Puritan Thomas Watson – The Art of Divine Contentment (1 of 8)



extract from the Epistle to the reader Christian reader having seriously considered the great dishonor than to Almighty God as well as the prejudice which does accrue to ourselves by the sin of discontent it did at first put me upon study of this subject discontent is to the soul as a disease to the body it puts it out of temper and does much hinder its regular and sublime motions heavenward discontent is hereditary and no doubt but it is much mented by the many sad eclipses and changes that have fallen out of late in the body politic yet the disease is not to be pleaded for because natural but to be resisted because sinful that which should make us out of love with this sullen distemper is the contemplating the beautiful queen of content for my part I know not any ornament and religion that does more this spangled a Christian or glitter in the eye of God and man than this of contentment nor certainly is there anything R in all the Christian virtue do work more harmoniously or shine more transparently than in this orb if there be a blessed life before we come to heaven it is the contented life and why not contented why art thou wroth and why is thy countenance fallen Genesis iv6 man of all creatures has the least cause to be discontented can so deserve anything from God doe coz anything what at the scene turn and God puts the under the black rod whereas he uses a rod he might use a scorpion he might as well condemn me as what they why then are though so pluralist what does they'll give way to this irrational and unfaithful sin of discontent the good Lord humbled his own people for nourishing such a Viper in their breast as does not only cut out the heart of their comfort but cast venom at the face of God himself o Christian who art overspread with this fretting leprosy but carries the man of sin about thee for thou settest myself above God and as if thou wert wiser than he would softly prescribe him what condition is best for thee o this devil our discontent which whosoever it possesses it makes his heart a little hell I know there will not be perfect contentment here in this life perfect pleasure is only at God's right hand Psalm XVI 11 yet we may begin here to tune our instrument before we play this sweet lesson of contentment exactly in heaven I should be glad that this little book might be like Moses's casting the tree into the waters Exodus X B 25 to make the uncouth bitter condition of life more sweet and pleasant to drink of having preached upon the subject I was earnestly solicited by some of my heroes to publish it and although it is not dressed in that Richard tire of eloquent as it might yet I am NOT about poetry or oratory but divinity nor is this intended for fancy but practice if I may here in do any service or caste but a might into the treasury of the church grace I have my desire the end of our living is to live to God and to lift up his name in the world the Lord add an effectual blessing to this work and fasten it as a nail in a sure place he of his mercy make it a spiritual medicine to purge the ill humour of discontent of our heart that soul crown of honor may be set upon the head of religion and the Christian streams of joy and peace may ever run in our souls which is the prayer of him who desires to be a faithful Pleader for thee at the throne of grace Thomas Watson from my study at Stephens walbrook may 5th 1653 to the Christian reader a word spoken in due season how good is it proverbs XVII 23 as God giveth to his creatures their meat in due season psalms c IV 27 so his faithful stewards provide for his household their portions of meat in due season Luke XII 42 and as it is with corporal food the season added much both to the value and usefulness thereof in like manner it is with food spiritual in this regard the brokenness of these times we're in the bosoms of most people are filled with disquiet and their mouths with murmurings may will render this tree dies the more acceptable the seas are not so storming as many spirits are temperature tossed to and fro with discontent and now the Lord who make it everything beautiful in his time as squeegee as days three to eleven casts most opportunely put into thy hand or profitable discourse to calm unquiet heart Adam and Paradise dashed upon the rock of discontent which some Divine's conceived was his first in this was many instances more in Scripture together with our own sad experience just both speak our danger and call for caution now godliness is the only sovereign antidote against the spreading disease and God's grace alone being settled and exercised in the heart can cause steadiness and stormy times here ooh X i i9 whereas content arises either from the fruition of all comforts or from a not desiring of some which we have not true piety does put a christian into such a condition hereby we both possessed god and are taught how to improve him who is the only satisfying everlasting portion of his people some lxx III 25 and 26 here in Christ so poor in this world Matthew 8 20 great li rejoiced the Lord is the portion of my inheritance the lines are fallen unto me in Pleasant places yay I have a goodly heritage film xbi 5 and 6 upon this account also Jacob said I have enough Genesis 33 11 or as it is and the original I have all God the Father and Christ his son had sweet satisfaction in each other when there