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Sunday, February 10, 2019

The Art of Divine Contentment: An Exposition of Philippians 4:11 by Thomas Watson. Excerpt 65

Watson now begins to discuss Bible characters who were contented, beginning with Abraham:

The example of those who have been eminent for contentation. Examples are usually more forcible than precepts. Abraham being called out to hot service, and such as was against flesh and blood, was content. God bid him offer up his son Isaac. This was great work: Isaac was the son of his old age; the son of his love; the son of the promise; Christ the Messiah was to come of his line, “in Isaac shall thy seed be called:” so that to offer up Isaac seemed not only to oppose Abraham’s reason, but his faith too; for, if Isaac die, the world for ought he knew, must be without a Mediator. Besides, if Isaac be sacrificed, was there no other hand to do it but Abraham’s? must the father needs be the executioner? must he that was the instrument of giving Isaac his being, be the instrument of taking it away? Yet Abraham doth not dispute or hesitate, but believes “against hope,” and is content with God’s prescription: so, when God called him to leave his country, he was content. Some would have argued thus: “what! leave my friends, my native soil, my brave situation, and go turn pilgrim?”

Abraham is content. Besides Abraham went blindfolds, “he knew not whither he went.” God held him in suspense; he must go wander he knows not where; and when he doth come to the place God hath laid out for him, he knows not what oppositions he shall meet with there. The world doth seldom cast a favourable aspect upon strangers. Yet he is content, and obeys; “he sojourned in the land of promise.” (He. 11. 9) Behold a little his pilgrimage. First, he goes to Charran, a city in Mesopotamia. When he had sojourned there a while, his father dies. Then he removed to Sichem, then to Bethlehem in Canaan; there a famine ariseth; then he went down to Egypt; after that he returns to Canaan. When he comes there, it is  true he had a promise, but he found nothing to answer expectation; he had not there one foot of land, but was an exile. In this time of his sojourning he buried his wife: and as for his dwellings, he had no sumptuous buildings, but led his life in poor cottages: all this was enough to have broken any man’s heart. Abraham might think thus with himself: “is this the land I must possess? here is no probability of any good; all things are against me.” Well, is he discontented? no; God saith to him, “Abraham, go, leave thy country,” and this word was enough to lead him all the world over; he is presently upon his march. Here was a man that had learned to be content.

Thomas Watson lived from 1620-1686, in England. He wrote several books which survive. This blog, God willing, will post excerpts from his The Art of Divine Contentment: An Exposition of Philippians 4:11, over a number of weeks, on Sundays.

My source for the text is here, and I thank the Christian Classics Ethereal Library for making this text (and many others) available. The previous excerpt is here.
Philippians 4:11 Not that I speak because of lack, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content in it. (World English Bible, public domain.)

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