Friday, September 11, 2009


by Jeremiah Burroughs - from the Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment

1. We should consider, in all our wants and inclinations to discontent, the greatness of the mercies that we have, and the meanness of the things we lack. The things we lack, if we are godly, are things of very small moment in comparison to the things we have, and the things we have are things of very great moment. For the most part, the things for the want of which people are discontented and murmur are such things as reprobates have, or may have. Why should you be troubled so much for the want of something which a man or woman may have and yet be a reprobate? as, that your wealth is not so great, your health not so perfect, your credit not so much; you may have all those things and still be a reprobate! Now will you be discontented for what a reprobate may have? I will give you the example of a couple of godly men, meeting together, Anthony and Didymus: Didymus was blind, and yet a man of very excellent gifts and graces: Anthony asked him if he was not troubled at his want of sight. He confessed he was, 'But', he said, 'should you be troubled at the want of what flies and dogs have, and not rather rejoice and be thankful that you have what angels have?' God has given you those good things that make angels glorious; is not that enough for you, though you lack what a fly has? And so a Christian should reason the case with himself: what am I discontented for? I am discontented for want of what a dog may have, what a devil may have, what a reprobate may have; shall I be discontented for not having that, when God has given me what makes angels glorious? 'Blessed be God,' says the Apostle in Ephesians 1:3, 'who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places.' It may be you have not such great blessings in earthly places as some others have, but if the Lord has blessed you in heavenly places, that should content you. There are blessings in heaven, and he has set you here for the present, as it were in heaven, in a heavenly place. The consideration of the greatness of the mercies that we have, and the littleness of the things that God has denied us, is a very powerful consideration to work this grace of contentment.

2. The consideration that God is beforehand with us with his mercies should content us. I spoke of this as an aggravation of our discontent, but now I shall use it as a consideration to help us to contentment. You lack many comforts now, but has not God been beforehand with you heretofore? Oh, you have had mercy enough already to make you spend all the strength you have and time you shall live, to bless God for what you have had already. I remember reading of a good man who had lived to fifty years of age and enjoyed his health for eight and forty years exceedingly well, and lived in prosperity, but the last two years his body was exceedingly diseased, he had the strangury, and was in great pain. But he reasoned the case with himself thus: 'Oh, Lord, you might have made all my life a life of torment and pain, but you have left me have eight and forty years in health. I will praise your mercies for what I have had, and will praise your justice for what now I feel.' Oh, it is a good consideration for us, to think that God is beforehand with us, in the way of mercy. Suppose God should now take away your wealth from some of you who have lived comfortably a great while; you will say, 'That aggravates our misery, that we have had wealth.' But it is through your unthankfulness that it does so.

We should bless God for what we have had, and not think that we are worse because we have had thus and thus. We might always have been miserable who has no other great aggravation of his misery, but that once he was happy. If there is nothing else to make you miserable, then that is no aggravation that you may not bear, for there is much mercy in that you had it once. Therefore let that content you.

3. The consideration of the abundance of mercies that God bestows and we enjoy. It is a saying of Luther: 'The sea of God's mercies should swallow up all our particular afflictions.' Name any affliction that is upon you: there is a sea of mercy to swallow I up. If you pour a pailful of water on the floor of your house, it make a great show, but if you throw it into the sea, there is no sign of it. So, afflictions considered in themselves, we think are very great, but let them be considered with the sea of god's mercies we enjoy, and then they are not so much, they are nothing in comparison.

4. Consider the way of God towards all creatures. God carries on all creatures in a vicissitude of several conditions: thus, we do not always have summer, but winter succeeds summer; we do not always have day, but day and night; we do not always have fair weather, but fair and foul; the vegetative creatures do not always flourish, but the sap is in the root and they seem to be dead. There is a vicissitude of all things in the world: the sun does not shine always on us here, but darkness comes after light. Now seeing God has so ordered things with all creatures, that there is a mixture of conditions, why should be thing it much that there should be a vicissitude of conditions with us, sometimes in a way of prosperity, and sometimes in a way of affliction?

1Ti 6:6 - But godliness with contentment is great gain.

Php 4:11 - Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.

Have you learned the rare jewel of Christian contentment?

Bro. Pat

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