« ZurückWeiter »
dinate delight. For the end of sinful mirth is your most pleasant thoughts should have been sorrow.
of God. Dare you approve of your rejecting When Solomon had tried to please himself to your Creator, and the great concern of your the full, in mirth, in buildings, vineyards, woods, soul, out of your thoughts, and wasting them waters, in servants, and possessions, silver and upon things unprofitable and vain ? Did not gold, cattle and singers, and instruments of mu- God and heaven deserve more of your serious sic of all sorts, in greatness, and all that the thoughts than any thing else that ever they were eye or appetite or heart desired; he finds employed on? Have you laid them out on any when he awaked from this pleasant dream, that thing that more concerned you? Or on any he had all this while been taken up with vanity thing more excellent, more honourable, more and vexation, in so much that he saith on the durable, or that could claim precedency upon review: ' therefore I hated life, because the work any just account? Did you not shut heaven itthat is wrought under the sun is grievous to me, self out of your thoughts, when you shut out for all is vanity and vexation of spirit; yea, I God? Is it not just that God and heaven should hated all my labour which I had taken under the shut out you? If heaven be not the principal sun.' You may toil out and tire yourselves matter of your thoughts, it is plain that you do among these briars in this barren wilderness; not principally love it: if so, judge you whether but if ever you would feel any solid ground of those that love it not are fit to be made possessors quietness and rest, it must be by coming off of it. from vanity, and seeking your felicity in God, | O poor distracted, senseless world! Is not and living sincerely for him and upon him, as God great enough to command and take up your the worldling doth upon the world. His pardon-chief thoughts ? Is not heaven enough to find ing mercy must begin your peace, forgiving you them work, and afford them satisfaction and deyour former thoughts; and his healing, quicken- light? And yet is the dotage of the world ing mercy, must increase it, by teaching you enough? Is your honour, wealth, fleshly debetter to employ your thoughts, and drawing up lights and sports enough? God will shortly make your hearts unto himself; and his glorifying you know whether this were wise and equal mercy must perfect it, by giving you the full dealing! Is God so low, so little, so undeserving, intuition and fruition of himself in heaven, and to be so often and easily forgotten, and so hardly employing you in his perfect love and praise, not and so slightly remembered ? I tell you, ere leaving any room for creatures, nor suffering a long he will make you think of him to your sorthought to be employed on vanity for ever. row, whether you will or no, if grace do not
now set open your hearts, and procure him better CHAP. IV.
But perhaps you will think that you walk with EXPOSTULATION WITH OBJECTORS. God, because you think of him sometimes inef
fectually and as on the by. But is he esteemed By this time I hope you may see reason to as your God, if he have not the command, and call yourselves to a strict account, what converse if he have not the precedency of his creatures? you have been taken up with in the world, and Can you dream that indeed you walk with God, upon what you have exercised your thoughts : when your hearts were never grieved for offendsurely you must needs be conscious, that the ing him, nor ever much solicitous how to be thoughts which have been denied God, have reconciled to him, nor much inquisitive whether brought you home but little satisfaction, and your state or way be pleasing or displeasing to have not answered the ends of your creation, him? When all the business of an unspeakable redemption or preservation; and that they are importance, which you have to do with God, now much fitter matter for your penitential before you pass to judgment, is forgotten and tears, than your comfort, in the review! I do undone, as if you knew not of any such work not think you dare own, and stand to those that you had to do; when you make no serious thoughts which have been spent for fleshly plea-preparation for death, when you call not upon sures, or in unnecessary worldly cares, or that God in secret, or in your families, unless with a were wasted in impertinent vagaries upon any little heartless lip labour; and when you love thing, or nothing, when you should have been not the spirituality of his worship, but only deseeking God! I do not think you have now any lude your souls with the mockery of hypocritical great pleasure, in the review of those thoughts, outside compliment Do you walk with God which once were taken up with pleasure, when I while you are plotting for preferment, and gaping after worldly greatness, while you are gratifying thoughtfulness that I persuade you to, or which all the desires of your flesh, and making provi- is included in a Christian's walk with God: but sion for the future satisfaction of its lusts? Are it is a directing, quickening, exalting, comfort. you walking with God when you are hating him ing course of meditation : many a hundred have in his holiness,' his justice, his word and ways, grown melancholy and mad with discontented and hating all that seriously love and seek him; thoughts of the world; it doth not follow therewhen you are doing your worst to dispatch the fore that no man must think of the world at all, work of your damnation, and put your salvation for fear of being mad or melancholy ; but only past all hope, and draw as many to hell with that they should think of it more regularly, and you as you can ? If this be a walking with correct the error of their thoughts and passions : God, you may take further comfort that you shall | So is it about God and heavenly things: our also dwell with God, according to the sense of thoughts are to be well ordered, and the error such a walk : you shall dwell with him as a de- of them cured, and not the use of them forborn. vouring fire, and as just, whom you thus walked Atheism and impiety, and forgetting God, are with in the contempt of his inercies, and the unhappy means to prevent melancholy; there are provocation of his justice.
