Five Directions How to Get our Hearts Free from Earthly-Mindedness

Taken and adapted from chapter 8 of, “A Treatise on Earthly-Mindedness”
Written by, Jeremiah Burroughs

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The First Direction

First, to that end, be watchful over your thoughts. Do not take liberty to let your hearts run too far in the things of the earth. What time you have for meditation, let it be as much as can be reserved for spiritual things. Most men and women think they may take liberty in their thoughts. Why, the thing in itself is not unlawful! Aye, but your thoughts will steal upon you and affect your heart very much; therefore, watch narrowly over your thoughts, keep them within Scripture bounds.

The Second Direction

Be humbled much for sin, for that will take off the heart from earthly-mindedness. Earthly-minded men, who have earthly and drossy hearts, have not known what the weight and burden of sin means. Just let God lay the weight and burden of sin upon the soul, for that will take off the soul from earthly things quickly! Oh, those men that have gone on in the world in a secure condition, and never knew what trouble of conscience meant for sin, have grown seared in those earthly contentment’s. But those men that have had the weight of sin lie upon them know what it is to have to deal with an infinite God. In bearing the burden of the wrath of an incensed Deity, such men know that they have other things to look after than the things of the earth. If God would just humble your hearts, the humiliation of your spirits would quicken you, take off the dullness and deadness of your spirits, and stir you up to look after things other than the things of this life.

The Third Direction

Further, set the example of the saints before you who have been the most precious servants of God in former times. Note how they counted themselves as pilgrims and strangers here on the earth. At your leisure, read Hebrews 11:13, These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.

Mark, therefore, how it follows in the 37th verse, “They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword, they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented.” Who were these people? They were those of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth, and yet were such precious saints of God that the world was not worthy of them. Now when we set before us how joyfully these servants of the Most High went through all their wilderness condition, this should make us ashamed of our earthly-mindedness, and would be a mighty help to us.

The Fourth Direction

Then, if we consider the great account that we are to give for all earthly things, you will note that you only look upon the comfort of them. But consider the account you must give for them. This would be a means to take off the heart from earthly-mindedness. And consider, what if you were now to die and go the way of all flesh. What good would it be to me to remember what contentments and pleasures I had in the earth?

The Fifth Direction

But above all, set Jesus Christ before you and be meditating on the death of Jesus Christ. That’s the great thing that will take the heart from the things of the earth. Be looking upon Christ crucified, how He who was the Lord of heaven and earth put Himself into such a low condition merely to redeem us!

Conversing much with the death of Jesus Christ deadens the heart much to the world. In Philippians 3 we have a notable text for that, in the example of Paul. He counted all things as dung and dross for Jesus Christ. In the 8th verse, I account all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for Whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but DUNG that I may win Christ. Then, in the 10th verse, That I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable to His death.

Paul desired to be so conformable to the very death of Christ, that he counted all things in the world but as dung and dross in comparison of that. Paul had the death of Christ before his eyes, and meditated much on the death of Christ, and that meditation had a great impression upon his spirit. That made him count all these things as dross, as dog’s meat by comparison, that he might have fellowship with the death of Christ.

Perhaps some of you think of the glory of Christ in heaven, and that may, for the present, make you less worldly. But let me entreat you to meditate on the death of Christ, and know that there is an excellency in conformity even to the death of Christ, such an excellency that may take your hearts from the things of the world. It’s said of the King of France that he, asking once about an eclipse, said, “I have so much business in the earth that I take little notice of the things of heaven.”

O my brethren! To close all this, I beseech you, let not this be said concerning any of you, that you have such and such worldly enjoyments that you cannot inquire about Jesus Christ. Do not plead that you have such great business, that you had so much to do in this earth, that you take little notice of the things of heaven. Surely, the saints of God have their business in heaven as we shall, God willing, see hereafter. Their city business, their trading, their aims, their bent is higher than the things of this earth.

There are things that a man may let out his thoughts and affections to as much as he wants. This shows the vanity of the things of this world, that a man needs to be very wary how much he minds them. He cannot enjoy the comforts of this earth without some fear. But now, when he comes to converse with heaven, there he may let out himself to the uttermost. That shows the excellency of these things. You that are poor and lowly in the things of this earth, do not be discomforted because there is a charge from God that men should not mind these things. Surely there is no great matter in them since God charges that we should not mind them.

O the excellency lies in things above which are heavenly and spiritual, where the saints have their conversation!

THE RARE JEWEL OF CHRISTIAN CONTENTMENT, Part 9, Final Part.

women-praying-paintingExcerpts taken from “THE RARE JEWEL OF CHRISTIAN CONTENTMENT” by Jeremiah Burroughs, 1600 – 1646
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I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.’ Philippians 4:11

9. NOW WE SHALL ENLARGE ON THIS IS IN EVERY CONDITION.

SUBMITTING TO GOD IN WHATEVER AFFLICTION BEFALLS US: AS TO THE KIND OF AFFLICTION.

