Philippians 4:11
I am not saying this out of need, for I have learned to be content regardless of my circumstances.
Sermons
Bad Might be WorseBishop Hall.Philippians 4:11
Christian ContentmentW. Anderson, LL. D.Philippians 4:11
Content not Found in CircumstancesIzaak Walton.Philippians 4:11
ContentmentI. S. Spencer, D. D.Philippians 4:11
ContentmentI. Barrow, D. D.Philippians 4:11
ContentmentL. S. Spencer, D. D.Philippians 4:11
ContentmentT. Guthrie, D. D.Philippians 4:11
ContentmentV. Hutton Philippians 4:11
ContentmentCharles Haddon Spurgeon Philippians 4:11
Contentment Does not Always Imply PleasureH. W. Beecher.Philippians 4:11
Contentment is RareH. W. Beecher.Philippians 4:11
Contentment Looks At What is LeftJeremy Taylor.Philippians 4:11
Contentment not Found in an Exchange of PlacesJ. Vaughan, M. A.Philippians 4:11
Contentment not Inconsistent with DiscontentG. Dawson, M. A.Philippians 4:11
Contentment the Outcome of a Right View of CircumstancesPhilippians 4:11
Contentment: a ParablePaxton Hood.Philippians 4:11
Equanimity Reasonable to FaithSunday at Home.Philippians 4:11
Evil 3T. Watson.Philippians 4:11
Helps to ContentmentPhilippians 4:11
Learning to be ContentIsaac Barrow, D. D.Philippians 4:11
Making the Best of CircumstancesS. Smiles.Philippians 4:11
Sources of ContentmentSunday at Home.Philippians 4:11
St. Paul's ContentmentL. S. Spencer, D. D.Philippians 4:11
The Art of Divine ContentmentPhilippians 4:11
The Best LessonR. Newton, D. D.Philippians 4:11
The Blessedness of ContentmentS. Johnson, LL. D.Philippians 4:11
The Condition of ContentmentG. Dawson, M. A.Philippians 4:11
The Secret of ContentmentT. Croskery Philippians 4:10-13
Man in Model AspectsD. Thomas Philippians 4:10-17
A Grateful HeartJ. Lyth, D. D.Philippians 4:10-20
Hearing and DoingBiblical TreasuryPhilippians 4:10-20
Hesitation DestructiveJ. Denton.Philippians 4:10-20
Importance of OpportunityPhilippians 4:10-20
Paul Thanks the Philippians for Their ContributionR. Finlayson Philippians 4:10-20
Paul's GratitudeJ. Lyth, D. D.Philippians 4:10-20
Philippian Charity and Pauline DelicacyDean Vaughan.Philippians 4:10-20
The Art of Divine ContentmentR.M. Edgar Philippians 4:10-23
The Secret of ContentmentW.F. Adeney Philippians 4:11, 12
ContentmentW. L. Watkinson.Philippians 4:11-13
Contentment in All ThingsH. W. Beecher.Philippians 4:11-13
The School of ChristW. Cadman, M. A.Philippians 4:11-13
The Tendency of Christian Principles to Produce True ContentmentE. Cooper, M. A.Philippians 4:11-13
To be contented with one's lot is a thing to be desired; to be contented with one's self is a thing to be dreaded. Our lot is that which God has been pleased to choose for us. Our self is that character or disposition which is being daily built up by our co-operation with God's grace.

I. ST. PAUL'S DISCONTENT WITH HIMSELF. (See Philippians 2:12 -14.) It is his sense of need which aroused the desire for, and therefore secured the possession of, spiritual growth. To be contented with one's own spiritual state is to prevent the possibility of spiritual progress. All progress springs out of a sense of insufficiency. "Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."

II. ST. PAUL'S CONTENT WITH HIS LOT. So far as worldly advantages are concerned it was not an enviable one. But he had received sufficient of his Master's Spirit to know that man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things that he possesseth. This contrast between Divine discontent and Divine content is paralleled by the "Thou shall not covet" of the Decalogue and the "Covet earnestly the best gifts" of St. Paul. - V.W.H.







I have learned in whatsoever state I am therewith to be content
I. ITS NATURE.

1. It is opposed to dissatisfaction, and by submission to the hardships of life disarms them of half their power. It is too sensible to aim after impossibilities, or to increase the infelicities of life by fretfulness. A just mind is necessary to it, one who sees things as they are instead of through the distorting medium of a jaundiced eye. The injustice of mind accompanying pride produces peevishness, and that accompanying ambition petulance.

2. It is not, however, indifference or stupidity, although these sometimes pass for such. Minds too sluggish to think, hearts too insensible to feel, souls too selfish to do either, have neither sensibility nor sense to complain. But contentment can feel, hope, sigh; but its feelings are not allowed to run into fretfulness, and its sighs are often exchanged for smiles. If it cannot have what it would it will not brood over its disappointments, but brighten them by sweet submission.

3. It has no kinship with fatalism. When the calls of duty come in conflict with the desires for cherished sinfulness, it is no uncommon thing for a foolish sinner to say that his plans and actions can alter nothing; the real meaning of which he is too lazy to plan or act at all; so he misnames his vice the virtue of contentment. Paul's contentment, however, was to work, plan, pray. He did not submit beforehand, because he did not know beforehand; but when the event came he said, "I am content," i.e., with the ascertained will of his Master.

II. THE MODE OF ITS ACQUISITION. "I have learned," i.e., as a lesson, and with difficulty, too. If we trace its experiences we shall find —

1. A sensibility to the Divine hand. He saw God in his trials, and said, "Thy will be done." It is a very different thing to submit under the ills of life through a realization of their Divine appointment, and to submit from sullenness or stupidity, See, then, in them the God of all wisdom and goodness.

2. He hoped in God. No man can be contented without hope. This leads to contentedness in certain expectation of deliverance, if not here, by and by. "I know whom I have believed," etc.

3. He had his treasure in heaven; and if we have we can say, "Our light affliction which is but for a moment," etc., and so be content. And even in prosperity this consolation is required; for amidst abounding riches there is dissatisfaction. Something more is wanted.

4. He had experiences which tried him. His content did not arise from tuition, faith, hope, heavenly mindedness, alone or together. His painful experiences gave strength to his contentment, and made successive trials light and met more willingly. They taught him to say, "When I am weak I am strong; I can do all things through Christ," etc.

III. THE REASONS WHICH ENFORCE IT.

1. The power which has allotted our state. God reigns. An inscrutable wisdom and overruling providence is at work. How unreasonable, then, to complain when trouble comes. It is either a deserved chastise. merit or a healthful discipline. Discontent is an injustice in high quarters. Take, then, your happy place, it is your heavenly Father's appointment in love.

2. Contentment is safety. How many have suffered irretrievably through wandering from their allotted path, or wishing and striving to do so. The humblest cottage is better than a fever-stricken or earthquake-shaken palace.

3. Contentment enhances our enjoyment and diminishes our miseries. Evils become lighter by patient endurance, and benefits are poisoned by discontent.

