he takes his child home again ? 
be not discontented that a mercy is taken 
aw^ay from you, but rather be thankful that it 
was lent you so long. 

4. Suppose your child was taken from you, 
either he was good or bad. If he was reh l- 
lious, you have not so much parted with a 
child as a buiden ; you grieve for that which 
might have been a greater grief to you. If he 
w^as religious, then remember, he is iSikenfioni 
the evil to come, Isaiah Ivii. 1, and placed in 
his centre of felicity. This lower region being 
full of gross and hurtful vapours, how happy 
are those w^ho are mounted into the celestial 
orbs ! The righteous is taken away — in the 
original it is, he is gathered ; a wicked child 
dying is cut off", but the pious child is gathered. 
Even as w^e see men gather flowers, and candy 
them, and preserve them by them ; so hath 
God gathered thy child as a sweet flower, 


that he may candy it with glory, and preserve 
it by him for ever. Why then should a Chris- 
tian be discontented ? Why should he weep 
excessively ? Dcmghters of Jerusalem, weep 
not for me ; but weep for yourselves, Luke 
xxiii. 28. If we could but hear our children 
speaking to us out of heaven, they would say — 
*' Weep not for us who are happy ; we lie 
upon a soft pillow, even in the bosom of Christ : 
the Prince of Peace is embracing us, and kiss- 
ing us with the kisses of his lips. Be not 
troubled at our preferment : weep not for us, 
but weep for yourselves, who are in a sinful, 
sorrowful world. You are in the valley of 
tears, but we are on the mountains of spices : 
we are gotten to our harbour, but you are still 
tossing upon the waves of inconstancy." O 
Christian ! Be not discontented that thou hast 
parted with such a child, but rather rejoice that 
thou hadst such a child to part with ; break 
forth into thankfulness. What an honour is it 
to a parent to beget such a child, that while he 
lives, increaseth the joy of the glorified angels : 
and, when he dies, increaseth the number of 
the glorified saints ! Luke xv. 10. 

5. If God hath taken away one of your 


children, he hath left you more ; he might have 
stripped you of all. He took away all Job's 
comforts, his estate, his children: and, indeed, 
his wife was left but as a cross. Satan made 
a bow of this rib, as Chrysostom speaks, and 
shot a temptation by her at Job, thinking to 
have shot him to the heart — Curse God, and 
die, saith she. Job ii. 9. But Job had upon him 
the breastplate of integrity ; and, though his 
children were taken aw^ay, yet not his graces ; 
still he is content, still he blessed God. 
think how many mercies you still enjoy ! Yet 
our base hearts are more discontented at one 
loss, than thankful for a hundred mercies. 

God hath plucked one bunch of grapes from 
you ; but how many precious clusters are left 
behind ? 

Object. *' But it was my only child, the 
staff of my age, the seed of my comfort, and the 
only blossom out of which the honour of an 
ancient family did grow." 

Answ. 1. God hath promised you — if you 
belong to him — a name better than of sons and 
daughters, Isaiah Ivi. 6. Is he dead that should 
have been the monmnent to have kept up the 
name of a family ? God hath given you a new 


name ; he hath written your name in the book 
of hfe. Behold your spiritual heraldry ', here 
is a name that cannot be cut off. 

2. Hath God taken away thy onli/ child ? 
He hath given thee his only Son : this is a 
happy exchange. What needs he complain of 
losses, that hath Christ ? He is the Father's 
brightness, Heb. i. 3, his riches, Col. ii. 9, his 
delight, Psalm xlii. 1. Is there enough in 
Christ to dehght the heart of God ? and is 
there not enough in him to ravish us with holy 
delight ? He is wisdom to teach us, righteous- 
ness to acquit us, sanctijication to adorn us; he 
is that royal and princely gift ; he is the bread 
of angels, Psal. Ixxviii. 25, the joy and triumph 
of saints ; he is all in all. Why, then, art thou 
discontented ? Though thy child be lost, yet 
thou hast him for whom all things are loss. 

3. And, lastly, let us blush to think that 
Nature should seem to outstrip Grace. Pul- 
villus, a Heathen, when he was about to con- 
secrate a temple to Jupiter, and news was 
brought to him of the death of his son, would 
not desist from his enterprise ; but, with much 
composuie of mind, gave order for decent burial. 



The second Apology answered. 

The second apology that Discontent makes, 
is — " I have a great part of my estate melted 
away, and trading begins to fail." 

God is pleased sometimes to bring his chil- 
dren very low, and cut them short in their es- 
tate : it fares with them as with that widow 
who had nothing in her house save a pot of oil, 
2 Kings iv. 2. But be content. 

1. God hath taken away your estate, but 
not your portion. This is a sacred paradox. 
Honour and estate are not part of a Christian's 
jointure ; they are rather accessories, than essen- 
tials, and are extrinsical and foreign ; therefore 
the loss of these cannot denominate a man mis- 
erable: still the portion remains — The Lord is 
my portion, saith my soul, Lam. iii. 24. Sup- 
pose one were worth a million of money, and he 
should chance to lose a pin off his sleeve ; this 
is no part of his estate, nor can we say he is 
undone : the loss of sublunary comforts is not 
so much to a Christian's portion as the loss of 
a pin is to a million. These things shall he 
added to you, Matt. vi. 33, they shall be cast in 


as overplus. When a man buys a piece of 
cloth, he hath an inch or two given into the 
measure. Now, though he lose his inch of 
cloth, yet he is not undone ; for still the whole 
piece remains. Our outward estate is not so 
much in regard of the portion, as an inch of 
cloth is to the whole piece ; why then should a 
Christian be discontented, when the title to his 
spiritual treasure remains ? A thief may take 
away all my money that I have about me, but 
not my land ; still a Christian hath a title to the 
land of promise. Mary hath chosen the better 
part, ivhich shall not he taken from her, Luke 
X. 42. 

2. Perhaps, if thy estate had not been lost, 
thy soul might have been lost : outward com- 
forts do often quench inward heat. God can- 
not bestow a jewel upon us, but we fall so in 
love with it, that we forget him that gave it. 
What a pity is it that we should commit idola- 
try with the creature ! God is forced some- 
times to drain away an estate : the plate and 
jewels are often cast overboard to save the pas- 
senger. Many a man may curse the time that 
ever he had such an estate ; it hath been an 
enchantment to draw away his heart from God. 


Some there are that will he rich, and they fall 
into a snare, 1 Tim. vi. 9. Art thou troubled 
that God hath prevented a snare 1 Riches are 
thorns, Matt. xiii. 7. Art thou angry that God 
hath pulled away a thorn from thee ? Riches 
are compared to thick clay, Hab. ii. 6. Perhaps 
thy affections, which are the feet of the soul, 
might have stuck so fast in this golden clay, 
that they could not have ascended up to heaven. 
Be content. If God stop our outward comforts, 
it is that the stream of our love may run faster 
another w^ay. 

3. If your estate be small, yet God can 
bless a little. It is not how much money we 
have, but how^ much blessing. He that often 
curseth the bags of gold, can bless the meal in 
the barrel, and the oil in the cruse. What if 
thou hast not the full fleshpots ? Yet thou hast 
a promise — / will bless her 'provision, Psal. 
cxxxi. 75, and then a little goes a great way. 
Be content, thou hast the dew of a blessing dis- 
tilled. A dinner of green herbs, where love is, 
is sweet — I may add, w^here the love of God is. 
Another may have more estate than you, but 
more care ; more riches, less rest ; more reve- 
nues, but withal more occasions of expense. 


He hath a greater inheritance, yet perhaps God 
doth not give him 'power to eat thereof, Eccles. 
vi. 2, he hath the dominion of his estate, not 
the use, he holds more, but enjoys less : in a 
word, thou hast less gold than he, perhaps less 

4. You did never so thrive in your spiritual 
trade ; your heart was never so low^, as since 
your condition was so low ; you were never so 
poor in Spirit, never so rich in Faith. You 
did never run the ways of God's commandments 
so fast as since some of your golden weights 
were taken off. You never had such trading 
for heaven in all your life. You did never make 
such adventures upon the promises as since you 
left off your sea adventures. This is the best 
kind of merchandise. 0, Christian, thou never 
hadst such incomes of the Spirit, such spring- 
tides of joy : and what, though weak in estate, 
if strong in assurance, be content. "What you 
have lost one way, you have gained another. 

5. Be your losses what they vrill in this 
kind — remember, in every loss there is only a 
suffeiing : but in every discontent there is a 
sin ; and one sin is worse than a thousand suf- 
ferings. What ! because some of inv revenues 


are gone, shall I part with some oi my righteous- 
ness? Shall my faith and patience go too? 
Because I do not possess an estate, shall I not 
therefore possess my own spirit ? learn to 
be content ! 

The third Apology answered. 

The third apology is, — " It is sad with me 
in my relations ; where I should find most com- 
fort, there I have most grief." This apology 
or objection brancheth itself into two particu- 
lars ; whereto I shall give a distinct reply. 

1. My children are rebellious. I fear they 
are running in haste the broad road to destruc- 
tion. It is sad, indeed, to see a child grow har- 
dened in sin and rebellion ; and certainly the 
pangs of grief which parents feel under such 
heart-rending trouble, must bow the spirit down. 
But be content. For consider — 

1. You may pick something out of your 
child's undutifulness : the child's sin is some- 
times the parent's sermon. The undutifulness 
of children to us may be a memento, to put us 


in mind of our undutifulness once to God. Time 
was when we were rebellious children. How 
long did our hearts stand out as garrisons against 
God ! How long did he parley with us, and 
beseech us, ere we would yield ! He walked 
in the tenderness of his heart towards us, but 
we walked in the forwardness of our hearts 
toward him ; and, since grace hath been planted 
in our souls, how much the wild olive is still in 
us ! How many motions of the Spirit do we 
daily resist ! how many unkindnesses and af- 
fronts have we put upon Christ ! Let this open 
a spring of repentance. Look upon your child's 
rebellion, and mourn for your own rebellion. 

2. Though to see him undutiful is your 
grief, yet not always your sin. Hath a parent 
given the child, not only the milk of the breast, 
but the sincere milk of the Word? 1 Pet. ii. 2. 
Hast thou seasoned his tender years with reli- 
gious education ? Thou canst do no more. 
Parents can only work knowledge ; God must 
work grace : they can only lay the wood to- 
gether, it is God must make it burn. A parent 
can only be a guide to show his child the way 
to heaven ; the Spirit of God must be a load- 
stone to draw his heart into that way. Am I 


in God's stead, saith Jacob to Rachel, who hath 
withheld the fruit of the womb ? Gen. xxx. 2. 
Can I give children ? So, is a parent, in God's 
stead, to give grace 1 Who can help it, if a 
child, having the light of conscience. Scripture 
and education, these three torches in his hand, 
yet runs wilfully into the deep ponds of sin ? 
Weep for thy child, pray for him ; but do not 
sin for him, hy discontent. 

3. Remember grace can change the heart. 
God can reduce him. He hath promised to 
turn the heart of the children to their parents, 
Mai. iv. 6, and to open springs of grace in the 
desert, Isa. xxxv. 6. When any child is going 
full-sail to the devil, God can blow with a con- 
trary wind of his Spirit, and alter his course. 
When Paul was breathing out persecution 
against the Saints, and was sailing hellward, 
God turns him another way. Before, he was 
going to Damascus ; God sends him to Ana- 
nias : before a persecutor, now a preacher. 
Though our children are for the present fallen 
into the deviVs 'pound, God can turn them from 
the power of Satan, Acts xxvi. 18, and bring 
them in at the twelfth hour. Monica was 
weeping for her son Augustine ; at last God 


gave him in, upon prayer ; and he became a 
famous instrument in the church of God. 

2. The second branch of the objection is — 
" But my husband takes ill courses. Where I 
looked for honey, behold a sting !" 

Answ. It is sad to have the living and the 
dead tied together ; yet, let not your heart fret 
with discontent : mourn for his sin, but do not 
murmur. For — 

1. God hath placed you in your relation ; 
and you cannot be discontented, but you quar- 
rel with God. What, for every cross that be- 
falls us, shall we call the infinite wisdom of 
God in question ? the murmuring of our 
hearts ! 

The more ungodly your husband, or your 
relations are, the more holy do you strive to 
be ; and if they curse and revile you, do you 
bless and pray for them, Matt, v., and think it 
not strange concerning those fiery trials which 
are to try you ; for God, by a divine power, 
often sustains and preserves his saints, through 
the hottest fires of persecution ; the devil and 
wicked men can raise against them, and we 
should earnestly pray, that the sins of our rela- 
tions, may be as a spur to our graces, and their 


turbulent tempers, be as bellows, to blow up 
the flame of zeal and devotion in us the more, 
and let the husband's unkindness be the means 
of sending the wife more frequent to the throne 
of p;race, and the perverseness of the wife be 
the means of sending the husband oftener into 
his closet. 

The fourth Apology answered. 

The next apology that Discontent makes 
is — " But my friends have dealt very unkindly 
with me, and proved false." 

Answ. It is sad, when a friend proves like 
a hrook in summer, Job. vi. 15. The traveller, 
being parched with heat, comes to the brook, 
hoping to refresh himself; but the brook is dried 
up : yet be content. 

1. You are not alone : others of the saints 
have been betrayed by friends ; and, when they 
have leaned upon them, they have been as a 
foot out of joint. This was true in the type of 
David, Psal. Iv. 12, 13. " It was not an ene- 
my reproached me ; but it was thou, a man, 


my equal, my guide, and my acquaintance : 
we took sweet counsel together." And, in the 
antitype Christ, he was betrayed by a friend ; 
and why should we think it strange to have 
the same measure dealt unto us as Jesus Christ 
had ? The servaid is not above his master 
John xiii. 16. 

2. A Christian may often read his sin in 
his punishment. Hath not he dealt treacher- 
ously with God ? How oft hath he grieved 
the Comforter, broken his vows ; and, through 
unbelief, sided with Satan against God ! How 
oft hath he abused love ; taking the jewels of 
God's mercies, and making a golden calf of 
them, serving his own lusts! How oft hath 
he made the free grace of God, which should 
have been a bolt to keep out sin, rather a key 
to open the door to it ! These wounds hath 
the Lord received in the house of his friends, 
Zach. xiii. 6. Look upon the unkindness of 
thy friend, and mourn for thy own unkindness 
against God. Shall a Christian condemn that 
in another, which he hath been too often guilty 
of himself? 

3. Hath thy friend proved treacherous? 
Perhaps you did repose too much confidence in 


him. If you lay more weight upon a house 
than the pillars will bear, it must needs break. 
God saith — Trust ye not in a friend, Micah 
vii. 5. Perhaps you did put more trust in him, 
than you did dare to put in God. Friends are 
as Venice-glasses : we may \\se them ; but, if 
we lean too hard upon them, they will break. 
Behold matter of humility, but not of sullenness 
and discontent. 

4. You have a Friend in heaven who will 
never fail you. There is a Friend, saith Solo- 
mon, that sticketh closer than a brother, Prov. 
xviii. 24. Such a friend is God. He is very 
studious and inquisitive in our behalf; he halh 
a debating with himself, a consulting and pro- 
jecting how he may do us good. He is the 
hest friend, which may give contentment in 
the midst of all the disrespect of friends. 

Consider, 1. He is a loving Friend. God 
is love, 1 John iv. 16. He is said sometimes 
to engrave us on the palms of his hands, Isa. 
xlix. 16, that we may be never out of his 
eye; and to carry us in his bosom, Isa. 
xl. 11, near to his heart. There is no stop or 
stint in his love ; but, as the river Nile, it over- 
flows all the banks : his love is far beyond our 


thoughts, as it is above our deserts. the in- 
finite love of God, in giving the Son of his love 
to be made flesh, which was more than if all 
the angels had been made worms ! God, in 
giving Christ to us, gave his very heart to us. 
Here is love penciled out in all its glory, and 
engraven as with the 'point of a diamond ! All 
other love is hatred, in comparison to the love 
of our Friend. 

2. He is a careful Friend — He careth for 
you, 1 Peter v. 7. 

1. He minds and transacts our business as 
his own ; he accounts his people's interests 
and concernments as his interest. 

2. He provides for us grace, to enrich us ; 
and glory, to ennoble us. It was David's com- 
plaint — JVb man careth for my soul, Psal. clxii. 
4. A Christian hath a Friend that cares for 

3. He is a prudent Friend, Dan. ii. 20. A 
friend may sometimes err through ignorance or 
mistake, and give his friend poison instead of 
sugar ; but God is wise in heart, Job ix. 4. He 
is skilful as well as faithful ; he knows what 
our disease is, and what physic is most proper 
to apply ; he knows what will do us good, 


and what wind will be best to carry us to 

4. He is d. faithful Friend, Deut. vii. 9, 10. 
And he is faithful, 1, in his promises — In hope 
of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, hath 
promised. Tit. i. 2, Isai. Ixiii. 8. God's people 
are children that will not lie ; but God is a 
God that cannot lie. He will not deceive the 
faith of his people ; nay, he cannot. He is 
called the Truth ; he can as well cease to be 
God as cease to be true. The Lord may some- 
times change his promise — as when he converts 
a temporal promise into a spiritual — but he 
can never hreak his promise. 

5. He is a compassionate Friend. Hence, 
in Scripture, we read of the yearnings of his 
bowels, Jer. xxxi. 20. God's friendship is no- 
thing else but compassion ; for there is natu- 
rally no affection in us to desire his friendship, 
nor any goodness in us to deserve it : the load- 
stone is in himself. When we were full of 5m 
he w^as full of mercy ; when we were enemies, 
he sent an embassage of peace: when our 
hearts were turned back from God, his heart 
was turned toward us. the tenderness and 
sympathy of our Friend in heaven ! We our- 



selves have some relentlngs of heart to those 
-who are in misery ; but it is God who begets all 
the bowels of mercies that are in us ; therefore 
he is called the Father of mercies, 2 Cor. i. 3. 

6. He is a constant Friend. His compos- 
sionsfail not, Lam. iii. 22. Friends do often, 
in adversity, drop off as leaves in autumn. 
These are rather flatterers than friends. Joab 
was, for a time, faithful to king David's house : 
he went not after Absalom's treason ; but, 
within a while, proved false to the crown, and 
went after the treason of Adonijah, 1 Kings 
i. 7. God is a friend for ever — Having loved 
his own, he loved them to the end, John xiii. 1. 
"What, though I am despised, yet God loves 
me : what, though my friends cast me off, yet 
God loves me. He loves to the end ; and 
there is no end of that love. 

This, methinks, in case of our disquietude 
and unkindnesses, is enough to charm down 
our discontent. 


The fifth Apology answered. 
The next apology is — " I am under great 


reproaches. Let not this discontent you. 
For — 

1. It is a sign there is some good in thee. 
What e^-il have I done that this bad man com- 
mends me ? The applause of the wicked 
usually denotes some evil, and their censure 
imports some good, Psal. xvi. 20. David wept 
and fasted, and that was turned to his reproach, 
Psal. Ixix. 10. As we must pass to heaven 
through the pikes of suffering, so likewise 
through the clouds of reproach. 

2. If your reproach be for God, as David's 
was — For thy sake I have hyrne reproach, 
Psal. Ixix. 7, then it is rather matter of tri- 
umph than dejection. Christ doth not say 
when you are reproached, he discontented, but 
rejoice, Matt. v. 12. Wear your reproach as 
a diadem of honour ; for now a Spirit of Glory 
rests upon you, 1 Pet. iv. 14. Put your re- 
proaches into the inventor}' of your riches : so 
did Moses, Heb. xi. 26. It should be a Chris- 
tian's ambition to wear his Saviour's livery, 
though it be sprinkled with blood, and sullied 
with disgrace. 

3. God will do us good by reproach, as 
David said of Shimei's cursing — " It may be, 


the Lord will requite good for his cursing this 
day," 2 Sam. xvi. 12. This puts us upon 
searching out sin. A child of God labours to 
read his sin in every stone of reproach that is 
cast at him ; besides, now we have an oppor- 
tunity to exercise patience and humility. 

4. Jesus Christ was content to be reproach- 
ed for us — He despised the shame of the cross, 
Heb. xii. 2. It may amaze us to think, that 
he who was God could endure to be spit upon, 
to be crowned with thorns in a kind, of jeer ; 
and, when he w^as ready to bow his head upon 
the cross, to have the Jews, in scorn, wag their 
heads and say — He saved others, himself he 
cannot save : the shame of the cross was as 
much as the blood of the cross ; his name was 
crucified before his body. The sharp arrows of 
reproach, that the world did shoot at Christ, 
w^ent deeper into his heart than the spear. 
His suffering was so ignominious, that, as if the 
sun did blush to behold it, it withdrew its 
bright beams, and masked itself with a cloud : 
and well it might, w-hen the Sun of righteous- 
ness was in an eclipse ! All this contumely 
and reproach did the God of glory endure, or 
rather despise, for us. Oh then ! let us be con- 


tf nt to have our names eclipsed for Christ ; let 
not reproach lie at our heart, but let us bind it 
as a crown about our head. Alas ! what is re- 
proach ? This is but s^mall shot ; how will 
men stand in the moulh of the cannon ? Those 
who are discontented at a reproach, will be of- 
fended at a fagot. 

5. Is not many a man contented to suffer re- 
proach for maintaining his lust ? and shall not we 
for maintaining the truth ? Some glory in that 
which is their shame, Phil. iii. 19, and shall we 
be ashamed of that which is our glory ? Be 
not troubled at these petty things : he, whose 
heart is once divinely touched with the load- 
stone of God's Spirit, doth account it his honour 
to be dishonoured for Christ, Acts xv. 4, and 
doth as much despise the world's censure, as he 
doth their praise. 

6. We live in an age wherein men dare re- 
proach God himself. The divinity of the Son 
of God is blasphemously reproached by the So- 
cinian ; the blessed Bible is reproached by the 
anti-Scripturist, as if it were but a legend of lies, 
and every man's faith a fable ; the Justice of 
God is called to the bar of Reason by too many ; 
the Wisdom of God, in his providential actings, 


is taxed by the Atheist ; the Ordinances of God 
are decried by the Formahst, as being too heavy 
a burden for a free-born conscience, and too 
low and carnal for a subhme seraphic Spirit ; 
the Ways of God, which have the majesty of 
holiness shining in them, are calumniated by 
the Profane; the mouths of men are open 
against God, as if he were a hard Master, and 
the path of Religion too strict and severe. If 
men cannot give God a good word, shall we be 
discontented or troubled that they speak hardly 
of us ? Such as labour to bury the glory of re- 
ligion, shall we wonder that their throats are 
open sepulchres, Rom. iii. 13, to bury our good 
name 1 Oh ! let us be contented, w^hile we are 
in God's scouring-house, to have our names sul- 
lied a little : the blacker we seem to be here, 
the brighter shall we shine when God hath set 
us upon the celestial shelf. 


The sixth Apology answered. 

The sixth apology that Discontent makes, 
is disrespect in the world — " I have not that 


esteem from men, as is suitable to my quality 
and graces." And doth this trouble theel 
Consider — 

1. The world is an unequal judge ; as it is 
full of change, so of 'partiality. The world 
gives her respects, as she doth her places of 
preferment, more by favour, often, than desert. 
Hast thou the ground of real worth in thee 1 
That is best worth that is in him that hath it ; 
honour is in him that gives it. Better deserve 
respect, and not have it, than have it, and not 
deserve it. 

2. Hast thou grace 1 God respects thee, 
and his judgment is best worth prizing. A be- 
liever is a person of honour, being hoiii of God. 
Since thou wast precious in mine eyes, thou 
hast been honourable and I have loved thee, Isai. 
xliii. 4. Let the world think what they will 
of you 'j perhaps, in their eyes, you are a cast- 
away : in God's eyes, a dove. Can. ii. 14, a 
spouse, Can. v. 1, a jewel, Mai. iii. 17 ; others 
account you the dregs and oif-scouring of the 
world, 1 Cor. iv. 13, but God will give whole 
kingdoms for your ransom, Isai. xliii. 4. Let 
this content — " No matter with what oblique 
eyes I am looked upon in the world : if I am 


in Christ, God thinks well of me. It is better 
that God approve, than man applaud. What 
is a man the better, that his fellow-prisoners 
commend him, if his Judge comdemn him ? Oh ! 
labour to keep in with God : prize his love. 
Let my fellow-subjects frowm, I am contented, 
being a favourite of the King of heaven." 

