The Rare Jewel Of Christian Contentment

Book: 
The Rare Jewel Of Christian Contentment
Reviewer: 
Joseph J. Adrian

These sermons by Jeremiah Burroughs, published a couple of years after his departure to be with his Lord, are an exposition of Philippians 4:11, "I have learned in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content." This godly Pastor, who was one of the members of the Westminster Assembly, believed that "The Doctrine of Christian Contentment" was—". . . the very life and soul of all practical divinity." To be content, in all of the varied circumstances of this life, is part of "The Mystery of Godliness." It is not something that comes without effort on the believer's part—". . . it is to be learned, and learned as a mystery."

How does Burroughs define Christian contentment? It is, ". . . that sweet, inward, quiet, gracious frame of spirit, which freely submits to and delights in God's wise and Fatherly disposition in every condition."

One of the essential ingredients, if I may use that term, is submission to the will of God. The author takes it beyond just submission (because it is our duty to submit to our God), but in addition to submission to God's will it is, ". . . taking pleasure in God's disposal." This is an acknowledgment, in our conduct, that God's wisdom and His ways are far beyond our wisdom and understanding of "His Ways." In whatever condition we find ourselves, whatever the trial or infirmity we must bear, if we are discontent, our soul is not in a proper frame. The Puritan Pastor suggests that we catechize ourselves in this manner: "Is this not God's hand and must your will be regarded more than God's?" God gives grace to the humble, He exalts the humble. A healthy response to Burroughs' searching question would be, "O under, under! Get you under O soul! Keep under! Keep low! Keep under God's feet!" If we are deeply afflicted, how can we not only be content, but how can we take pleasure in it? It does not mean we are not sensible of the weight of the trial, or that we do not desire that God, in His time, would alleviate or remove it, but if we understand, to some degree, and have this perspective, ". . . I see that there is good in it. I find that there is honey in this rock." This will help us to understand the necessity of these particular trials, for God's working in us to come to fruition and bear fruit that will abide forever.

That this godly Minister was well acquainted with affection is certain. He was in "This School of Christ," and had deep experiential knowledge of this truth, thus he can shed so much light to benefit others. One of the ways a Christian comes to be more content is not by addition, but by subtraction. Many reason, if only I had this or that (you can fill in the blank) then I would be content. ". . . contentment does not come in that way . . . by adding to what you want, but by subtracting from your desires." The world is deceived in this, they think the way to contentment is to have more than I already have. This aspect of godliness is certainly a mystery to them, it should not be to God's children.

What are some of the reasons why "Christian Contentment" is important? It reveals a thankful heart for all that God has done for unworthy rebellious sinners, such as we were, before conversion, and still struggle against the remnants of a rebellious spirit, even after conversion. Being content makes a believer increasingly, "A vessel that is fit for the Master's use." I have long been aware of this book's enduring "Spiritual Value;" the passing of time has not diminished, but has greatly increased that awareness.