4 There is beauty in contentment.
A. What is the relationship which Burroughs implies between “beauty” and “glory?” What sort of glory is displayed in contentment — whose beauty shines in contentment?
B. What is the point of Burroughs quoting a pagan philosopher at the beginning of this section?
C. The furnace of Daniel 3: Read and recount the story. What did the contentment of these three do to the king? Dan. 3:28. Whose beauty was displayed — what did the king see?
D. Read Acts 16:16-40: recount the story. Why would Paul & Silas be tempted to despair and discontentment? How did they respond to trial? v. 25. See Acts 5:41. How is God shown to be beautiful in this event? How do we know that God’s glory was displayed and found beautiful? Acts 16:30.
E. What is the effect upon as we see God’s beauty? 2 Cor. 3:18.
Some quotations about spiritual beauty:
The beauty of a Christian is borrowed:
Ans. It comes from without. It is borrowed beauty, as you have it, Ezek. 16:1, 2. By nature we lie in our blood. There must be a beauty put upon us. We are fair with the beauty that we have out of Christ’s wardrobe. The church shines in the beams of Christ’s righteousness; she is not born thus fair, but new-born fairer. The church of Christ is all glorious, but it is within, not seen of the world, Ps. 45:13. She hath a life, but it is a hidden life, ‘our glory and our life is hidden in Christ,’ Col. 3:3. It is hid sometimes from the church itself, who sees only her deformity and not her beauty, her death but not her life, because her ‘life is hid.’ Here is a mystery of religion, The church is never more fair than when she judgeth herself to be most deformed; never more happy than when she judgeth herself to be miserable: never more strong than when she feels herself to be weak; never more righteous than when she feels herself to be most burdened with the guilt of her own sins, because the sense of one contrary forceth to another. The sense of ill forceth us to the fountain of good, to have supply thence. ‘When I am weak, then am I strong,’ saith Paul, 2 Cor. 12:10. Grace and strength is perfect in weakness.
Richard Sibbes, The Complete Works of Richard Sibbes, ed. Alexander Balloch Grosart, vol. 2 (Edinburgh; London; Dublin: James Nichol; James Nisbet And Co.; W. Robertson, 1862), 135.
The beauty of holiness:
Tenthly, Consider, that of all things, holiness will render you most beautiful and amiable. As holiness is the beauty of God,1 and the beauty of angels, so it is the beauty and glory of a Christian too. Holiness is a Christian’s greatest honour and ornament: Ps. 93:5, ‘Holiness becometh thine house’—that is, thy church—‘O Lord, for ever.’ There is no garment that suits the church, that becomes the church, like the garment of holiness. It is sanctity that is the church’s excellency and glory; it is purity that is the church’s ornament and beauty. Holiness is a beauty that beautifies the church; it is the gracefulness and comeliness of the church. Holiness is so beautiful a thing that it puts a beauty on all things else. As holiness is the greatest ornament of the church triumphant, so it is the greatest ornament of the church militant, Eph. 5:26, 27. The redness of the rose, the whiteness of the lily, and all the beauties of sun, moon, and stars, are but deformities to that beauty that holiness puts upon us. If all natural and artificial beauty were contracted into one beauty, yet it would be but an obscure and an unlovely beauty to that beauty that holiness puts upon us: Ps. 29:2, ‘Give unto the Lord the glory due unto his name; worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness:’ Ps. 96:9, ‘O worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness:’ Ps. 110:3, ‘Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power, in the beauty of holiness.’ You see beauty and holiness is by God himself still linked together; and those whom God hath so closely joined together, no man may put asunder. The scripture last cited doth not only speak out holiness to be a beautiful thing, but it speaks out many beauties to be in holiness. Those Christians that are volunteers in the beauties of holiness, they shall be very beautiful and shining through holiness.
Thomas Brooks, The Complete Works of Thomas Brooks, ed. Alexander Balloch Grosart, vol. 4 (Edinburgh; London; Dublin: James Nichol; James Nisbet and Co.; G. Herbert, 1867), 171.
Contentment makes one beautiful and fit for service (which is the same point made by Burroughs):
O then, how excellent is contentment, which doth prepare, and as it were, string the heart for duty? Indeed contentment doth not only make our duties lively and agile, but acceptable. It is this that puts beauty and worth into them; for contentment settles the soul. Now, as it is with milk, when it is always stirring, you can make nothing of it, but let it settle a while, and then it turns to cream: when the heart is over-much stirred with disquiet and discontent, you can make nothing of those duties. How thin, how fleeting and jejune are they! But when the heart is once settled by holy contentment, now there is some worth in our duties, now they turn to cream.
Thomas Watson, The Select Works of the Rev. Thomas Watson, Comprising His Celebrated Body of Divinity, in a Series of Lectures on the Shorter Catechism, and Various Sermons and Treatises (New York: Robert Carter & Brothers, 1855), 703.