3. If we are the children of God, we must 
look for disrespect. A behever is in the 
world, but not of the w^drld : w^e are here in a 
pilgrim condition, out of our own country; 
therefore must not look for the respects and 
acclamations of the world ; it is sufficient that 
we shall have honour in our own country, Heb. 
xiii. 14. It is dangerous to be the world's fa- 

4. Discontent, arising from disrespect, sa- 
vours too much of pride ; an humble Christian 
hath a lower opinion of himself than others can 
have of him. He that is taken up about the 
thoughts of his sins, and how he hath provoked 
God, he cries out as Agur — / a7n more brutish 
than any man, Prov. xxx. 2, and therefore is 
contented, though he be set among the dogs of 
the flock, Job xxx. 1. Though he be low in 
the thoughts of others, yet he is thankful, that 


he is not laid in the lowest hell, Psal. Ixxxvi. 13. 
A proud man sets a high value upon himself ; 
and is angry with others, because they will not 
come up to his price. Take heed of pride. Oh ! 
had others a window to look into thy breast, as 
Crates once expressed it, or did thy heart stand 
where thy face doth, thou wouldst wonder to 
have so much respect. 

The sevenih Apology answered. 

The next Apology is — " I meet with very 
great sufferings for the truth." Consider — 

1. Your sufferings are not so great as your 
sins. Put these two in the balance, and see 
which weighs heaviest : where sin lies heavy, 
sufferings lie light. A carnal spirit makes 
more of his sufferings, and less of his sins ; he 
looks upon one at the great end of the perspec- 
tive ; but, upon the other, at the little end of 
the perspective. The carnal heart cries out — 
" Take away the yroo-^ ;" but a gracious heart 
cries — " Take away the iniquity, '' 2 Sam. 
xxiv. 10. The one saith — '' Never any one 


suffered as I have done :" but the other saith — 
" Never any one sinned as I have done," Micah 
vii. 9. 

2. Art thou under sufferings ? Thou hast 
an opportunity to show the valour and con- 
stancy of thy mind ; some of God's saints would 
have accounted it a great favour to have been 
honoured with martyrdom. One said — " I am 
in prison, still I am in prison." Thou countest 
that a trouble, which others would have worn 
as an ensign of their glory. 

3. Even those who have gone only upon 
moral principles, have shown much constancy 
and contentment in their sufferings. Curtius, 
being bravely mounted, and in armour, threw 
himself into a great gulf, that the city of 
Rome might, according to the oracle, be deli- 
veied from the pestilence; and we, having a 
divine oracle, That they icho kill the body, can- 
not hurt the soul, shall we not, with much con- 
stancy and patience, devote ourselves to injuries 
for religion, and rather suffer for the truth, than 
the truth suffer for us 1 The Decii, among the 
Romans, vowed themselves to death, that their 
legions and soldiers might be crowned with the 
honour of the victory. ! what should we be 


content to suffer, to make the truth victorious ! 
Regulus, having sworn that he would return to 
Carthage, though he knew there was a furnace 
heating for him there, yet, not daring to infringe 
his oath, he did adventure to go : we then, who 
are Christians, having hke one of old performed 
to the Lord, and cannot go back, should rather 
choose to suffer, than violate our sacred oath. 
Thus the blessed martyrs, with what courage 
and cheerfulness did they yield up their souls to 
God ! and when the fire was set to their bo- 
dies, yet their spirits were not at all fired with 
passion or discontent. Though others hurt the 
body, let them not the mind, through discon- 
tent. Show, by your heroic courage, that you 
are above those troubles which you cannot be 

The eighth Apology answered. 

The next Apology is — The prosperity of 
the wicked. 

Answ. I confess it is often so, that evil men 
have the good things, and good men have the 


evil things. David, though a good man, stum- 
bled at this, and had like to have fallen, Psal. 
Ixxiii. 2. Well, be contented ; for remember — 

1. These are not the only things, nor the 
best things ; they are mercies without the pale ; 
these are but acorns, with which God feeds the 
swine : you, who are believers, have more 
choice fruit, the olive, the pomegranate, the 
fruit which grows on the true vine, Jesus Christ ; 
others have the fat of the earth, you have the 
dew of heaven 5 they have a south land, you 
have those springs of living water which are 
clarified with Christ's blood, and sweetened with 
his love. 

2. To see the wicked flourish, is matter 
rather of pity than envy ; it is all the heaven 
they will have. Wo to you rich men, for ye have 
received your consolations, Luke xi. 24. Hence 
it was, that David made it his solemn prayer — 
Deliver me from the wicked, from men of the 
world, which have their portion in this life, and 
whose helly thou fittest with thy hid treasure, 
Psal. xvii. 14. The words, methinks, are Da- 
vid's litany : from men of the world, which 
have their portion in this life, good Lord, deli- 
ver me. When the wicked have eaten of their 


dainty dishes, there comes in a sad reckoning, 
which will spoil all. The world is first musi- 
cal, and then tragical : it is sad to reflect there 
are many who live on the fat of the earth in 
this life, that will be denied a drop of water to 
cool their parched tongues, in the world to 
come. remember ! for every sand of mercy 
that runs out to the wicked, God puts a drop of 
w^-ath into his vial : therefore, as that soldier 
said to his fellow — " Do you envy me my 
grapes ? They cost me dear ; I must die for 
them." So I say — " Do you envy the wicked ?" 
Alas! their prosperity is like Haman's banquet 
before his execution. If a man was to be 
hanged, would one envy to see him walk to the 
gallows through pleasant fields, and fine gal- 
leries, or to see him go up the ladder in cloth 
of gold ? The wicked may flourish in their 
bravery awhile : but, when they flourish as the 
grass, it is that they shall be destroyed for ever, 
Psal. xcii. 7. This proud grass shall be mown 
down. Whatever a sinner enjoys, he hath a 
curse with it, Mai. ii. 2. And shall we envy ? 
What if poisoned bread be given to dogs ! The 
long furrows in the backs of the godly have a seed 
of blessing in them, when the table of the 


wicked becomes a snare, and their honour their 


The ninth Apology answered. 

11. The next Apology that Discontent makes 
for itself, is— The evils of the times. "The 
times are full of heresy and impiety, and this is 
that which troubles me." This apology con- 
sists of two branches, to which I shall answer 
after its kind ; and — 

1. The are full of heresy. This is 
indeed sad ! when the devil cannot by violence 
destroy the Church, he endeavours to poison it ; 
when he cannot^ with Samson's fox-tails, set 
the corn on fire, then he sows tares ; as he la- 
bours to destroy the peace of the Church, by 
division, so the truth of it by error. We may 
cry out with Seneca — " We live in times 
wherein there is a sluice open to all novel 
opinions, and every man's opinion is his Bible. 
Well this may make us mourn ; but let us not 
murmur through discontent." Consider — 

1. Error makes a discovery of men. 


1. Bad men. Error discovers such as are 
tainted and corrupt. When the leprosy brake 
forth in the forehead, then was the leper discov- 
ered. Error is a spiritual bastard : the Devil is the 
father, and Pride the mother. You never knew 
an erroneous man, but he was a proud man. 
Now it is good that such men should be laid 
open ; to the intent, first, that God's righteous 
judgments upon them may be adored, 2 Thes. 
ii. 12 ; secondly, that others, who are free, be 
not infected. If a man have the plague, it is 
well it breaks forth. For my part, I would 
avoid a heretic as I would avoid the Devil, for 
he is sent on his errand. I appeal to you, if 
there were a tavern in this city, where, under a 
pretence of selling wine, many hogsheads of 
poison were to be sold, were it not well that 
others should know it, that they might not buy ? 
It is good that those who have poisoned opinions 
should be known, that the people of God may 
come not near either the scent or taste of that 

2. Error is a touch-stone, to discover good 
men ; it tries the gold : There must he heresies, 
that they which are approved may he made mmii- 
fest, 1 Cor. xi. 19. Thus our love to Christ, 


and zeal for truth, doth appear. God shows 
who are the living fish, viz. such as swim against 
the stream ; who are the sound sheep, viz. such 
as feed in the green pastures of the ordinances ; 
who are the doves, viz. such as live in the best 
air, where the Spirit breathes. God sets a gar- 
land of honour upon these — These are they 
which came out of great tribulation, Rev. vii. 14. 
So these are they that have opposed the errors 
of the times ; these are they that have pre- 
served the virginity of their conscience, who 
have kept their judgment sound, and their 
heart soft. God will have a trophy of honour 
set upon some of the saints ; they shall be re- 
nowned for their sincerity, being like the cy- 
press, which keeps its greenness and freshness 
in the winter season. 

2. Be not sinfully discontented; for God can 
make the errors of the Church advantageous to 
truth. Thus the truths of God have come to be 
more beaten out and confirmed : as it is in law, 
one man laying a false title to a piece of land, 
the true title hath, by this means, been the more 
searched into, and ratified. Some had never 
so studied to defend the truth by Scripture, if 
others had not endeavoured to overthrow it by 


sophistry : all the mists and fogs of error that 
have risen out of the bottomless pit, have made 
the glorious Sun of Truth to shine so much the 
brighter. Had not Arius and Sabellius broached 
those damnable errors, the truth of those ques- 
tions about the blessed Trinity had never been 
so discussed and defended by Athanasius, Augus- 
tine, and others ; had not the Devil brought in 
so much of his princely darkness, the champions 
for truth had never run so fast to Scripture to 
light their lamps. So that God, who hath a 
wheel within a wheel, overrules these things 
wisely, and turns them to the best. Truth is 
a heavenly plant, that settles by shaking. 

3. God raiseth the price of his truth the 
more ; the very shreds and filings of truth are 
venerable. When there is much counterfeit 
metal abroad, we prize the true gold the more : 
the pure wine of truth is never more precious, 
than when unsound doctrines are broached and 

Error makes us more thankful to God for 
the jewel of truth. When we see another in- 
fected with the plague, how thankful are you 
that God hath freed you from the infection. 
W^hen you see others have the leprosy in the 


head, how thankful are we to God that he hath 
not given us over to believe a lie, and so be 
damned! It is a good use that may be made 
even of the errors of the times, when it makes 
us more humble and thankful, adoring the free 
grace of God, who hath kept us from drinking 
of that deadly poison. 

2. The second branch of the apology that 
Discontent makes, is the impiety of the times, 
" I live and converse among the profane. O 
that I had wings like a dove, that I might fly 
away and he at rest,^^ Psal. Iv. 6. 

Answ. It is indeed sad to be mixed with 
the wicked. David beheld the transgressors, 
and was grieved, Psal. cxix. 119, 158, and Lot, 
who was a bright star in a dark night, was 
vexed ; or, as the word in the original may 
bear, wearied out with the unclean conversation 
of the wicked, 2 Pet. ii. 7. The sins of Sodom 
became as spears to pierce his soul. We ought, 
if there be any spark of divine love in us, to be 
very sensible of the sins of others, and to have 
our hearts bleed for them ; yet, let us not break 
forth in murmuring or discontent, knowing that 
God, in his providence, hath permitted it ; and, 
surely, not without some reasons. For — 


1. The Lord makes the wicked a hedge to 
defend the godly ; the wise God often makes 
those who are wicked and 'peaceable, a means 
to safeguard his people from those who are 
yyicked and cruel. The king of Babylon kept 
Jeremiah, and gave special order for his look- 
ing to, that he did want nothing, Jer. xxxix. 
11, 12. God sometimes makes brazen sinners 
to be brazen walls to defend his people. 

2. God doth interline and mingle the wick- 
ed with the godly, that the godly may be a 
means to save the wicked. Such is the beauty 
of holiness, that it hath a magnetical force in 
it, to allure and draw even the wicked. Some- 
times God makes a beheving husband a means 
to convert an unbelieving wife ; and, on the 
other hand — What knowest thou, wife, 
whether thou shall save thy husband? Or 
knowest thou, man, whether thou shall save 
thy wife 1 1 Cor. vii. 16. The godly, living 
among the wdcked, by their prudent advice 
and pious example, have won them to the em- 
bracing of religion. If there were not some 
godly among the wicked, how in a probable 
way, without a miracle, can we imagine that 
the wicked should be converted ? Those who 


are now shining saints in heaven, sometimes 
served divers lusts, Tit. iii. 3. Paul, once a 
persecutor ; Augustme, once a manichee ; 
Luther, once a monk ; but, by the severe and 
holy carriage of the godly, were converted to 
the faith. 

The tenth Apology answered. 

The next apology that discontent makes is 
— Lowness of parts and gifts. 

. " T cannot," saith the Christian, " discourse 
with that fluency, nor pray with that elegancy, 
as others." 

Answ. 1. Grace is beyond gifts. Thou 
comparest thy grace with another's gifts — 
there is a vast difference. Grace, without gifts, 
is infinitely better than gifts without grace. In 
religion the vitals are best ; gifts are extrinsi- 
cal, and wicked men are sometimes under the 
common influence of the Spirit ; but grace is a 
more distinguishing work, and is a jewel hung 
only upon the righteous. Hast thou the seed 
of God, the holy anointing ? Be content. 


1. Thou sayest thou canst not discourse 
Avith that fluency as others. 

Answ. Experiments in rehgion are above 
notions, and impressions beyond expressions. 
Judas, no doubt, could make a learned dis- 
course of Christ ; but well fared the woman in 
the Gospel, that felt virtue coming out of him, 
Luke viii. 47. A sanctified heart is better than 
a silver tongue. There is as much difference 
between gifts and grace, as between a tulip 
painted on the wall and one growing in the 

2. Thou sayest, thou canst not pray with 
that elegancy as others. 

Answ. Prayer is a matter more of the 
heart than the head. In prayer, it is not so 
much fluency prevails ds fervency, Jam. v. 16, 
nor is God so much taken w^ith elegancy of 
speech, as the efficacy of the Spirit. Humility 
is better than arrogance : here the mourner is 
the orator ; sighs and groans are the best 

2. Be not discontented; for God doth 
usually proportion a man's parts to the place 
where he calls him ; some are set in a higher 
sphere, and their situation requires more parts 


and abilities ; but the most inferior member is 
useful in its place, and shall have a power 
delegated for the discharge of its peculiar 

The eleventh Apology answered. 

The next apology is — The troubles of the 
Church. " Alas ! my disquiet and discontent 
is not so much for myself, as the public. The 
Church of God suffers." 

Answ. I confess it is sad, and we ought for 
this to hang our harp upon the willows, PsaL 
cxxxvii. He is a wooden leg in Christ's body, 
that is not sensible of the state of the body. 
As a Christian must not be proud flesh, so 
neither dead flesh. When the Church of God 
suffers, he must sympathize : Jeremiah wept for 
the virgin daughter of Sion, Jer. ix. 1. We 
must feel our brethren's hard cords through 
our soft beds : in music, if one string be touch- 
ed, all the rest sound. When God strikes upon 
our brethren, our bowels must sound as a harp, 
Isa. xvi. 11 ; be sensible, but do not give way 
to discontent. For consider — 


1. God sits at the stern of his Church, Psal. 
xlvi. 5. Sometimes it is as a ship tossed upon 
the waves — thou afflicted and tossed ! Isa. 
liv. 11. But cannot God bring this ship to 
heaven, though it meet with a storm upon the 
sea 1 The ship in the Gospel was tossed, be- 
cause sin was in it ; but it was not overwhehn- 
ed, because Christ was in it. Christ is in the 
ship of his Church, fear not sinking : the 
Church's anchor is cast in heaven. Do not 
we think God loves his Church, and takes as 
much care of it as we can ? The names of 
the Twelve Tribes were on Aaron's breast; 
signifying how near to God's heart his people 
are. They are his -portion, Deut. xxxii. 9, and 
shall that be lost ? His glory, Isa. xlvi. 13, 
and shall that be finally eclipsed ? No, cer- 
tainly. God can deliver his Church not only 

from, but hy, opposition. The Church's pangs 
shall help forward her deliverance. 

2. God hath always propagated religion by 
sufferings. The foundation of the Church hath 
been laid in blood ; and these sanguine show- 
ers have ever made it more fruitful. Cain put 
the knife to Abel's throat, and ever since the 
Church's veins have bled ; but she is like the 


Vine, which hy bleeding grows ; and Hke the 
pahn-tree which may have this motto — per- 
cussa resurgit — the more weight is laid upon 
it, the higher it riseth. The holiness and pa- 
tience of the saints under their persecutions, 
hath much added both to the growth and purity 
of religion. Basil and Tertullian observe of 
the primitive martyrs, that divers of the hea- 
thens, seeing their zeal and constancy, turned 
Christians. Religion is that phcenix which 
hath always revived and flourished in the ashes 
of holy men. Isaiah was sawn asunder ; Peter 
crucified at Jerusalem with his head down- 
wards; Cyprian, Bishop of Carthage, and 
Polycarp of Smyrna, were both martyred for 
religion : yet evermore the truth hath been 
sealed by blood, and gloriously dispersed ; 
whereupon Julian did forbear to persecute, not 
out of piety, but envy; because the Church 
grew so fast and multiphed, as Nazianzen 
well observes. 

The twelfth Apology answered. 
The twelfth Apology that Discontent makes. 


for itself, is this — " It is not my trouble that 
troubles me, but it is my sins that do disquiet 
and discontent me." 

Answ. Be sure it be so ; do not prevari- 
cate with God and thy own soul. In true 
mourning for sin, when the present suffering 
is removed, yet the sorrow is not removed ; 
but suppose the apology be real, and sin is the 
ground of your discontent, yet I answer, a man's 
disquiet about sin may be beyond its bounds in 
these three cases : — 

1. When it is disheartening ; that is, when 
it sets up sin above mercy. If Israel had only 
pored upon their sting, and, not looked up to 
the Brazen Serpent, they had never been heal- 
ed. That sorrow for sin, which drives us away 
from God, is not without sin ; for there is more 
despair in it than remorse : the soul hath so 
many tears in its eyes, that it cannot see 
Christ. Sorrow, as sorrow, doth not save — 
that were to make a Christ of our tears, but is 
useful as it is preparatory in the soul — making 
sin vile, and Christ precious. Oh ! look up to 
the Brazen Serpent, the Lord Jesus : a sight of 
his blood will revive ; the medicine of bis me- 
rits is broader than our sore. 


It is Satan's policy, either to keep us from 
seeing our sins ; or, if we will needs see them, 
that we may be swallowed up of sorrow, 2 Cor. 
7, 10. Either he would stupify us, or affright 
us; either keep the glass of the Law from our 
eyes, or else pencil out our sins in such crimson 
colours, that we may sink in the quicksands of 

2. When sorrow is indisposing, it untunes 
the heart for prayer, meditation, and holy con- 
ference ; it cloisters up the soul. This is not 
sorrow, but rather sullenness, and doth render 
a man not so much penitential as sinful. 

3. When it is out of season, God bids us 
rejoice, and we hang our harps upon the wil- 
lows ; he bids us trust, and we cast ourselves 
down, and are brought even to the margin of 
despair. If Satan cannot keep us from mourn- 
ing, he will be sure to put us upon it when it is 
least in season. 

When God calls us, in a special manner, 
to be thankful for mercy, and put on our 
white robes, then Satan will be putting us into 
mourning ; and, instead of a garment of praise, 
clothe us with a spirit of heaviness, Isa. Ixi. 3, 
so God loseth the acknowledgment of a mercy, 
and we the comfort. 


If thy sorrow hath tuned and fitted thee for 
Christ, if it hath raised in thee high prizings 
of him, strong hungerings after him, sweet de- 
light in him ; this is as much as God requires, 
and a Christian doth but sin to vex and torture 
himself further upon the wreck of his own dis- 

And thus, I hope, I have answered the most 
material objections and apologies which this 
sin of Discontent doth make for itself. I see 
no reason why a Christian should be discon- 
tented, unless for his discontent. Let me, in 
the next place, propound something which may 
be both as a loadstone and a whetstone to Con- 



Divine Motives to Contentment. 

And so I proceed to the arguments or mo- 
tives that may quicken to contentment. 

The first argyment to Contentment. 

1. CoNsmER the excellency of it. Content- 
ment is a flower that doth not grow in every 
garden ; it teacheth a man how, in the midst 
of want, to abound. You would think it were 
excellent if I could prescribe a receipt or anti- 
dote against poverty : but, behold, here is that 
which is more excellent, for a man to want, 
and yet have enough : this, alone, contentment 
of spirit brings. Contentment is a remedy 
against all our troubles, a relief for all our bur- 
dens, and a cure for all our cares. 

Contentment, though it be not properly a 
grace — it is rather a disposition of mind — yet 
in it there is a happy temperature and mixture 
of all the graces. It is a most precious com- 


pound, which is made up oi faith, 'patience, 
meekness, humility and love, which are the in- 
gredients put into it Now there are seven 
rare excellencies in contentment : — 

1. A contented Christian carries heaven 
about him ; for what is heaven but that sweet 
repose and full contentment that the soul shall 
have in God ? In contentment there is the first 
fruits of heaven. 

There are two things in a contented spirit 
which make it like heaven. 

1. God is there. Something of God is to 
be seen in that heart. A discontented Christian 
is like a rough, tempestuous sea ; when the wa- 
ter is rough, you can see nothing there; but, 
when it it smooth and serene, then you may 
behold your face in the water, Prov. xxvii. 19. 
When the heart rageth through discontent, it is 
like a rough sea : you can see nothing there 
unless passion and murmuring ; there is nothing 
of God, nothing of heaven, in that heart : but, 
by virtue of contentment, it is like the sea when 
it is smooth and calm ; there is a face shining 
there ; you may see something of Christ in that 
heart, a representation of all the graces. 

2. Rest is there. what a Sabbath is 



kept in a contented heart ! What a heaven ! 
A contented Christian is like Noah in the ark ; 
though the ark was tossed with waves, Noah 
coukl sit and sing in the ark. The soul, that 
is gotten into the ark of contentment^ sits quiet 
and sails above all the waves of trouble ; he 
can sing in this spiritual ark. The wheels of 
the chariot move, but the axle-tree stirs not ; 
the circumference of the heavens is carried 
about the earth, but the earth moves not out of 
his centre. When w^e meet with motion and 
change in the creatures round about us, a con- 
tented spirit is not stirred or moved out of its 
centre. The sail of a mill moves with the wind, 
but the mill itself stands still ; an emblem of 
contentment. When our outward estate moves 
with the wind of providence, yet the heart is 
settled through holy contentment ; and when 
others are, like quicksilver, shaking and trem- 
bling through disquietude, the contented spirit 
can say as David — God, my heart is fixed ! 
my heart is fixed ! Psal. Ivii. 7. What is this 
but a part of heaven ? 

2. W^hatever is defective in the creature, is 
made up in contentment. A Christian may 
want the comforts that others have, the land 


and possessions ; but God hath distilled into his 
heart that contentment which is far better. In 
this sense that is true of our Saviour — He shall 
have in this life, a hundredfold, Matt. xix. 29. 
Perhaps he that ventured all for Christ, never 
hath his house or land again ; but God gives 
him a contented spirit; and this breeds such 
joy in the soul, as is infinitely sweeter than all 
his houses and lands, which he left for Christ. 
It was sad with David, in regard of his outward 
comforts, he being driven, as some think, from 
his kingdom ; yet in regard of that sweet con- 
tentment which he found in God, he had more 
comfort than men used to have in time of har- 
vest and vintage, Psal. iv. 7. One man hath 
house and lands to live upon ; another hath no- 
thing, only a small trade, yet even that brings 
in a livelihood. A Christian may have little in 
the world ; but he drives the trade of content- 
ment, and so he knows as well how to w^ant as 
to abound. the rare art, or rather miracle of 
contentment ! Wicked men are often disquieted 
in the enjoyment of all things ; but the con- 
tented Christian is well in the w^ant of all things. 
Quest. But how comes a Christian to be 
contented in the deficiency of outward comforts'? 


Answ. a Christian finds contentment dis- 
tilled out of the breasts of the promises. He 
is poor in purse, but rich in promise. There is 
one promise brings much sweet contentment 
into the soul ; They that seek the Lord^ shall 
not want any thing, Psal. xxxiv. 10. If the 
thing we desire be good for us, we shall have 
it ; if it be not good, then the not having it is 
good for us. The resting satisfied with this 
promise gives contentment. 

