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of employments, till they are so loaded with labours, and clogged with cares, that their souls are as unfit to converse with God, as a man to walk with a mountain on his back; and as unapt to soar in meditation, as their bodies to leap above the sun. And when they have lost that heaven upon earth, which they might have had, they take up with a few rotten arguments to prove it lawful; though indeed they cannot. I advise thee, Christian, who hast tasted the pleasures of a heavenly life, as ever thou wouldst taste of them any more, avoid this devouring gulf of an earthly mind. If once thou come to this, that thou wilt be rich, thou fallest into temptation, and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtfub lusts.(o) Keep these things loose about thee, like thy upper garments, that thou mayest lay them by whenever there is need; but let God and glory be next thy heart. Ever remember, that the friendship of the world is enmity with God. Whosoever, therefore, will be a friend of the world, is the enemy of God.(p) Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.(9) This is plain dealing; and happy he that faithfully receives it!
$ 4. (3) Beware of the company of the ungodly. Not that I would dissuade thee from necessary converse, or from doing them any office of love; especially not from endeavouring the good of their souls, as long as thou hast any opportunity or hope: nor would I have thee to conclude them to be dogs and swine, in order to evade the duty of reproof: nor even to judge them such at all, as long as there is any hope for the better: much less can I approve of their practice, who conclude men dogs or swine, before ever they faithfully and lovingly admonish them, or perhaps before they have known them, or spoke with them. But it is the unnecessary society of ungodly men, and too much familiarity with unprofitable companions, that I dissuade you from. Not only the open profane, the swearer, the drunkard, and the enemies of godliness, will prove hurt
(0) 1 Tim. vi. 9. (p) James iv. 4. (9) 1 John ii. 15
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ful companions to us, though these indeed are chiefly to be avoided: but too frequent society with persons merely civil and moral, whose conversation is empty and unedifying, may much divert our thoughts from heaven. Our backwardness is such, that we need the most constant and powerful helps. A stone, or a clod, is as fit to rise and fly in the air, as our hearts are naturally to move toward heaven. You need not hinder the rocks from flying up to the sky; it is sufficient that you do not help them: and surely if our spirits have not great assistance, they may easily be kept from soaring upward, though they should never meet with the least impediment. O think of this in the choice of your company! When your spirits are so disposed for heaven, that you need no help to lift them up, but, as flames, you are always mounting, and carrying with you all that is in your way, then indeed you may be less careful of your company; but till then, as you love the delights of a heavenly life, be careful herein. What will it advantage thee in a divine life, to hear how the market goes, or what the weather is, or is like to be, or what news is stirring? This is the discourse of earthly men. What will it conduce to the raising thy heart God-ward, to hear that this is an able minister, or that an eminent Christian, or this an excellent sermon, or that an excellent book, or to hear some difficult, but unimportant controversy? Yet this, for the most part, is the sweetest discourse thou art like to have from a formal, speculative, dead-hearted professor. Nay, if thou hadst newly been warming 'thy heart in the conteinplation of the blessed joys above, would not this discourse benumb thy affections, and quickly freeze thy heart again? I appeal to the judgment of any man that hath tried it, and maketh observations on the frame of bis spirit. Men cannot well talk of one thing, and mind another, especially things of such different natures. You, young men, who are most liable to this temptation, think seriously of what I say; can you have your hearts in heaven, among your roaring companions in an alehouse or tavern? or when you work in your shops with those, whose common lan
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guage is oaths, filthiness, or foolish talking, or jesting? Nay, let me tell you, if you choose such company when you might have better, and find most delight in such, you are so far from heavenly conversation, that as yet you have no title to heaven at all, and in that state shall never come there. If your treasure was there, your heart could not be on things so distant. In a word, our company will be a part of our happiness in heaven, and it is a singular part of our furtherance to it, or hinderance from it.
