תמונות בעמוד
PDF
ePub
[ocr errors]

II. And that this is agreeable to the Sense of the Holy Ghost in other Passages of Scripture, both of the Old and New Testament, I come now to Thew in the next Place ; which I confess would be a superfluous Labour, it being the Proving of a Thing denied by no Christian, if it were not that, though granted by all, it is minded or put in Practice by To very few. And therefore it is of good Use to entertain the Mind with the frequent Meditation of such Truths, on purpose to beget a livelier Sense of them, and to cause them to make a deeper Impression on our Minds and Memories. There are Two Things then, whịch I shall briefly endeavour to prove from the Holy Scriptures on this Subject. First, That where Duty is required, or Vice forbidden, such Precepts reach the Heart and Thoughts, as well as the external Behaviour. And Secondly, That where any Duty is commanded, or Vice forbidden, there the neceffary Means for attaining the Duty, or for avoiding the Vice, are required likewise

1. First then, That God's Precepts reach the Government of the Heart and Thoughts, appears from that Sum and Substance of the Law, those two great Commandments, which require the most Intense Love to God and our Neighbour. It appears plainly from the Wording of these Commandments; the placing the Duty in Love, and that the most intense Love, that the inner Man of the Heart is the chief Thing that God aims to govern : and that it is not only the Acting of Wickedness, but the thinking of it with Ap probation and Consent, that is Sin. If a Man could externally keep the whole Law, without this inward Purity of Heart, or this inward Love

of

[ocr errors]

of God, it would be of little or no Value in his Sight. For as our Saviour fays elsewhere, it is wbat comes from the Heart that defiles the Man, Matt. XV. 11. the Heart is the chief Seat both of Purity and Impurity.

2. But, Secondly, where any Duty is commanded, or Vice forbidden, there the Necessary Means for attaining the Duty, or for avoiding the Vice, are required likewise : as here, Inward Anger, and Uncivil Words, which are the usual Occafions of Murders, are expressly forbidden ; and elsewhere, the pulling out of the Right-Eye, and the cutting off of the Right-Hand, which by all are owned to be figurative Expressions, signifying the Avoiding the Occasions of Sin, tho' never so near' and dear to us; are commanded. I could bring a great many Proofs of Scripture for these Things; but fearing I shall not have Time for the other Things proposed; I go on,

III. In the Third Place, to consider what Rea. son there is that the Laws of God should be interpreted in this comprehensive Sense.

1. First then, It is but reasonable that God's Laws should be more perfect than Man's. Man's Laws are necessarily confined to outward Words and Actions, because in this State of Imperfection we cannot penetrate into Man's Thoughts, but as we guess at them from his Words and Actions; and therefore Human Laws reach no further than to Mens overt-Acts; that is, such Acts as are done before Witnesses ; so that a Man may be bad enough, and yet come off clear before human Judicatures; which shews the Imperfection of the Law-Makers, and the Law too : but it is not so with the Laws of God; he fees not as Man

sees,

fees, nor judges as Man judges ; he can follow us not only into the secretest of Places, but can fee through the darkest and most intricate of our Contrivances; and therefore has a Right to fet Laws to our Thoughts as well as to our Words and Actions.

2. Man being a Creature endued with Reason and Choice, he has this Privilege above other Animals, that he can govern his Thoughts, which they cannot : and therefore the Thoughts of Man being a Subject capable of Government, are for that very reason capable of Law; not of Man's Law, because above his Cogpisance; therefore of God's.

3. If we consider the Nature of Duty, the Exteriour is but the Crust and Shell of it ; and the Interiour is the Kernel ; or, the Exteriour is but the Body, and the Interiour is the Soul of it. And therefore the less there is of the Heart in any Duty, of so much the less Value it is in the Sight of God; and the more Heart there is in it, so much the more valuable it is. 4.

If we consider the Difference between Sincerity and Hypocrisy, we shall find an absolute Necessity of Interpreting the Laws of God in such a Sense as to reach the Thoughts of the Heart. Hypocrisy is an external Acting a Part, when the Heart is no Way concerned ; but Sincerity is the Heart's joining in the Duty: and it is always joined with Freedom and Choice; whereas the Exteriour is moved by several extrinsick Causes, which like so many Machines, pull it up, tho' it has no Principle of Life in itself.

5. It is further to be considered, that the Government of the Heart and Thoughts, if care

fully

fully performed, is a Duty which facilitates all other Duties; and if neglected, it opens a Door to all manner of Temptations, and exposes us to all Sin and Vice. First, I say, this Duty, if carefully performed, facilitates all other Duties. When the Heart is well replenished with good Thoughts, it is no hard Matter for the Tongue to be supplied with good Words, and for the Life to abound in good Actions ; for out of the Abundance of the Heart the Mouth speaks, says our Saviour, Luke vi. 45. and, keep thy Heart with all Diligence, faith the wise Man, Prov. iv. 23. for out of it are the Ifues of Life. But if the Heart is neglected, then there is an open Door left for all Temptations to enter ;

the Heart being the Pass, through which they must march, before they can attack or overcome the Man.

IV. So now I am come to the Fourth and last Thing which I proposed, namely, to consider by what Ways and Means we may be assisted in the Regulation of our Thoughts, and in cutting off the Occasions of Sin. This is a Study of the greatest Use and Importance; and therefore I hope ye will afford it the most serious Attention and Consideration. I shall digeft it into a few Advices, the Benefit of which will be best known by putting them in Practice. · I. First then, because our Thoughts do commonly fall in with what is the main Design of the Heart and Soul, the principal Rule for the Government of the Thoughts is to set our Heart on the right Object, namely, to pursue the Favour of God; and to place our Happiness in the Enjoyment of him to all Eternity.

If this be the great Treasure we aim at, where our Treasure is, there will our Heart be also. Daily Experience confirms this Observation. If a Man's Heart is chiefly set on the World, then his Thoughts do paturally run upon Projects of Getting, and Methods of Saving, and Ways of Improving an Estate. Such a Man is fruitful in Invention, and dextrous in Execution of all such worldly Designs ; and with the greatest Ease imaginable, he multiplies and diversifies these Things by innumerable Turnings and Windings in his own Thoughts. And all this is pleasant and natural as it were to him, because it is nothing else but the Following the bent and principal Inclination of his Heart and Soul. And so it is in Ambition ; fo in Amour ; so in Revenge ; so in every Thing a Man sets his Heart upon. His Thoughts run easily towards it, and with Pleasure and Delight are conversant about it. Thus if we had firmly fixed our ultimate Design on the serving, pleafiog, and enjoying of God; if our Hearts were in Heaven, this alone would mightily contribute to the Sanctifying of our Thoughts with good Projects and Meditations, subservient and suitable to fo good a Design.

2. Becaule like Weeds in a neglected Garden, bad Thoughts come up Rank in Idleness ; let us take Care to have our Time so well employed, that we may never lie open to Temptations, for want of some Businefs. And therefore we are not to think that Time ill spent, which is bestowed in contriving how to spend the Reft. Idleness, as it has a great many other bad Effects, in rusting our Faculties, and enfeebling

our

« הקודםהמשך »