Excerpts taken from “THE RARE JEWEL OF CHRISTIAN CONTENTMENT” by Jeremiah Burroughs, 1600 – 1646
‘I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.’ Philippians 4:11.
CONTENTMENT IS THE GRACIOUS FRAME OF THE HEART.
Indeed, in contentment there is a compound of all graces, if the contentment is spiritual, if it is truly Christian. There is, I say, a compound of a great many precious ingredients, so it is in this grace of contentment, which we shall say more of in unfolding its excellence. But now the gracious frame of spirit is in opposition to three things:
1. In opposition to the natural quietness of many men and women. Some are so constituted by nature that they are more still and quiet; others are of a violent and hot constitution and they are more impatient.
2. In opposition to a sturdy resolution. Some men through the strength of a sturdy resolution do not seem to be troubled, come what may. So they are not disquieted as much as others.
3. By way of distinction from the strength of natural (though unsanctified) reason, which may quiet the heart in some degree. But now I say that a gracious frame of spirit is not merely a stillness of the body which comes from its natural constitution and temper, nor a sturdy resolution, nor merely through the strength of reason.
But where contentment of heart springs from grace, the heart is very quick and lively in the service of God. Yea, the more any gracious heart can bring itself to be in a contented disposition, the more fit it is for any service of God. And just as a contented heart is very active and busy in the work of God, so he is very active and busy in sanctifying God’s name in the affliction that befalls him.
The difference is very clear: The one whose disposition is quiet is not disquieted as others are, but neither does he show any activeness of spirit to sanctify the name of God in his affliction. But, on the other hand, he whose contentment is of grace is not disquieted and keeps his heart quiet with regard to vexation and trouble, and at the same time is not dull or heavy but very active to sanctify God’s name in the affliction that he is experiencing.
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 contention 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 dishonored, it is all one to them; whether they themselves are crossed or whether God is crossed. But a gracious heart that is contented with its own affliction, will rise up strongly when God is dishonored.