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ject into its various particulars. Reverential fear, admiring love, spiritual worship, well regulated passions, holy affections, with every hope and earnest of heavenly felicity, might easily be shewn to promote genuine permanent contentment.-On the contrary, whatever men may pretend or imagine," the wicked are like the troubled sea, when "it cannot rest, whose waters cast forth mire and "dirt. There is no peace saith my God for the "wicked." Poets and novelists have beautifully described contentment, and have often charmed their admirers into a momentary oblivion of their sorrows: but this has made way for subsequent dissatisfaction with every situation and employment in real life. And all men of information know very well, that many of those very writers have rankled with envy and discontent, because the public has not rewarded their ingenuity with liberality proportioned to their self-estimation!— The citizen fancies that contentment dwells in rural obscurity; the rustic concludes that it may be found in the splendour and pleasures of the metropolis. Courtiers pretend to think that this pleasing companion is inseparable from retirement: the poor erroneously imagine that it may be found in palaces. Britons amuse themselves with descriptions of Arcadian groves: the Arcadians would probably conclude that none are so happy as the inhabitants of this favoured isle. But pride, ambition, an uneasy conscience, resentment, disproportionate or disappointed expectation, the insipidity of enjoyment when novelty ceases, the common troubles of life, and the dread of death, render men dissatisfied and uneasy in every place
and station from the throne to the cottage. They who have it in their power are continually shifting from one place and pursuit to another; and such as are excluded from this privilege envy, grudge, and murmur. The world resembles a number of people in a fever, who relish nothing, are always restless, and try by incessant change of place or posture to escape from their uneasy sensations; but all their efforts are in vain. Does not this single consideration prove, that godliness is the health of the soul, and that without it there can be no abiding contentment?
II. Then we inquire, in what respects godliness with contentment is great gain.
There are certain ends, for which especially men desire riches. They suppose the coveted acquisition would add to their present comfort: secure them against many future disasters; furnish materials for future enjoyment; prove an advantage to their children; enable them to confer benefits on their friends and relatives; and put it in their power to be extensively useful. Perhaps all the reasons, for which men pursue riches, may be referred to these heads: for when avarice becomes so extreme, that money is coveted without any regard to its use, it degenerates into a kind of deplorable insanity.
But it may easily be shewn that "godliness with " contentment" answers every one of these purposes far better than any increase of wealth. The wisest of men, who perhaps also was the wealthiest, says experimentally, "when goods increase, they "are increased that eat them: and what good is "there to the owners thereof, saving the beholding
"of them with their eyes?" It is undeniable that increasing riches ensure additional cares, encumbrances, and dangers, rather than any accession of enjoyment. "The grounds of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully:" but he was as much embarassed about securing his abundance, as his poor neighbours were about paying their rents or maintaining their families. Nor was he the only man who has viewed his treasures with anxious inquiries; What shall I do? where shall I secure them from danger?-Designing men find their advantage in paying court to the wealthy and employ their ingenuity to impose upon them. Thus they are often surrounded with sycophants instead of friends: and even friends become suspected; for the cordiality of confidence is undermined by repeated deceptions, till universal suspicion damps all social intercourse, and destroys the comfort of the most cordial attachments.
Nor does the rich man enjoy any pleasure with higher relish than formerly: he soon loses the exhilaration of new acquisitions and improvements: he has less to hope and more to fear than other men: his abundance and leisure often excite him to improper indulgences: his situation feeds the distemper of his soul; and in proportion as wicked passions predominate true enjoyment languishes. Something unpossessed, or unattainable, still makes him exclaim, "All this availeth me nothing:" "Mordecai will not bow to me:" "Naboth will "not sell me his vineyard!" while the attempt to obtain the coveted object, or revenge the
! Eccles. v. 11.
imagined affront, opens the door to new crimes and miseries.-No wealth can exclude pain, sickness, the loss of friends, or death: and the most prosperous are often "consumed with terrors," by the foreboding of calamities. Peace of conscience and hope of future bliss cannot be purchased, and the way, in which the wealth of ungodly men has been acquired and employed, renders the thoughts of "giving an account of their stewardship" unspeakably tremendous.
Perhaps there is no delusion so general, or so easily detected, as the opinion that increase of wealth implies an increase of enjoyment. Where is that man, who has risen from a bare competency to great affluence, that can honestly say he has proportionably augmented his happiness? And what numbers confess that their prosperity has been disappointment, and that all is vanity and "vexation of spirit!"
But it has already been shewn, that true godliness is inseparable from contentment: that it affords cordials in affliction, doubles the enjoyment of prosperity, and makes way for triumphant exultation in the prospect of death. The scripture sets before us many examples of believers, in the depth of poverty, in pain and sickness, bereft of friends or forsaken by them, insulted by persecuting enemies, conversant with stripes and imprisonment, and daily expecting a painful death; who have nevertheless been full of comfort, and have manifested a satisfaction of soul, which made them rather the objects of congratulation than condolence: nor are similar instances wholly unknown at present. But who can conceive a man under
the wrath of God, with a guilty conscience, the slave of his domincering lusts, and the sport of his restless passions, to be easy or comfortable in any situation? Godliness therefore does more towards making a man happy, than all other gains and advantages combined together.
But is not wealth a security against future disasters? Is it not a resource in sickness or old age, when trade declines, or when public calamities deprive men of the ordinary means of subsistence? -In some cases it may be a duty, in many allowable, to make a moderate provision against such emergencies: but it is often impracticable, consistently with our various obligations to God and man; and in ten thousands of instances it is done in a degree and manner incompatible with the exercise of faith, and in a worldly selfish spirit. On the other hand, vast multitudes yield to impatience, distrust, envy, and other tormenting passions, because they cannot succeed in their attempts to make such a provision. But godliness is the best security against future distress. Riches still are "uncertain," after every effort to change their nature, as late events have loudly preached to all the inhabitants of Europe. The most wealthy have no absolute security that they shall not end their days in a dungeon or an alms-house. Unforeseen failures often sweep away the property of the affluent and in public calamities it is suddenly transferred, to the amazement of beholders; while the rich and noble are reduced to abject indigence and dependence, and their palaces are occupied by the lowest of the people! In many cases riches are considered as criminality; and