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selves of the truth, power, efficacy, and holiness of the gospel, as that the miscarriages of men, under a profession of it, shall never be unto them an occasion of falling, or being offended at Christ. And I look upon it as a sign of a very evil frame of heart, when men are concerned in the miscarriages of some that have made profession, whereby they are, it may be, damaged in their outward concerns, so as that they are surprised into reflections on that religion which they profess, professing the same themselves.
2. The second is afflictions, persecutions, and sufferings of all sorts. It is known by all (it were well if it were not so well known) what disquietments, dejections, and disconsolations these things are apt to fill the minds of men withal; what fears, troubles, sorrows, they reflect upon them. Against all these effects of them, this peace intended, gives us security. It makes us to preserve a peaceable, yea, a joyous life in our conflict with them. See John xvi. 33.
Both these, as here joined together, life and peace, do comprise a holy frame of heart and mind, wherein the souls of believers do find rest, quietness, refreshment, and satisfaction in God, in the midst of temptations, afflictions, offences, and sufferings. It is the soul's composure of itself in God, in his love in Christ Jesus, so as not greatly to be put out of order, to be cast down with any thing that may befall it, but affords men cheerfulness and satisfaction in themselves, though they walk sometimes in the valley of the shadow of death. Such persons have that in them, abiding with them, as will give them life and peace under all occurrences.
Secondly, Our next inquiry is, How this spiritual mindedness is life and peace, or what it contributes unto them; how it produceth the frame of heart and mind so expressed. And this it doth several ways.
1. It is the only means on our part, of retaining a sense of divine love. The love of God in a gracious sense of it, as shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost, is the first and only foundation of all durable comforts; such as will support and refresh us under all oppositions and distresses, that is, of life and peace in our souls in any condition. This God communicates by an act of sovereign grace, for the most part without any preparation for it in ourselves. He creates the fruit of the lips; peace, peace.' But although divine love be in itself unchangeable, and always the same; yet this sense of it may be lost, as it was in David, when he prayed that God would restore unto him the joys of his salvation, Psal. li. 12. And so many others have found it by woful experience. To insist upon all that is required on our parts, that we may obtain a gracious refreshing sense of divine love, after it is once granted unto us, belongs not unto my present purpose. But this I say, there is not any thing wherein we are more concerned, for to be careful and diligent in, than as unto what belongs to that end. For men who, by a mere act of sovereign grace, have tasted herein of the goodness of God, who have had the consolation and joys of it, to be negligent in the keeping and preserving it in their souls, is a provocation that they will at one time or other be sensible of. There is nothing doth more grieve the Holy Spirit, than to have his especial work, whereby he seals us unto the day of redemption, neglected or despised. And it argues a mighty prevalency of some corruption or temptation, that shall cause men willingly, and by their own sloth, to forfeit so inestimable a grace, mercy, and privilege. And it is that which there are but few of us who have not reason to bewail our folly in. Every intimation of divine love is an inestimable jewel, which, if safely treasured up in our hearts, adds unto our spiritual riches; and being lost will, at one time or another, affect us with sorrow.
And I am afraid that many of us are very negligent herein, unto the great prejudice of our souls and spiritual state. Many of such intimations are given us by the Holy Ghost through the word, which we take little notice of ; either we know not the voice of Christ in them, or do not hearken unto him in a due manner, or refuse a compliance with him, when we cannot but know that he speaks unto us. See Cant. v. 2,3. Or if we receive any impressions of a gracious sense of divine love in them, we quickly lose them, not knowing how much the life of our souls is concerned therein, and what use of them we may have in our following temptations, trials, and duties.
Now the great means of retaining a sense of the love of God, which is the only spring of life and peace unto our souls, is this grace and duty of being spiritually minded. This is evident from the very nature of the duty. For,
1. It is the soul's preserving of itself in a frame meet
to receive and retain this sense of God's love. What other way can there be on our part, but that our minds which are so to receive it and retain it, are spiritual and heavenly, always prepared for that holy converse and communion with himself, which he is pleased to grant us through Jesus Christ. And,
2. It will fix our thoughts and affections upon the grace and love of God, communicating such an inestimable mercy unto us, as is a sense of his love, which is the only means for the preservation of a relish of it in our hearts. He who is in this frame of mind, will remember, call over, and ruminate upon, all such gracious pledges of divine favour, as David is often remembering and calling over what he received in such places, as in the land of the Hermonites, and at the hill Mizar;' Psal. xlii. This is the great way whereby this treasure may be preserved.