was no other being poverty 830 and 31 therefore such you possess and improve God through Christ cannot possibly be dissatisfied the Almighty is the god of all grace first Peter 5:10 of all comfort 7 Corinthians 1:3 and as salvation song lxb III 20 in which respects neither deficiencies or disappointments losses are crosses can cause disquieting discontent in that bosom where faith is commander-in-chief the Prophet Habakkuk rejoiced in the god of his salvation when the pestilence went before him and burning coals came forth at his feet and when he supposed all creatures saker's both for delight and necessity to be quiet removed Habakkuk 3:5 17 and 18 this this is the life which Christians should strive after and may attain by the vigorous regular acting of precious faith this is the game of contentment which comes in by godliness when Providence's are black and likely to be bloody now the just shall live by his state Habakkuk 2:4 Hebrew 1038 that speech of learners mr. Gallagher is waiting and well worth the marking a contented mind are used a religious heart and a discontented mind argues and a religious heart this likewise was a holy breathing of Reverend dr. hall in his meditations I have somewhat of the best things I will with thankfulness enjoy them and will want the rest with contentment by attaining and maintaining this frame apart we might have much of heaven on this side heaven holy contentment may get them truly rich when the oppressing world make it very poor here by our sweetest morsel shall be well seasoned and our bitterest Pope oceans while sweetened how do we learn to enjoy contentment in Jehovah who is immutable and all sufficient this heavenly frame of spirit should never perish or change in the midst of the most amazing alterations in church and state whereas because we live alone upon the blue Nerys therefore we are asked with me avow to die upon the nest for Samuel 25:37 threw dejected miss Han the approach of imagined dangers when God see a cause to cut a short of many creature combinations faith will moderate our desires after them assuring the soul that nothing is withdrawn or withheld which might be really advantageous and dealt with it is a great piece of happiness upon earth not too long after that which the Lord is pleased to deny indeed men act rather like heathens than Christians when they fret upon some particular inferior disappointment notwithstanding God's liberality laid forth upon them in many other respects as alexander the monarch of the world was discontented because IV would not grow in his gardens at Babylon they are journeys the cynic was hearing more wise who finding a mouse miss satchel said he saw that himself was not so poor but some more glad of his leaving oh how might we if we had hearts to improve higher Providence's robber peevish spirits quiet by much stronger arguments let us then lay before our eyes the practices of pious men recorded in Scripture for our imitation as Jacob Edgar Paul and etc Genesis 28 25 or 30 8 first Timothy 6 8 and let us charge home upon her conscience 'as divine excitations backed with strong reasons and encouraged with sweet promises it was the grave Council of holy green ham having food and raiment take the rest as an over plus we don't last in the least of God's mercies Genesis 32 10 is not God our bountiful benefactor why then do we not rest contented with his liberal allowance oh let us chide our wrangling spirits and encourage confidence with contentment in God as blessed David did some excel I I 5 my pens have outrun my purpose when I undertook this preset but I will no longer GoodReader detain me in the porch we're in I have designed to quicken and to prepare thee to the more fruitful improvement of this seasonable useful trade as we're in the author half exercise to good purpose both the Christian graces and ministerial gifts with which God hath enriched him here in the doctrine of Christian contentment is clearly Illustrated and profitably applied the special cases wherein through change of Providence's discontents our most communications our particular eyes and preservatives applied to secure the soul although some other worthy Divine's have been helpful to the Church of God by their discourses upon their subject yet there is much of peculiar youth in this tree dies the Apostle tells us that some manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal 1st Corinthians 12:7 thy soul profit is propounded as the author's end in publishing this piece and that this end may be accomplished is the unfeigned desire and Hardy prayer of him who is by serving in and for Christ Simeon – may 3rd 1653 the art of divine contentment chapter 1 the introduction to the text Philippians IV 11 I have learned in whatsoever state I am therewith to be content these words are brought in to anticipate and prevent an objection the Apostle had in a former verses laid down many grave and heavenly excitations among the rest to be careful for nothing verse 6 not to exclude one a Prudential care for he that provided not for his own house has denied the faith and is worse than an infidel first Timothy see a no nor number two our religious care for we must give all diligence to make our calling and election sure second Peter i-10 but number three to exclude all anxious care about the issues and events of things take no thought for your life what you shall eat matthew VI 25 and in this sense