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the earth. Their recovery must be an act of external almighty power, when God shall have a desire to the work of his hands; when he shall call, and we shall answer him out of the dust. And it will transmit the soul into an invisible world, putting a final end unto all relations, enjoyments, and circumstances here below. I speak not of them who are stout-hearted and far from righteousness, who live and die like beasts, or under the power of horrible presumption, without any due thoughts of their future and eternal state. But, as unto others, what comfort or satisfaction can any man have in his life, whereon his all depends, and which is passing from him every moment, unless he hath continual thoughts of the mighty power of God, whereby he is able to' receive his departing soul, and to raise his body out of the dust?
Not to insist on more particulars ; thus is it with them who are spiritually minded ; thus must it be with us all, if we pretend a title unto that privilege. They are filled with thoughts of God, in opposition unto that character of wicked men, that God is not in all their thoughts. And it is greatly to be feared, that many of us, when we come to be weighed in this balance, will be found too light. Men-may be in the performance of outward duties; they may hear the word with delight, and do many things gladly; they may escape the pollutions that are in the world through lust, and not run out into the same compass of excess and riot with other men; yet may they be strangers unto inward thoughts of God with delight and complacency. I cannot understand how it can be otherwise with them whose minds are over and over filled with earthly things, however they may satisfy themselves with pretences of their callings and lawful enjoyments, or not any way inordinately set on the pleasures or profits of the world.
To walk with God, to live unto him, is not merely to be found in an abstinence from outward sins, and in the performance of outward duties, though with diligence in the multiplication of them. All this may be done upon such principles, for such ends, with such a frame of heart, as to find no acceptance with God. It is our hearts that he requireth, and we can no way give them unto him but by our affections and holy thoughts of him with delight. This it is to be spiritually minded, this it is to walk with God. Let no man deceive himself: unless he thus abound in holy thoughts of God, unless our meditation of him be sweet unto us, all that we else pretend unto will fail us in the day of our trial.
This is the first thing wherein we may evidence ourselves unto ourselves, to be under the conduct of the minding of the Spirit, or to be spiritually minded. And I have insisted the longer on it, because it contains the first sensible egress of the Spirit of living waters in us, the first acting of spiritual life unto our own experience. I should now proceed unto the consideration of our affections, of whose frame and state these thoughts are the only genuine exposition. But whereas there are, or may be, some who are sensible of their own weakness and deficiency in the discharge of that part of this duty in being spiritually minded, which we have passed through, and may fall under discouragements thereon, we must follow him, as we are able, who will not quench the smoking flax, nor break the bruised reed,' by offering something unto the relief of them that are sincere under the sense of their own weakness.
Sundry things tendered unto such as complain that they know not how, that
they are not able to abide in holy thoughts of God, and spiritual or heavenly things; for their relief, instruction, and direction. Rules concerning stated spiritual meditation.
Some will say, yea, on many occasions do say, that there is not any thing in all their duty towards God, wherein they are more at a loss than they are in this one, of fixing or exercising their thoughts or meditations on things heavenly or spiritual. They acknowledge it a duty; they see an excellency in it, with inexpressible usefulness. But although they often try and attempt it, they cannot attain unto any thing but what makes them ashamed both of it and themselves. Their minds they find are unsteady, apt to rove and wander, or give entertainment unto other things, and not to abide on the object which they design their meditation to
wards. Their abilities are small, their invention barren, their memories frail, and their judgments, to dispose of things into right order, weak and unable. They know not what to think on for the most part, and when they fix on any thing, they are immediately at a loss as unto any progress, and so give
Hence other thoughts, or thoughts of other things, take advantage to impose themselves on them, and what began in spiritual meditation, ends in carnal vanity. On these considerations, ofttimes they are discouraged to enter on the duty, ofttimes give it over so soon as it is begun, and are glad if they come off without being losers by their endeavours, which often befalls them. With respect unto other duties, it is not so with them. Unto such as are really concerned in these things, unto whom their want and defect is a burden, who mourn under it, and desire to be freed from it, or refreshed in their conflict with it, I shall offer the things that ensue.
