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theirs; and the sins forbidden are, with respect to ourselves discontentment; and with respect to others envy, and all inordinate motions or affections to any thing that is theirs.
I. Let us attend to the duties required in this commandment. And,
1. With respect to ourselves, this commandment requires contentment with our own condition.
By contentment is meant an acquiescence in the allotments of Providence with respect to ourselves, and a composed and satisfied frame of mind in the condition in which we may be placed. This contentment is a duty, whether we have little or much; and whether we are in adversity or prosperity. If facts did not prove the contrary, we should readily suppose, that it would be very easy to be contented in prosperity, when we abound in the good things of this life. But it is a fact, that frequently, as little contentment is found, among the rich and prosperous, as among the poor and distressed. Yea, we often see more contentment in the cottage than in the palace. And, not unfrequently, we find, that craving desires after more of the things of this world, and discontentment with present condition, increase in proportion as substance increases. Hence, they who are prosperous in the world have much need to be exhorted to contentment with their condition. With respect to the poor and aflicted, it is their duty also, notwithstanding their situation, to be contented; or, to acquiesce in the disposal of divine Providence, be resigned to his will, and patiently suffer those things which he lays upon them. But while contentment is our duty in every situation, it is proper to be joyful in prosperity, and to sorrow in adversity. Revealed religion does not require men to be Stoics, or to be insensible to pleasure and pain, and make no difference between the smiles and frowns of divine Provi. dence, It is consistent also with contentment with our condition to desire to have prosperity and to avoid adversity, and to pray to enjoy the former, and to be delivered from the latter ; but always with submission to the divine will. Thus, our Saviour was not insensible to his sufferings in the garden ; but his soul was exceeding sorrowful even unto death ;” Mat. xxvi. 38. And he desired to be delivered from his sufferings," and prayed O my Fa
ther, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me.” But still he was contented, or resigned and submissive to the will of God. “Nevertheless, not as I will but as thou wilt,' was his language-Mat. xxvi. 39. Again it is consistent with contentrent, to use means to obtain prosperity in the world, and to avoid or to be delivered out of adversity; but still with a spirit of submission to the will of God, if he sees fit not to crown these means with success.
The duty of contentment with our condition is clearly enjoined in the Scriptures, as in the following texts. “ Having food and raiment, let us be therewith content;" 1 Tim. vi. 8. "Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have;" Heb. xiii. 5. “I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound : every where and in all things, I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need;" Phil. iv. 11, 12.
There are many motives to contentment with our condition, even when we are poor and afflicted. Our condition in this world, whatever it may be, is far better than we deserve. Eternal misery is our just desert, and whatever is short of this is better than we deserve. Besides there are scarcely any so afflicted, but they have many mercies left
, the least of which is greater than they deserve; and this should make them contented with the allotments of Providence. Further we have the command of God and the examples of Christ and the saints to influence us to resignation. And afflictions have often proved blessings, to those exercised with them, and may and will
prove so to us, if we improve them aright. And if we be God's people, he has placed us in that situation, which in his unerring wisdom, and unchanging love, he sees best for us. And he has told us in his word, “ that all things work together for good to them that love God;": Rom. vii. 28. And soon will these trials be at an endand “there remaineth a rest to the people of God;" Heb. iv. 9. Yea, we are told, “Our light affliction which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory;" 2 Cor. iv. 17. Such are the motives which urge to contentment, with our condition, , though we be in an afflicted state. And besides all these we may observe, that contentment is its own reward. A
contented mind is calm and at rest, while the discontented are like the troubled sea, when it cannot rest. Happiness which is so much desired by all, and after which all are aiming, does not depend so much on external circumstances, as on the state of the mind. If we are contented in our minds we shall be happy in any condition; but if we are discontented we must be unhappy in the most prosperous external circumstances. The
2nd duty required in this commandment is “a right and charitable frame of spirit toward our neighbour and all that is his.” This consists in desiring the prosperity of others; and being pleased with and delighting ir their prosperity, though they are more wise, rich, esteemed, and prosperous, than we; and grieving for them when they are brought into adversity. Agreeably to this, we are directed, “ Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself;” Mat. xix. 19. joice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep;" Rom. xii. 15. “Remember them that are in bonds as bound with them; and them which suffer ad. versity, as being yourselves also in the body;" Heb. xii. 3. “ Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others ;" Phil. ii. 4. “Let no man seek his own, but every man another's wealth ;" 1. Cor. X. 24. “By love serve one another;" Gal. v. 13. “ Bear ye one another's burdens and so fulfil the law of Christ;" Gal. vi. 2.
