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clear, and settled, and then he (hall see it sparkling at the bottom. | And that the heart may be clear, and settled, how much pains and f watching, care and diligence, will it cost?
(2.) God doth not usually indulge lazy and negligent souls with the comforts of assurance; he will not so much as seem to patronize ® sloth and carelessness; he will give it, but it hall be in his own ways i his command hath united our care and comfort together; they are • mistaken that think the beautiful child of assurance may be born ,' without pangs: ah, how many solitary hours have the people of God spent in heart-examination! how many times have they looked into the word, and then into their hearts? Sometimes they thought they discovered sincerity, and were even ready to draw forth the trium- i phant conclusion of assurance; then comes a doubt they cannot re- i solve, and dashes all again: many hopes and fears, doubtings and reasoning, they have had in their own breasts, before they arriv- i ed at a comfortable settlement.
To conclude, suppose it possible for a careless Christian to attain assurance, yet it is impossible he should long retain it: For, as for those whose hearts are filled with the joys of assurance, if extraordinary; care be not used, it is a thousand to one if ever they long enjoy it:' for a little pride, vanity, carelessness, will dash to pieces all that ^ for which they have been labouring a long time, in many a weary duty. Since, then, the joy of our life, the comfort of our souls,; rises and falls with our diligence in this work, keep your hearts with all diligence.
5. The improvement of our graces depends upon the keeping our hearts; I never knew grace thrive in a negligent and careless soul: the habits and roots of grace are planted in the heart; and the *• deeper they are radicated there, the more thriving and flourish- j ing grace is. In Eph. iii. 17. we read of " being rooted in gracej" grace in the heart is the root of every gracious word in the mouth, and of every holy work in the hand, Pa. cxvi. 10. 2 Cor. iv. 13. It is true, Christ is the root of a Christian; but Christ is origo originates, the originating root; and grace origo originata, a root originated, planted, and influenced by Christ; according as this thrives under divine influences, so the acts" of grace are more or less fruitful, or vigorous. Now in a heart not kept with care and diligence, these fructifying influences are stopt and cut off, multitudes of vanities break in upon it, and devour its strength; the heart is, as it were, , the pasture, in which multitudes of thoughts are fed every day; a gracious heart diligently kept, feeds many precious thoughts of God in a day, Psal. cxxxix. 17. "How precious are thy thoughts to me, '< O God! how great is the sum of them? If I should count them, "they are more in number than the sand; and when I awake, I am "still with thee." And as the gracious heart feeds and nourishes them, so they refresh and feast the heart, Psal. lxiii. 5, 0. "My
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"soul is filled as with marrow and fatness whilst I think upon thee," etc. But in the disregarded heart, swarms of vain and foolish thoughts are perpetually working, and jusile out those spiritual ideas, and thoughts of God, by which the foul should be refreshed. ^ Besides, the careless heart makes nothing out of any duty or ordinance it performs or attends on, and yet these are the conduits of heaven, from whence grace is watered and made fruitful: a man may ton <•) go w'tn an heedless spirit from ordinance to ordinance, abide all his days under the choicest teaching, and yet never be -Tiproved by them; for heart-neglect is a leak in the bottom, no heavenly influences, how rich soever, abide in that soul, Mat. xiii. 3, 4. The heart that lies open and common, like the high-way, free for all passengers; when the feed fell on it, the fowls came and devoured it. Alas! it is not enough to hear, unless we take heed how we hear; a man may pray, and never be the better, unless he watch unto prayer. In a word, all ordinances, means, and duties, are blessed unto the im■ \ provement of grace, according to the care and strictness we use in : ; keeping our hearts in them.
6. Lastly, The stability of our fouls in the hour of temptation, will be much according to the care and conscience we have of keeping our hearts; the careless heart is an easy prey to Satan in the hour of temptation, his main batteries are raised against that fortroyal, the heart; if he wins that, he wins all; for it commands the whole man: and, alas! how easy a conquest is a neglected heart? It [ is no more difficult to surprize it, than for an enemy to enter that cij-ty whose gates are open and unguarded: it is the watchful heart that discovers and suppresses the temptation before it comes to its strength. , Divines observe this to be the method in which temptations are ripened and brought to their full strength.