4. The miseries of life are sufficiently deep and extensive without adding to them.

5. Contentment is the means of receiving new lessons about God.

(I. S. Spencer, D. D.)

signifies self-sufficiency. Here it is not to be understood absolutely as if it taught independence in nature, not wanting anything outside of self. Paul did not mean to exclude God or His providence, but supposed them — "not as if we were sufficient of ourselves, but our sufficiency is of God." He did not desire or lack more than what God had supplied him with. His will suited his state, his desire. did not exceed his power. The object of contentment, then, is the present state of things, whatever it may be, wherein God has set us. Those of the highest fortune are most apt to respect the smallest things, whereas a poor estate is easily comforted by the accession of little. The formal object may seem to be a condition adverse to our sense — but since all men are in such a condition more or less, therefore any state may be the object of contentedness, and prince and peasant alike need to learn this lesson. To turn now to the acts wherein the practice consisted.

I. AS TO OUR OPINIONS AND JUDGMENTS. Contentedness requires that —

1. We should believe our condition, whatever it may be, to be determined by God, or at least that He permits it according to His pleasure.

2. Hence we should judge everything that happens to be thoroughly good, worthy of God's appointment, and not entertain harsh thoughts of Him.

3. We should even be satisfied in our minds that according to God's purpose all events conduce to the welfare not only of things in general but to ours in particular.

4. Hence we are to believe that our present condition is, all things considered, the best — better than we could have devised for ourselves.

II. AS TO THE DEPOSITIONS OF WILL AND AFFECTION.

1. We should entertain all occurrences, how grievous soever, with entire submission to the will of God.

2. We should bear all things with steady calmness and composedness of mind, quelling those excesses of passion which the sense of things disgustful is apt to excite.

3. We should bear the worst events with sweet cheerfulness and not succumb to discouragement. "As sorrowful, yet always rejoicing."

4. We should with faith and hope rely and wait on God for the removal or easement of our afflictions, or confide in Him for grace to support them well. "Why art thou cast down," etc.

5. We should not faint or languish. No adversity should impair the forces of our reason or spirit, enervate our courage, or slacken our industry. "If thou faint in adversity thy strength is small."

6. We should not be weary of our condition or have irksome longings for alterations, but with a quiet indifference and willingness lie under it during God's pleasure, considering "Him who endured such contradictions of sinners against Himself."

7. We should by adverse accidents be rendered lowly in our own eyes, meek in our temper, and sensible of our own unworthiness. "Be humble under the mighty hand of God." "To this man will I lock," etc.

8. It is required that we should, notwithstanding any hardness in our condition, be kindly affected towards others, being satisfied and pleased with their more prosperous state.

9. Contentedness implies freedom from anxiety in reference to provision for our needs, "casting our burden on the Lord."

10. It requires that we should curb our desires, and not affect more in quantity or better in quality than our nature or state require. "He," as Socrates said, "is nearest to the gods (who need nothing) that needs fewest things."

11. It imports that whatever our condition is our mind and affections should be squared accordingly. If we are rich we should get a bountiful heart; if poor we should be frugal; if high in dignity, well ballasted; if low, meek and steady.

III. From hence should arise CORRESPONDENT EXTERNAL DEMEANOUR.

1. We should restrain our tongues from all unseemly expressions implying displeasure at God's providence. "Wherefore doth a living man complain?" "Be still and know that I am God."

2. We should declare our satisfaction in God's dealings, acknowledging His wisdom, justice, and goodness, and blessing Him for all.

3. We should abstain from all unlawful courses towards the remedy of our needs, choosing quietly to abide under their presence rather than to violently relieve ourselves.

4. We should, notwithstanding adversity, proceed in our affairs with alacrity, courage, and industry, allowing no grievance to render us listless or lazy. Activity is a good way to divert and the readiest way to remove a good many ills.

5. We should behave ourselves fairly and kindly towards the instruments of our adversity, "being reviled" we should "bless," etc.

(I. Barrow, D. D.)

I. ITS SPHERE. It is exercised in different circumstances.

1. In the midst of competence, in which case it suppresses the strivings of ambition and envious murmurings on account of the successes of others.

2. Under hope deferred, in which case it teaches a patient waiting for God's time as the best.

3. Under pressure of adversity, from which there is no hope of escape in this world, in which case it represses fretfulness and a charging of God foolishly.

II. ITS QUALIFICATIONS AND ILLUSTRATIONS.

1. It was his portion of worldly goods with which the apostle was content — not with his spiritual condition. This would have been sin. With this we should be discontented. Nor is this inconsistent with gratitude for grace received. The contentment of an unrenewed man is a great aggravation of his sinfulness. But while discontented on account of the evil of your own heart, be not discontented with the slow operations of God's sanctifying grace, so as to fret and fume that you are not already perfect.

2. Contentment with our worldly condition is not inconsistent with endeavour to have it improved.(1) To the poorest man Christianity says, "Be thou content," but also, "be diligent in business" (1 Corinthians 7:21). The contentment enjoined is for the time being. The man is poor today, and for this day faith enjoins him to be satisfied. But deliverance from poverty may be best for tomorrow, and he therefore works for his extrication. He may not succeed, but he says it appears to be best that poverty should be continued another day, and thus he proceeds till relief comes.(2) Some persons of a tender but mistaken conscience feel as if it were a sin to attempt to rise. This is foolish. It is our commanded duty to endeavour to improve our circumstances, only we must not murmur if we do not succeed.(3) There are those who presume to denounce people when they agitate for the repeal of bad laws — preaching the Christian duty of content. That contentment is a part of duty is granted. Iniquitous legislation is as much a permitted judgment of God as famine, and during the time of its infliction we must humble ourselves. But in both cases a man is a criminal who does not use all means for the removal of the curse. What would have been our condition but for a noble Christian patriotism.

3. This contentment is relative to our present state, and not absolute in respect to the entire demands of our nature. The Christian is content with his supplies as a pilgrim. To be satisfied with the world as a home is sinful. It is well enough as a land to travel in, but I expect something better.

III. THE MANNER IN WHICH IT IS TO BE CHERISHED.

1. Let us reflect that whatever our circumstances they are the arrangement of the providence of God, who has a sovereign right to dispose of us. "Let the potsherds strive with the potsherds of earth, but woe to him that contendeth with his Maker."

2. It is requisite that we should acquire a habit of looking at the favourable as well as the adverse side. If you are poor, God has given you your health; if He has taken two of your children He has spared a third; some of your neighbours are worse off; at the worst you have your Bible and your Saviour.

3. Supposing our lives were affliction throughout, still we would deserve worse.

4. God designs our advantage in every calamity. Christian hope is the secret of Christian contentment.

(W. Anderson, LL. D.)

