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and ever ;-like the exiled captive, big with the hopes that he is returning home,,he feels not the weight of his chains, nor counts the days of his
captivity, but looks forward with rapture towards the country where his heart is fled before him.
These are the aids which religion offers us towards the regulating of our spirit under the evils of life ;-but, like great cordials, they are seldom used but on great occurrences. In the lesser evils of life we seem to stand unguarded, and our peace and contentment are overthrown, and our happiness broke in upon by a little impatience of spirit, under the cross and untoward accidents we meet with. These stand unprovided for, and we neglect them as we do the slighter indispositions of the body, which we think not worth treating seriously, and so leave them to nature. In good habits of the body, this may do ;-and I would gladly believe there are such good habits of the temper ; such a complexional ease and health of heart, as may the patient much medicine.-We are still to consider,—that however such good frames of mind are got they are worth preserving by all rules : - patience and contentment,
which like the treasure hid in the field, for which a man sold all he had to purchase,
-is of that price that it cannot be had at too great a purchase, since, without it, the best condition in life cannot make us happy ;-and, with it, it is impossible we should be miserable, even in the worst.-Give me leave, therefore, to close this discourse with some reflections upon the subject of a contented mind, and the duty in man of regulating his spirit, in our way through life ;-a subject in every body's mouth-preached upon daily to our
friends and kindred--but too oft in such a style, as to convince the party lectured only of this truthThat we bear the misfortunes of others with excellent tranquillity.
I believe there are thousands so extravagant in their ideas of contentment, as to imagine that it must consist in having every thing in this world turn out the way they wish ;-that they are to sit down in happiness, and feel themselves so at ease in all points, as to desire nothing better, and nothing more. I own there are instances of some, who seem to pass through the world as if all their paths had been strewed with rose-buds of delight ;-but a little ex-. perience will convince us, 'tis a fatal expectation to go upon.We are born to trouble ; and we may depend upon it, whilst we live in this world, we shall have it, though with intermissions ;-that is, in whatever state we are, we shall find a mixture of good and evil ; and, therefore, the true way to contentment is to know how to receive these certain vicissitudes of life, the returns of good and evil, so as neither to be exalted by the one, or overthrown by the other, but to bear ourselves towards every thing which happens, with such ease and indifference of mind as to hazard as little as may be. This is the true temperate climate fitted for us by nature, and in which every wise man would wish to live.-God knows, we are perpetually straying out of it ; and, by giving wings to our imaginations in the transports we dream of, from such or such a situation in life, we are carried away alternately into all the streams of hot and cold, for which, as we are neither fitted by nature, nor prepared by expectation, we feel them with all their violence, and with all their danger too,
God, for wise reasons, has made our affairs in this world almost as fickle and capricious as ourselves ;-pain and pleasure, like light and darkness, succeed each other; and he that knows how to accommodate himself to their periodical returns, and can wisely extract the good from the evil, knows only how to live :—this is true contentment, at least all that is to be had of it in this world ; and for this every man must be indebted, not to his fortune, but to himself.-And, indeed, it would have been strange, if a duty so becoming us as dependent creatures, and so necessary, besides, to all our well-beings, had been placed out of the reach of any
in some measure to put in practice ;-and, for this reason, there is scarce any lot so low, but there is something in it to satisfy the man whom it has befallen ; Providence having so ordered things, that in every man's cup, how bitter soever, there are some cordial drops, some good circumstances, which, if wisely extracted, are sufficient for the purpose he wants them, that is, to make him contented, and, if not happy, at least resigned. May God. bless us all with this spirit, for the sake of Jesus, Christ ! Amen.
THE CHARACTER OF SHIMEI.
2 SAMUEL XIX. 21. 1ST PART.
But Abishai said, Shall not Shimei be put to death for this?
LIT has not a good aspect.—This is the second time Abishai has proposed Shimei's destruction ; once in the 16th chapter, on a sudden transport of indignation, when Shimei cursed David. 66 Why should this dead dog, cried Abishai, curse
my lord the king ? let me go over, I pray thee, « and cut off his head.”—This had something at least of gallantry in it; for, in doing it, he hazarded his own ; and, besides, the offender was not otherwise to be come at. The second time is in the text, when the offender was absolutely in their power, when the blood was cool, and the suppliant was holding up his hands for mercy.
Shall not Shimei, answered Abishai, be put to death for this ? So unrelenting a pursuit looks less like justice than revenge, which is so cowardly a passion, that it renders Abishai's first instance almost inconsistent with the second. I shall not endeavour to reconcile them, but confine the discourse simply to Shimei, and make such reflections upon his character as may be of use to society.
Upon the news of his son Absalom's conspiracy, David had fled from Jerusalem, and fronı his own house, for safety : the representation given of the manner of it is truly affecting :-never was a scene of sorrow so full of distress!
The king fled with all his household, to save himself from the sword of the man he loved; he fled with all the marks of humble sorrow, with his head 6 covered and barefoot ;” and as he went by the ascent of mount Olivet, the sacred historian says he wept :-some gladsome scenes, perhaps, which there had pass'd,-some hours of festivity he had shared with Absalom in better days, pressed tenderly upon nature ;-he wept at this sad vicissitude of things ; -and all the people that were with him, smitten with his affliction, « covered each man his head, “weeping as he went up."
It was on this occasion, when David had got to Bahurim, that Shimei the son of Gera, as we read in the 5th verse, came out.-Was it with the choicest oils he could gather from mount Olivet, to pour into his wounds ?-Times and troubles had not done enough ; and thou camest out, Shimei, to add thy portion !
“ And as he came, he cursed David, and threw 6 stones and cast dust at him; and thus said Shimei, 66 when he cursed : Go to, thou man of Belial, thou " hast sought blood, and behold thou art caught in
thy own mischief; for now hath the Lord return« ed upon thee all the blood of Saul and his house."
There is wo small degree of malicious craft in fixing upon a season to give a mark of enmity and ill-will : a word,-a look, which at one time would make no impression, at another time wounds the heart, and, like a shaft flying with the wind, pierces deep, which, with its own natural force, would scarce have reached the object aimed at.