DetourAs to the kind of affliction. Many men and women will in general say that they must submit to God in affliction; I suppose that if you were to go now from one end of this congregation to the other, and speak thus to every soul: ‘Would you not submit to God’s disposal, in whatever condition he might place you?’, you would say, ‘God forbid that it should be otherwise!’ But we have a saying, There is a great deal of deceit in general statements. In general, you would submit to anything; but what if it is in this or that particular case which crosses you most?-Then, anything but that! We are usually apt to think that any condition is better than that condition in which God has placed roadblockus. Now, this is not contentment; it should be not only to any condition in general, but for the kind of affliction, including that which most crosses you. God, it may be, strikes you in your child.-‘Oh, if it had been in my possessions’ you say, ‘I would be content!’ Perhaps he strikes you in your marriage. ‘Oh,’ you say, ‘I would rather have been stricken in my health.’ And if he had struck you in your health -‘Oh, then, if it had been in my trading, I would not have cared.’ But we must not be our own carvers. Whatever particular afflictions God may place us in, we must be content in them.

SUBMITTING TO GOD AS TO THE TIME AND CONTINUANCE OF THE AFFLICTION.

There must be a submission to God in every affliction, as to the time and continuance of the affliction. ‘Perhaps I could submit and be content’, says someone, ‘but this affliction has been on me a long time, three months, a year, many years, and I do not know how to yield and submit to it, my patience is worn out and broken.’ I may even be a spiritual affliction-you could submit to God, you say, in any outward affliction, but not in a soul-affliction.

Or if it were the withdrawing of God’s face-‘Yet if this had been but for a little time I could submit; but to seek God for so long and still he does not appear, Oh how shall I bear this?‘ We must not be our own disposers for the time of deliverance any more than for the kind and way of deliverance.

We are to submit to God for the time as well as the kind of affliction, see the latter end of the first chapter of Ezekiel: ‘When I saw it I fell upon my face, and I heard a voice of one that spake.’ The Prophet was cast down upon his face, but how long must he lie upon his face? ‘And he said unto me, Son of man, stand upon thy feet and I will speak unto thee. And the spirit entered into me, when he spake unto me, and set me upon my feet.’ Ezekiel was cast down upon his face, and there he must lie till God should bid him to stand up; yea, and not only so, but till God’s Spirit came into him and enabled him to stand up. So when God casts us down, we must be content to lie till God bids us stand up, and God’s Spirit noahs-arkenters into us to enable us to stand up. You know how Noah was put into the Ark -certainly he knew there was much affliction in the Ark, with all kinds of creatures shut up with him for twelve months together -it was a mighty thing, yet God having shut him up, even though the waters were assuaged, Noah was not to come out of the Ark till God bid him.

So though we be shut up in great afflictions, and we may think of this and that and the other means to come out of that affliction, yet till God opens the door, we should be willing to stay; God has put us in, and God will bring us out. So we read in the Acts of Paul, when they had shut him in prison and would have sent for him out; ‘No’, says Paul, ‘they shut us in, let them come and fetch us out.’ So in a holy, gracious way should a soul say, ‘Well, this affliction that I am brought into, is by the hand of God, and I am content to be here till God brings me out himself.’ God requires it at our hands, that we should not be willing to come out till he comes and fetches us out. In Joshua 4:10 there is a remarkable story that may serve our purpose very well:

We read of the priests that they bore the ark and stood in the midst of Jordan (you know when the Children of Israel went into the land of Canaan they went through the river Jordan). Now to go through the river Jordan was a very dangerous thing, but God had told them to go. They might have been afraid of the water coming in upon them. But mark, it is said, ‘The priests that carried the ark stood in the midst of Jordan till every thing was finished that the Lord commanded Joshua to speak unto the people, according to all that Moses commanded Joshua, and the people hasted and passed over: jordan_crossingAnd it came to pass when all the people were clean passed over, that the ark of the Lord passed over, and the priests in the presence of the people.’ Now it was God’s disposal that all the people should pass over first, that they should be safe on land; but the priests must stand still till all the people had passed over, and then they must have leave to go. But they must stay till God would have them to go, stay in all that danger! For certainly, to reason and sense, there was a great deal of danger in staying, for the text says that the people hasted over, but the priests they must stay till the people have gone, stay till God calls them out from that place of danger.

And so many times it proves the case that God is pleased to dispose of things so that his ministers must stay longer in danger than the people, and likewise magistrates and those in public places, which should make people to be satisfied and contented with a lower position into which God has put them. Though your position is low, yet you are not in the same danger as those who are in a higher position. God calls those in public positions to stand longer in the gap and place of danger than other people, but we must be content to stay even in Jordan till the Lord shall be pleased to call us out.

SUBMITTING TO GOD AS TO THE VARIETY AND CHANGES OF AFFLICTION: WHATEVER THEY ARE, YET THERE MUST BE A SUBMISSION TO GOD’S DISPOSAL IN EVERY CONDITION.

