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  • 5. - THE EVILS OF A MURMURING SPIRIT
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    Thus we have showed in many respects the excellence of this grace of contentment, laboring to present the beauty of it before your souls, that you may be in love with it. Now, my brethren, what remains but the practice of this? For this art of contentment is not a speculative thing, only for contemplation, but it is an art of divinity, and therefore practical. You are now to labor to work upon your hearts, that this grace may be in you, that you may honor God and honor your profession with this grace of contentment, for there are none who more honor God, and honor their profession than those who have this grace of contentment.

    Now that we may come to grips with the practice, it is necessary that we should be humbled in our hearts because of our lack of contentment in the past. For there is no way to set about any duty that you should perform, you might labor to perform it, but first you must be humbled for the lack of it. Therefore I shall endeavor to get your hearts to be humbled for lack of this grace. ‘Oh, had I had this grace of contentment, what a happy life I might have lived! What abundance of honor I might have brought to the name of God! How might I have honored my profession! What a great deal of comfort I might have enjoyed! But the Lord knows it has been far otherwise. Oh, how far I have been from this grace of contentment which has been expounded to me! I have had a murmuring, a vexing, and a fretting heart within me. Every little cross has put me out of temper and out of frame. Oh, the boisterousness of my spirit! What evil God sees in the vexing and fretting of my heart, and murmuring and repining of my spirit!’

    Oh that God would make you see it! Now to the end that you might be humbled for lack of it, I shall endeavor in these headlings to speak of it:

    First I shall set before you The evil of a murmuring spirit . There is more evil in it than you are aware of.

    In the second place, I will show you some aggravations of this evil . It is altogether evil, but more so in some cases than others.

    Thirdly, I shall labor to take away the excuses that any murmuring, discontented heart has for his disorder .

    There are these three things in this use of humbling of the soul for the want of this grace of contentment.

    For the present, the first: The great evil that is in a murmuring, discontented heart. 1. THIS MURMURING AND DISCONTENTEDNESS OF YOURS REVEALS MUCH CORRUPTION IN THE SOUL.

    As contentment argues much grace, and strong grace, and beautiful grace, so murmuring argues much corruption, and strong corruption, and very vile corruptions in your heart. If a man’s body is of such a temper that every scratch of a pin makes his flesh to rankle and be a sore, you will surely say, this man’s body is very corrupt, his blood and his flesh is corrupt, that every scratch of a pin shall make it rankle. So it is in your spirit, if every little trouble and affliction makes you discontented, and makes you murmur, and even causes your spirit within you to rankle. Or like a wound in a man’s body, the evil of the wound is not so much in the largeness of it, and the abundance of blood that comes out of it, but in the inflammation that there is in it, or in a fretting and corrupting humor that is in the wound.

    When an unskilled man comes and sees a large wound in the flesh, he looks upon it as a dangerous wound, and when he sees a great deal of blood gush out, he thinks, these are the evils of it; but when a surgeon comes and sees a great gash, he says: ‘This will be healed within a few days, but there is a smaller wound and an inflammation or a septic sore in it, and this will cost time’, he says, ‘to cure.’ So he does not lay balsam and healing salves upon it, but his great is to get out the septic inflammation, and the thing that must heal this wound is some potion to purge. But the patient says, ‘What good will this do to my wound? You give me something to drink, and my wound is in my arm, or in my leg. What good will this do that I am putting in my stomach?’ Yes, it purges out the infection, and takes away the inflammation, and till that is taken away the salves can do no good.