I. CONSIDERATION.

1. Of the special matter of it.(1) Who orders the state, and how is it ordered? (Psalm 31:15). God orders things

(a)irresistibly (Isaiah 43:13; Ecclesiastes 8:3; Ephesians 1:11);

(b)righteously (Genesis 18:25; Psalm 145:17; Revelation 15:8);

(c)wisely (Psalm 104:24);

(d)graciously (Psalm 25:10).(2) The state itself.

(a)It is mixed — the good more than the evil; the evil is our desert and the good of grace.

(b)It is common (1 Corinthians 10:13; 1 Peter 5:9).

(c)It is proper to this present life, which is but a pilgrimage.

(d)It might be worse.(3) The frame of contentment.

(a)It is a gracious frame.

(b)It is a frame highly pleasing to God.

(c)It is a frame greatly advantageous to ourselves. It fills with comfort; fits for duty; procures the mercy we desire, or something better; sweetens every cup. Whereas discontent is a sad inlet to sin; a preparation to all temptations; deprives of happiness; exposes to judgments (Psalm 106:24-27; 1 Corinthians 10:10).

2. Of particular cases where consideration is to be acted upon in order to contentment.(1) Lowness of estate. Is extreme poverty the ease? consider then —

(a)The Lord maketh poor and rich (1 Samuel 2:7).

(b)None are so poor but they have more than they deserve.

(c)Hitherto the Lord hath provided, and if you trust Him will still provide (Psalm 73:8; Matthew 6:25; Hebrews 13:5).

(d)A little with God's blessing will go far and do well (Exodus 23:25; 1 Kings 17:12).

(e)The saint's little is better than the sinner's all (Proverbs 15:16; Psalm 37:16).

(f)No man can judge of God's love or hatred by these things (Ecclesiastes 9:1; Matthew 8:20; 2 Corinthians 8:9).

(g)God keeps you low in earthly possessions, but how is it with you in higher and better things (Revelation 2:9; James 2:5; 1 Timothy 6:18; Luke 12:21).

(h)You think God is strait with you in temporal, but is He not abundantly gracious in spiritual things?(2) There are some with whom it is much better. Consider in your case —

(a)The greatness of the sin of discontent in you above what it is in the persons spoken of before.

(b)How thankful would many be if they were in your position.

(c)Christians are to bound their desires after things below (Jeremiah 45:5; 1 Timothy 6:8; Matthew 6:11).

(d)A little sufficeth nature, less sufficeth grace; but covetousness is never satisfied.

(e)A great estate is not the best estate (Proverbs 30:8) for duty (Ecclesiastes 5:13); for safety — the higher the building the more endangered; for comfort.

(f)The contented man is never poor let him have ever so little; the discontented never rich let him have ever so much.

(g)What are earthly treasures that we should be greedy of them? (1 Timothy 6:17; Proverbs 23:5).

(h)The less we have, the less we shall have to account for.(3) There are those who have lost what they had. Consider —

(a)God's hand is in losses (Job 1:21).

(b)Something is gone, but possibly all is not lost.

(c)Did you really need them? (1 Peter 1:6).

(d)Suppose all is lost, it amounts to little (1 Corinthians 7:31).

(e)If thou be a child of God the best is secure.

3. The manner in which consideration is to be managed. It must be —

(1)Frequent.

(2)Speedy.

(3)Serious.

II. GODLINESS. This produces contentment.

1. As it rectifies the several faculties of the soul.(1) It rectifies the understanding, by dispelling natural darkness and setting up a saving light.(2) It rectifies the will; causing it to comply with the will of God.(3) It rectifies the affections; taking away their inordinancy towards earthly things and keeping them with true bounds.(4) It makes the conscience good (Proverbs 15:15).

2. As it makes a person to have a powerful sense of God's glory, so as always to rest in that as his ultimate and most desirable good.

3. In the general habit of grace there are special graces which further contentment.

(1)Humility.

(2)Faith.

(3)Repentance.

(4)Heavenly mindedness.

(5)Self-denial.

III. PRAYER. Upon this the two others depend. It furthers contentment.

1. As it gives a vent to the mind under trouble.

2. As it obtains grace and strength from God.

(T. Jacomb, D. D.)

These words signify how contentedness may be attained. It is not an endowment innate to us, but it is a product of discipline "I have learned." It was a question of Plato, whether virtue is to be learned. St. Paul plainly resolves it by the testimony, of his experience. It however requires great resolution and diligence in conquering our desires; hence it is an art which few study.

I. IN REGARD TO GOD, we may consider that equity exacts, gratitude requires, and reason dictates that we should be content; or that, in being discontented, we behave ourselves unbeseemingly and unworthily, are very unjust, ungrateful, and foolish towards Him.

1. The point of equity considered, according to the gospel rule, "Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own?"

2. That of gratitude; inasmuch as we have no right or title to anything; all we have coming from God's pure bounty and designed for our good.

3. That of reason; because it is most reasonable to acquiesce in God's choice of our estate, He being infinitely more wise than we are; loves us better than we love ourselves; and has a right to dispose of us as He pleases.

II. IN REGARD TO OURSELVES we may observe much reason for contentment.

1. As men and creatures, we are naturally indigent and impotent; have no just claim to anything, nor can maintain anything by our own power. Wherefore how little soever is allowed us no wrong is done and no reason to complain.

2. And on a moral account we have still less.(1) As sinners we are obnoxious to wrath and should therefore complain of nothing.(2) We are God's servants and shall a mere servant, or slave, presume to choose his place, or determine his rank in the family? Is it not fit that these things should be left to the Master's discretion and pleasure?(3) Again, if we consider ourselves as the children of God by birth and nature, or by adoption and grace, how can we be discontented with anything?

III. IF WE CONSIDER OUR CONDITION, be it what it may, we can have no reasonable ground for discontent.

1. Our state cannot if rightly considered and well managed be insupportable. The defect of some things is supplied by other enjoyments. If we think highly of some things no wonder our condition is unpleasant if we want them; and if we consider others mighty evils, if they come upon us we can hardly escape being displeased; but if we estimate all things according to the dictates of true reason, we shall find that neither the absence of the one nor the presence of the other is deplorable.(1) Take poverty; that is, the absence of a few superfluous things which please our fancy rather than answer our need, and without which nature is easily satisfied.(2) Take his case who has fallen from honour into contempt; that may be only a change in the opinion of giddy men, the breaking of a bubble, the changing of the wind.(3) Take him who is slandered; is not every man subject to this? and the greatest and wisest most exposed to it? Or is thy reproach just? Then improve this dealing and make it wholesome.(4) Take him who is disappointed and crossed in his undertakings. Why art thou disquieted on this score? Didst thou build much expectation on uncertainties? Didst thou not foresee a possibility that thy design might miscarry? and if so, why art thou not prepared to receive what happeneth?(5) Take one who has met with unkindness and ingratitude from friends. Such misbehaviour, however, is more their calamity than ours. The loss of bad friends is no damage, but an advantage.(6) Take him who mourns the death of friends. Can he, after all, lose his best friend? Neither is it loss which he laments but only separation for a short time. He is only gone as taking a little journey. But —(7) It may perhaps displease us, that the course of this world does not go right, or according to our mind; that justice is not well dispensed, virtue not duly considered, industry not sufficiently rewarded; but favour, partiality, flattery, craft, and corruption, carry all before them. Yet why should this displease thee? Art thou guilty of contributing to it? then mend it thyself: if not, then bear it; for so it always hath been, and ever will be. Yet God is engaged competently to provide for us. God observeth this course of things, yet He permits it. But He has appointed a judgment hereafter.

