Hebrews 13:5
Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, for God has said: "Never will I leave you, never will I forsake you."
A Lesson and a Fortune for Christian Men of BusinessC. H. Spurgeon.Hebrews 13:5
A New Year's BenedictionCharles Haddon Spurgeon Hebrews 13:5
A Satisfied SpiritT. De Witt Talmage.Hebrews 13:5
A Vile Weed and a Fair FlowerC. H. Spurgeon.Hebrews 13:5
An Unwritten Word of GodJ. Parker, D. D.Hebrews 13:5
Christian ContentmentEssex RemembrancerHebrews 13:5
Christian Contentment Enjoined and EncouragedW. Jones Hebrews 13:5
Christian Contentment: its Hindrance and its HelpC. New.Hebrews 13:5
Content with LittleHebrews 13:5
Contented Without ContentmentNew Cyclopedia of IllustrationsHebrews 13:5
ContentmentP. Houghton.Hebrews 13:5
ContentmentShakspere.Hebrews 13:5
ContentmentJeremy Taylor.Hebrews 13:5
Contentment and DutyHebrews 13:5
Contentment in VicissitudesThe National Baptist.Hebrews 13:5
Contentment not Hostile to AspirationsHebrews 13:5
Contentment Under LossG. C. Grubb, M. A.Hebrews 13:5
CovetousnessHomilistHebrews 13:5
Covetousness -- an Insidious SinC. H. SpurgeonHebrews 13:5
Covetousness a Sign of DeathHebrews 13:5
Covetousness Destructive of ReligionT. Watson.Hebrews 13:5
DiscontentScottish PulpitHebrews 13:5
Dying Testimony to God's FaithfulnessC. H. Spurgeon.Hebrews 13:5
God Does not Forsake His PeopleHebrews 13:5
God's Friendship All-SufficientHebrews 13:5
God's Presence DesirableS. Martin.Hebrews 13:5
God's Presence EnoughF. W. Krummacher.Hebrews 13:5
God's Presence OperativeS. Martin.Hebrews 13:5
Never ForsakenC. H. Spurgeon.Hebrews 13:5
Never ForsakenJ. Cumming, D. D.Hebrews 13:5
Never SatisfiedG. Whitfield.Hebrews 13:5
Never! Never! Never! Never! Never!Charles Haddon Spurgeon Hebrews 13:5
Never, no Never, no NeverC. H. Spurgeon.Hebrews 13:5
No Place Where God Cannot be FoundT. Brooks.Hebrews 13:5
No, Never!D. Davies.Hebrews 13:5
Polish the Dark SideHebrews 13:5
Providence -- God Never Leaves Things or PersonsCaleb Morris.Hebrews 13:5
Remedies Against CovetousnessW. Gouge.Hebrews 13:5
The Bible Warning Against DiscontentR. Newton, D. D.Hebrews 13:5
The Character and Supports of Widows IndeedAndrew Lee et al Hebrews 13:5
The Discontented CharacterScientific Illustrations and SymbolsHebrews 13:5
The Heinousness of CovetousnessW. Gouge.Hebrews 13:5
The Love of MoneyD. Young Hebrews 13:5
The Saint Never ForsakenJohn Jardine.Hebrews 13:5
The Unreasonableness of DiscontentThos. S. Hardie, D. D.Hebrews 13:5
True ContentmentHebrews 13:5
Let your conversation be without covetousness, etc. Our subject naturally falls into two main branches.

I. THE DUTY TO WHICH WE ARE SUMMONED. This duty is here stated negatively and positively.

1. Freedom from the love of money. "Let your conversation be without covetousness." Revised Version, "Be ye free from the love of money." This is a sin to which many are very prone, and the descendants of Jacob, to some of whom this letter was addressed, as much, or perhaps more so, than others. It is an exceedingly insidious and perilous sin. It does not carry any outward and visible stigma, as some sins do. They who are guilty of it may be respectable in appearance, maintain a good reputation in society, and retain their position in the communion of the Christian Church, while the vigor and health and even the very life of their Christian character are being subtly consumed by it. There is no sin more destructive of spiritual life, or more fatal to the highest and divinest things in man. It quenches the nobler aspirations of the soul. It degrades the soul itself until, oblivions of its high calling, and looking simply upon material or perishable possessions, man says, "Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, be merry." And it is the prolific parent of other sins," the root of all kinds of evil" (1 Timothy 6:10). Let us endeavor to be free from this ensnaring and destructive sin.

2. Contentment with present possessions. "Be content with such things as ye have." Ward Beecher says well, "It is not to be the content of indifference, of indolence, of unambitious stupidity, but the content of industrious fidelity. When men are building the foundations of vast structures, they must needs labor far below the surface and in disagreeable conditions. But every course of stone which they lay raises them higher; and at length, when they reach the surface, they have laid such solid rock under them that they need not fear now to carry up their walls, through towering stories, till they overlook the whole neighborhood. A man proves himself fit to go higher who shows that he is faithful where he is. A man that will not do well in his present place because he longs to be higher, is fit neither to be where he is nor yet above it: he is already too high, and should be put lower." When we consider how few our real needs are, we may well cultivate contentment "with such things as we have." "Having food and raiment, let us therewith be content." And contentment is blessed. It softens our privations and sweetens our provisions. "Contentment will make a cottage look as fair as a palace. He is not a poor man that hath but little, but he is a poor man that wants much." In St. Paul we have an illustrious example of this virtue: "I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therein to be content," etc. (Philippians 4:11-13). Like him, let us seek to learn this lesson completely, and to practice this virtue constantly" in him that strengtheneth" us.

II. THE FACT BY WHICH WE ARE ENCOURAGED TO FULFIL THIS DUTY. "For he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee." These exact words do not occur in the sacred Scriptures; but the sentiment is frequently expressed therein (cf. Deuteronomy 31:6; Joshua 1:5; 1 Chronicles 28:20). Extraordinary is the emphasis of expression in this assurance. No less than five negatives are employed by the writer to give force to this one brief yet blessed promise. The argument of the text is this, that the abiding presence of God with us is a sufficient reason for contentment. It is so because his presence guarantees:

1. The supply of all our need. We have all things in him; e.g.:

(1) Provision (Psalm 84:11; Matthew 6:25-34).

(2) Protection (Psalm 121:1; Romans 8:31; 1 Peter 3:13).

(3) Guidance (Psalm 73:23, 24; Proverbs 3:5, 6). My God shall fully supply every need of yours, according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.

2. The sanctification of our portion. His gracious presence will sweeten the poorest fare, and cheer the most depressed condition, and exalt the lowliest circumstances. To his faithful suffering servants his presence transformed a loathsome dungeon into a palace beautiful (Acts 16:24, 25). It is stated that Seneca said to Polybius, "Never complain of thy hard fortune so long as Caesar is thy friend." How much more may we say to every true Christian," Never complain of such things as you have so long as you have God for your Portion"!

"The rich man in his wealth confides,
But in my God my trust abides.
Laugh as ye will, I hold
This one thing fast that he hath taught:
Who trusts in God shall want for naught.

Yes, Lord: thou art as rich today
As thou hast been, and shall be aye;
I rest on thee alone.
Thy riches to my soul be given,
And 'tis enough for earth and heaven!"

(Hans Sachs.) = - W.J.

Let your conversation be without covetousness.
I. Covetousness in life SHOULD BE AVOIDED.

1. Unnatural.

2. Immoral.

3. Pernicious.

II. Covetousness in life INTERFERES WITH CONTENTMENT. It is in the heart like the tide in the sea, allowing no rest.



1. It is a deceiving sin. It blinds the understanding and corrupts the judgment in a main point of happiness; for the covetous man maketh " gold his hope, and fine gold his confidence" (Job 31:24).

2. It is an insatiable sin (Ecclesiastes 5:10). In this respect covetousness is like a dropsy which increaseth thirst by much drinking; and like a fire which by addition of fuel is the more fierce. The desire of a covetous man ariseth from abundance; and in that respect is unnatural; for nature is satisfied with sufficiency. Hunger and thirst cease when a man hath eaten and drunk that which is sufficient.

3. It is a galling sin. It works a continual vexation, and takes away all the comforts of this life (1 Timothy 6:10). There is a threefold woe that accompanieth covetousness.

(1)A woe of labour in getting wealth.

(2)A woe of trouble in keeping it.

(3)A woe of anguish in parting with it. Nothing makes death more unwelcome than a covetous desire of the things of this world.

4. It is an ensnaring sin (1 Timothy 6:9). Wealth as it is a bait to allure men to snap thereat, so it is a snare fast to hold them, and a hook to pull them down to perdition (Mark 10:23; Luke 14:18, 19). It keeps many from the Word, yea, it steals away the heart of those that come to the Word (Ezekiel 33:31).

