Wednesday, July 1, 2009

The Exceeding Pleasure of Self-Denial

Here is a quote from the Puritan author Jeremiah Burroughs I read recently:

"Oh, that you would test the ways of God, tasting to see that He is good! If your hearts were such that you would be satisfied without earthly pleasures, it would make the moderation of them more pleasant than the excess. You would find more pleasure in the very act of self-denial than in all the pleasure of your lives, and if there is so much enjoyment in denying false pleasure, what joy is there in enjoying true pleasure? Surely God has pleasure enough for you, if you had a heart to trust Him with your pleasure; you shall only lose your sin, not your pleasure. Bernard has a notable expression: "If you are willing to sacrifice your Isaac (which signifies laughter), your Isaac, which is your pleasure, shall not die." It is the ram, that is, your stoutness of spirit, your selfishness, that shall die. Isaac shall live, and you shall have pleasure still.

Do not harbor ill thoughts of God, to think that He is an enemy to your pleasure and delight. He does not delight to grieve your spirit. If you would trust Him with your pleasure...You must trust God with your soul's eternal condition; will you not trust Him with your pleasures? Do you think Christ came to die and shed His blood to bring you into a worse condition than before? Oh no, certainly Christ did not come to take away any pleasure from His people, but to bring them the pleasures of heaven, and of earth too, as far as they are needful. Is it not true that you should have pleasure when you are reconciled to God, and not when you are an enemy?"

-Jeremiah Burroughs; Moses His Choice, With His Eye Fixed Upon Heaven