THE ART of DIVINE Meditation. OR, A DISCOURSE OF THE Nature, Necessity, and Excellency thereof. With Motives to, and Rules for the better performance of that most Important Christian Duty. IN SEVERAL SERMONS On Genesis 24:63. And Isaac went out to meditate in the fields at the even-tide.
By EDMUND CALAMY, B. D. late Minister of Aldermanbury, London.
LONDON: Printed for Thomas Parkhurst, and are to be sold at his shop at the Bible and three Crowns in Cheapside near Mercers Chapel, and by I Collier, at the Bible on Londonbridge under the gate, 1680.
To the Christian Readers.
IF the Heathen Moralist Plutarch could say, Meditation is as it were the recovery of decaying knowledge; because as forgetfulness seems to be the egress of knowledge, Meditation doth restore a new memory instead of that which passeth away; and so preserve knowledge, that it is in effect the same, in that, notwithstanding mutations, it leaves something new, and like it self, resembling that which is Divine: How may a Christian, endowed with the true knowledge of God, say with the Psalmist in the revival of it, Psalm 104. 34. My meditation of him shall be sweet. When he is alone, and hath no other companions to refresh himself with, then he may (as Bishop Hall, who penned a part of his Meditations under the solitary Hills of Ardenna) from a renewed mind, send forth his active thoughts, those immediate rays of that Candle of the Lord within him, to contemplate upon his Maker, Saviour, and Sanctifier, and reflect upon himself, who is to survive the visible Creation, and so raise himself into an Heaven upon earth, relish such sweetness as the carnal mind and sensual heart, immersed in dreggy matter, and be-dulled therewith, is never so happy as to attain. The Author of this little Treatise, whose great and pious soul was notably heavenliz'd by the frequent exercise of holy Meditation, the very same who penned The Godly mans Ark, which hath been often printed for the support of drooping Christians, amongst other excellent discourses upon various subjects in the exercise of his Ministry with great success, did from his own experience recommend this of Meditation, whether ejaculatory and occasional, or solemn and deliberate. I am not ignorant, that many other eminent Divines, persons of great worth and honour, have already notably displayed the excellency and usefulness of this way of thinking; yet perhaps this grave and famous Preacher in his day, hath in a more easy method, and plain way, by his familiar expressions and resemblances, suited to vulgar capacities, here helped the real Christian, who would most delight in the Duty, to put Meditation in practice, than any who hath gone before him. No doubt, had this excellent person himself published this discourse here presented to your view, you would have had it every way more accurate, by the lopping off some superfluities, and amending of phrases, &c. more proper for a Writer, than these of a Preacher to a popular Auditory; yet such as it is, considering the Author in the Pulpit, youÕll find when you have read it through, it doth fully as much resemble Mr. Calamy in his preaching at Aldermanbury, to your minds, as the Engraver on the frontispiece hath represented his face to your eyes. I dare say any of you who were his Auditors, will be abundantly satisfied, though this piece be posthumous, yet it is genuine. And seeing there is joy in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety nine just persons which need no repentance, Luke 15. 7. If these practical Sermons, taken by the swift pen of a ready writer, have such an influence upon any, as to bring them to the frequent and beneficial practice of Meditation, which the Preacher of them held necessary: None who prefer things before words, and esteem real knowledge above elegancy of speech, as the general good of mankind, beyond that of any particular Country, can justly think the Author wronged; but rather that with Dr. Preston, Mr. Fenner, Mr. Hooker, &c. (some of whose Works popularly delivered with plainness suited to the capacities of their hearers, and taken but rudely from their mouths, did more benefit Readers of meaner abilities, than those which whiles alive, they themselves published with greater exactness) He is renowned, when he hath by this more diffusive good-work been any way instrumental to have God and the things of heaven (where he now resides) more delightfully thought upon. As judicious Calvin in his Epistle to the King of Swetheland prefixed to his Commentary on the Minor Prophets, said he would not be so morose a Censor of manners, as to obstruct the publishing of that Commentary delivered in an extemporal kind of speaking, when designed only for his own private Oratory, not otherwise to have come abroad; only as 'twas penned from his mouth by Budaeus, Crispin, and Ionvil, because he said, he had long before learned not to serve the theater of the World: else, he doth afterwards tell the Reader, that if in his other works which he had written deliberately and succinctly with much more pains, he had met with envious malignants, who did carp at and quarrel them, he might well endeavour to suppress that work, taken by the aforesaid writers after him, as it was freely uttered to his own hearers for present use; yet when others assured him, that it would be a loss (yea, injurious) to the Church, if not printed as it was taken, rather than not at all; He thereupon having not time nor strength to transcribe or amend it, readily permitted it to go to the Press. And the Reformed Church hath since rejoiced in the benefit of having it as it was published; yea, and to this day Divines who have made great use of it since in their Commentaries, as well as others, to find the true meaning of the Holy Writ, have heartily blessed God for it. Yet as Bishop Wilkins hath observed in his Epistle to the Real Character, Foreigners in Short-Writing come far behind us here in England (though it hath been now seventy years invented) where they admire the skill of our Writers, and whither the Divines of other Nations frequently come and learn our Language, chiefly to understand our Practical Sermons, many of which have been only preserved in this way, You have this ('tis to be hoped very useful) piece, taken well from the mouth of Mr.
The Analysis or Method of the Contents of the whole Book.
¥ THE Introduction.
¥ Text divided.
¥ 1. The Person spoken of, Isaac.
¥ 2. What is related of him, He went out to meditate.
¥ 3. The place he chose, In the field.
¥ 4. The time, At the eventide.
¥ Explicat: There is a Twofold Meditation
¥ 1. Sinful, and wicked; that was not Isaacs.
¥ 2. Holy and godly. This Isaac practiced.
¥ Observation. The Meditation of Holy and Heavenly things, is a work that God requires at the hands of all people.
◦ Viz. of
▪ 1. Young Gentlemen
▪ 2. Kings, Nobles, and great Persons
▪ 3. Soldiers, Generals, and Captains.
▪ 4. Learned Men.
▪ 5. Women.
¥ There be two sorts of Meditation of heavenly things.
¥ 1. Sudden, short, occasional.
¥ 2. Solemn, set, deliberate.
¥ 1. Of Occasional Meditation, three Things, viz. the Excellency, Examples, and Practice.
¥ 1. The Excellency of occasional, extemporary, sudden, and ejaculatory Meditation from Scripture and humane Testimony
¥ 2. The Examples from Scripture and humane Testimony
¥ 3. Motives to persuade to the Practice of it, viz.
¥ 1. It may be performed at all times.
¥ 2. Practiced in all places and companies
¥ 3 It is easy to spiritualized ones.
¥ 4. It is the excellency of a Christian to spiritualize natural things herein exceeding
◦ a Bruit.
◦ All wicked men.
¥ 5. It is the greatest affront we can give to God, not to make a spiritual use of his creatures.
¥ 6. It is a Soul-destroying sin not to observe the Works of God, and make a good use of them.
¥ II. Of Solemn Meditation, the Nature and Necessity.
¥ 1. The Nature of solemn Meditation in two particulars.
¥ 1. It is a dwelling and abiding upon things that are Holy, being typified two ways.
¥ By the Beast
◦ That did chew the cud.
◦ That had eyes within and without.
¥ 2. It is an act of the heart, as well as the head.
¥ It must enter into the door of the understanding, heart, and conversation.
¥ 2. The Necessity of it evinced from the
¥ Mischiefs of neglecting this Duty.
¥ Advantage of practicing this Duty.
¥ 1. The mischiefs and inconveniencies of neglecting this duty. It is the cause of sin and punishment.
¥ 1. The want of practicing this Duty causes sin; As particularly,
¥ 1. It is the reason of hard-heartedness.
¥ 2. Unprofitableness of hearing Sermons
¥ 3. Not relishing of sweetest promises.
¥ 4. No impression from threatenings.
¥ 5. No bettering by mercies.
¥ 6. No amending by afflictions.
¥ 7. No heart softening by Providences.
¥ 8. Reason of distrustfulness of Gods Providence.
¥ 9. Censoriousness of others, not of our selves.
¥ 10. Offering the sacrifices of fools in worship.
¥ 2. The want of practicing this duty causes punishment
¥ 2. The advantages and benefits by a conscientious practice of this duty, in begetting and increasing of grace, and arming against temptations.
¥ 1. It is a mighty help to the begetting and working of grace in 9 particulars.
◦ 1. To work repentance and reformation of life.
◦ 2. A love to God.
◦ 3. A fear of God.
◦ 4. A love to Jesus Christ.
◦ 5. Faith and trust in God.
▪ 1. In his Providence in all outward straits.
▪ 2. Promises in all spiritual troubles.
◦ 6. A contempt of the world and worldly things.
◦ 7. Thankfulness for mercies and blessings.
◦ 8. A Preference of Gods house to our own.
◦ 9. A Keeping of all Gods Commandments.
◦ 2. It is helpful to preserve and increase grace.
◦ 3. It is helpful to arm and defend against all the temptations of the Devil.
◦ The Application of this Doctrine concerning this necessary duty of Meditation may be for
◦ 1. The Reproof of those Christians that are utterly unaccustomed to, and unacquainted with this duty: and these are of four sorts, viz.
◦ 1. The ignorant Christian that knows not how to set about the work.
◦ 2. Forgetful Christian, that remembers not God
◦ 3. Rash-headed Christian, that acts without consideration, where are four evils, viz.
▪ 1. Such is a spiritual fool in offering sacrifices to God.
▪ 2 Often speaks that, heÕll wish he had not.
▪ 3. Quickly runs into error and by-paths.
◦ 4 Will never persevere and hold out to the end.
◦ 4. A slight-headed Christian, that cannot dwell long upon any thing, which argues a slight Christian.
◦ Q. Are then all who have slight heads, Hypocrites?
◦ A. There is a double slightness of head, viz.
◦ 1. That which is a natural disease, when a child of God, of a weak head, cannot think long of any thing at all.
◦ 2. That which is sinful, when a man can be serious, and dwell long upon the things of the world, not on the things of heaven: this is reproved.
◦ 2. The Reproof of those who meditate upon things that are evil and wicked.
▪ 1. Such as design and do evil.
▪ 2. Such as delight in the evil they have done.
◦ 3. An Exhortation to all to accustom themselves to the duty of meditation, viz. To 1. Ministers. 2. Nobles. 3. Soldiers. 4. Young Gentlemen. 5. Merchants. 6. Women. In speaking to this Exhortation six particulars proposed, viz. 1. Place. 2. Time. 3. Properties. 4. Companions. 5. Materials. 6. Helps.
◦ 1. Concerning the Place, to choose one convenient, which is freest from distractions.
◦ 2. Time, which proves seasonable in due circumstances. Here four Rules are suggested.
▪ 1. It behooves all not hindered, to endeavour the setting apart of some time every day, morning, afternoon, or night.
▪ 2. To set a sufficient proportion of time a-part every day.
▪ 3. The Sabbath-day especially all should busy themselves in this duty.
▪ 4. A Sacrament-day more especially.
◦ Here 12 Things suggested as instances of Sacramental Meditation, viz.
▪ 1. The great and wonderful love of God the Father in the giving of Christ.
▪ 2. Love of Christ in giving himself.
▪ 3. Heinousness of sin.
▪ 4. Excellency of the Sacramental feast,
▪ 5. Our own unworthiness
▪ 6. Our spiritual wants and necessities.
▪ 7. The cursed condition of an unworthy receiver.
▪ 8. The happy condition of those that come worthily.
▪ 9. The Sacramental Elements of Bread and Wine.
▪ 10. The Sacramental Actions.
▪ 11. Sacramental Promises.
▪ 12. What retribution to make to Christ
◦ 3. Properties, ingredients, and qualities of Meditation, viz.
◦ 1. Divine Meditation must be often. Because
▪ 1. We shall know more of the best things.
▪ 2. Have more near and intimate acquaintance with them.
▪ 3. Heavenly Duties will become more easy to us.
◦ 2. It must be solemn and serious, not only formal
◦ 3. Not only notional and speculative, but practical and reflective. It must be in the understanding, heart, and affections, yea and the conversation.
◦ 4. It must be particular and applicative.
◦ 5. It must be calm and quiet.
◦ 6. It must be persevering,
◦ There be four Arguments to persevere: Viz.
▪ From the
▪ 1. Necessity
▪ 2. Excellency
▪ of it.
▪ 3. Mischiefs by not practicing of it,
▪ 4. Easiness attainable by persevering in it,
◦ 4. Companions of Meditation, which are two,
▪ 1. Praying must be joined with Meditation,
▪ 2. Reading will do well to accompany in weak Christians with two Cautions, viz.
▪ 1. Not to read much lest it hinder
▪ 2. Not to read at the Sacrament,
◦ 5. Materials of Meditation
◦ The four last things, Death, Judgment, Heaven, Hell.
◦ 1. Death: 1. The certainty. 2. Uncertainty. 3. The fitness for it. 4. How to be above the hurt of it. 5. To live in expectation of it. 6. To be free from the fear of it.
◦ 2. Judgment: 1. The terribleness of it. 2. Solemnity of the great Assizes. 3. Account to be given to God. 4. Separation at that day. 5. Happiness of the Godly. 6. Miserableness of the wicked.
◦ 3. Heaven: 1. The joys of it. 2. Beatifical Vision. 3. Perfection. 4. Perpetuity. 5. Fitness for. 6. What to do to get to Heaven.
◦ 4. Hell: where, of the punishment of, 1. Loss. 2. Sense,
◦ 2. God, Christ, the Holy Ghost, and thy self,
▪ 1. Of God, where of his, 1. Attributes, 2. Works. 3. What Relation towards him,
▪ 2. Christ, where of his, 1. Divine, 2. Humane nature, 3. Offices; and then of his, 1. Life, 2. Death; where 1. what he suffered, 2. for whom, 3. who he was, 4. what love he suffered with, 5. what interest you have in it, 6. his Resurrection, 7. Ascension, 8. Intercession at Gods right hand.
▪ 3. Holy Ghost: 1. nature, 2. office, 3. motion, 4. graces. 3
▪ 4. Our selves in the state of, 1. Innocence, 2. Apostasy, 3. Regeneration, 4. Glory.
▪ Further of our, 1. Sins, 2. Duties, 3. Evidences, 4. Comforts, 5. frailty of body, 6. immortality,
◦ 3. Dependence upon God.
◦ 4. Advantages God hath us at, he may throw into Hell at pleasure, therefore we should study and think on, 1. our Relations, 2. Calling, 3. Company, 4. our hearts. Hereof, 1. Thoughts, 2. Affections, 3. Words, 4. Actions,
◦ 5. Sinfulness of sin,
◦ 6. Vanity of the Creature
◦ 7. Excellency of the Gospel
◦ 8. Commandments, Threatenings, Promises, Ordinances of the Gospel; as, 1. Prayers, 2. reading the Word, 3. hearing the Word, 4. the Sacrament,
◦ 9. Errors of the times, Judgments of God, great changes of the Nation, several passages of Providence, the mercies of God,
◦ 6 Rules and Directions, and those of three sorts: respecting person, subject, manner.
◦ 1. For the right qualifying of the person that is to meditate, viz.
▪ 1. Convince thy soul of the necessity of it,
▪ 2. Of the benefits and advantages of it; as,
▪ 1. The begetting Repentance.
▪ 2. The Love of God.
▪ 3. Fear of God.
▪ 4. Love of Christ.
▪ 3. The mischiefs of not-meditating
▪ 4. Get a sufficient furniture of saving knowledge
▪ 5. Labour to get a serious spirit,
▪ to which purpose a fourfold frame of spirit is to be avoided; as namely, 50
▪ 1. A slight frame of spirit.
▪ 2. A trifling frame of spirit.
▪ 3. A watery frame of spirit.
▪ 4. An inconsiderate frame of spirit.
▪ 6. Labour for the love of heaven, and heavenly things,
▪ 7. Labour to get an interest in Heaven, and heavenly things,
▪ 8. An heart disengaged from the world,
▪ 9. Be not discouraged though you have difficulty in the beginning,
▪ 10. Do all these things by power derived from Jesus Christ,
◦ 2. Rules for the right ordering the subjects or materials,
▪ 1. At the beginning pick out easy subjects, as of Heaven; 1. the happiness of it in general; 2. in particular.