    So it is, just for all the world, in the souls of men: it may be that there is some affliction upon them, which I compare to the wound; now they think that the greatness of the affliction is what makes their condition most miserable. Oh now, there is a fretting humor, an inflammation in the heart, a murmuring spirit that is within you, and that is the misery of your condition, and it must be purged out of you before you can be healed. Let God do with you what he will, till he purges out that fretting humor your wound will not be healed. A murmuring heart is a very sinful heart; so when you are troubled for this affliction you had need to turn your thoughts rather to be troubled for the murmuring of your heart, for that is the greatest trouble. There is an affliction upon you and that is grievous, but there is a murmuring heart within and that is more grievous. Oh, that we could but convince men and women that murmuring spirit is a greater evil than any affliction, whatever the affliction! We shall show more fully afterward that a murmuring spirit is the evil of the evil, and the misery of the misery. 2. THE EVIL OF MURMURING IS SUCH THAT WHEN GOD WOULD SPEAK OF WICKED MEN AND DESCRIBE THEM, and show the brand of a wicked and ungodly man or woman, he instances this sin in a more special manner. I might name many Scriptures, but that Scripture in Jude is a most remarkable one. In the 14th verse onwards, it is said, ‘That the Lord comes with ten thousands of his saints, to execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them, of all their ungodly deeds, which they have ungodly committed, and all of their hard speeches, which ungodly sinners have spoken against him.’ Mark here in this 15th verse mention is made four times of ungodly ones: all that are ungodly among them, all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him. This is in general, but now he comes in particular to show who these are: ‘These are’, he says, ‘murmurers’, - that is the very first. Would you know who are ungodly men, whom God when he comes with ten thousands of angels shall come to punish for all their ungodly deeds that they do, and those that speak ungodly things against him? These ungodly ones are murmurers; murmurers in Scripture are put in the forefront of all. You had need to look to your spirits; you may see that this murmuring, which is the vice contrary to this contentment, is not as small a matter as you think. You think you are not as ungodly as others, because you do not swear and drink as others do, but you may be ungodly in murmuring. It is true there is no sin but some seeds and remainders of it are in those who are godly; but when men are under the power of this sin of murmuring, it convicts them as ungodly, as well as if they were under the power of drunkenness, or whoredom, or any other sin. God will look upon you as ungodly for this sin as well as for any sin whatever. This one Scripture should make the heart shake at the thought of the sin of murmuring. 3. AS WELL AS BEING MADE A BRAND OF UNGODLY MEN, YOU WILL FIND IN SCRIPTURE THAT GOD ACCOUNTS IT REBELLION.

    It is contrary to the worship that is in contentedness. That is worshipping God, crouching to God and falling down before him, even as a dog would crouch when you hold a stick over him; but a murmuring heart is a rebellious heart, as you will find, if you compare two Scripture together: they are both in the book of Numbers. ‘But on the morrow’, says Numbers 16:41, ‘all the congregation of the children of Israel murmured against Moses and against Aaron, saying, Ye have killed the people of the Lord.’

    They all murmured; now compare this with chapter 17 and verse 10: ‘And the Lord said unto Moses, Bring Aaron’s rod again before the testimony, to be kept for a token against the rebels.’

    In the 16th chapter they murmured against Moses and Aaron, and in the 17th chapter we read, Bring the rod of Aaron again, before the testimony, for a token against the rebels. So you see that to be a murmurer, and to be a rebel, in Scripture phrase is all one; it is rebellion against God. Just as it is the beginning of rebellion and sedition in a kingdom, when the people are discontented. When discontent comes, it grows to murmuring, and you can go into no house almost, but there is murmuring when men are discontented, so that within a little while it breaks forth into sedition or rebellion. Murmuring is but as the smoke of the fire: there is first a smoke and smouldering before the flame breaks forth; and so before open rebellion in a kingdom there is first a smoke of murmuring, and then it breaks forth into open rebellion. But because it has the seeds of rebellion, it is accounted before the Lord to be rebellion. Will you be a rebel against God? When you feel your heart discontented and murmuring against the dispensation of God towards you, you should check it thus: Oh, you wretched heart! What, will you be a rebel against God? Will you rise in rebellion against the infinite God? Yet you have done so. Charge your heart with this sin of rebellion.

