RPM, Volume 12, Number 43, October 24 to October 30, 2010


By William Gouge


  • Of the Nature of Covetousness
  • Of the Practice of Covetousness in Getting Wealth
  • Of the Practice of Covetousness in Keeping Wealth
  • Of the Practice of Covetousness in Spending
  • Of the Heinousness of Covetousness
  • Of Remedies Against Covetousness
  • Of Well-Using Abundance
  • Of Examination of a Man's Self About Covetousness
  • Of Rules to Find Out Covetousness
  • Of Over-Rash Censuring Others of Covetousness
  • Of Contentedness. What It Is. The Grounds of Contentedness.

Of Contentedness. What It Is.

Contentedness is a satisfaction of the mind concerning the sufficiency and fitness of one's present condition.

This general matter of contentedness, a satisfaction of mind, doth not only put a distinguishing difference betwixt contentedness and covetousness, but also sheweth that they are diametrically contrary one to another: for a covetous mind is never satisfied with any estate: and a contented mind is never unsatisfied with any.

This satisfaction useth to accompany such things as God bestoweth on such as he taketh an especial care of. Such persons having long life are satisfied therewith. God with the blessing giveth satisfaction, Ps. xci. 16. 'The meek shall eat and be satisfied,' Ps. xxii. 26. God 'will satisfy the poor with bread,' Ps. cxxxii. 15. When God promiseth to send corn, wine, and oil as a blessing, it is added, 'ye shall be satisfied therewith,' Joel ii. 19, 26.

This satisfaction is said to be of the mind, to shew that it extends itself as far as covetousness doth; which is an inward inordinate desire of the mind. A contented person doth not only forbear outward indirect courses of getting more and more; but doth also restrain the motions of his mind or soul, from desiring more than God is willing to allot unto him.

The sufficiency mentioned in the description, hath not reference to any set quantity or measure which the contented person propounds to himself; but only to the wise providence of God, who doth give to every one of his what is sufficient for him: answerably a contented person so accounts his own estate, and is satisfied. She that made this answer, to him that would have spoken to the captain of the host for some reward to her, 'I dwell among mine own people,' was such a contented one, 2 Kings iv. 13.

This word fitness is added, to shew that contentedness extends itself not only to the things which are needful for man's livelihood, as food and rainment, 1 Tim. vi. 8, but also to the several estates s hereunto man is subject: as of peace and trouble, ease and pain, honour and dishonour, prosperity and adversity. Contentedness makes a man account that estate, be it joyous or grievous, whereunto God brings him, to be the fittest and seasonablest for him.

The present condition wherewith a contented mind is limited in this text, admits a double reference. One to the time past; wherein though his condition hath been better, yet he repineth not at the alteration thereof.

The other reference is to the time to come; wherein though he have never so great hope of bettering himself, yet for the present he remaineth content with his present condition.

Of the Grounds of Contentedness.

The grounds of contentedness are such as follow:

1. Knowledge of God's disposing providence; that he ordereth all things in heaven and earth, according to his own will, Ps. cxv. 3, and cxxxv. 6. Hence we may safely infer that our estate, whatsoever it be, great or mean, plentiful or scanty, quiet or troublesome, is ordered by God. 'The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away,' Job i. 21. 'I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the Lord do all these things,' Isa. xiv. 7. Who would not, who should not, be content with that estate which God provideth for him? [This section continues from here.]

This article is provided as a ministry of Third Millennium Ministries (Thirdmill). If you have a question about this article, please email our Theological Editor.

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