▪ 2. Use variety, as heads of several materials were suggested,
▪ 3. Pick out such subjects more especially as dispose to godly sorrow and holiness, 63
▪ 4. Such as are most seasonable to thy condition, and suitable to thy relation. As suppose thou art, 64
▪ 1. Troubled in mind, and exceedingly dejected, think of the willingness of Christ to receive poor ones, 65
▪ 2. Troubled in conscience, think of the promises not only to grace, but of grace, to give grace, 67
▪ 3. In outward want, consider the wonderful providences of God,
▪ 4. Sick, like to thy own life, or some dear Relative, think on a seasonable subject, as Death, &c. 68
▪ 5. To receive the Sacrament, consider the nature, thy need of it, &c. 69
◦ 3. Rules for the manner of ordering Meditations on the aforementioned, or like subjects. viz. 70
◦ 1. To begin and enter upon the practice of Meditation; and here be six Directions,
▪ 1. Be sure to pick a fit place to meditate in,
▪ 2. A fit and seasonable time, according to our circumstances,
▪ 3. Be sure to have a fit subject prepared, not to seek at the time, 7
▪ 4. Then set your self as in Gods presence, under his eye,
▪ 5. Begin with some short ejaculatory, not long prayer
▪ 6. Keep your hearts with all keeping, 73
◦ 2. To proceed better in this work, here we must know, there be two faculties of the soul, the understanding and will, or heart and affections, 75
◦ 1. Rules to help the understanding more logically and plainly, 76
▪ 1. Logically, as Topics, or Common-place-heads, viz. 1. Description, 2. Distribution, 3. Causes, 4. Effects, 5. Properties, 6. Opposites, 7. Comparisons, 8. Titles, 9. Testimonies,
▪ An instance in considering sin as the subject,
▪ 1. Consider description as a transgression of Gods Law, 78
▪ 2. Distribution, as sin by imputation, propagation, and action,
▪ 3. Cause of sin, God not the cause, but Satan and self, 79
▪ 4. Effects and cursed fruits, temporal, carnal, and eternal,
▪ 5. Properties and Adjuncts in general and particular, 8
▪ 6. Opposites, grace and holiness
▪ 7. Comparisons, as bruises, leprosy, &c.
▪ 8. Titles given to sin in Scripture, as robbing God, &c. 83
▪ 9. Testimonies in Scripture against sin, wrath of God, &c.
▪ 2. Plainly, where particularly consider, 84
▪ 1. What the Scripture says of the subject you would meditate upon,
▪ 2. What Sermons you have heard upon that subject, 85
▪ 3. Take a Book that treats on the subject you would meditate upon. 86
▪ 4. Be sure to join Application with your Contemplation, 87
▪ 5. Consider the means how to obtain what you meditate upon, 88
◦ 2. Rules to help the will, heart, and affections, and to raise them, 89
▪ 1, Labour to get a relish and savour of the things you meditate on, to have the heart affected.
▪ 2. Complain before God for the want of this relish.
▪ 3. Wish you had a supply of the taste you want, 90
▪ 4. Confess your inability as of your self to do this.
▪ 5. Petition to God for help.
▪ 6. Confidently believe God will help you.
◦ 3. Rules to conclude all, after entrance and progress, 97
▪ 1. Lift up your heart to God with thankfulness, and bless his Name,
▪ 2. Resolve to live as one who hath been thinking on the things of God, 99
▪ 3. Recommend your self, body, soul, relatives, &c. to God
◦ A Persuasion to the practice of these things, concluding in four particulars
▪ 1. Mourn before God that you have lived so long in the School of Christ, and have not practiced this duty of solemn Meditation
▪ 2. That you have misplaced your Meditation,
▪ 3. Study the necessity, excellency, usefulness, and profitableness of Meditation, as the marrow of all other duties
▪ 4. Defer not to practice according to the directions given in expectation of Gods blessing,
Epigraph: GENESIS 24:63, And Isaac went out to meditate in the field at eventide.
IT is not unknown unto you, I suppose, that there are two things required by God of all those that would receive the benefit of the Sacrament: the one is preparation before they come; and the other is meditation when they are come. I have made many and many a Sermon of Preparation, but I have made very few of Meditation. Now the Sacrament is a meditating Ordinance, as I may so express my self; it is an Ordinance for Meditation: and the great work that we have to do at the Sacrament, is to meditate upon Christ crucified; and therefore I shall crave leave to make you a few Sermons concerning this rare and excellent Doctrine of Meditation; and for this purpose I have chosen this Text: Wherein we have four Particulars.
1. We have the person that is here spoken of, and that is Isaac, the godly child of godly Abraham.
2. What is here related of this person, he went out to meditate.
3. The place that he chose for his meditation, and that was in the field, he went out into the field to meditate.
4. The time that he chose to meditate in, and that was the evening, and Isaac went out to meditate in the field at the eventide.
The great question for the meaning of this Text will be, what the subject of Isaac's Meditation was? what did Isaac go out to meditate upon? now for this you must know there is a double meditation; there is a meditation that is sinful and wicked; and there is a meditation that is holy and godly.
1. There is a meditation that is sinful and wicked, and that is when we meditate upon things that are wicked; of this you shall read, Psalm 36. 4. He deviseth mischief upon his bed. And Psalm 7. 14. Behold he travelleth with iniquity, and hath conceived mischief. There are wicked meditations as well as wicked conversations; and a man may go to Hell for plotting wicked things, as well as for practicing wicked things. And therefore it is said, Prov. 12. 2. A man of wicked devices will God 3 condemn. Not only a man of wicked practices, but a man of wicked devices will he condemn. There is a contemplative wickedness as well as an actual wickedness; and a man may go to Hell for contemplative wickedness. As for example, there is a contemplative murder, when a man doth delight in the thoughts of murdering his brother; when the thought of revenge is pleasing. And there is a contemplative adultery, when a man doth plot how to commit adultery, and delight in the thought of adultery. Now Isaac's meditation certainly was not of things that are wicked, he did not go out into the field to meditate upon vile and wicked things.
2. There is a meditation that is holy and godly, and that is when we meditate upon things that are holy and heavenly; and of this nature was the meditation of Isaac, he went out into the field to meditate on the works of God, and of the blessings and mercies of God; to meditate upon the Heavenly Canaan, and upon his sins; and this appears, because the Hebrew word that is here used for meditation, that is here translated meditation, doth also signify to pray; and therefore it is in your margent, And Isaac went out to pray at eventide. It was a Religious work that Isaac went out about; and you must know that Prayer and Meditation are very well joined 4 together; Meditation is a preparation to Prayer, and Prayer is a fit close for Meditation; and Isaac went out to meditate, to pray and to meditate, and to meditate and pray. This Meditation was a holy and heavenly act of Isaac. So then the Observation I shall gather is this:
Observation. That the meditation of holy and heavenly things is a work that God requires at the hands of all people. That God that requires you to pray, requires you to meditate as well as pray; there are few Christians believe this Doctrine, That God that requires you to hear Sermons, requires you to meditate on the Sermons you hear.
1. God requires this of you that are young Gentlemen, and therefore here you read of Isaac, that he went out to meditate. Now though it be true that Isaac at this time was forty years old, yet in those days to be of forty years was to be but a young man, for Isaac lived an hundred and fourscore years; and therefore this is a notable pattern for young Gentlemen, to employ their time in godly and holy meditation.
2. This is a duty that God requires of Kings, of Nobles, and of great persons; and therefore David, though he was a King, and had a great deal of work and business, yet he says of himself, Psalm 119. 15. I will meditate 5 in thy precepts. v. 23. Princes also did sit and speak against me, but thy servant did meditate in thy statutes. v. 48. I will meditate in thy statutes.
3. This is a duty that God requires at the hands of Soldiers, and Generals, and Captains, Joshua 1. 8. there God speaks unto 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, for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.
4. It is a duty that God requires of all Learned men, and of all that are Scholars, 1 Tim. 4. 15. Give attendance to reading and exhortations, and meditate upon these things: give thy self wholly unto them.
5. This is a duty that God requires of Women; and therefore it is said of Mary, Luke 2. 19. She kept all these sayings, and pondered them in her heart. v. 51. But his mother kept all these sayings in her heart. That is, she meditated upon them. In a word, it is a duty that God requires of all that look for Blessedness, Psalm 1. 1. Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful, but his delight is in the Law of the Lord, and in his Law doth he meditate day and night.
Now you must know there are two sorts of Divine meditation, there is a sudden, short, occasional meditation of Heavenly things; and there is a solemn, set, deliberate meditation. I shall crave leave to speak something concerning the first sort of meditation, which I call sudden and ejaculatory, extemporary and occasional meditation; and I shall show you three things concerning this.
1. I will show you what this ejaculatory and extemporary meditation of Divine things is, and the excellency of it.
2. I will give you some examples of it.
3. I will give you some motives to persuade you to the practice of it.
1. I will discover to you what I mean by that I call occasional and extemporary, sudden and ejaculatory meditation. Occasional meditation is this, when a man takes an occasion by what he sees, or by what he hears, or by what he tastes of; when he takes an occasion by any thing that is sensitive, to raise up his thoughts to Heavenly meditation. Or take it thus, Occasional meditation is when a man makes use of the Creature, as a footstool to raise him up to God, as a ladder to Heaven; when a man upon the sudden makes use of what he sees with his eyes, or hears with his ears, as a ladder to climb to Heaven withal. You have a pattern of this, Psalm 8. 3, 4. When 7 I considered thy heavens, the work of thy singers, the Moon, and the Stars, which thou hast ordained, (mark what is his meditation of this) what is man that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man that thou visitest him? Lord, what is man that thou shouldst make the Heaven, the Sun, and the Moon, and the Stars for his sake? You must know, that all the whole Creation is a picture of God; it is Gods Looking-glass, wherein you may behold the God of Heaven and Earth; there is no Creature but it hath the Image of God upon it; there is not the least spice of grace but you that are spiritual may read God in it. —It is the saying of a Heathen, Every herb that you have in your Garden doth represent the Divinity, or nature of God. There are two books that God hath given us Christians to know him by, the book of the Scripture, and the book of the Creature; now though the book of the Scripture be the better book of the two, and the book of the Scripture will teach us more of God than the book of the Creature; for the book of the Creature cannot teach us God in Christ, cannot teach us the mystery of Redemption, nor the mystery of the Trinity; yet the book of the Creature is a rare book, wherein a man may learn excellent things concerning Heaven and heavenly things, excellent instructions. 8 I remember a story of a godly man, Antony, that was driven into the Wilderness for Religion sake, and having no book at all in the Wilderness, he was asked, How he could spend his time? says he, I have one book, and that is the book of the Creation; and as long as I have this book I want no other book; Speaking how much he could behold God in that book. And it is a good saying of Tertullian, The same God is the God of nature that is the God of grace. And it is the duty of a Christian to receive instruction, and spiritual benefit from natural things as well as from gracious and spiritual things, because there is the same God of nature as of grace. The Creatures of God are a Divine Book in which we may read the power of God, the goodness of God, the love of God, the mercy and wisdom of God,—Rom. 1. 20. That that may be known of God may be read in the Creature. Now the Creatures are but Spectacles by which we are enabled to read these things concerning God. I have read a story of a Painter, Hermogenes, he was a rare man for that Art, and coming into a Painters shop, he sees a line drawn so curiously, that he cries out, Surely Apelles hath been here; none but Apelles could draw such a curious line. And as the story saith, he went out of the shop, and never left till he had found out 9 this Apelles, that so he might come to the acquaintance of that man that had so much skill. The application of this is most excellent, when you look upon this Creature of God, and that Creature of God, you must needs confess that none but a God could make such a glorious world; digitus Dei est hic, here is the finger of God; and the consideration of this, if you have any thing of God in you, will make you to seek out after this God, and to love this God, and honour this God.
2. I will give you some examples of this occasional, sudden, extemporary meditation of Divine things: First, I will give you Scripture examples, Prov. 6. 6. there the wise man sends the sluggard to the Pismire, Go to the Ant thou sluggard, consider her ways, and be wise, which having no guide, overseer, or ruler, provideth her meat in the summer. Here you see what a rare meditation a man may have from the little Pismire, and how the sluggard is sent to behold the Pismire, to be ashamed of his sluggishness; let the sight of that put thee in mind of thy laziness. Jeremiah 8. 7. there God sends the unthankful Israelite to the Stork, and the Turtle, and the Crane, and the Swallow: The stork in the heaven knoweth her appointed time, and the turtle and the crane, and the swallow observe the time of their coming. Here you have a sudden and occasional meditation from the Creatures of God, the Turtle, the Crane, the Swallow, observe the time of their coming; the Stork at such a time of the year goes out of the land, and at such a time of the year comes into the land; but my people (there is the meditation) know not the judgments of the Lord. And thus Christ sends the distrustful Christian to the fowls of the air, and to the lillies of the field, Matthew 6. 26. Behold the fowls of the air for they sow not, neither do they reap nor gather into barns, yet your heavenly father feedeth them, (here is an occasional meditation) are you not better than many sparrows? And why take you thought for raiment? consider the lillies of the field how they grow, they toil not, neither do they spin, and yet I say unto you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. You have another example, John4. where Christ discoursing with the Woman of Samaria, and entreating some water from the Woman, takes an occasion from the water of the Well to discourse of the water of life. And John 6. from the loaves Christ fed the people withal, he takes an occasion to discourse of the bread of life, You follow me for the loaves, saith Christ; but labour not for the meat that perisheth, but labour for the meat that endureth forever. I am the bread of life that came down from heaven. Christ takes occasion from the natural bread to meditate on the bread of life, the bread of heaven. To give you some other examples, I read in St. Austin, that he had a water-course near his lodging, a great flowing down of waters; and observing how sometimes the water went down silently, sometimes made a great noise; from the consideration of the different streaming of the water, he made a rare discourse of the Order of Providence, the manner how God governs the World in order. There was a Minister, Mr. Deering in Queen Elizabeth's days, a man of famous memory, in whose Life it is reported, that just when he was a dying, the Sun shone upon him; and he takes occasion from that most excellently to discourse of that Sun of Righteousness, of the glory of heaven, of the happiness he was going to.
I have likewise read, that Mr. Eske, and Dr. Hall (who in his Book of Meditation doth quote this example) were hearing a Consort of Music, and this holy Minister Mr. Eske being a very godly man, all on a sudden was so strangely transported with the thoughts of the joys of Heaven, that he said with a great deal of passion, What music, Sirs, shall there be in heaven! O the spiritual joy and melody that there we shall have!
There is a story of two Cardinals in the Council of Constance, that riding abroad for their Recreation, they saw a poor Countryman weeping, and when they came to him, they asked him, Why he wept? saith he, Do you see this Toad here that lies before me, God might have made me a Toad; I am weeping because I never was sufficiently thankful that God did not make me a Toad; (you see this poor Country-man takes an occasion from the sight of the Toad to raise up his heart in thankfulness to God) and these two Cardinals when they heard him say so, they made use of the speech of St. Austin, The poor and labouring men get to heaven, and we Scholars go down to hell with all our learning. They were ashamed to see what a good use the Country-man made of the sight of the Toad.
There is another story of a godly old man, that beholding a harlot how curiously she trimmed her self to please her wicked lover, he falls weeping, and being asked, Why he wept? saith he, I weep to see this lewd woman what care she takes to dress her self to please her lover, and that I should never take so much care to dress my soul to please my God.
I have read of Ignatius the Martyr, that when he heard the Clock strike, he would have this meditation, Now there is one hour more that I must answer for. I have read of Fulgentius that rare Scholar, that when he came to Heathenish Rome, and saw the Emperor ride in Triumph, he brake out into this Exclamation, If there be so much glory in Rome here upon earth, O what will be the glory of Heaven!
I might be infinite in these stories; only I will give you one more, and that is of a Heathen-man, Galen, famous for his skill in Physick; when he was viewing the composure of mans body, and beholding the curious workmanship of it, the story saith he fell to sing a Hymn to his Creator, None but a God could make such a body; there must needs be a God that hath wrought so curiously the members of mans body.
3. Give me leave to give you some Motives to persuade you to the practice of this. It is in vain to hear my Discourses, unless you endeavour to put them in practice. Now I will give you these Motives.
1. This way of meditation may be done at all times, this will not hinder your calling; you that are poor men, and have not time for solemn meditation on the week-day, that are labouring men, and cannot spare an hour for solemn and deliberate meditation, you may make use of this sudden, ejaculatory, occasional meditation, even when you are at your day-work; you may make use of your day-work, of the things that you are working about, to stir up your hearts to Heavenly things; for there is nothing in the world but a good Christian may make a Heavenly use of; and therefore there is no body can say that he hath no leisure for this way of meditation.
