Does a wild donkey bray over fresh grass, or an ox low over its fodder?
I. THE SATISFIED ARE NOT DISCONTENTED. We have illustrations of this fact in nature. Among the wild animals ("the wild ass"), and also among the domesticated ("the ox"), we see that sufficiency produces content. If the wild ass brays, or if the ox lows, something is amiss. Supply them with all they need, and they will be quiet and contented. If, therefore, Job is not. at rest, something must be amiss with him.
1. The discontent of society makes it evident that some want is unsupplied. Men do not rebel for the sake of rebellion. Political and social upheavals have their sources in some disorganized condition of the body politic. If all were satisfied, quiet would reign universally.
2. The discontent of the soul proves that the soul is not satisfied. Man has deeper needs than the animals. The wild ass and the tame ox can be satisfied, while man is still possessed by a "Divine discontent." This very restlessness is a sign of his higher nature. His thirst reveals the depths from which it springs. Man is
"Poor in abundance, famish'd at a feast,
II. THE UNSATISFIED MUST BE DISCONTENTED. This is more than the reverse side of the previous statement. It carries with it the idea that the dissatisfaction cannot be stifled, must be met, if it is to be set at rest. The truth is illustrated from natural things. Unsavoury food cannot be made savoury without the salt, the needed condiment. That which is naturally tasteless, like the white of an egg, cannot be made to have delicious flavours by any conjuring process, unless the thing itself is changed or receives additions. So no jugglery will remove the dissatisfaction of society or of the soul. We cannot make the world at rest by wishing it to be peaceful, or by declaring it to be quiet. A theory of order is not order, nor is a doctrine of optimism a quietus for the world's distresses. The bitter cry of the outcast will not be allayed because some philosophers believe themselves to be living in "the best of possible worlds." We do not make peace by calling, "Peace, peace!" when there is no peace. To preach to souls of rest and satisfaction is not to bestow those desired boons. It is as much a mockery to tell miserable men to be contented without supplying their wants, as to tell the hungry and naked to be fed and clothed while we do nothing to furnish them with what they lack. Any lulling of discontent without curing its cause is false and unhealthy. It is like putting a weight on the safety-valve. It is no better than the morphia that allays the symptoms of the disease it cannot cure. The discontent should go on till it finds its remedy in a true satisfaction.
1. Christ gives this for society in the kingdom of heaven; if we followed out his teaching in the world the wants of society would be satisfied.
2. He gives it for the soul in his body and blood, and the life eternal that comes from fellowship with him. - W.F.A.
Doth the wild ass bray when he hath grass?
I. HE WHO IS SATISFIED DOES NOT COMPLAIN. He goes straight on to the enjoyment of the possession he has acquired. The ox or the ass that has abundance of food does not make lamentation. Job meant to say that this was the case with him. If he were only reaping the fruit of his conduct, he would not complain; or even if his suffering had been the result of sinful indulgence, or came to him from evil doing, or thinking, he would have submitted. But he suffered greatly, knowing at the same time that he was altogether innocent. He had not received his just reward, and therefore he did complain.
II. EMPLOYMENT IS THE ROOT OF CONTENT. Laziness breeds contention. The man who has honest work to do, and does it, eats and is satisfied. It is your hungry, idle men who are agitators. It is so —
1. Because the busy man has no time for brooding on his cares. The ass or the ox at his food has something to occupy his attention, and has therefore not a moment to spare for braying.
2. Because he has no opportunity for shallow noise. If he wished to bray or low, the very fact of having his mouth full would prevent him. So men whose hands are full of employment, cannot cast down the work they are engaged upon, for the mere sake of airing their grievances. When the wild ass has been well filled, and when the ox has finished his fodder, then they will waste their time in mischief and discontent. The proper remedy for restless agitation is plenty of work, and the labour which is ever necessary to procure and prepare our daily wants.
(J. J. S. Bird.)
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