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of the word contentment, we shall find that it comes from a Latin word meaning to contain or hold, and that therefore it signifies keeping or containing oneself within certain limits. Contentment, therefore, implies the maintenance of a calm spirit in adversity and a thankful one in prosperity, and an equable and temperate one under all circumstances. Some people will tell you that under certain provocations, or in circumstances of perplexity, they cannot contain themselves. And so it is, they lose all selfoontrol, and give way to foolish anger, or foolish and sinful murmuring. And others who have borne adversity pretty well are no sooner raised above their difficulties than they become proud, upstart, self-conceited, and nothing is good enough for them. These are not contented minds. They are not self-contained. Contentment, it may be gathered from this, is not an occasional feeling, butVather an abiding state of mind, and accommodates itself to the changes of life and the discipline of Providence. It knows, as the apostle did, "both how to be abased and how to abound." It is instructed " both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need."* Therefore the contented man always has enough, and is never made wretched by the craving for more.
"True happiness is to no place confined.
For "happiness consists, not in possessing much, but in being contented with what we possess."
"Uh, yes!" I fancy I hear some of my readers exclaiming, "it's all very well to tell us what a fine thing contentment is, but it is not so easy always to be contented." Exactly so, my friend; and therefore I will try and show you how it can be gained, and tell you some of the rich blessings of it. Only first of all set your mind at rest upon this point, that contentment does not lie in what you possess, but in yourselves; not in having what you desire, but in bringing your desires into subjection to the Divine will. Unless this is the case, no amount of earthly possessions will satisfy us, for we shall always desire something which riches cannot buy. Like poor sinful, selfish Ahab, who could not rest or eat because, though he was king, he could not have the vineyard of Naboth. So it will be with us. What we have will seem worthless, because we want * Phil. iv. 6.
something we cannot have. And the burden we have to bear will seem harder and heavier than any other burden would be. We must, therefore, if we would have this blessed state of mind, remember that it is God who orders our ways if we love him, and that he orders them according to infinite wisdom and infinite love. If he thought wealth needful to you, could he not bestow upon you wealth beyond all that ever man possessed? If he thought it desirable for yon, could he not alter altogether your outward circumstances, give you altogether different conditions of life? Why, then, does he not do this? Let the answer be thought of in reverent meditation before him. Listen to his words. "All things work together for good to them that love God;" and then think whether He who has given his Son for you may not be trusted with all else belonging to you, and whether deeper thankfulness does not become you rather than discontent with any part of his will.
Think again what you deserve, and compare it with the blessings you enjoy. A quaint writer has observed, "Think well that you deserve hanging, and you will be glad to escape with a whipping." Ah! think of your deserts before God! Why are you spared? It is his mercy. Why are you not suffering the doom of your sins? Because of his mercy. What is it gives you all you have? His bounty. And can you murmur because there is something not quite as you like it?" Should it be according to thy mind?"
Then count up your mercies. Count them!" They are more in number than the sand."* Begin at the beginning. Go back to the time of childhood, when you lived in the sunshine of a mother's love, and sat proud and happy upon a father's knee. Then think of the words,
"Many days have passed since then,
But if you know the mercy of God in Christ Jesus, you will not need to be more than reminded of this.
Listen to his promises. Here, again, is a wide field—a field of wealth unknown, full of precious promises,f exceeding great and precious, and all yea and amen in Christ Jesus.}
* Psa. exxxix. 17, 18. t 2 Pet. i. 4. J 2 Cor. i. 20.
And there is one of these which especially refers to this virtue of contentment. "Let yovir conversation "—that is, your whole conduct—" be without covetousness, and be content with such things as ye have; for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake theo." * Well may we say,
"Having Thee I all possess."
What can we want, what can we fear, if He bo our friend? How worthless in comparison are all things when put side by side with his favour! And if we really know what it is to have him for our portion and to rejoice in him, we shall lose in this higher feeling the discontent which would fasten upon some petty want or difficulty and make that an occasion for murmuring. In him will be our rest, in him our joy, in him our present and eternal satisfaction. What he gives us we shall take and use thankfully as the loving gift of a father's hand. What he withholds we shall believe he withholds because he loves us. The way in which he leads us we shall believe to be the right path, whether it be through the valley of the shadow of death, or in green pastures and by still waters. Finally, we shall be able to leave all that we cannot understand in his hands, as we hear his voice calming our fears and replying to our questionings, "What I do thou knowest not now, but thou shalt know hereafter."