2. This is a way of meditation, that a man may practice in all places, and in all companies. A godly man once said unto me, I thank God I can be in heaven when I am in the midst of the crowd in Cheapside; in the midst of the noise I can have a heavenly meditation. There is no place, no company, can hinder thee from this occasional, sudden, ejaculatory meditation.
3. There is nothing more easy than this ejaculatory meditation to you that are spiritual; deliberate and solemn meditation is very hard and difficult; but this way of meditation is very easy; and the reason is this, because there is no Creature of God but is a teacher of some good thing; thou canst not behold a Spider but thou mayest make some good use of it; the Scripture doth make many rare uses of a Spider; a wicked man may be looked upon in a Spider, as in a glass; and the hope of a wicked man is compared to a Spiders web; as a Spider puts his trust in his web, and spends a great deal of pains in weaving his web, and when it is woven, it is easily pulled down, there is no stability in it; so a wicked man puts his trust in his hope of Heaven, which is as vain as a Spiders web. And the Scripture tells you how by all the money a wicked man gets by unlawful means, he doth but weave a Spiders web. That is a rare use the Prophet Isaiah makes of the Spiders, which is one of the meanest of all the Creatures of God; a Spider and a Toad, and a Viper, even the venomous Creatures, a man may make rare use of, Isa. 59. 5, 6. They hatch cockatrice eggs, and weave the Spiders web: he that eateth of their eggs dieth; and that which is crushed breaketh out into a viper. Their webs shall not become garments, neither shall they cover themselves with their works. That man is a very bad Scholar that can spell nothing out of ten hundred thousand books, for every Creature is as it were a book to teach us some good thing; Now that man is but a very ill Scholar that can make use of none of these books.
4. Herein lies the excellency of a Christian, that he is able to spiritualize natural things: Herein lies the wickedness of a wicked man, a wicked man doth naturalize spiritual things. But herein lies the godliness of a godly man; a godly man doth spiritualize natural things; a wicked man carnalizes even spiritual things; when he is at the Ordinances, at the very Sacrament, if he be not truly godly he doth carnalize and naturalize even that spiritual Ordinance of the Sacrament; but a godly Christian is like a Heavenly Alchemist, that can draw Heaven out of a Spider as it were, draw something of God out of a Toad, Heavenly instructions out of a Toad, out of a Viper, out of any Creature of God, much more out of the Heavens, Sun, Moon and Stars. You wonder at the Chemist, when he can extract all the four Elements out of a mixt body; much more excellent is that Christian which can extract heaven out of every Creature of God, that can heavenlize and spiritualize the Creatures of God. And let me tell you a little to amplify this motive;
1. Herein a true Christian exceeds the bruit beasts; the bruit beasts can enjoy the Creature, but he cannot reflect upon the Creature; he enjoys the good things of God, but he cannot behold God in these things, he cannot improve them for God; but now a true Christian makes all these things to be glasses to see God in, pictures to behold God in; the Goodness of God, and the Wisdom of God; and he endeavours to receive spiritual instruction by them.
2. Herein a child of God exceeds all wicked men; there is no wicked man can use the Creatures spiritually, it is above his sphere; a wicked man makes the Creatures a wall of separation between God and him, not a glass to see God; there is no wicked man useth the Creatures of God as a looking-glass to behold God in, or as a footstool to raise him up to God, or a ladder to climb to God by, this is proper only to a godly man.
5. Consider this, It is the greatest affront you can offer to God, not to take spiritual notice of his creatures; not to make a spiritual use of his Creatures. God hath put mankind upon the stage of this world, and God hath made all the Creatures for mans use, and God hath made man to be the tongue to praise him for all his Creatures; and if man doth not praise him, God loseth the praise of all the whole Creation. God made all the Creatures for man, and man to praise him for all the Creatures; which if man neglect, God loseth the glory of the whole Creation; for how doth the Sun, and the Moon, and the Stars praise God! The Prophet David calls upon the Ice, and the Snow, and the Rain, and all the Creatures of God, to praise God: How do they praise God? How doth the fire and the water praise God? When we praise God for these things, then they praise God when we use them for God, and draw Heavenly things, spiritual instruction out of them; and when we do not do this, we offer the greatest affront that can be offered to God in that kind, and we deprive God of the glory of the whole Creation.
6. It is a soul-destroying sin not to observe the works of God, and to make a good use of them. Psalm 28. 5. Because they regard not the works of the Lord, nor the operation of his hand, he shall destroy them, and not build them up. These are the six motives. Now in a word to put an end to this Discourse, let me beseech and entreat you, that you would put this duty in practice; let me tell you, Sirs, that though occasional, ejaculatory meditation be but as a Parenthesis (as one very well saith) in your worldly businesses; yet this Parenthesis is more worth than all your worldly business; yea, it signifies more than all your worldly business. As for example, (I will conclude my Discourse by giving you a little help): When I rise in a morning; what an excellent thing were it for a man to meditate of the great morning of the Resurrection, and that it shall be as easy for men to rise out of the grave at the great Resurrection, as it hath been for me this morning to arise out of my bed. And when the Sun begins to arise, and we behold the Sun shining, what a rare meditation is it to consider there will a day come wherein the Sun of Righteousness shall come in the clouds, and all his holy Angels with him, and all the Saints at that day shall shine as so many Suns in the firmament. O what a glorious day will that be, when there shall be as many Suns as there are Saints! there shall be as many Suns as there are Stars now in a bright shining night in the Heaven. And when thou art going abroad, it would be very comely, spiritual and useful to remember, that thou hast two companions always going with thee, that is God and the Devil, (pardon me that I join them together) thou hast thy judge and thy accuser to go with thee; wheresoever thou walkest in the day time, one Devil or other is always waiting upon thee, and God is always present with thee, who will call thee to an account for all that thou dost; and the Devil scores up all that thou dost, for to accuse thee afterward. And when thou walkest abroad and see a debauched wicked man, it is an excellent thing to have a meditation, and to say, Blessed be God that hath made me to differ from this man; if it had not been for the grace of God, I had been as wicked as this man. And when thou meet with a godly man, a man eminent for godliness, Oh put up a prayer to God that he would make thee as godly; and mourn that thou art not as godly as he. When thou meet with a learned man, or a wise man, or a beautiful creature, it is a very excellent meditation to consider, if there be so much beauty, so much wisdom in the creature, O what is there in God, who is the ocean of beauty! if there be so much comeliness, so much excellency here below, Oh what is there above! It is a rare thing to use the creatures reflexively; it is Idolatry to use the creature terminately; but the admirable, the superlative excellency of a Christian is to use the Creature reflexively; to reflect from the Creature to the Creator. So likewise when thou art in thy Shop, and weighing thy Commodities, would it not be an excellent meditation, to think there will a time come, when God will weigh thee in a balance, and weigh thy actions, and weigh all that thou dost! And meditate on that Text, Prov. 11. 1. A false balance is an abomination to the Lord. And so likewise when you walk in the fields, and behold the grass that grows, and behold the flowers of the field, doth it not become you to meditate, that all flesh is grass, and all the glory of the world is but the goodliness of the grass; and all earthly things are but like the beauty of a flower? My little Child that I love so much, is but like this flower, it is beautiful, but it is but fading. And when thou see a wicked man grow great by wicked ways, would it not be a very comfortable thing to remember that Text, Fret not thy self because of evil doers, neither be thou envious against the workers of iniquity, for they shall be soon cut down as the grass, and wither as the green herb. And you that are Merchants, when you are upon the Exchange, a short sudden ejaculation would not be hurtful, but helpful to you. As for example, to remember that as you are Merchant-adventurers for earthly things, so you are all Merchant-adventurers for heaven, and your souls are in the midst of the Sea of this world; this world is like a Sea, and your soul is here like a ship at Sea, and is in danger to be split upon the rocks, in danger of pirates, and in danger of being lost. Your Ships have not half so many dangers as your Souls have; the temptations of the Devil, the allurements of the world, the corruptions of your own hearts. Now to consider, as in the Exchange, what is become of such and such a Ship, so to ask thy soul in what case is thy soul now, that is on the Sea of this world; and then to go to the Ensuring-office, (you know you have your Ensuring-offices, wherein you ensure your Ships at Sea) to get your souls ensured by reconciliation with God; and by true faith, manifested by holiness and righteousness, to get your souls assured, that they may come safe to the haven of Happiness.
In a clear bright frosty Winter-night, when thou go out and beholdest the bespangled heaven, multitude of bright Stars, what a rare thing were it to meditate, This glorious bespangled Firmament is but the stable as it were, but the out-houses of that Heaven where I am to go; it is but the outward Court, but the Wash-house, as I may say; and if the Stable and Out-houses be so glorious, Oh what is the inward palace! above the spangled Heavens is my Fathers house, where I hope to live forever with God, and there my Christ is now interceding for me, and by the power of his Spirit shall I be brought one day to that house; Oh when will that time come! when will my soul mount thorough these Heavens into the heaven of Heavens! Now is not this comely for a Christian? will not this heavenlize you, and spiritualize you? And then when you go to bed at night, to remember, I have one day more to answer for; to remember there will a last night come, after which there will be no day but the Resurrection of all. Remember thy last night, thy concluding night, the end of thy life.
But I have been over-long in this, a great deal more than I thought; but I do it because here I shall put an end to this discourse of occasional meditation.
There is a second sort of Meditation, and that is that that I call set, solemn and deliberate; when a man sets apart an hour a day it may be, sets a part some time, and goes into a private Closet, or a private Walk, and there doth solemnly and deliberately meditate of the things of Heaven.
Now concerning this meditation, I shall handle by Gods assistance these two Particulars:
1. I will show you the nature of it.
2. I will show you the necessity of it.
1. The nature of this duty, what this meditation is, that I would press you to: I will describe it in two Particulars.
1. This holy meditation is a dwelling and abiding upon things that are holy; it is not only a knowing of God, and a knowing of Christ, but it is a dwelling upon the things we know; as the Bee that dwells and abides upon the flower, to suck out all the sweetness that is in the flower; so to meditate upon God and Christ, and the Sacrament, it is to dwell upon God, and the Sacrament, to suck out all the sweetness we can in the things we meditate upon. As we read of Anna, Luke 2. 37. She continued in the Temple praying and fasting day and night. To meditate, is to continue and fix our selves and our hearts upon the things we know; this meditation in Scripture is called a holy musing, Psalm 39. 3. My heart was hot within me, while I was musing; to meditate is to muse, or else it is to commune with our own hearts, Psalm 4. Stand in awe and sin not: commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still. It is a communing, a consulting with our own hearts; or if you will, it is a bethinking our selves: so it is expressed, 1 King. 8. 47. If they shall bethink themselves in the land whither they were carried captive, and repent: The Hebrew word is, if they shall bring back to their hearts, if they shall reflect upon themselves; for meditation is a reflecting act of the soul, whereby the soul is carried back to it self, and considers all the things that it knows. Meditation is an inward act of the soul, a spiritual act, whereby the soul doth recoil upon it self, and looks back upon it self, and considers all the things that concern its everlasting happiness; and if I be not mistaken, it is rarely typified under the Law two manner of ways.
1. By those beasts that did chew the cud; you shall read Leviticus 11. of the clean beasts, and the unclean beasts; now the clean beasts were such as did chew the cud, of those they were to eat: now the unclean beasts were those that did not chew the cud: a meditating Christian is one that chews the cud, that chews on the Truths of Jesus Christ, that doth not only hear good things, but when he hath heard them, chews them over, ruminates upon them, that so they may be fitter for digestion and concoction, and spiritual improvement; an unclean Christian is one that doth not chew the cud, that doth not ruminate, and ponder, and bethink himself of the things of Heaven.
2. Another type of this rare grace of Meditation, is that of the Beasts, Ezek. 1. that Ezekiel saw, that had eyes within and without, verse 18. their wings were full of eyes round about them. And so likewise the Beasts Rev 4. 6. Round about the Throne were four beasts full of eyes before and behind: A notable and a rare type of Meditation; for meditation is nothing else but a looking thoroughly into the things of God; a looking before and behind, as I may so speak; a meditating Christian is a man full of eyes, that doth not only know God, but sees much of God. There is another metaphor to express it, Psalm 119 59. I thought on my ways, and turned my feet unto thy testimonies: The word in the Hebrew is taken from Chapmen, that when they buy a commodity, they turn it over, and over, and over again; they look all about it into every part of it. Meditation is a thorough contemplation, and a thorough consideration of the things of God; a meditating Christian is full of eyes, full of heavenly understanding.
2. It is an act of the heart as well as of the head; it is not only a speculative knowledge of things Divine, but a practical knowledge; it is not only an act of the intellect and understanding, but of the will and affections; it is an affective grace as well as an intellective grace; and therefore it is said of the Blessed Virgin Mary, She pondered all these sayings in her heart; she did not only think of them with her head, but she pondered on them with her heart; and you shall read, Deut. 4. 39. Know therefore this day, and consider it in thy heart. A true meditation is when a man doth so meditate of Christ as to get his heart inflamed with the love of Christ; so meditate of the Truths of God, as to be transformed into them; and so meditate of sin as to get his heart to hate sin; when it is such a musing of God, as kindles a fire in the whole soul, as David doth express it, Psalm 39. 3. While I was musing, the fire burnt: When a man doth so contemplate on God, that his heart is all on fire with the love of God; when a man doth so think on the Sacrament, that his heart is all on a fire with a holy thirsting after the Sacrament. When the heart is affected with the meditation of the head; and therefore David saith, Psalm 104. 34. My meditation of him shall be sweet; this is the true meditation, when we do so meditate of God, as to taste a sweetness in God; when meditation doth not rest in the intellectual part, but flows into the will and affection, that the heart is all inflamed with the things we meditate on. There are many great Scholars that meditate much of God, and Christ, and Heaven, and yet they are never the holier for their meditation; and the reason is, because they meditate on these things merely to find out curious notions of God, and Christ, and Heaven, but they do not meditate on these things to get their hearts affected, to get Heavenly and Divine hearts; and therefore you shall see many Scholars as undevout, and as unholy as other people, though they know more, and meditate more. And I have found it by experience, that there are many poor lay-people, that get more good by meditation than great Scholars; for the great Scholar his meditation many times vanisheth into empty speculations, and into notions and opinions; but the honest godly man his meditation is all for practice; he meditates of sin to hate it, of the Sacrament to hunger after it, of God to love him, of Christ to be inflamed with a desire after him. And therefore he gets the more good many times by meditation. The Butterfly will dwell upon the flower as well as the Bee, but the Butterfly only sucks the flower that she may paint her wings with it; she is not useful to make honey, she doth not suck honey from the flower; so there are many Scholars, many men that meditate much of the things of God to paint their wings, that is, to get more knowledge of God and Heaven, and more curious expressions of Heaven, but it is the honest Christian, the plain-hearted Christian, that meditates of God like the Bee, to suck out the sweetness of God; that meditates on Christ so as to get his heart burning in love to Christ; this is the rare grace of meditation. Meditation must enter into three doors, or else it will never do you any good.
1. It must get into the door of the understanding, and there it is seated, there is the proper place of meditation; but if it rest there, thou art never the better for it.
2. It must get into the door of thy heart, and of thy affections; and thou must never leave meditating till it get into that door likewise.
3. The door of thy conversation; for thy meditation must not rest in the affections; but it must likewise have influence into thy conversation, to make thy conversation more holy; thou must so meditate of God as to walk as God walks; and so to meditate of Christ as to prize him, and live in obedience to him. A nurse that hath a nurse-child, will cut the meat, and will many times chew the meat for the child, but she will not eat the meat, but give it to the child; for if she should chew the meat and eat it up her self, the child might starve for all her chewing of it, and preparing of it; so it is with the grace of meditation. Meditation, while it is in the understanding, chews upon the things of God, and of Christ, and of Heaven, but when the understanding hath chewed these things, it must not devour all these things it self, but it must convey the meat it hath chewed (as the meat is conveyed from the stomach into the liver, and then into the heart, and then into all the other parts of the body) into the heart, and into the will, and into the affections, and into the conversation.
This is the first, the admirable nature of this grace.
2. I come to show you the necessity of it; and I do this the rather, that I might provoke you all to the practice of it; for I am very confident there are few people that do practice this duty of meditation; there are few that know how to practice it; but there are very few that make conscience to practice it; even you that make conscience to praying twice a day in your family, seldom make conscience once a day of meditation, nay once a week. And therefore that I might awaken my self and you, give me leave to show you the great necessity of practicing the duty of meditation; and I will show it two manner of ways.