There is, (1.) Ofi£if, The irritation of the object, or that power it hath to work upon, and provoke our corrupt nature ; which is either done by the real presence of the object, or else by speculation, when the object (though absent) is held out by the phantasy before the ioul.
(2.) Then follows o?;/n, the motion of the sensitive appetite, which c" is stirred and provoked by the phantasy, representing it as a sensual good, as having profit or pleasure in it.
(3.) Then there is B«Xri<7<c, a consultation in the mind about it, de«* liberating about the likeliest means of accomplishing it.
. (4.) Next follows Aif»nr»«, the election, or choice of the will. *Y (5.) And lastly BuXn^a, The desire, or full engagement of the • will to it; all this may be done in a few moments, for the debates of the soul are quick, and soon ended: when it comes thus far, then the heart is won, Satan hath entered victoriously, and displayed his colours upon the walls of that royal fort; but had the heart been well guarded at first, it had never come to this height: the temptation had been stopped in the first or second act. And indeed there kis stopped easily: for it is the motions of a tempted foul to fin, as in the motion of a stone falling from the brow of a hill; it is easily stopped at first, but when once it is set agoing, Vires acquirit eundo: And therefore it is the greatest wisdom in the world to observe the first motions of the heart, to check and stop fin there. The motions of sin are weakest at first, a little care and watchfulness may prevent much mischief now, which the careless heart not heeding, is brought ) within the power of temptation } as the Syrians were brought blindfold into the midst of Samaria, before they knew where they were.
By this time, reader, I hope thou art fully satisfied how consequential and necessary a work the keeping of the heart is, it being a duty that wraps up so many dear interests of the soul in it.
3. Next, according to the method propounded, I proceed to point ^ out those special seasons in the life of a Christian, which require and «call for our utmost diligence in keeping the heart: for though (as we observed before) the duty binds ad semper, and there is no time or condition of life in which we may be excused from this work; yet i j, there are some signal seasons, critical hours, requiring more than a 1' common vigilance over the heart.
And the first, (6)
1. Season. «Is the time of prosperity, when providence smiles up'on us, and dandles us upon its knee. Now, Christian, keep thy 'heart with all diligence; for now it will be exceeding apt to grow
* secure, proud, and earthly, Rara virtus ejl humilitas honorata, (faith 'Bernard) to see a man humble under prosperity, is one of the great'est rarities in the world. Even a good Hezekiah could not hide a 'vain-glorious temper under his temptation, and hence that caution
* to Israel, Deut. vi. 10, n, 12. " And it shall be when the Lord 'thy God shall have brought thee into the land which he sware to
* thy fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give thee great and
* goodly cities which thoubuildest not,and houses full of allgoodthings
* which thou filledst not, &c. Then beware lest thou forget the
'Lord:" and indeed so it fell out, "for Jefhurun waxed fat, and •
* kicked," Deut. xxxii. 15.'
Now then, the first case will be this, viz.
Case 1. How a Christian may keep his heart from pride and carnal fecurity, under the smiles of providence, and confluence of creature-corn- ''■"' forts.
There are seven choice helps to secure the heart from the dangerous snares of prosperity; the first is this,
1. To consider the dangerous ensnaring temptations attending a pleasant and prosperous condition J few, yea, very few of those that live in the plea-; sttres and prosperity of this world, escape everlasting perdition, Math. xix. . 44. "It is easier (faith Christ) for a camel to pass through the eye "of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of hea*' ven 5" and 1 Sr. i. 26. «« Not many mighty, not many noble are
)*' called." It might justly make us tremble when the scripture tells us in general, that few shall be saved; much more when .■ k tells us, that of that. rank and fort of which we are speaking, but few (hall be laved. When Joshua called all the tribes of Israel to lot upon them for the discovery of Achan, doubtless Achan feared; when the tribe of Judah was taken, his fear increased; but when the family of the ZarhiteS was taken, it was time then to tremble. So when the scripture comes so near as to tell us that of such a sort of men very few shall escape, it is time to look about; Mirorsi potej} servari aiiquis rtBorum, faith Chrysostom; I should wonder if any of the rulers be saved. O how many have been coached to hell in the chariots of earthly pleasures, while others have been whipped to heaven by the rod of affliction! how few, like • the daughter of Tyre, come to Christ with a gift! how few among 4(the rich intreat his favour!
