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consciences, nor strictly judge of their state and condition by them, which proves their ruin. For hereby they seem to themselves to believe that, whereof in truth they believe not one syllable as they ought. They hear it, they understand it in the notion of it, they assent unto it, at least they do not contradict it, yea, they commend it oftentimes and approve of it. But yet they believe it not. For if they did they would judge themselves by it, and reckon on it, that it will be with them at the last day according as things are determined therein.
Or such persons are, as the apostle James declares, 'like a man beholding his natural face in a glass; for he beholdeth himself and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was ;' James i. 23, 24. There is a representation made of them, their state and condition, unto them in the word; they behold it, and conclude that it is even so with them, as the word doth declare. But immediately their minds are filled with other thoughts, acted by other affections, taken up with other occasions, and they forget in a moment the representation made of themselves and their condition. Wherefore, all that I have to offer on this subject will be utterly lost, unless a firm persuasion hereof be fixed on our minds, unless we are under the power of it, that to be spiritually minded is life and peace; so that whatever our light and profession be, our knowledge or our duty, without this we have indeed no real interest in life and peace.
These things being premised, I shall more practically open the nature of this duty, and what is required unto this frame of spirit. To be spiritually minded may be considered either as, unto the nature and essence of it, or as unto its degrees; for one may be so more than another, or the same person may be more so at one time than another. In the first
way it is opposed unto being carnally minded; in the other unto being earthly minded.
•To be carnally minded is,' as the apostle speaks, 'death;' it is so every way; and they who are so are dead in trespasses and sins. This is opposed unto being spiritually minded as unto its nature or essence. Where a man, as unto the substance and being of the grace and duty intended, is not spiritually minded, he is carnally minded, that is, under the power of death spiritual, and obnoxious unto death eternal. This is the principal foundation we proceed upon; whence we demonstrate the indispensable necessity of the frame of mind inquired after.
There are two ways wherein men are earthly minded. The one is absolute, when the love of earthly things is wholly predominant in the mind. This is not formally and properly to be carnally minded, which is of a larger extent. The one denomination is from the root and principle, namely, the flesh; the other from the object, or the things of the earth. The latter is a branch from the former, as its root. To be earthly minded, is an operation and effect of the carnal mind in one especial way and instance. And it is as exclusive of life and salvation as the carnal mind itself; Phil. iii. 19. 1 John ii. 16. This therefore is opposed unto the being of spiritual mindedness, no less than to be carnally minded is. When there is in any a love of earthly things that is predominant, whence a person may be rightly denominated to be earthly minded, he is not, nor can be, spiritually minded at all; he hath no interest in the frame of heart and spirit intended thereby. And thus it is evidently with the greatest part of them who are called Christians in the world, let them pretend what they will to the contrary.
Again; there is a being earthly minded, which consists in an inordinate affection unto the things of this world. It is that which is sinful, which ought to be mortified; yet it is not absolutely inconsistent with the substance and being of the grace inquired after. Some who are really and truly spiritually minded, yet may for a time, at least, be under such an inordinate affection unto, and care about, earthly things, that if not absolutely, yet comparatively, as unto what they ought to be and might be, they may be justly said to be earthly minded. They are so in respect of those degrees in being spiritually minded, which they ought to aim at and may attain unto. And where it is thus, this grace can never thrive or flourish, it can never advance unto any eminent degree.
This is the Zoar of many professors; that little one wherein they would be spared. Such an earthly mindedness as is wholly inconsistent with being spiritually minded, as unto the state and condition which depends thereon, they would avoid. For this they know would be absolutely ex
clusive of life and peace. They cannot but know that such a frame is as inconsistent with salvation as living in the vilest sin that any man can contract the guilt of. There are more ways of spiritual and eternal death than one, as well as of natural. All that die have not the plague ; and all that perish eternally are not guilty of the same profligate sins. The covetous are excluded from the kingdom of God no less severely than fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, and thieves; 1 Cor. vi, 9, 10. But there is a degree in being earthly minded, which they suppose their interest, advantages, relations, and occasions of life do call for, which they would be a little indulged in; they may abide in such a frame without a disparagement of their profession. And the truth is, they have too many companions to fear an especial reflection on themselves. The multitude of the guilty take away the sense and shame of the guilt. But besides, they hope well that it is not inconsistent absolutely with being spiritually minded; only they cannot well deny but that it is contrary unto such degrees in that grace, such thriving in that duty, as is recommended unto them. They think well of others who are spiritually minded in an eminent degree. At least they do so as unto the thing itself in general; for when they come unto particular instances of this or that man, for the most part, they esteem what is beyond their own measure to be little better than pretence. But in general, to be spiritually minded in an eminent degree, they cannot but esteem it a thing excellent and desirable. But it is for them who are more at leisure than they are : their circumstances and occasions require them to satisfy themselves with an inferior measure.
