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more satisfaction conveyed to thy soul; and in continuance the covenant of grace, will appear bespangled with promises as heaven with stars, and all to give thee satifaction,
jii. For the seasons of meditation.
To that I answer, there is no time in itself but is alike pleasing to God, and there are no hours that are amiss to a gracious spirit. Yet nevertheless there are some particular seasons, wherein our affections are more smart and vigorous, wherein our thoughts are more lively, and more disposed for this duty and contemplation. Now we should choose these seasons. I will instance in some seasons which the scripture speaks of.
1. The morning, after the body hath been composed by the sweetness of rest, then is a fit time for meditation, and there is a double reason for it.
(1.) Because we should consecrate the firstfruits to God. We should pitch our virgin thoughts upon him, and upon spiritual things, before they are opened to the embracements of inferior objects. When you awake in the morning you have many suitors that attend your thoughts. Now have a care that it be not with you as it was in the inn of Bethlehem; strangers took up the rooms in the inn, and Christ was excluded, and put to a manger. So in the morning, vain worldly thoughts take up the room of your souls, but God and Christ are excluded. We should honour the Lord with the first of our substance, and with the first of our thoughts and affections.
(2.) In the morning meditate upon this account, because the influence of the duty will be visible in your lives in the succeeding parts of the day. That wherewith a vessel is first seasoned conveys a lasting savour and tincture to it. So holy meditation, leaves an abiding tincture upon our hearts all the day. It is an excellent expression of Solomon (speaking of the law of God) ( When thou awakest it shall talk with thee.” Prov. 6. 22. What is the meaning? As servants come to their masters in the morning, and receive rules from them, how they shall direct their business in the day: so a gracious heart takes directions from the law of God, in the morning how he should manage himself all the following parts of the day. Gen. 24. 63.
2. Another season for meditation, is the evening. For this we have the example of Isaac recorded in scripture, that he went out to meditate at even-tide.
3. In the night season, when our bodies are reposed in the bed, then our souls should be reposed in the bosom of God by sweet meditation. We have the command of the Lord for this, « Commune with your own hearts upon your beds and be still.” Psal. 4. 4. And there is a double argument which may move you to this night-meditation.
(1.) Because then our souls are sequestered from the business of the world; they are retired from all the noise and tumult of things here below, they are not distracted with the incursions of sensible objects; and at such a time as that is, we are best fitted for meditation. Secrecy, silence and rest, dispose the soul for meditation; and all these we enjoy in the night season; then we are excluded from company, motion, and business.
(2.) Because when the curtain of darkness is drawn over the world, our hearts are apt to be filled with a religious fear of God, our souls are more composed in the night, and we have more awful apprehensions of God. And therefore observe the connexion, “stand in awe and sin not, commune with your own hearts upon your beds. The bed is an image and a representation of the grave," and at such a time as that is a man may be more serious and composed in this work. David says, "My reins also instruct me in the night season,” Psal. 16. 7. the meaning is David's inward thoughts did then read a lecture of divinity to him.
4. The sabbath day, is a season for meditation. This should be the temper of every christian to be in the Spirit on the Lord's day. On that day when our Saviour did arise from the earth, our souls should ascend to heaven.
Consider with yourselves, the Lord's day is a type of heaven, and contemplation is the work of heaven. The rest of the sabbath is but an abridgement of that long eternity which the saints shall enjoy with God; and the employment of heaven is contemplation. The glorified spirits above are always exercised in a steady view and consideration of God's infinite glory. : Now the sabbath being a type of heaven, and meditation being the work of heaven, certainly this day is the most fit season for meditation. As for you who disrelish this duty, and are unacquainted with it, do you expect heaven? Your indisposition to this duty will be a bar to keep you from blessedness, and hinder you from entering into that rest. A gracious soul upon the Lord's day by
his meditation may converse with God; he may discourse with the inhabitants of another world, he may enjoy as much of God as this interposing veil of flesh and blood will admit; the only difference between a saint in heaven, and a saint upon earth who meditates upon God, is in respect of the degrees and the manner of their fruition. For otherwise a saint upon earth enjoys hea ven especially on the Lord's day, when every duty receives a special blessing, and therefore the duty of meditation.
of the advantages of meditation. It improves the faculties of the soul, by
opening the understanding, and raising the affections. Makes prayer, the word, and sacraments effectual, Improves the graces of faith, hope and love. It brings comfort. Increases holiness.
iv. THE advantages of meditation, are so many and so rich, that methinks the consideration of them might draw forth the most sluggish spirit to the performance of this duty. I confess the duty is difficult, but consider the pleasantness of it, out of the strong comes sweetness. The advantages of it I shall rank under five heads.
i. Consider what an improvement the faculties of your souls will receive by meditation.