2. As there is no condition here perfectly and purely good, so there is none so thoroughly bad, that it has not somewhat convenient and comfortable therein. Seldom or never all good things forsake a man at once, and in every state there is some compensation for evil. We should not pore over small inconveniences and overlook benefits. This hinders us reaping satisfaction in all other things.

3. Is our condition so extremely bad that it might not be worse? Surely not. God's providence will not suffer it. There are succours always ready against extremities — our own wit and industry; the pity and help of others. When all is gone we may keep the inestimable blessing of a good conscience, have hope in God, enjoy His favour. Why, then, are we discontented.

4. Then look at the uses of adversity — the school of wisdom, the purifying furnace of the soul, God's method of reclaiming sinners, the preparation for heaven. Who ever became great or wise or good without adversity.

5. Whatever our state it cannot be lasting. Hope lies at the bottom of the worst state that can be. "Take no thought for the morrow." Mark the promises that none who hope in God shall be disappointed. And then death will end it all and heaven compensate for all earthly ills.

IV. CONSIDER THE WORLD AND THE GENERAL STATE OF MEN HERE.

1. Look on the world as generally managed by men. Art thou displeased that thou dost not prosper therein? If thou art wise thou wilt not grieve, for perhaps thou hast no capacity nor disposition. This world is for worldlings.

2. We are indeed very apt to look upward towards those few, who, in supposed advantages of life, seem to surpass us, and to repine at their fortune; but seldom do we cast down our eyes on those innumerable good people, who lie beneath us in all manner of accommodations; whereas if we would consider the case of most men, we should see abundant reason to be satisfied with our own.

3. If even we would take care diligently to compare our state with that of persons whom we are most apt to admire and envy, it would often afford matter of consolation and contentment to us.

4. It may induce us to be content, if we consider what commonly hath been the lot of good men in the world. Scarcely is there recorded in holy Scripture any person eminent for goodness, who did not taste deeply of wants and distresses — even our Lord. Have all these then, "of whom the world was not worthy," undergone all sorts of inconvenience, being "destitute, afflicted, tormented;" and shall we disdain, or be sorry to be in such company?

V. CONSIDER THE NATURE OF THE DUTY ITSELF.

1. It is the sovereign remedy for all poverty and suffering; removing them or allaying the mischief they can do us.

2. Its happiness is better than any arising from secular prosperity. Satisfaction springing from rational content, virtuous disposition, is more noble, solid, and durable than any fruition of worldly goods can afford.

3. Contentment is the best way of bettering our condition, disposing us to employ advantages as they occur, and securing God's blessing

(Isaac Barrow, D. D.)

(Children's sermon): — The world is a school, and we have to learn our lessons in it. The best lesson we can learn is contentment.

I. WHY IT IS THE BEST LESSON.

1. Because it makes those who learn it happy. Nothing in the world can make a discontented person happy. There was a boy once who only wanted a marble; when he had the marble, he only wanted a ball; when he had a ball, he only wanted a top; when he had a top, he only wanted a kite: and when he had marble, ball, top, and kite, he was not happy. There was a man once who only wanted money; when he had money, he only wanted a house; when he had a house, he only wanted land; when he had land, he only wanted a coach; but when he had money, house, land, and coach, he wanted more than ever. I remember, when I was a boy, reading a fable about a mouse that went to a spring with a sieve to carry some water in it. He dipped the sieve in the water, but, of course, as soon as he raised it up the water all ran through. He tried it over and over again, but still no water would stay in the sieve. The poor mouse hadn't sense enough to know where the trouble was. He never thought about the holes in the sieve. The fable said that while the mouse was still trying, in vain, to get some water in the sieve to carry home, there came a little bird and perched on a branch of the tree that grew near the spring. He saw the trouble the poor mouse was in, and kindly sung out a little advice to him in these simple words:Stop it with moss, and daub it with clay, and then you may carry it all away.Trying to make a discontented person happy is like trying to fill a sieve with water. However much you pour into it, it all runs out just as fast as you pour it in. If you want to fill the sieve, you must stop the holes up. Then it will be easy enough to fill it. Just so it is with trying to make discontented people happy. It is impossible to make them happy while they are discontented. You must stop up the holes; you must take away their discontent, and then it is very easy to make them happy. If we were in Paradise, as Adam and Eve were, we should not be happy unless we learned to be content. Nay, if we were in heaven even, as Satan and the fallen angels once were, we should be unhappy without contentment. It was because Paul had learned this lesson that he could be happy, and sing for joy, when he was in a dungeon, and his back was all bleeding from the cruel stripes laid upon it.

2. Because it makes those who learn it useful. When people or things are content to do or be what God made them for, they are useful: when they are not content with this, they do harm. God made the sun to shine; the sun is content to do just what God made it for, and so it is very useful. God made the little brooks to flow through the meadows, giving drink to the cattle, and watering the grass and the roots of the trees, so as to make them green, and help them to grow. While they do this they are very useful. But suppose they should stop flowing, and spread themselves over the fields, they would do a great deal of harm. God made our hearts to keep beating, and sending the blood all over our bodies. While they are content to do this, they are very useful Let them only stop beating, and we should die.

II. WHY WE SHOULD LEARN IT.

1. Because God puts us where we are. God puts all things in the places where they are. The sun and moon and stars in the sky, the birds in the air, the fish in the sea, the trees in the woods, the grass in the fields, the stones and metals in the earth. He knows best where to put things. When people try to change what God has done, because they think they can arrange things better, they always make a mistake.

2. Because God wants us to learn it. This we know(1) from what He has said (1 Timothy 6:8; Hebrews 13:5).(2) From what He has done. He has filled the world with examples of contentment. All things that God has made are content to be where He has put them, except the children of Adam. God has done more for us than for any other of His creatures. We ought to be the most contented of all, and yet we are generally the most discontented. The fish are content with the water; the birds are content with the air. The eagle, as he soars to the sun, is content with his position; and so is the worm that crawls in its slime, or the blind mole that digs its way in darkness through the earth. All the trees of the forest are content to grow where God put them. The lily of the valley is content with its lowly place, and so is the little flower that blooms unnoticed on the side of the bleak mountain. Wherever you look you may see examples of contentment. Only think of the grass. It is spread all over the earth. It is mowed down continually; it is trodden on and trampled under foot all the time; and yet it always has a bright, cheerful, contented look. It is a beautiful image of contentment.

