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would be, or rather, what it would not be. But, alas ! the heart grows careless again, and quickly returns, like water removed from the fire, to its native coldness. Could you but keep those things for ever in your hearts, what Christians would you be, what lives would you live? and how is it that these things remain no longer with us? Doubtless it is because we suffer our hearts to take cold again ; we should be as careful after an ordinance or duty, to prevent this, as one that comes out of a hot bath, or great sweat, is of going out into the chill air. We have our hot and cold fits by turns; and what is the reason, but our unskilfulness and carelessness in keeping the heart?
It is a thousand pities, that the ordinances of God, as to their quickening and comforting effects, should be like those human ordinances the apostle speaks of, that perish in the using. Othen, let me say to you, as Job xv. 11. “Do the confolati6 ons of God seem small to you ?” Look over these ten special benefits ; weigh them in a just balance; are they small matters ? Is it a small matter to have thy weak understanding afsifted ? Thy endangered soul antidoted, thy sincerity cleared, thy communion with God sweetened, thy fails filled in prayer? Is it a small thing to have the decayed power of godliness again re, covered, all fatal scandals removed, an instrumental fitness to serve Christ obtained, the communion of saints restored to its primitive glory, and the influences of ordinances abiding in the souls of saints ? If these be no common blessings, no sinall benefits, then, surely, it is a great duty to keep the heart with all diligence.
The III, Use for direction. The next use shall be for direction to some special means for the keeping of the heart. And here, besides what hath been hinted in the explication of the duty at the beginning of this discourse, to which I refer the reader, and all those directions throughout the whole, appropriated to particular cases and seasons; I shall farther add several other general means of excellent use to this end. And the first is this :
i Means. Would you thus keep your hearts as hath been perfuaded? Then furniso your hearts richly with the word of God, which is their best preservative against fin.
Keep the word, and the word will keep you : as the first receiving of the word regenerated your hearts, so the keeping of the word within you will preserve your hearts : Col. iii. 16. “Let the word of Christ dwell richly in you:” let it dwell, not tarry with you for a night, and let it dwell richly or plen
tifully; in all that is of it, in its commands, promifes, threats in all that is in you, in your understanding, memories, consciences, affections, and then it will preserve your hearts ; Pfalm cxix. 11. « Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I * might not fin against thee.” It is the flipperiness of our hearts in reference to the word, that causes fo many flips in our lives.' Conscience cannot be urged or awed with forgotten truths ; but keep it in the heart, and it will keep both heart ard life uprght; Psalm xxxvii. 31. « The law of his God is « in his heart: none of his steps fhall slide;" or if he do, the word will recover the straying heart again ; Matth. xxvi. 57. “ Then Peter remembered the words of Jefus, and wept * bitterly.” We never lose our hearts, till they have first loft the efficaciousand powerful impreffion of the word.
2 Means. Call your hearts frequently to an account, if ever you mean to keep them with God.
Those that put a stock into the hands of unfaithful or furpicious servants, will be sure to make fhort reckonings with them « The heart is deceitful, above all things, and desperately wick"ed," Jer. xvii
. 9. O it is as necessary as Tweet, that we and our reins, that is, we and our secret thoughts, should confer together every night, Pfalm xvi. 7. We fhould call our hearts to account every evening, and say, O my heart! Where haft thou been to day? Where have thy thoughts been wandering to day? What an account canst thou give of them? O naughty heart! vain heart! couldft thou not abide by the fountain of delights ? Is there better entertainment with the creature than with God? The oftner the heart meets with rebukes and checks for wandering, the less it will wander: If every vain thought were retracted with a figh, every excursion of the 'heart from God with a severe check, it would not dare fo boldly and frequently to digress and ftep afide ; those actions which are committed with reluctancy, are not committed with frequency.
3 Means. He that will keep his heart, must take heed of plunging bimself into such a multiplicity of earthly businefs, as he cannot manage without neglecting his main business.
It cannot be imagined he should keep his heart with God, that hath lost himself in a wood of earthly business : Take heed you do not pinch your fouls, by gratifying the immoderate defires of your flesh. I wish many Christians could truly say what an * heathen once did! I do not give, but only lend my
félf to business. It is faid Germanicus reigned in the Romans hearts ; Tiberius only in their provinces. Though the world be in your hands, let it not justle Chrift out of your hearts.
Take heed, Christian, left thy shop steal away thy heart from thy clofet ; God never intended earthly employments for a ftop, but rather for a step to heavenly ones. Olet not Aristippus the heathen, arise in judgment against thee, who said,
He would rather neglect his means, than his mind; his farm, than his foul.' If thy ship be overladen, thou must cast fome over-board : More business than thou canst well ma
nage, is like more meat than thou canst well digest, which will i quickly make a fickly foul.
4 Means. He that means to keep his heart, muft carefully observe its first declinings from God, und stop it there,
He that will find his house in good repair, muft ftop every chink as soon as discoverd; and he that will keep his heart, must not let a vain thought be long neglected; the ferpent of heart-apoftaey is best killed in the egg of a small remission. Oh! if many poor decayed Christians had looked to their hearts án time, they had never come to that fad pass they now are ? We may say of heart-neglects, as the apostle doth of vain bablings; that they increase to more and more ungodliness. Nemo repente fit turpiffimus į little fins neglected, will quickly become great and masterless : The greatest crocodile once lay in an egg; the greatest oak was once but an acorn. The firing of a small train of powder may blow up all, by leading to a greater quantity. Men little think what a proud, vain wanton, or worldly thought may grow to: Behold how great a matter a little fire kindles !