3. Contentment makes a man in tune to 
serve God ; it oils the wheels of the soul and 
makes it more soft and nimble; it composeth 
the heart, and makes it fit for prayer, medita- 
tion and praise. How can he, that is in a 
passion of grief and discontent, seo^ve God with- 
out distraction? 1 Cor. vii. 35. Contentment 
doth prepare and tune the heart. First you 
prepare the violin, and wind up the strings, ere 
you play a tune. So, when a Christian's heart 
is wound up to this heavenly frame of content- 
ment, then it is fit for duty. A discontented 
Christian is like Saul, when the evil spirit came 
upon him. what jarrings and discords doth 
he make in prayer ! When an army is put into 
disorder, it is not fit for battle: when the 


thoughts are scattered and distracted about the 
cares of this life, a man is not fit for devotion. 
Discontent takes the heart wholly off from God 
and fixeth it upon the present trouble ; so that a 
m an's mind is not upon prayer, but upon his cross. 
Discontent doth disjoint the soul ; and it is 
impossible now that a Christian should go so 
steadily and cheerfully in God's service. how 
lame is his devotion ! The discontented person 
gives God but half a duty ; his religion is no- 
thing but bodily exercise^ it wants a soul to 
animate it. David would not offer that to God 
which cost him nothing, 2 Sam. xxiv. 24 ; where 
there is too much worldly care, there is too little 
spiritual C05^, in a duty. The discontented per- 
son doth his duties by halves ; he is just like 
Ephraim, a cake not turned, Hosea vii. 8, he is 
a cake baked on one side ; he gives God the 
outside, but not the spiritual part : his heart is 
not in duty ; he is baked on one side, but the 
other side is dough ; and what profit is there of 
such raw undigested services 1 He that gives 
God only the skin of worship, what can he ex- 
pect more than the shell of comfort? Con- 
tentment brings the heart into frame : and then 
only do we give God the flower and spirit of a 


duty, when the soul is composed ; now a Chris- 
tian hath his heart intent and serious. There 
are some duties which we cannot perform as 
we ought without contentment : as — 

1. To rejoice in God. How can he rejoice 
that is discontented ? He is fitter for repining 
than rejoicing. 

2. To be thankful for mercy. Can a dis- 
contented person be thankful ? He can be 
fretful, but not thankful. 

3. To justify God in his proceedings, Ezra 
ix. 13. How can he do this who is discon- 
tented with his condition ? He will sooner 
censure God's w^isdom than clear his justice. 
O then how excellent is contentment, which 
doth prepare, and, as it were, string the heart 
for duty ! Indeed, contentment doth not only 
make our duties lively and sweet, but accept- 
able. It is this that puts beauty and w^orth 
into them, for contentment settles the soul. 
Now% as it is wdth milk, w^hen it is always 
stirring you can make nothing of it ; but let 
it settle awhile, and then it turns to cream : 
when the heart is over-much stirred wdth dis- 
quiet and discontent, you can make nothing 
of these duties ; how thin, how^ fleeting, and 


poor are they ! But, when the heart is once 
settled by holy contentment, then there is some 
worth in our duties, then they turn to cream. 

4. Contentment is the spiritual arch or 
pillar of the soul ; it fits a man to hear burdens : 
he, whose heart is ready to sink under the least 
sin, by virtue of this, hath a spirit invincible 
under sufferings. A contented Christian is 
like the camomile, the more it is trodden upon, 
the more it grows ; as physic works diseases 
out of the body, so doth contentment w^ork 
trouble out of the heart. Thus it argues — " If 
I am under reproach, God can vindicate me ', 
if I am in w^ant, God can relieve me. Ye shall 
not see wind or rain, yet the valley shallhe filed 
with water, ^^ 2 Kings iii. 17. Thus holy con- 
tentment keeps the heart from fainting. In the 
autumn, when the fruit and leaves are blown 
off, still there is sap in the root ; when there 
is an autumn upon our external felicity, and the 
leaves of our estate drop off, still there is the 
sap of contentment in the heart ; and a Chris- 
tian hath life inwardly, when his outward com- 
forts do not blossom. The contented heart is 
never out of heart. Contentment is a golden 
shield, that doth beat back discouragements. 


Humility is like to the net, which keeps the 
soul down, when it is rising through passion ; 
and contentment is the cork w^hich keeps the 
heart up when it is sinking through discourage- 
ment. Contentment is the great under-prop ; 
it is like the beam which bears whatever weight 
is laid upon it ; nay, it is like a rock that 
breaks the waves. 

It is strange to observe the same affliction 
lying upon two men, how differently they carry 
themselves under it. The contented Christian 
is like Samson, that carried away the gates of 
the city upon his back. Judges xvi. 3 ; he can 
go away with his cross cheerfully, and make 
nothing of it ; the other is like Issachar, couch- 
ing down under his burden. Gen. xlix. 14. 
The reason is, the one is content, and that 
breeds courage ; the other discontent, and that 
breeds fainting. Discontent swells the grief, 
and grief breaks the heart. When this sacred 
sinew of contentment begins to shrink, we go 
limping under our afflictions. We know not 
what burdens God may exercise us with ; let 
us, therefore, preserve contentment : as our 
contentment, such will be our courage. David, 
with his five stones and his sling, defied Goliath, 


and overcame him. Get but contentment into 
the shng of your heart, and with his sacred 
stone you may both defy the world, and conquer 
it ; you may break those afflictions wliich else 
will break you. 

5. A fifth excellency is — Contentment pre- 
vents many 5m."? and temptations. 

1. It prevents many sins. Where there 
wants contentment, there wants no sin ; dis- 
contentedness with our condition is a sin that 
doth not go alone, but is like the first link of 
a chain, which draws all the other links along 
with it. In particular, there are two things 
which contentment prevents: — 

1. Impatience. Discontent and Impatience 
are two twins ; This evil is of the Lord, why 
should I wait ajiy longer ? 2 Kings vi. 33 ; as 
if God was so tied, that he must give us the 
mercy just w^hen we desire it. Impatience is 
no small sin, as will appear if you consider 
whence it ariseth ; as — 

1. It is for want of faith. Faith gives a 
right notion of God ; it is an intelKgent grace ; 
it believes that God's wisdom tempers, and his 


love sweetens, all ingredients ; this works pa- 
tience — Shall I not drink the cup which my 
Father hath given mel Matt. xxvi. 39. Im- 
patience is the daughter of Infidelity. If a 
patient hath an ill opinion of the physician, 
and conceits that he comes to poison him, he 
will take none of his receipts. When we have 
a prejudice against God, and conceit that he 
comes to kill us, and undo us, then we storm, 
and cry out through impatience. We are like 
a foohsh man, (it is Chrysostom's simile) that 
cries out — " Away with the plaster !" though 
it be in order to a cure. Is it not better that 
the plaster make us smart a little, than the 
wound fester and rankle ? 

2. Impatience is for want of love to God. 
W^e will bear his reproofs whom we love, not 
only patiently, but thankfully. Love thinks no 
evil, 1 Cor. xiii. 5. It puts the fairest and 
most candid gloss upon the actions of a friend 
— Love covers evil. If it were possible for 
God in the least manner to err, which were 
blasphemy to think, love would cover that 
error. Love takes every thing in the best 


sense ; it makes us bear any stroke — It endu- 
reth all things, 1 Cor. xiii. 7 ; had we love to 
God, we should have patience. 

3. hnpatience is for want of humility. The 
impatient man was never humbled under the 
burden of sin: he that studies his sins, the 
numberless number of them, how they are 
twisted together, and sadly cemented, is patient, 
and saith — / will bear the indignation of the 
Lordf because I have sinned against him, Mi- 
cah vii. 9. The greater noise drowns the 
lesser : when the sea roars, the rivers are stilL 
He that lets his thoughts expatiate about sin 
is both silent and amazed ; he wonders it is no 
worse with him. How great, then, is this sin 
of impatience ! and how excellent is Content- 
ment, which is a counterpoise against this sin ! 
The contented Christian, believing that God 
doth all in love, is patient, and hath not one 
word to say, unless to justify God, Psal. li. 4. 
That is the first sin which contentment pre- 

2. It prevents murmuring, a sin which is 
a degree higher than the other. Murmuring 
is a quarrelhng with God, and inveighing 


against him — They speak against God, Numb, 
xxi. 5. The murmiirer saith, interpretatively, 
that God hath not dealt well with him, and he 
hath deserved better from him. The murmur- 
er chargeth God ivith folly. This is the lan- 
guage, or rather blasphemy, of a murmuring 
spirit — God might have been a wiser and a 
better God ! The muimurer is a mutineer. 
The Israelites are called, in the same text, 
murmurers and rebels, Numb. xvii. 10 ; and is 
not rebellion as the sin of witchcraft ? 1 Sam. 
XV. 23. Thou that art a murmurer, art in the 
account of God as a witch, a sorcerer, as one that 
deals with the devil. This is a sin of the first 
magnitude; murmuring often ends in cursing. 
Micha's mother fell to cursing when the talents 
of silver were taken away, Judg. xvii. 2. So 
doth the murmurer, when a part of his estate 
is taken away. Our murmuring is the devil's 
music ; this is that sin which God cannot bear 
— Hoio long shall I bear with this people that 
murmur against me ? Numb. xiv. 1 1. It is 
a sin which whets the sword against a people ; 
it is a land-destroying sin — Murmur ye not, as 
some of them also murmured, and were destroy- 


ed of the destroyer, 1 Cor. x. 10. It is a ripen- 
ing sin : this, without God's mercy, will hasten 
destruction. then, how excellent is content- 
ment, which prevents this sin ! To be con- 
tented, and yet murmur, is a solecism. A con- 
tented Christian doth acquiesce in his present 
condition, and doth not murmur, but admire. 
Herein appears the excellency of contentment ; 
it is a spiritual antidote against sin. 

2. Contentment prevents many tempta- 
tions. Discontent is a devil that is always 
tempting. 1. It puts a man upon indirect 
means. He that is poor and discontented will 
attempt any thing ; he will go to the devil for 
riches : he that is proud and discontented, will 
hang himself, as Achitophel did when his 
council was rejected. Satan takes great ad- 
vantage of our discontent ; he loves to fish in 
these troubled waters. Discontent doth both 
eclipse reason, and weaken faith ; and it is Sa- 
tan's policy ; he doth usually break over the 
hedge where it is weakest. Discontent makes 
a breach in the soul"; and usually at this breach 
the devil enters by temptation, and storms the 
soul. How easily can the devil, by his logic, 


dispute a discontented Christian into sin ? He 
forms such a syllogism as this, " He that is in 
want, must study self-preservation. But you 
are now in want, therefore you ought to study 
self-preservation." Hereupon, to make good 
his conclusion, he tempts to the forbidden fruit, 
not distinguishing between what is needful and 
what is lawful. "What," saith he, "dost 
thou want a livehhood? Never be such a fool 
as to starve. Take the rising side at a ven- 
ture, be it good or bad ; eat the bread of deceit, 
drink the wine of violence" Thus you see 
how the discontented man is a prey to that sad 
temptation, to steal and take God's name in 
vain, Prov. xxx. 9. Contentment is a shield 
against temptation; for he that is contented 
knows as well how to want as to abound. 

He will not sin to get a living : though the 
bill of fare grows short, he is content. He 
lives, as the birds of the air, upon God's pro- 
vidence: and doubts not but he shall have 
enough to supply him on his passage to 

4. Discontent tempts a man to atheism and 
apostacy. " Sure," saith Discontent, " there is 


no God to take care of things here below ! 
Would he suffer them to be in want, who have 
walked mounifully before him ?" Mai. iii. 14. 
" Throw off Christ's livery ; desist from any re- 
ligion." Thus Job's wife, being discontented 
with her condition, saith to her husband — Bost 
thou still retain thy integrity 1 Job ii. 9. As if 
she had said — " Dost thou not see, Job, what 
is become of all thy religion ? Thou fearest 
God, and eschewest evil : and what art thou 
the better 1 See how God turns his hand 
against thee ; he hath smitten thee in thy body, 
estate, relations, and dost thou still retain thy 
integrity ? What, still devout ! Still weep 
and pray before him ! Thou fool ! cast off re- 
ligion and turn atheist!" Here was a sore 
temptation that the devil did hand over to Job 
by his discontented wife ; only his grace, as a 
golden shield, did ward off the blow from his 
heart — Thou speakest as one of the foolish wo- 
men. " What profit is it," saith the discon- 
tented person, " to serve the Almighty ? Those 
that never trouble themselves about religion, are 
the most prosperous ; and I, in the meanwhile, 
suffer want. I might as well give over driving 


the trade of religion, if this be all my reward." 
This is a sore temptation, and oft it prevails. 
Atheism is the fruit that grows out of the blos- 
som of discontent. 

Oh, then, behold the excellency of content- 
ment ! It doth repel this temptation. " If God 
be mine," saith the contented spirit, " it is 
enough ; though I have no lands or tenements, 
his smile makes heaven. His loves are better 
than wine. Better is the gleanings ofEfhraim, 
than the vintage of Ahiezer, Judg. viii. 2. I 
have little in hand, but much in hope ; my live- 
lihood is short, but this is his promise, even eter- 
nal life, 1 John ii. 25. I am pursued by 
malice ; but better is persecuted godliness than 
prosperous wickedness." Thus divine content- 
ment is a spiritual antidote both against sin and 

6. Contentment sweetens every condition. 
Christ turned the w^ater into wine ; so content- 
ment turns the water of Marah into spiritual 
wine. " Have I but little ? Yet it is more 
than I can deserve or challenge. This little I 
have is in mercy ; it is the fruit of Christ's 
blood ; it is the legacy of free grace. A small 


present, sent from a King, is highly valued. 
This little I have, is with a good conscience ; it 
is not stolen water ; guilt hath not muddied or 
poisoned it ; it runs pure. This little is a pledge 
of more ; this bit of bread is an earnest of that 
bread which I shall eat in the Kingdom of God. 
This little w^ater in the cruse, is an earnest of 
that heavenly nectar which shall be distilled 
from the true Vine. Do 1 meet with some 
crosses ? My comfort is, if they be heavy, I 
have not far to go ; I shall but carry my cross 
to Golgotha, and there I shall leave it ; my 
cross is light in regard of the weight of glory. 
Hath God taken away my comforts from me ? 
It is well the Comforter still abides." Thus 
contentment, as a honey-comb, drops sweetness 
into every condition. Discontent is a leaven 
that sours every comfort ; it puts aloes and 
wormwood upon the breast of the creature, it 
lessens every mercy, it trebles every cross ; but 
the contented spirit sucks sweetness from every 
flower of Providence j it can make a treacle of 
poison. Contentment is full of consolation. 

7. Contentment hath this excellency — It is 
the best commentator upon Providence : it 


makes a fair interpretation of all God's deal- 
ings. Let the providences of God be ever so 
dark or mysterious, contentment doth ever con- 
strue them in the best sense. I may say of it 
as the Apostle of charity — It thinks no evil, 
1 Cor. xiii. 5. " Sickness," saith Contentment, 
" is God's furnace to refine his gold, and make 
it sparkle the more ; the prison is an oratory, 
or house of prayer. What if God melts away 
the creature from me ? He saw, perhaps, my 
heart grew too much in love with it. Had I 
been long in that fat pasture, 1 should have 
surfeited ; and the better my estate had been, 
the worse my soul would have been. God is 
wise ; he hath done this either to prevent some 
sin, or to exercise some grace." What a 
blessed frame of heart is this ! A contented 
Christian is an advocate for God against unbe- 
lief and impatience : whereas Discontent takes 
every thing from God in the worse sense ; it 
doth impeach and censure God. " This evil I 
feel is but a symptom of greater evils : God is 
about to undo me. The Lord hath brought us 
hither into the vnlderness to slay us,'^ Numb. xx. 
4. The contented soul takes all well; and, 


when his condition is ever so bad, he can say — 
Yet God is goody Psal. Ixxiii. 1. 

The second Argument to Contentment. 

The second argument or motive to content- 
ment, is — A Christian hath that which may 
make him content. 

1. Hath not God given thee Christ? In 
him there are unsearchable riches, Eph. iii. 8. 
He is such a golden Mine of wisdom and grace, 
that all the saints and angels can never dig to 
the bottom. As Seneca said to his friend Poly- 
bius — JYever complain of thy hard fortune as 
long as CcBsar is thy friend. So I say to a be- 
hever, Never complain as long as Christ is your 
friend. He is an enriching pearl, a sparkling 
diamond : the infinite lustre of his merits makes 
us shine in God's eyes, Eph. i. 7 ; in him there 
is both fulness and sweetness ; he is goodness 
inexpressible. Screw up your thoughts to the 
highest, stretch them to the utmost period, let 


them expatiate to their full latitude and extent ; 
yet they fall infinitely short of those ineffable 
and inexhaustible treasures which are locked 
up in Jesus Christ. And is not here enough to 
give the soul content ? A Christian that wants 
necessaries, yet, having Christ, he hath the one 
thing needful. 

2. The soul is exercised and enamelled with 
the graces of the Spirit ; and is not here enough 
to give contentment? Grace is of a divine 
birth ; it is the new plantation ; it is the flower 
of the heavenly paradise ; it is the embroidery 
of the Spirit ; it is the seed of God, 1 John iii. 9 ; 
it is the sacred unction, 1 John ii. 27; it is 
Christ's portraiture in the soul ; it is the very 
foundation on which the superstruction of glory 
is laid. ! of what infinite value is Grace ! 
what a jewel is Faith ! Well may it be called 
precious Faith ! 2 Pet. i. 1. What is love, but 
a divine spark in the soul ? A soul, beautified 
with grace, is like a room richly hung with arras 
or tapestry, or the firmament bespangled with 
glittering stars. These are the true riches, 
Luke xvi. 11, which cannot stand w4th the 
dross of this world. — And is not here enough to 


give the soul contentment? What are all 
other things but like the vnngs of a butterfly, 
curiously painted ? But they defile our fingers. 
" Earthly riches," saith Augustine, " are full of 
poverty." So indeed they are. For, 1. They 
cannot enrich the soul : oftentimes, under silken 
apparel, there is a threadbare soul. 2. These 
are corruptible : rich^ are not f (re ever, Pro v. 
xxvii. 24 : as the wise man saith, Heaven is a 
place where gold and silver will not go. A 
believer is rich towards God, Luke xii. 21. 
Why, then, art thou discontented ? Hath not 
God given thee that which is better than the 
world 1 What if he doth not give thee the 
box, if he gives thee the jewel ? What if he 
denies thee farthings, if he pays thee in a better 
coin ? He gives thee gold, viz. spiritual mer- 
cies. What if the water in the bottle be spent ? 
Thou hast enough in the fountain. What needs 
he complain of the world's emptiness, that hath 
God's fulness? "The Lord is my portion,^' 
Psal. xvi. 5, saith David, '' then let the lines 
fall where they will, on a sick-bed, or prison, I 
will say, The lines are fallen unto me in plea- 
sant places ; yea, I have a goodly heritage.''^ 


3. Art thou not heir to all the promises ? Hast 
thou not a reversion in heaven 1 When thou 
lettest go thy hold of natural life, art thou not 
sure of eternal life ? Hath not God given thee 
the Earnest and First-fruits of glory 7 Is not 
here enough to work the heart to contentment 1 

What, though some have ^ fraught 

Of cloves, and nuimegs, and in cinnamon sail 1 
If thou hast wherewithal to spice a draught, 
When grief prevails; 

And, for the luture time, art heir 
To the Isle of Spices. Is it not fair 1 

Hekbert's Poems.- 


The third Argument to Contentment. 

The third argument is — " Be content ;" for 
else we confute our own prayers. We pray,- 
Thy will he done. It is the will of God that we 
should be in such a condition ; he hath ordered 
it, and he sees it best for us : why, then, do we 
murmur, and are discontented at that which we 
pray for 1 Either we are not in good earnest 


in our prayer, which argues hypocrisy ; or else 
•we contradict ourselves, which argues /b%. 


The fourth Argument to Contentment. 

The fourth argument to contentment is — 
•*' Because now God hath his end, and Satan 
misseth of his end." 

1. God hath his end. God's end, in all his 
cross providences, is to bring the heart to sub- 
mit and be content ; and, indeed, this pleaseth 
God much : he loves to see his children satisfied 
with what portion he doth carve and allot 
them. It contents him to see us contented; 
therefore, let us acquiesce in God's providence: 
now God hath his end. 

2. Satanmissethofhis end. The end why 
the Devil (though by God's permission) did 
smite Job, in his body and estate, was to per- 
plex his mind ; he did vex his body, on purpose 
that he might disquiet his spirit. He hoped to 
brings Job into a fit of discontent : and then. 


that he would, in a passion, break forth against 
God ; but Job, being so well contented with 
his condition, breaks out in humble submission 
to the will of God, and said, The Lord gave 
and the Lord hath taken away, and blessed be 
the name of the Lord, and thus Satan was dis- 
appointed of his hope, Job i. 2L The Devil 
shall cast some of you into 'prison, Rev. ii. 10. 
Why doth the Devil throw us into prison ? It 
is not so much the hurting our body, as the mo- 
lesting our mind, that he aims at ; he would 
imprison our contentment, and disturb the regu- 
lar motion of our souls. This is his design ; it 
is not so much the putting us into a 'prison, as 
the putting us into a passion, that he attempts ; 
but, by holy contentment, Satan loseth his prey, 
he misseth of his end. The Devil hath oft de- 
ceived us ; the best way to deceive him is, by 
being content in the midst of tnhulation, our 
contentment will discontent Satan. Oh ! let us 
not gratify our enemy! Discontent is the 
Devil's delioht : now it is as he would have it : 
he loves to warm himself at the fire of our pas- 
sions. Repentance is the joy of the angels, and 
discontent is the joy of the devils. As the Devil 


danceth at discord, so he sings at discontent. 
The fire of our passions makes the Devil a bon- 
fire; it is a kind of heaven to see us torturing 
ourselves with our own troubles ; but, by holy 
contentment, we frustrate him of his purpose, 
and do, as it were, put him out of countenance. 


The fifih Argument to Contentment. 

The next argument is—" By contentment 
a Christian gets a victory over himself. For 
a man to be able to rule his own spirit, this, of 
all others, is the most noble conquest, Prov. xvi. 
32. Passion denotes weakness : to be discon- 
tented, is suitable io flesh and hlood. But to be 
in every state content ; reproached, yet content, 
imprisoned, yet content : this is above nature ; 
this is some of that holy valour and chivalry 
which only a divine spirit is able to infuse. In 
the midst of the affronts of the world, to be pa- 
tient ; and, in the changes of the world, to have 
the spirit calmed ; this is a conquest worthy in- 


deed of the garland, of honour. Holy Job, di- 
vested and turned out of all, leaving his scarlet, 
and embracing the dunghill — a sad catastrophe 
— yet he had learned contentment. It is said, 
He fell upon the ground, and worshipped, Job 
i. 20. But the discontented man falls to mur- 
muring, and from murmuring to rebellion. But 
Job fell down and worshipped. He adored 
God's justice and hohness — behold the strength 
of grace ! Here was a humble submission, yet 
a noble conquest ; he got the victory over him- 
self. It is no great matter for a man to yield 
to his own passions ; this is easy and natural ; 
but to content himself in denying of himself, 
this is sacred and divine. 


The sixth Argument to Contentment. 

The sixth great argument to work the heart 
to contentment, is the consideration that all 
God's providences, how cross or trying soever, 
shall do a believer good : And we know that 


all things work together for good to them that 
love God, Rom. viii. 28. Not only all good 
things, but all evil things, work for good ; and 
shall we be discontented at that which works 
for our good ? 

What if sickness, poverty, reproach, losses 
and crosses, do unite and muster their force 
against us. All shall work for good ; our mala- 
dies shall be our medicines ; and shall we repine 
at that which shall undoubtedly do us good ? 
Unto the upright there ariseth light in darkness, 
Psal. cxii. 4. Affliction may be baptized, Ma- 
rah ; it is bitter, but physical. Because this is 
so full of comfort, and may be a most excellent 
remedy against discontent, I shall a httle expa- 

Quest. It will be inquired how the evils of 
affliction work for good ? 