3. Because Jesus learned and practised it. It must have been very hard for Jesus to be content with the way in which He lived in this world, because it was so totally different from what He had been accustomed to before He came into it. A bird that has been hatched and brought up in a cage may be contented with its position, and live happily in its little wire prison. The reason is that it has never known anything better. But take a bird that has been accustomed to its liberty in the open air, and shut it up in a small cage. It cannot be contented there. It will strike its wings against the cage, and stretch its neck through the wires, and show in this way how it longs for the free air of heaven again. Just so a person who was born and brought up in a garret or cellar, and who has never known anything better, may manage to be content there. But one who has lived in a beautiful palace for many years would find it very hard to live in a damp, dark cellar, among thieves and beggars. But Jesus lived in heaven before He came here. There He had everything that He wanted.

(R. Newton, D. D.)

To be contented is to be contained, to be within limits. Whatever is within limits is likely to be quiet. A walled garden is one of the quietest places in the world; its high walls are a sign of contentment; within them are so many attractions and objects of delight; the world is shut out, and through the great gates one can look out upon it with all the affectionateness of distance and all the enchantment borrowed therefrom. An enclosed garden is a calm, quiet place, place in which to be content. So, the soul of man, being as it were in an enclosed garden, man's spirit being within limits, is thus shut into a calm, quiet, sunny content. Now there are limits which a man need not trouble himself much about making; the walls of circumstances will build themselves about you. But if you are a very wise man you will give up scraping when you have got enough, and put yourself within limits. Just as an enclosed garden becomes a place of peace and delight, so the spirit should have limits round it and let those limits become grounds of quietness, reasons of peace and content, a content which leads a man to be easy, within these walls to be so satisfied as not to pine, fret, complain, fuss, kick, or go to the gates and scream for deliverance, asking passers by, "Did you ever see such a woe as mine." The contented man limited and bound by circumstances, makes those very limits the cure of his restlessness. The warrior and conqueror is not content, but seeks to add kingdom to kingdom. The miser is not content with much, but seeks to make more money. It is not whether your garden is one rood or three acres, but what you should remember is that there is a wall, that so living within bounds, be they large or small, you may possess a quiet spirit and a happy heart. Things would then serve you, instead of your being the miserable servant of circumstances. You would then make life bring tribute to its King, instead of doing as people do, hire themselves out as servants to their goods, as waiters upon their chattels; allowing things to ride over them instead of their being masterful over things. A man should be within bounds, but within those bounds there is room for pleasure and service.

(G. Dawson, M. A.)

is not one of the distinct and separate sensibilities of the heart, standing by itself and to be examined and understood alone, so much as it is a general sensibilility which mingles with and tempers all others — which spreads its cast and character over the whole. It is not the rock on the landscape nor the rill — it is not the distant mountain of fading blue which loses its head in the heavens — it is not the tree, or the flower, or the contrast between light and shade, or that indescribable something which seems to give it life, as if the grass grew, and the flowers breathed, and the winds were singing some song of pleasure or sighing some mournful requiem. It is none of these. These can be more clearly described. But it is rather that softness, that mellow light, which lies over the whole — which sleeps on rock, and river, and tree, on the bosom of the distant mountain, and on the bosom of the humble violet that blushes in the sweetness of its lowly valley. Content is a general cast of sensibility which lies all over the heart.

(L. S. Spencer, D. D.)

"How dismal you look," said a bucket to his companion as they were going to the well. "Ah!" replied the other, "I was reflecting on the uselessness of our being filled; for, let us go away ever so full, we always come back empty." "Dear me! how strange to look at it in this way," said the bucket. "Now I enjoy the thought, that however empty we come, we always go back full. Only look at it in that light, and you will be as cheerful as I am."

If his trials were clouds upon his heavens, his contentment was the deep sunlight in which they bathed; and, just like the clouds of an evening sky, they made the heavens more beautiful than if no clouds were there.

(L. S. Spencer, D. D.)

I may be content; that is to say, I may have a calm patience in waiting over night at a miserable inn where have congregated smugglers, and drunken sailors, and the rift-raff of a bad neighbourhood. If, after fighting for my life in my little yacht, I had at last been driven up on shore, myself a wreck, and had crawled out of the water, and staggered to the light, and gone in there, would it not be proper for me to say: "I thank God for my deliverance and for my safety"? And yet every element is distasteful to me. The air reeks with bad liquor and worse oaths; and the company are obscene, and vile, and violent; the conditions are detestable; but that have escaped from the sea can say: "I am content to be here. Not that I am pleased at being there particularly; but as compared with something else it is tolerable. I have learned how to bear this." How did I learn it? I learned it by being swirled around for an hour in the whirlpools of the sea. I learned it by being thumped and pounded by the waves. I learned it by being chilled to the very marrow. So I learned to be patient with the surroundings in the midst of which I found myself. But it does not follow that a man is obliged to say: "I like these circumstances," in order to be content with them.

(H. W. Beecher.)

Am I fallen into the hands of publicans and sequestrators who have taken all from me? What now? Let me look about me. They have left me the sun and moon, fire and water, a loving wife, and many friends So pity me, and some to relieve me, and I can still discourse: and unless I list, they have not taken away my merry countenance, and a cheerful spirit, and a good conscience; they have still left me the providence of God, and all the promises of the gospel, and my religion, and the hopes of heaven, and my charter to them too; and still I sleep and digest, I eat and drink, I read and meditate, I can walk in my neighbours' pleasant fields and see the varieties of natural beauties, and delight in all which God delights — that is, in virtue and wisdom; in the whole creation, and in God Himself. And he who hath so many causes of joy, is very much in love with sorrow and peevishness who loses all these pleasures, and chooses to sit down on his little handful of thorns.

(Jeremy Taylor.)

In a room, there was a gold fish, in a glass globe, in water; and there was a canary up in a cage by the window. It was a very hot day; and the fish in the globe, and the canary in the cage began talking (of course you know in fables anything can talk). The fish said, "I wish I could sing like that canary. I should like to be up there in that cage." And the canary, who was uncommonly hot, said, "Oh, how nice to be down in that cool water where the fish is!" Suddenly a voice said, "Canary, go down to the water! Fish go up into the cage!" Immediately they both exchanged places. Weren't they happy? Wasn't the fish happy up in the cage? Wasn't thee canary happy down in the cool water? How long did their happiness last, do you think? Ah! God had given to the canary and the fish "according to their ability." He had given each a place suited to their natures.

(J. Vaughan, M. A.)

For every bad there might be a worse; and when a man breaks his leg, let him be thankful it was not his neck.

(Bishop Hall.)

