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I N A LL T HINGS C ONTENT Timeless Wisdom for Today’s Christians: An Introduction to the Puritans.

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Presentation on theme: "I N A LL T HINGS C ONTENT Timeless Wisdom for Today’s Christians: An Introduction to the Puritans."— Presentation transcript:

1 I N A LL T HINGS C ONTENT Timeless Wisdom for Today’s Christians: An Introduction to the Puritans

2 T HOMAS W ATSON “T HE A RT OF D IVINE C ONTENTMENT ” Born 1620 (year the Pilgrims landed) Married and had 7 children, 4 of whom died as children Imprisoned at one point over faith Then also barred from preaching in 1662 (Act of Uniformity) Preached in barns, etc. thereafter Died in private prayer son/contentment.html

3 J EREMIAH B URROUGHS “T HE R ARE J EWEL OF C HRISTIAN C ONTENTMENT ” 1600-1646 Minister Delegate at Westminster Assembly Independent, peacemaker Stood against Book of Sports, etc. Punished for that Died after fall from horse Though some say due to his grief over church struggles m/thethreshold/sdg/conten tment.html

4 T EXT FOR B OTH B OOKS Philippians 4:11 I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.


6 Burroughs’ definition: “Christian contentment is that sweet, inward, quiet, gracious frame of spirit, which freely submits to and delights in God’s wise and fatherly disposal in every condition” Clearly builds on the doctrine of providence that we covered last week It prefers the God of peace to the peace of God

7 B ASICS OF C ONTENTMENT God is content in himself, so should we be, too “A gracious spirit is a contented spirit.” (Watson) It is LEARNED Devils in heaven lacked it In paradise, Adam and Eve did And even Mordecai, because of Haman

8 B ASICS OF C ONTENTMENT It is TRUST in God’s providence “[Excessive] care when it is …either distrustful or distracting, is very dishonorable to God; it takes away his providence, as if he sat in heaven and minded not what became of things here below” (Watson)

9 B ASICS OF C ONTENTMENT It is WORSHIP “In active obedience we worship God by doing what pleases God, but by passive obedience we do as well worship God by being pleased with what God does” (Burroughs)

10 B ASICS OF C ONTENTMENT It is achieved in the HERE AND NOW It is achieved by performing our work in our circumstance, rather than trying to compensate for the lacks in our circumstances Burroughs: “A carnal heart thinks, I must have my wants made up or else it is impossible that I should be content. But a gracious heart says, ‘What is the duty of the circumstances God has put me into?’”

11 B ASICS OF C ONTENTMENT It is found INSIDE, not out in the world somewhere Watson: “the way to be comfortable, is not by having our barns filled, but our minds quiet.” Burroughs: “It is not the water without the ship, but the water that gets within the leak, which drowns it; it is not outward affliction that can make the life of a Christian sad; a contented mind would sail above these waters, -- but when there’s a leak of discontent open, and trouble gets in the heart, then it is disquieted and sinks.

12 R OOTS OF D ISCONTENT Our greatest want is contentment. The following are lower wants which we may use to rationalize our discontent

13 A L ITTLE C ONTEXT Remember, for the Puritans there was much struggle and persecution Not only against the “world” but against nominal Christians who resented their wholehearted devotion to Christ And today: We face an even more secular world that should be distasteful to true Christians But still many nominal Christians who flow with the secular stream But maybe many other Christians seeking to follow Christ but struggle to find their bearings in all of this We may seek secular values more than we might think

14 M ODERN C ULTURAL R OOTS OF D ISCONTENT Wrong goals Money Material gains Prestige Self-esteem Health (to an extreme) Appearance Wrong strategies God exists to help me toward MY goals Rather than I live to serve Him Being discontent, distract oneself Addiction to entertainment

15 T HE B ASIC P ROBLEM Watson: “There is no sin, but labours either to hide itself under some mask; or, if it cannot be concealed, then to vindicate itself by some apology” Discontent has very sophisticated apologies… “Discontent is a sin” Therefore, we need to expose our excuses for being discontent

16 R OOTS OF D ISCONTENT Loss of estate Lam. 3: 24 “The Lord is my portion” 1 Thess 5:18: “In everything give thanks.” We confuse money and blessing Watson: “Outward comforts often quench inward heat.” Augustine: “Earthly riches are full of poverty” Ambrose: “Even poverty itself is riches to holy men” Loss of friends Prov. 18:24: “There is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.”

17 R OOTS OF D ISCONTENT We don’t get the respect of others Watson: “It is better that God approve, than man applaud.” We easily assume approval follows doing right We WILL meet disapproval if we speak truth We want comfort Yet we should anticipate suffering for truth “Your sufferings are not so great as your sins” (Watson) Compare the martyrs And Muslims today! “What should we be content to suffer, to make the truth victorious” (Watson) By seeking our comfort, we compromise the Gospel!

18 R OOTS OF D ISCONTENT Others might include Feeling we have been treated unfairly We are in bad relationships We aren’t as gifted as others Grace, not gifts, is what God values Discouragement with the times Though times are tough, is God not still in charge? Our sins …but they are not stronger than God’s mercy

19 D IAGNOSING D ISCONTENT We complain (both to ourselves and to others) A contented spirit is silent We lack joy Discontent is marked by anger and grief Can be a form of pride and ingratitude Watson: “A gracious heart spies out mercy in every condition.” Replace with a thankful heart We’ll sin to ease troubles Will argue with others Cheat on finances Justify indulgences because we have a bad day We overreact to adversity, rather than see God’s hand in it Recall last week how God can use adversity


21 T AKING A CTION How to learn contentment Learn self-denial Watson: “A man who is little in his own eyes will account every affliction as little, and every mercy as great” Consider the vanity of those without Christ Earthly pleasures we seek don’t please anyway! Be a pilgrim in this world (be heavenly minded) Motives to contentment It cures care Prevents sin Watson: “Our murmuring is the devil’s music” Accepts God’s answer to our prayer that his will be done We have Christ, all that we need It is victory over ourselves

22 T AKING A CTION Remember our trouble here is all the hell we shall have Consider the evils of discontent Freely submit to taking pleasure in God’s disposal What are YOUR excuses for discontent? What is one thing you can change in your thinking to be more content? What is one thing you can change in your behavior to be more content? NEXT WEEK: The Puritans on marriage and family

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