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Jeremiah Burrough's 'Rare Jewel'

By Pam Tailyour, 15 Mar 2021

Jeremiah Burrough's 'Rare Jewel'

The aptly-named Rare Jewel is a collection of sermons by Puritan preacher Jeremiah Burroughs, first published in 1648 after his death.

Burroughs expounds the state of contentment of Paul in any circumstance he faces: ‘I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances… I can do all this through him who gives me strength.’ (Philippians 4:12)

Burroughs defines contentment as: ‘that sweet, inward, quiet, gracious frame of spirit, which freely submits to and delights in God’s wise and fatherly disposal in every condition.’ (19)

This contentment is something for all believers to enjoy: ‘to be well skilled in the mystery of Christian contentment is the duty, glory and excellence of a Christian.’  (19) However, ‘we are usually apt to think that any condition is better than the condition that God has placed us in.’ (36)

How well Burroughs knows both of what is possible for Christians to enjoy and the natural state of our hearts. His thorough and carefully structured sermons are like a museum of rare and wonderful facets of contentment in Christ that make up the jewel.

Delight in Christ, dependence on Christ, trust in Christ, submission to Christ, hope in Christ, the judgement of Christ, the perfection of Christ, hope in Christ, reliance upon Christ, satisfaction in Christ, the purity of Christ abundance in Christ, the worthiness and majesty of Christ are all facets of the brilliant jewel - and so many more to find.

Burroughs’ considered and discerning manner disarm you to freely gaze into shining brilliance of the jewel and desire to see more. I think that is one of the reasons I most appreciate this book, it has made me look for holiness in contentment. Not in a strictly dutiful way – that it must be done because I have no other choice – but in a way that I have glimpsed something excellent that I would love to continue to gaze upon; that will satisfy me all my days.

Sure enough, since the 1600s our hearts have not changed, the human race God created searches endlessly for contentment, enslaving itself to every created thing: ‘No creature in all the world has any goodness in it further than it has reference to the first infinite supreme good of all…’  (97)

How much we need this too. How much our lowly and quietly stubborn hearts need this at Church by the Bay - just as much as the preacher’s own congregation in Massachusetts!

And who but the Father himself, the Almighty One could have fashioned such a jewel. Certainly this is a book that uplifts Christ in glory and praise. It is full of application and timeless in approach and wisdom.