1. By considering the mischief that flows from the want of practicing this duty.
2. By showing you the advantage and spiritual 30 benefit that you will gain by practicing this duty.
1. I shall show you the woeful inconveniences, and the intolerable mischiefs that come from the want of practicing this duty of meditation. I will bring them to two heads.
1. I will show you, that the want of practicing this duty is the cause of all sin.
2. It is the cause of all punishment.
1. I will show you, that the want of practicing this duty is the cause of all sin: and I will instance in particulars.
1. The reason why people harden their hearts in sin, and do not repent of their sins, but go on obstinately, is for want of meditation. Jeremiah 8. 6. I hearkened and heard, but they spake not aright, no man repented him of his wickedness, saying, what have I done? They did not repent, because they did not reflect upon what they did; they did not bethink themselves, so the phrase is, If any man bethink himself and repent, 1 King. 8. 47. they did not say, I am undone by what I have done; I have lost God and Heaven by what I have done; and if I do not repent, I am an undone creature forever. No man repented of his wickedness, because no man considered what he had done; for did you consider the evil that is in sin, did you dwell and abide upon it, did you commune with your own hearts, and seriously consider what an evil and bitter thing it is to sin against God, you durst not willingly sin against God; but the reason why men go on rashly, heedlesly, obstinately in sin, is for want of the meditation of the evil of sin.
2. The reason why all the Sermons we hear do us no more good, is for want of Divine meditation; for it is with Sermons as it is with meat, it is not the having of meat upon your table will feed you, but you must eat it; and not only eat it, but concoct it, and digest it, or else your meat will do you no good: So it is with Sermons, it is not the hearing Sermons will do you good, but it is the concocting them, digesting them by meditation; the pondering in your hearts what you hear, must do you good. And one Sermon well digested, well meditated upon, is better than twenty Sermons without meditation. As for example, a little meat well digested will nourish a man more than a great deal of meat if it breed raw humours, if it doth not digest; it is the digesting of meat nourishes a man: Now meditation is that that will digest all the Sermons you hear. There are some men sick of a disease, that whatsoever they eat comes up presently, the meat never doth them any good; so it is the custom of many of you, you hear a Sermon, you go away, and never think of it afterward; this is just like meat that you vomit up. There is a disease that some men have, that all the meat they eat goes thorough them, it never abides with them; now this meat never nourishes: so it is with the Sermons you hear, I am sure on the week-day, and I am afraid the Sermons you hear on the Sabbath-day go thorough you, you hear them, and hear them, and that is all you do; but you never seek by meditation to root them in your hearts; and that is the reason why you are so lean in grace, though you are so full fed with Sermons; it is with Sermons as it is with a Plaster, if a man hath a wound in his body, and lay a plaster to the wound, this plaster will never heal him, unless it abide upon the wound; if a man takes it away as soon as ever it is laid on, it will never do him any good; so it is with Sermons: if when you have heard a Sermon, you never ponder and meditate on it, it is just like a plaster put on, and then pulled off again; and I am confident the great reason why we have so many lean hunger-starved Christians, that are lean in knowledge, and lean in grace, though they hear Sermon upon Sermon, (it may be on the Sabbath-day they will hear four or five Sermons) is because they concoct and digest nothing; they never ponder and meditate upon what they hear; and this is that that our Saviour Christ speaks of: by the seed that was sown by the high-way-side, is 33 meant a man, that hears the word, and never thinks of it after he hath heard it, but suffereth the Devil to steal it out of his heart; as the husbandman that sows the seed in the high-way, you know he never plows it, he never looks that that should come to any thing. There are many of you, the Sermons you hear are like the seed sown in the high-way, you never cover it by meditation, you never think of it, when you have heard it; and that is the reason you get no more good by what you hear.
3. The reason why the promises of God do no more affect your hearts, when the Saints of God taste no more sweetness in the promises, is because you do not ponder and meditate upon them. It is with the Promises of the Gospel as it is with a cordial, if a man doth not chew his cordial but swallow it down whole, he will never taste any great sweetness, in it; the way to taste the sweetness is to chew it; so the Promises of God are full of Heavenly comfort, but you will never enjoy this comfort unless you chew them by meditation. As it is with spices, unless they be bruised, they never smell sweet; and as it is with a Pomander, unless you do rub it, you will never smell the sweetness of it; no more will you ever taste the Heavenly comfort that is in the Promises of the Gospel, unless you rub them, unless 34 you bruise, unless you chew them by meditation. And the reason why the Saints of God walk so uncomfortably all their lives long, is because they do not chew these Promises.
4. The reason why the threatenings of God make no more impression upon our hearts, is for want of meditation. There are terrible threatenings against sin in the word, but alas there are few people affected with these threatenings. The threatenings of God in Scripture are like the rattling of hail upon the tiles, they make a great noise, but they make no impression; and what is the reason? it is for want of meditation; we do not lay them to heart, we do not consider that these threatnings belong to us, as long as we continue in our sins. Oh did a wicked man meditate solemnly upon the threatnings of God, it would make his heart ache, especially when the spirit of bondage goes along with them.
5. The reason why the mercies of God do no more good upon us, is for want of meditation. There are many mercies that all of us have received from God, many personal mercies, and many family-mercies, and all these mercies are so many motives to service. Now what is the reason the Saints of God bury the mercies of God in forgetfulness, and are no more thankful for mercies? the reason is for want of meditation, 35 Isa. 1. 2, 3. Hear, oh heavens, and give ear, oh earth, for the Lord hath spoken: I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against me; the ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his masters crib, but Israel doth not know, my people doth not consider: That is the reason why they are so unthankful. It is with the mercies of God as it is with the fire, if a man walks by the fire and doth not sit at it, it will never heat him much; if he be a cold, he must abide at the fire, or else he will never be hot; so it is not a slight thought of the mercies of God that will affect your hearts, but it must be a dwelling upon them by meditation, that will warm your hearts. Now because we do not meditate upon these mercies, we do not solemnly consider the mercies of God, therefore it is they do no more good upon our hearts, Psalm 106. there is a Psalm spent on purpose to set out the unthankfulness of the people of Israel, verse 3. We have sinned with our fathers, we have committed iniquity, we have done wickedly; our fathers understood not thy wonders in Egypt, they remembered not the multitude of thy mercies, but provoked him at the Sea, even at the Red-sea. What is the reason they were so unthankful? it was because they did not meditate on the mercies of God.
36 6. The reason why afflictions do work no more upon us, and why we are never the better for the afflicting hand of God, is for want of meditation: It is a rare Text, Eccles. 7. 14. In the day of prosperity be joyful, but in the day of adversity consider. Times of affliction are times of meditation; and what must we consider of in the day of adversity? we must consider who it is that afflicts us, and why we are afflicted, and how we shall do to have our afflictions sanctified; we must consider the meaning of Gods rod, and how we may be taught by these afflictions spiritual things. Now because we do not meditate upon God, and upon his afflicting hand when we are afflicted, because we have slight heads under our afflictions, therefore it is we get no more good by our afflictions. I have observed many of us (the Lord pardon it unto us) as soon as ever we are recovered from our afflictions, we forget God presently, we never consider the mercies of God in recovering us, and then we return to our old vomit again, for want of meditation.
7. The reason why the Providences of God take no more impression upon our hearts, is for want of this grace of meditation: The Providences of God are very mysterious, and God in the Government of the World doth walk in the Clouds. And truly I am very confident, that which God doth especially require of his children 37 in these days, is to meditate upon his Providences, as well as upon his Ordinances; there are many rare lessons to be learned from the consideration of the Providences of God, the Providence of God toward England, and toward Scotland, and toward the Ministry; God is now depriving you of Minister upon Minister, many Ministers the Lord hath taken from you; God is, as I may so speak, disburdening the Nation of this great burden of the Ministry, which is a burden to a great many; God takes his Ministers up to Heaven. Now what is the reason that the Providences of God of late years do no more good, though they have been wonderful toward England, Scotland, and Ireland, towards all sorts of people? The reason why we are never the better by them, is because we do not study the meaning of all these Providences, Isa. 57. 1. The righteous perisheth, and no man layeth it to heart, and merciful men are taken away, none considering that the righteous is taken away from the evil to come. This is the reason why we get no more good by the death of the godly, and by the Providences of God, because we do not lay them to heart; we do not muse and study upon them.
8. What is the reason that the Saints of God are so distrustful of Gods Providences? when they are ready presently to sink, and to say 38 they are undone? It is for want of meditation; and therefore Christ, Luke 12. saith, Take no thought what you shall eat, or what you shall put on; consider the ravens, for they neither sow nor reap, which neither have store-house nor barn, and God feedeth them; how much more are ye better than the fowls? Consider the lillies how they grow, they toil not, they spin not; and yet I say unto you, that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Did you consider the lillies, and the ravens, did you study the love of God to you, you would not distrust him under any sad Providences. The reason why the Saints of God are so full of unbelief, when they are in a low condition, is for want of meditation; they do not consider the ravens, and the lillies, they do not study the Promises that God hath made to his children in their lowest condition.
9. The reason why the professors of Religion are so censorious of other men, and so little censorious of themselves, why they judge every man, and examine every man but themselves, (which is the condition of these days) it is for want of meditation. Matthew 7. Judge not that ye be not judged: for with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure you mete, it shall be measured to you again. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brothers eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thy own eye? 39 If men did reflect more upon themselves, they would censure themselves more, and others less. And the reason why people are so rash in censuring, is for want of self-reflection.
10. The reason why professors of Religion do offer the sacrifices of fools to God, when they come to worship him; why they pray headily and rashly, why they rush upon Ordinances without preparation, is for want of meditation, Eccles. 5. 1. Keep thy foot when thou goest to the house of God, and be more ready to hear than to offer the sacrifices of fools, for they consider not that they do evil. Be not rash with thy mouth, and let not thy heart be hasty to utter any thing before God. Why do people rush upon Sacraments without preparation, rush upon Sermons, rush upon Prayer, rush upon holy Duties? why, they do not consider what they do.
11. What is the reason that people prepare no more for death? Because they do not consider the shortness of life. They do not meditate of the vanity of this life, of the certainty and uncertainty of death; and therefore it is said, Deut. 32. 29. Oh that they were wise, that they understood this, that they would consider their latter end! Because men do not consider their latter end, therefore it is that they are so unprepared for their latter end.
12. And lastly, What is the reason that we come so unworthily to the Sacrament? and when we are there, we gaze up and down, and carry our selves so unseemly at that Ordinance? what is the reason that we lose all the fruit of that Ordinance, but merely for want of preparation before we come, and meditation when we are come? now preparation cannot be without meditation; preparation includes meditation in it.
2. The want of the practice of this duty is the cause of all punishment: Isa. 12. 11. The whole land is laid desolate, because no man layeth it to heart. Oh this is the cause of the sword that hath drunk so much blood in this Nation, no man lays to heart the Judgments of the Lord, therefore the land is become desolate. Psalm 28. 5. Because they regard not the works of the Lord, nor the operation of his hand, he shall destroy them, and not build them up; because they do not meditate of Gods works, therefore they Lord will destroy them. Nay, let me add that that is above all this, for God to give a man over to a slight spirit, an unmeditating spirit, to a rashness and slightness of spirit, is one of the greatest Judgments in the world. A man of a slight head can never have a good heart; a slight hearted Christian can never be a good Christian; he that thinks slightly of God, will speak slightly of God; and he that speaks slightly of God, will worship God slightly; and he that slights God, God will slight him; now there cannot be a more cursed frame of spirit, than to be given over to an inconsiderate frame of spirit; an inconsiderate Christian is an inconsiderable Christian. Isa. 42. 24, 25. Who gave Jacob for a spoil, and Israel to the robbers? did not the Lord, he, against whom we have sinned? for they would not walk in his ways, neither were they obedient to his law. Therefore he hath poured upon him the fury of his anger, and the strength of battle, and it hath set him on fire round about, yet he knew not; and it burned him, yet he laid it not to heart. Here is the curse of curses, not so much to be burnt, as not to know it; not so much to have the wrath of God upon us, as not to lay it to heart; it is a sign of the greatest fury of God, for a man to be given over to slightness of spirit; when he is under the judgments of God not to regard and lay them to heart.
And thus I have been somewhat long in setting out unto you the mischiefs that flow from the want of the practice of the grace of Meditation; and I do this to provoke you all to be humbled before God for the not practicing this duty, (for I am confident your consciences will tell you that you do not practice it) and to convince you of the necessity of the practicing of this duty, which is quite dead and buried in the world. That I may be Gods instrument to stir you up to a conscientious practice of this duty of Heavenly meditation,
2. I shall show you the necessity of it from the benefits and advantages that will come unto Christians by the conscientious practice of this duty; and this I will show in three Particulars.
1. It is a mighty help to the working and procuring of all grace.
2. It is a mighty help to preserve and increase grace.
3. It is a mighty help to arm us against the Devil and all his temptations.
1. Meditation when it is sanctified, is a mighty help to the begetting of all grace; this I will show in divers Particulars.
1. It is a mighty help to work in us repentance and reformation of life; and therefore David saith, Psalm 119. 59. I thought on my ways, and turned my feet unto thy testimonies. I thought on my ways; that is, I considered the evil of my ways, and what a bitter thing it is to sin against God, what a dishonour I have brought upon God by my evil ways, and what a scandal I have brought upon Religion. Ezek. 36. 31. Then shall you remember your own evil ways, and your doings that were not good, and 43 shall loath your selves in your own sight for your iniquities, and for your abominations. A conscientious meditation of the evil of sin, is a Divine hammer to break your hearts for sin, and from sin; for did you consider the Majesty of God that is offended by the least sin; did you consider the infinite wrath of God against sin; did you consider the affronts that are offered to God by sin; that every sin is a dethroning of God, a robbing of God, a striking through the name of God; did you consider the pollution that is in sin, that sin makes you like the Devil; did you further consider the mischief that sin brings upon us; sin deprives you of the Beatifical vision; sin shuts you out of heaven; sin binds you over to everlasting burnings.
Again, did you consider the patience of God, and the goodness of God towards you yet, notwithstanding all your sins, and what an unkind thing it is to sin against so good a God; and did you further consider what Christ hath done to purchase pardon for your sins, and how Christ hath shed his blood for such wicked wretches as you are; did you sanctifiedly meditate upon these things, it would mightily provoke you to repent of your sins, and to turn unto God. And therefore you shall read concerning Peter, after he had denied Christ, Mark 14. 72. The cock crew, and 44 Peter called to mind the word Jesus said unto him, Before the cock crow twice thou shalt deny me thrice; and when he thought thereon he wept. The meaning of the Greek word is, When he weighed the speech of Christ, when he thought what an unkind thing it was to deny his dear Lord and Master, this made him weep; if he had not meditated of the evil that he had committed, he had never wept. And what made the Prodigal child return home to his father? you shall see the reason, Luke 15. 17. And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father have bread enough, and to spare, and I perish with hunger! When he came to consider with himself, the misery that he had brought upon himself, and that there were many servants in his fathers house that had bread enough, I will arise (saith he) and go to my father, and I will say, Father, I have sinned against heaven, (all this was but his meditation, he did but thus think in his heart to do this) and he arose and came to his Father.
2. Divine meditation is a mighty help to beget in us a love to God; for as it is with a picture, that hath a curtain drawn over it, though the picture be never so beautiful, you cannot see the beauty of it till the curtain be drawn aside; to an unconsiderating, an unmeditating Christian, God is as a picture with a curtain 45 drawn over it, he cannot see the beauty of God, but meditation draws the curtain, and lets us in to behold all the beauty that is in God; and he that beholds the beauty of God, cannot but love God. As it is said of Socrates, he was so good a man that all that knew him loved him; and if any man did not love him, it was because they did not know him; much more may I say of God, All that meditate in, and study God, cannot but love him. And the reason why you do not love him, is because you do not study and meditate on God: as it is said, 1 John 4. 8. He that loveth not, knoweth not God, for God is love: he that knoweth God, loveth God. What is the reason the Saints in heaven love God so perfectly? because they always behold his face, they see him, they think on him. And did you meditate upon the excellency of God, that God is altogether lovely, that all Excellencies are after an infinite manner concentered in God, that there is nothing lovely in the Creature but it is to be found infinitely in the Creator: Did you further consider all the good things that God hath done for you; all the blessings and mercies that you have received from God; did you not only think, but did you dwell upon these thoughts, did you sit at this fire, it would kindle a mighty flame of Divine love in your souls; therefore David saith, Psalm 39. 3. My 46 heart was hot within me; while I was musing the fire burned. Psalm 104. 34. My meditation of him shall be sweet. Did you meditate much of God, you would taste a sweetness in God, that would be as a Loadstone to draw your hearts to the love of God.
