Jeremiah Burrough’s The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment is one of the most important and personally-impactful Puritan works I’ve ever read. Let me give you just a taste of what Burroughs has to say about contentment. Here he shares eight things that will be opposed by a true, biblical contentment.
- It is opposed to murmuring and repining at the hand of God, as the discontented Israelites often did. If we cannot bear this either in our children or servants, much less can God bear it in us.
- To vexing and fretting, which is a degree beyond murmuring.
- To tumultuousness of spirit, when the thoughts run distractingly and work in a confused manner, so that the affections are like the unruly multitude in the Acts, who did not know for what purpose they had come together. The Lord expects you to be silent under His rod, and, as was said in Acts 19:36, “Ye ought to be quiet and to do nothing rashly.”
- It is opposed to an unsettled and unstable spirit, whereby the heart is distracted from the present duty that God requires in our several relationships—towards God, others, and ourselves. We should prize duty more highly than to be distracted by every trivial occasion.
- It is opposed to distracting, heart-consuming cares. A gracious heart so esteems its union with Christ and the work that God sets it about that it will not willingly suffer anything to come in to choke it or deaden it. A Christian is desirous that the Word of God should take such full possession as to divide between soul and spirit (Heb 4:12), but he would not allow the fear and noise of evil tidings to take such a hold in his soul as to make a division and struggling there, like the twins in Rebekah’s womb (Gen 25:22).
- It is opposed to sinking discouragements. God would have us to depend on Him though we do not see how the thing may be brought about; otherwise, we do not show a quiet spirit.
- It is opposed to sinful shiftings and shirkings to get relief and help. Thus do many, through the corruption of their hearts and the weakness of their faith, because they are not able to trust God and follow Him fully in all things and always. For this reason, the Lord often follows the saints with many sore temporal crosses as we see in the case of Jacob, though they obtain the mercy. It may be that your carnal heart thinks, “I do not care how I am delivered, if only I may be freed from it.” Your hearts are far from being quiet!
- The last thing that quietness of spirit is the opposite of is desperate risings of the heart against God by way of rebellion. That is the most abominable. They find in their hearts something of a rising against God. Their thoughts begin to bubble, and their affections begin to move in rebellion against God Himself. This is especially the case with those, who besides their corruptions, have a large measure of melancholy. The devil works both upon the corruptions of their hearts and the melancholy disease of their bodies.
Now Christian quietness is opposed to all these things. When affliction comes, whatever it is, you do not murmur or repine, you do not fret or vex yourself.