5. It is a mother sin (1 Timothy 6:10). Fitly therefore doth the prophet thus style it evil covetousness (Habakkuk 2:9). There is no evil which a covetous man will forbear. It is a root of impiety. It draws the heart from God: so as there can be no true love nor fear of God in a covetous heart. For gain he will profane the Sabbath. It makes inferiors purloin from their superiors, and superiors to neglect their inferiors. It is a cause of much rebellion, of many treasons, murders, thefts, deceit, lying, false witness, and what not!

6. It is a growing sin. The longer men live in the world the more covetous they use to be after the world. Old men are commonly the most covetous. Herein it differeth from other violent sins, which by age abate in their violence.

7. It is a devouring sin (Matthew 13:22).

8. Iris a crying sin. The cries of them which are oppressed by covetous persons enter into the ears of the Lord. Hereupon an apostle bids them weep and howl (James 5:1). Covetousness causeth a curse from man and God. "He that withholdeth corn the people shall curse him." As for God's curse, "the wrath of God cometh upon men because of these things" (Ephesians 5:5, 6). The apostle reckoneth covetous Persons among those that shall not inherit the kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 6:10).

(W. Gouge.)

For preventing or redressing covetousness, these rules following are to be observed.

1. The judgment must rightly be informed in these two points.

(1)In the nature of true happiness.

(2)In the vanity and deceitfulness of riches.Many learned men want this point of understanding. It is the blindness of a man's mind that maketh him place a kind of happiness in the things of this world. If therefore we shall be rightly instructed, that happiness consisteth in matters of another kind than this world affords; surely their immoderate desire of riches could not be but much modified. He that said, "There be many that say, Who will show us any good? Lord, lift Thou up the light of Thy countenance upon us" (Psalm 4:6), well discerned the difference betwixt earthly and heavenly blessings. So did he who said, "Riches profit not in the day of wrath, but righteousness delivereth from death" (Proverbs 11:4).

2. The will and heart of man must follow the judgment well informed, and raise themselves up to that sphere where true happiness resteth (Colossians 3:2). This will keep the heart from doting on things below. A beast which is feeding in fresh pasture will not stray into a barren heath; much less will an understanding man that finds the sweetness of heavenly blessings dote upon earthly trash (Philippians 3:8).

3. A man's confidence must be placed on God and His providence. God's providence is an overflowing and everflowing fountain. The richest treasures of men may be exhausted; God's cannot be. Be therefore fully resolved of this, that " God will provide" (Genesis 22:8). This casting of our care on God's providence is much pressed in Scripture, as (Psalm 55:22; 1 Peter 5:7; Matthew 6:25, 26), &c. By experience we see how children depend on their parents' providence; should not we much more on our heavenly Father?

4. Our appetite or desire of riches must be moderate (Proverbs 30:8; Matthew 6:11). Be content with that portion which God gives thee, and be persuaded it is best for thee (Philippians 4:11). Contentedness and covetousness are directly opposite as light and darkness.

5. We must pray against covetousness (Psalm 109:36).

(W. Gouge.)

Is it not humiliating that the best of Christians should need to be cautioned against the worst of sins? May the consecrated become covetous? Is it possible that the regenerate may drivel into misers? Alas, what perils surround us, what tendencies are within us I It appears from our text that the children of God need also to be exhorted to cherish that most simple and natural of virtues — contentment. One would think that, at least in some instances, they would have this good thing as a matter of course. Among our villagers we have met with persons so well satisfied with their lowly lot that they would not cross the sea to gain an empire. Yet their contentment has sprung up wild as the daisies and buttercups of their own meadows, for they have not been acquainted with the blessed hope which makes trials light to bear. Do Christians, then, need to be admonished with precepts, and stimulated with promises, to make them yield the commonplace virtues of life? Do their fields refuse to grow "the herb called heartsease," which simple folk have gathered unsown from their little garden-plots?

I. I shall have to say a little about COVETOUSNESS. We are told that our conversation is to be "without covetousness." The term "conversation" includes, as you know, the whole of our lives.

1. Taking the first meaning of conversation, namely, talk, we ought not in our words to be on the side of those who grip for wealth or growl for wage, who grasp for power or grind the poor. We ought not in our talk to take part with the churl and the illiberal.

2. But our conversation has to do with our actions as well as our words. The sugar of words is sickening if it be not attended with the honey of deeds. Let our whole life in our dealings with our fellow-men be moved by liberal principles, and enriched with a generous spirit.

3. But this will not do unless the word "conversation" takes in our desires, our projects, our plans, our thoughts. We must be without covetousness within, for if that vice reigns in the soul it is sure to rule in the life. Our prayer should be that of David, "Incline my heart unto Thy testimonies, and not to covetousness." It is so very easy a thing to be covetous, that no class of society is free from it. A man may be very poor and covetous withal, and a man may be exceedingly rich and still may think that he is not half rich enough. It is not possible to satisfy the greedy. Covetousness has many ways of manifesting itself; and the text does not warn us against one of those ways, but against them all.(1) In some it is most seen in repining and complaining against their lot. This disease is born and bred in our very bones, and it needs the grace of God to get it out of us. God help us all to get rid of every particle of it, for it savours not of grace, but it is earthly, sensual, devilish.(2) In some others this covetous principle shows itself in envying others. Wrath is cruel, and anger is outrageous, but who is able to stand before envy? Now, if I envy a man, I am clearly guilty of covetousness, for I wish that something which he has were not his, but mine. And that may happen to you when you do not think about his property. You may be covetous of his gifts. This ill-natured vice shows itself generally in finding fault. Of course our brethren are not perfect; but why should we take a delight in pointing out their eccentricities, or their shortcomings?(3) And covetousness may show itself by perpetually craving and desiring that which we have not. The old moralists used to say that the man who would be truly rich had better retrench his appetites than increase his fortune. Some men seem as if they never could fix their thoughts on what they have, but they are always thinking of what they could, would, or should have. They have swallowed the two daughters of Solomon's horseleech, and these continually cry, "Give, give."(4) In many — perhaps in the most numerous class — this anxiety for acquisition betrays itself in fretful fears about the future; and I must in all honesty grant that this form of the vice has sometimes the appearance of being the most excusable of the whole. Full many are not content with such things as they have because the dread of a distant season of trial is constantly harassing them. In vain for them their table is bountifully spread unless they have a store in hand against every contingency that may happen. Do you notice how precious is that promise which provides for all possible casualties that may befal you? "He hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee." The censure, therefore, falls where this sacred pledge is unheeded; and he is accounted covetous who walks after the cravings of the flesh rather than after the counsel of the Spirit of God. If God would have thee live by the day, why dost thou want to gather enough for seven days at once? Covetous people, I have often observed, are classed in Scripture with the worst of criminals. How revolting to be included in such bad company! Here in this very chapter we read, "Whoremongers and adulterers God will judge. Let your conversation be without covetousness." Thus covetousness is classed with the very filthiest of vices of the flesh. In another place the apostle says "covetousness, which is idolatry"; and thus it is identified with a loathsome impurity of the spirit. Let the Christian dread it. Covetousness is a deadly poison, destructive of all virtue; it dries up the milk of human kindness in a man's breast, and makes him hard, indifferent towards the needs of his fellow creatures. How much infamy it fosters! The man whose heart is set on covetousness will do anything for gold; he will venture to stain his hands with blood itself if he may but gain it.

II. As there is a vice to be shunned so there is a virtue to be sought. The theme is more pleasing now that we speak upon CONTENTMENT. "Be content with such things as ye have." It is, after all, no very great virtue if we should attain it: the more pity, therefore, if we should miss it. The old moralists constantly twit us with the fact that we may have the necessaries of life upon very easy terms, whereas we put ourselves to great pains for its luxuries, To be content with such things as we have should be specially easy to us, because we have so much to be thankful for, such constant communications from the great Benefactor, and so certain an assurance that He will withhold no good thing from those that walk uprightly. This world is ours, and worlds to come. Earth is our lodge, and heaven our home. I believe that contentment depends very much upon taking right views of things.

1. There is, to wit, a short view. To live by the day is the way to be cheerful.

2. Take also long views as well as short views. Take the view which says, "It will be all the same a hundred years hence." Take the view which says, "We shall soon laugh at this present little vexation." Take that distant view which says, "When I get to heaven this great trial will seem very small; when I look from the hill-tops of glory at my present dilemma, it will probably cause me many a smile, to think that I should have been so vexed and tormented by it." The secret of true contentment, and the way to get at it, is admirably expressed in these words, "Be content with such things as ye have, for He hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee." Some of the most easygoing people in the world are those who have a Government pension of so much a month. It is little, but it is sure. If all the banks break they will get it. They have no trouble as to how the markets fluctuate, or how different stocks rise and fall in value; or what dividends they might derive from investments. Now, then, that is exactly where the child of God stands; for ye know who hath said — "Thy bread shall be given thee, and thy water shall be sure." Between now and heaven I do not know who may starve; but I never shall, because the Lord is my Shepherd, and I shall not want.