it should be a Christians care not to be careful the word in the Greek careful comes from a primitive that signifies to cut the heart in pieces a soul dividing care take heed of this we are told to commit our way under the Lord Psalm 37 5 the Hebrew word is roles I weigh upon the Lord it is our work to cast care first Peter 5:7 and it is God's work to take care by our moderate anxiety we take his work out of his hand 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 like a man that makes a clock and then leaves it to go off itself a moderate care takes the heart off from better things and usually while we're thinking how we shall do to live we forget how to die there is a spiritual canker that just wastes and de spirit under what purpose we may sooner buy our care at a furlong to our grief than a foot to our comfort God does threaten it as a curse they shall eat their bread with carefulness Ezekiel 12 19 better fast the need of that bread be careful for nothing now lest anyone should say yay Paul thou preaches that to us which thou has scarce learned myself has thou learned not to be careful the Apostle seems cautiously to answer that in the words of the text I have learned in whatsoever state I am therewith to be content a speech worthy to being graven upon our hearts and to be written in letters of gold upon the crowns and diadem's of princes the text branches itself into these two general parts one the scholar Paul I have learned to the lesson in every state to be content chapter 2 the first branch of the text the scholar with the first proposition I begin with the first number 1 the scholar and his proficiency I have learned out of which I shall and passing observed by way of paraphrase that the Apostle does not say I have heard that in every estate I should be content but I have learned once we learn that it is not enough for Christians to hear their duty but they must learn their duty it is one thing to hear and another thing to learn as it is one thing to eat and another thing to digest food st. Paul was a practitioner Christians hear much but it is to be feared learn little there were four sorts of ground in the parable Luke VIII 5 to 8 and but one good ground an emblem of this truth many hearers but few learners there are two things which keep us from learning number one sliding what we hear Christ is the pearl of price when we disesteem this girl we shall never learn either its value or its virtue the gospel is a rare mystery in one place it is called the gospel of grace acts 20:24 and another of the gospel of glory ii corinthians IV for because in it as in a transparent glass the glory of god is resplendent but he that has learned to contend this mystery will hardly ever learn to obey it he that looks upon the things of heaven as things by the by and perhaps the driving of a trade or carrying on some politic design to be of greater importance this man is in the high road to damnation and will hardly ever learn the things of his peace who will learn that what she thinks is scarce worth learning number two forgetting what we hear if a scholar have his rules laid before him and he forgets them as fast as he reads them he will never learn James 1 23 and 24 our restoral caused the memory described of the soul bernard calls it the stomach of the soul because it had the retentive faculty and turns heavenly food into blood and spirits we have great memories and other things we remember that which is vain cyrus it is said could remember every soldier in its huge army we remember injury this is to fill a precious cabinet with dung but as jerome says how soon do we forget the sacred truth of god we are apt to forget three things our faults our friends our instructions many Christians are like Steve put a sieve into the water and it is full but take a fourth of the water and all runs out so while they are here in the thurman they remember something but take the sieve of the water as soon as they are gone out of the church all is forgotten with these things saith Christ sink down and your ears Luke ix 44 in the original it is put these things into your ears as a man that would hide a jewel from being stolen locks it up safe in his chest let them think the words must not only fall as do that what's the leaf but as rain which soak to the root of the tree and makes it fructify oh how often does Satan that fowl of the air pick up the good seed that is sown use let me put you upon a serious trial some of you are have heard much you have lived 40 50 60 years under the Blessed trumpet of the gospel what have you learned you may have heard a thousand sermons and yet not have learned one search your conscience says you have heard much against then are you heroes or are your scholars how many sermons have you heard against covetousness that it is the route on which pride idolatry treason do grow first timothy VI six to ten one calls it a metropolitan sin it dog twist a great many sins in with it there is hardly any sin but covetousness is a main ingredient and yet men are like the two daughters as a horse leech that cry gives give how much have you heard against rash anger that it is a short frenzy a dry drunkenness that it rests in the bosom of fools exquisite ease be a i9 and upon the least occasion do your spirits begin to take fire how much have you heard against swearing it is Christ Express mandate swear not at all Matthew 5:30 for the sin of