Answ. Several ways. 

1. They are disciplinary : they teach us. 
The Psalmist, having very elegantly described 
the Church's trouble, Psal. Ixxiv., prefixed this 
title to the Psalm — " Maschil," which signifies 
a Psalm giving instruction ; that which seals 
up instruction, works for good. God puts us 


sometimes under the Llack rod, but it is a rod of 
discipline — Hear ye the rod, and who hath ap- 
pointed it, Micah ix. 9. God makes our adver- 
sity our university : affliction is a preacher — 
Bloiv the trumpet in Tekoah, Jer. vi. 1. The 
trumpet was to preach to the people, as appears, 
verse 5. Be thou instructed, Jerusalem! 
Sometimes God speaks to the minister, to lift 
up his voice like a trumpet, Isa. Iviii. 1 ; and 
here he speaks to the trumpet to lift up its voice 
like a minister. Afflictions teach us — 

1. Humility. When we become prosper- 
ous and proud — corrections are God's corrosives 
or powerful medicines, to eat out the proud flesh. 
Jesus Christ is a lily of the vallies. Cant. ii. 1 ; 
he dwells in a humble heart. God brings us 
into the valley of tears that he may bring us 
into the valley of humility — Remembering my 
affliction, the wormwood and the gall ; my soul 
hath them still in remembrance, and is humbled 
in me. Lam. iii. 19, 20. When men are grown 
high, God hath no better way with them than 
to brew them a cup of wormwood. Afflictions 
are compared to thorns, Hos. ii. 8. God's 
thorns are to prick the bladder of pride. Sup- 


pose a man runs at another with a sword to 
kill him, and accidentally strikes on a festering 
sore, this may do him good, by discharging 
that which causes pain, and thus God's correc- 
tions tend to work out the pride of the heart, 
and make us humble and contented. 

2. Afflictions teach us repentance — Thou 
hast chastised me, and I was chastised : I re- 
pented ; and, after I was instructed, I smote up- 
on my thigh, SfX. Jer. xxxi. 18, 19. Repent- 
ance is the precious fruit that grows upon the 
Cross. When the fire is put under the still, the 
w^ater drops from the roses. Fiery afflictions 
make the waters of repentance drop and distil 
from the eyes ; and is here any cause of dis- 
content ? 

3. Afflictions teach us to pray better — They 
poured out a prayer when thy chastening was 
upon them, Isa. xxvi. 16. Before, they would 
say a prayer ; now, they poured out a prayer. 
Jonah was asleep in the ship, but awake and 
at prayer in the whale's belly. When God 
puts under the firebrands of affliction, our hearts 
then boil over the more. God loves to have 
his children possessed with a spint of prayer. 


Never did David, the sweet singer of Israel, 
tune his harp more melodiously ; never did he 
pray better, than when he was wprni the waters. 
Thus afflictions make us patient ; and shall we 
be discontented at that w^hich is for our o:ood 1 

2. Afflictions are to try us,Psal. Ixvi. 10, 11. 
Gold is not the worse for being tried, or corn 
for being fanned. Affliction is the touchstone 
of sincerity ; it tries what metal w^e are made 
of Afflictions are God's fan and his sieve. 
It is good that men be known. Some serve 
God for a livery : they are like the fisherman, 
that makes use of the net only to catch the fish : 
so they go a fishing with the net of religion 
only to catch preferment. Affliction discovers 
these. The Donatists went to the Goths, w^hen 
the Arians prevailed. Hypocrites will not sail 
in a storm : true grace holds out in the winter- 
season. That is a precious faith, which, like 
the star, shines brightest in the darkest night. 
It is good that our graces should be brought to 
a trial : thus we have the comfort, and the Gos- 
pel the honour ; and why then discontented ? 

3. Afflictions, when sanctified, prove bless- 
ings in disguise. And then they work for 


good, because they work out sin ; and shall I 
be discontented at this ? What if I have more 
trouble^ if I have less sin ? The brightest day 
hath its clouds, the purest gold its dross, and 
the most refined soul hath some lees of corrup- 
tion. The saints lose nothing in the furnace 
but what they can well spare, viz. their dross : 
is not this for our good ? Why, then, should 
we murmur ? / am corae to send fire on the 
earthy Luke xii. 49. Tertullian understands it 
of the fire of affliction. God makes this like 
the fire of the three children, which burned 
only their bonds, and set them at liberty in the 
furnace : so the fire of affliction serves to burn 
the bonds of iniquit}' — By this, therefore, shall 
the iniquity of Jacob he purged ; and this is all 
the fruit, to take away his sin, Isa. xxvii. 9. 
W^hen affliction, or death, comes to a wicked 
man, it takes away his soul ; when it comes to a 
godly man, it only takes away his sin : is there 
then any cause why we should be discontented 7 
God steeps us in the brinish water of affliction, 
that he may take out our spots. God's people 
are his husbandry, 1 Cor. iii. 6. The plough- 
ing of the ground kills the weeds, and the bar- 


rowing of the earth breaks the hard clods : 
God's ploughing of us by affliction, is to kill 
the weeds of sin; his harrowing of us is to 
break the hard clods of impenitency, that the 
heart may be the fitter to receive the seed of 
grace. And if this be all, why should we be 
discontented 1 

4. Afflictions do both exercise and increase 

First, They exercise grace. Affliction doth 
breathe our graces : every thing is most in its 
excellency, when it is most in its exercise. Our 
grace, though it cannot be dead, yet it may be 
asleep, and hath need of awakening. What a 
dull thing is the fire, when it is hid in the em- 
bers ; or the sun, when it is masked with a 
cloud 1 A sick man is living, but not lively. 
Afflictions quicken and excite grace. God doth 
not love to see grace in the eclipse. Now 
faith puts forth its purest and most noble acts 
in times of affliction. God makes the foil of 
the leaf the spring of our graces. What if 
we are more passive, if grace be more active ? 

2. Afflictions do increase grace. As the 
wind serves to increase and blow up the flame, 


SO do the windy blasts of affliction augment 
and blow up our graces. Grace spends in the 
furnace ; but it is like the vndow^s oil in the 
cruse, which did increase by pouring out. 
The torch, when it is beaten, burns brightest ; 
so doth grace, when it is exercised by suffer- 
ings. Sharp frosts nourish the good corn, so 
do sharp afflictions grace : some plants grow 
better in the shade than in the sun, as the hay 
and the cypress. The shade of adversity is 
better for sjme than the sunshine of prosperity. 
Naturalists observe, that the colewort thrives 
better when it is watered with salt-water than 
with fresh ; so do some thrive better in the salt 
water of affliction. And shall we be discon- 
tented at that which makes us grow and fruc- 
tify more. 

5. These afflictions do bring more of God's 
immediate presence into the soul. When we 
are most assaulted, we shall be most assisted 
— / will he with him in trouble, Psal. 15. It 
cannot be ill with that man, w^ith whom God 
is, by his powerful presence, supporting, and 
by his gracious presence, sweetening, the pre- 
sent trial. God will be with us in trouble, not 


only to behold us, but to uphold us ; as he was 
with Daniel in the lion''s den, and the three 
children in the furnace. What if we have 
more trouble than others, if we have more of 
God with us than others have ? We never 
have sweeter smiles from God's face than when 
the world begins to look strange — Thy statutes 
have been my songs ; Where ? Not when I 
was upon the throne, but in the house of my 
pilgrimage, Psal. cxix. 54. We read, The Lord 
was not in the wind, nor in the earthquake, nor 
in the fire ; but in the small still voice, 1 Kings 
xii. 11. But, in a metaphorical and spiritual 
sense, when the wind of affliction blows upon a 
believer, God is in the wind ; when the fire of 
affliction kindles upon him, God is in the fire, 
viz. to sanctify, to support, to sweeten. If God 
be with us, the furnace shall be turned into a 
festival, the prison into a paradise, the earth- 
quake into a joyful dance. Oh ! why should I 
be discontented, when I have more of God's 
company ? 

6. These evils of affliction are for good, as 
they bring with them certificates of God's love, 
and are evidences of his special favour. Afflic- 


tion is the saint's livery ; it is a badge and 
cognizance of honour. That the God of glory 
should look upon a worm, and take so much 
notice of him as to afflict him rather than lose 
him, is a high act of favour. God's rod is a 
sceptre of dignity. Job calls God's afflicting 
of us, his magnifying of us. Job vii. 17. Some 
men's prosperity hath been their shame, when 
other's affliction hath been their crown. 

7. These afflictions work for our good, be- 
cause they work for us a far more exceeding 
and eternal weight of glory, 2 Cor. iv. 16. 
That which works for my glory in heaven, 
works for my good. We do not read in Scrip- 
ture that any man's honour and riches do work 
for him a weight of glory, but afflictions do, 
and shall a man be discontented at that which 
works for his glory ? The heavier the weight 
of affliction, the heavier the weight of glory ; 
not that our sufferings do merit glory-^as some 
erroneously think — but though they are not the 
cause of our crown, yet they are the way to it ; 
and God makes us, as he did our Captain, per- 
fect through sufferings, Heb. ii. 10. And shall 
not all this make us contented with our condi- 


tion ? Oh ! I beseech you, look not upon the 
evil of affliction, but the good. Afflictions, in 
Scripture, are called visitations, Job vii. 18. 
This word, which in the Hebrew implies to 
vis't, is taken in a good sense as well as a had. 
God's afflictions are but friendly visits. Be- 
hold here, God's rod is like Aaron's rod, blos- 
soming, and Jonathan's rod ; it hath honey at 
the end of it. Poverty shall starve our sins : 
the sickness of the body shall cure a sin-sick 
soul. then ! instead of murmuring, and be- 
ing discontented, bless the Lord. Hadst thou 
not met with such a rub in the way, thou 
mightest have gone to hell, and never stopped. 


The seventh Argument to Contentment. 

The next argument to contentment is — 
" Consider the evil of discontent." Malcon- 
tent hath a mixture of grief and anger in it, 
and both these must needs raise a storm in the 
soul. Have you not seen the posture of a sick 


man ? Sometimes he will sit upon his bed, by 
and by he will lie down ; and, when he is 
down, he is not quiet : first, he turns to one 
side, and then to the other ; he is still restless. 
This is just the emblem of a discontented spirit : 
the man is not sick, yet he is never w^ell ; 
sometimes he likes such a condition of life; 
and when he hath it, yet he is not pleased, he 
is soon weary ; and then another condition of 
life. This is an evil under the sun. 

Now^ the evil of Discontent appears in three 
things — 

1. The sordidness of it ; it is unw^orthy of 
a Clii^istian. 

First, It is unworthy of his profession. It 
w^as the saying of an Heathen — " Bear thy 
condition quietly; know^, thou art a man,'' 
So I say — " Bear thy condition contentedly ; 
know, thou art a Christian." Thou professest 
to hve by faith : what, and not content ? Faith 
is a grace that doth substantiate things not 
seen, Heb. xi. 1. Faith looks beyond the 
creature ; it feeds upon promises : Faith lives 
not by bread alone. When the water is spent 
in the bottle, Faith knows whither to have re- 


course. Now, to see a Christian dejected in 
the want of visible supplies and recruits, where 
is Faith ? " Oh !" saith one, " my estate in 
the world is down." Ah ! and what is worse, 
thy faith is down. Wilt thou not be content- 
ed, unless God let down the vessel to thee as 
he did to Peter, wherein were all manner of 
beasts of the earth and fowls of the air 1 Acts 
X. 12. Must you have first and second course'? 
This is like Thomas — Unless I put my finger 
into the print of the nails, I will not believe, 
John XX. 25 ; so, unless thou hast a sensible 
feeling of outward comforts, thou wilt not be 
content. True faith will trust God where it 
cannot trace him, and will adventure upon 
God's bond, though it hath nothing in view. 
You, who are discontented because you have 
not all you would, let me tell you, either your 
faith is at a low ebb, or at best but an embryo ; 
it is a weak faith that must have stilts and 
crutches to support it; nay, discontent is not 
only below faith, but below reason. Why are 
you discontented ? Is it because you are dis- 
possessed of such comforts ? Well, and have 
you not reason to guide you ? Doth not Rea- 


son tell you, that you are but tenants at will 1 
And may not God turn you out when he 
pleases? You hold not your estate jwr^, but 
gratis ; not by a juridical right, but upon fa- 
vour and courtesy. 

2. It is unworthy of the relation we stand 
in to God. A Christian is invested with the 
title and privilege of Sonship, Eph. i. 5 ; he is 
an heir of the Promise. Oh ! consider the lot of 
free-grace is fallen upon thee ; thou art nearly 
allied to Christ, and of the blood royal ; thou 
art advanced, in some sense, above the angels. 
Why then art thou, being the King's son, lean 
from day to day ? 2 Sam. xiii. 4. Why art 
thou discontented ? how unworthy is this ! 
as if the heir to some great monarch should go 
pining up and down, because he may not pick 
such a flower. 

2. Consider the sinfvlness of it, which ap- 
pears in three things — 

The causes ^ 

The actings > of it. 

The consequences ) 

1. It is sinful in the causes, which are 
these — 


1. Pride. He that thinks highly of his de- 
sert, usually esteems meanly of his condition. 
A discontented man is a proud man ; he thinks 
himself better than others ; therefore finds fault 
with the wisdom of God that he is not above 
others. Thus the thing formed saith to him 
ih.3.t formed it— ^Why hast thou made me thus ? 
Rom. ix. 20. Why am I not higher ? Dis- 
contents are nothing else but the fermenting 
and boilings over of pride. 

2. The second cause of discontent is Envy, 
which Augustine calls the Sin of the Devil. 
Satan envied Adam the glory of Paradise, and 
the robe of innocency : he that envies what his 
neighbour hath, is never contented with that 
portion which God's providence doth parcel out 
to him : thus envy stirs up strife — this made the 
Plebeian faction so strong among the Romans 
— so it creates discontent. The envious man 
looks so much upon the blessings which ano- 
ther enjoys, that he cannot see his own mercies, 
and so doth continually vex and torture himself. 
Cain envied that his brother's sacrifice was ac- 
cepted, and his rejected ; hereupon he was dis- 
contented, and presently murderous thoughts 
beg^an to arise in his heart. 


3. The third cause is Covetoiisness. This 
is a radical sin. Whence are vexing law- 
suits, but from discontent? And whence is 
discontent, but from covetousness 1 Covetous- 
ness and contentedness cannot dwell in the 
same heart. Avarice is an heluo, that is never 
satisfied. The covetous man is like Be- 
hemoth — Behold, he drinketh up a river: he 
trusteth that he can draw up Jordan into his 
mouth, Job xl. 23. There are four things 
(saith Solomon) say — It is not enough. I 
may add a fifth — The heart of a covetous man 
— he is still craving. Covetousness is like a 
Avolf in the breast, which is ever feeding ; 
and, because a man is not satisfied, he is never 

4. The fourth cause of discontent is Jea- 
lousy ; which is sometimes occasioned through 
melancholy, and sometimes misapprehension. 
The spirit of jealousy causeth this evil spirit. 
Jealousy is the rage of a man, Prov. vi. 34 ; 
and oft, this is nothing but suspicion and fancy, 
yet such as creates real discontent. 

5. The fifth cause of discontent is Distrust, 
which is a great degree of Atheism. The dis- 


contented person is ever distrustful. " The 
store of p7vmsion grows low : I am in these 
straits and exigencies — can God help me? 
Can he prepare a table in the wilderness 7 Sure 
he cannot. My estate is exhausted, can God 
recruit me ? My friends are gone, can God 
raise me up more ? Sure the arm of his power 
is shrunk. I am like the dry fleece — can any 
water come upon this fleece ? If the Lord 
would make windows in heaven^ might this thing 
5e?" 2 Kings vii. 2. Thus the anchor of hope 
and the shield of faith being cast away, the soul 
goes pining up and down. 

Discontent is nothing else but the echo of 
unbehef ; and remember, distrust is worse than 

2. Discontent is evil in the actings of it ; 
which are two — 

1. Discontent is joined with a sullen me- 
lancholy. A Christian, of a right temper, 
should be ever cheerful in God — serve the 
Lord with gladness, Psal. c. 5. A sign the oil 
of grace hath been poured into the heart, 
when the oil of gladness shines in the coun- 
tenance. Cheerfulness credits religion: how 


can the discontented person be cheerful 1 
Discontent is a dogged sullen humour; be- 
(fause we have not what we desire, God shall 
not have a good word or look from us. As 
the bird in the cage, because she is pent up, 
and cannot fly in the open air, therefore beats 
herself against the cage, and is ready to kill 
herself. Thus that peevish prophet said, / do 
well to be angry to the death, Jonah iv. 5. 

2. Discontent is accompanied with Un- 
thankfulness. Because we have not all we 
desire, we never mind the mercies which we 
have: we deal with God as the woman of 
Sarepta did with the prophet. The prophet 
Elijah had been a means to keep her alive in 
the famine : for it was for his sake that her 
meal in the barrel, and her oil in the cruse, 
failed not ; but as soon as ever her son dies, 
she falls into a passion, and begins to quarrel 
with the Prophet— l^/ia^ have I to do with thee, 

thou man of God ? Art thou come to call 
my sin to remherance, and to slay my son ? 

1 Kings xvii. 18. So ungratefully we deal 
vnth God : we can be content to receive mer- 
cies from God ; but, if he doth cross us in the 


least thing, then through discontent we grow 
touchy and impatient, and are ready to fly upon 
God. Thus God loseth all his mercies. We 
read in Scripture of the thank-offering, 
2 Chron. xx. 27. The discontented person 
cuts God short of this; the Lord loseth his 
thank-offering. A discontented Christian 
repines in the midst of mercies, as Adam, who 
sinned in the midst of Paradise. Discontent is 
a spider that sucks the poison of unthankful- 
ness out of the sweetest flower of God's bless- 
ings; and, by a devilish chemistry, extracts 
dross out of the most refined gold. The dis- 
contented person thinks every thing he doth 
for God too much, and every thing God doth 
for him too little. Oh, what a sin is unthank- 
fulness ! It is an accumulative sin. There 
are many sins bound up in this one sin : it is a 
voluminous wickedness ; and how full of this 
sin is discontent! A discontented Christian, 
because he hath not all the world, therefore 
dishonours God with the mercies which he 
hath. God made Eve out of Adam's rib, to 
be a helper, as the Father speaks ; but the 
Devil made an arrow, erf this rib, and shot 


Adam to the heart : so doth discontent take 
the rod of God's mercy, and ungratefully shoot 
at him : estate and liberty shall be employed 
against God. Thus it is oftentimes. Behold, 
then, how Discontent and Ingratitude are in- 
terwoven and twisted one within another. 
Thus discontent is sinful in its actings. 

3. It is sinful in its consequences; which 
are these — 

1. It makes a man very unlike the Spirit 
of God. The Spirit of God is a meek spirit. 
The Holy Ghost descended in the likeness of a 
dove, Matt. iii. 16. A dove is the emblem of 
meekness. A discontented spirit is not a meek 

2. It makes a man like the Devil. The 
Devil, being swelled with the poison of envy 
and malice, is never content ; just so is the 
malcontent. The Devil is an unquiet spirit, 
he is still walking about, 1 Pet v. 8 ; it is his 
rest to be walking ; and herein is the discon- 
tented person like him ; for he goes up and 
down vexing himself. Seeking rest, and find- 
ing none, he is the Devil's picture. 



3. Discontent disjoints the soul, it untunes 
the heart for duty — Is avy man afflicted, let him 
pray. Jam. v. 13. But is any man discontented ; 
how shall he pray ? Discontent is full of 
wrath and passion : the malcontent cannot 
lift up pure hands ; he lifts up lejjrous hands ; 
he poisons his prayers. Will God accept of 
a poisoned sacrifice ? Chrysostom compares 
prayers to a fine garland. " Those," saith he, 
" that make a garland, their hands had need 
be clean." Prayer is a precious garland, the 
heart that makes it had need be clean. Dis- 
content throws poison in the spring, which 
was death among the Romans. Discontent 
puts the heart into a disorder and mutiny, and 
such a one cannot serve the Lord without dis- 

4. Discontent sometimes unfits for the very 
use of reason. Jonah, in a passion of discon- 
tent, spake no better than blasphemy and non- 
sense—" I do well,'^ said he, " to be angry to 
the death," Jonah iv. 9. What, to be angry 
with God, and to die for anger ? Sure, he did 
not know well what he said. When discon- 


tent transports, then, like Moses, we speak un- 
advisedly with our lips. This humour doth 
even suspend the very acts of reason. 

5. Discontent doth not only disquiet a 
man's self, but those who are near him. This 
evil spirit troubles families , parishes and king- 
doms. If there be but one string out of tune, 
it spoils all the music. One discontented spirit 
makes jarrings and discords among others : it 
is this ill humour that breeds quarrels and law- 
suits. Whence is all our contention, but 
for want of contentment? From whence 
come wars and fghting you ? Come 
they not hencp., even of your lusts? James 
iv. 1, in particular, from this lust of discon- 
tent ? Why did Absalom raise a war against 
his father, and would have taken off, not only 
his crown but his head ? W^as it not his discon- 
tent 1 Absalom would be king. Why did 
Ahab stone Naboth ? Was it not discontent 
about the vineyard ? O this devil of discontent ! 
Thus you have seen the sinfulness of it. 

3. Consider the simplicity of it. I may say 
as the Psalmist — Surely they are disquieted in 
vain, Psal. ix. 6 ; which appears thus — 


1. Is it not a vain simple thing to be troubled 
at the loss of that which is in its own nature 
perishing and changeable? God hath put a 
vicissitude into the creature; all the world 
rings changes ; and for me to meet with incon- 
stancy here, to lose my friends or my property, 
to be in a constant fluctuation, is no more than to 
see a flower wither, or a leaf drop ofl" in autumn. 
There is an autumn upon every comfort, a fall 
of the leaf Now it is extreme folly to be dis- 
contented at the loss of those things which are 
so, in their owm nature, loseable. What Solo- 
mon saith of riches, is true of all things under 
the sun — " They take wings.'' Noah's dove 
brought an olive-branch in its mouth ; but pres- 
ently flew out of the ark, and never returned 
more. Such a comfort brings us honey in its 
mouth ; but it hath wings : and to what pur- 
pose should we be troubled, unless w^e had 
wings to fly after and overtake it ? 

2. Discontent is a heart-breaking. By 
sorrow of the heart the spirit is broken, Prov, 
XV. 13; it takes away the comfort of life. 
There is none of us but may have mercies if 
we can see them. Now, because we have not 


all we desire, therefore we will lose the com- 
fort of that which we have already. Jonah 
having his gourd smitten — a withering vanity 
— was so discontented, that he never thought 
of his miraculous deliverance out of the whale's 
belly ; he takes no comfort of his life, but 
wisheth that he might die. What folly is this ? 
We must have all or none ; herein we are like 
children, that throw away the piece which is 
cut them, because they may have no bigger. 
Discontent eats out the comforts of life. Be- 
sides, it were well if it were seriously weighed 
how prejudicial this is even to our health ; for 
discontent, as it doth torture the mind, so it doth 
pine the body ; it frets as a moth, and, by 
wasting the spirits, weakens the vitals. The 
pleurisy of discontent brings the body into a 
consumption ; and is this not folly ? 

3. Discontent does not ease us of our bur- 
den, but makes the cross heavier. A contented 
spirit goes cheerfully under its affliction. Dis- 
content makes our grief as insupportable as it is 
unreasonable. If the leg be well, it can en- 
dure a fetter, and not complain ; but if the leg 
be sore, then the fetter troubles. Discontent 


of mind is the sore that makes the fetters of 
affliction more grievous. Discontent troubles 
us more than the trouble itself; it steeps the 
affliction in wormwood. When Christ was 
upon the cross the Jews brought him gall and 
vinegar to drink, that it might add to his sor- 
row. Discontent brings to a man in affliction 
gall and vinegar to drink : this is worse than 
the affliction itself. Is it not folly for a man 
to embitter his own cross ? 