III. Our last point is the CONFIDENCE with which we may encourage ourselves, and bid defiance to a frowning world. "So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man can do unto me." This promise of the Lord is fitted to nerve us with courage, as well as to solace us with contentment. If we are oppressed, or if we have to encounter opposition, we may just go straight ahead in the strength of our text, and say, "What can man do unto me?" If God be our helper, why should we shrink or falter; why should we droop or look dismayed; why should we hold our peace or speak with bated breath?

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

I asked a question, some years ago, of a person whom I believed to be one of the most covetous individuals in my acquaintance, and I received from him a singular reply. I said, "How was it that St. Francis de Sales, who was an eminent confessor, found that persons confessed to him, in private, all sorts of horrible sins, such as adultery, drunkenness, and murder; but never had one person confessed the sin of covetousness?" I asked this friend whether he could tell me why it was, and he made me this answer, which certainly did take me rather aback. He said, "I suppose it is because the sin is so extremely rare." Blind scull I told him that, on the other hand, I feared the sin was so very common that people did not know when they were covetous, and that the man who was most covetous of all was the last person to suspect himself of it. I feel persuaded that it is so. Covetousness breeds an insensibility in the heart, a mortification in the conscience, a blindness in the mind. It is as hard to convict a man of it as to make a deaf ear hear of its own deficiencies. You cannot make a horseleech see the impropriety of desiring to suck; to all your expostulations it renders the one answer, "Give, give." Covetousness goes about in disguise. In the "Holy War" we read that, when Diabolus sent traitors to lurk about the town of Mansoul, he sent among the rest a young fellow named Covetousness; but when he entered into the town of Mausoul, he took the name of Mr. Prudent Thrifty, and he was engaged at once as a servant, I think it was in the house of Mr. Conscience, the Recorder. He seemed such a likely young man, this youth of the name of Prudent Thrifty. Now, mind you, when you are taking a servant, that you do not engage one of the name of Prudent Thrifty; for I have information that he comes of the family of the Greedies, and that his true name is "Covetousness," though it may be long before you find it out. His near relations are the Screws, the Skinflints, and the Graballs; but he will not own them, but always mentions his great-uncle, Squire Prudence, and his mother's brother, Professor Economy, of the University of Accumulation. You will have need to carry your eyes in your head if you mean to practise the precept, "Let your conversation be without covetousness, and be content with such things as ye have."

(C. H. Spurgeon,)

The Fabulist tells a story of the hedgehog that came to the coney-burrows in stormy weather, and desired harbour, promising that he would be a quiet guest; but when once he had gotten entertainment, he did set up his prickles, and did never leave till he had thrust the poor conies out of their burrows: so covetousness, though it hath many fair pleas to insinuate, and wind itself into the heart, yet as soon as you have let it in, this thorn will never cease pricking till it hath choked all good beginnings, and thrust all religion out of your hearts.

(T. Watson.)

As it is, therefore, a mark of life in an evergreen, when transplanted, to suffer its fading leaves to fall off easily when touched; and a sign of death when they retain their hold, so that to disengage them you must pull off part of the stem with them; so it is an evidence of spiritual life in the Christian, to sit loose to his possessions, instead of setting his heart upon them; while the covetous man parts with his money in charity as if he were parting with his life.

Be content with much things as ye have.
Contentment is the central word of the passage, and stands between words representing its greatest foe and greatest friend, like Joshua with the Angel of the Lord and Satan on either side.

I. CHRISTIAN CONTENTMENT — WHAT IS IT? TO be contented is to be satisfied; it is the Amen of our spirit with regard to what is.

1. Christian contentment presupposes effort. We are not to be content with many things that we have, nor with anything short of our best.

2. Christian contentment implies a certain amount of failure. There is no room for its exercise where matters cannot be improved; you could not speak of the angels as contented. Joy is the word for heaven; contentment for earth.

3. Christian contentment delivers us from the power of circumstances. It is not a doing without things because we must — that is possible apart from Christian grace; it is repose, satisfaction, the heart saying "Thy will be done." To attain to that is to reign as a king over our circumstances. What a great thing is that religion which helps one to this!

II. CHRISTIAN CONTENTMENT HINDERED BY COVETOUSNESS. "Let your conversation [character, mode of life] be without covetousness."

1. Covetousness is a wrongly placed desire for what in itself may be good. The word in the text refers specially to money (R.V.), but it is not the object that makes covetousness. Covetousness may fasten on different things. What is it? (See Luke 12:13-15, etc.). It is a desire for anything (good or bad) not regulated by an appeal to God and God's requirements; our own spiritual needs.

2. Covetousness is regarded by God as one of the grossest sins. See the position in which it is mentioned as here coming after ver. 4, as though a similar sin; also (1 Corinthians 5:10, 11; 1 Corinthians 6:9, 10; Ephesians 5:3-5; Colossians 3:5, 6; 2 Peter 2:14; Mark 7:21, 22).

3. Covetousness is the deadly enemy of contentment. They are opposites, and cannot coalesce. Admit covetousness to the heart and contentment takes its flight. Let contentment return, and she will scourge the traders from what she calls, and from what then she makes it, her Father's house.


1. This is a declaration of God's personal presence. Only God can say, "I will not leave thee"; not one of His gifts can say it. Loneliness destroys content. God satisfies.

2. This presence pervades the arrangements of our life. The words must mean that God will be in all our circumstances, and where He is He will not play a subsidiary part, and follow where chance or our waywardness may dictate. "I will not leave thee" must mean I will guide thee: choose thy lot, appoint thy changes, where thou comest thou shalt be brought by Me. Dread of the Unknown destroys content. God in all we have creates content by removing that dread.

3. This presence is the guarantee of protection and supply. No hurt can come to him with whom God is as his friend. Fear destroys content, but God with us enables us to say, "I will not fear." "He hath said." There are five negatives here to prevent our doubting it.

(C. New.)

Every one knows that contentment is another name for happiness.

I. In the first place, let us INQUIRE INTO THE CHIEF CAUSES OF THE OPPOSITE TEMPER. We see, in too many instances, how men, misled by vain illusions, in the eagerness of their pursuit, miss the road even to earthly happiness. Now this unhappy propensity to become our-own tormentors is to be traced, chiefly, to three bitter roots, growing within the mind itself — pride, selfishness, and envy; whence probably proceed a great part of the miseries of mankind.

II. Consider now MUCH THE DIVINE BOUNTY EXCEEDS OUR DESERTS. Instead, therefore, of being the ingenious artificers of our own misery, let us make a better use of our reason. If Providence offer us the means of attaining a happier state, let us thankfully embrace them. But if the will of God appoint otherwise, before we admit a repining thought, let us first endeavour to recount, if we can, the numberless calls we have for gratitude. Though the present state is a state of trial and probation, it is by no means left destitute of comforts and gratifications. Let us resolve, for the time to come, to make a more careful improvement of the blessings of Providence. Gratefully acquiescing in our own condition, let us, instead of envying, be kind and helpful one to another; and sincerely rejoice with those who are placed above us. This is true benevolence. This is true wisdom.

(P. Houghton.)

Essex Remembrancer.

1. The portion of every man consists of such things as he has: literally, present things.

2. That which each man has, is assigned him by God. Suppose he has a competency for all the comforts of life which he has acquired. In that case, who, but God, gave him capacity of mind, strength of body, business to do, and success in the doing it?


1. Cautionary remarks.

(1)This command does not forbid a proper regard to the future.

(2)Industrious efforts to obtain more are not forbidden by this command.

(3)The embracing a proper opportunity of improving one's condition is not forbidden by this command.

2. Contentment is —

(1)The opposite of a complaining spirit.

(2)The opposite of an envious temper.

(3)Opposed to anxiety.

(4)Opposed to covetousness.

(5)Opposed to restless schemes and endeavours after more.

3. How it is to be cultivated.

(1)By habitual self-abasement.

(2)By thankfulness. Gratitude gives fitness to our raiment, relish to our food, and sweetness to all.

(3)By the exercise of faith. He hath said, "He, who has all power; he who abideth faithful." He has said that He will never leave nor forsake thee, whosoever thou art, who puttest thy trust in Him; therefore, "be content with such things as ye have."

