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DIRECTIONS RELATIVE TO GOOD THOUGHTS.
My principal design is to lay down a directory for the the people of God; and because this is a business of great moment, consequence, and concernment, to have, keep, use, improve, and increase a heart-treasure, I shall be the larger upon it, and rank what I have to say under these four topics or heads, viz :
I. By what means shall a soul be furnished with a treasure of good thoughts?
II. In what way shall a Christian lay up truths, graces, comforts, and experiences ?
III. How may a Christian preserve and increase this treasure ?
IV. How he must draw out, and make use of this treasure.
To begin with the first, which is this : What course shall a Christian take to hoard up a treasure of holy thoughts ? This is the good treasure chiefly intended in the text, and I shall be the larger upon this head. To this end I shall propound these ten directions:
1. Work upon your hearts the reality and rarity of the things of God: get thoroughly convinced that there are such things to be had, and that they are worth laying up. You must look upon divine things as infallibly certain, and incomparably excellent. Those were accounted sensual and brutish Philosophers, that (following Epicurus) placed man's chief happiness in matters of sense, such as profit, pleasure, and honour. But those were the most sublime, and in a sort, divine, that placed the summum bonum, or chief good, in what is
above, or opposite to sense—as in the good things of the mind, and moral virtue. Can heathens, by the light of nature and reason, see a reality and excellency in things invisible to sense ? and shall not Christians much more? It is a shame for a saint enlightened by the Spirit, to be so blear-eyed, as not to see afar off, or view spiritual objects.* It is the duty and property of a Christian to overlook things that are seen, and intently to behold things not seen.--2 Cor. iv. 18. O, sirs, could you as really see with a spiritual eye, spiritual good, as you can with your natural eyes behold corporeal objects, what an advantage would it be to you! Could you make gospel-mysteries and mercies as attractive to yourselves as a rich man's bags and lands are to him, what an exceeding help would it be! This made Moses forsake the visible glory of Egypt, and endure intolerable things in the wilderness, for he saw him that was invisible.—Heb. xi. 27. Thus Christians are to realize divine things, and account highly of them, for no man will treasure up that which he accounts not as most excellent. The making light of gospel-grace, is the great reason why so many go without it; so it is said in Matt. xxii. 5. the bidden guests made light of it; or, as as the wordt signifies, they would not take it into their care and thoughts ; they looked upon it as not worth looking after. I am persuaded that unbelief, or want of a thorough, settled and effectual persuasion of the truth of the gospel, and of what real good is contained in the promises, is the root of that gross atheism and wilful neglect existing in the world. You are to give your full assent to the things of God; to venture your souls upon Scripture principles. God's ipse dixitf must be instead of all the * 1 Cor. ii. 10. 2 Pet. i. 9. t 'AuelOUVTEC, curam non habentes.
“ Thus saith the Lord.”
demonstrations in the world. You must centre and anchor yourselves upon that impregnable rock, scriptum est, it is written—and though you cannot find a reason of the things believed, yet this is to be accounted a sufficient reason for your belief, namely, God hath spoken them, and you may safely trust your souls upon his word; for he cannot lie. He is wiser than to be deceived—and he is more righteous than to deceive. You may safely lay the stress of your souls upon his word. O, that I could persuade you to this! Do not put off these things with a slight notion and conjectural opinion, but advance “ to the riches of the full assurance of understanding."* That is a high word, but you cannot be too sure about these things. Your strongest confidence may be battered; your persuasion may stagger; and, therefore, get as well-rooted as you can, for according to the degrees of your affiance, will your graces and duties ebb and flow, rise or fall. And you must not only believe the truth of them, but urge them upon your own hearts. As Paul saith, so say you: “What shall I say to these things ?” + true, or are they not? Are they worth thinking of, or are they not? Have I an interest in them, or have I not? O, my soul! let me press thee to the serious view of heavenly objects. They are choice things and deserve our study; rare things, wherein few have actual interest, yet absolutely necessary, wherein all must have a share, or they are undone for ever.
2. Reserve thy heart for, and resign it up wholly to, God. He calls for it, “ My son, give me thy heart, Prov. xxiii. 26. Let not thy dearest comforts, relations, or companions have a predominating influence in thy soul. This is the chief tribute that is due to God. Rob not God of any part of it. Clip not the King of * Col. ii. 2.
+ Rom. viii. 31.
Are they ingly.*
heaven's coin; but you may and must direct your hearis solely and wholly to God, and things above, as the lines go to the centre. David had set his affections on the house of his God, and therefore his thoughts were vehemently carried out after those things, that made him offer so much, and offer so wil
The same man of God prays, Psal. lxxxvi. 11. “ Unite my heart to fear thy name.” The wordt imports a making his heart one. He would not have a heart, and a heart. A divided heart is no God-fearing heart. He that would patch up a contentment both with God and the creature, shall go without a solid treasure, for the creature cannot, and God will not fill such a heartless heart. Besides, love, saith one, is for one object ; like a pyramid, it ends in a point; affection is weakened by dispersion, as a river by being turned into many channels. You cannot serve two masters. He that would have a treasure of any thing intends that only; he contracts his affairs into a narrow compass, and makes that [ró épyov] his only work. So must you knit your thoughts together, and fix them upon this sole object. It is a dangerous thing to divide the affections betwixt God and the world, like Judah, that sware by the Lord, † and by Malcham, or their king. But God doth make account, that that soul is not at all for him, which is not altogether for him. Those nations feared not the Lord that joined their serving idols, with fearing the true God.—2 Kings, · xvii. 33, 34. There can no more be two chief delights in one heart, than two suns in one firmament; those spirits are winding and crooked, that are like that haven we read of, Acts, xxvii. 12. lying directly towards two opposite points of heaven.|| Cyrus took Babylon, by dividing the river. The devil soon surpriseth us if he can but divide our hearts. If our hearts be divided, we shall be found faulty.* O let us take heed of being voluntary cripples, to halt between two opinions.f Let us not dismember ourselves by being half and hollow-hearted. God is infinite ; Christ is complete ; spiritual things are most excellent; and these deserve the whole heart. Therefore, resign up yourselves unto God resolvedly, unreservedly, and universally. Fear not, as he findeth his life that loseth it for God, so he only receiveth his heart as good, and worth having, that giveth it to God, for he takes it to make it better, as even a heathen could say to his scholar, that had nothing to give him but himself. $ Give God your hearts, and he will furnish them with a treasure. Commit your souls into his hands, and he will both commit a treasure to you, and will also keep that which you commit to himn, till the great day of his illustrious appearing. || He will preserve both the case and the jewel, soul and body; the least atom of dust shall not be lost. How much more will he graciously preserve that good work of grace, and those fruits of the Spirit, that he hath committed to you; therefore, I beseech you take my counsel in this: keep no corner of your hearts for a stranger, but yield yourselves to the Lord. Deliver the keys of your hearts into his hands. Let the King of glory enter in, and his glorious train will fill the temple of your souls.s He is a treasure wherever he comes. Christians are called God's house, his temple; it is, therefore, gross sacrilege to rob him of his house, or to keep him out of doors. “ The soul of a believer,” saith an ancient, " is the * Hosea x. 2.
* 1 Chron. xxix. 3. t ini unicum fac. # Zeph. i. 5. || Mr Burrough's Heart-div. p. 7.