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brought into the soul as when our minds by meditation do dwell upon them. The rays of the sun may warm us, but they do not inflame unless they are contracted in a burning glass ; so some slight thoughts of heavenly things may warm us a little, but will never inflame the soul, till they be fixed by close meditation. Therefore David (who was an excellent man at this duty) tells us, Psal. 112. 7. his heart was fixed, and saith the same concerning the frame of a good man.
iii. Consider the object of this meditation ; our thoughts are fixed on the observation of spiritual things: all spiritual truths are symbolical to a gracious heart, and will yield some advantage to the soul; but there are some particular truths which may be of more usefulness. To instance in two or three. Meditation fixeth itself upon the joy and glory of heaven, that so the soul may aspire and breathe after it; it fixeth itself upon the defiling nature of sin, that so the soul may for ever renounce and abhor it; it fixeth itself upon the never dying worm and fire of hell, that a christian may always labour to eschew it, and run from it. Such objects as these the meditation of a christian is fixed upon.
iv. Consider the end of meditation. It is in order to practice. There are many persons that fly over à garden of flowers, (I mean over many spiritual objects) their thoughts run and they gather no honey, they bring no fruit to their souls; but this is not the way of a christian ; and therefore spiritual meditation is thus described by God himself. “ This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth, but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein.” Josh. 1. 8. The end of it is to observe for practice and use. So in the Book of Job we have an expression applicable to this purpose; “ lo this, we have searched it; so it is, hear it, and know thou it for thy good.” Job. 5. 27. Some know things that they may know them, and some know things that they may be known, and taken notice of; but spiritual meditation draws forth the strength of an object for a nian's own good. Now this practical meditation, is either occasional or deliberate.
1. Occasional meditation, that is, when the soul spiritualizeth every object, when the understanding is like a limbec that distils something from every thing it sees and views for the good of the soul. This is that spiritual chemistry that turns all metals into gold. Our blessed Saviour was a most eminent example of this, he drew spiritual matter from natural objects; the gospel is full of parables upon this account.
A christian should labour to see all things in God, and God in all things. Every stream should lead him to the fountain. All things here below should be but a ladder to raise up his soul to God. I shall speak more of this occasional meditation, because it is of great use, and he that neglects it 1. Reflects dishonour upon God. 2. Is injurious to his own soul. 3. Doth neglect the creature. I speak now of those meditations that may be raised by those variety of objects before us.
(1.) He doth reflect dishonour upon God. The end of the creature is this, that God may have and receive a tribute of honour and praise ; and therefore God hath infused a reasonable soul into the body of man, that so man might be a considering creature, whereby he hath fitted man for meditation : this duty doth oblige all rational beings. See Job 38. 7. Where the Lord speaks concerning the work of creation, when “ the morning stars sang together.” As birds sing at the break of day, so in the morning of the creation the angels sang together; and God expects it from man, because he hath given him a reasonable soul. Our five senses are so many doors whereby the external objects are conveyed to us, and the soul is to take notice çf them. Nay for this very end did God create man in the last day of the creation, when he had made a feast he brought man as the guest, and when he had provided a palace, he produced man to dwell in it; and what is the reason, but this, that he might glorify the Creator ? When God had adorned the heavens with stars, and the earth with flowers; then he brought forth man to give him the praise of all. The first sabbath was instituted for this end, that men might solemnly bless God for the creation of the world.
(2.) He that doth not meditate occasionally injures his own soul. He that makes use of the creatures, and doth not learn by them, robs himself of the best part of that which he should enjoy of them. The creatures are but the adumbrations of the infinite majesty that is above. Now will any man content himself with painted meat for food ? So wilt thou content thyself with the bare enjoyment of the creature; and not ascend up to
God ? He hath given thee the creatures upon this account, that they might be instruments to raise up thy soul to himself.
(3.) He neglects the creature. There is nothing within the whole circuit of nature, but is of some use to raise up our souls to God. From the sun, to the stone ; from the cedar, to the violet; every creature hath a voice to teach us something of God. This whole world is a school for man. All the creatures spell this to us, that there is a God. Now if we neglect this use of it, by our meditation, then we neglect the creature. The whole creation is a well tuned instrument, and man is to make the music; and if we do not by meditation raise up our thoughts to God, we are in the fault. I will not pass it over without reckoning what advantages the soul may get by it.