(4)By "looking unto Jesus." Though the earth and the fulness thereof were His, He assumed the lowest state of poverty.

(5)By habitual prayer and dependence on Christ.

(Essex Remembrancer.)

To be content is to be in good humour with our circumstances, not picking a quarrel with our obscurity, or our poverty, or our social position. There are four or five grand reasons why we should be content with such things as we have,

1. The first is the consideration that the poorest of us have all that is indispensable in life. We make a great ado about our hardships, but how little we talk of our blessings.

2. Our happiness is not dependent on outward circumstances. I find Nero growling on a throne. I find Paul singing in a dungeon. I find King Ahab going to bed at noon through melancholy, while near by is Naboth contented in the possession of a vineyard. Haman, prime minister of Persia, frets himself almost to death because a poor Jew will not tip his bat; and Ahithophel, one of the great lawyers of Bible times, through fear of dying, hangs himself. The wealthiest man, forty years ago, in New York, when congratulated over his large estate, replied: "Ah! you don't know how much trouble I have in taking care of it." Byron declared in his last hours that he had never seen more than twelve happy days in all his life. The heart right toward God and man, we are happy. The heart wrong toward God and man, we are unhappy.

3. Another reason why we should come to this spirit inculcated in the text is the fact that all the differences of earthly condition are transitory. The houses you build, the land you culture, the places in which you barter, are soon to go into other hands. However hard you may have it now, if you are a Christian the scene will soon end. Pain, trial, persecution never knock at the door of the grave.

4. Another reason why we should culture this spirit of cheerfulness is the fact that God knows what is best for His creatures. Sometimes His children think that He is hard on them, and that He is not as liberal with them as He might be. But children do not know as much as a father. I can tell you why you are not largely affluent, and why you have not been grandly successful. It is because you cannot stand the temptation. If your path had been smooth, you would have depended upon your own surefootedness; but God roughened that path, so you have to take hold of His hand.

5. Another consideration leading us to the spirit of the text is the assurance that the Lord will provide somehow. Will He who holds the water in the hollow of His hand, allow His children to die of thirst?

6. Again, I remark that the religion of Jesus Christ is the grandest influence to make a man contented. Indemnity against all financial and spiritual harm! It calms the spirit, dwindles the earth into insignificance, and swallows up the soul with the thought of heaven.

(T. De Witt Talmage.)

I. We ought to mind it — FOR OUR OWN COMFORT. Now suppose that you have a long walk to take every day, but you have a thorn run into your foot, or a sharp stone in your shoe — could you have any comfort in taking that daily walk? Certainly not. But a feeling of discontent in our minds is just like that thorn in the foot or that stone in the shoe. It will take away from us all the comfort we might have, as we go on in the walk of our daily duties. A certain bishop had passed through many great trials; but he was never heard to complain in passing through them. He was always contented and cheerful. An intimate friend of his, who had often admired his calm, happy temper, and who felt as if he would like very much to imitate his example, asked him one day if he would tell him the secret of the quiet, contented spirit which he always had. "Yes," said the bishop, "I will gladly tell you my secret. It consists in nothing more than making a right use of my eyes." "Please tell me what you mean by this." "Certainly," said the bishop; "I mean just this. When I meet with any trial, I first of all look up to heaven, and remember that my chief business in life is to get there. Then I look down upon the earth, and think how small a space I shall need in it when I die, and come to be buried; and then I look round in the world, and think how many people there are who have more cause to be unhappy than I have. And in this way I learn the Bible lesson — "Be content with such things as ye have."

II. FOR THE COMFORT OF OTHERS. We cannot all have really beautiful faces, but we can all have sweet, pleasant tempers; and a sweet temper gives a loveliness to the face, which is more pleasing than any amount of mere outward beauty. A contented spirit, or a sweet temper, is to a home what sunshine is to the trees of the field or to the flowers of the garden. John Wesley used to say, "I dare no more fret, than curse or swear." A friend of his, who was intimately connected with him, for a large portion of his life, in speaking of him after his death, said, "I never saw him fretful or discontented under any of his trials. And to be in the company of persons of this spirit always occasioned him great discomfort, and trouble. He said one day, 'To have persons around me murmuring and fretting at everything that happens is like tearing the flesh from my bones. I know that God sits upon His throne, ruling all things. With this thought in my mind, and the grace of God in my heart, I may well learn, "To be content with such things as I have.' Good Mr. Wesley was minding the Bible warning against discontent when he used these words, and was setting a good example for us all to follow. What a blessed thing it would be if all Christians would try to follow his example.

III. TO PLEASE GOD. No trials can ever come upon us in this world without God's knowledge and consent. He is so wise that He never makes a mistake about our trials, and He is so good that He never lets any trouble come upon us but what He knows will be for the best. And when we try to be patient and contented under our trials, because we know that God orders or permits them, this will be pleasing to Him. "I was going down town in a Fourth Avenue car one day," says a New York merchant, "when I heard somebody cry out, 'Holloa, Mr. Conductor, please stop your car a moment; I can't run very fast.' The car stopped, and presently there hobbled into it a little lame boy, about ten or twelve years old. I saw from the nice clothes he wore that he was the son of wealthy parents; but oh! his face told such a tale of silent suffering! and yet he was bright and cheerful. He put his little crutch behind him, and placing his poor withered limb in a more easy position, he began to look round at his fellow-passengers. A happy smile played over his pale face, and he seemed to take notice of everything. Presently I got a seat next to him, and as he looked around him I heard him humming in a low tone the words of the hymn, 'Hark, I hear an angel sing.' Then I had a little talk with him, and found that he knew and loved the Saviour, and it was this which made him so contented and cheerful. He told me he was born with this withered limb, and that the doctor said it never would be any better. 'Well, my dear boy,' I said, 'under these circumstances, how can you be so happy and cheerful?' His reply was, 'Jesus, my Saviour, has sent this trial for me to bear. Father tells me He would not have sent it unless He knew it would be best for me. And don't you think, sir, that I ought to be satisfied with the best?' This touched my heart, and brought tears to my eyes. I was just going to get out of the car then. So I shook hands with the little fellow, and thanked him for the lesson he had taught me, which I told him I should never forget as long as I lived."

(R. Newton, D. D.)

I. Observe, in the first place, THAT DISCONTENT IS OFTEN OWING TO CAUSES WHICH THE DISCONTENTED MAY THEMSELVES REMOVE. How often do you see people grow sullen and dissatisfied in consequence of straits to which they have reduced themselves by sloth, by waste, or by expensive indulgences? How often do men become the victims of chagrin through the failure of expectations which they permitted themselves, without any good reason, to indulge. How often, in fine, does it happen that people, instead of endeavouring to make the best, make the worst of every inconvenience in their lot?

II. Are there not in human life innumerable circumstances wholly independent of us, by which the lot of man is very much diversified, and WHAT SHALL WE SAY WHEN DISCONTENT ARISES, NOT FROM CAUSES WHICH WE CAN CONTROL, BUT FROM THE INEVITABLE CIRCUMSTANCES OF OUR LOT? NOW, granting that, owing to circumstances which you cannot control, you do not possess all the temporal advantages which you might wish; yet what claim can you advance to more? Food to the hungry and drink to the thirsty, a shelter from cold and storms, the pleasing warmth and light of day, and calm silence of night, the alternate enjoyments of labour and rest, our social and domestic pleasures, these are blessings to be found in all the ordinary situations of human life; and these, so far as depend on mere outward things, are the chief blessings which Providence bestows. With respect to luxury and pomp, splendid raiment, magnificent habitations, honours, attendants, and all the dazzling train of circumstances which wait upon riches, they are but little connected with true happiness.

III. The observations hitherto offered apply chiefly to the ordinary situations of human life. BUT ARE THERE NOT CASES OF WRETCHEDNESS THAT PLACE THE SUFFERER BELOW THE ORDINARY LOT? and in all situations does not affliction often await us amidst our most tranquil enjoyments? The duty required in such situations is resignation rather than contentment. It is religion, however, which in all situations possesses the most consoling influence, inspiring contentment amidst the ordinary inconveniences of the human lot, and resignation under the pressure of our heaviest afflictions, and we proceed to consider the arguments applicable to our present subject, that may be derived from this Divine source. One of the views is that suggested in the words immediately following our text. "The Lord is my helper, therefore I will not be afraid for what man can do unto me." The Scripture informs us farther how it is that these perfections are exercised towards us. Now we are informed that in consequence of that new dispensation, which God hath been carrying on ever since the fall of our first parents, this world is only a state of temporary preparation for the next. To give a proper scope for the exercise of our talents, to afford us an opportunity of cultivating good dispositions by placing us in various relations to one another, to form us to habits of obedience and resignation, God hath in His infinite wisdom ordained a very great diversity of ranks and circumstances among men. But all this is only a temporary state of things, and when it has accomplished its purposes is abolished by death with respect to each individual, and will be abolished with respect to all mankind when the world is dissolved.