    You who are guilty of this sin of murmuring, you are this day charged by the Lord, as being guilty of rebellion against him, and God expects that when you go home, you should humble your souls before him for this sin, that you should charge your souls for being guilty of rebellion against God.

    Many of you may say, I never thought that I was a rebel against God before, I thought that I had many infirmities, but now I see the Scripture speaks of sin in a different way than men do, the Scripture makes men, though only murmurers, to be rebels against God. Oh, this rebellious heart that I have against the Lord, which has manifested itself in this way of murmuring against the Lord! That is a third point in the evil of discontent. 4. IT IS A WICKEDNESS WHICH IS GREATLY CONTRARY TO GRACE, AND ESPECIALLY CONTRARY TO THE WORK OF GOD, IN BRINGING THE SOUL HOME TO HIMSELF.

    I know no disorder more opposite and contrary to the work of God in the conversion of a sinner, than this is. Question. What is the work of God when he brings a sinner home to himself? Answer. 1. The usual way is for God to make the soul to see, and be sensible of the dreadful evil that is in sin, and the great breach that sin has made between God and it, for, certainly, Jesus Christ can never be known in his beauty and excellence till the soul knows that. I do not say what secret work of the Holy Ghost there may be in the soul, but before the soul can actually apply Jesus Christ to itself, it is impossible but that it must come to know the evil of sin, and the excellence of Jesus Christ. A seed of faith may be put into the soul, but the soul must first know Christ, and know sin, and be made sensible of it. Now how contrary is this sin of murmuring to any such work of God! Has God made me see the dreadful evil of sin, and made my soul sensible of the evil of sin as the greatest burden? How can I be then so much troubled for every little affliction?

    Certainly, if I saw what the evil of sin was, that sight would swallow up all other evils, and if I were burdened with the evil of sin, it would swallow up all other burdens. What! am I now murmuring against God’s hand? says such a soul, whereas a while ago the Lord made me see myself to be a damned wretch, and apprehend it as a wonder that I was not in Hell? 2. Yea, it is strongly contrary to the sight of the infinite excellence and glory of Jesus Christ, and of the things of the Gospel. What! am I the soul to whom the Lord has revealed the infinite excellence of Jesus Christ, and yet shall I think such a little affliction to be so grievous to me, when I have had the sight of such glory in Christ as is worth more than ten thousand worlds? A true convert will say: ‘Oh, the Lord at such a time gave me a sight of Christ that I would not be without for ten thousand, thousand worlds.’ But has God given you that, and will you be discontented for a trifle in comparison to that? 3. A third work when God brings the soul home to himself is by taking the heart off from the creature, disengaging the heart from all creature-comforts: that is the third work ordinarily that the soul may perceive of itself. It is true, God’s work may be altogether in the seeds in him, but in the various actings of the soul, in turning to God, it may perceive these things in it. The disengagement of the heart from the creature is the calling of the soul from the world - ’whom the Lord hath called he hath justified’ - what is the calling of the soul but this? The soul which before was seeking for contentment in the world, and cleaving to the creature, is now called out in the world by the Lord, who says: ‘Oh Soul, your happiness is not here, your rest is not here, your happiness is elsewhere, and your heart must be loosened from all the things that are here below in the world.’ This is the work of God in the soul, to disengage the heart from the creature, and how contrary is a murmuring heart to such a thing! Something which is glued to another cannot be taken off, but you must tear it; so it is a sign your heart is glued to the world, that when God would take you off, your heart tears. If God, by an affliction, should come to take anything in the world from you, and you can part from it with ease, without tearing, it is a sign then that your heart is not glued to the world. 4. A fourth work of God in converting a sinner is this, the casting of the soul upon Jesus Christ for all its good. I see Jesus Christian the Gospel as the Fountain of all good, and God out of free grace tendering him to me for life and for salvation, and now my souls casts itself, rolls itself upon the infinite grace of God in Christ for all good. now have you done so? Has God converted you, and drawn you to his Son to cast your soul upon him for all your good, and yet you are discontented for the want of some little matter in a creature comfort? Are you he who has cast your soul upon Jesus Christ for all good? As he says in another case, ‘Is this thy faith?’ 5. The soul is subdued to God. And then it comes to receive Jesus Christ as a King, to rule, to order, and dispose of him how he pleases, and so the heart is subdued unto God. Now how opposite is a murmuring, discontented heart to a heart subdued to Jesus Christ as King, and receiving him as a Lord to rule and dispose of him as he pleases! 6. There is in the work of your turning to God the giving up of yourself to God in an everlasting covenant. As you take Christ, the head of the Covenant, to be yours, so you give up yourself to Christ. In the work of conversion there is the resignation of the soul wholly to God in an everlasting covenant to be his. Have you ever surrendered up yourself to God in an everlasting covenant? Then, certainly, this fretting, murmuring heart of ours is strongly opposite to it, certainly you forget this covenant of yours, and the resignation of yourself up to God. It would be of marvellous help to you to humble your souls when you are in a murmuring condition.