No doctrine of contentment must be so taught as to lessen a man's labours in the removal of his miseries and the improvement of his state. Contentment is of the spirit, and should be no discouragement to labour. If I have only one coat to my back, am I to sit down and say, "I am perfectly content"? No. I must be content with one whilst I have but one, but my contentment must not hinder me from trying to see my way to get two. Cinderella, while among the ashes, was content in spirit, though she strove to get out of the nastiness of the ashes. But I see people sometimes who are so friendly with their miserable circumstances that they never want to mend them — men at home with dirt and women with slovenliness, until they come to like it. It is true that if you have got to live with an ugly person you must try to settle down; but not with dirt, disease, ignorance, poverty. Under no plea of content should a man refuse the lawful means of enlargement and betterment. If you took possession of a new garden and allowed it to remain always full of weeds, and then if you took me round and said, "I have been here so many years; my garden is always full of weeds, but I am perfectly content" — my duty then would be to worry you, and try to make you discontented. A man who is content in the midst of a weedy garden is ingloriously content; he lets his circumstances degrade him. No wise contentment bears for one moment longer than is necessary a removable misery. It is our duty rather to unite with the utmost care for the healing of the wound, the patientest bearing of the suffering from the wound. He who, having a wound, did not seek to cure it, would degrade himself; but he who, while patiently bearing the necessary wound, seeks to cure it, is a contented man.

(G. Dawson, M. A.)

I knew a man that had both health and riches, and several houses all beautiful and ready finished; and would often trouble himself and family to be removing from one house to another; and being asked by a friend why, replied: "It was to find content in some one of them." But his friend, knowing his temper, told him if he would find content in any of his houses he must leave himself behind him; for content will never dwell but in a meek and quiet soul. And this may appear from the beatitude — "Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth;" not that the meek shall not also obtain mercy, and see God, and be comforted, and at last obtain the kingdom of heaven; but in the meantime he, and he only, possesses the earth, as he travels towards that kingdom, by being humble and cheerful and content with what his good God has allotted him.

(Izaak Walton.)

I. I begin with the first: THE SCHOLAR AND HIS PROFICIENCY — "I have learned." Out of which I shall, by the by, observe two things by way of paraphrase.

1. The apostle doth not say, "I have heard that in every estate I should be content," but "I have learned." It is one thing to hear and another thing to learn, as it is one thing to eat and another thing to concoct. St. Paul was a practitioner. Christians hear much, but, it is to be feared, learn little. There are two things which keep us from learning.

1. Slighting what we hear. Who will learn that which he thinks is scarce worth learning?

2. Forgetting what we hear.

II. This word, "I have learned," is a word imports difficulty; IT SHOWS HOW HARDLY THE APOSTLE CAME BY CONTENTMENT OF MIND; it was not bred in nature. The business of religion is not so facile as most do imagine. There are two pregnant reasons why there must be so much study and exercitation.

1. Because spiritual things are against nature.

2. Because spiritual things are above nature.

III. I come to the main thing, THE LESSON ITSELF — "In whatsover state I am, therewith to be content."

1. It is a hard lesson. The angels in heaven have not learned it; they were not contented. 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 aspiring hearts. O then, if this lesson was so hard to learn in innocency, how hard shall we find it who are clogged with corruption?

2. It is of universal extent; it concerns all.

(1)It concerns rich men. Rich men have their discontents as well as others!

(2)The doctrine of contentment concerns poor men.It is much when poverty hath clipped our wings then to be content, but, though hard, it is excellent; and the apostle here had "learned in every state to be content." A contented spirit is like a watch: though you carry it up and down with you, yet the spring of it is not shaken nor the wheels out of order, but the watch keeps its perfect motion. So it was with St. Paul. Though God carried him into various conditions, yet he was not lift up with the one, nor cast down with the other; the spring of his heart was not broken, the wheels of his affections were not disordered, but kept their constant motion towards heaven; still content. The ship that lies at anchor may sometimes be a little 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.

IV. THE RESOLVING OF SOME QUESTIONS. For the illustration of this doctrine I shall propound these questions.

1. Whether a Christian may not be sensible of his condition, and yet be contented? Yes; for else he is not a saint, but a stoic.

2. Whether a Christian may not lay open his grievances to God, and yet be contented?

3. What is it properly that contentment doth exclude? There are three things which contentment doth banish out of its diocese, and which can by no means consist with it.(1) It excludes a vexatious repining; this is properly the daughter of discontent. 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 evolve or get out, I shall be undone;" when his head and heart are so taken up that he is not fit to pray or meditate.(3) It excludes a childish despondency; and this is usually consequent upon the other. A despondent spirit is a discontented spirit.

V. SHOWING THE NATURE OF CONTENTMENT. The nature of this will appear more clear in these three aphorisms.

1. Contentment is a divine thing; it becomes 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 philosophy, but is of a heavenly birth; it is therefore very observable that contentment is joined with godliness, and goes in equipage; "godliness with contentment is great gain."

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.

3. Contentment is a 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. It is not casual, but constant. Aristotle, in his rhetoric, distinguisheth between colours in the face that arise from passion and those which arise from complexion; the pale face may look pale when it blusheth, but this is only a passion. He is said properly to be ruddy and sanguine who is constantly 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.

VI. REASONS PRESSING TO HOLY CONTENTMENT.

1. The first is God's precept. It is charged upon us as a duty: "Be content with such things as you have."

2. The second reason enforcing contentment is God's promise, for He hath said, "I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee." Here God hath engaged Himself under hand and seal for our necessary provisions. True faith will take God's single bond without calling for witnesses.

3. Be content by virtue of a decree. Not chance or fortune, as the purblind heathens imagined; no, it is the wise God that hath by His providence fixed me in this orb. We stand oft 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 doth choose for it? were it left to itself, it would perhaps choose a knife to cut its own finger. A man in a paroxysm calls for wine, which, if he had it, were little better than poison; it is well for the patient that he is at the physician's appointment. God sees, in His infinite wisdom, the same condition is not convenient for all; that which is good for one may be bad for another; one season of weather will not serve all men's occasions — one needs sunshine, another rain; one condition of life will not fit every man no more than one suit of apparel will fit everybody; prosperity is not fit for all, nor yet adversity.

VII. SHOWING HOW A CHRISTIAN MAY MAKE HIS LIFE COMFORTABLE. It shows how a Christian may come to lead a comfortable life, even a heaven upon earth, be the times what they will, by Christian contentment. 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 imbitter and poison all contentation 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 showers of tears. 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, which 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. Do therefore as the mariners, pump the water out and stop the spiritual leak in thy soul, and no trouble can hurt thee.

VIII. A CHECK TO THE DISCONTENTED CHRISTIAN. Every man is complaining that his estate is no better, though he seldom complains that his heart is no better. How is it that no man is contented? Very few Christians have learned St. Paul's lesson. Neither poor nor rich know how to be content; they can learn anything but this.

1. If men are poor, they learn to be envious; they malign those that are above them. Another's prosperity is an eyesore.

2. If men are rich, they learn to be covetous. 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, was troubled that the musician had more skill in playing than he.

IX. A SUASIVE TO CONTENTMENT. It exhorts us to labour far contentation; 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. God is pleased sometimes to bring His children very low and cut them short in their estate; it fares with them as with that widow who had nothing in her house "save a pot of oil": but be content.

1. God hath taken away your estate, but not your portion. Mary hath chosen the better part, which shall not be taken from her.

