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Contentment of Paul

Contentment of Paul

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Published by glennpease
BY REV. ICHABOD S. SPENCER, D.D.


I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.
Phil. iv. 11.
BY REV. ICHABOD S. SPENCER, D.D.


I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.
Phil. iv. 11.

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Published by: glennpease on Jul 11, 2013
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COTETMET OF PAULBY REV. ICHABOD S. SPECER, D.D.I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.Phil. iv. 11.THIS is an expression of Paul. But we should miscson-ceive the nature of it, if we should deem him spealc*ing in the character of an apostle, rather than in the char-acter of a believer. He utters this expression only as aChristian ; and is therefore an example to all Christianswho came after him to the end of time. Let us there-fore consider this text in a personal and practical man-ner, and aim to draw lessons from it for our instruction,direction, and comfortWe name to you three general ideas as the three headsof this sermon.I. The nature of this contentmentIL The mode of its acquisition.in. The reasons which enforce itL The nature of contentment can be apprehendedmore easily than defined. Every body knows what itmeans ; and yet it is of such a nature that the momentwe attempt to explain it, we are in danger of diminishingthe impression of its significance. It is not one of thedistinct and separate sensibilities of the heart, standingby itself and to be examined and understood alone^ soCOTETMET. 279xnuclL as it is a general sensibility which mingles with
 
and tempers all others — ^which spreads its cast and char-acter over the whole. It is not the rock on the land-scape nor the nil — it is not the distant mountain of fad-ing blue which loses its head in the heavens — ^it is notthe tree, or the flower, or the contrast between light andshade, or that indescribable something which seems togive it life, as if the grass grew, and the flowers breathed,and the winds were singing some song of pleasure orsighing some moumM requiem. It is none of these.These can be more clearly described. But it is ratherthat softness, that meUow light, which lies over thewhole — which sleeps on rock, and river, and tree, on thebosom of the distant mountain, and on the bosom of thehumble violet that blushes in the sweetness of its lowlyvalley.Content is a general cast of sensibility which lies allover the heart. It has a depth and an extent of signifi-cance to which many minds are strangers. We can notspare time for a fuH exanunation of its nature. We onlymention items enough to give some definitiveness to ourapprehensions, and some direction to minds disposed tocontemplate the subject more maturely. Suffice it toremark:1. That contentment is opposed to dissatisfiswtion, mur-muring, complaining, and repining. It is a submissive^irit that yields to the necessities or hardships of life,and hy submission disarms them of more than half theirpower. Content is the child of reason, not of fimcy. Itis the companion of conscience ; and if it does sometimessigh, it will neither complain nor despair. It is unitedwith too much good sense to aim after impossibilities, orto increase the infelicities of life by an unceasing fretful-280 GOT£KTHST.ness and dissatisfaction. Its foundation is laid in justice
 
if not in feith, A jnst mind is necessary to it — ^a mindthat sees things as they arc instead of seeing themthrough the distorting instrumentality of a jaundicedeye ; which makes and unmakes fects as if they werefencies, and which works up fancies into stable andmelancholy realities. Such a just mind seldom fails tobe a contented mind. It is the injustice always accom-panying an ungodly disposition which originates, andthen increases and perpetuates most of the discontentwhich torments, so unnecessarily, the hearts of theworldly. The injustice of mind accompanying pride, forexample, often makes the proud man a peevish man ;the injustice accompanying ambition often makes theambitious man petulant; and so in all the errors of sin.The Mae notions — ^the unjust estimations lay the founda-tion of no small part of the discontent whicb fills theworld. A strict justness of mind, a j usfc judgment^ wouldundo more than half this mischief. And when faiik fixes the just balances wherein the mind weighs the sub- jects of its contemplation, then it is that complainingceases to utter its ill-natured syllables, murmuring learnsto be still, and repining exchanges the scowl of gloomfor the smile of gladness. Contentment is incompatiblewith a fixed, and cherished, and unhappy dissatisfaction.2. It is not, however, indifference or stupidity. In-deed, it is very distant from both.There is a species of indifference among men whicboften passes for contentment, but which is not even arespectable counterfeit of it. It originates not from see-ing things justlj'^, but from not seeing them at alLMinds too sluggish to think and hearts too insensible tofeel — souls too selfish to do either, become half indiffer-COKTEKTUET. 281ent to ihe circainstances of life ; and superficial thinkers

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