wiser means, for avoiding madness, than by reI tell you, if you walked with God indeed, his bouncing all our reason, and living by sense like authority would rule you, his greatness would the beasts that perish, and forgetting that we much take up your minds, and leave less room have an everlasting life to live. for little things: you would trust his promises, But yet because I am sensible that some fear his threatenings, be awed by his presence, here mistake on the other hand, and I would and the idols of your hearts would fall before not lead you into any extreme, I shall fully rehim : he would over-power your lusts, and call move the scruple contained in this objection, by you off from your ambitious and covetous de. showing you, in the following propositions, in signs, and obscure all the creature's glory. Be- what sense and how far your thoughts must be lieving, serious effectual thoughts of God, are taken up with God, supposing what was said in very much different from the common, doubtful, the beginning, where I described to you the duty dreaming, ineffectual thoughts of the ungodly of walking with God. world.
I Prop. 1. When we tell you that your thoughts Object. But perhaps some will say, · This must be on God, it is not a course of idle museems to be the work of preachers, and not of sing, or mere thinking, that we call you to, but every Christian, to be always meditating of God: it is a necessary practical thinking of that which poor people must think of other matters: they you have to do, and of him that you must love, have their business to do, and their families to obey and enjoy. You will not forget your paprovide for: ignorant people are weak-headed, rents, or husband, or wife, or friend ; and yet and are not able either to manage or endure a you will not spend your time in sitting still and contemplative life : so much thinking of God thinking of them, with a musing, unprofitable will make them melancholy and mad, as experi- thoughtfulness: but you will have such thoughts ence tells us it hath done by many: therefore this of them, and so many as are necessary to the is no exercise for them.'
ends, even to the love and service which you owe To this I answer : Every Christian hath a them, and to the delight that your hearts should God to serve, and a soul to save, and a Christ to have in the fruition of them. You cannot love, believe in and obey, and an endless happiness to or obey, or take pleasure in those that you will secure and enjoy, as well as preachers : pastors not think of; you will follow your trades, or your must study to instruct their flock, and to save master's service but unhappily, if you will not themselves, and those that hear them : the people think on them. Thinking is not the work that must study to understand and receive the mercy we must take up with : it is but a subservient inoffered them, and to make their own calling and strumental duty, to promote some greater, higher election sure. It is not said of pastors only, but duty: therefore we must think of God, that we of every blessed man, that “his delight is in the may love him, do his service, trust him, fear and law of the Lord, and therein doth he meditate hope in him, and make him our delight. All day and night. The due meditation of the soul this is it that we call you to, when we are perupon God, is so far from taking you off from suading you to think on God. your necessary business in the world, that it is! 2. An hypocrite, or a wicked enemy of God, the only way to your orderly and successful may think of him speculatively, and perhaps be management of it. It is not a distracting more frequent in such thoughts than many prac