4. Discontent spins out our troubles the 
longer. A Christian is discontented because 
he is in want ; and therefore he is in w^ant, 
because he is discontented ; he murmurs be- 
cause he is afflicted, and therefore he is afflicted 
because he murmurs. Discontent doth delay 
and adjourn our mercies. God deals herein 
with us as we use to do with our children ; 
when they are quiet and cheerful they shall 
have any thing ; but if we see them cry and fret 
then we withhold them. We get nothing 
from God by our discontent, but we add to our 
sorrow. The more the child struggles, the 
more it grieves ; and when we struggle with 
God by our sinful passions, he doubles and 


trebles our griefs : God will tame our stubborn 
hearts. What gut Israel by their peevishness ? 
They were within eleven days journey of 
Canaan, and now they were discontented, 
and began to murmur; God leads them a 
march of forty years long in the wilderness. 
Is it not folly for us to adjourn our own mer- 
cies ? Thus you have seen the evil of discon- 
tent. I have been long upon this argument ; 
but to proceed : — 

The eighth Argument to Contentment. 

The next argument or motive to Content- 
ment is this — "Why is not a man content with 
the competency which he hath 1 Perhaps, if 
he had more, he would be less content ; covet- 
ousness is a dry drunkenness. The world is 
such, that the more we have the more w^e crave ; 
it cannot fill the heart of man. When the fire 
burns, how do you quench it ? Not by putting 
oil to the flame, or laying on more wood, but 


by withdrawing the fuel. When the appetite 
is inflamed after riches, how may a man be 
satisfied ? Not by having just what he desires, 
but by withdrawing the fuel, ^c, moderating 
and lessening his desires. He that is contented 
hath enough. A man, in a fever or dropsy, 
thirsts; how do you satisfy him? Not by 
giving him liquid things which will inflame 
his thirst the more ; but by removing the cause, 
and so curing his distemper. The way for a 
man to be contented is not by raising his estate 
higher, but by bringing his heart lower. 

The ninth Argument to Contentment. 

The next argument to contentment is — The 
shortness of lifi. " It is but a vapour, ^^ saith 
James, Jam. iv. 14 ; life is a wheel ever running. 
The poets painted Time with wings, to show 
the volubility and swiftness of it. Job com- 
pares it to a swift post, Job ix. 25 — our life 
rides post — 'tis but a day, not a year. It is 


indeed like a day : infancy is, as it were, the 
day-break ; youth is the sun-rising ; full growth 
is the sun in the meridian ; okl age is the sun- 
setting. Sickness is the evening, then comes 
the night of death. How quick is the day of 
life spent ! Oftentimes this sun goes down at 
noon-day : life ends before the evening of old- 
age comes ; nay, sometimes the sun of life sets 
presently after sun-rising. Quickly after the 
dawning of infancy, the night of death ap- 
proaches. Oh, how short is the life of man ! 
The consideration of the brevity of life may 
work the heart to contentment. Remember 
thou art to be here but a day ; thou hast but a 
short way to go, and what needs a long pro- 
vision for a short journey ? If a traveller have 
but enough to bring him to his journey's end, 
he desires no more. We have but a day to 
live, and perhaps we may be in the twelfth 
hour of the day ; why, if God gives us but 
enough to bear our charges till night, it is suf- 
ficient. Let us be content. If a man take a 
lease of a house or farm but for two or three 
days, and he should fall a building and plant- 
ing, would he not be judged very indiscreet ? 


So when we have but a short time here, and 
death calls us presently off the vStage, to thirst 
immoderately after the world, and pull down 
our souls to build up an estate, is it not extreme 
folly ? Therefore, as Esau said once, in a pro- 
June sense, concerning his birthright — " Lo ! 
1 am at the point to die, and what projit shall 
this birthright do to me?'' So let a Christian 
say, in a religious sense — " Lo ! I am even at 
the point of death ; my grave is going to be 
made, and what good will the world do me ? 
If I have but enough till sun-setting, I am con- 


The tenth Argument to Contentment. 

The tenth argument or motive to Content- 
ment, is — " Consider seriously the nature of a 
prosperous condition." There are, in a pros- 
perous estate, three things — 

1. Mo i- trouble. Many who have abun- 
dance of all things to enjoy, yet have not so 
much content and sweetness in their lives, as 


some that go to their hard labour. Sad, 
solicitous thoughts, do often attend a pros- 
perous condition : care is as an evil spirit 
which haunts a rich man, and will not suffer 
him to be quiet. When his chest is full of 
gold, his heart is full of care, either how to 
manage, or how to increase, or how to secure, 
what he hath gotten. Oh, the troubles and 
perplexities that do wait upon prosperity ! 
The world's high-seats are very uneasy ; sun- 
shine is pleasant, but sometimes it scorcheth 
with its heat ; the bee gives honey, but some- 
times it stings : prosperity hath its sweetness, 
and also its sting. Competency, with Content- 
ment, is far more eligible. Never did Jacob 
sleep better than when he had the heavens for 
his canopy, and a hard stone for his pillow. 
A large voluminous estate is but like a long 
trailing garment, which is more troublesome 
than useful. 

2. In a prosperous condition there is more 
danger ; and that two ways — 

First, In respect of a man's self. The 
rich man's table is oft his snare ; he is ready 
to ingulf himself too deep in these sweet 


waters. In this sense it is hard to know how 
to abound. It must be a strong brain that 
bears heady wine ; he had need have much 
wisdom and grace that knows how to bear 
a high condition : either he is ready to kill 
himself with care, or surfeit himself with 
luscious delights. Oh, the hazard of honour, 
the danger of dignity ! Pride, Security and 
Rebellion, are the three worms of plenty, 
Deut. xxxii. 15. The pastures of prosperity 
are rank and surfeiting. How soon are we 
broken upon the soft pillow of ease ! Pros- 
perity is often a truinpet that sounds a retreat ; 
it calls men off from the pursuit of religion. 
The sun of prosperity oft dulls, and puts out 
the fire of zeal. How many souls hath the 
pleurisy of abundance killed ? They that will 
be rich fall into snares, 1 Tim. vi. 10. The 
world is bird-lime to our feet ; it is full of 
golden sands, but they are quicksands. Pros- 
perity, like smooth Jacob, will supplant and 
betray ; a great estate, without much vigil an- 
cy, will be a thief to rob us of heaven ; such 
as are upon the pinnacle of honour, are in 
most danger of falling. 


A lower estate is less hazardous. The little 
pinnace rides safe by the shore ; when the gal- 
lant ship, advancing with its mast and top-sail, 
is cast away. Adam, in Paradise, was over- 
come, when Job on the dunghill was a con- 
queror. Samson fell asleep on Delilah's lap ; 
some have fallen so fast asleep on the lap of 
ease and plenty, that they have never waked 
till they have been in hell. The world'syai6'?i- 
ing is worse than its frowning; and it is more 
to be feared when it smiles, than when it thun- 
ders. Prosperity, in Scripture, is compared to 
a candle — When his candleshined upon my head, 
Job xxix. 3. How many have burnt their 
wings about this candle ! The corn, being 
over-ripe, shakes ; and fruit, when it mellows, 
begins to rot: when men do mellow with the 
sun of prosperity, commonly their souls begin to 
rot in sin. How hard is it for a rich man to en- 
ter into the kingdom of Heaven ! Luke xviii. 
24. His golden weights keep him from ascend- 
ing up the hill of God ; and shall we not be 
content, though we are placed in a lower orb ? 
What if we are not in so much bravery and 
gallantry as others 1 We are not so much in 


danger : if we want the honour of the world, 
the temptations will follow. Oh, the abundance 
of danger that is in abundance ! We see, by- 
common experience, that lunatics, when the 
moon is declining, and in the wane, are sober 
enough ; but, when it is in the full, they are 
more wild and exorbitant. When men's estates 
are in the wane, they are more serious about 
their souls, more humble ; but when it is the 
full of the moon, and they have abundance, 
then their hearts begin to sWell with pride and 
covetousness, and are scarcely sensible of their 
danger. Those that write concerning the seve- 
ral climates, observe, that such as live in the 
northern parts of the world, if you bring them 
into the south part, they lose their appetites and 
die quickly ; but those that live in the more 
southern hot climates, bring them into the 
north, and their appetites mend, and they are 
long lived. Give me leave to apply it : bring 
a man from the cold starving climate of poverty, 
into the hot southern climate of prosperity, and 
he begins to lose his appetite for good things, 
he grows weak, and a thousand to one if all 
his religion doth not die ; but bring a Christian 


from the south to the north, from a rich flourish- 
ing estate into a declining low condition, let 
him come into a more cold and hungry air, and 
then his stomach mends, he hath better appe- 
tite after heavenly things, he hungers more 
after Christ, he thirsts more for grace, he eats 
more at one meal of the Bread of Life than at 
six before. This man is now like to live and 
hold out in his rehgion. Be content then with 
a morsel ; if you have but enough to serve you 
on your road to heaven, it sufficeth. 

2. A prosperous condition is dangerous in 
regard of others ; a great estate for the most 
part draws envy to it, Gen. xxvi. 12, 13, 14. 
When David was a Shepherd he w^as quiet, but 
when he was advanced to a courtier he was 
pursued by his enemies. Envy cannot endure 
a superior. An envious man knows not how 
to live, but upon the ruins of his neighbour ; he 
raiseth himself higher by bringing others lower. 
Prosperity is an eyesore to many. Such sheep 
as have most wool are soonest fleeced. The 
barren tree grows peaceably ; no man meddles 
with the ash or willow ; but the apple-tree 
and the damson shall have many rude suitors. 


Oh, then, be content to carry a lesser sail ! He 
that hath less revenues, hath less envy ; such as. 
bear the fairest frontispiece, and make the 
greatest show in the world, are the fittest for 
envy and malice to shoot at. 

3. A prosperous condition hath in it a 
greater reckoning : every man must be respon- 
sible for his talents. Thou that hast great pos- 
sessions in the world, dost thou trade thy estate 
for God's glory ? Art thou rich in good works 1 
Grace makes a 'private person a common good. 
Dost thou disburse thy money for public uses ? 
It is lawful — in this sense — to put out our mo- 
ney to use. Oh, let us all remember, an estate 
is a depositum ! We are but stewards, and our 
Lord and Master will ere long say — Give an 
account of your stewardship. The greater our 
estate, the greater our charge ; the more our 
revenues, the more our reckonings. You that 
have a lesser mjll going in the world, be con- 
tent ; God will expect less from you, where he 
hath sowed more sparingly. 


The eleventh Argument to Contentment. 

The eleventh argument is the example of 
those who have been eminent for contentment. 
Examples are usually more forcible than pre- 
cepts. Abraham being called out to hot ser- 
vice, and such as was against flesh and blood, 
was content. God bids him offer up his son 
Isaac, Gen. xxii. 2. This was a great work. 
Isaac was the son of his old age, the son of his 
love, and the son of the promise : Christ, the 
Messiah, was to come of his line — Bi Isaac 
shall thy seed be blessed ; so that, to offer up 
Isaac, seemed not only to oppose Abraham's 
reason, but his faith too ; for if Isaac die, the 
world, for aught he knew, must be without 
a Mediator. Besides, if Isaac be sacrificed, 
was there no other hand to do it but Abra- 
ham's ? Must the father needs be the execu- 
tioner ? Must he that was the instrument of 
giving Isaac his being, be the instrument of 
taking it away ? Yet Abraham doth not dis- 
pute or hesitate, but beUeves against hope, and 


is content with God's prescription. So when 
God called him to leave his country, Heb. xi. 1, 
he was content. Some would have argued 
thus — " What, leave all my friends, my native 
soil, my brave situation, and go turn pilgrim 1 
Abraham is content : besides Abraham went 
blindfold — He knew not whither he went, yerse 
8. God held him in suspense: he must go 
wander, he knows not where ; and when he 
doth come to the place God had laid out for 
him, he knows not what oppositions he shall 
meet with there— the world doth seldom cast 
a favourable aspect upon strangers. Gen. xxxii. 
16 — yet he is content, and obeys. He so- 
journed in the Land of Promise, Heb. xi. 9. 
Behold a little his pilgrimage. First, he goes 
to Charan, a city in Mesopotamia ; when he 
had sojourned there awhile, his father dies ; 
then he removes to Sichem, then to Bethlehem, 
in Canaan ; there a famine ariseth ; then he 
went down to Egypt ; after that he returned 
into Canaan ; when he came there — it is true 
he had a promise, but he found nothing to 
answer his expectation — he had not there one 
foot of land, but was an exile. In this time 


of his sojourning, he buried his wife ; and, as 
for his dwellings, he had no sumptuous build- 
ings, but led his life in poor cottages. All this 
was enough to have broken any man's heart. 
Abraham might think thus with himself — " Is 
this the land I must possess ? Here is no 
probability of any good : all these things are 
against ??ie." Well, is he discontented ? No. 
God saith to him — " Abraham, go, leave thy 
country." And this word was enough to lead 
him all the world over : he is presently upon 
his march. Here was a man that had learned 
to be content. But let us descend a little 
lower to heathen Zeno — of whom Seneca 
speaks — who had once been very rich ; hear- 
ing of a shipwreck, and that all his goods were 
drowned at sea — " Fortune," saith he — he 
spake in a heathen dialect — " has dealt well 
with me, and would have me now to study 
philosophy." He was content to change his 
course of life, to leave off being a merchant, 
and turn philosopher. And if a heathen said 
thus, shall not a Christian much more say, 
when the world is drained from him — " God 
would have me leave off following the world. 


and study Christ more, and how to get to hea- 
ven." Do I see a heathen contented, and a 
Christian disquieted ? How did Heathens vil- 
ify those things which Christians magnify ? 
Though they knew not God, or what true hap- 
piness meant, yet would speak very sublimely 
of a JVumen or Deity, and of the life to come,, 
as Aristotle and Plato ; and for those Elysian' 
delights which they did but fancy, they under- 
valued and contemned the things here below. 
It was the doctrine they taught their scholars^ 
and which some of them practised, that men 
should strive to be contented with a little ; they 
were willing to make an exchange ; to have 
less good, and more learning ; and shall not 
we be content then to have less of the world, 
so we may have more of Christ ? May not 
Christians blush to see Heathens content with 
a little, so much as would recruit nature,, and 
to see themselves so transported with the love 
of earthly things ; that if they begin a little to 
abate, and the stock of 'provisions grows short, 
they murmur, and are like Micah-^iJai^e ye 
taken away my gods, and do ye ask me what I 
ail ? Judges xviii. 24. Have heathens gone 


SO far in contentment ? And is it not sad for 
us to come short of them that came short of 
heaven ? These heroes of their time, how did 
they embrace death itself! Socrates died in 
prison ; Hercules was burnt alive ; Cato — 
whom Seneca calls the lively image and portrait- 
ure of virtue — thrust through with a sword ; 
but how bravely, and with what contentment 
of spirit, did they die ! " Shall I," said Se- 
neca, " weep for Cato, or Regulus, or the rest 
of those worthies that died with so much valour 
and patience ?" Cross providences did not 
make them to alter their countenances, and do 
I see a Christian appalled and amazed ? Death 
did not affright them ; and doth it distract us ? 
Did the spring-head of Nature rise so high ? 
and shall not grace, like the waters of the sane- 
tuary, rise higher ? We that pretend to live 
by faith, may we not go to school to them who 
had no other pilot but reason to guide them ? 
Nay, let me come a step lower, to creatures 
void of reason : we see every creature is con- 
tented with its allowance; the beasts with 
their provender, the birds with their nests, they 
live only upon providence ; and shall we make 


ourselves below them ? Let a Christian go to 
school to the ox and the ass to learn content- 
ment; we think we never have enough, and 
are still laying up : the fowls of the air do not 
lay up, they reap not, nor gather into hams. 
Matt. vi. 2Q ; it is an argument which Christ 
brings, to make Christians contented with their 
condition. The birds do not lay up, yet they 
are provided for and are contented. " Are ye 
not,^^ saith Christ, ^' much better than they V* 
But if you are discontented, are ye not much 
worse than they ? Let these examples quicken 
and encourage us to be content. 


The twelfih argumenl to Contentment. 

The twelfth argument to contentment is — 
" Whatever change or trouble a child of God 
meets with, it is all the hell he shall have." 
Whatever eclipse may be upon his name, or 
es ate I n ay say of it as Athanasius of his 
banishment, it is a little cloud which will sooa 


be blown over ; and when the storm is past 
our troubles end. 

Death begins a wicked man's hell, but it 
puts an end to a godly man's pain. Think 
with thyself — " "What if I endure those fiery 
trials now, they are only intended to take away 
my dross." Indeed, if all our sufferings end in 
death, we may rejoice in the midst of them as 
the apostle did. What is the cup of affliction 
to the cup of salvation ? Lazarus could not 
get a crum ; he was so diseased, that the dogs 
took pity on him, and — as if they had been his 
physicians — licked his sores. This was but a 
short affliction ; the angels quickly fetched him 
out of it. If all our sorrows be in this life, and 
in the midst of them we may have the love of 
God; then it is no more pain but paradise. 
Deep as the pit of sorrow may appear to us 
now, we shall soon see the bottom of it ; it is 
but skin deep, it cannot touch the soul, and 
we may see to the end of it : it is of a short 
duration. After a wet night of affliction 
comes a bright morning of the resurrection ; 
if our lives be short, our trials cannot be long. 
As our riches take wings and fly, so do our 
suflferings; then let us be contented. 



The thirteenth Argument to Contentment, 

The last argument to Contentment in this 
— " To have a competency, and to want con- 
tentment, proves the want of grace." For a 
man to have such a craving appetite, that the 
more he eats, the more he craves, you will say 
is a sad calamity. But what shall we say of 
the man whose craving thirst for money can 
never be quenched, and whose hungerings after 
riches cannot be satisfied ? The apostle tells us 
plainly that such a one is an idolater, and 
the cry of such is like the horse leech, — 
Give, Give. But God saith they shall eat and 
never have enough. Hosea iv. 1. The 
throat of a malicious man is an open sepulchre, 
Rom. iii. 13 ; so is the heart of a covetous man. 
Covetousness is not only a sin, but the punish- 
ment of a sin. There is a secret curse upon a 
covetous person ; he shall thirst and thirst, and 
never be satisfied — He that loveth silver, shall 
not be satisfied with silver, Eccl. v. 10 ; and 
is not this a curse 1 What was it but a severe 


judgment upon the people of Judah ? Ye eat. 
but ye have not enough ; ye drink, but ye are 
not filled with drink, Hag. i. 6. Oh ! let us 
take heed of this plague. Did Esau say to his 
brother, " Ihave abundance, my brother," Gen. 
xxxiii. 9 ; or, as we translate it, /Aare enough ? 
and shall not a Christian say so ranch more? 
It is sad that our heart should be so dead to 
heavenly things, and as a sponge to suck in 
earthly. Let all that hath been said work our 
minds to holy contentment. 


Three things inserted by way of Caution. 

In the next place, I come to lay down some 
necessary cautions. Though, I say, a man 
should be contented in every estate, yet there 
are three estates in which he must not be con- 
tented — 



1. He must not be contented in a natural 
estate; here he must learn not to be content. 
A sinner, in his natural state, is under the wrath 
of God, John, iii. 36 ; and shall he be content, 
when that dreadful vial is going to be poured 
out ? Is it nothing to be under the scorchings 
of Divine fury ? — Who can dwell with ever- 
lasting burnings ? A sinner, as a sinner, is 
under the power of Satan, Acts xxvi. 18, and 
shall he in this estate be contented? Who 
would be contented to stay in the enemy's 
quarters ? While we sleep in the lap of sin, 
the Devil doth to us as the Phihstines did to 
Samson, cut the lock of our strength, and put 
out our eyes, 2 Cor. iv. 4. Be not content, O 
sinner ! in this estate. For a man to be in debt 
body and soul, and in fear every hour to be ar- 
rested and carried prisoner to hell, shall he now 
be content 1 No. Here I preach against con- 
tentment. May you be enabled to seek deliv- 
erance from such a condition ! I would hasten 
you out of it as the angels hastened Lot out of 
Sodom, Gen. xix. 15. There is a smell of the 
fire and brimstone upon you. The longer a 
man stays in his sins the more sin doth 


strengthen, Heb. iii. 13. It is hard to get out 
of sin when the heart, as a garrison, is victual- 
led and fortified. A young plant is easily re- 
moved ; but, when the tree is once rooted, 
there is no stirring it. Thou, who art rooted 
in thy pride, unbelief, and impenitency, it will 
cost thee many a sad pull ere thou art plucked 
out of thy natural estate, Jer. vi. 16. It is a 
hard thing to have a brazen face and a broken 
heart. He travaileth with iniquity, Psal. vii. 14. 
Be assured, the longer you travail with your 
sins, the more and the sharper pangs you must 
expect in the new-hirth. Oh, be not contented 
with your natural estate ! David saith — Why 
art thou disquieted, my soul ? Psal. xliii. 5. 
But a sinner should say to himself- — " Why 
art thou not disquieted, my soul ? Why is it 
that thou layest afflictions so to heart, and canst 
not lay thy sins to heart ?" It is a mercy when 
we are disquieted about sin. A man had better 
be at the trouble of setting a bone, than to be 
lame and in pain all his hfe. Blessed is that 
trouble a i ngs the soul to Christ. It is one 
of the worst sights in the world to see a bad 
conscience quiet ; of the two, better is a fever 


than a lethargy. I wonder to see a man in 
his natural estate content ! What, contented to 
go to hell ! 

2. Though, in regard of externals, a man 
should be in every state content, yet he must 
not be content in such a condition wherein 
God is apparently dishonoured. If a man's 
trade be such that he can hardly use it but he 
must trespass upon God's commands — and 
so makes a trade of sin — he must not con- 
tent himself in such a condition. God never 
called any man to such a calling as is sinful : 
a man in this case had better knock off and 
desist ; better lose some of his gain, that he 
may lessen some of his guilt. So for servants 
that live in di prof ane family — the very suburbs 
of hell — where the name of God is not called 
upon, unless when it is taken in vain ; they are 
not to content themselves in such a place, they 
are to come out of the tents of these sinners ; 
there is a double danger in living among the 
profane — 

1. Lest we come to be infected with the 
poison of their ill example. Joseph, living in 
Pharaoh's court, had learned to swear by the life 


of Pharaoh, Gen. xlii. 15. We are prone to 
such an example : men take in deeper impres- 
sions by the eye, than by the ear. Dives was 
a bad pattern ; and he had many brethren, who 
seeing him sin, trod just in his steps — " There- 
fore," saith he, " I pray thee, send him to my 
faiher's house ; for I have five brethren, that he 
may testify to them, that they come not into this 
place of torment," Luke xvi. 27, 28. Dives 
knew which way they went ; it is easy to catch 
a disease from another, but not to catch health. 
The bad will sooner corrupt the good, than the 
good will convert the bad. Take an equal 
quantity and proportion, so much sweet wine, 
with so much sour vineo^ar : the vinegar will 
sooner sour the wine, than the wine will sweeten 
the vinegar. Sin is compared to the plague, 
1 Kings viii. 37, and to leaven, 1 Cor. v. 7, to 
show of what a spreading nature it is. A bad 
master makes a bad servant. Jacob's cattle, 
by looking on the rods which were speckled 
and ring-straked, conceived like the rods : we 
do as we see others before us, especially above us. 
If the head be sick, the other parts of the body 
are distempered. If the sun shine not upon the 


mountains, it must needs set in the valleys. 
We pray — Lead us not into temptation; and do 
we lead ourselves into temptation ? Lot was 
the world's miracle, who kept himself fresh in 
Sodom's salt water. 