2. It may k'esi us yet more humble and watchful in prosperity, if we con; Jitter, that among Christians many have been much the worse for it. How
good had it been for some of them, if they had never known prosperity! When they were in a low condition, how humble, spiritual, and heavenly, were they! but when advanced, what an apparent alteration hath been upon their spirits? It was so with Israel, when they
/were in a low condition in the wilderness; then Israel was holiness to 'the Lord, Jer.'ii. 23. but when they came into Canaan, and were fed j in a fat pasture, then, "we are lords, we will come no more unto j «* thee," ver. 31. Outward gains are ordinarily attended with inward losses ; as in a low condition their civil employments were wont to have a tang and favour of their duties, so in an exalted condition
N their duties commonly have a tang of the world. He indeed is rich
in grace, whose graces is not hindered by his riches; there are but few
Jehosliaphats in the world, of whom it is said, 2 Chron. xvii. j, 6.
"He had silver and gold irfabundance, and his heart was lifted up
j- " in the way.of God's commands:" Will not this keep thy heart
_humble in prosperity, to think how dear many godly men have paid for their riches, that through them they have lost that which all the world cannot purchase I Then, in the next place,
3. Keep down thy vain heart by this consideration, that God values , no man a jot the more for these things. God values no man by outward
excellencies, but by inward graces: they are the internal ornaments of the Spirit, which are of great price in God's eyes, I Pet. iii. 4. He despises all wordly glory, and accepts no man's person; "but in « every nation, he that feareth God, and worketh righteousness, is
.', « accepted of him," Acts x. 35. Indeed, if the judgment of God went by the fame rule that man's doth, we might value ourselves by
1 these things, and stand upon them: But as one said (when dying) I shall not appear before God as a doctor, but as a man; tantus qui/que y' est, quantus tst apud Deuin. So much every man is, and no more, as * he is in the judgment of God. Doth thy heart yet swell? And will
&~ neither of the former considerations keep it humble?
*jfc their Jolly when they came to die, that ever they set their hearts upon these
kc for a moment, but mine will be unquenchable fire.
2, 5. The heart may be kept humble, by considering of what a clog
) ging nature earthly things are to afoul heartily engaged in the way to hea- ■ ven; they shut out much of heaven from us at present, though they may not shut us out of heaven at last. If thou consider thyself under the notion of a stranger in this world, travelling for heaven, and seeking a better country, thou hast then as much reason to be taken, and delighted with these things, as a weary horse hath with a heavy clog-bag: There was a serious truth in that atheistical scoff of Julian when he took away the Christians estates, and told them it was to
jja make them fitter for the kingdom of heaven.
6. Is thy spirit, for all this, flatulent and lofty? Then urge upon
it the consideration of that awful day of reckoning, wherein, according to our ^ -•> receipts of mercies, Pall be our accompts for them; And methinks, this should awe and humble the vainest heart that ever was in the breast of a faint. • Know for certain, that the Lord records all the mercies that ever he gave thee, from the beginning to the end of thy life. Mic. vi. 5. « Remember, O my people, from Shittim unto Gilgal," &c. yea, they are exactly numbered, and recorded in order to an account; and thy account will be suitable. Luke xii. 48. "To whom« soever much is given, of him much shall be required." You are, but stewards, and your Lord will come to take an account of you; and what a great account have you to make, who have much of this world in your hand? What swift witnesses will your mercies be against you, if this be the best fruits of them?
7. It is a very humbling consideration, that the mercies ofGodfhoulcC / _. work otherwise upon my spirit, than they use to do upon the spirits of others v
to whom they come as sanflified mercies from the love of God. Ah. Lord