    If you could but obtain so much liberty of your own spirits as to look back to see what the work of God was in converting you, there is nothing would prevail more than to think of that. I am now in a murmuring, discontented way, but how did I feel my soul working when God turned my soul to himself! Oh, how opposite is this to that work, and how unbecoming! Oh, what shame and confusion would come upon the spirits of men and women, if they could but compare the work of corruption in their murmuring and discontent with the work of God that was upon their souls in conversion!

    Now we should labor to keep the work of God upon our souls which was present at our conversion; for conversion must not be only at one instant at first. Men are deceived in this, if they think their conversion is finished merely at first; you must be in a way of conversion to God all the days of your life, and therefore Christ said to his disciples, ‘Except ye be converted and become as little children?’ Ye be converted. Why? Were they not converted before? Yes, they were converted, but they were still to continue the work of conversion all the days of their lives. What work of God there is at the first conversion is to abide afterwards. There must always abide some sight and sense of sin; it may be not in the way which you had, which was rather a preparation than anything else, but the sight and sense of sin is to continue still, that is, you are still to be sensible of the burden of sin as it is against the holiness, and goodness, and mercy of God to you. And the sight of the excellence of Jesus Christ is to continue, and your calling away from the creature, and your casting of your soul upon Christ, and your receiving Christ as King - still receive him day by day - and the subduing of your heart, and the surrendering of yourself up to God in a way of covenant. Now if this were but daily continued, there would be no space nor time for murmuring to work upon your heart: that is the fourth point. 5. MURMURING AND DISCONTENT IS EXCEEDINGLY BELOW A CHRISTIAN.

    Oh, it is too mean and base a disorder for a Christian to give place to it.

    Now it is below a Christian in many respects. 1. Below the relation of a Christian . How below the relation of a Christian?

    The relation in which you stand. Below what relation? you will say. i . The relation in which you stand to God . Do you not call God your father? and do you not stand in relation to him as a child? What! do you murmur? In 2 Samuel 13:4 there is a speech of Jonadab to Amnon: ‘Why art thou, being the king’s son, lean from day to day? wilt thou not tell me?’; and so he told him, but that was for a wicked cause. He perceived that his spirit was troubled, for otherwise he was of a fat and plump temper of body, but because of trouble of spirit he even pined away. Why? What is the matter? You stand in this relation to the King and yet let anything trouble your heart - that is his meaning; is there anything that should disquiet your heart when you stand in such a relation to the King, as the King’s son?

