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fool consider this; so that there is a great deal of evil and sin in it. Consider further some of the heaviest judgments that are recorded in scripture, have been exercised for the sins of thoughts; you know the angels lost heaven for their aspiring thoughts; and the old world were consumed by the deluge for their unclean ones; therefore certainly the neglect of this duty, which consists in the exercise of thoughts is a very great sin. Thy evil thoughts are like young vipers, which destroy the mother that bare them; so thy evil thoughts will destroy thy heart which conceives them, At the last day one of the great parts of the account we must give to God, must be of our thoughts, Rom 2. 16. “ when God shall judge the secrets of men's hearts by Jesus Christ according to my gospel.” Then there shall be a narrow inquest made of the thoughts of men ; and those thoughts which thou esteemest as nothing in reference to the lightness of the sin that is committed by them, will be as numerous as the sand, and prove as weighty. You that content yourselves to spend days, weeks, and years without meditation : Oh you that spend your thoughts upon trivial yanities : consider, in hell your thoughts shall be your chief tormentors, then every thought shall be as a dagger or poniard to stab thy soul. The worm that never dies, implies the sad reflections of conscience upon your evil ways, and that is managed by your thoughts; those thoughts now that are the chief part of your sin, they shall then be the sharpest executioners: therefore turn the stream of your thoughts towards God.
Secondly. Those who are gracious, and have a principle of regeneration in them, they deserve reproof upon a double account : partly because they so much neglect this duty of meditation, and partly because they are so remiss in the performance of it.
1. They neglect and disuse this duty. That there are such large gaps, and strides between our performances of meditation, it should strike us with fear and sorrow. The most christians are apt to look upon meditation, and those other duties which are wholly spiritual, as melancholy interruptions of their peace and quiet, and thereupon are very backward in the discharge of them.
2. When we do perform them, how weak and how remiss are our thoughts? Our thoughts are like an arrow which is shot from a bow that is weakly bent, they will not reach their mark, they die in their very birth, and lose their life before they have
performed any thing. How should this fill us with sorrow? As it is with the pegs of an instrument, when you are winding them up they slip down between your fingers, and when you have raised them to a due pitch, they presently fall again; so it is with our thoughts in heavenly meditation; when we are raising them, they slide down; and when we have lifted them up in some measure, how.soon do they fall to the earth again! This is a great sin and crime of a high nature. Consider first, what an unkind recompence is this to God, that you should spend your thoughts but seldom upon him ? His thoughts were fixed from everlasting upon you, and will not you send up your thoughts for a short time to him ? His thoughts are ever drawing forth towards you,
and shall yours move seldom towards hin ? Psal." 40. 5. saith Daivid, “ many O Lord my God are thy wonderful
, works which thou hast done, and thy thoughts to us ward, they cannot be reckoned up in order to thee : if I would declare and speak of them, they are more than can be numbered.” He hath from eternity spent his thoughts upon you, and they are every moment going forth towards you; there should be a continual return of our thoughts to him. Nay he hath given his Son to you, and will you not give your thoughts to him? It is the most unkind recompence to neglect this duty of meditation.
3. Consider it is a real disparagement to God, when we shall turn our meditation from him to sinful objects. When we shall prefer carnal sweets before him. If the eye doth not abide upon the object, it is either because the object displeaseth, or because the eye is taken off by something that is better ; so if our meditations are so fleeting and unsteady in reference to God, what is the reason? either God doth not please us, or something better that pleaseth us draws our eyes off from him ; and this casts a real disparagement upon God. Oh that we should forsake the Fountain of Living Waters for broken cisterns, that can hold ne water!
A use of exhortation. Frequency and constancy in meditation pressed upon
holy men This is the best use of our understandings. An imitation of Christ's example. Wicked men's thoughts being so fixed on the world, should provoke us to it. Holy men have a divine nature disposing them to this duty. It is one of the best instruments of communion with God. And makes way for an abundant entrance into heaven.
of exhortation. To all those that are truly gracious, let me press upon them, the constant and frequent discharge of the duty of meditation : and that I shall urge by these arguments.
First. Consider, this duty restores thy understanding to its primitive authority, it puts thy reason to the purest and best use; therefore thou shouldest be frequent and serious in the discharge of it. This is that which vindicates and rescues our understanding from its captivity to the flesh, and restores it from its prostitution to our senses; it refines our reason, it advanceth it. This should be a powerful argument to persuade you to the performance of it. Our thoughts are winged messengers, that are able to mount above the visible heavens, to go towards God himself. Now meditation is that duty that puts them to their best use : why should our thoughts inherit the curse of the serpent, to cleave to the earth, and feed upon ashes, when there is such a duty wherein we may exercise them? Therefore you that are christians should consider this, and accordingly should be excited to the discharge of this duty.