(Thos. S. Hardie, D. D.)

Scottish Pulpit.
Discontent is doubtless, on the whole, a useful element in our nature, for it prompts to better things; and it is only when it goes beyond the bounds of moderation that it is seriously objectionable. The great error is that people do not pursue their course of advancement with calmness; they forget to enjoy the advantages which they now possess; and while they look at the future they neglect the present, forgetting that the present is the only real time. This error leads them into two follies; they believe that at some future period they will be happier than they are now, because they will then have at their command means which are at present denied; and secondly, they fancy that people who follow a different mode of life are more favourably circumstanced than themselves. They seem to want a change. I have heard men in business say, "Ah, if I could devote my life to study, instead of grubbing here to get money, I should then be all right." And, on the other hand, students are heard to say, "After all, it is the man of business who really enjoys reading, when in his hours of relaxation he goes to his books as a relief. But it is odious to make your study a workshop." Both parties are labouring under a kindred delusion. And thus people go on; their energies are devoted to the attainment of some object, and " if they can reach that they will find repose." The end is gained, but soon the object fails to satisfy; they miss the excitement which the chase afforded, and they must propose some new goal or be wretched. The men who place their hopes exclusively in the future confess, by the very act, that they are incapable of enjoying the present (and by enjoyment much more is meant than the mere taking of pleasure); but not wishing to make this humiliating admission, they flatter themselves that something else than what they possess is essential to peace and comfort. This is nothing tess than an excuse for want of contentment; because, when the object of search is attained, they are as far from what they really need as ever. He who does not begin by placing contentment as the basin of external goods, heaps up in vain, and might as well try to fill a sieve with water as to construct a building of happiness upon a shadowy foundation. Besides, a constant restlessness is the greatest possible hindrance to sound education of the mind. The feverish gaze of the fortune-seeker cannot look aright upon the beautiful creation which is around him, if it ever looks upon it at all. There are many men surrounded by the comforts of life who, if you told them to divert their eyes awhile from future prospects, to cease envying their associates, to admire the wonders of nature and the beautiful world we live in, to be rejoiced at the remembrance of their daily blessings, and to be fully satisfied with their numerous advantages, would put you down for a madman or a fool. It is quite as easy to cultivate such a state of mind as to be constantly pining after what you have not got, or distressing yourself because you are not so well off as other people; and while every man of active mind must desire to go through his daily duties with energy and skill, and to fulfil his vocation with diligence, yet when he has done all this calm contentment is one great means to make him happy and keep him so.

(Scottish Pulpit.)

Scientific Illustrations and Symbols.
There are people who are constitutionally discontented. Nothing gives them satisfaction. They are like the hermit-crabs, and may well be designated "crabbed." We see that the animal and the shell are mostly well suited to each other; but it is a remarkable fact that, however well the shell and the crab may be suited to each other, the crab always thinks that a shell belonging to another crab would make a better house. Consequently they will wage direful battles over a few empty shells, although neither of the shells would make so commodious a habitation as that which was already occupied.

(Scientific Illustrations and Symbols.)

The other day I watched a little bird who had alighted on a branch almost too frail to bear his weight. The branch was swaying to and fro, but the little songster did not cease his song, He knew he had wings! Christian, learn the lesson that bird would teach thee, and, amid life's vicissitudes, sing on, for thou art immortal.

(The National Baptist.)

New Cyclopedia of Illustrations.
What a beautiful example for all of us is the resolution of the old lady who, from a crabbed and anxious body, became quite the opposite! When asked what had induced the change, she replied, "To tell you the truth, I have been all my life striving for a contented mind, and finally concluded to sit down contented without it."

(New Cyclopedia of Illustrations.)

A friend of mine sat down to breakfast one morning, and an ugly-looking letter was handed him, it having just come by post. He opened it and found it was from a broker who transacted business for him. It ran something like this: "Dear sir, I am sorry to inform you that you have lost £50,000." Now, it is no joke to lose a sum of money like that. To this friend of mine it meant the loss of every penny he had. He had not been gambling, but speculating, as he thought, carefully and wisely. He quietly looked around the breakfast table, then without saying a word he rose and went to his room. He did not go and buy a pistol and blow his brains out. He simply fell on his knees before God, and said, "Dear Heavenly Father, help reel Thou hast given me plenty, and I have tried to use all to Thy glory; now Thou hast taken everything away. Now, Lord, Thou wilt have to feed me straight from heaven. I thank Thee for making me poor, that I may the more fully know Thee as my Father." He came downstairs again and finished his breakfast. His losses had not even power to spoil his appetite. He has ever since been as poor as a church mouse — and that is poor enough — but he has been rejoicing always, because he has the "joy of the Lord." I can testify to the truth of this as I know him well, and he was one who came to see me off when I left England.

(G. C. Grubb, M. A.)

My dear hearers, there is not a single soul of you all that are satisfied in your stations: is not the language of your hearts when apprentices, We think we shall do very well when journeymen; when journeymen, that we should do very well when masters; when single, that we shall do well when married; and to be sure you think you shall do well when you keep a carriage. I have heard of one who began low: he first wanted a house; then, says he, "I want two, then four, then six"; and when he had them, he said, "I think I want nothing else." "Yes," says his friend, "you will soon want another thing, that is, a hearse-and-six to carry you to your grave"; and that made him tremble.

(G. Whitfield.)

Contentment bears the hues of joy.


On the eve of General Gordon's departure on his last journey, a friend is related to have said to him, "Have you got your kit ready, General?" "I have got what I always have. This hat is good enough, and so are these clothes. I shall start as I am, my boots are quite strong." "And how are you off for cash, &c.? You must have some ready money." "Ah, I had forgot that; I had to borrow five-and-twenty pounds from the King of the Belgians to get over here. Of course I must pay this, and I shall want a little more. A hundred pounds apiece for myself and Stewart will be enough. What on earth do we want more for?"

Is that beast better that hath two or three mountains to graze on than a little bee that feeds on dew or manna, and lives upon what falls every morning from the storehouses of heaven, clouds, and providence? Can a man quench his thirst better out of a river than a full urn; or drink better from the fountain which is finely paved with marble, than when it wells over the green turf?

(Jeremy Taylor.)

There is a fable told about a king's garden in which the trees and all the flowers began to make complaint. The oak was sad because it did not bear flowers; the rosebush was sad because it did not bear fruit; the vine was sad because it had to cling to the wall and could cast no shadow. "I am not the least use in the world," said the oak. "I might as well die, since I yield no fruit," said the rosebush. "What good can I do?" said the vine. Then the king saw a little pansy, which held up its glad, fresh face, while all the rest were sad. And the king said, "What makes you so glad when all the rest pine and are so sad? I thought," said the pansy, "that you wanted me here because you planted me, and so I made up my mind that I would try and be the best little pansy that could be." Let us all try to do our best in the little spot where God's hand has placed us.

John Sinclair once alighted from his carriage near an abject-looking hovel, and entered into conversation with an old labourer who lived there alone. On leaving he asked if he could serve him in any way. "Sir," said the old man, with a look of honest contentment, "there is not in this world a thing that I want." Sir John often said that that poor abode was the only home in which he had found perfect happiness, and requested his daughter to draw him a picture of that one-windowed hut where lived a man who had not a wish ungratified. Contrast the happiness of this man in poor circumstances with the ennui of Napoleon on the day when he was crowned with unexampled splendour by the Pope in Notre Dame. He returned home, and, flinging his splendid robes to different corners of the room, declared that he had never spent in his life such tedious hours.

A complaining grumbler was lamenting how things went wrong, when a friend, writing to console her, bade her "look upon the bright side." "Oh," she cried, "there seems to be no bright side." "Then polish up the dark side," was the reply.

We must not make the ideas of contentment and aspiration quarrel, for God made them fast friends. A man may aspire, and yet be quite content until it is time to rise. A bird that sits patiently while it broods its eggs flies bravely afterwards, leading up its timid young. And both flying and resting are but parts of one contentment. The very fruit of the gospel is aspiration. It is to the human heart what spring is to the earth; making every root and bud and bough desire to be more.

