Imágenes de página


of rules for the managing meditation to advantage. Rules which respect

the person. Freedom from the guilt of sin. Purity of heart, A treasure of divine truths. Sobriety in the use of worldly things. And fervent love to spiritual ones, Rules which respect the object. It should be what has a tendency to advance holiness, suitable to our present stale and temper. Rules which respect the duty. We should be as methodical, and particular as may be. Discharge ourselves of woridly things. Beg the assistance of the Spirit. Stop the first excursions of our thoughts: which will fix our miods. We must meditate by way of argument, comparison, emission in complaints and desires, and by impressions charging and checking our own souls: which will warm our affections.

v. THE

HE rules, I shall reduce to these three heads; Those which concern the person, that is to exercise this duty; Those which respect the choice of our object ;— Those rules which may direct us how we should meditate on the object with success and advantage.

i. Those which concern the person exercising this duty.

1. Rule. “ Labour to have thy heart cleansed from the guilt of sin.” A tumultuous conscience is very unfit for so calm and sedate an exercise as meditation. It is said, that when an elephant comes to the water, it disturbs the stream that it may not see the representation of its own visage; thus it is with guilty consciences, they cannot endure to look in the glass of meditation lest they should have a view of their native form. We read concerning the devils when they were near Christ, they asked him whether he were come to torment them before their time?” This is the language of guilty creatures, therefore they do in effect utter the same words with the devil; “ Depart from us we desire not the knowledge of thy ways.” Job 21. 19. He that hath the sense of his guilt upon him, when he meditates on God, this brings to his remembrance the holiness, the justice, the truth of God, and this reminds him of his ruin, and so makes the duty very unpleasant to him. And by the way, take notice, this is the reason why wicked men are always either carried away with the pleasures or the business of the world, so that they may not have time to make inward reflections upon their own state and meditate on their own condition. As it is with a mill, if you do not put corn into it, it will grind itself; so they fill their minds with the vanities and businesses of the world, that they may not grind upon themselves: therefore cleanse your souls by hearty applications of Christ's blood, if you desire to be fit for this duty.

2. Rule. “ Labour for a pure heart.” The former rule respected the guilt of sin, this the defilement. Meditation is founded in the purgative part of religion. There is a double reason for this rule, partly because sin darkens the understanding, it defiles and dims the soul. A soiled glass yields no clear, representation of things : so when the heart is soiled with the filth of sin, it is not fit for this duty. Partly upon this account, because sin as it darkens the understanding, so it unfits the soul to receive any benefit by this duty. That cloth which is white is receptive of any colour, but that which is black will not change. So here, when the heart is cleansed and purified from the stains of sin, it will be moulded into the form of any truth the soul meditates upon; but when the blackness of sin is there, it is not receptive of any colour, or very difficultly. Gerson makes the first step of meditation, to be an humble repentance, upon this account, because it cleanseth the soul.

3. Rule. “ Treasure up in your souls a stock of spiritual truths.” Truth is the food of the soul, upon which it exerciseth its digestion and depastion; when a man hath laid in, he may lay out. Mat. 12. 35. there is an excellent expression, “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth good things." Truths in the soul are like gold in the ore: meditation coins the gold and brings it forth, in holy discourses and pious actions. Whereas where there are no spiritual mines of truth in the soul, it is no wonder the thoughts coin dross and vanity. Ignorance is that which doth impoverish the soul, and causeth us to be barren in this duty of meditation.

4. Rule. “Sobriety in the use of all worldly things,” is an excellent help to meditation. A holy art of moderation, either in respect of the cares of the world, or the pleasures of the world; for an excess in these discomposes the mind, and unfits the body for this spiritual duty.

The business of the world, to speak of that first, will unfit us

for the duty of meditation. When the mind ascends this hill, it must be light and free, and the burden of our cares must be laid aside. Have you not seen a bird, when her wings are limed, how unable she is to put forth herself, and to ascend by flight into the air ? Thus it is with a man who is encumbered with worldly business, his thoughts are clinged together, and his soul is unable to take its flight, and to mount upward. And therefore we have an expression in the canticles, Christ speaks to his spouse, “Come my spouse let us go forth into the field,” Cant. 7. 11. which imports a retreat and sequestration from the business of the world, and a retirement from the hurry of worldly affairs.

And as the business of the world, so the pleasures of this world likewise exceedingly unfit us for this duty. When children's minds are set upon play, they are very unwilling to go to school; so when men's minds are set upon pleasure, this alie-, nates their hearts from such severe exercises as meditation. I have read concerning Jerome, he complains of himself, that although he was in a desolate wilderness, yet his fancy conveyed him to the dances of the Roman ladies. So it is with pleasurable persons, let them sequester themselves from the visible company of men, yet their fancies are filled with corporeal re-. semblances : carnal pleasures make the heart fat, and so make the soul unable to perform such exercises as this is. It is said concerning the ass which is the dullest of all animals, that his heart is fattest of all creatures; this is very applicable to this du

of meditation. And therefore as you desire to be free and vigorous in this duty or exercise, disentangle yourselves from the cares and pleasures of the world.

