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SE R M O N I.
HE B. XIII. 5. - Be content with such Things ás ye
HES E Converted fewes being under great Persecution by their unbelieving Countrymen, (as we read in several Places of this Epistle ) there were many of
them, as may be gathered also from sundry Pássages in it, that began to think of retiring back again to their Old Religion, rather than endure so many Hardihips in their new Profession, for Christ Jesus his Sake. To prevent which fatal Miscarriage, this Divine Writer uses many Arguments ; encouraging and Arengthning their Minds, from the Consideration of the Certainty of the Christian Doctrine, the Dignity of its Author, the glorious Example he had set before them, the Power he had in the Heavens, which made him an High-Priest of a better Rank than any of the House of Aaron could be; and the Hope of Eternal Life, wherewith he was able to reward all his constant Disciples; yea, from the Consideration also of their own Sufferings, as soon as they entred into the State of Christianity; according as you read, Chap. X. 32. Call to remembrance the former Days, in which after ye were enlightned, ye endured a great Fight of Affliction: Which no wise Men would have done, unless they intended to proceed as they began; and not lose the Reward of suffering so much, for want of Patience to suffer a little more. By these and such like Arguments, I say, he persuadės them not to revolt from Christ, as some did to their utter undoing; but to hold fast the Profeffion of their Faith without wavering, Chap. x. 23. there being the greatest Hazard which they ran, if they sinned wilfully after they had received the Knowledge of the Truth, Ver. 26. no less than to lose all Hope of Pardon, which was declared to Men only in Christ Jesus; whom they basely forsook and renounced, when they apostatiz'd from his Religion.
Now that which made some fly back, was „Fear of Sufferings, Love of Pleasure, and Covetousness, or Love of the World. Against these Three therefore, he fortifies those who still continued the Profession of Christianity, in the
Beginning of this Chapter ; and bids them be fo far from fearing any thing, as to love the Brethren, to entertain Strangers, and to remember them that were in Bonds, and suffered Adversity, Ver. 1, 2, 3. that is, to suffer with others, when they did not yet fuffer on their own Accounts. A Thing which the falfe-hearted Christians would never do; whose Charity waxed Cold, and who were afraid to own the Disciples of our Lord in Time of Distress,lest they should be accounted such themselves, and so be brought into Trouble, and suffer as they did. And as he warns them against this base Fear, and vile Cowardise; so he seems, in the next place, to give them a Caution against all impure Pleasures, for the Love of which (as you may gather from Chap. xii. 16.) some turned their backs on their Saviour, and parted with their Hope in him. Ver. 4. Marriage is bonourable in all, and the Bed undefiled; but Whoremongers amd Adulterers God will judge.
After which, he proceeds here in my Text, to advise them not to be so careful for the Things of this World, as some were ; nor to be afraid of Want, though the Days were very bad, and they perhaps might be spoiled of all their Goods, and bereaved of all their Friends : For he gives them Assurance, that God will provide ; and that Assurance he would have them esteem sufficient for them. Let your Conversation be without Covetousness, and be content with such things as ye have : For be bath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee, &c.
That which I intend then to treat of from these Words, is, That present Things, though our Condition be afflicted, should suffice us : Or, that we should be well satisfied in our present Con-, dition, whatsoever it be. So the Words are expresly in the Greek, aprópefuos mois mapoor, being contented with Things prefent ; or letting Things present and at band suffice you. Rest satisfied with what you have now, and be not too sollicitous for the future.
This Lesson St. Paul teaches his Son Timothy, 1 Epist. Chap. vi. 8. Having Food and Raiment, let us he therewith content. But he did not teach it him before he had learnt it himself; for he tells the Philippians, he had arrived to a great Perfection in this Virtue. Pbil. iv. II, 12. I have learnt in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both bow to be abafed, and I know how to abound: Every where (or at all Times) and in every thing I am instructed, both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. This was a true Israelite indeed, in whom there was no Guile. He was not like that wicked Generation in the Wilderness (by whose fearful Example these Christian Hebrews are deterred from looking back, as they did toward Egypt, Chap. iii. & iv.) who when they were hungry knew not how to bear it, but murmured and spake against God, saying, Can be furnish a Table in the Wilderness? He gave zus Water, can be give Bread also ? Can be provide Flesh for his People? And when they were full, could no better bear that; but waxed fat,
end kicked against God; they ate and drank, and rose up to play, i. e. became beastly Idolaters. No; he knew how to be full, and how to be hungry: and in both Conditions kept an equal, moderate, and contented Mind; neither murmuring and repining in one State, nor waxing too frolicksome and wanton in the other. Nay, whatsoever the Condition was, that is, whatsoever the Circumstances of it were; in whatsoever Time, or Place, or Thing it was, that he suffered or abounded, he knew how to behave himself, and to be well pleased. Which is the Reason, I suppose, that he uses so many Expressions of the same Import; telling us, he had learned both how to be abased and how to abound, how to be full and how to be hungry, how to abound and to suffer need. A Virtue highly admired by Heathens themselves ; particularly by the Famous Royal Philosopher Antoninus, who praises Socrates upon this Account, and his own Father for treading in his Steps ; who knew *απέχεσθαι ή δολαύειν τέτων, &c. both how to abstain from, and how to enjoy those Things, which other Men could not want thro’ their Weakness, or by Reason of their Intemperance could not truly enjoy. This made him justly esteemed a Great Man, or, in his Phrase, a Man of a compleat and invincible Spirit; who, as he would not yield to the Temptations either of Poverty or Abundance; so had not without much Pains and commendable Labour, attain'd
* Lib. I. C. 13•