all others may be termed the unfruitful work of darkness Ephesians 5:11 it is neither sweetened with pleasure your enriched with profit the usual Vermillion were with Satan does paints in swearing is forbidden with a curse while the square shoots his oath like flying arrows at God to pierce his glory God shoots a flying roll of curses against Tim Zechariah 5 2 2 4 and do you make your tongue a racket by what you toss oaths as tennis balls do you support yourselves with oath as the Philistines did with Samson which will at last pull the house about your ears alas how have they learned what sin is that have not yet learned to leave sin don't he know what a Viper is that plays with it you have heard much of Christ have you learned Christ the Jews as one say it carried Christ in their Bibles but not in their hearts their sound went into all the earth romans 10 18 the prophets and apostles were as trumpets who sound went abroad into the world yet many thousands of heard the noise of these trumpets had not learned Christ they have not all obeyed verse 16 a man may know much of Christ and yet not learn Christ the devils knew Christ mark 134 a man may preach Christ and yet not learn Christ as Judas and the false apostle Philippians 1:15 a man may profess Christ and yet not learn Christ there are many professors in the world who Christ will profess against Matthew 7:23 question what is it then to learn Christ answer number one to learn Christ is to be made like Christ when the divine characters of his holiness are in graven upon our hearts we all with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord are changed through the same in image 2nd Corinthians 3:18 there is a metamorphosis made a sinner viewing Christ image and the glass of the gospel is transformed into that image never did any man look upon Christ with a spiritual eye but he went away quite changed a true think as a divine landscape or picture were all the true beauties of Christ a portrayed and a lively manner and drawing forth he had the same spirit the same judgment the same will with Jesus Christ number two to learn Christ is to believe in him as our Lord and our God John 20:28 when we do not only believe God but in God which is the actual application of Christ to ourselves and as it were the spreading of the sacred medicine of his blood upon our souls you that have heard much of Christ and yet cannot within humble adherence say my Jesus be not offended if I tell you the devil can say his Creed as well as you number three to learn Christ is to live Christ when we have Bible conversations our lives as rich diamonds cat a sparkling luster in the Church of God Philippians 1 and are in some sense parallel with the life of Christ as the transcript with the original so much for the first notion of the word chapter three containing the second proposition this expression I have learned imports difficulty it shows how hardly the Apostle came by his contentment of mind it did not spring up naturally st. Paul did not come naturally by it but he had learned it it cost him many a prayer and tear it was taught him by the spirit once we learn that good things are hard to obtain the business of religion is not so easy as most to imagine I have learned say if st. Paul indeed you need not teach a man to sin this is natural psalm lv III 3 and therefore easy it comes as water out of a spring it is an easy thing to be wicked how will be taken without storm but religion must be learned to cut the flesh is easy but to prick a vein and not to cut an artery is hard the trade of sin needs not to be learned but the art of divine contentment is not achieved without holy industry I have learned there are two reasons why there must be so much study and exorcism number one because spiritual things are against nature everything in religion is ant opposed to nature there are in religion things to be believed and to be done and both are against nature matters of faith as for a man to be justified by the righteousness of another to become a fool that he may be wise to save all by losing all this is against nature and matters of practice as number one self-denial for a man to deny his own wisdom and see himself blind his own will and have it melted into the will of God plucking out the right eye beheading and crucifying that sin which is the favorite and lies nearest to the heart for a man to be dead to the world and in the midst of want to abound for him to take up the cross and follow Christ not only in golden but bloody paths to embrace religion when it is dressed in its plaintiff clothes all the jewels of honor and preferment being pulled off this is against nature and therefore must be learned number two self-examination for a man to take his heart as a watch on pieces to set up a spiritual Inquisition or court of conscience and traverse things in his own soul to date David's candle and Lantern Psalm C XIX 105 and search for sin nay as judged to pass the sentence upon himself second Samuel XXIV 17 this is against nature and will not easily be attained – without learning number three self reformation to see a man as Caleb of another spirit walking Antipodes to himself the current of his life altered and running into the channel of religion this is wholly against nature when a stone ascend it is not a natural but a violent motion the motion of the soul heavenward is a violent motion it must be learned flesh and