tical believers. A learned man may study about cannot bear it, to be always employed on the God, as he doth about other matters, names, and greatest and most serious things; like lute strings notions; and propositions and decisions concern- they will break, if they be raised too high, and ing God, may be a principal part of his learning. be not let down and relaxed, when the lesson is A preacher may study about God, and the mat- finished. To think of nothing else but God, is ters of God, as a physician or a lawyer does to break the law of God, to confound the about the matters of their own profession, either mind, and to disable it to think aright of God, for the pleasure which knowledge, as knowledge, or any thing. As he that bids us pray continubrings to human nature, or for the credit of ally, did not mean that we should do nothing being esteemed wise and learned, or because their else, or that actual prayer should have no intergain and maintenance comes in this way. They ruptions, but that habitual desires should on all that fill many volumes with controversies con- meet occasions be actuated and expressed; so he cerning God, and fill the church with conten- that would be chief in all their thoughts, did tions and troubles by them, and their own heart never mean that we should have no thoughts of with malice and uncharitableness against those any thing else, or that our serious meditation on that are not of their opinions, have many a thought him should be continual without interruption : of God, which yet will do nothing to the saving but that the final intending of God, and our deof their souls, no more than they do to the sanc- pendence on him should be so constant as to be tifying of them. Such learned men may think the spring or mover of the rest of the thoughts more orthodoxly and methodically concerning and actions of our lives. God, than many an honest serious Christian, who 5. A habitual intending of God as our end, yet thinks of him more effectually and savingly: depending on his support, and subjection to his even as they can discourse more orderly and government, will carry on the soul in a sincere copiously of God, when yet they have no saving and constant course of godliness, though the acknowledge of him.
tual, most observed thoughts of the soul be fewer 3. All men must not bestow so much time in in number about God, than about the means that meditation as some must do: it is the calling of lead unto him, and the occurrences in our way: ministers to study so as to furnish their minds the soul of man is very active and comprehenwith all those truths concerning God which are sive, and can think of several things at once: needful to the edification of the church ; and so when it is once clear and resolved in any case, to meditate on these things as to give themselves it can act according to that knowledge and rewholly to them. It is both the work of their solution, without any present sensible thought; common and their special calling: the study ne- nay, while its actual most observed thoughts are cessary to Christians as such, belongs as well upon something else. A musician that hath a to others as to them: but other men have another habitual skill, can keep time and tune while he special or particular calling, which also they is thinking of some other matter : a weaver can must think of, so far as the nature and ends of cast his shuttle right, and work truly, while he their daily labours require. It is a hurtful is thinking or talking of other things. A man error to imagine that men must either lay by can eat and drink with discretion, while he talks their callings to ineditate on God, or that they of other things. Some men can dictate to two must do them negligently, or to be taken up in or three scribes at once, upon divers subjects: the midst of their employments with such studies a traveller can keep on his way, though he selof God as ministers are, that are separated to dom think distinctly of his journey's end, but be that work.