Ist. This will dispose and fit the soul for admiration and praise of God. What is the reason that men do rather wonder at the effects of art, than at the works of God in nature ? but this, because they do not meditate upon them? So that many persons set God beneath a painter or carver. Praise and admiration is the going forth of the understanding upon an excellent object. Now when you shall read the book of the creation, you will have reason to praise the Author of it. When you cast your eyes upward and consider the sun, O meditate and take notice of this, that bright sun is but a shadow of God! It is God that hath stretched forth that rich canopy over our heads. When you cast your eye down, and consider the vast body of the earth, it hangs in the air, which is so weak a thing that it cannot hold up a feather, it is founded upon the power of God. When you consider the vast collection of waters in the sea, that such a raging element should be bounded with the sand, which is the weakest thing ; how should this teach us likewise to admire his power: He that will but converse with the creatures thus by way of meditation, will learn to admire the unsearchable wisdom, the unspeakable goodness, and the infinite power of God. :
2dly. As it will dispose the soul for praise, so for thanksgiving. Now this differs from praise thus ; when I praise a thing, I respect the worth of it; when I am thankful for a thing, I respect my interest in it. Now when a man shall consider this great world, and all things here below were made for the glory of God, and the use of man, this will raise our thanksgiving to God, and inflame our love to him. What is the reason that we
are more grateful for small courtesies of men, than for the rich benefits of God ? But because we do not meditate on them.
3dly. This occasional meditation upon the creature without us, will be an excellent ground for our faith and dependance upon God. Our Lord Jesus doth urge his disciples to believe upon this account. Saith he, “ do you not see the lilies, they neither sow nor spin, yet they are clothed with a richer garment than Solomon ? Do you not see the sparrows ? there is not one of them falls to the ground without a providence, and you are of more worth than many sparrows.” Matt. 6. 26. When a christian shall consider thus; God is the great master of the family of heaven and earth, he makes provision for all his creatures ; and if my God takes care of these things that are inferior to me, much more will he take care of me; for it is Christ's argument, ' ye are of more value than many sparrows." Nay,
4ly. This occasional meditation, will be a means to cure the most vicious part of our lives ; for what is the wickedest part of a man's life? it is his vain thoughts. As in nature there is no vacuity or emptiness, but a vessel is either filled with liquor or the air ; now the more water you pour in, the more air goes out. So if you would but store your souls with these occasional meditations, it would thrust out vain and vile thoughts. Oh it is a rare temper when a christian is always upon the wing. When he is like the beams of the sun, they touch the earth, but the body of the sun is fixed in heaven. So it is with a christian when he converseth with the world, but enjoys God.
5ly. This occasional meditation will enliven thy obedience to God. When thou considerest thus with thyself, that thou art always maintained by the expences of his providence, this will encourage thee in his service. A master looks for the service of him he feeds and maintains ; so if you consider you are always supported by the charges of free grace, and every good thing given, is the fruit of God's bounty; nay, that all the creatures observe God by a perpetual law, this will likewise raise thy obes dience to him.
The sun always runs his course, without error or alteration. All the creatures here below will contradict their own proper nature to be subservient to the will of God, such meditations as these will enliven your obedience. To sum up all : occasional meditation brings this advantage to us, the world, which is the
house of man, is made the temple of God. And then are all the creatures used according to the design and end of God, for which they were created, when all these beams of goodness which shine from the Father of lights, are reflected upon him again.
2. There is deliberate meditation, and that is two-fold: it is either direct or reflexive.
(1.) Direct. When the understanding fixeth itself upon some truth, and draws from it those advantages which may be proper to itself. We read of Isaac, that “ he went out into the field to meditate.” Gen. 24. 3. The word in its primitive signification hath this import ; that he went forth to confer with truth; when there is a mutual and reciprocal discourse between truth and the soul, when the soul méditates upon the law of God, takes the command of God, and speaks to it, and the command speaks to the soul, there is a mutual conference. Therefore it is said, “the law shall talk with thee," Prov. 6. 22. it shall give thee direction how to manage the course of thy life.
(2.) Reflexive meditation; and that is, when there is a solemn discourse between the soul of man, and himself; when there is a colloquy or soliloquy, an inward conference between a man and his own heart, and he inquires how the state and case stands in reference to himself, whether or no' reconciled to God ? and puts practical questions concerning his everlasting state,
or the necessity of meditation. Deliberate meditation commanded. Minu
derances of it, disability, multitude of business, laziness, and sensual pleasures; reflected on. The duty pressed.
11. I Come now to the second head, the necessity of this deliberate meditation. It is not of arbitrary concernment, but