I will never leave thee.
You perceive at once, perhaps, that this promise has two distinctive peculiarities. In the first place, it is limited as to its aspect; and secondly, it is mixed as to its character. It is limited as to its aspect. Being not addressed to sinners generally as sinners, its sphere must at once be considered circumscribed and sacred. It is a promise, not to the world as such, but to the Church which has been redeemed out of the world. The design, evidently, of this glorious promise is to keep down the fears of believers in passing through this world to everlasting glory. And we see that there are two classes of evils which make them afraid, against which fears there is a provision in this promise. There are things that trouble you — their confusion, their irregularity, their aspects; and then you live amidst intelligent beings, like yourselves imperfect, and not only so but evil, and you fear from them — you fear things, you fear persons. But God has made a merciful provision against both these fears by saying, "I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee."

I. The remarks assume somewhat of a secular character in the first part of the subject. In speaking of these "Things," the passage refers to such subjects; therefore it is not improper for me to do so. By "things" I understand things of this life — food, raiment, habitation, health, comfort, all those things which are necessary for our existence, for our convenience, and for our comfort, according to our relative positions in society, and especially to the answering the end of our being, namely, doing good and glorifying God our heavenly Father.

1. Now these things, we say, are necessary for us. And when a thing is absolutely necessary, it is right to think of it. But then there is the danger of magnifying our wants, of supposing that we have wants that we have not, and that ten thousand things are necessary for us which would actually be, if given, injurious to us. But so little do we feel that we are in danger here, that it is only when we do feel it, and at no other time, that we in this respect rejoice in the truth and glory of the promise, "I will never leave thee," etc. And there is another danger to which we are exposed. The very fact that the things of this life have necessity imposed upon them very frequently tends to covetousness. Christian friends, when the world comes over you and consumes your heart and destroys your spirituality, go and weep before the Cross; go and plead this promise again and again in the name of the Saviour, that you may stand, and in the Lord be mighty and strong.

2. I refer to another thing impressed upon the things of this life: there is difficulty; that is to say, the universal law of our natural living in this world is this, "In the sweat of thy brow shalt thou eat bread." Labour is man's necessity, and man's glory. A man says, "I know that without labour I cannot exist." The tradesman says it, the politician says it, the philosopher above any says it, the Christian ought to say it. He says, "I see that labour is essential to prosperity and elevation and usefulness"; and then he imagines that it is the cause of it, whereas it is only the condition of it — it is only the connection made by God to subsist; for labour itself, which is merely acting upon matter, trying to produce changes, is nothing without God. We repeat it again, man labours in vain, bodily and inwardly, unless God grants a blessing. And God says to the soul humbled and chastened, "I will never leave thee, I will never forsake thee."

3. I might refer to the mutability that is impressed upon all these " things," as a frequent occasion of sorrow. The great political changes, the great commercial storms, the great commercial stagnations which very frequently follow; the death of a friend, a brother, a child, a failure, or what is called a common accident, may change the whole history of a man. And then come the trials of the soul, and then it is the heart goes forth to covetousness; it is then that man begins to fear; and it is then too comes, and then too is felt, the preciousness of the promise, "I will never leave thee."

II. Let me just glance, in the second place, at PERSONS. Paul, addressing himself to the Hebrews, .says, quoting David, "The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me." Will you not? Man may injure you; some men have injured you, and you are in danger of being injured still more in the dark future. What is your protection?" The Lord is my helper." I should be afraid of man; but He being my succour and my helper I shall not be afraid. Man in very many ways may injure us; taking society as it is constituted, and taking into consideration especially its evils. Man may injure our feelings, which is not a very trifling matter — may injure our reputation, civil, social, sacred — may injure our property — may injure our persons — may do what is still more painful, may injure our souls. The nearer and dearer persons are to us, the greater is the danger of being injured by them. They may injure us by the carelessness or even by the impurity of their conversation, they may injure us by false guiles or by base cruelties, they may injure us by their seductions, they may injure us by their frowns, and by their severities, and by their contempts, and by their persecutions. "But the Lord is my helper, and I will not fear," &c. These then are the external circumstances which render the promise before me peculiarly applicable, "Be content with such things as ye have," for He, "God," hath said, "I will never leave thee nor forsake thee." I was going to say, whence evils spring up, and that is ourselves. Many of our fears rise and terminate in our own beings. Evil thoughts, evil imaginations, evil affections, malice, pride, unkindness, indifference to the misery of others, and a variety of other things; these in frightful numbers and in horrid forms present themselves to the conscience, and then the soul is afraid. He thinks of sins in life and sins in language, sins of the soul and sins of the senses, sins against God as a personality, against God as a governor; and, as the scene blackens before his eyes, he says within himself, "I could have trusted that that cloud would have passed away; but I am an offender against my God, I feel that I have increased His displeasure, therefore what shall I do?" Now again comes the promise; yes, and we need not hesitate, we need not tremble to go to God and say, "It is mine, it is mine." He has said, "I will never leave thee," etc. Now, I said that the evils were of two kinds — external, arising from circumstances, and personal, springing up from ourselves. Now God meets these two evils, the first by His Providence, and the second by His influences and His Spirit. First, God says, "I will take care of the things"; and secondly, He says, "I will take care of you."

(Caleb Morris.)

Where has He said so? If the chapter-and-verse theory be insisted upon, there is no proof that these precise words were ever uttered by God. Yet if the doctrine be withdrawn from the Bible, the Bible will be impoverished by the withdrawal of its richest solaces. There are words, too, marvellously like the very words of the text (Genesis 28:15; Deuteronomy 31:6, 8; Joshua 1:5). There are words spoken to the soul in secret. The heart remembers, attests, clings to them With tenacious love. There are paraphrased revelations; seed-revelations grown into blooming flowers of assurance. Let us take it, then, as the most assured fact in spiritual history that God never forsakes the man whom He has undertaken to guard and nourish — it is the unwritten and eternal law which comes out of the very nature of the Divine Being.

I. This word is SUFFICIENT — because GOD HAS SPOKEN IT. We say of some men, "Their word is their bond." Shall we say less of the Living One, of whose eternity our life is but a spark?

II. The word is INSPIRING — because IT PLEDGES THE PERSONAL FELLOWSHIP OF GOD. "I will never leave thee": not, Angels shall be sent to thee, &c. Enoch walked with God. To Moses God said, "Certainly I will be with thee." To the Church Jesus says, "I am with you alway," &c.

III. This word is COMPLETE — because IT EMBRACES ALL TIME: "I will never leave thee." The child becomes free of the parent; the apprentice is liberated from his bonds; the hireling fulfils his day — but union with God is perpetual, and its joy is an ever-augmenting sum.

IV. This word is CONDESCENDING — because IT IS PERSONAL IN ITS APPLICATION. It is not a pledge given to the universe as a whole; it is spoken to the individual heart, and is to be applied by each heart according to special circumstances. The whole exists for the part, as well as the part for the whole. "All things are yours." Every flower may claim the sun.

V. This word is Assuring — because IT IS REDUNDANT IN ITS EXPRESSION. "I will never leave thee," would have been enough for a merely technical bond; more is added; we have word upon word, so that the heart cannot escape the golden walls of protection and security. Love does not study terseness. It must be emphatic; it must be copious. Regarding this promise, what should be its practical effect?

1. We should inquire whether we are entitled to apply it to ourselves. It is not for all men. The question is one of spiritual character. Are we the children of God?

2. Be entitled to it, we should live as if we truly realised it: not gloomily; not self-trustingly; not fretfully; but joyously, devoutly, thankfully.

3. Living as if we realised it, we should ask what we can do in return. "Glorify God in your body," &c. "Were the whole realm of nature mine," &c. "Present your bodies a living sacrifice," &c.

(J. Parker, D. D.)

I. A WORD OF THE LORD IS OF GREAT WEIGHT TO A BELIEVER. See then the argument, "Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for He hath said." That "He hath said " is the hammer which drives the nail home, and clinches it, with every true child of God.

II. THE WORD OF THE LORD MAY HAVE A THOUSAND FULFILMENTS. When man makes a promise, and he keeps it, that promise is done with. You cannot expect a banker to pay a cheque a second time. The merchant who duly meets his bill once has met it once for all, and the document is henceforth of no value. But when God makes a promise He fulfils it, again, and again, and again, to the same man, and to hundreds of other men. The Lord's promise once given is never recalled. He does as good as give forth each inspired promise every moment anew; He is for ever promising that which is once promised in His Word. Now I do not think this particular promise is recorded anywhere in the Old Testament in these exact words. He who is the God of grace, and of immutable love, has virtually said, by His very nature, to those that seek His face, "I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee." All that we know about God says, "I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee." All that we have ever experienced about God, all that our fathers have experienced, goes to show that Jehovah does not forsake His people.