blood is not skilled in these things nature can no more cast out nature then Satan can cast out Daten number two because spiritual things are above nature there are some things in nature that are hard to find out as the causes of things which are not learned without study iris tatl a great philosopher whom some have called an eagle fallen from the clouds it could not find out the motion of the river europeís therefore he threw himself into it what then are divine things which are in a sphere above nature and beyond all human disquisition as the Trinity they have a statical union the mystery of faith to believe against hope only God's Spirit can light our candle here the Apostle called the call sees the deep things of God 1st Corinthians 2:10 the gospel is full of jewels but they are locked up from sense and reason the angels in heaven are searching into these sacred depths first Peter 1:12 use let us beg the Spirit of God to teach us we must be divinely instructed the unit could read but he could not understand – Philip joined himself to his chariot Acts 829 God's Spirit must join himself to our chariot he must teach or we cannot learn although children shall be taught of the Lord Isaiah L IV 13 a man may read the figure on the dial but he cannot tell how the day goes unless the Sun Shine upon the dial we may read the Bible over but we cannot learn to purpose till the Spirit of God shines into our hearts ii corinthians i v6 om for this blessed spirit it is god's royal prerogative to teach i am THE LORD thy God which teaches be to prophet Isaiah xlviii teen ministers may tell us our lesson god only can teach us we have lost both our hearing and eyesight therefore are very unfit to learn ever since Eve wasn't as a serpent we have been deaf and since she looked on the tree of knowledge we have been blind but when God comes to teach he removes these impediments isaiah XXX b5 we are naturally dead ephesians 2:1 who will go about to teach a dead man yet behold god undertakes to make dead men to understand mysteries god is the grand teacher this is the reason the word preached works so differently upon men were to learn a few the one is wrought upon effectually the other lives of the ordinances as a dead child the breasts and gets no nourishment what is the reason because the heavenly gale of the spirit blows upon one and not upon the other 1/2 the anointing of god which teaches him all things first John 2:27 the other has it not God's Spirit speak sweetly but irresistibly in that heavenly doxology none could sing the new song but those who were sealed in their foreheads revelation XIV 1 reprobates could not sing it those that are skillful and the mysteries of salvation must have the seal of the spirit upon them let us make this our prayer Lord breathe I spirit into thy word and we have a promise which may add wings to prayer if you then being evil know how to give good gifts unto your children how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him Luke X I 13 chapter IV the second branch of the text the lesson itself with the proposition number 2 I come now to the main thing the lesson itself in whatsoever state I am therewith to be content here was a rare piece of learning indeed and certainly more to be wondered at in st. Paul that he knew how to turn himself to every condition when all the learning in the world besides which has been so prodded in former ages by Julius Caesar Ptolemy sin upon the great admirers of learning the texts have but few words in it and every state content but does that be true which one for gentie has said that the most golden sentence is ever measured by brevity and suavity and this is a most accomplished speech here is much in a little the text is like a precious jewel little in quantity but great in Worth and value the main proposition I shall insist upon a sense that a gracious spirit is a contented spirit the doctrine of contentment is very superlative until we have learned this we have not learned to be Christians never one it is a hard lesson the angels in heaven had not learned it they were not contented though their estate was very glorious yet they were still soaring aloft and named it something higher the Angels will kept which kept not their first estate June 6 they kept not their estate because they were not contented with their estates our first parents clothed with the white robe of innocence and paradise had not learned to be content they had a spiraling heart and thinking their human nature too low and homely would be crowned with the deity and be as gods Genesis 3:5 though they have the choice of all the trees in the garden yet none one could tempt them of the tree of knowledge which they supposed would have been as I selves to have made them omniscient oh then if this lesson were so hard to learn an innocence how shall we find it who are clogged with corruption number two it is of universal extent it concerns all it concerns rich men one would think it needless to press those two contentment whom God has blessed with great estates but rather persuade them to be humble and thankful nay but I say be content rich men have discontent as well as others as appears when they have a great estate if they are discontented that they have no more they would make the hundred talents a thousand a man in wine the more he drinks the more he thirsts covetousness is a dried drop see an earthly heart is like the grave