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that of the wicked, since his piety has not only a final, but a present and natural tendency to make him happy.
May, therefore, the Almighty give us grace and wisdom to avail ourselves of these conclusions ! may he inspire us with such a sense of his infinite goodness, and of his gracious concern for his creatures, that we may rejoice in his service both now and evermore!
THE FOLLY, GUILT, AND MISERY OF HABITUAL
LAm. iii. 39.
DISCONTENT seems to have a natural inheritance in some minds, and, what should seemingly be inconsistent, they are never so much at ease as when they complain. As if they were in love with the misery whereat they repine, they so industriously cherish the remembrance of it, that they refuse even the relief which time and variety would infallibly bring with them. They are for ever contemplating the gloomy side of life, and the appearance of joy or pleasure seems to be a kind of disappointment to them. Whatever wears the aspect of calamity, though remote from their own concerns, immediately catches their attention; and they faithfully echo the voice of sorrow, though it be heard from afar.
They join in the complaints of misery, not from any generous or compassionate motives, but because such complaints are agreeable to their natural temper, and gratify their inclination to murmur with fresh subjects of distress.
Should a person of this temper behold a family on the brink of ruin, he would not feel one emotion of pity for its approaching misery, nor, were it in his power, would he contribute to prevent it: such a prevention would be a disappointment to him, as it would deprive him of what he always embraces with eagerness, a recent occasion to complain : for he would rather see the world itself in perpetual misery, than have no room to murmur at the distresses of life.
Yet surely nothing can be more absurd than to indulge such a disposition; for the life of man has no misery so great as habitual discontent.
Pain and sickness are generally transient evils. They are either removed by the return of health, or relieved by intervals of ease, or, at the worst, are made supportable by hope: but a mind habituated to complain, that quarrels with every occurrence of life, and implicitly gives itself up to causeless petulance, or unreasonable disgust, is for ever miserable.
It is not, indeed, given to man to be entirely free from solicitude, nor to pass through life with invariable tranquillity: these are the privileges of superior beings, who, as they are above the reach of misfortune, are strangers to distress. It was never intended that we should be entirely free from care, which is, in a moderate degree, necessary for the support of a life, doomed from creation to subsist by labour. But whatever exceeds a moderate care, is productive of unhappy consequences. When the mind is totally taken up with secular attentions, and makes the things of this world the principal objects of its concern, from the uncertain nature and condition of those things, it must necessarily meet with many disappointments, be sometimes mortified, and frequently perplexed. These evils gradually lead to habitual discontent: the temper grows gloomy, and the spirit is discomposed.
To persuade those who labour under this wretched turn of mind to consult their own ease and happiness, I would offer the following considerations.
I. To be uneasy under the several circumstances and events of human life must proceed from the want of a due confidence in God.