    So I may say to a Christian: Are you the King’s son, the son, the daughter, of the King of Heaven, and yet so disquieted and troubled, and vexed at every little thing that happens? As if a King’s son were to cry out that he is undone for losing a toy; what an unworthy thing would this be! So do you: you cry out as if you were undone and yet are a King’s son, you who stand in such relation to God, as to a father, you dishonor your father in this; as if either he had not wisdom, or power, or mercy enough to provide for you. ii. The relation in which you stand to Jesus Christ . You are the spouse of Christ. What! One married to Jesus Christ and yet troubled and discontented? Have you not enough in him? Does not Christ say to his spouse, as Elkanah said to Hannah: ‘Am not I better to thee than ten sons?’ ( 1 Samuel 1:8). So does not Christ your husband say to you, ‘Am not I better to you than thousands of riches and comforts, such comforts as you murmur for want of?’ Has not God given you his Son and will he not with him give you all things? Has the love of God to you been such as to give you his Son in marriage? Why are you discontented and murmuring? Consider your relation to Jesus Christ, as a spouse and married to him: his person is yours, and so all the riches of Jesus Christ are yours, as the riches of a husband are his wife’s.

    Though some husbands are so vile that their wives may be forced to sue for maintenance, certainly Jesus Christ will never deny maintenance to his spouse, it is a dishonor for a husband to have the wife to whining up and down. What! you are matched with Christ and are his spouse, and will you murmur now, and be discontented in your spirit? You will observe that with those who are newly married, when there is discontent between the wife and the husband, their friends will shake their heads say, ‘They are not meeting with what they expected; you see ever since they were married together how the man looks, and the woman looks, they are not so cheery as they used to be. Surely it is likely to prove an ill match.’ But it is not so here, it shall not be so between you and Christ. Oh, Jesus Christ does not love to see his spouse with a scowling countenance; no man loves to see discontent in the face of his wife, and surely Christ does not love to see discontent in the face of his spouse. iii. You stand in relation to Christ, not only as a spouse, but as a member . You are bone of his bone, and flesh of his flesh; and to have a member of Jesus Christ in a condition of discontent exceedingly unworthy. iv. He is your elder brother likewise , and so you are a co-heir with him. v . The relation in which you stand to the Spirit of God . You are the temple of the Holy Ghost, the Holy Ghost is your Comforter. It is he who is appointed to convey all comforts from the Father and the Son, to the souls of his people. And are you the temple of the Holy Ghost, and does he dwell in you, and yet for all that you murmur for every little thing? vi. The relation in which you stand to the angels . You are made one body with them, for so Christ has joined principalities and powers with his Church: they are ministering spirits for the good of his people, to supply what they need, and you and they are joined together, and Christ is the head of you and angels. vii. The relation in which you stand to the saints . You are of the same body with them, they and you make up but one mystical body with Jesus Christ, and if they are happy you must needs be happy.

    Oh, how beneath a Christian is a murmuring spirit, especially when he considers the relations in which he stands! 2. A Christian should consider, That murmuring and discontentedness is below the high dignity which God has put upon him . Do but consider the high dignity which God has put upon you: the meanest Christian in the world is a lord of heaven and earth. he has made us kings unto himself, kings to God, not kings to men to rule over them; and yet I say, every Christian is lord of heaven and earth, yea of life and death. That is, as Christ is Lord of all, so he has made those who are his members lords of all. ‘All are yours’, says the Apostle, ‘even life and death, every thing is yours.’ It is a very strange expression, that death should be theirs, death is yours, that is, you are, as it were, lords over it, you have what shall make death your servant, your slave, even death itself, your greatest enemy is turned to be your slave. Faith makes a Christian as lord over all, lifted up in excellence above all creatures that ever God made, except the angels, and in some respect above them.

    I say the poorest Christian who lives is raised to a position above all creatures in the world except angels, and above them in many respects too - and yet discontented! That you who were as a firebrand of hell, and might have been scorching and yelling and roaring there to all eternity, yet that God should raise you to have a higher excellence in you than there is in all the works of creation that ever he made except angels, and other Christians, who are in your position! Indeed, you are nearer the Divine nature than the angels, because your nature is joined in a hypostatical union to the Divine nature, and in that respect your nature is more honored than the nature of the angels. And the death of Christ is yours. He died for you and not for the angels, and therefore you are likely to be raised above the angels in many respects. You who are in such a position as this, you who are set apart to the end that God might manifest to all eternity what the infinite power of a Deity is able to raise a creature to - for that is the position of a saint, a believer: his position is that he is set apart to the end that God might manifest to all eternity what his infinite power is able to do to make a creature happy.

