ABOUT THE BOOK/AUTHOR
Jeremiah Burroughs was a graduate of Emmanuel College, Cambridge, and for four years the ‘teacher’ of an English congregation in Rotterdam, to which place he had fled from the Laudian persecution in the 1630s. After his return from exile in 1641 he became ‘Gospel preacher’ to ‘two of the greatest congregations in England, viz: Stepney and Cripplegate’. He is worthily considered as belonging to the front rank of English puritan preachers. As such he played a prominent part in the Westminster Assembly of divines, but died prematurely before the Assembly’s work was concluded. Burrough’s writings, some published before and others after his death, were numerous, but The Rare–Jewel of Christian Contentment is one of the most valuable of them all. Its author was much concerned to promote (1) peace among believers of various ‘persuasions’ (2) peace and contentment in the hearts of individual believers during what he describes as ‘sad and sinking times’. The Rare Jewel concentrates upon this second aim. It is marked by sanity, clarity, aptness of illustration, and warmth of appeal to the heart. ‘There is an ark that you may come into, and no men in the world may live such comfortable, cheerful and contented lives as the saints of God’. Burroughs presses his lesson home with all the fervor and cogency of a true and faithful minister of God.
This month I wanted to challenge myself in reading a book written before 1900. I came across Jeremy Burroughs book The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment and was definitely curious about it especially since it was written around 1648. This book has received many good reviews and contains a topic that cannot be exhausted in our time. While this is the first book I have read that is categorized as a Puritan classic I enjoyed my reading of it. Regardless of the era it was written in it is just as timely today as it must have been in its own day. This is a book I would recommend to others and for the Kindle copy you cannot go wrong with a $.99 purchase of this book. (Yes just under $1). The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment
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.
The doctrinal conclusion briefly is this: That to be well skilled in the mystery of Christian contentment is the duty, glory and excellence of a Christian.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.Many may sit silently, refraining from discontented expressions, yet inwardly they are bursting with discontented expressions, yet inwardly they are bursting with discontent.So first, contentment is a heart-business; secondly, it is the quiet of the heart; and then thirdly, it is the frame of the heart.So this is the art of contentment: not to seek to add to our circumstances, but to subtract form our desires. Another author has said, The way to be rich is not by increasing wealth, but by diminishing our desires.When a Christian who has learned contentment has some wealth, he thinks of how he can serve God and do good with it. If God takes the wealth away, he is satisfied enjoying God and serving Him in another way by showing His grace in suffering recognizing he has a much of God as before. God is most honored when you can turn from one condition to another according to how He calls.
Consider what your condition is, you are pilgrims and strangers; so do not think to satisfy yourselves here. When a man comes into an inn and sees there a fair cupboard of plate, he is not troubled that it is not his own.- Why? Because he is going away. So let us not be troubled when we see that other men have great wealth, but we have not.-Why? We are going away to another country; you are, as it were, only lodging here, for a night. If you were to live a hundred years, in comparison to eternity it is not as much as a night, it is as though you were travelling, and had come to an inn. And what madness is it for a man to be discontented because he has not got what he sees there, seeing he may be going away again within less than a quarter of an hour? (p.51)
Then again, we are not only travelers but soldiers: this is the condition in which we are here in this world, and therefore we ought to behave ourselves accordingly. The Apostle makes use of this argument in writing to Timothy: ‘Thou therefore endure hardness as a good soldier of Jesus Christ’ (2 Timothy 2:3). The very thought of the condition of a soldier is enough to still his disquiet of heart. When he is away, he does not enjoy such comforts in his quarters as he has in his own home: perhaps a man who had his bed and curtains drawn about him, and all comforts in his chamber, has now sometimes to lie on straw and he thinks to himself, I am a soldier and it is suitable to my condition. He must have his bed warmed at home, but he must lie out in the fields when he is a soldier, and the very thought of the condition in which he stands, calms him in all things. Yes, and he goes rejoicing, to think that this is only suitable to the condition in which God has put him. So it should be with us in respect of this world. What an unseemly thing it would be to see a soldier go whining up and down with his finger in his eye, complaining, that he does not have hot meat every meal, and his bed warmed as he did at home! Now Christians know that they are in their warfare, they are here in this world fighting and combating with the enemies of their souls and their eternal welfare, and they must be willing to endure hardness here. (pp.51-52)
- 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
Consider your relationship to Jesus. Have you not enough in Him? All the riches in Him are yours.