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tree must be made good before the fruit will be so.
The other is, to turn their streams into new channels, putting new aims and ends upon them, fixing them on new objects; so shall we abound in spiritual thoughts; for abound in thoughts we shall, whether we will or no.
To this purpose is the advice of the apostle, Ephes. v. 18, 19. And be not drunk with wine wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit ; speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs.' When men are drunk with wine unto an excess, they make it quickly evident, what vain, foolish, ridiculous imaginations it filleth their minds withal. In opposition hereunto, the apostle 'adviseth believers to be filled with the Spirit,' to labour for such a participation of him as may fill their minds and hearts, as others fill themselves with wine. To what end, unto what purpose, should they desire such a participation of him, to be so filled with him? It is unto this end, namely, that he by his grace may fill them with holy spiritual thoughts, as on the contrary men drunk unto an excess, are filled with those that are foolish, vain, and wicked. So the words of ver. 19. do declare, for he adviseth us to express our abounding thoughts, in such duties as will give an especial vent unto them.
Wherefore, when we are spiritually minded, we shall abound in spiritual thoughts, or thoughts of spiritual things. That we have such thoughts will not sufficiently evidence that we are so, unless we abound in them. And this leads, us unto the principal inquiry on this head ; namely, what measure we ought to assign hereof, how we may know when. we abound in spiritual thoughts, so as that they may be an evidence of our being spiritually minded.
I answer in general, among other Scriptures read over Psal. cxix. with understanding. Consider therein what David expresseth of himself, as unto his constant delight in, and continual thoughts of, the law of God, which was the only means of divine revelation at that season. Try yourselves by that pattern; examine yourselves whether you can truly speak the same words with him; at least if not in the same degree of zeal, yet with the same sincerity of grace. You will say, that was David. It is not for us, it is not our duty to be like unto him, at least not to be equal with him. But
as far as I know, we must be like him, if ever we intend to come to the place where be is. It will ruin our souls, if when we read in the Scripture, how the saints of God express their experience in faith, love, delight in God, and constant meditations on him, we grant that it was so with them, that they were good and holy men, but it is not necessary
that it should be so with us. These things are not written in the Scripture to shew what they were, but what we ought to be. All things concerning them were written for our admonition;' 1 Cor.x. ll. And if we have not the same delight in God as they had, the same spiritual mindedness in thoughts and meditations of heavenly things, we can have no evidence that we please God as they did, or shall go to that place whither they are gone. Profession of the life of God passeth with many at a very low and easy rate. Their thoughts are for the most part vain and earthly, their communication unsavoury, and sometimes corrupt, their lives at best uneven and uncertain, as unto the rule of obedience ; yet all is well, all is life and peace. The holy men of old, who obtained this testimony, that they pleased God, did not so walk before him. They meditated continually in the law; thought of God in the night seasons; spake of his ways, his works, his praise; their whole delight was in him, and in all things they followed hard after him. It is the example of David in particular that I have proposed. And it is a promise of the grace to be administered by the gospel, that he who is feeble shall be as David;' Zech. xii. 8. And if we are not so in his being spiritually minded, it is to be feared' we are not partakers of the promise. But that we may the better judge of ourselves therein, I shall add some few rules unto this direction by example.
1. Consider what proportion your thoughts of spiritual things bears with those about other things. Our principal interest and concern, as we profess, lies in things spiritual, heavenly, and eternal. Is it noi then a foulish thing to suppose that our thoughts about these things, should not hold some proportion with those about other things, nay, that they should not exceed them? No man is so vain in earthly things, as to pretend that his principal concern lieth in that whereof he thinks very seldom in comparison of other things. It is not so with men in reference unto their families, their
trades, their occasions of life. It is a truth not only consecrated by the testimony of him who is truth, but evident also in the light of reason, that where our treasure is there will our hearts be also.' And the affections of our hearts do act themselves by the thoughts of our minds. Wherefore, if our principal treasure be, as we profess, in things spiritual and heavenly, and woe unto us if it be not so, on them will our affections, and consequently our desires and thoughts, be principally fixed.
That we may the better examine ourselves by this rule, we must consider of what sorts men's other thoughts are; and as unto our present purpose, they may be reduced unto these heads.
