Saturday, April 5, 2008

Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment - Chapter One

Christian Contentment Described

A couple of highlights from this first chapter:

I may be convinced that God deals justly in this matter, he is righteous and just and it is right that I should submit to what he has done; O the Lord has done righteously in all ways! But that is not enough! You must say, 'Good is the hand of the Lord.' It was the expression of old Eli: 'Good is the word of the Lord', when it was a sore and hard word. it was a word that threatened very grievous things to Eli and his house, and yet Eli says, 'Good is the word of the Lord.' Perhaps some of you may say, like David, 'It is good that I was afflicted', but you must come to this, 'It is good that I am afflicted.' Not just good when you see the good fruit it has wrought, but to say when you are afflicted, 'It is good that I am afflicted. Whatever the affliction, yet through the mercy of God mine is a good condition.' It is indeed, the top and the height of this art of contentment to come to this pitch and to be able to say, 'Well, my condition and afflictions are so and so, and very grievous and sore; yet through God's mercy, I am in a good condition, and the hand of God is good upon me notwithstanding.' (pg. 34)

This , alone, should shame us when we complain about any affliction that God places upon us.

Burroughs sums up the chapter in the following way:

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 contentment 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; Sixthly, there is in it a submission to God, sending the soul under God; Seventhly, there is a taking pleasure in the hand of God; Eighthly, all is traced to God's disposal; Ninthly, in every condition, however hard it be and however long it continue. (pg. 40)

I hope that the very opening of these things 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....' (pg. 40)

I can say, personally, that while I may not have placed my hands upon my heart to say it, I concur that "there is more to Christian contentment than I thought there was", often confusing any natural tendency towards contentment and resignation with that spiritual discipline described by Burroughs. Hopefully I will advance in this school, and move beyond the ABC's of this subject, as we continue to read The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment this month.

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