They said it better than me: Contentment

Several years ago I read the soul-satisfying book, The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment by Jeremiah Burroughs.  After I finished the book, I typed up a number of quotations from that book that were particularly helpful to me.  I came across that file again this week and found my heart encouraged as I read through it.  Perhaps you also will benefit from being provoked to intentionally stimulate contentment with your circumstances.  So here are those statements:

  • “Christian contentment is that sweet, inward, gracious frame of spirit, which freely submits to and delights in God’s wise and fatherly disposal in every condition.” [p. 19]
  • “When affliction comes, whatever it is, you do not murmur; though you feel it, though you make your cry to God, though you desire to be delivered, and seek it by all good means, yet you do not murmur or repine, you do not fret or vex yourself, there is not a tumultuousness of spirit in you, not an instability, there are not distracting fears in your hearts, no sinking discouragements, no unworthy shifts, no risings in rebellion against God in any way: This is quietness of spirit under an affliction…”  [p. 25]
  • “…if a man is to be free from discontent and worry it is not enough merely not to murmur but you must be active in sanctifying God’s name in the affliction.” [p. 30.]
  • “I will give you just one mark of the difference between a man or woman who is content in a natural way and one who is content in a spiritual way: Those who are content in a natural way overcome themselves when outward afflictions befall them and are content.  They are just as content when they commit sin against God.  When they have outward crosses or when God is dishonoured, it is all one to them; whether they themselves are crossed or God is crossed.  But a gracious heart that is contented with its own affliction, will rise up strongly when God is dishonoured.” [p. 31]
  • “Every little that [the Saints, contented men] have is but as an earnest [guarantee] for all the glory that is reserved for them; it is given them by God as the forerunner of those eternal mercies that the Lord intends for them.” [p. 59]
  • “…be of good comfort though you have outward afflictions upon you; still your soul, your more excellent part is not afflicted.” [p. 110]
  • “Luther…says, ‘It is the way of God: he humbles that he might exalt, he kills that he might make alive, he confounds that he might glorify.’” [p. 117]
  • “…our contentment does not consist in getting the thing we desire, but in God’s fashioning our spirits to our conditions.” [p. 130]
  • “You are the spouse of Christ. What!  One married to Jesus Christ and yet troubled and discontented?  Have you not enough in him?…Has not God given you his Son and will he not with him give you all things?” [p. 145]
  • “By murmuring you undo your prayers, for it is exceedingly contrary to the prayers that you make to God. When you come to pray to God, you acknowledge his sovereignty over you, you come there to profess yourselves to be at God’s disposal.” [p. 152]
  • “Unthankfulness is an evil and wicked effect which comes from discontent.…Men and women, who are discontented, though they enjoy many mercies from God, yet they are thankful for none of them, for this is the vile nature of discontent, to lessen every mercy of God. It makes those mercies they have from God as nothing to them, because they cannot have what they want.” [p. 154]
  • “The Spirit of God extenuates evils and crosses, and magnifies and amplifies all mercies; and makes all mercies seems to be great, and all afflictions seem to be little. But the Devil goes quite contrary, says Luther, his rhetoric is quite otherwise:  he lessens God’s mercies and amplifies evil things.  Thus, a godly man wonders at his cross that is not more, a wicked man wonders that his cross is so much.…If there is a cross, the Devil puts the soul to musing on it, and making it greater than it is, and so it brings discontent.” [pp. 155-6.]
  • “[Some] will say, Yes, but you do not know what our afflictions are; our afflictions are such as you do not conceive of, because you do not feel them.…[Yet] I am sure that there can be no afflictions in this world as great as the mercies that you have. If it were only this mercy, that you have this day of grace and salvation continued to you:  it is a greater mercy than any affliction.” [p. 173]
  • “…many ministers of God meet with hard things which might discourage them, and trouble and grieve their spirits; but this consideration, that God is pleased to employ them in such service near to himself, that though they cannot do good themselves, yet them may do good to others, this should disquiet them.” [p. 174]
  • “Perhaps [in sending trials and afflictions,] God sees it is better for you to live in a continual dependence upon him, and not to know what your condition shall be on the morrow, than for you to have a more settled condition in terms of the comfort of the creature.” [p. 199.]
  • “Every Christian should say: ‘Have I wealth now?  I should prepare for poverty.  Have I health now?  I should prepare for sickness.  Have I liberty?  Let me prepare myself for imprisonment.  How do I know what God may call me to?…Am I delivered from temptations?  Let me prepare now for the time of temptations.’  If you would do so, the change of your condition would not be so grievous to you.” [p. 203]
  • “Who am I, therefore, that the sun should always sine upon me, that I must have fair weather all my days? What God gives to me, he gave it as a pledge of his love; let me return it to him as a pledge of my obedience.” [p. 204]
  • “Consider that we have but a little time in this world. If you are godly, you will never suffer except in this world.  Why, do but shut your eyes and soon another life is come…” [p. 211]
  • “…the reason we why we are so troubled with our nakedness, with any wants that we have, is because we converse so little with God, so little with spiritual things; conversing with spiritual things would lift us above the things of the world.” [p. 220]

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