1. There are such as are exercised about their callings and lawful occasions. These are numberless and endless; especially among a sort of men who rise early and go to bed late, and eat the bread of carefulness, or are particularly industrious and diligent in their ways. These thoughts men approve themselves in, and judge them their duty, as they are in their proper place and measure. But no heart can conceive the multitude of these thoughts, which partly in contrivances, partly in converse, are engaged and spent about these things. And the more men are immersed in them, the more do themselves and others esteem them diligent and praiseworthy. And there are some who have neither necessity nor occasion to be engaged much in the duties of any especial calling, who yet by their words and actions declare themselves to be confined almost in their thoughts unto themselves, their relations, their children, and their self-concerns, which though most of them are very impertinent, yet they justify themselves in them. All sorts may do well to examine what proportion their thoughts of spiritual things do bear unto those of other things. I fear with most it will be found to be very small, with many next to none at all. What evidence then can they have that they are spiritually minded, that their principal interest lies in things above? It may be it will be asked, whether it be necessary that men should think as much and as often about things spiritual and heavenly, as they do about the lawful affairs of their callings? I say, more, and more often, if we are what we profess ourselves to be. Generally it is the best sort of men, as to the things of God and man, who are busied in their callings, some of one sort, some of another. But even among the best of these, many will continually spend the strength of their minds and vigour of their spirits about their affairs all the day long; and, so they can pray in the morning and evening, with some thoughts sometimes of spiritual things occasionally administered, do suppose they acquit themselves very well. As if a man should pretend that his great design is, to prepare himself for a voyage unto a far country, where is his patrimony and his inheritance; but all his thoughts and contrivances are about some few trifles, which, if indeed he intend his voyage, he must leave behind him; and of his main design he scarce thinketh at all. We all profess that we are bound for heaven, immortality, and glory: but is it any evidence we really design ít, if all our thoughts are consumed about the trifles of this world, which we must leave behind us, and have only occasional thoughts of things above? I shall elsewhere shew, if God will, how men may be spiritually minded in their earthly affairs. If some relief may not be thence obtained, I cannot tell what to say or answer for them, whose thoughts of spiritual things do not hold proportion with, yea, exceed them which they lay out about their callings.
This whole rule is grounded on that of our Saviour, Matt. vi. 31–34. “Take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewith shall we be clothed? But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you. Take therefore no thought for the morrow.' When we have done all we can, when we have made the best of them we are able, all earthly things, as unto our interest in them, amount to no more but what we eat, what we drink, and wherewith we are clothed. About these things our Saviour forbids us to take any thought, not absolutely, but with a double limitation. As first, That we take no such thought about them as should carry along with it a disquietment of mind, through a distrust of the fatherly care and providence of God. This is the design of the context. Secondly, No thought that for constancy and engagement of spirit, should be like unto those which we ought to have about spiritual things. “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness. Let that
be the principal thing in your thoughts and consciences. We may therefore conclude, that at least they must hold an exceeding proportion with them.
Let a man industriously engaged in the way of his calling, try himself by this rule every evening. Let him consider what have been his thoughts about his earthly occasions, and what about spiritual things; and thereon ask of himself whether ne be spiritually minded or no. Be not deceived; as a man thinketh, so is he. And if we account it a strange thing, that our thoughts should be more exercised about spiritual things than about the affairs of our callings, we must not think it strange if, when we come to the trial, we cannot find that we have either life or peace.
Moreover it is known, how often, when we are engaged in spiritual duties, other thoughts will interpose, and impose themselves on our minds. Those which are about men's secular concernments will do so. The world will frequently make an inroad on the ways to heaven, to disturb the passengers and wayfaring men. There is nothing more frequently complained of by such as are awake unto their duty, and sensible of their weakness. Call to mind therefore, how often on the other hand, spiritual thoughts do interpose, and as it were impose themselves on your minds, whilst you are engaged in your earthly affairs. Sometimes, no doubt, but with all that are true believers it is so.
I was aware,' saith the spouse, my soul made me as the chariots of Amminadib;' Cant. vi. 12. Grace in her own soul surprised her into a ready willing frame unto spiritual communion with Christ, when she was intent on other occasions. But if these thoughts of heavenly things so arising in us, bear no proportion with the other sort, it is an evidence what frame and principle is predominant in us.
2. There are a multitude of thoughts in the minds of men, which are vain, useless, and altogether unprofitable. These ordinarily, through a dangerous mistake, are looked on as not sinful, because, as it is supposed, the matter of them is not so. And therefore, men rather shake them off for their folly than their guilt. But they arise from a corrupt fountain, and wofully pollute both the mind and conscience. Wherever there are vain thoughts,' there is sin; Jer. iv. 14. Such are those numberless imaginations,
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