2. By living in an evil family, we are liable 
to incur their punishment — Pour out thy wrath 
vpon the families that call not upon thy name, 
Jer. xiii. 25. For want of pouring out prayer, 
the wrath of God was ready to be poured out. 
It is dangerous living in the tents of Kedar. 
When God sends his flying roll, written within 
and without with curses, it enters into the house 
of the thief and perjurer, and it consumes the 
timber and the stones thereof Zach. v. 4. Is it 
not of sad consequence to live in a profane per- 
jured family, when the sin of the governor pulls 
his house about his ears? If the stone and 
timber be destroyed, how shall the servant es- 
cape ? And suppose God send not a temporal 
roll of curses in the family, there is a spiritual 
roll, and that is worse, Prov. iii. 33. Be not 
content to live where religion dies. Salute the 
brethren, and JVymphas, and the church which 
is in his house. Col. iv. 15. The house of the 


godly is a little church ; the house of the wick- 
ed a little hell, Prov. vii. 27. Oh, incorporate 
yourselves into a religious family : the house of 
a good man is perfumed with a blessing, Prov. 
iii. 33. When the holy oil of grace is poured 
on the head, the savour of this ointment sweetly 
difFuseth itself, and the virtue of it runs down 
upon the skirts of the family. Pious examples 
are very magnetical and forcible. Seneca said 
to his sister — " Though I leave you not wealth, 
yet I will leave you a good example.'' Let us 
ingraft ourselves among the saints : by being 
often among the spices, we come to smell of 

3. The third caution- is — Though in every 
condition we must be content, yet we are not 
to content ourselves with a little grace. Grace 
is the best blessing. Though we should be 
contented with a competency of estate, yet not 
with a small portion of grace. It was the end 
of Christ's ascension to heaven, to give gifts : 
and the end of those gifts, that we may grow 
up into him who is the head, Christ, Eph. iv. 
15. Where the apostle distinguisheth between 
our being in Christ, and our growing in him, 


our ingrafting and our flourishing. Be not 
content with a morsel of religion. 

It is not enough that there be life, but there 
must h^ fruit. Barrenness in the Law was 
accounted a curse. The further we are from 
fruit, the nearer we are to cursing, Heb. vi. 8. 
It is a sad thing when men are fruitful only in 
the UTifruitful works of darkness. Be not con- 
tent with a drachm or two of grace ! Oh, covet 
more grace! never think thou hast enough. 
We are bid covet the best things, 1 Cor. xii. 31. 
It is a heavenly ambition when we desire to 
be high in God's favour ; a blessed contention, 
when all the strife is, who shall be the most 
holy. St. Paul, though he was content with a 
little of the world, yet not with a little grace ; he 
reached forward and 'pressed towards the mark 
of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus, 
Phil. iii. 14. A true Christian is a wonder ; 
he is the most contented, and yet the least sat- 
isfied : he is contented with a morsel of bread, 
and a little water in the cruse, yet never sat- 
isfied with a little grace ; he doth pant and 
breathe after more. This is his prayer — 
" Lord, more conformity to Christ, more cjm- 


munion with Christ." He would fain have 
Christ's image more hvely pictured upon his 
soul. True grace is always progressive : as the 
saints are called lam^ps and stars in regard of 
their light, so trees of righteousness, Isai. Ixi. 3, 
for their growth ; they are indeed like the trees 
of life, brincrino^ forth several sorts of fruit. 

A true Christian grows, 1, in beauty. — 
Grace is the best complexion of the soul ; it is 
at the first plantation like Rachel, fair to look 
upon ; but still, the more it lives, the more 
it sends forth its rays of beauty. Abra- 
ham's faith was at first beautiful ; but at 
last it did shine in its orient colours, and grew 
so illustrious, that God himself was in love 
with it, and makes his faith a pattern to all 

2. A true Christian grows in sweetness. 
A poisonous weed may grow as much as the 
hysop, or rosemary; the poppy in the field as 
the corn ; the crab, as the pearmain : but the 
one hath a harsh, sour taste ; the other mellows 
as it grows. So a hypocrite may grow in out- 
ward dimensions as much as a child of God ; 
he may pray as much, profess as much ; but he 


grows only in magnitude, he brings forth sour 
grapes, his duties are leavened with pride ; the 
other ripens as he grows; he grows in love, 
humility, faith, which do mellow and sweeten 
his duties, and make them come off with a 
better relish. The believer grows as a flower : 
he casts a fragrancy and perfume. 

3. A true Christian grows in strength; 
he grows still more rooted and settled. The 
more the tree grows, the more it spreads its 
root in the earth. Col ii. 7. A Christian, 
who is a plant of the heavenly Jerusalem, the 
longer he grows, the more he incorporates 
into Christ, and sucks spiritual juice and sap 
from him ; he is a dwarf in regard of humili- 
ty, but a giant in regard of strength. He is 
strong to do duties, to bear burdens and to re- 
sist temptations, 

4. He grows vigorous in the exercise of 
his grace; he hath not only oil in ^his lamp, 
but his lamp burning and shining. Grace 
is active and dexterous. Christ's vines co 
flourish, Cant vi. 11; hence we read of a 
lively hope, 1 Pet i. 3, and a fervent love, 
1 Pet i 22 ; here is the activity of grace. In- 


deed, sometimes grace is as a sleepy habit in the 
soul, like sap in the vine, not exerting its vig- 
our ; which may be occasioned through spirit- 
ual sloth, or by reason of falling into some 
sin ; but this is only for a while : the spring of 
grace will come, the flowers vMl appear, and 
the fig tree put forth her green figs. The 
fresh gales of the Spirit do sweetly revive and 
refocillate grace. The Church of Christ, whose 
heart was a garden, and her graces as precious 
spices, prays for the heavenly breathings of the 
Spirit, that her sacred spices might flow out, 
Cant iv. 16. 

5. A true Christian grows both in the 
kind and in the degree of grace. To his 
spiritual living he gets an augmentation ; he 
adds to faith, virtue ; to virtue, knowledge ; to 
knowledge, temperance, &c. 2 Pet i. 5, 6. Here 
is grace growing in the kind ; and he goes 
on from faith to faith, Rom i. 17 -, there 
is grace growing in the degree. We 
are hound to give thanks to God for you, 
brethren, because your faith groweth exceed- 
ingly, 2 Thess. i. 3, it increaseth over and 
above. And the apostle speaks of those spirit- 


ual plants which were laden with Gospel fruit, 
Phil. i. 11. A Christian is compared to the 
vine — an emblem of fruitfulness — he must bear 
full clusters : we are bid to perfect that which 
is lacking in our faith, 1 Thess. iii. 10. A 
Christian must never be so old as to be past 
bearing ; he brings forth fruit in his old age, 
Psal. xcii. 14. A heaven-born plant is ever 
growing : he never thinks he grows enough ; 
he is not content unless he adds every day one 
cubit to his spiritual stature. We must not be 
content just with so much grace as will keep 
life and soul together ; a drachm or two must 
not suffice, but we must be still increasing with 
the increase of God, Col. ii. 19. We had need 
renew our strength as the eagle, Isa. xl. 31. 
Our sins are renewed, our wants are renewed, 
our temptations are renewed, and shall not our 
strength be renewed 1 Oh, be not content 
Avith the first appearance of grace ! grace in 
its infancy and minority. You look for de- 
grees of glory, be you Christians of Degrees. 
Though a believer should be contented with a 
morsel in his estate, yet not with a morsel in 
religion. A Christian of the right breed la- 


bours still to excel himself, and come near unto 
that holiness in God, who is the original, the 
pattern, and antitype of all holiness. 




USE rv. 

Showing how a Christian may know whether he hath 
learned this divine lesson of Art. 

Thus having laid down these three Cau- 
tions, I proceed in the next place to a Use of 
Trial. 4. How may a Christian know that he 
hath learned this lesson of contentment? I 
shall lay down some characters by which you 
shall know it — 

1. A contented spirit is a silent spirit. He 
hath not one word to say against God. I was 
dumb, or silent, because thov, Lord, didst it, 
Psal. xxxix. 2. Contentment silenceth all dis- 
pute — He sitteth alone, and keepeth silence, 
Lam. iii. 28. There is a sinful silence, when 
God is dishonoured, his truth wounded, and 
men hold their peace : this silence is a loud 
sin; and there is a holy silence, when the 
soul sits down quiet and content with its con- 
dition. When Samuel tells Eli that heavy 


message from God, that he would judge his 
house, and that the iniquity of his family should 
not be purged away with sacrifice for ever, 
1 Sam. iii. 13, doth Eli murmur or dispute ? 
No ; he hath not one word to say against God 
— It is the Lord, let him do what seemeth 
him good, verse 18. A discontented spirit 
saith, as Pharaoh — '* Who is the Lord ?" Why- 
should I suffer all this ? Why should I be 
brought into this low condition? Who is 
the Lord ? But a gracious heart saith as Eli 
— " It is the Lord ; let him do what he will 
with me." When Nadab and Abihu, the sons 
of Aaron, had offered up strange fire, and fire 
went from the Lord and devoured them. Lev. 
X. 1 ; is Aaron now in a passion of discontent ? 
No ; Aaron held his peace, verse 3. A con- 
tented spirit is never angry, unless with him- 
self, for having hard thoughts of God. When 
Jonah said, / do well to he angry : this was not 
a contented spirit, it did not become a prophet. 
2. A contented spirit is a cheerful spirit. 
Contentment is something more than patience ; 
for patience denotes only submission, content- 
ment denotes cheerfulness. A contented Chris- 


tian is more than passive ; he doth not only 
bear the cross, but take up the cross, Matt. xvi. 
24. He looks upon God as a wise God ; and, 
whatever he doth, it is in order to a cure; 
hence the contented Christian is cheerful ; and, 
with the apostle, takes pleasure in infirmities, 
distresses, SjX. 2 Cor. xii. 10. He doth not only 
submit to God's dealings, but rejoice in them ; 
he doth not only say — " Just is the Lord in all 
that is befallen me ;" but " Good is the Lord." 
This is to be contented. A sullen melancholy 
is hateful. It is said, God loves a cheerful 
giver, 2 Cor. ix. 7, and God loves a cheerful 
liver. We are bid, in Scripture, not to be care- 
ful ; but we are nowhere bid not to be cheer- 
ful. He that is contented with his condition, 
doth not abate of his spiritual joy ; and, indeed, 
he hath that within him which is the ground of 
cheerfulness ; he carries a pardon sealed in his 
heart. Matt. ix. 2. 

3. A contented spirit is a thankful spirit. 
Job i. 21. This is a degree above the other 
— In every thing giving thanks, 1 Thes. ii. 5. 
A gracious heart spies mercy in every condi- 
tion, therefore hath his heart screwed up to 


thankfulness : others will bless God for pros- 
perity, he blesseth him for affliction. Thus he 
reasons with himself — " Am I in want ? God 
sees it better for me to want, than to abound. 
God is now dieting of me, he sees it better for 
my spiritual health sometimes to be kept fast- 
ing :" therefore he doth not only submit, but is 
thankful. Discontent is ever complaining of 
his condition ; the contented spirit is ever gi™g 
thanks. Oh, what height of grace is this ! A 
contented heart is a temple, where the praises 
of God are sung forth ; not a sepulchre, wherein 
they are buried. A contented Christian, in the 
greatest straits, hath his heart enlarged, and di- 
lated in thankfulness. He oft contemplates 
God's love in the dispensations of his provi- 
dence, and in the displays of his grace towards 
him ; he sees that he is a monument of mercy, 
therefore desires to be a pattern of praise. 
There is always gratulatory music in a content- 
ed soul : the Spirit of grace works in the heart 
like new wine; which, under the heaviest 
pressures of sorrow, will have a vent open for 
thankfulness. This is to be content. 

4. He that is content, no condition comes 


amiss to him ; so it is in the text — in whatsoever 
state I anij ^c. A contented Christian can 
turn himself to any thing, either want, or 
abound. The people of Israel knew neither 
how to abound, nor yet how to want ; when 
they were in want, they murmurecV— Ca?i God 
])repare a table in the wilderness ? Psal. Ixxviii, 
19. And when they eat and were filled, then 
they lifted up the heel. Paul knew how to 
manage every condition : he could be either a 
note higher, or lower ; and in this sense, he 
could be any thing or he could be nothing ; he 
could do any thing that God would have him. 
If he were in prosperity, he knew how to be 
thankful ; if in adversity, he knew how to be 
patient ; he was neither lifted up with the one, 
nor cast down with the other. He could carry 
a greater sail or lesser : thus a contented Chris- 
tian knows how to turn himself to any condi- 
tion. We have those who can be contented in 
some conditions, but not in every condition : 
they can be content in a wealthy estate, when 
they have the streams of milk and honey; 
while God's candle shines upon their head, now 
they are content ; but if the wind turn, and be 


against them, then they are discontented. 
While they have a silver crutch to lean upon, 
they are contented; but if God breaks this 
crutch, then they are discontented : but Paul 
had learned, in every state, to carry himself 
with equanimity of mind. Others could be 
content with their affliction, so God would give 
them leave to pick and choose. They could 
be content to bear such a cross ; they could 
better endure sickness than poverty ; or bear 
loss of estate, than loss of children : if they 
might have such a man's cross, they could be 
content ; any condition but the present. This 
is not to be content. A contented Christian 
does not go to choose his cross, but leaves God 
to choose for him ; he is content, both for the 
kind and for the duration. A contented spirit 
saith — " Let God apply what medicine he 
pleaseth, and let it lie on as long as it will ; I 
know, when it hath done its cure, and eaten the 
venom of sin out of my heart, God will take it 
off again." In a word, a contented Christian, 
being sweetly captivated under the authority 
of God's word, desires to be wholly at God's 
disposal, and is \villing to live in that sphere 


and climate where God has set him ; and, if at 
any time he hath been an instrument of doing 
noble and brave service to the public, he knows 
he is but a rational tool, a servant to authority, 
and is content to return to his former private 
condition of life. Cincinnatus, after he had 
done worthily, and purchased to himself great 
fame in his dictatorship, did, notwithstanding, 
afterwards voluntarily return to till and manure 
his four acres of ground. Thus should it 
be with Christians, professing godliness with 
contentment. Having served Mars, not da- 
ring to offend Jupiter; lest otherwise they 
discover only to the world a brutish valour ; 
being so untamed and headstrong, that when 
they have conquered others, yet they are not 
able to rule their own spirits. 

5. He that is contented with his condition, 
to rid himself out of trouble, will not run him- 
self into sin. I deny not but a Christian may 
lawfully seek to change his condition : so far 
as God's providence doth go before, he may 
follow ; but when men will not follow provi- 
dence, but run before it, as he said — This evil 
is of the Lord, why should I wait any longer ? 


2 Kings vi. 33. If God doth not open the door 
by his providence, they will break it open, and 
wind themselves out of affliction by sin, bringing 
their souls into trouble by bringing their estates 
out of trouble : this is far from holy content- 
ment ; this is unbelief broken out into rebellion. 
A contented Christian is walling to wait God's 
leisure, and will not stir till God opens a door. 
As Paul said in another case — They have beaten 
us openly uncondemned, being Romans, and 
have cast us into prison; and now do they 
thrust us out privily? J\^ay, verily, but let 
them come themselves, and fetch us out, Acts 
xvi. 37. So, with reverence, saith the con- 
tented Christian — " God hath cast me into this 
condition ; and, though it be sad and trouble- 
some, yet I will not stir till God, by a clear 
providence, fetch me out." Thus those brave- 
spirited Christians, Heb. xi. 35, accepted not 
deliverance ; that is, upon base, dishonourable 
terms. They would rather stay in prison, than 
purchase their liberty by carnal compliance. Es- 
tins observes concerning them. They might not 
only have had their enlargement, but been raised 
to honour, and put into offices of trust ; yet the 


honour of religion was dearer to them than 
either liberty or honour. A contented Chris- 
tian will not remove, till, as the Israelites, he 
see a 'pillar of cloud and fire going before him 
— It is good that a man should both hope, and 
quietly wait for the salvation of the Lord, Lam. 
iii. 2Q. It is good to stay God's leisure ; and 
not to extricate ourselves out of trouble, till we 
see the Star of God's providence pointing out a 
way to us. 




Containing a Christiaa Directory, or Rules about 

I PROCEED now to a Use of Direction, to show 
Christians how they may attain to this Divine 
Art of Contentment. Certainly it is feasible, 
others of God's saints have reached to it. St. 
Paul here had it ; and what do we think of 
those we read of in the httle book of martyrs, 
Heb xi.jwho had trials of cruel mockings and 
scourgings, they wandered about in deserts and 
caves, clothed with sheep-skins and with goat- 
skins, being destitute, afflicted and tormented, 
yet they were contented ! So that it is possi- 
ble for us to possess it ! And here I shall 
lay down some Rules for Holy Content- 



Advancement of Faith is necessary. 

All our disquietnesses do issue immediately 
from unbelief. It is this that raiseth the 
storm of discontent in the heart. Oh, set 
faith at work ! It is the property of faith to 
silence our doubtings, to scatter our fears, to 
still the heart when the passions are up. Faith 
works the heart to a sweet serene composure ; 
it is not having food and raiment, but having 
faith, which will make us content. Faith chides 
down passion ; w^hen Reason begins to swim, 
let Faith sw^im. 

Quest. How doth faith work content- 

Answ. 1. Faith shows the soul, that what- 
ever its trials are, yet it is from the hand of a 
kind Father: it is indeed a bitter cup; but 
shall I not drink the cup which my Father hath 
given me to dnnk 1 John xviii. 11. It is love 
to my soul ; God corrects with the same love 


that he crowns me. God is now training me 
up for heaven ; he carves me, to make me a 
poKshed pillar fit to stand in the heavenly man- 
sion. These sufferings bring forth patience, 
humility, even the peaceable fruits of right- 
eousness, Heb xii. 11. And if God can bring 
such sweet fruit out of a sour stock, let Him 
graft me where he please. Thus faith brings 
the heart to holy contentment. 

2. Faith sucks the honey of contentment 
out of the hive of the Promise. Christ is the 
Vine, the promises are the clusters of grapes 
that grow upon this Vine ; and Faith presseth 
the sweet vine of contentment out of these 
spiritual clusters of the promises. I will show 
you but one cluster — The Lord will give grace 
and glory, and no good thing will he withhold 
fiom them that walk uprightly, Psal. Ixxxiv. 
11 ; here is enough for faith to live upon. The 
Promise is the flower out of which Faith distils 
the spirits and quintessence of divine content- 
ment. In a word. Faith carries up the soul, 
and makes it aspire after more noble and gen- 
erous delights than earth affords, and to live in 
the world above the world. Would you 


lead contented lives, live up to the height of 
your faith. 


Breathe after Assurance. 

Oh, let us get the interest cleared between 
God and our own souls ! Interest is a word 
much in use ; a pleasing word : interest in 
great friends, interest-money. Oh, if there be 
an interest worth looking after, it is an interest 
between God and the soul. Labour to say 
with Thomas, my Lord mid my God. To be 
without money and without friends, and with- 
out God too, Eph. ii. 12, is sad; but he 
whose faith doth flourish into assurance, that 
can say, with St. Paul, / know in whom I 
have believed J 2 Tim. i. 12; — be assured that 
man hath enough to give his heart content- 
ment. When a man's debts are paid, and he 
can go abroad without fear of arresting, what 
contentment is this ! Oh, let your title be 


cleared ! if God be ours, whatever we want in 
the creature is infinitely made up in him. Do 
I want bread ? I have Christ, the Bread of 
Life. Am I under defilement ? His blood is 
like the trees of the sanctuary ; not only for 
meat, but medicine, Ezek. xlvii. 12. If any 
thing in the world is worth labouring for, it is 
to get sound evidences that God is ours. If 
this be once cleared, what can come amiss ? 
No matter what storms I meet with, so that I 
know where to put in for harbour. He that 
hath God to be his God, is so well contented 
with his condition, that he doth not much 
care whether he hath any thing else. To rest 
in a condition where a Christian cannot say 
God is his God, is a matter oifear : and if he 
can say so truly, and yet is not contented, is 
matter of shame. David encouraged himself in 
the Lord his God, although it was sad with 
him, 1 Sam. xxx. 62. Ziklag was burnt, his 
wives taken captive, he lost all, and had like 
to have lost his soldiers' hearts too — for they 
spake of stoning him — yet he had the ground 
of contentment within him, viz. an interest in 
God ; and this was a pillar of supportment to 


his spirit. He that knows God is his, and all 
that is in God is for his good ; if this doth not 
satisfy, I know nothing w^ill. 



Pray for a humble Spirit. 

The humble man is the contented man : if 
his estate be low, his heart is lower than his 
estate ; therefore he is contented. If his es- 
teem is the world below, he that is little in his 
own eyes will not be much troubled to be little 
in the eyes of others. He hath a meaner opin- 
ion of himself, than others can have of him. 
The humble man studies his own un worthiness ; 
he looks upon himself as less than the least of 
God's mercies, Gen. xxxii. 10, and then a little 
will content him. He cries out with Paul, 
that he is the chief of sinners, 1 Tim. i. 15, 
therefore doth not murmur, but admire: he 
doth not say his comforts are small, but his 
sins are great. He thinks it a mercy he is out 


of hell ; therefore is contented. He doth not 
go to carve out a more happy condition to 
himself ; he knows the worst piece God cuts 
him is better than he deserves. A proud man 
is never contented ; he is one that hath a high 
opinion of himself; therefore, imder small 
blessings is disdainful, under small crosses im- 
patient. The humble spirit is the contented 
spirit ; if his cross be hght, he reckons it in the 
inventory of his mercies ; if it be hea-vy, yet 
takes it upon his knees, knowing that when 
his estate is bad, it is to make him the better. 
Where you lay humility for the foundation, 
contentment will be the superstructure, and 
Christ the topstone. 



Keep a clear Conscience. 1 Tim. iii. 9. 

Contentment is the manna that is laid up 
in the ark of a good conscience. Oh, take 
heed of indulging in any sin ! It is as natural 
' 17* 


for guilt to "breed disquietude, as for the earth 
to breed worms. Sin lies like Jonah in the 
ship, it raises a tempest. If dust or motes 
be gotten into the eye, they make the eye 
water, and cause a soreness in it ; if the eye 
be clear, then it is free from that soreness. If 
sin be gotten into the conscience, which is as 
the eye of the soul, then grief and disquiet breed 
there : but keep the eye of conscience clear, 
and all is well. What Solomon saith of a 
good stomach, I may say of a good conscience ; 
Prov. xxvii. 7 : To the hungry soul every hit- 
ter thing is sweet ; so to a good conscience 
every bitter thing is sweet ; it can j)ick con- 
tentment out of the Cross. A good conscience 
turns the waters of Marah into wine. Would 
you have a quiet heart 1 Get a smiling con- 
science. I wonder not to hear Paul say, he 
was in every state content ; when he could 
make that triumph — / have lived in all good 
conscience unto this day, Acts xxiii. 1. When 
once a man's reckonings are clear, it must 
needs let in abundance of contentment into the 
heart. A good conscience can suck content- 
ment out of the bitterest drug : under slanders 


—This is our rejoicing, the testimony of our 
conscience, 2 Cor. i. 12. In case of imprison- 
ment, Paul had his prison-songs, and could play 
the sweet lesson of contentment when his feet 
■were in the stocks, Acts, xvi. 24. Augustine 
calls it the paradise of a good conscience ; and, 
if it be so, then in prison we may be in para- 
dise. When the times are troublesome, a good 
conscience makes a calm : if conscience be 
clear, what though the days be cloudy 1 Is it 
not a contentment to have a friend always at 
hand to speak a good w^ord for us ? Such a 
friend is a clear conscience. A good con- 
science, is like David's harp, it drives away 
the evil spirit of discontent. When thoughts 
begin to arise, and the heart is disquieted, con- 
science saith to a man, as the king did to Ne- 
hemiah : Why is thy countenance sad? Neh. 
ii. 2. So saith conscience, " Hast not thou the 
seed of God in thee ? Art thou not an heir of 
the Promise ? Hast not thou a treasure that 
thou canst never be plundered of? Why is 
thy countenance sad ?" Oh, keep conscience 
clear, and you shall never want contentment ! 
For a man to keep the pipes of his body, the 


veins and arteries, free from colds and obstruc- 
tions, is the best way to maintain health ; so 
to keep conscience clear, and to preserve it 
from the obstructions of guilt, is the best way to 
maintain contentment. First, conscience is 
pure, and then peaceable, gentle and easy to 
be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, 
without partiality and without hypocrisy. James 
iii. 7. 


RULE v. 

Learn to deny yourselves. 

Look well to your affections, bridle them 
in. Do two things — 

!1. Mortify your desires. 
2. Moderate your delights. 

1. Mortify your desires. We must not be 
of the Dragon's temper, who, they say, is so 
thirsty, that no water will quench his thirst — 
Mortify^ therefore, your inordinate affection, 
Col. iii. 5. In the Greek, it is, your evil affec- 


Hon ; to show that our desires, when they are 
inordinate, are evil. Crucify your desires, be 
as dead men : a dead man hath no appetite. 

Quest. How should a Christian martyr 
his desires ? 

