Monday, May 5, 2008

Jeremiah Burroughs on Earthly Mindedness

My favorite puritan preacher was a man named Jeremiah Burroughs (1599-1646). While he may not have been the most well known preacher of his day, his sermons are still amazingly insightful and practical for the Christian life. There is not a better book on the doctrine of reconciliation, in my estimation, than his titled"Gospel Reconciliation." In another work he penned, "A Treatise on Earthly-Mindedness," he ends the book with five practical directions on how to get our hearts free from earthly-mindedness:

1. Be watchful over your thoughts. He writes, "Do not take liberty to let your hearts run too far in the things of the earth. What time you have for meditation, let it be as much as can be reserved for spiritual things.

2. Be humbled greatly by sin. "Just let God lay the weight and burden of sin upon the soul, for that will take off the soul from earthly things quickly!"

3. Take notice of the example of the saints of God in past generations. He suggests reading Hebrews 11:13 and 11:37 to see those who did not recieve the promise of God in their lifetime, but saw them afar and believed them and embraced them.

4. Consider the account you must give to God for all earthly things. "And consider, what if you were now to die and go the way of all flesh. What good would it be to me to remember what contentments and pleasures I had on earth?"

5. Above all, set Jesus Christ before you and be meditating on the death of Jesus Christ. "That's the great thing that will take the heart from the things of the earth. Be looking upon Christ crucified, how He who was the Lord of heaven and earth put himself into such a low condition merely to redeem us!"

Brothers and sisters, I can think of no greater thing we can do than these. Earthly mindedness is the great cancer to the Christian walk. "Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus ..." (Phil. 2:5) My prayer is that we might seek to think more about Jesus than anything this world has to offer.


Jamie Fugate said...

John I loved the imagery you used in the conclusion, earthly mindedness as a cancer. We as a people are neck deep in the american culture that certainly does not have as its goal the glory of God or helping us to know joy in Christ. These five exhortations were very helpful, thank you for sharing them with us.

Joshua Owen said...

John, I appreciate Burroughs' suggestions. I think of Paul's exhortation in Colossians 3.1-4.
First, a condition -- you must be raised with Christ. If you are, then:
1. Seek the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.
2. Set your mind (phroneite) on things above.
3. Don't set your mind on the things of the earth.
The double ground for this exhortation is in v. 3, "For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God." Ground 1: You are dead. You have lost your interest in earthly things. Dead men don't have anything to do with the world. Ground 2: Your life is hidden with Christ in God -- thus exhortation 1, to seek the things above is to seek those things where your interest, indeed your life, does reside.
After drawing our attention above, he directs our gaze ahead, "When Christ appears -- who is your life -- then you also will appear with him in glory!" (v. 4).
If we combine Burroughs' suggestions with Paul's exhortations we have a great recipe for beholding Christ and becoming more like Him.
Thanks, brother.