Secondly. Let me press this duty upon you from the example of the Lord Jesus. Psal. 16. 8. “I have set the Lord always before me.” David speaks that concerning himself by way of type, it is spoken of the Lord Jesus principally as appears by Acts 2. 25. our Saviour Christ when he was upon the earth, he was in heaven, not only in regard of the residence of his Deity, but in respect of his thoughts and affections. The thoughts of Christ were as numerous as the stars, and they were all in order as the stars; they were all spiritual and heavenly. Now there
should be a conformity between the members and the head; it is
l the apostle's exhortation. “ Let the same mind be in you which was in Christ,” Phil. 2. 5. Therefore as you desire to be conformed to him, so be frequent in the exercise of this duty.
Thirdly. Consider the example of wicked men, how their thoughts are all fixed upon the earth, and let this be a motive to you. Take but the covetous worldling, and what are his thoughts upon, but gainful contrivances, how he may recruit his estate, how those that deal with him may be losers, and he may be a winner? You may read it in the expression of the fool in the gospel, “I will pluck down my barns and build greater, &c.” Luke 12. 28. These were his musings upon his bed, and thus doth a worldly person. If you come to a voluptuous per
a son, what are his thoughts upon ? He makes a supposition to serve instead of enjoying, and all his thoughts are spent upon this; how he may gratify his carnal senses, how he may make provision for the flesh. And if you come to a proud person, what are his thoughts bent upon ? He dreams of a ladder, whereby he may climb up to the top of honour. Now shall carnal spirits spend the strength of their souls upon such perishing vanities; and will not you spend your thoughts upon God and Christ, and upon the things of eternity? Shall a wicked man by his meditations draw forth as it were the quintessence of earth; and shall not we extract for the good of our souls, the marrow of the promises and the sweetness of religion ?
Fourthly. There is a divine nature conveyed to you, which disposeth you for this duty. Indeed it is no wonder that a carnal man is always meditating upon worldly things, for he hath only in him that which is conveyed from the first Adam. Now the first “ Adam was of the earth, earthly.” But a gracious soul hath a new nature: now that is an active principle, and enables the soul to spiritual things. This is the glory of the christian religiop, that it changeth the thoughts of men; and whereas your papists mumble over their prayers by number, and your carnal persons, moral protestants are only conversant about the external acts of religion : regeneration changeth the frame of our thoughts, and maketh us to mount upwards. Grarious souls are disposed for it; what Christ spake concerning leaven in the gospel, it raiseth the meal and swells it : so when grace is put into thy soul, it insinuates itself into thy thoughts, into thy dis
courses, into thy actions. Those that are regenerated can in some measure perform this duty naturally and easily; it is as easy for the flame to ascend, as for a stone to descend. A vine doth with as much ease produce grapes, as a thistle or a thorn doth prickles : and therefore thy heart may produce spiritual meditations, with almost as much ease as a carnal man shall
produce sensual corrupt vile thoughts; if thou do not injure the divine nature, but exercise it in sending up holy thoughts towards God.
Fifthly. Consider that this duty of meditation, is one of the choicest instruments of our communion with God. Communion with God is managed by duties on our part, and by donatives on God's part: by the ascents of our minds to God, and by the descents of God to our minds. Now meditation is that duty whereby the soul doth mount upwards towards God. By meditation a christian is able to discourse with the inhabitants of the invisible world : by meditation he is able to walk with God, to eye God in all his ways: by meditation he is able to draw from God, those comforts which every attribute doth promise and bring forth to the soul. This is that great duty whereby we manage communion with him: and this know by the way, those christians which are most neglective of this duty, will find a sensible declination both in their affections and in their practice, because they neglect communion with God. For all the progress both of holiness and joy that we make, it is grounded upon our communion with him ; and therefore the neglect of it will be a breach in our communion, and consequently will bring a dearth, both in respect of our graces and our comforts.
Sixthly. Consider by the serious performance of this duty, thou wilt procure for thy soul an abundant entrance into the kingdom of glory. Such a christian doth enter upon his inheritance by degrees; his thoughts and affections are forerunners, and as harbingers to take up those mansions of glory. So that as we read concerning the angel that appeared to Manoah in the book of Judges, he ascended up in the flame of the sacrifice : so it is with a christian, his meditation doth enkindle his affections, and then he ascends up in the flame of his affections unto God. Such a christian when he comes to die, changeth his place but not his company; for he was in heaven, when he was upon earth. The discharge of this duty would cause in our souls a