Answ. 1. Get a right judgment of the 
things here below ; they are mean, beggarly 
things — Wilt thou set thine eyes upon that which 
is not, for riches make themselves wings and fly 
away ? Prov. xxiii. 5. Thy appetite must be 
guided by reason ; the affections are the feet of 
the soul : therefore they must follow the judg- 
ment, not lead it. 

2. Often seriously meditate of mortality. 
Death will soon crop those flowers which we 
delight in, and pull down the fabric of those 
bodies which we so much delight to garnish 
and beautify. Think, when you are locking 
up your money in your chest, you shall shortly 
be screwed up in your coflan. 

Moderate your delights. Set not your hearts 
too much upon any creature, Psal. Ixix. 20. 
What we over-love, we shall over-grieve. 
Rachel set her heart too much upon her chil- 
dren ; and, when she had lost them, she lost 


herself too : such a vein of grief was opened 
as could not be stanched — She refused to he 
comforted. Here was discontent. When we 
let any creature lie too near our heart, when 
God pulls away that comfort, a piece of our 
heart is rent away with it. Too much fondness 
ends in frowardness. Those that would be 
content in the want of mercy, must be moderate 
in their enjoyment. Jonathan dipped the rod 
in honey, he did not trust in it. Let us take 
heed of ingulfing ourselves in pleasure : bet- 
ter have a spare diet, than, by having too much 
to be surfeited. 


Pray for a Foretaste of Heaven in your Heart. 

Spiritual things satisfy : the more of hea- 
ven is in us, the less earth will content. He 
that hath once tasted the love of God, his thirst 
is much quenched towards sublunary things, 
the joys of God's Spirit are heart-filling and 


heart-cheering joys ; he that hath these, hath 
heaven begun in him, Rom. xiv. 17 ; and shall 
we not be content to be in heaven ? — Seek the 
things that are above, Col. iii. 1 ; fly aloft in 
your affections, thirst after the graces and com- 
forts of the Spirit. The eagle, that flies above 
in the air, fears not the stinging of the serpent ; 
the serpent creeps on his belly, and stings only 
such creatures as go upon the earth. 

Discontent is a serpent that stings only an 
earthly heart. A heavenly soul, that with the 
eagle flies aloft, finds abundantly enough in 
God to give contentment, and is not stung with 
the cares and disquiets of the world. 


Look not so much on the dark side of your Condition 
as on the light. 

God doth chequer his providences, white 
and black, as the pillar of cloud had its light 
side and dark. Look on the light side of thy 


estate : who looks on the back side of a land- 
scape ? Suppose thou art cast in a law-suit, 
there is the dark side ; yet thou hast some land 
left, there is the light side. Thou hast sickness 
in thy body, there is the dark side ; but grace 
in thy soul, there is the hght side. Thou hast 
a child taken away, there is the dark side ; thy 
husband lives, there is the light side. God's 
providences in this life are various, represented 
by those speckled horses among the myrtle- 
trees, which were the red and white, Zach. 
i. 8. Mercies and afflictions are interwoven : 
God doth speckle his work. " Oh !" saith one, 
"I want such a comfort;" but weigh all thy 
mercies in the balance, and that will make thee 
content. If a man did w^ant a finger, would he 
be so discontented for the loss of that, as not to 
be thankful for all the other parts and joints of 
the body ? Look on the light side of your con- 
dition, and then all your discontents will easily 
disband : do not pore upon your losses, but 
ponder upon your mercies. What ! w^ouldst 
thou have no cross at all ? Why should one 
man think to have all good things, when him- 
self is good but in part ? Canst thou expect 


to have no evil about thee while thou hast so 
much evil in thee ? If thou art not fully sanc- 
tified in this life ; thou wilt not be fully satis- 
fied ? Never look for perfection of contentment 
till there be perfection of grace. 


Consider in what a posture we stand here in the World. 

1. We are in a military condition, we are 
soldiers, 2 Tim. ii. 3 ; now a soldier endures 
hardships. What, though he hath not his 
stately house, his rich furniture, his soft bed, 
his full table, yet he must not complain ; he 
can lie on straw as well as on down ; he minds 
not his lodging : but his thoughts run upon 
dividing the spoil, and the garland of honour 
that shall be set upon his head ; and, for the 
hope of this, is content to run any hazard, en- 
dure any hardship. Were it not absurd to hear 
him complain that he wants such provision, 
and is fain to lie out in the fields ? A Chris- 


tian is a military person ; he fights the Lord's 
battles, he is Christ's ensign-bearer. Now, 
what though he endures hard fare, and the 
bullets fly about ? He fights for an incorrupt- 
ible crown, and therefore should be content. 

2. We are pilgrims and travellers. A man 
that is in a strange country is contented with 
any diet or usage ; he is glad of any thing ; 
though he hath not that respect or attendance 
that he looks for at home, nor is capable of the 
privileges and immunities of that place, he is 
content ; he knows, when he comes into his 
own country, he hath lands to inherit, and 
there he shall have honour and respect. So it 
is with a child of God ; he is in a pilgrim con- 
dition — " I am a stranger with thee, and a so- 
journer, as all my fathers were," Psal. xxxix. 
12. Therefore, let a Christian be content : he 
is in the world, but not of the world ; he is 
born of God, and is a citizen of the new Jeru- 
salem, Heb. xii. 10 ; therefore, though " he 
hunger and thirst, and have no certain dwell- 
ing place," 1 Cor. iv. 11, yet he must be con- 
tent ; it will be better when he comes into his 
own country. 


3. We are beggars ; we beg at heaven's 
gate — Give us this day our daily hread. We 
live upon God's alms ; therefore must be con- 
tent with any thing. A beggar must not pick 
and choose, he is contented w^ith the refuse. 
Oh ! why dost thou murmur that art a beggar, 
and art fed out of the alms-basket of God's 
providence 7 


Let not your Hopes depend upon outward Things. 

Lean not upon sandy pillars. We oft 
build our comforts upon such a friend or estate, 
and when that prop is removed, all our joy is 
gone, and our hearts begin either to fail or 
fret. A lame man leans on his crutches ; and, 
if they break, he is undone. Let not thy con- 
tentment go upon crutches, which may soon 
fail ; the ground of contentment must be with- 
in thyself. The word, in the Greek, which is 
used for contentment, signifies self-sufficiency. 


A Christian hath that from within that is able 
to support him, such strength of faith and good 
hope through grace, as bears up his heart in the 
deficiency of all outward comforts. The phi- 
losophers of old, when their estates were gone, 
yet could take contentment in the goods of the 
mind, their learning and virtue ; and shall not 
a believer much more in the grace of the 
Spirit, that rich enamel and embroidery of the 
soul ? Say, with thyself — " If friends leave 
me, if riches take wings, yet I have that within 
which comforts me, viz. a heavenly treasure ; 
when the blossoms of my estate are blown off, 
still there is the sap of contentment in the root 
of my heart ; I have still an interest in God, 
and that interest cannot be broken off." Oh ! 
never place your felicity in these dull and beg- 
garly things here below. 



Let us often compare our Condition. 

Quest. How shall I compare myself ? 
Ans. Make this five-fold comparison. 


1. Let US compare our condition and our 
desert too^ether ; if we have not what we de- 
sire, we have more than we deserve. For our 
mercies, we have deserved less ; for our afflic- 
tions, we have deserved more. 

First, In regard to our mercies, we have 
deserved less. What can we deserve ? — Can 
man he profitable to the Almighty ? We live 
upon free grace. Alexander gave a great gift 
to one of his subjects. The man, being much 
taken with it — " This," saith he, " is more than 
I am worthy of !" — " I do not give thee this," 
saith the king, " because thou art worthy of it, 
but I give a gift like Alexander." Whatever 
we have is not merit, but bounty ; the least 
bit of bread is more than God owes us ; we 
can bring fagots to our own burning, but not 
one flower to the garland of our salvation : he 
that hath the least mercy will die in God's debt. 

Secondly, In regard of our afflictions, we 
have deserved more. Thou hast punished us 
less than our iniquities deserve, Ezra ix. 13. Is 
our condition sad ? We have deserved it 
should it be worse. Hath God taken away our 
estate from us ? He might have taken away 


Christ from us. Hath he thrown us into pri- 
son ? He might have thrown us into hell. 
He can destroy us as easy as to save us. This 
should make us contented. 

2. Let us compare our condition with 
others, and this will make us content. We 
look at them who are above us ; let us look at 
them who are below us. We see one in his 
silks, another in his sackcloth ; one hath the 
waters of a full cup wrung out to him, another 
is mingling his drink with tears. How many 
pale faces do we behold, whom not sickness, 
but want, hath brought into a consumption ! 
Think of this, and be content. It is worse 
with them, who perhaps deserve better than 
we, and are higher in God's favour. Am I in 
prison ? Was not Daniel in a worse place, 
viz. the lion's den ? Do I live in a mean cot- 
tage ? Look on them who are banished from 
their houses. We read of the primitive saints, 
that they wandered up and doimi in sheepskins 
and goat-skins, of whom the ivorld was not 
ivorthy, Heb. xi. 37. Hast thou a gentle fit of 
an ague ? Look on them who are tormented 
with the stone and gout, &c. Others of God's 


children have had greater afflictions, and have 
borne them better than we. Daniel fed upon 
pulse, and drank water, yet was fairer than 
they who ate of the king's portion, Dan. i. 15. 
Some Christians, who have been in a lower 
condition, that have fed upon pulse and water, 
have looked better, viz. been more patient 
and contented, than we who enjoy abundance 
Do others rejoice in affliction, and do we re- 
pine ? Can they take up their cross, and walk 
cheerfully under it ? And do we, under a hght- 
er cross, murmur ? 

3. Let us compare our condition with 
Christ's upon earth. What a poor, mean con- 
dition, w^as he pleased to be in for us ? He 
was contented with any thing. For ye know 
the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though 
he was rich, yet, for your sakes, he became poor, 
2 Cor. viii. 9. He could have brought down 
a house from heaven with him, or challenged 
the high places of the earth : but he was con- 
tented to be in the wine-press, that we might 
not lay under the weight of Almighty wrath ; 
and to Hve poor, that we might die rich. The 
manger was his cradle, the cobwebs his canopy ; 


he, who is now preparing mansions for us in 
heaven, had none for himself on earth, he had 
nowhere to lay his head. Christ came in the 
form of a beggar ; who, heing in the form of 
God, took upon him the form of a servant, Phil, 
ii. 7. We read not of any sums of money he 
had ; when he wanted money, he was fain to 
work a miracle for it, Matt. xvii. 27. Jesus 
Christ was in a low condition ; he was never 
high, but when he was lifted up upon the cross, 
and that was his humility ; he was content to 
live poor, and die despised. Oh, compare your 
condition with Christ's ! 

4. Let us compare our condition with what 
it w^as once, and this will make us content. 

First, Let us compare our spiritual estate 
with what it was once. What were we when 
we lay in our blood ? We were heirs appar- 
ent to hell, having no right to pluck one leaf 
from the Tree of the Promises ; it was a Christ- 
less and hopeless condition, Eph. ii. 12. But 
now hath God delivered us from the curse and 
condemnation of his righteous Law : he hath 
taken you out of the wild olive of nature, and 
engrafted you into Christ, making you living 


branches of that living Vine ; he hath not only- 
caused the light to shine upon you, but into 
you, 2 Cor. iv. 6, and hath interested you in 
all the privileges of sonship. Is not this 
enough to make the soul content ? 

Secondly, Let us compare our temporal es- 
tate with what it was once. Alas ! we had 
nothing when we stepped out of the womb — 
For we brought nothing with v^ into the world, 
1 Tim. vi. 7. If we have not that whicli we 
desire, we have more than we did bring with 
us; we brought nothing with us hut sin. 
Other creatures bring something with them 
into the world ; the lamb brings wool, the silk- 
worm silk, &c., but we brought nothing with us. 
What if our condition at present be low ? It is 
better than it was once ; therefore, having food 
and raiment, let us be content. Whatever we 
have, God in his providence hath provided it 
for us ; and, if we lose all, yet we have as much 
as we brought with us. This was that which 
made Job content — JYaked came I out of my 
mother'' s womb, Job i. 21 ; as if he had said — 
" Though God hath taken away all from me, 
yet why should I murmur 1 I am as rich now 


as I was when I came into the world ; I have 
as much left as I brought with me : naked came 
I hither and naked shall I return ; therefore, 
blessed be the name of the Lord." 

6. Let us compare our condition with what 
it shall be shortly. There is a time shortly- 
coming, when, if we had all the riches of India, 
they would do us no good : we must die, and 
can c^arry nothing with us. So saith the apos- 
tle — " It is certain we can carry nothing out of 
the world,^^ 1 Tim. vi. 7 ; therefore it follows — 
" Having food and raiment, let us he thereidth 
content,^^ verse 8. Open the rich man's grave, 
and see what is there ; you may find the miser's 
bones, but not his riches : were we to live for 
ever here, or could we carry our riches into 
another world, then indeed we might be discon- 
tented, when we look upon our empty bags. 
But it is not so : God may presently seal a war- 
rant for death to apprehend us ; and, when we 
die, we cannot carry our estate with us. Hon- 
our and riches descend not into the grave, why 
then are we troubled at our outward condition ? 
"Why do we disguise ourselves with discontent ? 
Oh ! lay up a stock of grace, be rich in faith 


and good works, then riches will follow us, 
Rev. xiv. 13. No other coin but grace will 
pass current in heaven ; silver and gold will 
not go there. Labour to be rich towards God ; 
and, as for other things, be not solicitous — We 
shall carry nothing with us, Luke xii. 21. 


Do not brin^ )''our condition to your mind, but bring 
your mind to your condition. 

The way for a Christian to be contented is, 
not by raising his estate higher, but by bringing 
his spirit lower ; not by making his barns wi- 
der, but his heart narrower. One man, a whole 
lordship or manor will not content him ; ano- 
ther is satisfied with a few acres of land. What 
is the difference ? The one studies to satisfy 
curiosity, the other necessity ; the one thinks 
what he may have, the other thinks what he 
may spare. 




Study the Vanity of the Creature. 

It matters not whether we have more or 
less of these things ; they have vanity written 
upon the frontispiece of them all. The world 
is like a shadow that declineth : it is delightful, 
but deceitful ; it promiseth us more than it 

Pleasure while we pursue it flies, 
And fancied bliss deludes our eyes. 

And it fails us when we have most need of it. 
All the world rings changes, and is constant 
only in its disappointments : what then, if we 
have less of that which is at best but voluble 
and fluid ? The world is as full of mutation 
as motion ; and, what if God cuts us short in 
sublunaries ? The more a man hath to do with 
the world, the more he hath to do with vanity. 
The world may be compared to ice, which is 
smooth, but slippery ; or to the Egyptian tem- 


pies, without very beautiful and sumptuous ; 
but within, nothing to be seen but the image of 
an ape. Every creature saith, concerning satis- 
faction, it is not in me. The world is not a fill- 
ing, but a flying comfort. It is like a game at 
tennis : Providence bandies her golden balls, 
first to one and then to another. Why are we 
discontented at the loss of these things, but be- 
cause we expect that from them which is not, 
and refuse that in them which we ought not 1 
Jonah was exceeding glad of the gourd, Jon. 
iv. 6. What a vanity was it ? Is it much to 
see a withered gourd smitten 1 or, to see the 
moon dressing itself in a new shape and 
figure 1 



Get Fancy regulated. 

It is the fancy which raiseth the price of 
things above their real worth. What is the 
reason one tulip is worth five pounds, another 


perhaps, not worth one shilling 1 Fancy rais- 
eth the price ; the difference is rather imaginary 
tban real : so, why it should be better to have 
thousands than hundreds is because men fancy 
it so. If we could fancy a lower condition bet- 
ter, as having less care in it, and less account, 
it would be far more elicrible. The water that 
springs out of the rock, drinks as sweet as if it 
came out of a golden chalice ; things are as 
we fancy them. Ever since the Fall, the fancy 
is distempered — God saw that the imagination 
of the thwght.^ of the heart v:ere ei.'il, Gen. vi. 5. 
Fancy looks through wrong spectacles ; pray 
that God will sanctify your fancy ; a lower 
condition would content, if the mind and fancy 
were set right. Diogenes preferred his cynical 
life before Alexander's royalty ; he fancied his 
little cloister best Fabricius, a poor man, yet 
despised the gold of King Pyrrhus. 

Could we cure a distempered fancy, we 
might soon conquer a discontented heart. 




Consider how little will suffice Nature. 

The body is but a small continent, and is 
easily recruited. Christ hath taught us to pray 
for our daily bread. Nature is content with a 
little. " Not to thirst, nor to starve, is enough," 
saith Gregory Nazianzen. — " Meat and drink 
are a Christian's riches," saith St. Hierom. 
And the Apostle saith — " Having food and 
raiment, let us be content.^' 

The stomach is sooner filled than the eye. 
How quickly would a man be content, if he 
would study rather to satisfy his hunger than 
his humour. 


Consider that the present condition is best for us, 
because it is the appointment of God. 

Flesh and blood is not a competent judge. 
Surfeited stomachs are for banqueting stuff j 


but a man, that regards his health, is rather for 
sohd food. Vain men fancy such a condition 
best, and would flourish in their bravery ; 
whereas a wise Christian hath his will melted 
into God's will, and thinks it best to be at his 
disposal. God is wise : he knows whether we 
need food or physic ; and, if we could acquiesce 
in Providence, the quarrel would soon be at an 
end. Oh, what a strange creature would man 
be, if he were what he could wish himself! 
Be content to be at God's allowance. God 
knows which is the fittest pasture to put his 
sheep in : sometimes a more barren ground 
doth well ; whereas rank pasture may rot. Do 
I meet with such a cross? God shows me 
what the world is : he hath no better way to 
wean me, than by putting me to a step-mother. 
Doth God stint me in my allowance ? He is 
now dieting me. Do I meet with losses ? It 
is that God may keep me from being lost. 
Every cross wind shall, at last, blow me to the 
right port. Did we believe that condition best 
which God doth parcel out to us, we should 
cheerfully submit, and say — The lines are fallen 
in pleasant places. 



[ Do not too much indulge the Flesh. 

We are commanded to make no pro\ision 
for the flesh to fulfil the lust thereof The 
Flesh is a worse enemy than the Devil ; it is a 
bosom traitor : an enemy within is worse. If 
there were no Devil to tempt, the flesh would 
be another Eve to tempt to the forbidden fruit. 
Oh, take heed of giving way to it ! Whence 
is all our discontent, but from the fleshly part ? 
The flesh puts us upon the immoderate pursuit 
of the world ; it consults for ease and plenty ; 
and, if it be not satisfied, then discontents be- 
gin to arise. Oh, let it not have the reins ! 
Martyr the flesh. In spiritual things, the flesh 
is a sluggard; in secular thinpjs, an horseleech, 
crying — ** Give, give." The flesh is an enemy 
to sufl^ering ; it will sooner make a man a 
courtier than a martyr. Oh, keep it under! 
Put its neck under Christ's yoke : stretch and 
nail it to his cross : never let a Christian look 
for contentment in his spirit, till he hath morti- 
fied the flesh. 





Meditate much on the Glory which shall be Revealed. 

There are great things laid up in heaven. 
Though it be sad for the present, yet let us be 
contented, for it will shortly be better ; it is but 
a little while, and we shall be with Christ, 
bathing our souls in the fountain of his love : 
we shall never complain of want or injuries 
any more ; our cross may be heavy, but one 
sight of Christ will make us forget all our for- 
mer sorrows. There are two things which 
should give contentment — 

1. That God will make us able to bear our 
troubles ; 1 Cor. x. 13. " God," saith Chrysos- 
tom, " seemeth with us like a lutanist, who will 
not let the strings of his lute be too slack, lest 
it spoil the music ; nor will he suffer them to 
be too hard stretched or screwed up, lest they 
break." So doth God deal with us, he will 
not let us have too much prosperity, lest this 
spoil the music of prayer and repentance ; nor 
yet too much adversity, lest the si^mt fail be- 


fore him, and the souls which he hath made, 
Isai. Ivii. 16. 

2. When we have suffered a while, 1 Pet. 
V. 1. we shall be perfected in glory ; the cross 
^hall be our ladder, by which we shall climb 
up to heaven. Be then content, and the scene 
will alter. God will ere long turn our water 
into wine : the hope of this is enough to drive 
away all distempers from the heart. Blessed 
be God, it will be better — We have no continu- 
ing city here, Heb. xiii. and xiv. ; therefore our 
afflictions cannot continue. A wise man looks 
still to the end — The end of the just man is 
peace, Psal. xxxvii. 37. Methinks the smooth- 
ness of the end should make amends for the 
ruggedness of the way. eternity ! eternity ! 
think often of the kingdom prepared. David 
w^as advanced from the sheep-fold to the throne. 
First, he held his shepherd's staff, and shortly 
after, the royal sceptre. God's people may be 
put to hard services here ; but God hath chosen 
them to be kings, to sit upon the throne with 
the Lord Jesus. This, beino; weighed in the 
balance of Faith, would be an excellent means 
to bring the heart to contentment. 




Be much in Prayer. 

The last rule for contentment is — Be much 
in Prayer. Beg of God, that he will work 
our hearts to this blessed frame. Is any m,an 
afflicted ? let him fray, Jam. v. 13. So, is 
any man discontented ? let him pray. Prayer 
gives vent. The opening of a vein lets out 
the bad blood : when the heart is filled with 
sorrow and disquiet, prayer gives ease to the 
mind. The key of prayer, oiled with tears, 
unlocks the heart of all its discontents. Prayer 
is an holy spell or charm, to drive away trouble ; 
prayer is the unbosoming of the soul, the un- 
loading of all our cares on God's breast; and 
this ushers in sweet contentment. When there 
is any burden upon our spirits, by opening our 
mind to a friend, we find our heart greatly 
eased and quieted. It is not our strong resolu- 
tions, but our strong requests, to God, which 
must give the heart ease in trouble. By prayer 
the strength of Christ is brought into the soul ; 


and where that is, a man is able to go through 
any condition. Paul could be in every state 
content : but, that you may not think he was able 
to do this of himself, he tells you, that though he 
could want and abound, and do all things, yet it 
was through Christ strengthening him., Phil. iv. 
13. It is the child that writes, but it is the scrive- 
ner guides his hand. St. Paul arrived at the hard- 
est duty in religion, viz. contentment ; but the 
Spirit was his 'pilot, and Christ his strength ; 
and this strength was ushered in by holy prayer. 
Prayer is a powerful orator. Prayer is an 
orator with God, and a preventative against 
sin. The best way is to pray down discontent. 
What Luther saith of concupiscence, I may say 
oi discontent ; prayer is a sacred leech, to suck 
the venom and swelhng of this passion. Prayer 
composeth the heart, and brings it into tune. 
Hath God deprived you of many comforts ? 
Bless God that he left you the spirit of prayer. 



Comfort to the contented Christian. 

The last use is of comfort, or an encou- 
raging word to the contented Christian. If 
there be an heaven upon earth, thou hast it. 
O Christian ! thou may est insult over thy 
troubles ; and, with the Leviathan, laugh at 
the shaking of the spear, Job, xli. 29. What 
shall I say ? Thou art a crown to thy profes- 
sion ; thou dost hold it out to all the world, 
that there is virtue enough in religion to give 
the soul contentment. Thou showest height 
of grace. When grace is crowning, it is not 
so much for us to be content ; but when grace 
is conflicting, and meets with crosses and losses, 
temptations and pains, now to be content — this 
is a glorious thing indeed ! 

To a contented Christian I shall say two 
things for a farewell — 

First, God is exceedingly taken with such 
a frame of heart. God saith of a contented 
Christian, as David once said of Goliah's sword 


— There is none like that ; give it me, 1 Sam. 
xxi. 9. If you would please God, and be men 
of his heart, be contented. It is said that Re- 
becca made Isaac savoury meat, such as her 
husband loved ; would you give to God that 
which he loves, bring him that of contentment. 
The musician hath many lessons to play, but 
he hath one above all the rest ; there are 
many lessons of holy music that delight God ; 
the lessons of repentance, humility and pa- 
tience. But this lesson of contentment is the 
sweetest lesson that a believer can play. But 
God hates a froward spirit. 