III. THE WORD OF THE LORD IS TO BE APPROPRIATED BY EACH CHILD OF GOD, AND ACTED ON. "He hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee." I like this singularity of the person. You see Paul had been saying in general, "Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have"; and then he changes from the plural and writes, "for He hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee." When the Lord speaks in this instance His promise is in the singular. He saith not "you" and "ye," but "thou" and "thee." He speaks to us with that — I do not know what to call it unless I use a French word — sweet tu-toiage, which is the language of endearment, the chosen speech of love. When one man speaks to another, and means him to know that his promise is assuredly and altogether for him, and that he is most lovingly his friend, he cannot do better than use the singular and personal pronoun. "I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee."

IV. EACH WORD OF GOD HAS ITS OWN 'USEFULNESS. This particular word, that we have before us, is an illustration of this fact.

1. This particular text is an extraordinarily useful one, for, first, if you notice, it covers all time. "I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee." Well, if God will never leave me, He will not leave me now. If He will never leave me, no time is excluded from the word" never." However dark or however bright, it says "never."

2. Our text covers all space, as well as all time. Suppose we emigrate. Suppose we are compelled to go to a backwoods settlement of America or Canada, or away to Australia or New Zealand, this promise will go with us all the way — "I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee." Suppose we have to take to sea, and lead the risky life of a sailor: we will sail with this at the mast-head — "I will never leave thee." But suppose we should get into prison. Does not Jesus visit those who are prisoners for His name's sake? Hath He not said, "I will never leave thee"?

3. And then it covers all circumstances. "I will never leave thee." I may get to be a very childish old body. "I will never leave thee." But my dear children may all be dead, and I may be quite a solitary person. "I will never leave thee." But every friend may turn tail and desert me. "I will "never leave thee." But I may be in such a state that nobody will own me. "I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee."

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

I. VIEW THE WORDS AS A QUOTATION. The Holy Spirit led Paul to quote from the Scriptures, though he could have spoken fresh words. Thus he put honour on the Old Testament, and taught that words spoken to ancient saints belong to us. Paul quotes the sense, not the exact words — teaching that the spirit of a text is the main thing.


1. They are peculiarly a saying of God — "He hath said." This has been said, not so much by inspiration as by God Himself.

2. They are remarkably forcible from having five negatives in them in the Greek.

3. They relate to God Himself and His people. "I"... "thee."

4. They ensure His presence and His help. He would not be with us, and be inactive.

5. They guarantee the greatest good. God with us means all good.

6. They avert a dreadful evil which we deserve and might justly fear; namely, to be deserted of God.

7. They are such as He only could utter and make true. Nobody else can be with us effectually in agony, in death, in judgment.

8. They provide for all troubles, losses, desertions, weaknesses, difficulties, places, seasons, dangers, &c., in time and eternity.

9. They are substantiated by the Divine love, immutability, and faithfulness.

10. They are further confirmed by an observation of the Divine proceeding to others and to ourselves.


1. Live above visible things when we have stores in hand.

2. Present satisfaction, however low our stores may be.

3. See provision for all future emergencies.

4. A security more satisfactory, sure, ennobling, and Divine, than all the wealth of the Indies could bestow.

5. Reckon discontent a kind of blasphemy of God.


1. Our Helper is greater than our foes.

2. Our foes are entirely in His hand.

3. If permitted to afflict us, God will sustain us under their malice.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)


1. God will never leave His people, so as to cease from loving them.

2. He will never leave them nor forsake them, so as to take from them any of His new-covenant and special gifts; " for the gifts and calling of God are without repentance" (Romans 11:29).

3. He will never leave them so destitute of support and comfort, as that they shall plunge into the depths of despair.

4. The Lord will never leave nor forsake His people totally, nor finally.


1. If God is graciously present with His people, they have the greatest reason to be content, because He is the most bountiful of all providers.

2. If the Lord be graciously present, with Him he may be content, because he has the most powerful of all protectors.

3. Because, when their God is graciously present with them, they have the wisest of all leaders.

4. They may be content, because they have ever with them the most skilful physician.

5. Since their God will never leave them, nor forsake them, they may be satisfied; because they are always furnished with the most effectual and compassionate Comforter.

6. Since God will never leave His people, they have ever with them the nearest of all relations, and the most excellent of all companions.


1. The inviolable faithfulness of the Promiser is good security for the accomplishment of the promise.

2. His relation and love to them is good security for the accomplishment of the promise.

3. The power of the Promiser affords them good security for the accomplishment of the promise.

4. The mediation of Christ may be considered by God's afflicted and poor people as noble security.

5. The believing consideration, that the glory of all the Divine persons is connected with God's being graciously present with His people, that He may complete their salvation.


1. You must close with His Son, Jesus Christ, in the offers of the gospel.

2. You must not only begin your acquaintance and correspondence with God, by believing in our Lord Jesus Christ; but by believing in Him, and improving Him, you must maintain and carry on your correspondence with God.

3. That you may attain and carry on a loving correspondence with God, you must wait on Him, in all the ordinances of His grace.

4. Beware of doing anything that may provoke Him to "leave you, and forsake you."

5. Endeavour, through the Spirit, to cleave close to Christ, and plead importunately the promise of His perpetual presence,

6. Let unbelievers consider, that this God, who is the best of all friends, the mightiest of all protectors, and the best of all companions, is, to those who persevere in rejecting the overtures of His grace, the most dreadful of all enemies, the most inflexible of all judges, and most terrible of all executioners. Flee, flee, therefore, without delay to the Lord Jesus, as the only all-sufficient Saviour.

(John Jardine.)


1. Forsaking implies an utter loneliness.

2. Utter helplessness.

3. Utter friendlessness.

4. Hopelessness.

5. Unutterable agony.

II. A GRACIOUS PROMISE. What is guaranteed in this promise? Herein doth God give to His people everything. "I will never leave thee." Then no attribute of God can cease to be engaged for us. Is He mighty? He will show Himself strong on the behalf of them that trust Him. Is He love? Then with everlasting lovingkindness will He have mercy upon us. Whatever attributes may compose the character of Deity every one of them to its fullest extent shall be engaged on our side. Moreover, whatsoever God hath, whether it be in the lowest hades or in the highest heaven, whatever can be contained in infinity or can be held within the circumference of eternity, shall be with His people for ever, since "He hath said, I will never leave you, nor forsake you."

III. THE SWEET CONFIRMATIONS of this most precious promise.

1. The Lord will not and cannot leave His people, because of His relationship to them. He is your Father — will your Father leave you?

2. Then, next, His honour binds Him never to forsake thee. When we see a house half-built and left in ruins, we say, "This man began to build and was not able to finish." Shall this be said of thy God, that He began to save thee and could not bring thee to perfection? Is it possible that He will break His word, and so stain His truth?

3. And if that be not enough, wilt thou remember besides this that the past all goes to prove that He will not forsake thee. Thou hast been in deep waters; hast thou been drowned? Thou hast walked through the fires; hast thou been burned?

4. And if that be not enough ask thy Father and the saints that have gone before. Did ever any perish trusting in Christ?

5. There is no reason why He should east us off. Can you Adduce any reason why He should cast you away? Is your poverty the danger of your life? In all these things we are more than conquerors through Him that hath loved us. Do you say it is your sins? That would have been a cause why He never should have loved them, but having loved them when they were dead in trespasses and sins, their sin can never be a reason for leaving them.

IV. And now the SUITABLE CONCLUSIONS to be drawn from this doctrine.

1. One of the first is contentment.

2. Courage is the next lesson. Let us boldly say, "God is my Helper, why should I fear what man can do unto me."

3. Then, next, we ought to cast off our despondency.

4. And then, here is an argument for the greatest possible delight.

5. Lastly, what ground there is here for faith. Let us lean upon our God with all our weight.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

It is not here said God will never Afflict His people. Sorrow is the heirloom of royal hulls as well as of lowly huts. It is well it should be so, for sorrow is useful; man cannot bear ceaseless sunshine, he needs the intercepting cloud. In the second place, it is not here said that God will never bereave His people. A vacant chair is in every home and by every fireside. It may seem a very severe lesson, but it is a very necessary one — if death never cast his cold, dark shadow upon your fireside, you would begin to worship that fireside; you would incline to make this earthly tabernacle your home. In the next place, it is not said here that men, or even Christians, will never die; that is not so. It does seem to us sometimes inexplicable, if Christ has destroyed death, that Christians should still die. The Answer is, He has not destroyed death as a fact; but He has done better, He has left the fact, but out of the bosom of the cold fact He,has evoked blessings that more than compensate for all its bitterness. God not having promised these things to us, has however said to us what is far better — He will never forsake His people. He will be with them in any one or in all of these together, their peace and support. His omniscience will always watch you with a sentinel eye that never closes, His omnipresence will always reach and help you — if you go to the ends of the earth. The Lord will not forsake His people. No palace walls, however thick, no guards, however brave, no breadth of sea, no number of miles, no impassable desert, shall intercept the visits or arrest the interposition of God. There is not a sting in the human heart, there is not a shadow, however blighting, on the human soul, which God sees not. When all God's billows, and afflictions, And troubles pass over you, a light brighter than the brightest star, even the morning star, will rise upon you, and. a voice louder than the noise of the sea waves, and more musical by far, will bring comfort to your heart: "It is I; be not Afraid." But in viewing this blessed promise, that God will not forsake His people, let me notice some of the circumstances in which He will not forsake, or, interpreted in the positive form, He will be specially present, for all God's negatives are most expressive; His promise, "I will not forsake you," is the strongest form of saying, "The Lord will Always and everywhere be with His people."