We must be content with the particular affliction, and the time, and all the circumstances about the affliction-for sometimes the circumstances are greater afflictions than the afflictions themselves-and for the variety. God may exercise us with various afflictions one after another, as has been very noticeable, even of late, that many who have been plundered and come away, afterwards have fallen sick and died; they had fled for their lives and afterwards the plague has come among them; and if not that affliction, it may be some other. It is very rarely that one affliction comes alone; commonly, afflictions are not single things, MP900178413_thumb[8]but they come one upon the neck of another. God may strike one man in his possessions, then in his body, then in his name, wife, child or dear friend, and so it comes in a variety of ways; it is the way of God ordinarily (you may find it by experience) that one affliction seldom comes alone. Now this is hard, when one affliction follows after another, when there is a variety of afflictions, when there is a mighty change in one’s condition, up and down, this way, and that: there indeed is the trial of a Christian. Now there must be submission to God’s disposal in them. I remember it was said even of Cato, who was a Heathen, that no man saw him to be changed, though he lived in a time when the commonwealth was so often changed; yet it is said of him, he was the same still, though his condition was changed, and he passed through a variety of conditions. Oh that the same could be said of many Christians, that though their circumstances are changed, yet that nobody could see them changed, they are the same! Did you see what a gracious, sweet and holy temper they were in before? They are in it still. Thus are we to submit to the disposal of God in every condition.

Contentment is the inward, quiet, gracious frame of spirit, freely submitting to and taking pleasure in God’s disposal in every condition: That is the description, and in it nine distinct things have been opened up which we summarize as follows: First, that woman & Child praycontentment is a heart-work within the soul; Secondly, it is the quieting of the heart; Thirdly, it is the frame of the spirit; Fourthly, it is a gracious frame; Fifthly, it is the free working of this gracious frame; Sixth, there is in it a submission to God, sending the soul under God; Seventhly, there is a taking pleasure in the hand of God; Eighth, all is traced to God’s disposal; Ninth, in every condition, however hard it be and however long it continue.

I hope that the very opening of these things may so far work on your hearts that you may lay your hands upon your hearts on what has been said, I say, that the very telling you what the lesson is may cause you to lay your hands on your hearts and say, ‘Lord, I see there is more to Christian contentment than I thought there was, and I have been far from learning this lesson. Indeed, I have only learned my ABC in this lesson of contentment. I am only in the lower form in Christ’s school if I am in it at all.’ We shall speak of these things more later, but my particular aim in opening this point is to show what a great mystery there is in Christian contentment, and how many distinct lessons there are to be learned, that we may come to attain to this heavenly disposition, to which St. Paul attained.
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Meet the author: Jeremiah Burroughs, 1600 – 1646 studied at Emmanuel College, Cambridge, and was graduated M.A. in 1624,[1] but left the Burroughs university because of non-conformity. He was assistant to Edmund Calamy at Bury St. Edmunds, and in 1631 became rector of Tivetshall, Norfolk. He was suspended for non-conformity in 1636 and soon afterward deprived, he went to Rotterdam (1637) and became “teacher” of the English church there. He returned to England in 1641 and served as preacher at Stepney and Cripplegate, London. He was a member of the Westminster Assembly and one of the few who opposed the Presbyterian majority. While one of the most distinguished of the English Independents, he was one of the most moderate, acting consistently in accordance with the motto on his study door (in Latin and Greek): “Opinionum varietas et opinantium unitas non sunt ασυστατα” (“Difference of belief and unity of believers are not inconsistent”).

From Wikipedia

THE RARE JEWEL OF CHRISTIAN CONTENTMENT, Part 8

anna-rembrandt 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

8. THE EIGHTH THING IN CONTENTMENT IS, SUBMITTING, AND TAKING PLEASURE IN GOD’S DISPOSAL.

That is to say, the soul that has learned this lesson of contentment looks up to God in all things. He does not look down at the instruments and means, so as to say that such a man did it, that it was the unreasonableness love-hopeof such and such instruments, and similar barbarous usage by such and such; but he looks up to God. A contented heart looks to God’s disposal, and submits to God’s disposal, that is, he sees the wisdom of God in everything. In his submission he sees his sovereignty, but what makes him take pleasure is God’s wisdom. The Lord knows how to order things better than I. The Lord sees further than I do; I only see things at present but the Lord sees a great while from now. And how do I know but that had it not been for this affliction, I should have been undone. I know that the love of God may as well stand with an afflicted condition as with a prosperous condition. There are reasonings of this kind in a contented spirit, submitting to the disposal of God.

Meet the author: Burroughs studied at Emmanuel College, Cambridge, and was graduated M.A. in 1624,[1] but left the Burroughs university because of non-conformity. He was assistant to Edmund Calamy at Bury St. Edmunds, and in 1631 became rector of Tivetshall, Norfolk. He was suspended for non-conformity in 1636 and soon afterward deprived, he went to Rotterdam (1637) and became “teacher” of the English church there. He returned to England in 1641 and served as preacher at Stepney and Cripplegate, London. He was a member of the Westminster Assembly and one of the few who opposed the Presbyterian majority. While one of the most distinguished of the English Independents, he was one of the most moderate, acting consistently in accordance with the motto on his study door (in Latin and Greek): “Opinionum varietas et opinantium unitas non sunt ασυστατα” (“Difference of belief and unity of believers are not inconsistent”).

From Wikipedia