5 Means. Take heed of losing the liveliness and sweetness of your communion with God, left thereby your hearts be loofed of
The heart is an hungry and restless thing; it will have fomething to feed upon ; if it enjoy nothing from God, it will hunt for something among the creatures, and there it often lofes it felf, as well as its end. There is nothing more engages the heart to a constancy and evenness in walking with God, than the sweetness which it tastes therein : As the Gauls, when once they tafted the sweet wine of Italy, could never be fatisfied till they conquered the country where it grew.
It is true, confcience of duty may keep the heart from neglecting it; but when there is no higher motive, it drives on deadly, and is filled with distractions ; that which we delight VOL. VII,
in, we are never weary of, as is evident in the motions of the :heart to earthly' things, where the wheels being oiled with delight, run nimbly, and have often need of trigging; the motions of the heart upward would be as free, if its delight in hea. venly things were as great.
6 Means. Habituate thy heart to Spiritual meditations, if thou would I have it free from those burdensome diversions.
By this means you will get a facility and dexterity in heartwork: It is pity those smaller portions of our time betwixt fo. lemn duties should lie upon our hands, and be rendered useless
learn to save, and be good husbands upon your thoughts. To this purpose a neat author * speaks; These
parentheses, which happen to come between the more folemn
passages (whether business or recreations) of human life, are " wont to be lost by most men for want of a due value for « them, and even by good men, for want of skill to preserve
them ; for though they do not properly despise themy yet
they neglect, or lose them, for want of knowing how to re* scue them, or what to do with them : But although grains 6 of fand and ashes be, apart, but of a despicable smallness, and • liable to be scattered and blown away, yet the skilful artifi
cer, by a vehement fire, brings numbers of those to afford
him that noble substance, glass, by whofe help we may both < see ourselves, and our blemifhes lively represented (as in
looking-glasses) and discern celestial objects (as with the telel
copes) and with the fun beams kindle disposed materials (as i with burning-glasses): So when these little fragments, or
parcels of time, which if not carefully looked to, would be • dissipated and loft, come to be managed by a skilful con• templator, and to be improved by the celeftial fire of deve' tion, they may be so ordered as to afford as both: looking • glasses to dress our souls by, and prospectives to discover • heavenly wonders and incentives to inilaine our hearts with
zeal :' Thus far he,
Something of that nature I have under hand, for a publie benefit, if God give life to finith, and opportunity to produce it: Certainly this is a great advantage for the keeping of the heart with God.
IV. Use of confolation. I shall now close the whole with a word or two of con folation to all diligent and serious Christians, that faithfully and closely pły heart-work; that are groaning and weeping in secret
* Boyle's occafonal reflect. p. 9.10.
over the hardness, pride, earthliness, and vanity of their hearts; that are fearing and trembling over the experienced deceitfulnefs and falseness of them, whilst other vain professors eyes are abroad, their time and strength eaten up by fruitless diiputes and earthly employments, or, at best, by a cold and formal performance of fome heartless and empty duties. Poor Christian ! I have three things to offer thee, in order to thy fupport and comfort; and, doubtless, either of them one, mixed with faith, is fufficient to comfort, thee over all the trouble thou hast with thine own heart.
i Comfort. This argues thy heart to be upright and honeft, whatever thy gifts and abilites are.
It is uprightness of heart will comfort thee upon a deathbed; 2 Kings xx. 2, 3. “ Then he turned his face to the wall, “ and prayed to the Lord, saying, remember now, O Lord,
how I have walked before thee in truth, and with a perfect « heart," &c.
I am really of his mind, who said, fi mihi daretur optio, eligerem Chriftiani rustici fordidisimum & maxime agreste opus prae omnibus victoriis do triumphis Alexandri aut Caefaris ; might I bave my wish, I would prefer the most despicable and fordid work of a ruftic Christian, before all the victories and triumphs of Alexander or Caesar; yea, let me add, before all the elaborated duties and excellent gifts of vain professors; before the tongues of men and angels. It will øgnify more to my comfort, to spend one folitary hour in mourning before the Lord over heart-corruption, than many hours in a feeming zealous, but really dead performance of common duties with the greatest enlargements and richest embellishments of parts and gifts.
By this very thing Christ distinguishes the formal and serious Christian, Matth. vi. 5. The one is for the street and synagogue, for the observation and applause of men, but the other is a closet-man. he drives on a home-trade a heart-trade. Never be troubled then for the want of those things that a man may have and be eternally damned; but rather bless God for that which none but the favourites and darlings of heaven have. Many a one is now in hell that had a better head than thine ; and many a one now in heaven that complained of as bad a heart as thine.
2 Comfort. Knot further for thy comfort, that God would . rever leave thee under so many heart-troubles and burdens if he iptend not thy real benefit thereby.