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13. This exercise of the thoughts is indeed a Christian's walking with God, as Enoch and Noah are said to do : it is the way to have our conversation in heaven: it is a communion with God, a walking in paradise, an enjoying of God: it is indeed an angelical life, the life of heaven, an anticipation of glory, and a taking possession of heaven in our thoughts, Oh blessed frame !
14. This helps the Christian in sad pressures and soul-conflicts; good thoughts counterwork bad. David could out-argue his disquieting thoughts, Psal. xlii. 5. so may the Christian. Thoughts fed and furnished from the word, will encounter and conquer the severest trials. “ Unless thy law had been my delight, I should have perished in mine affliction.”—Psal.cxix. 92. These thoughts are an antidote which keeps sufferings from the vital spirits.
15. Holy thoughts help the Christian to rivet and retain divine truths in the memory ; ruminating on truths, turns them into blood and spirits, juice and nourishment : our heads and hearts are like riven vessels, all runs out, unless the vessels be well moistened with heavenly meditation. Oh what a tenacious memory, large understanding, and vast abilities have some attained to by this means !
16. Holy thoughts prepare the tongue for profitable discourse, and render Christians useful. He that hath his thoughts best employed when alone, will have his tongue best exercised in company : if you converse with such a one in your houses, in trading, on a journey, upon any occasion, still his thoughts will prompt his tongue to profitable conference; and oh the good that such a one may do!
17. Holy thoughts answer God's thoughts. “I know the thoughts, saith God, that I think towards you, thoughts of peace, and not of evil,” Jer. xxix. 11; and if we can make such an appeal as this to God, that he knows the thoughts we have towards him, to be not evil but good-how acceptable will it be to God! On the contrary, what gross ingratitude will it be, if our thoughts be not God-wards !
18. Divine things are only worth thinking of; other matters are not worth a glance of our eye, or a thought of our mind, whatever relates not to the soul and to eternity is not worth minding. “We look not,” saith the apostle, “at things that are seen, but at things which are not seen.”—2 Cor. iv. 18. These latter are things of great moment, and of nearest concernment to our immortal souls.
19. Thinking upon these heavenly subjects helps the soul to attain the end of its creation and redemption. The supreme and ultimate end is God's glory, the subordinate end, yet involved in the former, the soul's salvation; the God of heaven takes himself to be highly honoured by the heavenly-minded Christian, this is a sanctifying, and so a glorifying, God in our thoughts or hearts.—1 Pet. iii. 15.
20. Lastly, This is an actual preparing of the soul for heaven, the heart is there already, and this is part of a meetness “ to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light.”—Col. i. 12. “ Blessed is the soul, whom its Lord, when he comes shall find thus,” thinking and doing well. Oh the blessed change they shall make! They may say, as sweet Dr. Sibbs, “Going to die, I shall change my place, but not my company ;" and when the poor soul arrives at glory, the thoughts shall be fixed, grace completed, and the soul transported with everlasting joys.
I have been the shorter in hinting only these motives, because Mr. Baxter hath fully driven this nail to
the head in such like arguments to “ heavenly mindedness,” in his book entitled “ Saint's Rest,” part 4, p. 51–96. Read them seriously.
I have done with this subject also. Oh that God would undertake to write all these things with power upon the tables of your hearts, and elevate your thoughts to heavenly subjects, and bring suitable things to your minds to meditate upon. Oh that he would deeply impress them upon your souls, and keep alive those impressions upon your hearts, that you may not lose the divine savour of the things of God, after your serious and awakening meditations, but pray with holy David, 1 Chron. xxix. 18. “O Lord God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, our fathers, keep this for ever in the imagination of the thoughts of the heart of thy people, and prepare their heart unto thee.”
I shall conclude all with a Poem of divine Herbert's in his Temple, called, “ The Temper.”
How should I praise thee, Lord ! how should my rhymes
Gladly engrave thy love in steel,
My soul might ever feel !
Sometimes I peer above them all,
Sometimes to hell I fall.
Those distances belong to thee,
A grave too big for me.
A crumb of dust from heaven to hell ?
Shall he thy stature spell ?
O let me roost and nestle there!
And I of hope and fear.
Yet take thy way, for sure thy way is best,
Stretch or contract me, thy poor debtor, This is but tuning of my breast,
To make the music better. Whether I fly with angels, fall with dust,
Thy hands made both, and I am there, Thy power and love, my love and trust,
Make one place every where.