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Tim Challies Christian Blog and Commentary

Reading Classics Together

  • Tim Challies
    Tim Challies, a self-employed web designer, is a pioneer in the Christian blogosphere, having one of the most widely read and recognized Christian blogs anywhere (www.challies.com). He is also editor of Discerning Reader (www.discerningreader.com), a site dedicated to offering thoughtful reviews of books that are of interest to Christians. He is author of The Discipline of Spiritual Discernment, published by Crossway.
  • 2009 May 28
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It is time to announce the next classic book of the Christian faith that we will be reading together. The impetus for this project was the simple realization that, though many Christians want to read through the classics of the faith, few of us have the motivation to actually make it happen. This program allows us to read them together, providing both a level of accountability and the added of interest of comparing notes. Those who have participated in each of the programs will now have read Holiness by J.C. Ryle, Overcoming Sin and Temptation by John Owen, The Seven Sayings of the Savior on the Cross by A.W. Pink, The Religious Affections by Jonathan Edwards, Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis and Real Christianity by William Wilberforce. I have benefited immensely from reading these books and know that others have, too. The format is simple: every week we read a chapter or a section of a classic of the Christian faith and then on Thursday we check in here to discuss it. It’s that easy.

I’d love to have you participate in this next effort. Keep reading to find out how you can do that…

The next classic we will be reading together is The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment by Jeremiah Burroughs. I chose this book for a few reasons, among them its status as a true classic of the faith and one that is both pastoral and applicable, even today. We live, after all, in a world that is profoundly discontent and it seems to me that many modern technologies and innovations really just lead us into greater and deeper discontentment. I think we need the message of this book as badly as any generation in history.

The rare jewel of christian contentmentIn one description of the book I found these words: “Burroughs’ exposition is always straightforward, often poetic. He begins by laying out a clear, precise, yet loving definition of contentment—‘that sweet, inward, quiet, gracious frame of spirit, which freely submits to and delights in God’s wise and fatherly disposal in every condition’—and proceeds to examine each part of this definition in detail, but not without a pastoral explanation of why he thinks it is an important endeavor—‘l shall break open this description, for it is a box of precious ointment, and very comforting and useful for troubled hearts in troubled times and conditions.’”

This sounds good to me! Here is what the publisher says:

Burroughs’ writings, some published before and others after his death, were numerous, but The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment is one of the most valuable of them all. Its author was much concerned to promote:

1. peace among believers of various ‘persuasions’
2. peace and contentment in the hearts of individual believers during what he describes as ‘sad and sinking times’.

The Rare Jewel concentrates upon this second aim. It is marked by sanity, clarity, aptness of illustration, and warmth of appeal to the heart. ‘There is an ark that you may come into, and no men in the world may live such comfortable, cheerful and contented lives as the saints of God’. Burroughs presses his lesson home with all the fervor and cogency of a true and faithful minister of God.

So here is the plan. Beginning three weeks from today, June 18, we will begin to read this book together. Prior to June 18, then, I’d ask that anyone who wishes to participate secures a copy of the book and reads the first section titled “Christian Contentment Described.” On June 18, visit this site. I will post an article giving a few of my thoughts. You can read this and, if you choose, post a comment of your own. And so we’ll continue until the book is done.

This book is available as part of Banner of Truth’s Puritan Paperback series. I’ve arranged for Monergism Books to carry (hopefully) enough stock so everyone who wants one can get one. You can Buy It Here.

You can also find it free online, if you would like to read it that way (though I wholly recommend that if at all possible you buy a printed copy). You can find the text right here or, if you want a real challenge, a much older edition here (note the download button at the top-right). Looking elsewhere you can even find a course in audio format that is drawn from the book: click here.