1. Well, God will not forsake you in affliction, and trials, and difficulties, when all you loved is lost, when all you counted on has put forth unexpected wings and fled; — and need I say we live in a period when no man is certain that the honest possessions of to-day will be his property to-morrow; and perhaps the lesson that God is teaching us amid all the mutations of this age is not to set our hearts upon uncertain riches.

2. In the second place, God will not forsake you in the time and during the pain of bereavement. And if this be so, if it be God that interposes, if it be God that takes the pilgrim home, then what is our inference? There are no such things as accidental deaths.

3. God will not forsake His people when entrusted with great responsibilities. When you are called upon to fulfil great duties, never forget to plead God's great promise. All that is in God is with us, and for us, so that the inexhaustible capital, on which a Christian can draw, is the omnipresence, the omniscience, the omnipotence, the love of God his Father in heaven. The reason why God does not forsake you and me is that He is the Lord God, merciful and gracious, long-suffering, abundant in goodness, so that it cannot be exhausted. Another reason is because He has been pleased to make us His people. God does not forsake us for His name's sake, because He has been pleased to make us His people.

(J. Cumming, D. D.)

This is a promise which bears no special address. We cannot fix a name to it, and for this we are grateful. There are some promises, which, like letters, have been addressed to certain persons, and which to the end of time will bear upon their envelope those particular names. There are other promises, and they are by far the most numerous, which either were never exclusively addressed to an individual or community, or were far too great for such to monopolise, or for any age to exhaust; and which have been redirected and repeated in varying phrase, but with identity of meaning and additional emphasis, as generations have passed by. Ah! these old promises, like Him who uttered them, are the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever. They partake of His own infinitude. This assurance of our text meets the highest needs of our nature. Loneliness is one of the most trying experiences possible to man. It never has been from man's creation, and never will be to all eternity, "good for man to be alone." Is it not a mysterious law, that the higher the type of creature the more dependent he is, and the greater his needs? The higher the type, the more complex is the organism, and the greater and more varied the necessities, until we reach man, the greatest creature whom God has made on earth; then we touch the most needy. Thus, as you rise in the scale of being, you rise into need. It is only an Almighty, self-existent God that can be the complement of such a creation. Therefore does God speak to man as He does not to any other creature on earth, as if to say, "I have made thee only a little lower than the angels; hence thou hast immeasurable ambitions, and needs. Thy nobility consists in the greatness of thy dependence. The highest necessity of thy nature is that thou shouldest have great need. I, Myself, am thy supreme need. Thou art too great to be satisfied with less than thy God and thy Saviour. I will satisfy thee; I will not leave thee Godless: better that thou shouldest miss all than thy God. 'I will in no wise fail thee, neither will I in any wise forsake thee.'"

I. The PROMISE OF DIVINE SUFFICIENCY. "I will in no wise fail thee." The emphasis which is placed upon the word "Himself" must not be overlooked — "For Himself hath said." I have pointed out that in proportion to the greatness of our nature is the measure of our need. I would now remind you that in proportion to the measure of our fall is our need multiplied. No creature in heaven will have made so great a demand upon God as redeemed man. It is to this creature, with needs intensified by his own sin, but who now realises his entire dependence upon God, that God Himself speaks — "I will in no wise fail thee."

1. God's promise projects itself into the unknown future. "I will never leave thee." Man cannot live in the present. He ever looks forward. His hopes and fears come from life's morrows. This accounts for the interest which promises and predictions ever awaken in the heart of man.

2. Again, the promise includes every change of circumstance and variety of experience. The words of God by the mouth of Isaiah grandly emphasise this (Isaiah 42:2). In the face of the infinite variety of disappointment and trouble is the permanence of this Divine promise that God will be with us. None but the eternal and unchanging God, as revealed in Jesus Christ our Lord, can satisfy our yearnings and meet our needs. It is, however, enough if He be with us.

II. THE PROMISE OF DIVINE FAITHFULNESS. There is nothing more beautiful in life than fidelity, nothing so abhorrent as infidelity. It would seem as if the consummation of the world's guilt will be its unfaithfulness (Luke 18:8) — unfaithfulness to man as well as to God. Sin will culminate in the prevalence of Cain-like infidelity brother-ward and God-ward. Now, over against that, the acme of God's excellence is His faithfulness. It is this which alone can triumph over human infidelity. It is this, too, which bears with us in our doubts and fears, and bids us trust (2 Timothy 2:13, R.V.). Thus the Divine constancy contrasts with our inconstancy. It is this fact that has sustained the saints in all ages when persecuted, and even when "in perils among false brethren." This assurance may be ours. H we did but appropriate this twofold promise, what heroisms would be ours, and what noble lives we should live!

(D. Davies.)

John Owen, in a letter dictated to his friend, Charles Heetwood, says, "Live and pray, hope and wait patiently, and do not despond; the promise stands invincible, that He will never leave nor forsake us." Forcibly are the negatives in this passage rendered by Kirkham, in his well-known hynm:

"The soul that on Jesus hath leaned for repose,

I will not, I will not desert to His foes;

That soul, though all hell should endeavour to shake,

I'll never, no never, no never forsake."How sad the confession of Cardinal Wolsey, when he was leaving the world: "Had I been but as careful to please God as I have been to serve my prince, He would not have forsaken me now in the time of my grey hairs!" How beautifully in contrast with his were the last moments of Mrs. Isabella Brown! A quarter of an hour before she died she was reading a list of Scripture promises: and, noticing particularly this tender declaration, "I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee," she said, faintly: "Oh, they are sweet!" After her death the list was found on her breast with her hand upon it.

Our friend, Dr. William Graham, of Bonn, has lately departed this life, and we are told that on his death-bed one said to him, "He hath said, ' I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee,'" to which the good man replied, with his dying breath, "Not a doubt of it t Not a doubt of it!"

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

A heathen sage said to one of his friends, "Do not complain of thy misfortunes, as long as Caesar is thy friend!" What shall we say to those whom the Prince of the kings of the earth calls His sons and His brethren? "I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee!" Ought not these words to cast all fear and care for ever to the ground? He who possesses Him, to whom all things belong, possesseth all things.

(F. W. Krummacher.)

I have read of a company of poor Christians who were banished into some remote part; and one standing by, seeing them pass along, said that it was a very sad condition these poor people were in, to be thus hurried from the society of men, and made companions with the beasts of the field. "True," said another, "it were a sad condition indeed if they were carried to a place where they should not find their God. But let them be of good cheer, God goes along with them, and will exhibit the comforts of His presence whithersoever they go."

(T. Brooks.)

There are cases in which mere presence is something very bad. The presence of the desperately wicked is a grief and heart-sorrow to the righteous. The presence of a deceitful enemy is a terror to an upright and generous spirit. The presence of one of Job's comforters in the day of our sorrow is an intolerable nuisance. But the presence of a mother to a sick child, or the presence of a father to a child in bodily danger, or the presence of a medical practitioner to a sick person is as light in darkness, or as a copious dew upon withered grass. Simple presence is very good when presence has a good and sweet influence. But presence and action, presence and ministration, presence and service, is all we can desire — that is, if the individual present be such as we desire.

(S. Martin.)

If God be with us we shall never be alone, nor shall we feel lonely — that is, if we believe in God's presence. If God be with us, He will not be inactive on our behalf. He will provide for us so that we shall not be needy or destitute (Psalm 23:1). He will guide us so that we shall not err or mistake our way (Psalm 73:24). He will protect us so that no real evil can befall us (Psalm 121:7, 8). He will preserve us that we shall not perish or lose any good thing (John 10:28, 29; 2 Timothy 4:18.)

(S. Martin.)

There is an old English proverb which says, "He cannot be poor who has the Lord Mayor for his uncle"; we may rather say, "He cannot be poor who has God for his friend."

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