5. Rule. “Labour for fervent love to spiritual things," and this will be an excellent help for the performance of this duty. Holy and lively affections do both incline and chain the thoughts to spiritual objects. As all rivers proceed from the sea, and return to the sea; so our thoughts proceed from our affections, and our affections are enkindled by our thoughts. This is the reason why the master corruption, doth engross our thoughts, because our love is set upon it. Thoughts and affections are reciprocal causes of each other. As the body conveys heat to the clothes, and the clothes preserve the warmth of the body; so our thoughts are excited by our affections, and then our affections


do cast forth their strength and efficacy upon our thoughts. Our thoughts enkindle our affections, and when the affections are kindled they cause our thoughts to boil over, Psalm 39. 3. “ While I was musing, the fire burned,” and David says in the text, “Oh how love I thy law! It is my meditation all the day."

i. Those rules which respect the object, that is to be meditated upon, the first of which is this.

1. Choose such an object as hath a tendency in it to advance holiness. There are some points in religion, which are chiefly. speculative, there are others which are more practical. Now as the tops of mountains are barren, but the humble vallies fruitful. So speculative points are barren, and the meditation of them is ineffective. There are some slight dishes which gratify the palate, but have no substance in them to feed and strengthen the body: so there be some truths which though they are delicious, yet they do not produce holiness ; and although they may please the taste, yet they yield no solid nourishment to the soul. Therefore choose such an object, as may at once more clear thy understanding in respect of knowledge, and also inflame thy af fections God-wards. We lose much of the benefit of meditation, when we pitch our thoughts upon those objects which are not most fruitful. And here by the way observe, that many meaner christians do thrive more in holiness, than those of richer gifts upon this account, one sort are more subtile in the motion of their understandings, and the other are more sincere; they meditate upon those objects most fruitfully in reference to their lives, and so they make a sensible progress in the ways of religion, whereas others are barren.

2. Meditate upon those objects which are suitable to thy state. Our state respects either our temporals or our spirituals. Now for our spirituals, I would direct your meditation answerable to that expression of Christ; where it is said, “the Spirit shall convince the world of sin, of righteousness and of judgment." John 16. 8. Now proportion your choice to the state wherein you are: as for example, art thou in a state of security ? Let the object of thy meditation be the evil of sin, its intrinsical evil, and its consequential evil. Is thy soul pressed with the guilt of sin ? Let thy meditation then respect the righteousness of Christ, the infinite sufficiency and amplitude, that is, in the

merits the Lord Jesus, whereby he is able to repair all the injuries that have been offered to God's justice. Is thy soul sensible of the worth and excellency of the divine image and life? Then meditate upon judgment, upon holiness, how thou art obliged by an indispensable necessity, to live purely and according to the gospel. So in reference to temporals, let your meditation be suitable to your state: are you honourable? Then let your meditation be concerning your own vileness. Thus when David was raised to the throne: “What am I Lord, and what is my father's house ?” Or, do you abound with the riches of this life? Let your meditation be how to exercise your stewardship to the best advantage. “The liberal man deviseth liberal things.” Isa. 23. 8. So, is your state afflictive? Then meditate upon the wisdom of God, who dispenseth not a grain more than your strength shall be able to bear, or whatever attribute may yield you comfort or advantage in such a state.

3. Choose such an object as doth correspond and is fit to present the temper of thy soul. God hath been pleased to allow us variety of objects. Sometimes we may contemplate the mysteries of the gospel, sometimes the beauties of the creation : when we are not fit for the severe exercises of the closet, we may go forth into the field, and there may consider the wisdom, power, and goodness of God, which are visible in all this works.

iii. Thirdly, and that which I principally eye, is, to lay down some rules, to direct you about the manner how you

should form this duty. The person being disposed by those qualities; and the object being chosen ; how you should then meditate upon that object : the general end you should propound to yourselves is, both to taste and see how good the Lord is; at once to have beams of light in our understandings, and influences of heat upon our affections ; but sight must go before tasting, therefore our endeavour must be to manage this work aright: those that go by water for pleasure, do not cast out the net; but those do so that make it their gain and trade, that so they may catch the fish: so if we do intend to make an advantage to our souls in this duty, we should cast the net aright. Now there are two things I will open. 1. How you should fix your thoughts. 2. How you should warm your affections when you are meditating on the mercies of God.

1. For fixing our thoughts observe the following particulars.


« AnteriorContinuar »