3. Divine meditation is a mighty help to work in us a fear of God, the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom; now did you study the Majesty of God, that God hath all men, all the Devils in a chain, and that God only can do us hurt; and that no man can do us hurt but God must give him leave. Did you study the Omnipotency of God, you would fear God, and fear him only: as it is Isa. 51. 12, 13. I, even I am he that comforteth you: who art thou that thou shouldest be afraid of a man that shall die, and the son of man that shall be made as grass, and forgettest the Lord thy maker, that hath stretched forth the heavens, and laid the foundations of the earth! As if he should say, If thou didst remember and think on the Lord thy God, who made the Heavens and the Earth, and hath all things in his hand, Thou wouldest not fear a man that shall die, &c. Jer. 10. 6, 7. first the Prophet breaks out into an admiration of God, Forasmuch as there is none like unto thee, O Lord: thou art great, and thy name is great in might: who would not fear thee, O King of Nations? for to thee doth it appertain: 47 forasmuch as among all the wise men of the Nations, and in all their Kingdoms, there is none like unto thee. The meditation of God stirs up the Prophet to fear God, Jeremiah 5. 22. Fear ye not me, saith the Lord? will you not tremble at my presence, which hath placed the sand for the bound of the sea, by a perpetual decree that it cannot pass, though the waves thereof toss themselves, yet can they not prevail: though they roar, yet cannot they pass over it. Did we meditate much upon the power of God, we would fear him, and stand in awe of him.
4. This Divine meditation is a mighty help to beget in us a love to Jesus Christ; for Jesus Christ is a fountain sealed, a spring shut up, a garden enclosed. Now you know no man is the better for a book sealed up, or a treasure locked up; to a careless Christian Christ is a fountain sealed, a treasure locked up; but meditation is the key that unlocks the treasury of all the Excellencies of Christ, and opens the book to let us read all the Excellencies that are in Christ. Meditation doth as it were open the fountain; and did we study what Christ is, that he is the choicest of ten thousand, altogether excellent, the brightness of his Fathers glory, and the express image of his Person; and did we study the love of Christ to poor sinners, the height, the depth, the length, the breadth of the love of God 48 toward us; did we study how Christ became poor to make us rich, how he became a curse to free us from the curse; how he was made sin that we might be made the righteousness of God thorough him; did we bury our selves in this meditation; did you take half an hour in a day to meditate on the Excellency of Christ, did you when you walk in the fields meditate on the love of Christ, I am confident it would beget in you a love to Christ.
5. Divine meditation is a mighty help to enable us to believe and trust in God. To trust,
1. In his Providence in all outward straits.
2. In his Promises in all spiritual troubles.
1. It will help you to trust in his Providence when you are in any straits: when all creature-helps fail, and you are ready to sink, then meditation will raise your faith, and help you to trust in Gods Providence for outward provision, Matthew 6. 25, &c. I say unto you (saith Christ) take no thought for your life what you shall eat, or what ye shall drink, nor yet for your body what you shall put on; be not solicitous for your outward provision. But how doth Christ argue? what way should we take, that we may not distrust God? saith he, Meditate upon the fowls of the air; behold the fowls of the air for they sow not. v. 28. Why take you thought for raiment, consider the lillies of the field how they grow, they toil not, neither do 49 they spin, and yet I say unto you, that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. The meditation of the lillies and the fowls of the air is a means to help us to trust in the Lord in the day of our straits.
2. It will enable you to rely upon the promises for the good of your souls. Did you when you read the promises of the Bible, chew them, how sweet would they be; the reason why the Promises are not sweet to you, is because you read them, but you do not chew them by meditating upon them; if you did meditate upon them, they would be sweeter than the honey, and the honey-comb, especially if you did join application with meditation. Abraham was the Father of the Faithful, and he was strong in faith; and what made him strong in faith? because he considered not his own body now dead, neither the deadness of Sarah's womb, but he considered the promise of God, Rom. 4. 19. And the reason why the Saints of God are so void of comfort, and hang down their heads, and walk so disconsolately, is because they consider the deadness of their own souls; they consider their imperfections, but they do not meditate upon the promises, the freeness and the riches of them, Matthew 16. 8. Which when Jesus perceived, he said to them, Oh ye of little faith, why reason ye among your selves, because you have brought no bread? Here Christ 50 reproves them for want of faith; but how came they to want faith? Do you not understand, neither remember the five loaves of the five thousand, and how many baskets ye took up? and do ye not remember the seven loaves of the four thousand, and how many baskets you took up? As if Christ should have said, If you had meditated on my former miracles, you would never have doubted this miracle; but because you do not remember what I have formerly done, therefore it is that you are so full of unbelief. Now the way to fill your souls with comfort is to meditate upon the Promises of God.
6. Divine meditation is a mighty help to beget in us a contempt of the world, and all worldly things; for the world is like unto gilded copper, it is an easy matter for a man to mistake gilded copper for true gold, unless he considers what he takes; for if a man take gold without consideration, he may quickly be cozened; there is a glittering excellency in the world, the wealth and riches of it are glorious things to a carnal eye, but meditation of the world will wash away all the paint that is upon the world; the studying the vanity of the world, the nothingness of all earthly things, the unsatisfiableness of them, and the perishing nature of them, this will take away the glittering excellency that seems to be in the world; and certainly you would never be so covetous, and so worldly, and dote so much upon the world, did you meditate upon the vanity of it, as you should do; this is the course Solomon takes: the book of Ecclesiastes is called, The Book of the Preacher; and the subject of it is to wean us from the love of the world. But what course doth Solomon take? Eccles. 1. 3. I gave my heart to seek and search out by wisdom concerning all things done under heaven. His course was to consider all the Creatures that were under the Heaven; I have seen, saith he, all the works that are done under the Sun, and behold all is but vanity and vexation of spirit. After he had meditated upon the world, he goes over the riches and the pleasures of the world, and when he had reckoned them all, he concludes in Chap. 2. 11. Then I looked on all the works my hand had wrought, and on the labour that I had laboured to do, and behold all was vanity and vexation of spirit. I gathered me silver and gold, and the peculiar treasure of Kings, and of the Provinces; I got me men-singers, and women-singers, and the delights of the sons of men, as musical instruments, and that of all sorts; so I was great, and increased more than all before me in Jerusalem; also my wisdom remained with me, and whatsoever mine eyes desired I kept not from them. And when he had looked upon all these glorious excellencies, what was his Conclusion? Behold, saith he, all was vanity and vexation of spirit, and there was no profit under the Sun. Did we meditate much on the vanity of the world, we would not idolize it so much.
7. Divine Meditation is a mighty help to beget in us the grace of thankfulness for the mercies and blessings we receive from God. Certainly it is a great duty that lies upon us to be thankful for Gods mercies; now there is no way to stir you up to thankfulness so much as meditation upon the mercies of God; for he that forgets the mercies of God, cannot be thankful for them; and therefore mark the course that David takes, Psalm 8. 3. When I consider the heavens, the work of thy fingers, the Moon, the Stars, which thou hast ordained; then he cries out, What is man that thou art mindful of him! or the son of man that thou visitest him! for thou hast made him a little lower than the angels. When he considered what God had done for man, then he admires the love of God to man, and breaks out into thankfulness. Certainly a Christian forgetful of Gods mercies can never be thankful for them; and the way to beget thankfulness is to meditate on what God hath done for us.
8. Divine Meditation is a mighty help to beget in you a preferring of Gods house before your own house. It is the great sin of this age wherein 53 we live, that every man studies to build his own house, and no man cares for the house of the Lord: We may truly say as Jeremiah saith, This is Zion whom no man regards; every man seeks his own interest, and no man almost cares what becomes of Religion. There is a strange kind of lukewarmness that is upon the spirits of all men in this age, that so men may grow great themselves, they care not what becomes of the House of God: Now Divine Meditation would make you prefer the building of Gods House before the building of your own house. And for this purpose let me beseech you to read Hag. 1. 4. Is it time for you, Oh ye, to dwell in your ceiled houses, and this house lye waste? It was the sin of the people of Israel, that they neglected the building of Gods House, and every man strove to grow rich in his own particular: Now therefore thus saith the Lord of hosts, consider your ways, (here the Prophet calls them to consideration) ye have sown much, but bring in little; ye eat, but you have not enough; ye drink but ye are not filled with drink; ye clothe you, but there is none warm. And he that earneth wages, earneth wages to put it into a bag with holes. What was the matter? because they did not build Gods House, therefore God did not build their house: v. 7. Thus saith the Lord of Hosts, consider your ways: ye looked for much, but lo it came to little: and 54 when you brought it home, I did blow upon it; why saith the Lord of Hosts, because of my house that is waste, and ye run every man into his own house, therefore the heaven over you is stayed from dew, and the earth is stayed from her fruit. God will never settle England, God will never settle your houses, till you make conscience to build Gods House, and till you have more zeal for the House of God than for your own houses; though you may dream of peace and plenty, yet certainly the Lord will never build your houses, until you build Gods House. And therefore he saith further, Hag. 2. 17. I smote you with blasting and with mildew, and with hail in all the labours of your hands, yet ye turned not to me, saith the Lord. Consider now from this day and upward, from the four and twentieth day of the ninth month, even from the day that the foundation of the Lords Temple was laid; consider it, from this day will I bless you. And certainly the world is much mistaken; the way to build your own house, is to join together to settle Religion; God will never prosper you, till Gods House be settled. And did you meditate on these two Chapters, the first and second Chapter of Haggai, it would by Gods grace beget in you a mighty zeal toward the settling of the House of God, and to prefer that before the settling of your own house.
55 9. Divine Meditation will beget in us a keeping of all the commandments of God. There is no Commandment of God but Divine Meditation when it is sanctified, (I do not say otherwise) will work in us, and enable us to keep: Deut. 4. 39, 40. Know therefore this day, and consider it in thy heart, that the Lord is God in heaven above, and upon the earth beneath there is none else; thou shalt keep therefore his statutes, and his commandments. And David saith, Psalm 119. 55. I have remembered thy name, Oh Lord, in the night, and have kept thy Law.
2. Divine Meditation is not only a means to beget grace, but it is a mighty help to preserve and increase grace. As the wood preserves the fire; as the oil preserves the flame; as the water preserves the fish, so doth meditation preserve your graces. It preserves every grace, and it increases every grace; for Meditation is a Divine pair of bellows to blow up the sparks of grace; when there is but a little fire, meditation will kindle this fire more, and increase it; when you find your love of God grows cold, meditate upon the love of God, and this will kindle the love of God in your hearts; and when you find the fear of God to diminish in you, meditate upon the power of God, that thy breath is in his hand, that he hath thee in his hand; this will increase 56 the fear of God; and so when the love of the world increases upon you, meditate upon the vanity and nothingness of it, and this will decrease the love of the world.
3. Divine Meditation, as it is a means to beget grace, and to increase grace, so it is a mighty means to arm and defend us against all the temptations of the Devil, and against all his fiery darts. It is armour of proof against the Devil and all his temptations. What made Moses refuse the pleasure, treasures and honours of Egypt? for Moses when he was of age, a young man, and fit to enjoy the pleasures of Egypt, he chose rather to suffer affliction than to enjoy the pleasures of sin; he refused to be called the Son of PharaohÕs Daughter: What made him do all this? Because he had respect to the recompense of reward, and he beheld him that was invisible; he meditated upon the reward he should have in Heaven; he knew the pleasures of Heaven were better than the pleasures of PharaohÕs Court; and he knew the treasures he should have in Heaven were better than the treasures he should have in Egypt; and therefore he chose rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season: He knew he could not enjoy both, and he had an eye to the recompense of reward, he saw him that was invisible; and 57 this made him do all this; he could never have done this without this Divine grace of Meditation. And what made Joseph refuse to lye with his Mistress, when he might have been preferred by lying with her, and had secrecy and security? why he meditated, How can I do this and sin against God? He thought of God, and he would not do it; it was meditation that made him refuse it. What made the Saints of old receive joyfully the spoiling of their goods? Heb. 10. 34. They took joyfully the spoiling of their goods, knowing in themselves that they had in heaven a better and an enduring substance. Because they knew, that is, they considered that they had in Heaven an enduring substance, an eternal reward, they should have better riches there; they considered that, and that made them lose their outward estates; they looked for a better estate in Heaven. Bishop Hooper, when he was going to Martyrdom, over night he discoursed and reasoned with himself; saith he, When I think of the fire, I begin to be afraid, for I fear that fire will burn: but when I think of the fire of hell, the fear of eternal fire makes me willing to endure a temporary fire. Saith he again, When I think of the loss of life, I begin to be afraid; I know life is precious; and when I meditate upon these outward enjoyments, outward preferments, I seem unwilling to be burnt; but when I meditate of 58 the joys of Heaven, and the preferments that I shall have there, this makes me willing to go through fire, to go through Martyrdom to Heaven. It was meditation of Heaven, and the joys of Heaven that made the Martyrs come so willingly to the stake, and embrace it as a bride doth her bridegroom.
And thus I have showed you the great necessity of this grace of Meditation: It remains now that I should come to the Application of this Doctrine.
If this duty of Divine Meditation be so necessary a duty, as you have heard; then it reproves those Christians that are utterly unaccustomed, and unacquainted with this duty; that receive mercies from God, but are never the better for the mercies they do receive, for want of meditation, That do not say in their hearts, let us fear that God that doth give us the former and the latter rain, as it is, Jeremiah 5. 23. it reproves those that are guilty of many sins, but do not repent for want of consideration, because they do not say in their hearts what have I done? it reproves those that meet with many losses and crosses in the world, but are never the better, for their afflictions, because they do not consider what is the meaning of Gods rod, and how they may get their afflictions sanctified; that read the blessed Promises of the Gospel, but taste not the sweetness 59 of them for want of meditation, for want of chewing them; in a word, that hear many Sermons, but are never the better for the Sermons they hear, and all for want of this Divine Meditation.
The mercies of God, and the promises of God, and the afflictions of God, and the Sermons we hear, are like unto a Sovereign plaster, which though it be never so good, if it be taken off the wound as soon as ever it is laid on, it will never cure the wound, it is the abiding of the Plaster upon the wound that cures it: So it is the dwelling upon the mercies we receive, the chewing upon the Promises, the meditating upon the Sermons we hear, will do us good. That man that hears a Sermon and forgets it as soon as he hath heard it, will get no good by it; it is with Sermons and mercies as it is with meat, a man may eat his meat and be never the more nourished if he do not digest it, if he vomit it up as soon as he hath eaten it, or if his meat presently go through him, it will do him no good; it is the digesting, the concocting of meat that nourishes a man; so there are thousands of people that hear Sermon upon Sermon, and yet are never the more holy by what they hear, for want of digesting the Sermons they hear by Divine Meditation: Now this want of meditation is a sin, that I persuade my self most Christians are guilty of, I 60 cannot exclude my self; there are few Christians that are convinced of the necessity of this duty of Divine Meditation, few that practice this duty; the great God hath exercised this Nation with variety of Providences for these many years; we have been these eleven or twelve years in the fire of affliction; we have met with unexpected changes and alterations, but where is the man that lays to heart the Providences of God? where is the man that studies what God is doing with this Nation? and how to get the Providences of God sanctified? We may say of most of the Nation, as it is in Jeremiah 12. 11. The whole land is made desolate, because no man layeth it to heart. There is no man considers what is the meaning of Gods Providences, the variety and strangeness, and wonderfulness of them. We are like unto those, Isa. 42. 24, 25. Who gave Israel to the spoil, and Israel to the robbers? did not the Lord, he against whom we have sinned? for they would not walk in his ways, neither were they obedient to his law, therefore he hath poured upon him the fury of his anger, and the strength of battle, and it hath set him on fire round about, yet he knew not; and it burned him, but he laid it not to heart. We have been burning, and burning, and consuming, but no man lays it to heart; this is the great sin of this Nation, the Lord humble us. There are four sorts of Christians that are here to be reproved for the want of the grace of Divine Meditation.
