Contentment, Prosperity, and God’s Glory by Jeremiah Burroughs
The vast literature of the Puritans is immense in both its profundity and its careful way of pricking the heart as you dive into its contents. Jeremiah Burroughs, a member of the Westminster Assembly and preacher among Congregationalists bears much the same wisdom in his little book entitled Contentment, Prosperity, and God’s Glory. With a Preface written by Phillip Simpson and the language being updated, this small work is chalk full of goodness concerning the riches God gives us and how to dispense them in a wise way. This book is one that is to be re-read and looked over again at because the way Burroughs brings out his points that most alarming to one’s spirit.
Early on in the book, Burroughs writes, “You have not learned how to be full until you have learned how to properly distribute the use of your estate and outward comforts that you enjoy according to the needs that exist” (18). The act of being temperate is not only a good remedy for the body but also for the soul. Burroughs has a way of calculating that overabundance can often lead to a willful neglect of the needs of others and a gluttonous response for ourselves. An overabundance of money or resources gives Christians an opportunity to remain faithful in giving what God has already made available to them. Burroughs goes onto explain that often we don’t realize the temptations that come with having much (19). Rather than being content with a little we gorge ourselves on the attraction of more delights. This reminder by Burroughs of the temptation of abundance is forward thinking because it takes into consideration the probability that our temptations are greater in connection with the abundance of our resources.
Later on in the book Burroughs returns to the Excellency of Learning to Be Full by writing, “Likewise, God highly esteems those who constantly render to Him the rent of praise and honor for the many enjoyments that have in this world” (73). Often, our culture thinks of the Puritans as dull-faced, men and women who live life scowling over their sin with downcast faces. Yet, there is a great word here in that God delights in those who give back to him in praise and honor his due. Our enjoyments in this world are not solely for ourselves but give us credence to bring praise to the one who supplied us with riches. Furthermore, Burroughs comments earlier that if we know how to use our prosperity well, then afflictions and hardships will not overtake us. “Once a man has surrendered to God the comfort of his prosperity, God will take care to remove the gall and bitterness of his affliction” (72), Burroughs writes.
I was amazed at the profound nature of this little book. I can see this book being a source of encouragement and warning to people on all income levels and age levels. At times, the book focused heavily on sin and its consequences. But, I think this was important because of the tendency of money or riches being so easily abused. Much can be gained from a reading of this book and I hope others will find in it a treasure trove of wisdom.
Thanks to Cross Focused Reviews and Reformation Heritage Books for the review copy of this book in exchange for review.