In the same way that people are not necessarily wise simply because they are old, books are not worthy simply because they are old.
I have read a century-old book on marriage and mothering that, but for archaic language, could have been comfortable in a modern women’s magazine with its me-first attitude.
But many old books are still around because they’ve stood the test of time. They speak to us today because human nature is still the same.
Jeremiah Burroughs’ The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment is such a book. You may want to purchase your own copy and follow along as I interact with it on this blog applying its timeless Biblical truths to my own life.
According to Michael Boland, writer of the book’s preface, Jeremiah Burroughs’ life (1599 – 1646) harmonized two seemingly incompatible qualities. He had “a fervent zeal for purity of doctrine and worship, and a peaceable spirit, which longed and laboured for Christian unity.”
Educated at Emmanuel College, Cambridge, Burroughs was forced to leave because he was a nonconformist to the state Church of England. He then ministered to two congregations in a region with strong Puritan influence but was suspended from these by the Episcopal bishop. Why? He refused to read the bishop’s “Book of Sports”, which forbade afternoon worship services and instead urged the people to participate in various recreations on the Lord’s Day after morning worship. Clearly, Burroughs was a man of conviction.
In 1637, he fled the Laudian persecution of Puritans and became teacher of the English church in Rotterdam where there was greater freedom. When exiled ministers were invited back to England four years later, Burroughs returned to become a preacher as well as to take a role in the Westminster Assembly. So he would have had a hand in formulating beloved and profound Q and A’s like this:
Q. 1 What is the chief end of man?
A. Man’s chief end is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.
Jeremiah Burroughs pleaded for “the unity of all who loved the truth, and argued that what made comparatively minor differences into causes of rigid divisions was a wrong spirit and wrong motives.” (Michael Boland, preface) But his heartbreak at the divisions among the Puritan reformers led to his death at only 47 years of age. Most of his writings were published posthumously.
A man of integrity gains respect over the years of his life, but respect for the man of integrity who writes continues for centuries after he is gone.
That’s why I love Jeremiah Burroughs.