The Rare Jewel - Chapter Four

The following is the next installment in the series Reading the Classics Together - The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment. I'll try to make each post readable on its own, however I highly encourage your own study of this Puritan classic by Jeremiah Burroughs.

In Chapter Four, Burroughs begins by finishing up his final point from Chapter Three regarding "The Mystery of Contentment" :

"He gets contentment from the Covenant."

First, the Christian "is able to make up all his outward wants of creature comforts from what he finds in himself." This really does sound strange at first. My first thought in response to hearing this was, "For I know that nothing good dwells in me..." (Rom. 7:18) But, of course, there is more to that verse. And Burroughs pointed to several things a Christian possesses within himself which make up for external wants, namely:
  • a good conscience: "It is Augustine who likens a bad conscience to a scolding wife: a man who has a bad conscience does not care to look into his own soul, but loves to be out, and to look into other things; he never looks to himself. But one who has a good conscience delights in looking into his own heart; he has a good conscience within him. A carnal heart seeks his contentment elsewhere because there is nothing but a filthy stink, vileness and baseness within himself." (No doubt there's a second lesson in there for those of us who are wives!)
  • the kingdom of God/Heaven (Luke 17:21) "There is a Heaven within the souls of the saints - that is a certain truth; no soul shall ever come to Heaven, but the soul which has Heaven come to it first. When you die, you hope you will go to Heaven; but if you will go to Heaven when you die, Heaven will come to you before you die."
  • grace, and the Spirit of God: "As it is with a vessel that is full of liquor, if you strike it, it will make no great noise, but if it is empty then it makes a great noise; so it is with the heart, a heart that is full of grace and goodness within will bear a great many strokes, and never make a noise, but if an empty heart is struck it will make a noise. When some men and women are complaining so much, and always whining, it is a sign that there is an emptiness in their hearts. If their hearts were full of grace they would not make such a noise.
And now to the covenant: "...a gracious heart gets its supply of all things from the Covenant, and so comes to have contentment." And in this regard Burroughs makes two points:

1. "He gets contentment from the covenant in general, that is, from the great covenant that God has made with him in Christ....the Covenant of Grace..."
2. "He gets it from the particular promises that God has made with him in the Covenant....the saints of God have an interest in all the promises that ever were made to our forefathers, from the beginning of the world they are their inheritance, and go on from one generation to another." (I will discuss this notion of Covenant and covenant promises in greater detail in a subsequent post.)

From here we will move on to Burroughs' final main points regarding "The Mystery of Contentment":

14. "He has contentment by realizing the glorious things of Heaven to him. He has the kingdom of Heaven as present, and the glory that is to come; by faith he makes it present. So the martyrs had contentment in their sufferings, for some of them said, 'Though we have but a hard breakfast, yet we shall have a good dinner, we shall very soon be in heaven.'...A carnal heart has no contentment but from what he sees before him in this world, but a godly heart has contentment from what he sees laid up for him in the highest heavens."

"A godly man has contentment by opening and letting out his heart to God....he goes to God in prayer, and there opens his heart to God and lets out his sorrows and fears, and then can come away with a joyful countenance."

In next week's reading we will look to Christ as our Schoolmaster and Example, and learn more specific methods, and ways of thinking which will lead to contentment.


Lisa notes... said…
When I read great summaries like yours, it helps me see the chapter even clearer. Thanks for taking the time to do this each week! Blessings to you.
Debbie said…
It's funny but a weekly meme that I participate in called Thankful Thursday's theme this week is ...contentment. And now I find you writing about contentment.

For me, the only way I can be content in this life is through my relationship with Christ. He provides all the contentment I need to deal with life this side of eternity.
Laurie M. said…
Well, Debbie, you'll be happening on that topic a lot here for a while, at least until this particular reading is completed! Guess you'll have to be content with contentment for a while.

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