First, That sense of the vanity of our minds which this consideration duly attended unto will give us, ought greatly to humble and abase our souls. Whence is it thus with us, that we cannot abide in thoughts and meditations of things spiritual and heavenly? Is it because they are such things as we have no great concernment in? It may be they are things worthless and unprofitable, so that it is to no purpose to spend our thoughts about them. The truth is, they alone are worthy, useful, and desirable; all other things, in comparison of them, are but loss and dung, Or is it because the faculties and powers of our souls were not originally suited unto the contemplation of them and delight in them? This also is otherwise; they were all given unto us, all created of God for this end, all fitted with inclinations and power to abide with God in all things, without aversation or weariness. Nothing was so natural, easy, and pleasant unto them, as steadiness in the contemplation of God and his works. The cause, therefore, of all this evil lies at our own doors. All this, therefore, and all other evils, came upon us by the entrance of sin. And therefore Solomon, in his inquiry after all the causes and effects of vanity, brings it under this head; 'Lo this only have I found, that God made man upright; but they have sought out many inventions;' Eccles. vii. 29. For hereby our minds that were created in
a state of blessed adherence unto God, were wholly turned off from him, and not only so, but filled with enmity against him. In this state, that vanity which is prevalent in them is both their sin and their punishment. Their sin is a perpetual inclination unto things vain, foolish, sensual, and wicked. So the apostle describes it at large, Ephes. iv. 17 --19. Tit. iii. 3. And their punishment in that, being turned off from the chiefest good, wherein alone rest is to be found, they are filled with darkness, confusion, and disquietment, being like a troubled sea that cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt.'
By grace our minds are renewed ; that is, changed and delivered from this frame ; but they are so partially only. The principle of vanity is no longer predominant in us, to alienate us from the life of God, or to keep us in enmity against him. Those who are so renewed, do not walk in the vanity of their minds as others do, Ephes. iv. 17. They go up and down in all their ways and occasions with a stream of vain thoughts in their minds. But the remainders of it are effectually operative in us, in all the actings of our minds towards God, affecting them with uncertainty and instability. As he who hath received a great wound in any principal part of his body, though it may be so cured, as that death shall not immediately ensue thereon; yet it may make him go weak and lame all his days, and hinder him in the exercise of all the powers of life. The vanity of our minds is so cured, as to deliver us from spiritual death; but yet such a wound, such a weakness doth remain, as both weakens and hinders us in all the operations of spiritual life. Hence those who have made any progress in grace, are sensible of their vanity, as the greatest burden of their souls, and do groan after such a complete renovation of their minds, as whereby they may be perfectly freed from it. This is that which they principally regard in that complaining desire, Rom. vii. 24.0 wretched man that I am ! who shall deliver me from this body of death ? Yea, they groan under a sense of it every day; nor is any thing such a trouble unto them, observing how it defeats them in their designs to contemplate on heavenly things; how it frustrates their best resolutions to abide in the spiritual actings of faith and love ; how they are imposed on by it with the thoughts of things which either in themselves, or in their consequences, they most abhor; nothing are they so afraid of, nothing is so grievous and burdensome unto them, nothing do they more groan for deliverance from. When there is war in any place, it behoveth them that are concerned, to have an eye and regard unto all their enemies, and their attempts against them. But if they are vigilant and diligent in their opposition untó those that are without, that visibly contend with them, and in the mean time neglect such as traiterously act within among themselves, betraying their counsels, and weakening their strength, they will be undoubtedly ruined. Wise men do first take care of what is within, as knowing if they are there betrayed, all they do against their open enemies is to no purpose. In the warfare wherein we are engaged, we have enemies of all sorts that openly and visibly, in various temptations, fight against our souls. These it is our duty to watch against, to conflict with, and to seek a conquest over. But it is this internal vanity of mind, that endeavours in all things to betray us, to weaken us in all our graces, or to hinder their due operations, and to open the doors of our hearts unto our cursed enemies. If our principal endeavour be not to discover, suppress, and destroy this traitor, we shall not succeed in our spiritual warfare.
This therefore being the original cause of all that disability of mind as unto steadiness in holy thoughts and meditations whereof you do complain, when you are affected therewith, turn unto the consideration of that from whence it doth proceed. Labour to be humbled greatly, and to walk humbly, under a sense of the remainders of this vanity of mind. So some wholesome fruits may be taken from this bitter root; and meat may come out of this eater. If when you cannot abide in holy thoughts of God, and your relation unto him, you reflect on this cause of it to your farther humiliation and self-abasement, your good design and purposes are not lost Let such a one say; I began to think of God, of his love and grace in Christ Jesus, of my duty towards him; and where now in a few minutes do I find myself? I am got into the ends of the earth, intothings useless and earthly; or am at such a loss as that I have no mind to proceed in the work wherein I was en