thinking or discoursing most of the way upon 4. No man is bound to be continually taken other matters : for before he undertook his jourup with actual, distinct thoughts of God: for in ney, he thought both of the end and way, and duty we have many other things to think on, resolved then which way to go, and that he which must have their time: and as we have would go through all both fair and foul, and not callings to follow, and must eat our bread in the turn back till he saw the place : and this habitual sweat of our brows, so we must manage them understanding and resolution may be secretly with prudence:'a good man will guide his affairs and unobservedly active, so as to keep a man with discretion. It is both necessary as duty, from erring, and from turning back, though at and necessary as a means to the preservation of the same time the traveller's most sensible our very faculties, that both body and mind have thoughts and his discourse may be upon sometheir times of employment about our lawful busi- thing else. When a man is once resolved of his ness in the world : the understandings of many end, and hath laid his design, he is past deliberating of that, and therefore hath less use of or diverting us, is no way pleasing unto God. his thoughts about it: but it is readier to lay So excellent is our end, that we can never enthem out upon the means, which may be still courage and delight the mind too much in the uncertain, or may require his frequent delibera- fore thoughts of it. So sluggish are our hearts, tion. We have usually more thoughts and and so loose and unconstant are our apprehenspeeches by the way, about our company, or our sions and resolutions, that we have need to be horses, or inns, or other accommodations, or the most frequently quickening them, lifting at fairness, or foulness of the way, or other such them, and renewing our desires, and suppressing occurrences, than we have about the place we are the contrary desires, by the serious thoughts of going to; and yet this secret intention of our God and immortality. Our thoughts are the exend will bring us thither. So when a soul hath citements that must kindle the flames of love, cast up his accounts,—bath renounced a world- desire, hope, and zeal : our thoughts are the spur ly and sensual felicity,-hath fixed his hopes that must urge on a sluggish tired heart. So far and resolution upon heaven,-is resolved to as they conduce to any such works and ends as cast himself upon Christ, and take God for his these, they are desirable and good. But what only portion, this secret, habitual resolution will master loves to see his servant sit down and do much to keep him constant in the way, though think, when he should be at work? Or to use his thoughts and talk be frequently on other his thoughts only to grieve and vex himself for things : yea, when we are thinking of the crea- his faults, but not to mend them ; to sit down ture, and feel no actual thoughts of God, it is lamenting that he is so bad and unprofitable a seryet God more than the creature that we think vant, when he should be up and doing his master's of: for we did beforehand look on the creature business as well as he is able ? Such thoughts as as God's work, representing him unto the world, hinder us from duty, or discourage or unfit us and as his talents, which we must employ for for it, are real sins, however they may go under him, and as every creature is related to him: a better name. this estimation of the creature is still habitually, 8. The godly themselves are very much wantand in some secret, less perceived act, most pre-ing in the holiness of their thoughts, and the valent in the soul. Though I am not always liveliness of their affections. Sense leads away sensibly thinking of the king, when I use his the thoughts too easily after these present sensi. coin, or obey his laws, &c. yet it is only as his ble things ; while faith being infirm, the thoughts coin still that I use it and as his laws that I of God and heaven are much retarded by their obey them. Weak habits cannot do their work invisibility. Many a gracious soul crieth out, without great carefulness of thoughts ; but per-O that I could think as easily and as affectionfect habits will act a man with little thoughtful-ately and as unweariedly about the Lord, and the ness, as coming near the natural way of opera- life to come, as I can do about my friends, my tion. Indeed the imperfection of our habitual health, my habitation, my business, and other godliness doth make our serious thoughts, vigi- concerns of this life! But, alas ! such thoughts lance, and industry, to be the more necessary of God and heaven have far more enemies and to us.
resistance, than the thoughts of earthly matters 6. There are some thoughts of God that are have. necessary to the very being of a holy state ; as 9. It is not distracting, vexatious thoughts of that God be so much in our thoughts, as to be God that the holy scriptures call us to : but it is preferred before all things else, and principally to such thoughts as tend to the healing, peace, beloved and obeyed ; and to be the end of our and felicity of the soul ; and therefore it is not lives, and the bias of our wills : and there are a melancholy, but a joyful life. If God be better some thoughts of God that are necessary only than the world, it must needs be better to think to the acting and increase of grace.
of him. If he be more beloved than any friend, 7. So great is the weakness of our habits, so the thoughts of him should be sweeter to us. If many and great are the temptations to be over- he be the everlasting hope and happiness of the come, so many difficulties are in our way, and soul, it should be a foretaste of happiness to find the occasions so various for the exercise of each him nearest to our hearts. The nature and use grace, that it behoves a Christian to exercise as of holy thoughts, and of all religion, is but to much thoughtfulness about his end and work, as exalt, sanctify, and delight the soul, and bring it hath any tendency to promote his work, and to up to everlasting rest : and is this the way to melattain his end : but such a thoughtfulness as hin- ancholy or madness ? Or is it not more likely to ders us in our work, by stopping, or distracting, I make men melancholy, to think of nothing but a vain, deceitful and vexatious world, that hath promises, and grace through Christ, and the evermuch to disquiet us, but nothing to satisfy us, lasting happiness which all may have that will and can give the soul no hopes of any durable accept and seek it in the time of grace, and predelight ?
