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The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment Paperback – December 1, 1964
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'J. I. Packer says that the Puritans are the theological and devotional Redwoods of the western world.1 My own experience is that no one comes close to the skill they have in taking the razor-like scalpel of Scripture, and lancing the boils of my corruption, cutting out the cancers of my God-belittling habits of mind, and amputating the limbs of my disobedience. They are simply in a class by themselves.' --John Piper
About the Author
Jeremiah Burroughs combined harmoniously in his own person what might be considered incompatible qualities: a fervent zeal for purity of doctrine and worship, and a peaceable spirit, which longed and laboured for Christian unity.
For the first of these qualities the Puritans are renowned; in the second, they are deemed by some critics to have been deficient. A close study of the problem suggests that, as a whole, the Puritans were no more and no less concerned about the visible unity of the Church than is the Word of God. But in the case of Burroughs, certainly, we are faced with a man who, among his contemporaries and colleagues, was recognized as outstanding for his conciliatory temper and efforts. The often-quoted opinion of Richard Baxter was that if all the Episcopalians had been like Archbishop Ussher, all the Presbyterians like Stephen Marshall, and all the Independents like Jeremiah Burroughs, then the breaches of the Church would soon have been healed.
Of Burroughs himself, it was said that his heart was broken by the divisions among the Puritan reformers in the 1640's and that this contributed to his premature death at the age of forty-seven.
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Contentment does not come easily in today’s culture. With such a focus on more, bigger, better it is easy to get sucked into this and seek to gain and accumulate all we can. Burroughs does an excellent job of defining contentment and expanding the readers views of it as well as how it is formed in our lives.
I especially like Burroughs view he takes throughout the book that we are pilgrims and soldiers in this world. It brings a much needed perspective to contentment. As aliens and strangers in this world we can be content in all things knowing this is not our home but we are here for a season and for a purpose ordained by God. Likewise we are not just pilgrims but soldiers who have “landed in enemy occupied territory” as C.S Lewis describes. I believe, it is this view that is of central importance to our understanding of contentment. With this reframed perspective we can echo the words of Paul in Philippians 4:11-13 “Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. 12 I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. 13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”
The book is comprised of 8 chapters as follows:
Christian contentment described
The Mystery of Contentment
How Christ Teaches Contentment
The Excellence of Contentment
The Evils of a Murmuring Spirit
Aggravations of the Sin of Murmuring
The Excuses of a Murmuring Heart
How to Attain Contentment
Beyond fervent prayer and the biblical injunctions to husbands that they love their wives and to wives that they obey their husbands, I can think of no more prominent and powerful grace which can protect your nuptial covenant, than Christian contentment.
Paul speaks of a secret or mystery in Phil. 4:11, 12 “I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.”
Discovering the acquisition and benefits of this secret discipline I’ve found no better instruction than the work of the esteemed Puritan, Jeremiah Burroughs. It is named The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment. In his timeless classic Jeremiah Burroughs offers the following description: “Christian contentment is that sweet, inward, quiet, gracious frame of spirit, which freely submits to and delights in God’s wise and fatherly disposal in every condition.”
It is no secret that marriage is replete with manifold blessings attendant with trials and sacrifice, hard work and the fulfilling of dreams, the birth of children and the death of loved ones. Each of these can present temptations to become discontent, and in extreme circumstances can tempt us to murmur against God’s providence. Some expectations of one another can also lead to discontent with the behavior of our partners, even though they may be doing their very best. Discontent can be very corrosive in relationships, and conversely, Christian contentment can strengthen relationships. It expresses faith in God’s working in our lives and a confident resolve to humble oneself under the mighty hand of God, knowing that in due time he will lift you up.
Horatio Spafford was the author of the hymn It is well with my soul. This brother was well acquainted with both prosperity and tragedy. He was a very successful lawyer who lost his fortune in the infamous Chicago fire in 1871, and soon after, he lost his 4 young daughters in a shipwreck. Yet, as one believing that all comes from the hand of God, and that He causes all things to work together for good to those who love him, he could pen the words, “Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say, It is well, it is well with my soul.”
My hope for you is that you learn the art of Christian contentment. Yet, there is so much that needs to be said to reveal the secret of this contentment that I want you to read this wonderful exposition by Jeremiah Burroughs – The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment.
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