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$ 3. (1.) It is not improper to illustrate a little the manner in which we have described this duty of meditation, or the considering and contemplating of spiritual things. It is confessed to be a duty by all, but practically denied by most. Many that make conscience of other duties, easily neglect this. They are troubled if they omit a sermon, a fast, or a prayer in public or private, yet were never troubled that they have omitted meditation, perhaps all their life-time to this very day; though it be that duty, by which al other duties are improved, and by which the soul digesteth truths for its nourishment and comfort. It was God's command to Joshua, This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth, but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein.(a) As digestion turns food into chyle and blood, for vigorous health; so meditation turns the truths received and remembered into warm affection, firm resolution, and holy conversation.
§ 4. This meditation is, the acting of all the powers of the soul. It is the work of the living, and not of the dead. It is a work of all others the most spiritual and sublime, and therefore not to be well performed by a heart that is merely carnal and earthly. They must necessarily have some relation to heaven, before they can familiarly converse there. I suppose them to be such as have a title to rest, when I persuade them to rejoice in the meditations of rest. And supposing the to be a Christian, I am now exhorting thee to be an active Christian. And it is the work of the soul I anu setting thee to; for bodily exercise doth here profit but little. And it must have all the powers of the soul to distinguish it from the common meditation of students; for the understanding is not the whole soul, and there fore cannot do the whole work. As in the body, the stomach must turn the food into chyle, and prepare for the liver, the liver and spleen turn it into blood, and prepare for the heart and brain; so in the soul, the understanding must take in truths, and prepare them for
(2) Joshua i. 8.
the will, and that for the affections. Christ and heaven have various excellencies, and therefore God hath formed the soul with different powers for apprehending those excellencies. What the better had we been for odoriferous flowers, if we had no smell? or what good would language or music have done us, if we could not hear? or what pleasure should we have found in meats and drinks, without the sense of taste? So what good could all the glory of heaven have done us, or what pleasure should we have had in the perfection of God himself, if we had been without the affections of love and joy? And what strength or sweetness canst thou possibly receive by thy meditations on eternity, while thou dost not exercise those affections of the soul, by which thou must be sensible of this sweetness and strength? It is the mistake of Christians, to think that meditation is only the work of the understanding and memory; when every school-boy can do this, or persons that hate the things which they think on. So that you see there is more to be done, than barely to remember and think of heaven: as some labours not only stir a hand or a foot, but exercise the whole body, so doth meditation the whole soul. As the affections of sinners are set on the world, are turned to idols, and fallen from God, as well as their understanding; so must their affections be reduced to God, as well as the understanding; and as their whole soul was filled with sin before, so the whole must be filled with God now. See David's description of the blessed man, His delight is in the law of the Lord, and in his law doth he meditate day and night.(y)
§ 5. This meditation is set and solemn. As there is solemn prayer, when we set ourselves wholly to that duty; and ejaculatory prayer, when in the midst of other business we send up some short request to God: so also there is solemn meditation, when we apply ourselves wholly to that work; and transient meditation, when in the midst of other business we have some good thoughts of God in our minds. And as solemn
(y) Psalm i. 2.
prayer, is, either set, in a constant course of duty, or occasional, at an extraordinary season; so also is meditation. Now, though I would persuade you to that meditation which is mixed with your common labours, and also that which special occasions direct you to; yet I would have you likewise make it a constant standing duty, as you do by hearing, praying, and reading the scriptures; and no more intermix other matters with it, than you would with prayer, or
96. Stated solemnit than you had no more
$ 6. This meditation is upon thy eyerlasting rest. I would not have you cast off your other meditations; but surely, as heaven hath the pre-eminence in perfection, it should have it also in our meditation. That which will make us most happy when we possess it, will make us most joyful when we meditate upon it. Other meditations are as numerous as there are lines in the Scripture, or creatures in the universe, or particular providences in the government of the world. But this is a walk to mount Sion; from the kingdoms of this world to the kingdom of saints; from earth to heaven; from time to eternity: it is walking upon şun, moon, and stars, in the garden and paradise of God. It may seem far off; but spirits are quick; whether in the body, or out of the body, their motion is swift. You need not fear, like the men of the world, lest these thoughts should make you mad. It is heaven, and not hell, that I persuade you to walk in. It is joy, and not sorrow, that I persuade you to exercise. I urge you to look on no deformed objects, but only upon the ravishing glory of saints, and the unspeakable excellencies of the God of glory, and the beams that stream from the face of his Son. Will it distract a man to think of his only happiness? Will it distract the miserable to think of mercy, or the prisoner to foresee deliverance, or the poor to think of approaching riches and honour? Methinks it should rather make a man mad, to think of living in a world of woe, and abiding in poverty and sickness, among the rage of wicked men, than to think of living with Christ in bliss. But wisdom is justified of all her children.(2) Knowledge hath no enemy but the ignorant. This heavenly course was never spoken against by any, but those that never knew it, or never used it. I fear more the neglect of men that approve it, than the opposition or arguments of any against it.