fer it before the deceitful, transitory pleasures of 10. Yet as God is not equally related unto the world. If the thoughts of God, and of the all, so is he not the same to all men's thoughts. heavenly, everlasting joys will not comfort the If a wicked enemy of God and godliness, be soul, and cure a sad despairing mind, I know forced and frightened into some thoughts of not what can rationally do it. Though yet it is God, you cannot expect that they should be as true, that a presumptuous sinner must needs be sweet and comfortable thoughts as those of his in a trembling state, till he find himself at peace most obedient children are. While a man is with God : and mistaken Christians, that are cast under the guilt and power of his reigning sin, into causeless doubts and fears by the malice of and under the wrath and curse of God, unpar- Satan, are unlikely to walk comfortably with God, doned, unjustified, a child of the devil, it is not till they are resolved and recovered from their this man's duty to think of God, as if he were mistakes and fears. fully reconciled to him, and took pleasure in him, as in his own. Nor is it any wonder if such a
CHAP. V. man think of God with fear, and think of his sin with grief and shame. Nor is it any wonder ON THE PROPER DIRECTION OF THE THOUGHTS the justified themselves think of God with fear and grief, when they have provoked him by some Object. But it may be the objector will be sinful and unkind behaviour, or are cast into ready to think, that if it be indeed our duty tu doubts of their sincerity and interest in Christ, walk with God, yet thoughts are no considerable and when he hides his face, or assaults them part of it: what more uncertain or mutable than with his terrors. To doubt whether a man shall our thoughts? It is deeds and not thoughts that live for ever in heaven or hell, may rationally God regards : to do no harm to any, but to trouble the thoughts of the wisest man in the do good to all, this is indeed to walk with God. world; and it were but sottishness not to be You set a man upon a troublesome and impossible troubled at it. David himself could say, 'in the work while you set him upon so strict a guard, day of my trouble I sought the Lord : my sore and so much exercise of his thoughts : what cares ran in the night and ceased not: my soul re- the Almighty for my thoughts ?' fused to be comforted : I remembered God and Answ. 1. If God know better than you, and was troubled : I complained and my Spirit was is to be believed, then thoughts are not so inoverwhelmed : thou holdest mine eyes waking : considerable as you suppose. Doth he not say, I am so troubled that I cannot speak : will the that the thoughts of the wicked are an abomiLord cast off for ever ?
nation to the Lord ? It is the work of the gosYet all the sorrowful thoughts of God, which pel, by its power, to pull down strong holds, are the duty either of the godly or the wicked, casting down imaginations, and every high thing are but the necessary preparatives of their joy. that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, It is not to melancholy, distraction or despair, and bringing in to captivity every thought to that God calls any, even the worst : but it is that the obedience of Christ. The unrighteous man's
the wicked' would seek the Lord while he may forsaking his thoughts, is part of his necessary be found, and call upon him while he is near; conversion. It was the description of the dethat he would forsake his way, and the unright- plorable state of the old world that “God saw that eous man his thoughts ; and return unto the the wickedness of man was great in the earth, Lord, and he will have mercy upon him, and to and that every imagination of the thoughts of his our God, for he will abundantly pardon.' De- heart was only evil continually; and it reperted spair is sin; and the thoughts that tend to it are the Lord that he had made man on the earth, sinful thoughts, even in the wicked. If worldly and it grieved him at his heart.' Judge by this, crosses, or the sense of danger to the soul, had whether thoughts be so little regarded by God, cast any into melancholy, or overwhelmed them as you imagine. David saith of himself, I hate with fears, you can name nothing in the world vain thoughts.' Solomon saith the thoughts of that in reason should be so powerful a remedy the righteous are right.' Paul saith that 'charity to recover them as the thoughts of God, his thinketh not evil.' goudness, mercy, and readiness to receive and 2. Thoughts are the issue of a rational soul. pardon those that turn unto him; his covenant, If its operations be contemptible, its essence is