    Are you in such a position? Oh, how low and beneath this position is a murmuring and discontented heart for want of some outward comforts here in this world! How unseemly it is that you should be a slave to every cross, that every affliction shall be able to say to your soul, ‘Bow down to us’!

    We accounted it a great slavery, when men said to our souls, ‘Bow down’, as the cruel prelates were wont to do, in imposing things upon men’s consciences: in effect they said, ‘Let your consciences, your souls, bow down to us, that we may tread upon them’. That is the greatest slavery in the world, that one man should say to another, ‘Let your consciences, your souls, bow down, that we may tread upon them’; but will you allow every affliction to say, ‘Bow down that we may tread upon you’? Truly it is so, when your heart is overcome with murmuring and discontent; know that those afflictions which have caused your to murmur have said to you, ‘Bow down that we may tread upon you.’ Nay, not afflictions, but the very Devil prevails against you in this. Oh! how this is beneath the happy position to which God has raised a Christian! What! will the son of a King let every base fellow come and bid him bow down, that he may tread upon his neck?

    That is what you do in every affliction: the affliction, the cross and trouble that befalls you, says, ‘Bow down that we may come and tread upon you.’ 3. Murmuring is below the spirit of a Christian . The spirit of every Christian should be like the spirit of his Father: every father loves to see his spirit in his child, loves to see his image, not the image of his body only, to say, here is a child for all the world like his father, but he has the spirit of his father too. A father who is a man of spirit loves to see his spirit in his child, rather than the features of his body. Oh, the Lord who is our Father loves to see his Spirit in us. Great men love to see great spirits in their children, and the great God loves to see a great spirit in his children. We are one spirit with God and with Christ, and one spirit with the Holy Ghost; therefore, we should have a spirit that might manifest the glory of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost in our spirits: that is the spirit of a Christian.

    The spirit of a Christian should be a lion-like spirit; as Jesus Christ is the Lion of the tribe of Judah (so he is called) so we should manifest something of the lion-like spirit of Jesus Christ. He manifested his lion-like spirit in passing through all afflictions and troubles whatsoever without any murmuring against God. When he came to drink that bitter cup, and even the dregs of it, he prayed indeed to God that if it were possible it might pass from him, but immediately: ‘Not my will, but thy will be done.’ As soon as ever he mentioned the passing of the cup from him, though it was the most dreadful cup that ever was drunk since the world began, yet at the mentioning of it: ‘Not my will, but thy will be done.’ Here Christ showed a lion-like spirit in going through all kinds of afflictions whatsoever, without any murmuring against God in them. Now a murmuring spirit is a base, dejected spirit, cross and contrary to the spirit of a Christian, and it is very base.

    I remember that the Heathens accounted it very base. Plutarch reports of a certain people, who used to manifest their disdain to men who were overmuch dejected by any affliction, and condemned them to this punishment: to wear women’s clothes all their days, or for a certain space of time at least, they should go in women’s clothes I token of shame and disgrace to them because they had such effeminate spirits. They thought it against a manly spirit, and therefore, seeing they did un-man themselves, they should go as women. Now, shall they account it an unmanly spirit, to be overmuch dejected in afflictions? and shall not a Christian account it an unchristianlike spirit to be overmuch dejected by any affliction whatsoever?