1. The ignorant Christian, that knows not how to set about the work of Meditation for want of matter to meditate upon; for meditation supposes knowledge, meditation is a dwelling upon that we know; and therefore the ignorant Christian cannot be a meditating Christian; he that is ignorant of God, cannot meditate of God; he that is ignorant of Christ crucified, cannot meditate of Christ crucified; and this is one reason why so many Saints of God are so barren in Sacramental meditation, because they know so little of Christ crucified; the ignorance of God and Christ is not only a sin, but it is the root of all sin. It is said, 1 Sam. 2. 12. of the two Sons of old Eli, They were sons of Belial, and they knew not the Lord. All sin is wrapped up in ignorance, as a child in swaddling clouts; as Toads and Serpents grow in dirty and dark Cellars, so doth all sin grow where ignorance dwells. And therefore Chrysostom saith, That ignorance is a deep hell. And one saith very well, An ignorant Christian is the Devils shop, wherein he forges all manner of wickedness.
2. There is the forgetful Christian: for meditation is a meditating of what we know concerning God and Heaven, and the day of judgment; it is a bringing of the things we know, unto our selves; and therefore a forgetful Christian cannot be a meditating Christian; he that forgets the Mercies of God, can never meditate on the Mercies of God: This sin of forgetfulness of God, is a sin that the Children of Israel were very guilty of, Psalm 106. 7. The Prophet complains of them; our Fathers understood not thy wonders in Egypt, they remembered not the multitude of thy mercies, but provoked him at the Sea, even at the red Sea, v. 13. they soon forgot his works, v. 31. They forgot God their Saviour, which had done great things in Egypt; therefore he said, that he would destroy them. The forgetfulness of God, and the mercies of God, is made the root of all sin, as well as the ignorance of God. Judge. 3. 7. The children of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord, and forgot the Lord their God, therefore they did evil in the sight of the Lord. And therefore God lays a charge upon the children of Israel, that when they came into the land of Canaan, and should have the fullness of all outward blessings, Deut. 8. 11. Beware (saith he) that thou forget not the Lord thy God, in not keeping his commandments, and his judgments, and his statutes, which I command thee this day: lest when thou hast eaten, and art full, and hast built goodly houses, and dwelt therein: v. 14. Then thy 63 heart be lifted up, and thou forget the Lord thy God. You that forget the mercies of God, God will forget to be merciful unto you; and you that do not remember what good things God hath done for you, God will take order that you shall have no good things to remember. The good Thief on the Cross when he was dying, his great request to Christ was, Lord remember me when thou comest into thy Kingdom. It is the great desire of all Saints that God would remember them in mercy; but certainly you that forget the mercies of God, God will forget to be merciful unto you.
3. I am to reprove the rash-headed Christian, that rushes upon Duties, and upon Ordinances, and public Offices, without consideration; that comes rashly to the Sacrament, and kneels down rashly to his private and public devotion; that doth not consider before-hand when he comes to worship the Lord our God; this I call the rash-headed Christian, we have many such among us.
And there are four things worthy your observing, that may be said of a rash-headed Christian.
He is a spiritual fool, and all the Sacraments he receives, and the prayers he makes, they are the sacrifices of fools, as you have it excellently set down, Eccles. 5. 1, 2. Keep thy foot when thou goest to the house of God, and be more ready 64 to hear than to give the sacrifices of fools, for they consider not that they do evil. Be not rash with thy mouth, and let not thy heart be hasty to utter any thing before God, for God is in heaven, and thou upon earth, therefore let thy words be few. Out of which two verses I gather these two things.
1. That it is the duty of all Christians in all their addresses to God to consider who this God is to whom they draw near; to consider their own vileness, and Gods excellency; to consider that God is in heaven and they are upon earth.
2. That whosoever doth rush upon Ordinances without consideration, he doth offer up the sacrifice of fools, because he doth not consider that he doth evil; when you come rashly to public duties here upon the Sabbath-day, and you come rashly to the Sacrament, and when you are hasty to utter words to God, you come as so many spiritual fools.
2. A rash-headed Christian will many times speak that which he will wish he had not spoken; and he will do that which he shall have cause to repent of. We have many examples of the Saints of God, that have paid dearly for their rash-speaking, and their rash-practicing; for this rashness is a sin that the Saints of God are very much subject to; we read of Peter, 65 that he fell three times into this sin. Matthew 16. 22. there Christ told Peter, That he must be crucified, and Peter began to rebuke him, saying, Be it far from thee, Lord, this shall not be unto thee. Peter spake very rashly; now Christ said unto him, Get thee behind me, Satan, thou art an offence unto me. And Luke 9. when Christ was transfigured, then Peter began to utter a rash speech; saith Peter to Christ, Master, it is good for us to be here; and let us make three tabernacles, one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias; not knowing what he said: It was a rash speech; and especially, Luke 22. when Christ told him that one of you shall betray me; saith he very rashly, Master, though all betray thee, yet will not I betray thee. But he spake rashly, not knowing the deceitfulness of his own heart. We read of the two brethren, James and John, that they spake very rashly unto Christ, Luke 9. 54. When his two disciples James and John saw this, they said, Lord, wilt thou that we command fire to come down from heaven and consume them, even as Elias did? but he turned and rebuked them, and said, Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of. We read of Moses, that he spake unadvisedly with his lips, and God was angry with him, Numbers 20. Shall we bring water for you out of he rock? he spake unadvisedly, and the Lord was angry with him. Jephtha made a rash vow, 66 Whatsoever I see, I will offer in sacrifice. He had cause to repent of that Vow. And that which I say of words, I may say of deeds, the Saints of God have done many things in their haste, that they have cause to repent of; David rashly gave away the land of innocent Mephibosheth to his servant, 2 Sam. 16. 4. Ziba came with a false accusation against his Master, and David rashly without examining the cause, said, Thine are all that pertained unto Mephibosheth: which was a very sinful and an unjust rash action of David; he gave away all the estate of the Master to a cunning servant. And when he came marching against Nabal, he spake rashly, and was acting rashly; As the Lord lives, saith he, I will not leave one alive of the house of Nabal: and he came with his army thinking to destroy all, if Abigail had not prevented him.
3. A rash-headed Christian will quickly run into error, and into by-paths. As a man that runs hastily is very prone to stumble, so those Christians that rush upon the profession of Religion, and rush upon public Offices and Ordinances, they are like to miscarry in them, and they are apt to run into error: for a rash-headed Christian is led more by passion than judgment; he is led more by affection than by reason. He is like a horse without bridle, like a house without walls, a city without 67 gates; a city without walls and doors is easily robbed: so a rash-headed Christian is easily cozened of the truths of Christ.
4. A rash-headed Christian will never persevere and hold out to the end; he that takes a profession of Religion upon him rashly, and doth not consider before-hand what it will cost him, when this man meeteth with more difficulty than he is aware of, he will apostatize and fall away. And therefore it is the speech of our Saviour, Luke 14. 28. Which of you intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost whether he hath sufficient to finish it? What King going to make war against another King, sitteth not down first and counteth whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand. Let it not be offensive to tell you, and let not your hearts rise against it, There are many of this City took up the Presbyterian Persuasion, but they never considered what they took, they took it as an opinion cried up, but as soon as ever they found opposition they fell from it, because they never considered what it was when they took it. Few men consider seriously what Religion is, and what it is to be a real Saint, and a real professor of Religion; and therefore as soon as ever persecution and trouble arise, they fall away for want of meditation and consideration.
68 4. I am to reprove especially your slight-headed Christians, that cannot dwell long upon any thing that is good, that rove and wander from one thing to another; this frame of spirit, if I be not mistaken, is quite opposite to Religion. Do not think me censorious, for I must profess, I have been long of this opinion, That a slight-headed Christian cannot be a good Christian. Religion is a serious and solemn matter, it is a business of eternity; and I read of Religious persons in Scripture, that they are commended for their seriousness. It is said of the Virgin Mary, Luke 2. 19. All that heard it wondered at the things that were told them, but she kept all these things and pondered them in her heart. A Religious Christian is a thoughtful pondering Christian, Luke 1. 66. All they that heard them, laid them up in their hearts, saying, What manner of child shall this be! A true Saint of God is a considering, thoughtful, serious Christian; therefore a slight-headed Christian is but a slight Christian; for he that thinks slightly of God, will serve him slightly, and speak slightly of him; a slight head produces a slight heart, and a slight life; if the thought of God and Christ make but slight impression upon thy soul, thy expressions of God and Christ will be more slight; he that thinks slightly of God, God will slight him; a slight-headed Christian is 69 but a vain Christian, and all his Religion is but vanity, but like a slight garment, or a slight house that any wind blows down. The Lord give you to think of this. Most Christians in the world are slight-headed Christians, that think slightly of sin, of God, of Christ, of the day of Judgment. I, but you will say unto me: Are all men that have slight heads, hypocrites?
A. I will give you a distinction, that I may not be misunderstood. There is a double slightness of head, there is a slightness of head that is a natural disease, when a man through the weakness of his head cannot dwell long upon any thing, when he cannot think of worldly business long, his head will not bear it; now thou mayest be a true child of God and have a weak head, that is not able to think long of any thing at all. And there is a slightness of head that is a sinful slightness, and that is, when a man can be serious upon the things of the world, can dwell upon worldly businesses, but cannot dwell long upon the things of heaven, cannot be serious about the things of his soul, but as soon as ever he comes to prayer, he is slight; as soon as ever he comes to the Sacrament, or any holy duty, then he hath slight thoughts of God, and of Heaven, such an one was Gallio, Acts 18. when he saw it was a matter of Religion, he cared for none of these things; saith he, if it 70 were a matter of civil right, I would regard it; but seeing it is matter of religion, look ye to it. And Pilate was a slight-headed man, John 18. 38. Pilate saith unto him, what is truth? that was a good question; and when he had said this, he went out again unto the Jews; he never looked for an answer: he had a slight thought came into his mind that was good, but he went away, and never came and desired Christ to give him answer. I beseech you to consider of it, a slight-headed Christian can never be a good Christian. If the things of God do not make impression upon your hearts, you will never be serious about the things of eternity. These are the four sorts of Christians that are to be reproved for want of meditation.
But I have another use of reproof. If those are to be reproved that neglect this Divine duty of meditation, much more are those to be reproved that meditate upon things that are wicked, instead of meditating upon the things of Heaven. Here are two sorts I would speak a little to, either those that meditate to do evil, or those that meditate upon the evil they have done.
1. It reproves those that meditate to do evil: you shall read of them, Psalm 36. 4. They devise mischief upon their bed. Jer. 18. 18. Then said they, come and let us devise devices against Jeremiah. There are some men that plot how to do evil, which is a double sin; it is one sin to do evil, it is a greater sin to plot to do evil; a man may go to hell for his sinful plottings, and sinful contrivances, though they never come to light. Isa. 29. 5. Woe unto them that seek deep to hide their counsel from the Lord, and their works are in the dark, and they say who seeth us, and who knoweth us? The Lord will send us to hell for all our sinful contrivances, and vain projects, though they prove abortive.
2. There are some that meditate upon the evil they have done; as an old Adulterer will with delight tell stories of his youthful wantonness, and an old wicked man will delight to tell tales of the sins that he hath formerly committed; this is to act over your sins again in Gods account; this is to lick up the old vomit; this is to sin anew. I would to God you would consider of it; a man may go to hell for contemplative wickedness, for spiritual wickedness, for heart-adultery, and heart-murder, as well as for actual wickedness; a man may go to hell for thinking evil, as well as for speaking evil, and doing evil; for God is a Spirit, and he looks into the frame of your spirits; and he will send you to hell for the inward lust of sin, as well as for the act of sin; and that man that repeats over the sins of his youth with delight, this man acts them over again in Gods account. But I will not spend more time in the use of reprehension.
But I come to that which I especially aim at, an use of Exhortation, to beseech you all that you would subscribe to the obedience of this Text, that you would conform your selves to this Text, that you would accustom your selves to his most necessary and excellent, and long neglected duty of Divine meditation. Let me with all earnestness commend unto you the conscientious practice of this duty of Divine Meditation, because it is an universal remedy against all sin; it is a help to all goodness, it is a preservative of all godliness, it is armour of proof against all the Devils temptations, and the want of it is the cause of all iniquity, as you have heard. Let me commend this to all sorts of Christians, If it be necessary for you to reform your lives, it is necessary for you to meditate; for what saith David? I considered my ways, and turned my feet unto thy testimonies. What made Peter when he had denied Christ, repent and weep bitterly for what he had done? the Text saith, when he meditated upon what he had done, he went out and wept bitterly; it was the meditation of his sin made him do so. What is the reason that men repent no more of their sins? because they do not meditate of the bitterness of them, Jeremiah 8. 6. No man repenteth, because no man saith what have I done? If it be necessary for you to love God, to trust in God, to contemn the world, it is necessary 73 for you to practice this duty of meditation; what is the reason all the Sermons you hear do you no more good? it is for want of meditation, we do not meditate upon what we hear. Let me commend this duty of meditation,
1. Unto all Ministers. There are four things, saith Luther, make a Minister, reading, praying, temptation and meditation. It is not reading makes a Scholar without prayer, nor reading and prayer without temptation; how can he comfort others, that was never tempted himself? and then meditation; and therefore Paul persuades Timothy to be much in meditation, 1 Tim. 4. 15.
2. Let me commend this to great persons, to Lords, and Earls, and Kings; David professes of himself, Psalm 119. 148. Mine eyes prevent the night-watchings, that I might meditate on thy word. v. 15. I will meditate on thy precepts. v. 23. Princes also did sit and speak against me, but thy servant did meditate in thy statutes.
3. Let me commend this to you that are Captains and Soldiers, and men that belong unto the C& Joshua the great Captain-General of the people of Israel, is commanded by God to meditate in the Law of God day and night, Joshua 1. 8.
4. Let me commend this to young Gentlemen, from the example of Isaac in the Text, 74 that went out as his custom was, to meditate of God, and the things of God. Isaac was heir to Abraham, who was a very rich man; he was very rich in cattle, and very rich in silver and gold, and Isaac was the heir of all he had; and at even-tide he went out and walked in the fields, and meditated upon the things of God, meditated upon the works of God, the things of Heaven.
5. Let me commend this to you that are Merchants, to you that are Tradesmen, that you would spare some time for meditation.
6. Let me commend this to all Women, according to the example of Hanna, and the Virgin Mary, she kept all these things and pondered them in her heart, Luke 2. 19, 51. But his mother kept all these sayings in her heart. Oh let me commend this to young maids when they are at their work, that they would have some heavenly ejaculations, and meditation of the works of God.
I remember I have read of Solon, who was a great Law-giver; saith he, There are many good Laws made, but there wants one Law to teach people how to practice all the other Laws, such a Law were worth making. So give me leave to tell you, there are many excellent Sermons preached in this Nation, in this City, never better preaching I dare say in London; but there is one Sermon yet to preach, and that 75 is to teach you to practice all the other Sermons. Now if I be not mistaken, this Sermon will help you to practice all the Sermons you ever heard; for meditation is nothing else but a concocting of the mercies of God, a digesting of the Promises and the Sermons we hear; it is a Sermon to teach you to digest all the Sermons that ever you have heard. Some men have a great appetite, but have no digestion; I do not complain of you that are greedy to hear Sermons; but let me tell you, if you have not a good digestion, your Sermons will do no good; that which a man is eating half an hour, requires six or seven hours to digest. I have heard of many men that eat too much, but I never heard of any that digested too much; you that eat much and do not digest it, that which you eat will turn to bad nourishment; therefore let me commend this duty to you as one of the choicest duties of a Christian.
Now because of the excellency of this Subject, I shall desire to speak to six Particulars about this Doctrine of Meditation.
1. The place where we are to meditate.
2. The time when we are to meditate.
3. The ingredients and properties of Divine Meditation.
4. The companions of it.
5. The materials of it.
76 6. Some helps to help us to the better practice of this duty.