2. Perhaps, if thy estate had not been lost, thy soul had been lost; outward comforts do often quench inward heat. God can bestow a jewel upon us, but we fall so in love with it, that we forget Him that gave it. What pity is it that we should commit idolatry with the creature! Be content. If God dam up our outward comforts, it is that the stream of our love may run faster another way.

3. If your estate be small, yet God can bless a little. It is not how much money we have, but how much blessing.

4. You did never so thrive in your spiritual trade; your heart was never so low as since your condition was 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.

5. Be your losses what they will in this kind, remember in every loss there is only a suffering, but in every discontent there is a sin, and one sin is worse than a thousand sufferings. 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 grace. And doth this trouble? Consider — The world is an unequal judge; as it is full of change, so of partiality. Discontent arising from disrespect savours too much of pride; an humble Christian hath a lower opinion of himself than others can have of him. The next apology is, I meet with very great sufferings for the truth. 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. The next apology is the prosperity of the wicked.Well, be contented; for remember —

1. These are not the only things, nor the best things; they are mercies without the pale.

2. To see the wicked flourish is matter rather of pity than envy; it is all the heaven they must have. "Woe to ye that are rich, for ye have received your consolation." The next apology that discontent makes is lowness of parts and gifts. I cannot (saith the Christian) discourse with that fluency, nor pray with that elegancy, as others. 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. 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. Be sure it be so. Do not prevaricate 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, that 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.

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

3. When it is out of season. I see no reason why a Christian should be discontented, unless for his discontent.

X. DIVINE MOTIVES TO CONTENTMENT. The first argument to contentation.

1. Consider the excellency of it. Contentment is a flower that doth not grow in every garden; it teacheth a man how in the midst of want to abound. Now there are in species these 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. The sails of a mill move 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.

2. Whatever is defective in the creature is made up in contentment. Wicked men are often disquieted in the enjoyment of all things; the contented Christian is well in the want of all things. He is poor in purse, but rich in promise.

3. Contentment makes a man in tune to serve God; it oils the wheels of the soul and makes it more agile and nimble; it composeth the heart and makes it fit for prayer, meditation, etc. How can he that is in a passion of grief or discontent "attend upon the Lord without distraction?" Contentment doth prepare and tune the heart.

4. Contentment is the spiritual arch or pillar of the soul; it fits a man to bear burdens; he whose heart is ready to sink under the least sin, by virtue of this hath a spirit invincible under sufferings. The contented Christian is like Samson that carried away the gates of the city upon his back. He can go away with his cross cheerfully, and makes nothing of it.

5. Contentment prevents many sins and temptations. It prevents many sins. In particular there are two sins which contentation prevents.

(1)Impatience.

(2)It prevents murmuring.Contentment prevents many temptations; discontent is a devil that is always tempting. It puts a man upon indirect means. He that is poor and discontented will attempt anything; he will go to the devil for riches. Satan takes great advantage of our discontent; he loves to fish in these troubled waters.

6. Contentment sweetens every condition. Hath God taken away my comforts from me? It is well, the Comforter still abides. Thus contentment, as a honeycomb, drops sweetness into every condition. Contentation 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 dealings. The argument to contentation is, Consider the evil of discontent. Malcontent 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 up on his bed, by and by he will lie down, and when he is down he is not quiet; first he turns on the one side and then on the other; he is restless. This is just the emblem of a discontented spirit. Evil

1. The sordidness of it is worthy of a Christian.

(1)It is unworthy of his profession.

(2)It is unworthy of the relation we stand in to God. Evil

2. Consider the sinfulness of it, which appears in three things — the causes, the concomitants, the consequences of it.(1) It is sinful in the causes, such as pride. The second cause of discontent is envy, which calls the sin of the devil. The third cause is covetousness. This is a radical sin. The fourth cause of discontent is jealousy, which is sometimes occasioned through melancholy and sometimes misapprehension. The fifth cause of discontent is distrust, which is a great degree of Atheism,(2) Discontent is joined with a sullen melancholy. Cheerfulness credits religion. How can the discontented person be cheerful?(3) It is sinful in its consequences, which are these.(a) It makes a man very unlike the Spirit of God. The Spirit of God is a meek Spirit.(b) 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.(c) Discontent disjoints the soul; it untunes the heart for duty.(d) Discontent sometimes unfits for the very use of reason. Jonah, in a passion of discontent, spake no better than blasphemy and nonsense: "I do well to be angry even unto death." This humour doth even suspend the very acts of reason.(e) Discontent does not only disquiet a man's self, but those who are near him. This evil spirit troubles families, parishes, etc.

Consider the simplicity of it. I may say, as the Psalmist, "surely they are disquieted in vain," 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?(2) Discontent is a heart breaking: "by sorrow of the heart the spirit is broken." It takes away the comfort of life.(3) Discontent does not ease us of our burden, but it makes the cross heavier. A contented spirit goes cheerfully under its affliction.(4) Discontent spins out our troubles the longer. The argument to contentation is this, Why is not a man content with the competency which he hath? Perhaps if he had more he would be less content. The world is such that the more we have the more we crave; it cannot fill the heart of man. When the fire burns, how do you quench it? Not by putting oil on the flame, or laying on more wood, but by withdrawing the fuel. The argument to contentation is the shortness of life. It is "but a vapour." The argument to contentation is, Consider seriously the nature of a prosperous condition. There are in a prosperous estate three things.

1. More trouble.

2. In a prosperous condition there is more danger.

3. A prosperous condition hath in it a greater reckoning; every man must be responsible for his talents.The argument to contentation is the example of those who have been eminent for contentation. Examples are usually more forcible than precepts. Abraham being called out to hot service, and such as was against flesh and blood, was content. God bid him offer up his son Isaac. The argument to contentation is this, To have a competency and to want contentment is a great judgment.

XI. 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 content in every estate, yet there are three estates in which he must not be contented.

1. He must not be contented in a natural estate; here we must learn not to be content.

2. Though, in regard to externals, a man should be in every estate content, yet he must net, be content in such a condition wherein God is apparently dishonoured.

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 competency of grace.

XII. SHOWING HOW A CHRISTIAN MAY KNOW WHETHER HE HATH LEARNED THIS DIVINE ART.

1. A contented spirit is a silent spirit. He hath not one word to say against God: "I was dumb and silent, because thou didst it." Contentment silenceth all dispute: "He sitteth alone and keepeth silence."

2. A contented spirit is a cheerful spirit. The Greeks call it euthema. Contentment is something more than patience; for patience denotes only submission, contentment denotes cheerfulness.

3. A contented spirit is a thankful spirit. This is a degree above the other; "in everything giving thanks."

4. He that is content no condition comes amiss to him; so it is in the text, "in whatever state I am." He could carry a greater sail or lesser. Thus a contented Christian knows how to turn himself to any condition.