    I remember someone else compares murmuring spirits to children, when they are weaning: what a great deal of stir you have with your children when you wean then! how perverse and vexing they are! So, when God would wean you from some outward comforts in this world, oh, how fretting and discontented you are! Children will not sleep themselves nor let their mothers sleep when they are weaning; and so, when God would wean us from the world, and we fret, vex, and murmur, this is a childish spirit. 4. It is below the profession of a Christian . The profession of a Christian - what is that? A Christian’s profession is to be dead to the world and to be alive to God, that is his profession, to have his life hid with Christ in God, to satisfy himself in God. What! is this your profession? And yet if you have not everything you want, you murmur and are discontented. In that you even deny your profession. 5. It is below that special grace of faith . Faith is what overcomes the world; it makes all the promises of God ours. Now when you look upon you the profession of religion did God ever promise you that you would live at ease, and quiet, and have no trouble? I remember Augustine has a similar expression: ‘What! is this your faith? Did I ever promise you (he says) that you should flourish in the world? Are you a Christian to that end? And is this your faith? I never made any such promise to you when you took upon you to be a Christian.’ Oh, it is very contrary to your profession. You have no promise for this, that you should not have such an affliction upon you.

    And a Christian should live by his faith. It is said that the just live by faith; now you should not look after any other life but the life that you have by faith. You have no ground for your faith to believe that you should be delivered out of such an affliction, and then why should you account it such a great evil to be under this affliction? Certainly the good that we have in the ground for our faith is enough to content our hearts here, and to all eternity.

    A Christian should be satisfied with what God has made the object of his faith. The object of his faith is high enough to satisfy his soul, were it capable of a thousand times more than it is. Now if you may have the object of your faith you have enough to content your soul. And know that when you are discontented for want of certain comforts, you should think thus:

    God never promised me that I should have these comforts, at this time, and in such a way as I would have. I am discontented because I have not these things which God never yet promised me, and therefore I sin much against the Gospel, and against the grace of faith. 6. It is below a Christian because it is below those helps that a Christian has more than others have . They have the promises to help them, which others have not. It is not so much for the heart of a Nabal to sink, because he has nothing but the creature to uphold him. But it is much for a Christian, who has the promises and ordinances to uphold his spirit, which others have not. 7. It is below the expectation that God has of Christians , for God expects not only that they should be patient in afflictions, but that they should rejoice and triumph in them. Now, Christians, when God expects this from you, and you have not even attained to contentedness under afflictions! Oh, this is beneath what God expects from you. 8. It is below what God has had from other Christians . Others have not only been contented with little trials, but they have triumphed over great afflictions, they have suffered the spoiling of their goods with joy. Read the latter part of the eleventh of the Hebrews, and you will find what great things God has had from his people. Therefore not to be content with smaller crosses must needs be a great evil. 6. THE SIXTH EVIL IN A MURMURING SPIRIT IS, By murmuring you undo your prayers, for it is exceedingly contrary to the prayer that you make to God. When you come to pray to God, you acknowledge his sovereignty over you, you come there to profess yourselves to be at God’s disposal. What do you pay for, unless you acknowledge that you are at his disposal? Unless you will stand, as it were, at his disposal never come to petition him. If you will come to petition him and yet will be your own carver you go contrary to your prayers, to come as if you would beg your bread at your Father’s gates every day, and yet you must do what you list: this is the undoing of the prayers of a Christian. I remember reading that Latimer, speaking concerning Peter who denied his master, said: ‘Peter forgot his Paternoster,* for that was, Hallowed be thy name, and thy kingdom come.’ [*Paternoster — The Lord’s Prayer, so called because the Latin version begins: ‘Pater noster’ (Our Father).] So we may say, when you have murmuring and discontented hearts, you forget your prayers, you forget what you have prayed for. What do you pray, but, Give us this day our daily bread? (For you must make the Lord’s prayer a pattern for your prayers; that is Christ’s intention, that we should have it as a pattern and a directory, as it were, how to make our prayers.) Now God does not teach any of you to pray, Lord, give me so much a year, or let me have this kind of cloth, and so many dishes at my table. Christ does not teach you to pray so, but he teaches us to pray, ‘Lord, give us our bread,’ showing that you should be content with a little. What, have you not bread to eat? I hope there are none of you here but have that.

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