To obviate such pretences, I shall insist on nothing in the declaration of this duty and the necessity of it, but what is incumbent on all that believe, and without which they have no grounds to assure their conscience before God. And at present in general I shall say, whoever he be, who doth not sincerely aim at the highest degree of being spiritually minded, which the means he enjoyeth would lead him unto, and which the light he hath received doth call for; who judgeth it necessary unto his present advantages, occasions, and circumstances, to rest in such measures or degrees of it as he cannot but know that they come short of what he ought to aim at, and so doth not endeavour after completeness in the will of God herein, can have no satisfaction in his own mind; hath no unfailing grounds whereon to believe that he hath any thing at all of the reality of this grace in him. Such a person possibly may have life which accompanies the essence of this grace, but he cannot have peace which follows on its degree in a due improvement. And it is to be feared, that far the greatest number of them who satisfy themselves in this apprehension, willingly neglecting an endeavour after the farther degrees of this grace and growth in this duty, which their light or convictions, and the means they enjoy do suggest unto them, are indeed carnally minded, and every way obnoxious unto death,
A particular account of the nature of this grace and duty of being spiritually
minded. How it is stated in, and evidenced by, our thoughts.
HAVING stated the general concernments of that frame of mind which is here recommended unto us, we may proceed to inquire more particularly into the nature of it, according unto the description before given, in distinct propositions. And we shall carry on both these intentions together; first, to shew, what it is, and wherein it doth consist; and then, how it doth evidence itself, so as that we may frame a right judgment whether it be in us or no. And we shall have no regard unto them, who either neglect or despise these things on any pretence whatever. For this is the word according unto which we shall all shortly be judged, “To be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.
Thoughts and meditations as proceeding from spiritual affections are the first things wherein this spiritual mindedness doth consist, and whereby it doth evidence itself. Our thoughts are like the blossoms on a tree in the spring. You may see a tree in the spring all covered with blossoms that nothing else of it appears. Multitudes of them fall off and come to nothing. Ofttimes where there are most blos
soms there is least fruit. But yet there is no fruit, be it of what sort it will, good or bad, but it romes in and from some of those blossoms. The mind of man is covered with thoughts, as a tree with blossoms. Most of them fall off, vanish, and come to nothing, end in vanity; and sometimes where the mind doth most abound with them, there is the least fruit; the sap
of the mind is wasted and consumed in them. Howbeit there is no fruit which actually we bring forth, be it good or bad, but it proceeds from some of these thoughts. Wherefore ordinarily these give the best and surest measure of the frame of men's minds. As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he;' Prov. xxiii. 7. In case of strong and violent temptations, the real frame of a man's heart is not to be judged by the multiplicity of thoughts about any object; for whether they are from Satan's suggestions, or from inward darkness, trouble, and horror, they will impose such a continual sense of themselves on the mind, as shall engage all its thoughts about them. As when a man is in a storm at sea, the current of his thoughts run quite another way, than when he is in safety about his occasions. But ordinarily voluntary thoughts are the best measure and indication of the frame of our minds. As the nature of the soil is judged by the grass which it brings forth, so may the disposition of the heart by the predominancy of voluntary thoughts; they are the original actings of the soul, the way whereby the heart puts forth and empties the treasure that is in it; the waters that first rise and flow from that fountain. Every man's heart is his treasury, and the treasure that is in it is either good or evil, as our Saviour tells us. There is a good and bad treasure of the heart; but whatever a man hath, be it good or evil, there it is; this treasure is opening, emptying, and spending itself continually, though it can never be exhausted ; for it hath a fountain in nature or grace, which no expense can diminish, yea, it increaseth and getteth strength by it. The more you spend of the treasure of your hearts in
ány kind, the more will you abound in treasure of the same kind. Whether it be good or evil, it grows by expense and exercise, and the principal way whereby it puts forth itself, is by the thoughts of the mind; if the heart be evil, they are for the most part vain, filthy, corrupt, wicked, foolish ; if it be under the power of a principle of grace, and so have a good