Now, surely, you will see for yourself how rich and full and ever new must be the blessings flowing from such a state of mind as this. One of them will be a heart at rest from needless cares and anxieties. It is our discontent that makes half our cares. If we would only be content with such things as we have, and bring our desires within the limits of our possessions, we should be freed from endless trouble and anxiety. And how great would be the blessing of this, many a careworn man of business, and many a no less careworn mother of a family, can testify. To be able to feel that all is well because all is in his hands: to resist the temptation to needless risks in business, in the hope of getting more than we have, instead of trusting to honest, patient industry: to be able to commit the issue of every enterprise to Him, to give it success if he pleases; if not, to show us a better path: to pursue our path of duty earnestly, faithfully, trustingly, believing that
* Heb. xiii. 5.
he will never leave us nor forsake us: to cast all our care upon Him who careth for us: to be willing to be •what he pleases, and content with what he sends, and to feel rich beyond all imagination in the promise of an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that cannot fade away:—these, surely, are blessings beyond all price, and they are the blessings which a contented spirit may enjoy. Only let us know that we are reconciled to him through Christ Jesus, and that we are in his hands for ever, and we may be content—content with what he appoints now; content with the fruit he gives to our labours, if those labours are faithful; more than content, indeed, because all these are the gifts of his mercy now, the fruits of his Divine purpose of love, and are preparing for us an exceeding and eternal weight of glory hereafter. Then shall this be the song of our joyful meditation:—
"Father, whate'er of earthly bliss
Give me a calm, a thankful heart.
Prom every murmur free;
And make me live to thee.
Let the sweet hope that thou art mine
My life and death attend,
And crown my journey's end."
THE PROMISED LAND.
Moses and the other sacred writers frequently describe the land of Canaan as "a good land," " a land flowing with milk and honey." This indicates, first, in the "milk," a country of rich pastures, and therefore favourable to the rearing of cattle, whence "milk" would be so abundantly produced, that the land might, by a very expressive poetical'hyperbole, be described as "flowing" with it.
The same richness of vegetation is expressed by the mention of " honey;" for the producers of honey draw their nutriment from flowers; and where flowers are scanty, bees are not. But the abundance of bees, in that of the honey they produced, is constantly manifested in Scripture. We, who make but little use of honey, are apt to under-rate the importance of this indication. But this will be at once recognised when it is remembered that the Israelites had no sugar; and that consequently, although fond of sweet things, as the Orientals always are, honey had to be employed by them for all sweetening purposes,— being in fact their sugar.
In what other respects Canaan was "a good land," is more fully shown by Moses not long before his death:— "The Lord thy God bringeth thee into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and depths that spring out of valleys and hills; a land of wheat, and barley, and vines, and fig-trees, and pomegranates; a land of oil olive, and honey; a land wherein thou shalt eat bread without scarceness, thou shalt not lack anything." Deut. viii. 7—9.
Now it happens remarkably that the enemies of revelation have drawn arguments from the present neglected state of some parts of the country, to invalidate the statements of the sacred historians, who represent it as one of the most fertile and delightful spots on the face of the earth. In this they have not only altogether failed, but have unwittingly been the cause of producing much confirmation and illustration of the sacred records in this respect; for scholars have thus been led to gather up the corroborative testimonies of ancient heathen writers; and travellers having been induced narrowly to observe the existing state of the country, have found traces in what it is, of what it once was, and is still capable of becoming. The land has suffered under the blighting dominion of Saracens, Turks, and Egyptians; and thus the population having become scanty, agriculture has been neglected, and an air of comparative desolation has crept over its once luxuriant hills and dales, although the tracer of its former condition are far from being wholly obliterated.
We shall produce the testimonies of some travellers, in corroboration of this statement,—being only a few of the number who have borne witness to the same effect.
The Chevalier D'Arvieux, travelling through the land under peculiarly advantageous circumstances, towards the close of the seventeenth century, says, in one place :—" We left the road to avoid the Arabs, whom it was always disagreeable to meet with, and reached by a side path the summit of a mountain, where we found a beautiful plain. It must be confessed that if one could live secure in this country, it would be the most agreeable residence in the