1. Concerning the place where we are to exercise this duty of Divine Meditation; it is said of Isaac in my Text, that he went out into the fields to meditate. I do not think that this example is obligatory, that a man is always bound to go into the fields to meditate: I read of David, Psalm 63. that he meditated upon God when he was in his bed: v. 16. When I remembered thee upon my bed, and meditated on thee in the night-watches. But this example doth hold out thus much to us, that private and solitary places are the fittest places for meditation; and as Christ saith, Matthew 6. 6. When thou prayest, enter into thy closet, (speaking of private prayer) and when thou hast shut thy door, pray unto thy Father that is in secret, and thy Father which seest in secret shall reward thee openly. So do I say, When you would meditate solemnly of Christ, or of Heaven, or of your sins, or of the Promises, you must enter into your closets, or go into your gardens, or walk into the fields; you must retire your selves into some private place. It is worth marking how the Evangelist takes notice of this practice in Jesus Christ, Matthew 14. 23. He sent the multitude away, and went up into a mountain apart to pray, and when the evening was come he was there alone. Mark 1. 35. And in the morning 77 rising up a great while before day, he went out and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed. Mark 6. 46. He departed into a mountain to pray, Luke 6. 12. He went into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God. The Scripture makes mention of a garden to which Christ did usually resort to pray, and this garden Christ did often go unto, that when Judas purposed to betray him, he knew where to find him: John 18. 1. When Jesus had spoken those words, he went where there was a garden, and Judas which betrayed him knew the place, for Jesus often times resorted thither with his disciples. And what did Christ go to the garden for? he went there to pray: Luke 22. There was the place where he shed drops of blood, Matthew 26. There he went to pray, and there he went to meditate; a garden famous for what Christ did there. Now all this doth signify thus much unto us, that in the practice of this Divine duty of Meditation, we must retire our selves, whether into a private garden, or into our closets, or whether into private walks, into the fields. For if a Scholar cannot study in a crowd, he must retire to some private study, some private place; much more when you would converse with God in the Mount, when you would meditate of those glorious things of the other world, you must shut out the society of men, that you may the more enjoy the society of 78 God. It is a rare saying of Bernard, That the bridegroom will not come to the meditating bride (speaking of Christ who is our bridegroom) but when she is alone. And therefore it is said, Song of Solomon 7. 11. Come my beloved let us go forth into the fields, &c. v. 12. there will I give thee my love. God loves to visit his people when they are alone, meditating of the things of Heaven.
But now I must acquaint you with two sorts of company, there are outward company, and there are inward company; now when you meditate you must not only retire your selves from outward company, but from inward company. It is an easy matter to shut the doors of your closets, and to be there alone, but it is a hard matter to shut out company from within, from your hearts as well as from your closets. There are many men when they are alone in a garden, or in the fields meditating, they are pestered with company within, with worldly thoughts, with voluptuous thoughts, with vain imaginations.
St. Jerome complains of himself, and he doth bewail it; saith he, When I have been in the Wilderness alone, with wild beasts, and have had no company but wild beasts, my thoughts have been at Rome, among the Ladies at Rome, among the dances of Rome. And I have heard many Christians complain (and it is one of the 79 greatest complaints we have) that when they retire themselves to meditate of the Promises, or of ChristÕs Passion, or of the Joys of Heaven, they are then pestered and exceedingly troubled with worldly business, with worldly thoughts; sometimes we are in our Counting-houses, sometimes we are at our pleasures, at our sports. It is an easy matter to thrust worldly company out of our closets, but a hard matter to thrust worldly thoughts out of our hearts; and therefore when you meditate you must do as Abraham did, Genesis 22. 5. And Abraham said to his young men, abide you here with the ass, and I and the lad will go yonder and worship. So you must say to your vain thoughts and worldly business, tarry here below, I will go up to the mount and meditate; you must not only say to your worldly company, but to your vain thoughts and imaginations, tarry here below. The Rabbis say, though there were thousands of Sacrifices offered in the Temple in a year, yet there was never any fly seen in the Temple, which was certainly a Miracle. Happy is that Christian that can do Temple-work, without being pestered with these spiritual flies, with vain and roving thoughts. Oh how happy were it if we could come to the house of God, and that there might be no flies there, no vain imaginations to disturb us in our worship. I read 80 Exod. 8. of a plague of flies, and that plague of flies was one of the greatest plagues that Pharaoh had; for when he was to eat his meat, the flies got into his mouth; when he was to drink his drink, the flies filled his cup, so that he could neither eat nor drink; and these swarms of flies corrupted the land; v. 24. it is called a grievous swarm of flies. Now these swarms of flies may be compared to our roving wandering thoughts when we are about the service of God; these flies corrupt the best box of Ointment, they spoil our prayers and our meditation. But you shall read, in Goshen there was no plague of flies; Oh happy you that are not plagued with these swarms of flies, when you are in the service of God.
Q. I but you will say unto me, How shall I keep my self from these plagues of flies? how shall I keep my self that I may shut out inward company when I go to the mount to meditate?
Answer. For that, you must do as Abraham did, Genesis 15. 11. And when the fowls came down upon the carcass, Abraham drove them away; so must you: when this company doth thrust upon you and crowd in, when your vain thoughts crowd in, you must stir up all your spiritual strength to drive them away; you must do as the high Priest did, 2 Chron. 26. 20. when Uzziah the King would have offered sacrifice, the Lord smote him with a leprosy, and the high Priest took him and thrust him out of the Temple though he was a King; so must you, when these roving thoughts come upon you when you are in the Temple, or the mount of meditation, you must thrust them out; that is, you must use all your spiritual strength to thrust them out, and you must pray unto God as Moses prayed, Exod. 8. that God would take away this plague of flies; and do as Pharaoh did, he sent for Moses, Oh pray, pray unto God for me, that this swarm of flies may depart out of the land: Speak to thy godly Ministers, thy godly friends to pray for thee, and do thou pray for thy self, that the Lord would deliver thee from these noisome imaginations, and fancies, and roving thoughts that do disturb you in the Worship of God, and in the practice of this duty of Divine Meditation. So much for the place where we are to meditate.
The second thing to speak to, is the time when we are to meditate; it is said in the Text, And Isaac went out to meditate in the eventide; it seems Isaac found the Evening to be the fittest time for Meditation. Dr. Hall in his excellent Tract of Meditation, tells us out of his own experience, that he found the evening-time to be the fittest time for Meditation. And there is a learned Minister in that excellent Book of the Saints Everlasting Rest, doth likewise from his own experience commend the eventide for the best and most suitable time for Meditation; and he saith from the Sun setting to the twilight, and sometimes in the night, when it is warm and clear. I will not lay clogs upon any mans conscience; that which is seasonable for one, is unseasonable for another; some menÕs tempers are fittest to meditate in the morning, and some menÕs tempers are fittest to meditate in the evening.
Now there are four Propositions, four rules of Direction concerning the time when I would have you to meditate.
1. It is the duty of all those that are not hindered by necessary business, if it be possible to set apart some time every day for meditation, whether it be morning, afternoon, or night: For Meditation is the life and soul of all Christianity; it is that which makes you improve all the Truths of Christian Religion, (you are but the Skeletons of Christians without Meditation) it is as necessary as your daily bread; and as you feed your bodies every day, so you ought to feed your souls every day with meditating on your sins, or your Evidences for Heaven, or the everlasting burnings of Hell, or of the day of Judgment, the great account you are to give at that day, or of the joys of Heaven, or of the Promises, &c. We are every day assaulted with the Devil, therefore we should every day put on the armour of Divine Meditation, to consider how to resist the wiles of the Devil; we are every day subject to death, we are every day subject to sin, therefore we should every day consider how to prepare our selves for death, and every day consider how to resist sin. Meditation is nothing else but a conversing with God, the souls colloquy with God; and it is fit we should every day walk with God. Divine Meditation is nothing else but the souls transmigration into heaven; the souls ascending up into Heaven; now it is fit every day that we should have our conversation in Heaven. David when he describes the blessed man, Psalm 1. 2. saith he, His delight is in the Law of the Lord, and in his law will he meditate day and night. And he saith of himself, though he was a King, and had many worldly businesses, the affairs of his Kingdom to hinder him, yet he saith, Psalm 119. 97. Oh how do I love thy law! it is my meditation all the day. v. 148. Mine eyes prevent the night-watches, that I might meditate on thy word. There is the morning-time for Meditation, I prevent the dawning of the morning that I might meditate in thy word. v. 15. I will delight my self in thy statutes, and I will meditate in thy precepts, and have respect unto all thy ways. And Joshua, that great General of the Army, though he was a man surely of great employments, yet God 84 doth lay an injunction upon him, Joshua 1. 7, 8. The book of the Law shall not depart out of thy mouth, but thou shalt meditate therein day & night.
2. I will go higher yet, it is our duty to set a sufficient proportion of time apart every day: Oh it is a hard matter to get our hearts in tune for this duty; as it is with a Musician, he hath a great deal of time to string, and to tune his Instrument before he can play; the best Christian is like an Instrument unstrung, and untuned, he had need take a great deal of time to get his heart in tune for Divine Meditation; the best Christian is like wet wood, which will not burn, you know, without a great deal of blowing; he had need to take a great deal of time to kindle a holy zeal in his heart to God, to blow up the sparks of grace that are in him. If a man would fill a Chest that is full of dirt, full of Gold, he must take time to empty the Chest before he can fill it. By nature we are all full of the world, full of the dirt of the world, full of vanity, full of carnal creature-pleasure; now it is our duty first to take pains to empty the Chest before we can fill it full of Heaven, full of God and Christ. Now I propound this to you that have a great deal of spare time, especially you that spend whole afternoons in idle visiting, and vain recreations, Oh that I could persuade you to give God a visit every day, and to meditate of God and of Christ, and your selves, and the recreations 85 of the other world; let me persuade you that count it your happiness to live vainly, that you have not so much work to do as other men have, to set some time apart; to go up into the mount of God, to meditate of the things of the other world. And that I might provoke you, let me tell you thus much, it is the greatest curse under heaven for God to give a man over to live an idle life, to trifle away his days in vanity; and so it is reckoned, Psalm 78. 33. Therefore their days did he consume in vanity. Therefore it is spoken as a curse; hearken to this you that idle away your time, there cannot be a greater curse of God upon you, than to suffer you to idle away your time; herein you idle away your salvation: this direction belongs to you that are rich men, rich Merchants, that have whole Exchanges full of business in your heads, to beseech you that you would contract your worldly affairs into a narrower compass, that you may have time for the practice of this rare duty of Meditation, which is the very life and soul of all duty. And the reason why you are so lean and poor in grace, is for want of the practice of this duty; be not always like Martha, troubled with this and that business, but remember Maries choice, who chose the better part in attending upon Christ's Ministry. I would have all rich men every day think of that Text, Luke 12. 20. Thou fool, this 86 night shall thy soul be taken from thee; and what then will become of all thy possessions? I confess God doth not require this at the hand of the daily labourer, or at the hands of servants that are not masters of their own time, and those that are very poor and are not able to set time apart for Meditation. But you may remember I gave you a distinction between Ejaculatory Meditation, and solemn Meditation; a poor man when he is at his work, may have a short Ejaculatory Meditation, though he hath not time for this set and solemn meditation; when he is at his work he may meditate upon the Promises, and of Heaven, and of Hell, and of Death, and Judgment, and the vanity of the world. I have heard of a godly man was wont to say, I thank God I can be in heaven in the midst of the crowd of Cheapside, I can meditate on the Rest I shall have in the other world.
3. The third Direction is this, The Sabbath-day especially is a day wherein all sorts of people are to busy themselves in this excellent work of Divine Meditation; this is a day wherein the labourer ceases from his work, the PlowmanÕs yoke is taken off, and the labourer, and the serving man have their rest; therefore it concerns all of us to spend some time every Sabbath-day in Meditation, to meditate of the work of Creation, or Redemption; 87 for the Lords-day is so called, because Christ rose on that day, and Christ set apart that day in memory of his Resurrection, in memory of his Redemption; therefore this is thy work, Oh Christian, not only to come to the public Ordinances, not only to pray in thy family, but to set some time apart for Divine Meditation; and the Lord forgive us this sin that we have omitted this duty so long; Oh that I could be Gods instrument, that there might be a resurrection of it, that you would make conscience of it every Sabbath-day; as you make conscience of attending upon public and private duties, so you would put this as one of your Sabbath-day duties, for it is the very Quintessence, the life and soul of all duty; the Sabbath-day is a type of the eternal Sabbath which we shall keep forever in Heaven; and shall not I think of my eternal Sabbath upon the Sabbath? shall not I be much in Heaven when I am keeping a rest upon earth, that represents my eternal rest in Heaven? let us upon our day of rest meditate much upon our eternal rest. Oh let us upon our Sabbath-day meditate upon the everlasting Sabbath which we shall keep with God Almighty, the Father, Son and Holy Ghost, forever in Heaven.
4. And last Direction is this, That Sacrament-days are especially to be meditating-days, to 88 be set apart for this great work of Divine Meditation; it is the great end why Christ hath appointed the Sacrament, to show forth the Lords-death till he come; and saith Christ, Do this in remembrance of me. There are two things make us worthy receivers of the Sacrament, Preparation before we come, and Meditation when we are come; and though thy Preparation be never so serious, yet if thou dost not act aright in thy Meditation, as well as thou hast done in thy Preparation, thou mayest lose the benefit of the Sacrament. Now if any should ask me, What are those things, you would have us to meditate of, when we are come unto the Sacrament? or when we are at the Sacrament?
There are twelve Meditations which ought to take up our Sacramental-time, which I call twelve common-place-heads: I do not say we can meditate upon all of them at one Sacrament; but my design is to give you matter sufficient, that you may sometimes meditate of one, sometimes of another. I will but name them.
1. You must meditate of the great and wonderful love of God the Father in giving Christ, not only to die for us upon the Cross, but in giving him to be our food at the Sacrament; there was nothing moved God to give Christ but pure love, and great love: For God so loved 89 the world, that he gave his only begotten Son. So! how? so infinitely, so inexpressibly; the love of God in bestowing Christ is so great, that the Angels desire to look into it. And you that are not affected with this love, I fear you have little share in it. That is enough to take up one Sacrament.
2. You are to meditate at the Sacrament not only of the love of the Father in giving of his Son, but of the love of Christ in giving himself. Ephes. 5. 2. Who loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God, for a sweet smelling savour. As God gave Christ, so Christ gave himself; as God gave himself as man, the Godhead infused this will into the Manhood, that Christ willingly laid down his life: John 10. 17, 18. Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I may take it up again; no man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of my self; I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it up; this commandment have I received of my Father. Now the love of Christ in giving himself to be a curse for us, is a love that passeth knowledge, yet it is a love that we must study to know. It is a riddle, but such a riddle as the Apostle himself doth in so many express words declare unto us, Ephes. 3. 19. That we may be able to comprehend with all Saints what is the breadth and length, and depth and height, 90 and to know the love of Christ which passeth knowledge. Great is the love of Christ which passeth knowledge; great is the love of Christ in dying for us, and being made sin for us, and being made a curse for us.
3. We must meditate of the heinousness of sin; when we were all fallen in Adam, we were engulfed into such a bottomless abyss of misery, that none but the blood of a God could deliver us; for there was an infinite breach by sin between God and us; and this breach could never be made up but by the blood of God. That is a rare meditation at the Sacrament, to meditate of the heinousness of sin; when you see the bread broken, it was sin that caused ChristÕs body to be broken; and when you see the wine poured out, it was sin caused ChristÕs blood to be poured out; it was sin that caused Christ to suffer so much.
4. You must meditate of the excellency of this Sacramental feast; for the Sacrament is a commemorative Sacrifice, it is a commemoration of that blessed Sacrifice that was offered on the Cross for our sins; and it is an obsignation or sealing up all the benefits of our Redemption; and it is an exhibition of Jesus Christ, it is a deed of gift of Christ; God goes about giving of Christ to thee and me, and all that labour to come worthily. Oh! there cannot be a greater feast, wherein Christ is the gift that is bestowed; Christ is the banquet, Christ and all his benefits.
5. You must meditate of your own unworthiness; O Lord I am not worthy to pick up the crumbs that fall from thy Table; I am not worthy to eat my daily bread, much less worthy to eat the Sacramental bread. Oh the thought of this will make you say with Mephibosheth, What am I, a dead dog, that my Lord and King should invite me to his table! What am I, dust and ashes, sinful wretch, that the Lord Jesus should invite me to such an Heavenly banquet!
6. You must meditate of your spiritual wants and necessities; what grace dost thou want that thou mayest get supplied? what sin doth bear most sway in thee, that thou mayest get it more mortified? Now the more sensible you are of your spiritual wants, the more will your appetite be quickened to this blessed feast.
7. You must meditate of the cursed condition of an unworthy receiver; an unworthy receiver is a Christ-murderer, a soul-murderer, a body-murderer; he is guilty of the body and blood of Jesus Christ; he eats and drinks down his own damnation, he is guilty of bringing diseases; For this cause (that is for unworthy coming to the Sacrament) many are sick, and many weak, and many die.