1. I will begin with the understanding faculty.
Meditation is the nurse of wisdom, it is the most excellent instrument to convey knowledge to the soul. There are two defects in every man's understanding, there is darkness, and there is a Auidness in his understanding, that he cannot fix himself upon an object.
Meditation cures both these. For the darkness of his understanding, meditation takes the veil from the face of truth. The glory and beauty of truth, doth not consist in an expression, but we ought to penetrate into the nature of it by meditation. We have an expression of Solomon, speaking of knowledge and understanding, he bids us to “ Search for her as for hidden treasure;" Prov. 4. 2. observe the expression, you know jewels, do not lie upon the surface of the ground, but they are hid in the receptacles of the earth, you must dig for them before you can enjoy them. Truth is in Profundo, and our understandings are dark. Now you must search for the truth of God as for hid treasures. He that rides post through a country is never able to make a full description of it; and he that takes but a transitory view of the truths of the gospel, will never come to the full knowledge of them. It is meditation that makes them appear to our eye in their beauty and lustre. I have read a similitude of Peter Martyr that converted one. Suppose you should see a company of men dancing at a great distance, you would look upon the men as full of madness and frenzy; but if you draw near, then you will find their motions regular and full of art : so many mysteries of the gospel if you look upon them at a distance, they are above reason, they seem to oppose sense, you cannot see the truth of them; but bring them to a near distance within the view of thy soul by meditation, and then you will see their excellency and glory.
Meditation is that that doth take away the darkness of the understanding; and then for the fluidness of the understanding, because it is apt to spring from one thing to another. Meditation in its very nature is the fixing of it. Take one instance, but it is above all, it is such an instance, as should command the most knowing persons in the world to follow, 1 Pet. 1. 10. There you shall find the words, “ of which salvation the prophets have inquired, and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you,” and verse 12. speaking of the mysteries of the gospel, “ The angels desire to look into them."
Now observe, if the prophets who had the immediate assistance of the Holy Ghost, did make a serious inquiry, and narrow. search into their own prophecies, that they might come to know the meaning of them; should not this encourage us to make inquiry into the truth of God by meditation ? Nay the angels of heaven, they bow themselves and pry into the mysteries of the gospel by a serious contemplation.
2. Consider, as meditation doth open the understanding, and presents truth to the brain, so it raiseth the affections. Knowledge without meditation to warm the affections, is like the glancing of a beam upon a wave, it fills it with a little clarity, but doth not heat it; so when there are many notions of truth in the brain, if meditation doth not apply them to the heart, and fix them upon the soul, the affections have no warmth by them. Slight visions make shallow impressions. He that with a running eye looks upon a piece of broidery, doth not see the curiousness of the work, and therefore doth not admire it. So when we with a running eye look upon the truths of the gospel, no wonder our affections are not raised towards them. David speaking concerning his meditation, “While I was musing the fire burned, my heart was hot within me.” Psal. 39. 3. It is musing makes the fire to burn. Thus meditation enlightens the understanding, and inflames the affections.
ii. It is the great instrument whereby the ordinances of the gospel become effectual to us. I shall instance in three of them. 1. Prayer. 2. Hearing. 3. Receiving the Lord's Supper. And you shall see what an eminent advantage meditation conveys to all these.
1. For prayer. Meditation before prayer, is like the tuning of an instrument and setting of it for the harmony. Meditation before prayer doth mature our conceptions, and exercises our desires. What is the reason that in prayer there is such a slight discurrency in our thoughts, that our thoughts are like dust in the wind carried to and fro; but only for want of meditation? What is the reason that our desires like an arrow shot by a weak bow do not reach the mark ? but only this, we do not meditate before prayer; he that would but consider before he comes to pray to the pure majesty of God, the things that he is to pray for, pardon of sin, and the life of glory, how would this cause his prayers to ascend like incense towards God? The great reason why our prayers are ineffectual, is because we do not meditate before them. David expresseth prayer, by meditation; “ Give 'ear to my words, O Lord, consider my meditation." Psal. 5. I.
2. For hearing the word, the benefit of that exceedingly depends upon meditation. Before we hear the meditation is like the plough which opens the ground to receive the seed, and after