These texts abundantly teach us, that we ought to seek our neighbour's good as well as our own, take an interest in his welfare, rejoice in his prosperity, and sympathize with him in his adversity. We proceed,
II. To consider the sins forbidden in the tenth commandment. These are discontentment, envy, and all inordinate motions or affections to any thing that is our neighbours.
1. Discontentment with our own estate or condition. This is what is forbidden in this commandment with respéct to ourselves. The discontented person is not satisfied, but displeased with his present situation. He is impatient and unsubmissive under afflictions. He often magnifies imaginary into real, and light into heavy afflictions. He is uneasy and fretful, and he murmurs and repines at the providences of God. This frame of mind is pry displeasing to God. Discontentment with our condition is wicked. It is contrary to the will of God, clearly made known in his word. It is opposed to the example of patience and resignation which our divine Redeemer has set us, that we should walk in his steps. It argues great unthankfulness for the mercies we have received, and which we at present enjoy, the least of which is more than we deserve. And especially is there great ingratitude in the discontentment of those, who are in a comfortable and prosperous condition in the world. Further, discontentment with our condition, is a prizing this world too highly, and exalting it in our estimation above the favour of God, which is very wicked. It also argues great pride of heart, as though we felt we deserved a better portion in this world from the hands of Providence. And it is also, an impeachment of divine Providence, and a distrust in God, as though he did not order things aright and we could order them better, and it was not safe to trust ourselves in his hands. From all these considerations, we learn that discontentment is a complicated wickedness. But it is difficult to convince men of this. Like Jonah in Nineveh, when his gourd withered, and the Lord reproved him for bis discontentment, by asking him, “Doest thou well to be angry for the gourd ?" And he replied in a petulant manner, “I do well to be angry even unto death;" Jon. iv. 9. So the discontented are apt to justify themselves for indulging such a frame of spirit
. When they are reproved for their discontentment, some plead their natural temper and excuse themselves on this ground ; but this temper is wrong and offensive to God, and therefore cannot form a just excuse for those sins which flow from it. Some plead the greatness of their affliction as a justification of their discontentment; but such a plea ought to be forever silenced, by the consideration that our heaviest afflictions are far less than we deserve. Some again plead that their affliction was unexpected, and there fore they were unprepared to bear it. But to this it may be answered, that as we live in a world of trial, we ought to be always prepared to meet afflictions. And it is no new thing that trials should come suddenly. Some of the best of men have been visited with sudden and unexpected trials, and yet have been patient and resigned under them. For instance, Job beheld himself in one day, precipitated from great prosperity, into poverty, and
loathsome and painful disease, and bereft of ten chileren, --all he had ; Tut still he said, “the Lord gave and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord;" Job i. 21. Discontentment is wrong. in every situation, and it is its own punishment. A discontented state of mind renders a person very unhappy, while the contrary grace of contentment greatly alleviates afflictions. Besides discontentment cannot alter things, or render them better, but makes them worse, both by unfitting a person to take the proper means to better his condition, and by provoking the displeasure of God; whereas contentment renders the mind calm and collected, and is the best way to secure the blessing of God on our endeavours to improve our condition.
2. Another sin forbidden by this commandment is envy. This has others for its object. By envy is meant an uneasiness or grieving at the prosperity of others, accompanied with ill will towards them. The object which excites it is superiority in others, whether this superiority consists in riches, in success in business, in honour, in popularity, in wisdom, in beauty, or in any thing else. This is one of the most hateful passions that can be harboured in the human breast. To exercise, or harbour ill will towards one who has done us no injury, only because a sovereign God has made him in any respect superior to us, or because he has been more prosperous in the world than we, and this too perhaps, the result of his own prudence and diligence. What passion can be more odious, and more deserving of universal detestation ? And it is detested by mankind, and in others even by those who harbour it in their own bosoms. But still many indulge this hateful passion, though they are unwilling to acknowledge it, and may endeavour to conceal it. Envy has done a vast deal of mischief in our world. It was envy in Cain, because his brother was more righteous than he, that led him to hate and finally to kill him. It was envy that led the sons of Jacob, because Joseph was deservedly the beloved of his Father, and because his dreams predicted his future greatness, to hate him, to plot his ruin, to cast him into a pit, and to sell him into Egypt. It was through envy, as one cause, that the Pharisees and chief of the Jews, conspired against Christ, and finally put him to death. Both sacred and profane history a