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holy treasure was wasted upon a conduit, reaching the space of 300 furlongs, but if you spend your treasure in maintaining ways of conveyance betwixt God and your hearts, it will produce an increase, and keep up peace with God, and peace of conscience. Communion with God will compose all mutinous insurrections in your own hearts; pay to God the constant tribute of duty and obedience; give him the glory of all, that he hath done for you; sweep the temple of your hearts; free it from all dust and filth; prepare a clean lodging for this blessed guest: the Holy Spirit is compared to a dove, and we know the dove is a delicate creature, and leaves its residence when it is defiled, so will the Spirit. Be holy in all your conceptions, and in all manner of conversation; learn that blessed round that Enoch took of walking with God; solace your souls in him, scorn any thing that the world can offer, as a temptation to divert your hearts into another channel; ask the world what it can give, that may be a valuable consideration for the loss of communion with God; make such a challenge as Saul did in another case,-can the son of Jesse give you fields and vineyards? So ask, can the world give pardon of sin, peace of conscience, grace here, and glory hereafter? If it say it can, believe it not, it is a vain brag and impudent lie, like that of Satan's to Christ. If it cannot, as certainly it cannot, why shouldest thou leave the substance, and embrace the shadow? Oh make not so mad, so bad a bargain! I stand the more upon this, because there is danger, lest you should be cheated out of your treasure by the world, as Delilah beguiled Sampson, or as the maid got the apple out of the giant's hand by fair means, which the champions could not wrest from him. Do not delight in the creature, lest it abate your content in God; be not afraid of afflictions that accompany godliness,
you may get a larger increase of your treasure by trouble, than by any other means; as it is storied of Tiberius, that passing by a cross upon a marble stone, and causing the cross to be dug up, he found a large treasure under the cross. So may, and do, gracious souls find treasures under their crosses.
But to draw to an end: the Lord engage all your hearts to make sure of this treasure, and to make much of this treasure. Lock it up in the inmost closet of your hearts, lay it out in ways of holiness as the Lord gives opportunity, raise up your hearts heavenwards, improve solitariness, do all the good you can in your places, sanctify the name of God in all things you do or receive, watch over your own spirits, be faithful unto death and he will give you a crown of life. I shall conclude all with an elegant exhortation of Cyprian : Thou only, whom the heavenly warfare hath sealed up in these spiritual tents, keep incorrupt, keep sober this blessed discipline of religious virtues; be thou diligent either in praying or reading, sometimes speak thou to God, sometimes hear God speak to thee, let him instruct thee by his precepts and dispose of thee; whom he hath made rich, no man shall make poor; thou canst not now be subject to any penury, when thy breast is satiated with variety of all heavenly delicacies;" thus he, "Blessed is the soul that hath this blessed treasure, and is mounting upwards to everlasting pleasures.
* Tu tantum quem jam spiritualibus castris cœlestis militia signavit, tene incorruptam, tene sobriam religiosis virtutibus disciplinam, sit tibi vel oratio assidua vel lectio; nunc cum Deo loquere, nunc Deus tecum; ille te præceptis suis instruat, ille disponat; quem ille divitem fecerit, nemo pauperem faciet; penuria esse nulla jam poterit, cum semel pectus cœlestis sagina saturaverit.— Videas plura in Cyp. Epist. lib. 2, Ep. 2, ad Donatum.
CONCERNING MEDITATION, WITH SOME HELPS TO FURNISH THE THOUGHTS WITH SUITABLE AND PROFITABLE SUBJECTS.
THAT the vacant pages may be supplied, it will not be out of place here, to annex a specimen or example, to help the active thoughts in the great duty of meditation; yet, here I shall not undertake to handle the common-place of meditation, which you may find insisted upon, purposely, by Mr. Fenner, Mr. Ball, Mr. Baxter in his "Saints' Rest," and many others—and abundant examples thereof, in those incomparable works of that reverend, contemplative divine, Dr. Hall; but what I shall do on this behalf, is only to pursue the design of the foregoing treatise, in presenting some considerations to help the Christian to a treasure of good thoughts, that he may not want a subject of meditation, whereever he is. Before I proceed to the examples, I shall speak a few words concerning thoughts and good thoughts, and deliberate good thoughts in the duty of meditation.
Thoughts in general, according to Scripture, are the internal acts of the soul, of what faculty soever, mind, will, memory, affections; to remember, is to think* on a person or thing; to take care is to take thought; †
Gen. xl. 14.
+1 Sam. ix. 5.
to be troubled, is expressed by thoughts of heart ;* and so thoughts denote any internal operations, consisting of reasonings, motives, desires, designs, and resolutions, as opposed to external words or works; so Isaiah lxvi. 18, "I know their works and their thoughts." But thoughts are also taken more strictly, as being the proper products of the understanding faculty, the immediate musings of the speculative power, and so not only opposed to words and works, but also to the acts of the soul of another nature, and thus critics distinguish (as the word itself acts the critic, betwixt the thoughts of the heart, and the intents of the heart, in Heb. iv. 15. ‡ The thoughts then are the soul's self-conferences, discourses, parleys, interviews; hence there is mention in Scripture of speaking in the heart, Deut. ix. 4, communing with our own hearts, Psal. iv. 4, applied both to the godly and the wicked; the subjects of these discourses within, are either from without, or from within, || sometimes the subjects are fetched from abroad; as if good, the thoughts are furnished from the word of God, or otherwise, Prov. vi. 22, "When thou awakest, it shall talk with thee," that is, thou shalt find the word as a sweet companion, affording thee matter of self-conference; so also, the matter of thoughts may arise from within, but they are ordinarily evil, and so every imagination of the thoughts of man's heart is evil; the word signifies every figment, § creature, or workmanship, that the mind hammers within itself, as in a forge, mint, or on an anvil; for thoughts are, as it were, spun out of ourselves, they are webs of our own weav
Judg. v. 15.
† Καὶ κριτικὸς ἐνθυμήσεων καὶ ἔννοιῶν καρδίας.
Psal. lxxvii. 6. Psal. xiv. 1.
§ Gen. vi. 5.
ing, for thoughts can work of themselves, when there are no outward objects presented. Now my design is to furnish and rectify these internal operations of the heart, and to help the soul with such subjects and objects as may find it profitable work when it hath no creature to converse with, that the thoughts may be holy, sweet, spiritual, and heavenly. Now there are four qualifications essentially requisite to the constitution of good thoughts. 1. They must be materially good, not employed about sinful or trifling things, that do either prejudice, or not at all profit the soul; but exercised in some spiritual, suitable meditations about God, Christ, the word, or what may tend to edification. 2. They must be formally good, that is, regulated by the word of God, as the rule thereof, to square and order the thoughts, both for principle, manner, and end. 3. They must be seasonably good, every thing is beautiful in its season; a thing may be good in its own nature, yet not good as to those circumstances of time and other respects wherewith it may be clothed. 4. They must be eventually good, as to the fruit, effect, and impression of these thoughts; he that thinks, should aim at God's glory and his own soul's good; and the fruit of the thoughts must be good, tending to quicken or strengthen some grace, kill or crucify some lust, enlarge or encourage the straitened or saddened heart. Now, this is not a mere exercise of the mind and memory about good things, but a working them upon the heart, the impressing of these things on the will and affections; it is not merely speculative, but practical and experimental, it must be a set and solemn acting of all the powers of the soul upon divine things, in order to spiritual advantage, or raising the heart heaven-wards.
And now I shall present to your thoughts twenty useful subjects to meditate upon, which may by the