The Art of Divine Contentment is Watson’s exposition and explanation of the contented life from Philippians 4:11 — “I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content” (KJV).
While little is known of Thomas Watson’s biographical information (we do not even know in what years he was born and died), Watson is among the more beloved Puritan writers. Spurgeon says that Watson “was one of the most concise,…illustrative, and suggestive of those eminent divines who made the Puritan age the Augustan period of evangelical literature.…”
He writes of contentment not from a position of a secure life, but from a life in which he was removed from his church by the King of England, imprisoned, and given a death sentence. He knows of the temptation to be anxious. And he knows of the ability to persevere in contentment and trust, as demonstrated in his preface:
If there is a blessed life before we come to heaven, it is the contented life. And why not be contented? Why are you angry, and why is your countenance fallen? Man of all creatures, has the least cause to be discontented. Can you deserve anything from God? Does He owe you anything? What if the scene were to turn and God put you under the blackrod? Whereas He now uses a rod, He might use a scorpion. He might as well damn you as whip you. Why then, are you discontented? Why do you give way to this irrational and hurtful sin of discontent?…
I know there will never be perfect contentment in this life. Perfect pleasure is only at God’s right hand, yet we may begin here to tune our instrument before we play the sweet lesson of contentment exactly in heaven. I should be glad if this little piece might be like Moses’ casting the tree into the waters, to make the bitter condition of life more sweet and pleasant to drink of.