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of obtaining that which we see in the possession of others, or the mistrustful and discontented imagination that others are better off than ourselves, though with less merit. Alas! brethren, that we will not learn the happy lesson that “
"godliness with contentment is great gain.”* Alas ! that we will not consider this world, and the things of this world, as the word of God instructs us to view and estimate them. For after what, for the most part, is the unhallowed spirit of envy raised, and the forbidden thought of covetousness indulged ? Even for those things which, experience could tell us, cannot of themselves satisfy, nor be enjoyed by us long. Of these things “ we brought nothing into this world, neither may we carry anything out." 5 "
They that will be rich," as St. Paul goes on to warn us, and we may add, they that would have all things and everybody bow to their wishes, “ fall into temptation and a snare, and 4 1 Tim. vi. 6.
into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdi
Therefore, brethren, as we “ love life, and would see good days,” we must “follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness.” 7 We must “not covet.” We must be willing to submit ourselves unto God, and to be ordered after the counsels of his will, assured that he knoweth what is best for us; and that inasmuch as the several and varying stations and degrees in life are, and were ever assigned to each individual according to the wise allotment of an overruling Providence—so are we to rest content, persuaded that our situation here below is one wherein we are not hindered in fulfilling the high and holy purpose for which we were created, and for which the love of God in Christ hath redeemed us. “ Why then art thou so vexed, O my soul ? and why art thou so disquieted 6 Verse 9.
7 Verse 11.
within me? O put thy trust in God.” “ The foolishness of man,” we are told, “perverteth his way: and his heart fretteth against the Lord.”9 Unreasonable, for the most part, are our murmurings and discontents: and ungratefully do we, in a fitful mood of disappointment, or of envious hankering, overlook the good which yet remains to us : and so we sit down impatiently, and desire we scarcely know what, and in ignorance and folly we would free ourselves from those trials unto which, in a greater or less degree, all are born, which are necessary for our soul's health, and are mercifully calculated through faith to fit us for the kingdom of heaven. Ah ! my
brethren, if instead of foolishly and restlessly coveting those gratifications, that sordid wealth, and those gaudy delights which are the fond and ensnaring pursuit of the carnal man; we would “ covet earnestly,” and study and strive to obtain the favour of God, and to “lay up for ourselves treasures in heaven," i then should we happily rise superior to all those paltry vexations, which create envy in the breast of the mere worldly man, causing him to be discontented with his lot, and forgetful that “ man is born unto trouble as the sparks fly upward,"2 that trials and sufferings are our decreed companions as we journey onwards through time to eternity.
8 Psa. xlii. 14, 15.
9 Prov. xix. 3.
Therefore, brethren, “in the race which is set before us,” in the race which we must all run-let us not envy or rail at the good fortune which may be the lot of others; but let us be nobly emulous to be first in the race of goodness. Let it be our honourable ambition to o abhor that which is evil, and to cleave to that which is good. " 4 Let us in nothing be more vexed, or more angry, than against ourselves, our own want of faith, and dili
1 Matt. vi. 20.
4 Rom. xii. 9,
gence, and perseverance in the right way;
and that we are so cold in our love of heavenly things, the virtues and graces of the Gospel of Christ, and so easily turned aside “ from the holy commandment delivered” to us. If, brethren, we are thus jealous and watchful over ourselves, we shall happily not so often fall into those sins which the apostle bids us to avoid when he says, “ Thou shalt not covet." With respect to our neighbour, we shall desire and seek his good, and rejoice in his welfare always; and striving “to do our duty in that state of life unto which the providence of God hath called us,'' 5 it will be our faithful endeavour “to follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which," as we are cautioned, “no man shall see the Lord.” 6
5 Church Catechism.
6 Heb. xii. 14.