Secondly, the contented Christian shall be 
no loser. What lost Job by his patience ? 
God gave him three times as much as he had 
before. What lost Abraham by his content- 
ment ? He was content to leave his country 
at God's call ; the Lord makes a covenant 
with him, that he would be his God for ever, 
Gen. xvii. He changeth his name ; thou shalt 
no more be called Abram, but Abraham, the 
Father of many nations. God makes his seed 
as the stars of heaven ; nay, honours him with 
this title — The Father of the Faithful, Gen. 



xviii. 17. The Lord makes known his secrets 
to him — Shall I hide from Ahraham the thing 
that I will do 1 God settles a rich inheritance 
upon him ; that land which was a type of 
heaven, and afterwards translated him into the 
blessed Paradise. God will be sure to reward 
the contented Christian. As our Saviour said 
in another case to Nathaniel — Because I said I 
saw thee under the jig-tree, believest thou 7 
Thou shall see greater things than these, John, 
i. 50. So I say — Art thou contented, O Chris- 
tian ! with a little ? Thou shalt see greater 
things than these ; God will distill the sweet 
influences of his love into thy soul ; he will 
raise thee up friends : he will bless the oil in 
thy cruise ; and, when that is done, he will 
crown thee with an eternal enjoyment of him- 
self; he will give thee heaven, where thou 
shalt have as much contentment as thy soul can 
possibly thirst after. 

Lastly, For the comfort and encouragement 
of all true Christians, I would recommend the 
following useful and important instructions, on 
the great blessings and advantages derived from 
Christian communion and church fellowship. 


The highest and sweetest of all human fel- 
lowship, out of heaven, is the fellowship of a 
gospel church formed after the model of the 
Holy Scriptures : the ordinances of God's 
house, and the means of grace in general, are 
calculated to draw the hearts of a multitude to 
one centre ; where, being all attracted by one 
object, and all attentive to one subject, all in- 
formed from one fountain of light, all supplied 
from one fountain of mercy and grace, and all 
filled with delight from one fountain of ever- 
lasting and infinite love, their hearts and sen- 
timents coalesce at once, and they become, 
though many, as it were but one. On this ac- 
count, a name and a place in God's house is 
said to be better than the dearest and most 
honourable fruits of mere natural life, ' sons 
and daughters ;' because the enjoyments and 
true honours arising from fellowship with 
the people of God are superior to those which 
spring from any other branch of social life on 

If this be true, how highly unlovely is it 


for any Christian, who deserves that honour- 
able name, to make hght of that divinely con- 
stituted relation! The Scripture speaks of 
believers being added to the church daily, and 
explains this in another place, by the following 
unequivocal and expressive sentence : ' They 
first gave themselves to the Lord, and unto us 
by the will of God.' Their uniting with the 
church of Christ was not an act of their ow^n 
free choice, which they might perform if they 
pleased, or omit without any just blame ; but 
it is expressly declared to be by the will of God 
that they so gave themselves up to one another, 
having first, by Divine Grace, been enabled to 
give themselves up to the Lord. — Some be- 
lievers say, when asked why they live without 
the enjoyment of church fellowship, seeing 
they have a right thereto ; ' We belong to the 
church of Christ at large already, inasmuch as 
we are members of his body mystical, and are 
by Divine Grace vitally united to our Head.' 
So did those believers above mentioned ; for 
they could not have given themselves to the 
Lord, had they not received divine life from 
him- with whom is the fountain of life. Indeed, 


those who are not vitally united to Christ by a 
living and fruitful faith (which is the gift of 
God) have no right either to the honours or 
benefits of church fellowship. We have an 
awful proof of this truth in the case of Simon 
Magus, and in the divine and sudden vengeance 
w^hich overtook Ananias and Sapphira, in the 
very covert of their own hypocrisy. But, to 
answer the above objection, when a real be- 
liever makes use of it to excuse his neglect of 
church fellowship ; give me leave, my dear 
fellow Christian, whoever you are, to say, your 
reasoning on this point is just as good as if a 
nobleman's son, in disguise and from home, 
should say, ' I know I am a son and heir of 
such a noble family ; and therefore I neither 
wish to be so esteemed by others, nor to enjoy 
the honours and privileges of my father's house.' 
Wise men of every description praise consist- 
ency of character and conduct ; but where is 
the consistency of loving Christ and Christians, 
and yet not openly and fully professing to love 
either ? 

' Is it not consistent,' some may ask, ^ to 
continue under that profession in which we 
were brought up by our parents, or other 


friends, without inquiring very nicely into the 
merits of it ; especially seeing many good and 
worthy Christians in our day do the same, and 
are w^ell accounted of?' 

It may be consistent with the state of wilful 
darkness (which all men who hear and obey 
not the gospel are declared by the word of God 
to be in) to suspend inquiry into that true 
source of divine intelligence, the Sacred Scrip- 
tures, for fear of discovering unwelcome truth 
there ; but how it can be consistent with * old 
things being passed away, and all becoming 
new,' to look to old things for a light to walk 
in the Lord's new way by, it would require a 
considerable degree of invention to explain. 
My advice to inquiring Christians on this sub- 
ject, is, whether in the parlour, from the pulpit, 
or from the press ; ' Examine the new Testa- 
ment closely for yourselves : take your Lord's 
advice in this, as well as in all other things, 
relative to religion : call no man father ; for 
one is your Father, which is in heaven.' 

Error needs a great deal of defending, to 
keep it from sinking into oblivion ; a great deal 
of equivocation, to hide its certain and natural 
consequences from being detected by honest 


inquiry ; and a great deal of learning and 
rhetoric to plead its cause : — but, in order to 
embrace truth, we need only light to see it by, 
and an heart to love it. 

Has not he who is the Truth itself said, 
' By this shall all men know that ye are my 
disciples, if ye have love one to another ? And 
how can Christians better express their love to 
each other, or better manifest it to the sur- 
rounding world, than by living in a constant 
attention to all the endearing ties of church 
fellowship ; to renounce the world, and put on 
Christ ; to unite ourselves openly to them, 
whom we have good reason to esteem obedient 
followers of the Lamb of God ; to sit with them 
at the same table, and commemorate the dying 
love of Jesus as the one fountain of our spirit- 
ual life ; yea, to feed all at once by faith on 
his broken body, and view his precious blood 
as the rich wine that animates our immortal 
spirits ; to consider ourselves as redeemed by 
the same Almighty Friend, and to walk to- 
gether in communion of heart on our way to 
the same everlasting home, are surely uniting 
and endearing ordinances. As those who be- 


long to the same family can with propriety be 
more free one with another than such as are 
only on a visit ; so Christians united in church 
fellowship can, by virtue of their professional 
relation to each other, with far greater pro- 
priety exhort, rebuke, admonish, and even, by 
their animating mutual example, provoke one 
another to love and good works ; than they can 
obey those relative precepts, who, though they 
are brethren, have made no mutual profession 
oi their divine kindred to each other. *The 
righteous,' says the Psalmist, ' shall flourish 
like the palm-trees 5' and they are said to grow 
best when planted thick together. Heaven 
is all society, and all union ; and why should 
not the church on earth be as much like heaven 
as possible ? Yea, it is even said of the primi- 
tive church on earth, that * the whole multi- 
tude of the disciples were of one heart and of 
one soul.' 

As trees often transplanted, even if they 
live, grow little, and bear little fruit ; so, for 
the most part, rambling Christians, although 
really the children of God, are far from being 
equally useful or happy with those that belong 


to lively and well-ordered churches ; for they 
neither abide long enough under one ministry 
to imbibe the spirit of it, and form clear and 
connected ideas of doctrine : nor perceive the 
beauty of its influence on the practice and so- 
cial conduct of those who are instructed by it. 
And, even supposing such to have talents for 
usefulness to others, before those talents are 
ripened into just esteem among one people, 
the subject of them is transplanted into a distant 
and different soil, where he roust strike root 
into new connexions before be can either know 
or be known to any good purpose. 

Besides, a well ordered church affords a 
Christian such near views of the best examples 
for imitation, as casual society can seldom 
boast of: should -it be objected here, ' that 
there are instances of the nearest, most inti- 
mate, and frequent fellowship amongst some 
who belong not to any particular church ;' it 
could be easily proved, that church fellowship 
can be no bar to such intimacy, but is rather 
the nursery where such social plants thrive 
best ; and, being of course more looked after, 
bear the richest fruit. The force of example 


is far from being small even in spiritual things^ 
Imitation is an essential quality of human na- 
ture, whether considered in its depraved or 
renewed state. The apostle speaks of 'pro- 
voking one another to love and to good works ;' 
and again, it is said of Christ himself, that he 
has left us ' an example that we should follow 
his steps.' 

' Look and be like ;' might perhaps serve 
as a proverb to all ranks and descriptions of 
mankind. We sometimes even insensibly imi- 
tate that in others, by being much with them, 
which on reflection we disapprove. Hence, 
how striking the propriety, beauty and utility 
of that exhortation with promise, * Come out 
from among them, and be ye separate, saith 
the Lord ; touch not the unclean thing, and I 
will receive you, and I will be your father, 
and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith 
the Lord Almighty.' This last mentioned 
scripture naturally suggests the idea of another 
beautiful feature in a church of Christ ^ namely, 
that it is to a Christian as his home. He visits 
elsewhere, but he dwells in the church. Yea, 
our Covenant God and Father calls Zion his 


dwelling place ; and where should sons and 
daughters dwell but in their Father's house. 
As the pious Watts sings, 

Here would I find a settled rest, 

While others go and come : 
No more a stranger or a guest, 

But like a child at home. 

The necessary blessings which support and 
render life comfortable, as food, rest and so- 
ciety, are all sweetened to us by being enjoyed 
at home. The writer of this can witness, for 
one, that a spiritual home is a Home indeed ; 
having enjoyed, for many years, that great 
blessing in one of the liveliest and largest of 
our gospel churches ; which, may the great 
Head of the Church continue to bless and suc- 
ceed for many years to come ! To this, I know, 
I shall have many readers that will say, Amen. 
Come then, dear fellow Christians, or go, 
whichever suits you best, and, obeying his com- 
mands who is King in Zion, unite with some 
church on earth in that holy and intimate fel- 
lowship which needs only to be interrupted by 
the Messenger, the welcome Messenger, who 
brings our dismission to the church triumphant. 
I speak from happy experience, as well as with 


the word of God quite on my side, in highly 
and warmly recommending social religion ; and 
therefore, cannot but hope, in dependence on 
the Lord, that I shall meet with some success. 

Social religion is the nurse of all the graces 
of the Holy Spirit in the souls of believers ; and 
those who have been most under her care can 
witness, with me, that she is not a dry nurse. 
Is it not a pity that, in this one po nt, the fel- 
lowship of saints on earth one with another 
does not more resemble that of the church tri- 
umphant 1 We have infallible testimony, that 
the saints in heaven are members of Christ's 
mystical body, and as such we love them ; but 
we cannot convey our ideas of divine things to. 
them, nor receive from them any account of 
the felicity, or manner of their blissful state,, 
that is reserved for us, till we are as they. So 
W'e have credible testimony that the members, 
of the several churches to which we belong are 
Christians, and, as far as we believe it, we re- 
joice with them i i the common salvation ; but 
we have few means among us, as churches,, 
whereby we can convey our ideas of divine 
things freely to each other, so as to enjoy literal 
fellowship. Yet, as there can be no wound ia 


Zion, but there is balm in Gilead suited to heal 
it ; let those who are convinced of the truth of 
these observations, apply to the great Physician 
of souls, requesting him, who alone has suffi- 
cient skill and power, to send health and cure 
to all his churches. 

The instruction and establishment of the 
members of Christ's mystical body in the 
knowledge and experience of all that pertains 
to his spiritual kingdom, especially in the 
knowledo-e of Christ himself, his near and vital 
relation to them, and all the benefits and bless- 
ings which flow to them throuo^h the channel 
of his mediation — the oneness of their interests, 
as different members of one head — their unity of 
heart, frequent fellowship one with another as 
the means of keeping alive and increasing that 
unity — their observance of the Redeemer's po- 
sitive institutions, and obedience to all the moral 
precepts in his word ; I conceive to be the 
great ends which should be constantly kept in 
view, in the use of all the means of grace. 
Frequent heart-fellowship, and much delight in 
each other, are the beauties of church order. 
* By this,' saith our Lord, ' shall all men know 


that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to 

The fellowship of the church, as recorded 
in the Acts of the Apostles, appears to have 
been maintained by the love of Christ shed 
abroad in their hearts ; and made known, by 
much delight in each other's company, and free 
communication both of things temporal and 
spiritual one with another. Paul, in all his 
Epistles to the churches, keeps these things in 
view in a way of positive precept. 

It has been, and will perhaps still be, ob- 
jected by rnany, when such doctrine as this is 
advanced, " That the Lord's people in general 
have not time or opportunity for frequent social 
interviews; and that such things are apt to 
break in upon the order of families!" But 
these objections, if closely examined, will be 
found to be excuses, rather than reasons. What 
calling is there which ought to take the lead 
of our heavenly calling ? What is the advan- 
tage of laying up earthly treasures, compared 
with that of increasing in the wisdom which 
Cometh from above ? And what the order of 
private families to the order of the great family 


of heaven, the church of Christ. " The Lord 
loveth the gates of Zion more than all the 
dwellings of Jacob." 

I take the liberty of stating here a few rea- 
sons for frequent and intimate social worship. 
1st. Christians were all involved in one sad 
state of depravity and condemnation ; and they 
are all called by divine grace to look to one 
object for life and eternal salvation. That one 
object of their hope, being so highly exalted, 
every one may look to him by faith, at once, 
without the least occasion of jealousy or inter- 
ruption from each other ; any more than there 
is for an individual to conclude, that the light 
of the sun is not his, because every one is at 
liberty to enjoy the same blessing. 2d. The 
Redeemer paid one price for the ransom of all 
his people. The same Almighty Spirit makes 
Jesus, as a complete Saviour, manifest to them 
all ; and, as they are all saved and sanctified in 
one way, so they are all going to one everlast- 
ing home. 

3d. Jesus loved his church, even to death ; 
and has left it this commandment, " Love one 
another, as I have loved you. He that hath 


my commandments and keepeth them, he it is 
that loveth me ; and he that loveth me shall be 
loved of my Father ; and I will love him, and 
will manifest myself to him. As the Father 
hath loved me, so have I loved you ; continue 
ye in my love, John xiv. 9." And again, 
" This is my commandment, that ye love one 
another, as I have loved you. Greater love 
hath no man than this, that a man lay dow^n 
his life for his friends." It appears that, from 
this word the apostle drew his reason for say- 
ing, " We ought to lay down our lives for the 
brethren." The apostle says, " Love is the 
fulfilling of the law." From these and many 
other scriptures, it is plain that love is the sub- 
stance of all practical and experimental rehgion : 
and from the nature of divine love in the heart 
of a Christian, it is evident, that Social Religion 
is its heaven upon earth. Men are made for 
society ; and without the presence and mutual 
enjoyment of each other, would be compara- 
tively miserable. But the delight which springs 
from Christian fellowship is peculiarly exquisite, 
as well as peculiarly lasting. Its foundation, 
its author, its nature, its motive, and its end, all 


conspire to render it incomparable and inex- 
pressible. If these things are true, why have 
not the members of churches, in the present 
day, more knowledge of, and fellowship with 
one another ? Oh that such a query were 
started by the Holy Spirit himself in the heart 
of every individual of that description ; Suppose 
such a plain and honest inquiry were even to 
become universal among Christians, w^ould not 
the answer be something like this ? Tradition 
has set his foot on the heel of revealed truth ; 
and has, by this means, so trodden off the shoes 
of the preparation of the gospel of peace, from 
the feet of the saints, that they cannot walk in 
the paths of social love so w^ell as they were 
wont to do. If any one ask, why w^e worship 
in public, during such and such hours on the 
Lord's day '? It is enough that we can answer. 
Custom and our own convenience have inclined 
us to the observance of those hours. But 
should any one seriously inquire of us why we 
have few, if any, means of intimate and actual 
fellowship one with another, as children of the 
same family ? what a pity is it that we are 
equally obliged to answer in this case as in that^ 
Custom, and ourow^n convenience, have inclined 


US to the neglect of these. Was this the man- 
ner of the primitive Christians ? No. " They 
continued daily from house to house in fellow- 
ship, and breaking of bread, and in prayer, 
Acts ii. 26." Religion was their one concern ; 
and, in attending to that one concern, though 
in number they were so many thousands, they 
were but one. 

As for the usefulness of those meetings of 
the Lord's people, commonly called experience 
and conference meetings ; I believe it is known, 
wherever they are judiciously and zealously at- 
tended to ; and this is perhaps as much as can 
be said of any other means. In the former of 
these meetings, the Lord's people are found 
saying to their brethren, as David did; * Come, 
all ye that fear God, and I will declare what 
he hath done for my soul.' Many are the ad- 
vantages attending this lovely conduct ; the 
various devices of Satan to entangle and per- 
plex the minds of believers are exposed ; the 
influence of earthly things on the mind is con- 
fessed, and mutually lamented before the Lord ; 
the frequent deliverances the saints experience 
in times of trouble are recorded, to the manifest 
honour of their great Deliverer ; the faithful- 


n€ss of a covenant God in answering prayer, 
and honouring them that honour him, is abund- 
antly testified ; the power of the cross of Christ 
to crucify sin in the heart is declared ; the use- 
fulness and suitableness of the preached word 
is acknowledged ; love is increased ; faith is 
strengthened; hope is enlarged; and a fore- 
taste of Heaven itself is often experienced 
on earth Even when the people come toge- 
ther with their hearts comparatively cold, re- 
ciprocal and free communication is often like 
the striking together of a cold flint and cold 
steel, and there comes out fire ; as, saith the 
wise man, 'Iron sharpeneth iron; so doth 
the countenance of a man his friend.' Prov. 
xxvii. 17. 

In the latter of these, called conference 
meetings, the light which the Lord is pleased 
to cast on his own word, while his people are 
reading it from day to day, is set forth for mu- 
tual edification with much advantage ; while 
he that exhorteth, according to the apostle's 
advice, waits on exhortation. 

The holy scriptures are a mine of spiritual 
truth ; and as the Divine Spirit is the only in- 


fallible expositor of them, and opens them to 
whom he will, the utter neglect of conference 
meetings seems to have in it the nature of 
quenching the Spirit in the hearts of the saints. 
On this subject I beg leave to recommend to 
the serious consideration of those who have in 
any measure the conducting of church affairs 
in their hands, Rom. xii. 3 — 8. 1 Cor. xii. and 
Eph. iv. I humbly conceive that no impartial 
Christian, whom God has favoured with the 
gift of discerning truth for the benefit of others, 
can deliberately examine those, and many other 
portions of God's word, and yet beheve the 
neglect of conference meetings, especially in 
large churches where there are gifted members, 
to be an innocent thing. 

So great is the loss which the churches 
sustain by the neglect of these things, and so 
great would naturally be the mutual advantage 
of reviving their use ; that whoever may be the 
honoured instrument of so good a work, may 
be justly called, in the language of prophecy, 
' The repairer of the breach ; the restorer of 
paths to dwell in.' Isa. Iviii. 12. 



Epistle to the Reader, .... 7 

To the Christian Reader, . . , 11 

Chap. I. Introduction to the Text, . , 17 

Chap. II. Containing the first Proposition, . 20 

Chap. III. Containing the second Proposition, . 27 
Chap. IV. Containing the third grand Proposition, 

viz. a gracious Spirit is a contented Spirit, 33 

The lesson of Contentment is hard to be learned, 34 

It is of universal extent, . . 34 

{ Rich men, ... 35 
It concerns { 

^ Poor men, . . 37 

Chap. V. Whether a Christian may not resent 
his condition with some sadness, and yet be 

content? . . ... 42 

Whether a Christian may not lay open his griev- 
ances to God, and yet be content ? . 42 

What it is properly that Contentment doth ex- 
clude out of the Diocese, . . .43 

Chap. VI. Showing the nature of Contentment, 45 

C A divine thing, . . 45 

contentment is < An intrinsical thing, . 46 

' An habitual thing, . 47 

Chap. VII. Containing the reasons which press 

to holy Contentment, . . .49 

1. God's precept, .... 49 

2. God's promise, . . . .49 

3. God's will, .... 50 
Chap. VIII. The first Use — showing how a 

Christian may live comfortably in the midst 

of troubles, . . . . .55 

254 INDEX. 

Chap. IX. Use 2. A check to the discontented 

Christian, ..... 57 

Chap. X. Use 3. A persuasive to Contentment, 61 
Several apologies that discontent makes for itself 

answered, . . . . . 61 

The first apology answered, . . .62 

The second apology answered, . . 67 

The third apology answered, , . .71 

The fourth apology answered, ... 75 

The fifth apology answered, . . .80 

The sixth apology answered, ... 84 

The seventh apology answered, . . .87 

The eighth apology answered, . . 89 

The ninth apology answered, , . .92 

The tenth apology answered, ... 98 

The eleventh apology answered, . . . 100 

The twelfth apology answered, . , 102 

Chap. XI. Divine motives to Contentm nt, . 106 

The first argument — the excellency of Content- 
ment, ..... 106 
The second argument — a Christian hath that 

which may make him content, . . 125 

The third argument — else we confute our own 

prayers, ..... 128 

The fourth argument — by Contentment God 
comes to have his end, and Satan misseth 
of his end, ..... 129 

The fifth argument — thus a Christian gets a vic- 
tory over himself, . . . .131 
The sixth argument — all cross providences work 

for our good, ..... 132 

INDEX. 255 

The seventh argument— the evil of discontent, 142 

__ . . ( The sordidness, . . 143 

Which appears in > _, . _ , ^ . _. 

^^ < The sinfulness, . . 145 

three things, i ^, .^^ 

° ' ( The consequences, . lol 

The eighth argument — the more a man hath, the 

less he is satisfied, .... 157 

The ninth argument — the brevity of life, . 158 

The tenth argument — the evils that do attend a 

prosperous condition, . . . 160 

The eleventh argument — the examples of those 

•who have been eminent for Contentment, 167 

The twelfth argument — the present misery and 
indigence of the Godly, is all the hell he 
shall have, ..... 172 

The thirteenth argument — not to have a con- 
tented mind, proves the want of grace, 174 

Chap. XII. Three things inserted by way of 

caution, ..... 175 

Though a Christian should be in every state con- 
tent, yet he must not be content — 

1. In his natural estate, . . . 176 

2. Where God is dishonored, . . .178 

3. With a little grace, . . .181 
Chap. XIII. The fourth Use — showing the char- 
acter of a contented spirit, . , , 188 

1. A contented spirit is a silent spirit, . 188 

2. A contented spirit is a cheerful spirit, . 189 

3. A contented spirit is a thankful spirit, . 190 

4. To a contented spirit nothing comes amiss, . 191 

5. A contented spirit will not rid himself out of 

trouble, by running himself into sin, . 194 

256 INDEX, 

Chap. XIV. Use 5. Directions propounding 

several rules for holy contentment, . 197 

Rule 1. Advancement of faith is necessary, . 198 
Rule 2. Breathe after assurance, . . . 200 

Rule 3. Pray for an humble spirit, , . 202 

Rule 4. Keep a clear conscience, . , . 203 

Rule 5. Learn to deny yourselves, . . 206 

Rule 6. Pray for a foretaste of heaven in your 

heart, 208 

Rule 7, Look not so much on the dark side of 

your condition, as on the light side, . 209 
Rule 8. Consider in what a posture you stand 

here in the world, .... 211 

Rule 9. Let not your hopes depend upon outward 

things, 213 

Rule 10. Often compare your condition, . . 214 

Rule 11. Go not to bring your condition to your 

mind, but bring your mind to your condition, 221 
Rule 12, Study the vanity of the creature, . 222 
Rule 13. Get fancy regulated, '. , . 223 

Rule 14. Consider how little will suffice nature, 225 
Rule 15. Consider that the present condition 

is best for us, because it is the appointment 

of God, 225 

Rule 16. Do not much indulge the flesh, . . 227 

Rule 17. Meditate much on the glory to be revealed 228 
Rule 18. Be much in prayer, . . . 230 

Chap. XV. Use 6, Comfort to the contented 

Christian, , . . . . 232 

social Religion, ..... 235 


. '