$ 5. (4) Avoid frequent disputes about lesser truths, and a religion that lies only in opinions. They are usually least acquainted with a heavenly life, who are violent disputers about the circumstantials of religion. He, whose religion is all in his opinions, will be most frequently and zealously speaking his opinions; and he whose religion lies in the knowledge and love of God and Christ, will be most delightfully speaking of that happy time when he shall enjoy them. He is a rare and precious Christian, who is skilful to improve wellknown truths. Therefore let me advise you who aspire after a heavenly life, not to spend too much of your thoughts, your time, your zeal, or your speech, upon disputes that less concern your souls; but when hypocrites are seeding on husks or shells, do you feed on the joys above. I wish you were able to defend every truth of God, and to this end would read and study: but still I would have the chief truths to be chiefly studied, and none to cast out your thoughts of eternity. The least controverted points are usually inost weighty, and of most necessary frequent use to our souls. Therefore study well such scripture precepts as these: Him that is weak in the faith receive ye, but not to doubtful disputations.(r) Foolish and unlearned questions avoid, knowing that they do gender strifes. And the servant of the Lord must not strive.(s) Avoid foolish questions, and genealogies, and contentions, and strivings about the law, for they are unprofitable and vain.(1) If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to
(v) Rom. xiv. 1. (5) 2 Tim. ii. 23, 24. 00) Tit. iii. 9
the doctrine which is according to godliness; he is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself.(u)
§ 6. (5) Take heed of a proud and lofty spirit.There is such an antipathy between this sin and God, that thou wilt never get thy heart near him, nor get him near thy heart, as long as this prevaileth in it. If it cast the angels out of heaven, it must needs keep thy heart from heaven. If it cast our first parents out of paradise, and separated between the Lord and us, and brought his curse on all the creatures here below; it will certainly keep our hearts from paradise, and increase the cursed separation from our God. Intercourse with God will keep men low, and that lowliness will promote their intercourse. When a man is used to be much with God, and taken up in the study of his g!ori · ous attributes, he abhors himself in dust and ashes; and that self-abhorrence is his best preparative to obtain admittance to God again. Therefore, after a soulhumbling day, or in times of trouble, when the soul is lowest, it useth to have freest access to God, and savour most of the life above. The delight of God is in him that is poor, and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at his word;(0) and the delight of such a soul is in God; and where there is mutual delight, there will be freest admittance, heartiest welcome, and most frequent converse. But God is so far from dwelling in the soul that is proud, that he will not admit it to any near access. The proud he knowethafar off.(w) God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble.(a) A proud man is high in conceit, self-esteem, and carnal aspiring; a humble mind is high indeed in God's esteem, and in holy aspiring. These two sorts of high-mindedness are most of all opposite to each other, as we see most wars are between princes and princes, and not between a prince and a
ploughman. Well then, art thou a man of worth in Thine own eyes? Art thou delighted when thou hearest of thy esteem with men, and much dejected when thou hearest that they slight thee? Dost thou love those best that honour thee, and think meanly of them that do not, though they be otherwise men of godliness and honesty ? Must thou have thy humours fulfilled, and thy judgment be a rule, and thy word a law, to all about thee? Are thy passions kindled, if thy word or will be crossed? Art thou ready to judge humility to be sordid baseness, and knowest not how to submit to humble confession, when thou hast sinned against God, or injured thy brother? Art thou one that lookest strange at the godly poor, and art almost ashamed to be their companion? Canst thou not serve God in a low place as well as a high? Are thy boastings restrained more by prudence or artifice than humility? Dost thou desire to have all men's eyes upon thee, and to hear them say, This is he? Art thou unacquainted with the deceitfulness and wickedness of thy heart ? Art thou more ready to defend thy innocence, than accuse thyself or confess thy fault? Canst thou hardly bear a close reproof, or digest plain dealing? If these symptoms be undeniably in thy heart, thou art a proud person. There is too much of hell abiding in thee, to have any acquaintance with heaven; thy soul is too like the devil, to have any familiarity with God. A proud man makes himself his god, and sets up himself as his idol: how then can his affections be set on God? How can he possibly have his heart in heaven? Invention and memory may possibly furnish his tongue with humble and heavenly expressions, but in his spirit there is no more heaven than there is humility. I speak the more of it, because it is the most common and dangerous sin in inorality, and most promotes the great sin of infidelity. O Christian if thou wouldst live continually in the presence of thy Lord, lie in the dust, and he will thence take thee up Learn of him to be meek and lowly, and thou shalt find rest unto thy soul.(y) Otherwise thy soul will be like
(9) Matt. xi. 29.