§ 7. (II.) As to the fittest time for this heavenly contemplation, let me only advise, that it be stated ---frequent--and seasonable.
§ 8. (1) Give it a stated time. If thou suit thy time to the advantage of the work, without placing any religion in the time itself, thou hast no need to fear superstition. Stated time is a hedge to duty, and defends it against many temptations to omission. Some have not their time at command, and therefore cannot set their hours; and many are so poor, that the necessities of their families deny them this freedom. Such persons should be watchful to redeem time as much as they can, and take their vacant opportunites as they fall, and especially join meditation and prayer as much as they can, with the labours of their callings. Yet those that have more time to spare from their worldly necessities, and are masters of their time, I still advise, to keep this duty to a stated time. And indeed, if very work of the day had its appointed time, we should be better skilled, both in redeeming time and n performing duty.
$ 9. (2) Let it be frequent, as well as stated. How ft it should be, I cannot determine, because men's ircumstances differ. But, in general, scripture re(uires it to be frequent, when it mentions meditating lay and night. For those, therefore, who can conveiently omit other business, I advise that it be once a lay at least. Frequency in heavenly contemplation is articularly important.
10. To prevent a shyness between God and thy oul, Frequent society breeds familiarity, and famiarity increases love and delight, and makes us bold in ur addresses. The chief end of this duty is, to have
ore time tos of their cover as mi
z) Luke vu. 85..
acquaintance and fellowship with God, and therefore if thou come but seldom to it, thou wilt keep thyself a stranger still. When a man feels his need of God, and must seek his help in a time of necessity, then it is great encouragement to go to a God we know, and are acquainted with. “O," saith the heavenly Christian, “I know both whither I go, and to whom. I have gone this way many a time before now. It is the same God that I daily converse with, and the way has been my daily walk. God knows me well enough, and I have soine knowledge of him.” On the other side, what a horror and discouragement will it be to the soul, when it is forced to fly to God in straits, to think, “Alas! I know not whither to go. I never went the way before. I have no acquaintance at the court of heaven. My soul knows not that God that I must speak to, and I fear he will not know my soul.” But especially when we come to die, and must immediately appear before this God, and expect to enter into his eternal rest, then the difference will plainly appear; then what a joy will it be to think, “I am going to the place that I daily conversed in; to the place from whence I tasted such frequent delights; to that God whom I have met in my meditation so often. My heart hath been at heaven before now, and hath often tasted its reviving sweetness; and if my eyes were so enlightened, and my spirits so refreshed, when I had but a taste, what will it be when I shall feed on it freely?” On the contrary, what a terror will it be to think, “I must die, and go I know not whither; from a place where I am acquainted, to a place where I have no familiarity or knowledge!" It is an inexpressible horror to a dying man, to have strange thoughts of God and heaven. I am persuaded the neglect of this duty so commonly makes death, even to godly men, unwelcome and uncomfortable. Therefore I persuade to frequency in this duty." And as it will prevent shyness between thee and God, so also,
11. It will prevent unskilfulness in the duty itself. How awkwardly do men set their hands to a work they are seldom employed in! Whereas frequency will habituate thy heart to the work, and make