that is never satisfied proverbs 30 16 therefore I say to you rich men D content rich men if we may suppose them to be content with their estates which is very seldom yet though they have this deed enough they have not honor enough if their barns are full enough yet their turrets are not high enough there would be somebody in the world as studious who boasted himself to be somebody max 536 they never go so cheerfully as when the wind of Honor and applause fills their sails if this went down they are discontented one would think Amon had as much as his proud heart could desire he was said above all the princes advanced upon the pinnacle of Honor to be the second man in the kingdom after 3:1 it in the midst of all his pomp because Mordecai would not uncover a meal he is discontented verse 2 and full of Wrath verse 5 and there was no way to assuage this worthy of revenge but by shedding all the Jews blood and offering them up and sacrifice this eager desire for honor is seldom allayed without blood therefore I say to you rich men be content rich men if we may suppose them to be content with their own honour and magnificent titles yet they have not always contentment in their relations she that lies in the bosom may sometimes blow the coals as job's wife who in a pet would have him fall out with God himself curse God and die sometimes children cause discontent how often is it seem that the mother's milk does nourish a viper and he that once sucked her breast goes about to suck her blood parents do often of grapes gather thorns and a fig thistles children are Sweetbriar like the Rose which is a fragrant flower but as basil saith it has its prickle our relative comforts are not all pure wine but mixed they have in them more drag than spirits and are like that River Plutarch speaks of where the waters in the morning run sweet but in the evening run bitter we have no charter of exemption granted us in this life therefore Richmond had need be called upon to be contented the doctrine of contentment also concerns poor men you that do suck so liberally from the breasts of Providence be content it is a hard lesson therefore it had need be set upon the sooner how hard is it when the livelihood is even gone and great estate boiled away almost to nothing than to be content the means of subsistence is in Scripture called our life because it is the very sinews of life the woman in the gospel spent all her living upon the physicians Luke 843 and the Greek it is she spent her whole life upon the physicians because she spent her means by what she should live it is much when poverty has clipped our wings than to be content but though hard it is excellent and the Apostle here had learned in every state to be content God had brought Saint Paul into a great variety of conditions as ever we read of any man and yet he was content I'll surely he could never have gone through it with so much cheerfulness see into what Vista to this blessed apostle was cast we had troubles on every side there was the sadness of his condition yet not distressed there was his content in that condition we are perplexed there is his affliction but not in despair there is his content ii corinthians IV 8 and if we read a little further in afflictions in necessities in de-stresses in stripes in imprisonments in tumults and etc second corinthians VI four and five there is his trouble and behold is content as having nothing and yet possessing all things verse 10 when the Apostle was driven out of all yet and regarded that sweet contentment of mind which was like music in his soul he possessed all we read a short map or history of his sufferings and prisons more frequent and deaths oft etc second corinthians x i 23 to 33 yet behold the blessed frame and temper of his spirit i have learned in whatsoever state I am therewith to be content which way so ever Providence did blow he had such heavenly skill and dexterity that he knew how to steer his course for his outward estate he was indifferent he could be either on the top of jacob's ladder or at the bottom he could sing either the dirge or the anthem he could be anything that God would have him I know how to want how to abound here is a rare pattern for us to imitate

3 thoughts on “Puritan Thomas Watson – The Art of Divine Contentment (1 of 8)

  • Thomas Watson – The Art of Divine Contentment (1 of 8)

    Proverbs 15:23 A man hath joy by the answer of his mouth: and a word spoken in due season, how good is it!

    Luke 12:42 And the Lord said, Who then is that faithful and wise steward, whom his lord shall make ruler over his household, to give them their portion of meat in due season?

    #Puritan #Watson

  • Thomas Watson – The Art of Divine Contentment (1 of 8)

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    Proverbs 15:23 A man hath joy by the answer of his mouth: and a word spoken in due season, how good is it!

    Luke 12:42 And the Lord said, Who then is that faithful and wise steward, whom his lord shall make ruler over his household, to give them their portion of meat in due season?

  • Proverbs 15:23 A man hath joy by the answer of his mouth: and a word spoken in due season, how good is it!

    Luke 12:42 And the Lord said, Who then is that faithful and wise steward, whom his lord shall make ruler over his household, to give them their portion of meat in due season?

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