It is popularly supposed that a condition of perfect satisfaction is not possible in this life.
I heard a minister of more than ordinary ability, both as a reasoner and speaker, say that if he were to hear a man profess to be perfectly satisfied that he should consider
him either a fool or a knave.
It is said a man may be satisfied with God and the plan of salvation, but that no man ought to be satisfied with himself, either as to his character or attainments, no matter what his achievements may be in either particular. It is supposed that the best of us could have done better than we have done, and that there is so much to learn about ourselves and our fellows, about God and duty, that no sane man can be conscious of these things and be perfectly satisfied. This is the popular view, but I think it is wrong, and contrary both to the Scriptures and to true philosophy.
Satisfaction is a present tense state of the mind, having no necessary reference either to the past or the future, although it may be based upon both.
A man may have work enough to last him a year, and yet may make such progress with it the first day that at the close of the day, he is absolutely satisfied with that day's work, and the fact that he has three hundred and sixty-four days' work ahead of him, may be one of the factors in his satisfaction.
A student, fully absorbed in his studies, ought to so study, that each day, he is re-warded with the satisfaction of having done his duty, and made all the progress possible for him.
A person in good health and with a good appetite ought to get up from each meal perfectly satisfied so far as his appetite is concerned, notwithstanding the fact that he expects to be hungry again for the next meal. In fact, when he sits down to eat he is all the more satisfied because he is hungry, and all things being equal he keeps satisfied while the meal progresses and so continues at its close.
The man not satisfied is the man dissatisfied, and he is the selfish man, or the glutton or the miser, and a disbeliever of the Bible in every instance, in a greater or less degree.
A man who believes in a good God, and is himself a good man, must of necessity be a satisfied man.
"Yes, this is all very well," says the objector, "but what about moral and spiritual duties? Can a man ever be satisfied with himself in these particulars? " It seems to me perfectly clear that he can be, and therefore he ought to be. The God of some people is a hard taskmaster; there never was a slave-driver so exacting as He is; He binds heavy burdens upon weak shoulders and
demands "Bricks without straw"; He gives problems of impossible solution, and then punishes His subjects for not solving them. This is certainly the God that many people believe in, so they are kept on the gridiron of their own dissatisfaction and roasting on the fire of the unreasonable requirements of their God.
This, however, is not the Bible God as taught by Jesus Christ, for His "Yoke is easy, and His burden light." "As a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear Him." "He knoweth our frame and remembereth that we are but dust," and so His requirements are not hard, but easy. A man who does not obey the reasonable commands of God, made in his own interest at that, is a wicked man, for " His commandments are not grievous, but joyous, and in keeping of them there is great reward." One of the rewards is perfect and constant satisfaction, for said Jesus, "He that cometh to Me shall never hunger and he that believeth on Me shall never thirst."
A Christian man has no right to be dissatisfied with anything but sin, but he has - no right to sin, nor is there any need of sinning, for Jesus was manifested to take away our sins.
If of course one believes sin to be a necessity and that he constantly does sin, then he cannot but be dissatisfied. I once heard a successful Evangelist, voice a popular sentiment, when he said, "Those who lived nearest God were the most conscious of their sins; " and he quoted Paul's experience to the effect that in the beginning he started out with the experience of a humble saint, saying that he was " Less than the least of all saints "; but it seems that Paul then began a downward career, and soon confessed that he was " Not worthy to be called an Apostle," and he finished up in his old age by saying he was a very bad man; or at least he used the words that he was "The chief of sinners"; and if he means what he said, to be his experience at the time he used that language, it of course means that he was a very bad man at that time. Such teaching, however, is a burlesque on Christianity, a slander on Paul, and a libel on Christian experience, as it is a disgrace to a Christian teacher. That is to say, this characterization would be true, if those who so teach knew what they were saying, and .actually meant what they said.
I must, however, in charity suppose that they are better than their creeds, and do not intend to teach what their language logically means.
If what they say is true, then the better we are the worse we know ourselves to be. The man most trusted by God and living nearest to Him, is conscious that he is disloyal to God; that notwithstanding all God has done for him he is still a bad man, for a sinner is a bad man, although this is a bald way of putting it. It means that the most holy man is unholy, that no matter how a man may try, that he cannot even by the aid of the Almighty power of God be perfectly true; that in fact the nearer he puts himself to God by these his endeavors, the more he will be conscious he sins daily in thought, word or deed. It means that God demands more than the best of men can give; that is, He demands the impossible and then blames his most faithful follower because he cannot accomplish it.
I am glad that I worship a different kind of God, one whom I find to be a loving and kind Father, a Master so reasonable and easy to please that if I were to violate His will, or sin against Him, I would consider myself a scoundrel of the deepest dye, deserving the last penalty of His righteous law.
And their creed to the contrary, I must believe in charity, that in reality the good men who teach such nonsense, are the same as I am; for if they are as they paint themselves, I should be afraid to associate or do business with them. A man who is untrue to God in any degree, is to the same extent untrue to his fellows and cannot be trusted.
If, however, their teaching is born of actual present experience, I have good news to tell them; I have a remedy to offer, a gospel to preach to them which will thoroughly purge them of the dread disease of sin, and make them new creatures, holy, pure and undefiled, constantly well pleasing to God, and satisfactory to themselves.