8. I would have you meditate of the happy condition of those that come worthily to the Sacrament; though you do not bring a legal worthiness, yet if you have a Gospel-worthiness, God will accept of you; and the bread that we break shall be the Communion of the Body of Christ; and the cup of blessing which we bless, shall be the Communion of the Blood of Christ to you; the communion of all the blessings of Heaven to thy soul. It shall be the bread of the Lord to you, and the bread of life, and the cup of Salvation unto you.
9. I would have you meditate sometimes of the Sacramental Elements; when you see the bread, I would have you meditate of the analogy and proportion between bread and the body of Christ; you know that bread is the staff of life, so is Christ the staff of a Christian; bread is not for dead folks but for living folks; bread doth not beget life, but increases and strengthens life; so the Sacrament is not for those that are dead in sin; the Sacrament doth not beget Grace, but nourish and increase Grace. And then I would have you consider the analogy between Wine and the Blood of Christ; As Wine refreshes the spirit, and cheers the heart, so the Blood of Christ cheers the soul of every worthy receiver.
10. I would have you meditate of the Sacramental actions; for all the actions of the Minister at the Sacrament are mystical, they all represent Christ; Christ is to be read by a spiritual eye in every thing that is done by the Minister; the breaking of the bread represents ChristÕs body being broken upon the Cross for our sins; and the pouring out the Wine, represents how ChristÕs Blood was poured out for us; and the giving of the Wine represents how Christ is offered and tendered unto us; the taking of the bread and wine represents how thou by faith takes Christ for thy everlasting comfort. Every thing in the Sacrament is the object of Meditation; and it is a rare thing for a Christian to make the Sacramental Elements to be his Bible; when he is at the Sacrament, and when he finds his heart dull, to look at the Elements, the breaking of bread, and pouring out of wine, which are all spiritual helps to raise up thy heart unto Christ.
11. You must meditate of the Sacramental Promises; Christ Jesus hath promised, Take, eat, this is my body, which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of me; that is the Sacramental Promise, This is my blood which is shed for you, do this in remembrance of me. Christ hath promised that whensoever we do take this bread, and drink this cup worthily, he 94 will convey himself to us. Now we must feed upon this promise, and come to the Sacrament in the strength of this promise; and he hath promised that the cup of blessing, shall be the cup of the communion of the blood of Christ, and the bread that is broken shall be the communion of the body of Christ: Now we must meditate upon these Promises, and act faith upon them.
12. When all this is done, I mean when thou hast received the Sacrament, then thou must meditate what retribution to make unto Christ for this; you must say as David doth, Psalm 116. 7. What shall I render to the Lord for all his benefits toward me! Thou must say to thy soul, Oh how ought I to love that Christ that hath loved me, and became a curse for me! how ought I to be willing to die for that Christ that hath shed his blood for me! Oh what singular thing shall I do for that Christ that hath become man, that hath left the Throne of Heaven, and hath taken my nature, and hath given himself for me upon the Cross, unto me at the Sacrament! what great thing shall I return unto this God! Oh that I were made up all of thankfulness! Oh that I could do something worthy of this God! This must be your Meditation, and you must study to find out some rare piece of service to do for this Christ, that hath done and 95 suffered so much for you; and you must never leave meditating till you have found out some singular thing. As for example, such an enemy hath done me wrong, I will requite him in loving him the more; I will do him the more offices of love; that is to walk worthy of Christ, who loved me when I was an enemy; and then there is such a deed of charity, such a poor Christian his family is undone; I will do this service for Christ, I will give him some proportionable gift, some worthy gift, that his soul may bless God for me. Again, Christ Jesus this day hath given me himself; he hath given me his body and blood; I will go and be willing to die for him; I will say with Thomas, Come let us die for him; I will be willing to suffer reproach for him, if he shall call me. These are the Meditations wherein you are to spend your time when you are at the Sacrament.
Now let me say but thus much, What rare Christians would we be if from month to month we did thus spend our Sacramental hours! surely great would be the benefit and the fruit of it.
Thus I have done with the time when we are to meditate.
3. I am to speak of the properties and qualities of Divine Meditation; in all holy duties it is not so much the doing of the duty 96 that God looks after, as the right manner of doing the duty: It is not the hearing the Word will please God, unless we hear the word of God aright; therefore Christ saith, take heed how you hear; it is not prayer that will prevail with God, unless we pray after a right manner, unless we pray in faith, with fervency and humility; so it is not the meditation of God and Christ, and the Promises, will do us any good, unless we meditate after the right manner, that God would have us to meditate.
Now I shall acquaint you with six properties of Divine Meditation, for the right manner of performing it.
1. Divine Meditation must be often and frequent, Deut. 6. 7. there God commands, Thou shall teach the words of the Law diligently unto thy children, thou shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thy house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou lyest down, and when thou risest up. Josh. 1. 8. The book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth, but thou shalt meditate therein day and night. Though he was a great Commander, and had affairs of great concernment, yet God commands him to meditate day and night in the Law of God. And David tells us of a godly man, Psalm 1. 2. That he will delight himself in the law of God, and in his law will he meditate day and night. 97 Psalm 119. 97, 98, 99. David professes of himself, though he was a King, and had many diversions, yet saith he, Oh how do I love thy law! it is my meditation day and night. Thou through thy commandments hath made me wiser than my enemies; for they are ever with me, or, it is ever with me, speaking of the Commandments of God; he had them always in his thoughts: I have more understanding than all my teachers; for thy testimonies are my meditation. Psalm 139. 8. When I awake, I am still with thee. What is the meaning of that? that is by the meditation of God; in the morning as soon as ever he awaked he begun the day with Meditation, with some sweet pious thought of God. It is the duty of a Christian, as you have heard, if it be possible, if his worldly occasions do not necessarily hinder him, (there may, you know, be necessary avocations) to spend some time every day in Divine Meditation. You that are Ladies, men of great Estates, and have time, are to set some solemn time, some solemn part of the day for Meditation; but all of us are to have Ejaculatory Meditation, though it be in our worldly business.
There are three Reasons to persuade you to frequent Meditation.
1. Because the oftener you meditate of God, and Christ, and Heaven, the more you will 98 know of God, and Christ, and Heaven; and the more you will love God, and Christ; and the more earnestly you will seek after the things of Heaven; for you must know, the things of Heaven are like a beautiful Picture, the more you view them, the more will you admire them, and seek after them to enjoy them. I have read a story of Necrasophus, who was an excellent Painter, that viewing wistly a Picture, there came a Country-man by, and seeing him view that Picture so wistly, he asked him, Why do you look upon that Picture so much? saith the Painter to him, If you had my eyes, you would never ask me this Question; if you knew the excellency of this Picture, you would never ask me why I look so much upon it. The things of Heaven, the things of God, the Promises of God, are most glorious and excellent things; and the more you look into them, the more you will look into them; and the oftener you view these Pictures, the more you will admire them, and the more you will view them. God, and Christ, and Heaven, are like unto a bottomless Mine of treasure, the more you dig in this Mine, the more riches you will find in it; they are like unto a sweet cordial, the more you chew them, the more sweetness you will find in them. They are like an excellent garden in the Spring-time, the oftener a man 99 goes into the garden, still he finds a new flower, and another flower, and another flower; so the things of God, and Christ, and the Promises, and Heaven, the more you walk in this garden, the more flowers you will gather; you will have still new flowers to pick. And the reason why the Saints of God love God no more, and prize Christ no more, and seek no more after Heaven, is because they do not meditate more of God, and Christ, and Heaven; the want of frequent meditation of them, is the reason why we love them, and esteem them so little, and seek so little after them.
The second Reason why we should frequently meditate upon things Divine, is because the oftener we meditate of God and Christ, the more near and intimate acquaintance we shall have with them; as you know Neighbours, the oftener they visit one another, the more acquainted they come one with another; and the seldomer they visit one another, the more estranged they are one to another. Visitation breeds acquaintance; so the seldomer you think of God and Christ, the more you are estranged from them, and the less acquaintance you have with them; and the oftener you meditate of God, the more intimate society you will have with him; as I have told you, Divine Meditation is nothing else but a dwelling upon the things of God, a conversing with God and Christ, and the Promises, and it will be matter of rare comfort to a child of God, when he lies upon his death-bed, and is going out of the world, to consider, I am now going to a God that I am acquainted withal, that I am not a stranger to: I am going to heaven, where I have been often in my meditation. It is reported of Dr. Preston, when he was dying, he used these words, Blessed be God though I change my place, yet I shall not change my company; for I have walked with God while I lived, and now I go to rest with God. A man that is often in meditation, is often in Heaven, often walking with God and Christ, and the Promises; and when he dies, he goes to enjoy the Promises, and to be and to live forever with this Christ. It is a sad and a disconsolate thing for a man when he comes to die, to think of God as a stranger, to think of Heaven as a place where he hath never been, he hath hardly had a thought of it all his life. I verily persuade my self, it is one reason that the Saints of God are so unwilling to die, because they have no more acquaintance with God in this life, they think of him as a stranger; the more you are acquainted with God while you live, the more willing you will be to die to go to him; for death to a child of God is nothing else but a resting with God, with whom he walked while he lived; to rest in the bosom of God, in whose bosom he hath often been by holy meditation when he was alive.
3. You must be often and frequent in the duty of Divine Meditation, by often using it to make it more easy; there is great complaint of the difficulty of this duty; it hath been often said to me, Sir, there is no duty in the world so hard as Divine Meditation: and it is true, it is a hard matter to keep the heart close in Meditation of Divine things; and therefore you must accustom your selves to this duty, and use will make perfectness, usus promptos facit; by often doing it, at last through grace it will become easy. When a young youth is bound Prentice to a Manual Trade, at first it seems very hard to learn his Trade, but by long custom at last he is very expert in it. A man that is to go up a hill every morning, at first he pants and breathes, and cannot get up the hill, within a little while he can get up with ease; so this duty of Divine Meditation, though it be exceeding difficult, because it is exceeding spiritual, yet by often and frequent practicing of it, through the assistance of Gods Spirit, it will become at last very easy; whereas the seldomness of the practice of this duty makes it difficult, and intermission of any thing makes it very hard. A man that learns the Greek or Hebrew Tongues, or learn to speak French, if he intermit the speaking eleven or twelve years, he will quickly forget to speak it; so long omission of this duty is the reason why it is so difficult; would you but resolve to practice it for one twelve month, you would find it at the twelve months end an easy duty, through the help of God.
The second property is this, Divine Meditation must be solemn and serious; though we must accustom our selves to this duty, yet we must take heed of customariness and formality in the duty; formality in good duty, is the dead fly that spoils the box of precious ointment; God hates a formal Christian, he hates a formal prayer, a formal hearer of the word; formality in Gods service is like the plague of locusts, of which you read, Exod. 10. that did eat up all the green things in the land; formality in good duties eats up all the beauty and all the comfort and benefit of a good duty; there is nothing God hates more than formality in his service; therefore you must take heed above all things of being formal in the practice of this duty of Meditation; it must be solemn and serious, and you must be very intent about it; slight thoughts of God will make but a slight impression upon the affections; and he that thinks slightly of God, will serve him slightly, and love him slightly; he that thinks slightly of sin, will slight sin; he that thinks slightly of God, God will slight him. And the reason why we serve God with so little affection, and so little devotion and reverence, is because we meditate slightly of God; for slight thoughts of God work but a slight heart, and a slight conversation. I will give you an instance or two of this slight way of Meditation, John 6. you shall read of certain men, that when Christ was preaching had a very good ejaculation, v. 34. Lord, (say they) evermore give us of this bread; it was a sweet Meditation, but it was but a short, a slight and formal one; for at the end of the Chapter these men forsook Christ; it was not a solemn and serious Meditation, John 18. 38. you read of Pilate, Pilate saith unto him, what is truth? here is a good question that arose from some inward thought that he had; and when he had said this, he went out again, he never thought of it more, he never tarried to hear an answer; but now our care must be to be very solemn and serious in this work of Divine Meditation; let me give you an example of Alexander the Great; a Heathen man was offering Sacrifice to his God, the Priest that held the Censor, the Chafing-dish, wherein the Incense was, there was a spark of fire fell upon his hand, and he was so intent and unwilling to hinder the Sacrifice, that he suffered his hand rather to be burnt, than he would intermit the Sacrifice; this shows how devout and intent this Priest was, even in the service of the Heathenish God; and Chrysostom tells a story of a Lady that being to make a precious ointment, she calls in all her handmaids to help her; so saith he, when we converse with God in any holy duty, we must call in all our handmaids, all our affections, when we are making any holy ointment; the meaning is this, when you are conversing with God by meditation, or conversing with Christ, or the Promises, you must call in all your affections to assist you, you must be very solemn and serious, and intent upon this work. And yet I must give you one caution here, you must take heed you be not over-intent; though you must be serious, you must not be over-serious. I have heard a story of a godly Minister, Mr. Welsh, that was one day meditating of eternity, and he was so serious in the thoughts of Eternity, that he fell into a trance, into a swound, that they could hardly ever recover life in him again, he was so swallowed up in that Meditation, he was too serious; we must be serious, but not over-serious; we must do as good travellers do, that will be careful not to over-ride their horses, lest they tire; they will ride moderately, that so they may hold out to their journeys end; so must we be serious, but we must be moderate, not over-serious; we must remember we have a body of flesh, that is not able to bear over-much seriousness, in these weighty Meditations of Eternity, and God, and Christ, and Heaven.
3. Divine Meditation must not only be notional and speculative, but practical and affectionate; therefore consideration and meditation are not only acts of the head, but acts of the heart, Deut. 4. 39. Know therefore this day and consider it in thy heart. There are three doors, as I may so speak, that Meditation must get into, or else it is of no use.
1. It must get into the understanding, that must ponder the things of Heaven; but it must not tarry there: But,
2. It must get into the door of the heart and affections to stir them up; for the understanding must be as a Divine pair of Bellows to kindle a Divine fire in the heart and affections, and to inflame and raise them up, as David saith, Psalm 39. While I was musing the fire burned; we must so muse upon God and Christ, that our affections may as it were burn within us, as the Disciples hearts burnt within them, while Christ was speaking.
3. It must get into the door of the conversation; that is, we must so meditate of Christ as to live according to the life of Christ; and so to meditate of God as to obey the Commands of God. And unless your Meditation get into these three doors, it is of no use; the understanding to the heart and affections is like the nurse to the child; you know the office of the nurse is to prepare meat for the child, to chew and cut it, that the child may eat it; so the work of the understanding is to prepare Divine Truths for the heart and affections, that the heart may close with them, and eat and digest them; but if the nurse should eat the meat she chews, and give nothing to the child, the child may starve for all the nurse; so though the understanding doth chew never such glorious Truths, if it doth not convey them to the heart and affections, it is of no use; there is many a man spends his time in Meditation, as a Butterfly feeds upon the flower, sucks the flower, not to be fruitful and useful, but merely to paint her wings; so he studies and ponders of Divine things merely to paint his wings, to get curious language of God and Christ, and curious notions of sin, and the promises, but because he doth not convey them into his heart and affections, he is never the holier, never the better for his Meditation; but true Meditation is this, when we so meditate of Christ as to find virtue coming out of Christ to cure the bloody issue of our sins; to meditate of him so as to be transformed into him; when we so meditate of God, as to love God, and desire after God, and rejoice in God, and live according to the Commands of God; when we so meditate of sin as to hate and abhor it, and turn from it; so meditate of the promises as to close with them, when by frequent musing of God there is a holy fire of Divine love kindled towards God; as it is in Psalm 104. 34. My meditation of him shall be sweet. When we so meditate on God, as it gets into our affections to sweeten the thoughts of God unto our souls, then the meditation of God is sweet; this is the reason why many times an honest plain-hearted Christian finds more benefit by the practice of this Divine Meditation than a great Scholar; for a great Scholar will meditate to find out some glorious expressions, some curious notions. As a man that reads a book merely for the fine language, and a man that hears a Sermon merely to feast his ears, because of the eloquence of the Sermon, and goes home never the holier, never the better; but now the honest plain-hearted Christian meditates of the things of Heaven, that he may be made the more heavenly; he meditates of God that he may love and fear him more; he meditates of Christ, that he may prize him more; he meditates of sin, that he may hate it more; and of the Promises that he may love them more; though he cannot find out these curious notions that a Scholar doth, yet his heart is more affected many times than the heart of a greater Scholar, if he be not godly. Divine Meditation is of no use unless it be practical and affectionate.
4. Property is this, Divine Meditation must be particular and applicative; for generals will not work at all; the Philosopher saith, that fire in general doth not burn; it is this f