5. He that is contented with his condition, to rid himself out of trouble, will not turn himself into sin.

XIII. CONTAINING A CHRISTIAN DIRECTORY, OR RULES ABOUT CONTENTMENT. And here I shall lay down some rules for holy contentment.Rule 1. Advance faith. All our disquiets do issue immediately from unbelief. It is this that raiseth the storm of discontent in the heart. O set faith a work! How doth faith work contentment?(1) Faith shows the soul that whatever its trials are, yet it is from the hand of a father.(2) Faith sucks the honey of contentment out of the hive of promise.Rule 2. Labour for assurance. O let us get the interest cleared between God and our souls!Rule 3. Get an humble spirit. The humble man is the contented man. If his estate be low, his heart is lower than his estate, therefore be content.Rule 4. Keep a clear conscience. Contentment is the manna that is laid up in the ark of a good conscience.Rule 5. Learn to deny yourselves. Look well to your affections; bridle them in.(1) Mortify your desires.(2) Moderate your delights. Set not your heart too much upon any creature. What we over love, we shall over grieve.Rule 6. Get much of heaven into your heart. Spiritual things satisfy. The more of heaven is in us, the less earth will content us.Rule 7. Look not so much on the dark side of your condition as on the light.Rule 8. Consider in what a posture we stand here in the world.(1) We are in a military condition; we are soldiers. Now a soldier is content with anything.(2) We are in a mendicant condition; we are beggars.Rule 9. Let not your hope depend upon these Outward things.Rule

10. Let us often compare our condition. Make this five-fold comparison.(1) Let us compare our condition and our desert together.(2) Let us compare our condition with others, and this will make us content.(3) Let us compare our condition with Christ's upon earth.(4) Let us compare our condition with what it was once, and this will make us content.(5) Let us compare our condition with what it shall be shortly.Rule

11. Get fancy regulated. It is the fancy which raiseth the price of things above their real worth.Rule

12. Consider how little will suffice nature. The body is but a small continent, and is easily recruited.Rule

13. Believe the present condition is best for us. Flesh and blood is not a competent judge.Rule

14. Meditate much on the glory which shall be revealed.

XIV. OF CONSOLATION TO THE CONTENTED CHRISTIAN. To a contented Christian I shall say for a farewell — God is exceedingly taken with such a frame of heart.

(T. Watson.)

The habit of looking on the best side of every event is better than £1,000 a year.

(S. Johnson, LL. D.)

Four of us were one day climbing together a beautiful hill in Switzerland, and when we reached a bend in the road, we stopped to rest, and to enjoy the widespread prospect. "How charming is this clear fresh air, how lovely that green valley, and how graceful is that silver river winding all along!" But suddenly regarding my companions I noticed that not one of the three enjoyed the view at all. "The fact is," said the first, "I have had no pleasure in my walk; I have a thorn in my foot." And so is our passage through life hindered in enjoyment by one troubling sin, a conscience ill at ease, that makes each step a lame one. The next traveller was gazing, it is true, at the prospect, but not with pure enjoyment, for he said: "How I wish that house down there were mine! "He, too, lost the true delight of looking at fine scenery, being wholly absorbed in the wish for something that never could be his. As for my third companion, he seemed less happy even than the others, saying, as he looked into the sky with a face of anxious foreboding: "I'm afraid it's going to rain." Let us not mar the prospects of happiness by a halting walk, a greedy wish, or by undue fear of that evil which we cannot prevent.

(Sunday at Home.)

Suppose I could have these faces gathered and brought to me, and could hold them thus, and should ask, "Whose image and superscription is stamped on this face?" "Care marked this face," would be the (frequent) answer. "Who marked this one?" "Fretfulness." "And this?" "Selfishness?" "This?" "Suffering stamped this." "What this?" "Lust! Lust!" "And this?" "Self-will." "And who stamped this face?" I should ask of one — a rare and sweet one. "This I why, where did you get it? Whose face is this? How beautiful! It is marked by the sweet peace of a contented spirit." I never saw more than a dozen of these in my life.

(H. W. Beecher.)

A minister of the gospel, passing one day near a cottage, was attracted to its door by the sound of a loud and earnest voice. It was a bare and lonely dwelling; the home of a man who was childless, old, and poor. Drawing near this mean and humble cabin, the stranger at length made out these words, "This, and Jesus Christ too! this, and Jesus Christ too!" as they were repeated over and over in tones of deep emotion; of wonder, gratitude, and praise. His curiosity was roused to see what that could be which called forth such fervent, overflowing thanks. Stealing near, he looked in at the patched and broken window; and there in the form of a grey, bent, worn-out son of toil, at a rude table, with hands raised to God, and his eyes fixed on some crusts of bread and a cup of water, sat piety, peace, humility, contentment, exclaiming, "This, and Jesus Christ tool"

(T. Guthrie, D. D.)

A violet shed its modest beauties at the turfy foot of an old oak. It lived there many days during the kind summer in obscurity. The winds and the rains came add fell, but they did not hurt the violet. Storms often crashed among the boughs of the oak. And one day said the oak, "Are you not ashamed of yourself when you look up at me, you little thing down there, when you see how large I am, and how small you are; when you see how small a space you fill, and how widely my branches are spread?" "No," said the violet, "we are both where God has placed us; and God has given us both something. He has given to you strength, to me sweetness; and I offer Him back my fragrance, and I am thankful." "Sweetness is all nonsense," said the oak; "a few days — a month at most — where and what will you be? You will die, and the place of your grave will not lift the ground higher by a blade of grass. 1 hope to stand some time — ages, perhaps — and then, when I am cut down, I shall be a ship to bear men over the sea, or a coffin to hold the dust of a prince. What is your lot to mine?" "But," cheerfully breathed the violet back, "we are both what God made us, and we are both where He placed us. I suppose I shall die soon. I hope to die fragrantly, as I have lived fragrantly. You must be cut down at last; it does not matter, that I see, a few days or a few ages, my littleness or your largeness, it comes to the same thing at last. We are what God made us. We are where God placed us. God gave you strength; God gave me sweetness."

(Paxton Hood.)

When Archbishop Leighton lost his patrimony by failure of a merchant, he only said: "The little that was in Mr. E—'s hands hath failed me, but I shall either have no need of it, or be supplied in some other way," On his brother-in-law expressing surprise that he took the matter so easily, he answered: "If when the Duke of Newcastle, after loosing nineteen times as much of yearly income, can dance and sing, the solid hopes of Christianity will not support us, we had better be in another world."

(Sunday at Home.)

Sydney Smith, when labouring at Foston-le-Clay, in Yorkshire, though he did not feel himself to be in his proper element, went cheerfully to work in the determination to do his best. "I am resolved," he said, "to like it and reconcile myself to it, which is more manly than to feign myself above it, and to send up complaints by the post of being thrown away, of lying desolate, and such like trash." So Dr. Hook, when leaving Leeds for Chichester, said, "Wherever I may be, I shall, by God's blessing, do with all my might what my hand findeth to do, and if I do not find work, I shall make it."

(S. Smiles.)

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