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He surely who feels that he has all, and more than all, that he deserves, will never repine, though that all should be less than is allotted to many of his fellow beings.
But the great and unfailing ground of contentment to a christian, is laid in his love of God, and his confidence that all things are ordained by him for the wisest and most benevolent purposes. It is of the very nature of sincere love of God, to rejoice that his will is done on earth as it is in hea
We feel it to be right that the purposes of the wisest and best of beings should be accomplished. We are sure that God denies us nothing which it would be truly good for us to possess. He who has given us so much, would give us more, if more would be truly a blessing. It was in this view of the divine government, and of the tendenсу of all events to the production of good, that the venerable Apostle found the secret of contented acquiescence under all the hardships of his condition. It was this which enabled him, though feeble with age, worn down by calamity and emaciated by imprisonment, to declare to the Philippians, * Since all the things, that have happened to me have fallen out to the furtherance of the gospel, and every way, whether in pretence or in truth, Christ is preached, I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice ;"—since the cause of my beloved Master is promoted by my privations and sufferings, welcome this toil, and want, and disgrace; welcome
these chains and this prison; for such a cause, and such a master, welcome all that man can inflict ; welcome death itself.
Another source of contentment to a christian, and the last which I shall suggest, is drawn from the view of the
purposes of his being, and the estimate of this life, which his religion teaches him to make. A christian feels that he is sent into this world but as a pilgrim and a stranger. The present is but a life of probation, a scene of discipline, a state for the formation of habits and feelings which are to be ultimately exercised and exalted in a future and spiritual state. The events of life are arranged by divine Providence in order to conduce to these purposes.
We must sometimes be tried by adversity, in order that we may exercise the passive virtues, which christianity so much values. We must sometimes be called to the harder trial of prosperity, in order to put to the test the stability of our resolutions, and the strength of our holy affections. In this
health and sickness, riches and poverty, success and disappointment, all the circumstances, which give the colouring to our condition, and according to which we are denominated happy or unfortunate, are really sent to us with the same wise design of exhibiting and improving the principles of our minds, and the feelings of our hearts. Take but the estimate which christianity gives you of this life; remember what it so solemne ly declares, that “the things which are seen are
temporal, but the things which are unseen are eternal;"--listen but to the voice of religious wisdom, which reminds you that “ the fashion of this world passes away;"—and the inequalities of this life will lose their importance; the rising murmur of discontent will be checked the
pang of anxiety will be assuaged; the wounded bosom of sorrow will be healed, and the groan of despair will forever be silenced.
Meanwhile, the perpetual vicissitudes of this uncertain state, the peculiar trials and difficulties with which the life of a christian is chequered, and still more the humiliating remembrance of our own infirmities, should teach us to look forward with joy and expectation to that promised day, when the hard fought warfare of the christian soldier shall be ended ; when the pilgrim shall arrive at his journey's end, and find that its toils are over; when the stranger shall reach his home; when he shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away forever. This hope is the pure and steadfast anchor of his soul amid the waves and storms of life; the star in the east which guides his steps towards his Saviour's mansions, and cheers him on his way; the pillar of fire, which, amid the dangers, perplexities, and errors, of that wilderness, the world, shines with bright and inextinguishable lustre, and will conduct him, if he faint not on his way, to the bosom of his Father and his God.
And the Jews marvelled, saying, How knoweth this
man letters, having never learned? Jesus answered them, and said, my doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me.
In order to conceive of the surprise, which the Saviour must have excited
among his countrymen, it is necessary to forget the views of his character and doctrines in which we have been educated, and consider the circumstances under which he originally produced himself before his countrymen.
From a remote province of Palestine, we must recollect, a man in the appearance of a Jewish peasant comes forward, and advances a new and most extraordinary claim. He was about thirty years of age, and hitherto had excited attention only by the singular correctness with which he discharged the common duties of his station; except indeed, that his mother had treasured some very
remarkable occurrences, which attended his birth and early years. He appeared as the son of a carpenter;
and as at that time the rudiments of literature were confined to an extremely small number, even in the higher walks of life, he must, from the circumstances of his situation, have been wholly deprived of them. He could have known no other books than the writings of Moses and the Prophets; he had no learned master to instruct him ; he had visited no refined cities, listened to no profound philosophers, and apparently was possessed of no means of gaining more enlarged views than the rest of his countrymen, of the same rank in life with himself. Notwithstanding all these disadvantages, he comes forward with no less a claim than to be the Son of God himself, the Redeemer and destined Judge of the human race.
That such an idea should have entered the imagination of such a person would be sufficiently surprising to his countrymen; but their surprise must have arisen to amazement,when they saw that every thing in his words and actions corresponded to his claims. They saw the laws of nature yielding to his control. He stood over the grave of a dead man, and declared that he was the resurrection and the life; and to confirm his words, death instantly relaxes his grasp, and the grave gives up
Having by this and similar displays of his power established his authority, he confronted the most learned and profound doctors of the Jewish law,