3. A person so minded, and he alone, will have a due valuation of such intimations and pledges of divine love. Those who are full of other things, whose affections cleave unto them, do never esteem heavenly mercies and privileges as they ought. The full soul loatheth the honeycomb. And God is well pleased, when a high valuation is put upon his kindness; as he is greatly provoked by the contrary frame; which indeed nothing but infinite patience could bear withal. It is a high provocation of God, when men are regardless of, and unthankful for, outward temporal mercies; when they receive them and use them as if they were their own, that they were lords of them, at least, that they are due unto them. Much more is he provoked with our regardlessness of the least of those mercies which are the peculiar purchase of the blood of his Son, and the effects of his eternal love and grace. He alone who is spiritually minded, valueth, prizeth, and lays up these inestimable jewels in a due manner.
4. Such persons only know how to use and improve all communications of a sense of divine love. These things are not granted unto us to lie by us, without any use of them. They are gracious provisions wherewith we are furnished to enable us unto all other duties, conflicts, and trials. On all occasions are they to be called over for our spiritual relief and encouragement. Hereby are they safely retained. For in the due improvement of them, they grow more bright in our minds every day, and are ready for use, in which posture they are safely preserved. But these things will yet be farther manifest in the instances that ensue.
2. This frame of mind casts out all principles and causes of trouble and disquietment, which are inconsistent with life and peace. There are in us by nature principles of contrariety and opposition unto spiritual life and peace, with sundry things, whose abode and prevalency in us is inconsistent with them. I shall give only one or two instances hereof.
1. It will cast out all · filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness' from our minds. Without this, we can receive no benefit by the means of grace, nor perform any duty in a right manner; James i. 27.
James i. 27. This is that which stands in direct immediate opposition and contrariety unto our being spiritually minded, so as they can have no consistency in the same person. And they expel one another like heat and cold. And where there is this filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness,' there is neither life nor peace. Unclean lusts of the flesh, or of the spirit, working, tumultuating, acting themselves in the minds of men, will not suffer either the life of holiness to flourish in them, or any solid peace to abide with them. The soul is weakened by them as unto all spiritual actings, and made like a troubled sea that cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt. Where they are absolutely predominant, there is a hell within, of darkness, confusion, and enmity against God, preparing men for a hell of punishment without, unto eternity. And according as they remain, or have any prevalency in us, so are spiritual life and peace impaired and obstructed by them. Now the very nature of this grace and its universal exercise, is suited to the casting out of all the relics of this filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness.' It brings in a principle into the mind directly contrary unto that from whence they do proceed. All the actings of it, which we have described, lie in direct tendency unto the extirpation of these causes of filthiness which ruin life and peace; nor will they by any other way be cast out. If the mind be not spiritual, it will be carnal; if it mind not things above, it will fix itself inordinately on things below.
2. That disorder which is by nature in the affections and passions of the mind, which is directly opposite unto spiritual life and peace, is cast out, or cured hereby. · It is a
blessed promise of the times of the New Testament, of the kingdom and rule of Christ, that through the efficacy of gospel grace, The lion shall lie down with the lamb, and the leopard with the kid;' Isa. xi. 6. Persons of the most intemperate and outrageous passions, shall be made meek and lovely. Where this is not in some measure effected, according unto the degrees of the prevalency of such passions in us, we have not been made partakers of evangelical grace. It were an easy task to demonstrate how the disorder of our affections and passions is destructive of spiritual life and peace. The contrariety that is in them, and contradiction unto one another, their violence, impetuousness, and restlessness, their readiness to receive and take in provocations on all occasions, and frequently on none at all, but what imagination presents unto them, are sufficient evidences hereof. Can we think that life and peace do inhabit that soul wherein anger, wrath, envy, excess in love unto earthly things, do dwell, and on all occasions exert themselves? there, where there is a continual tumult, fighting, and rebellion, as there is where the passions of the mind are not under the conduct of reason, nor of grace?
The nature and principal effect of this spiritual mindedness, is to bring all the affections and passions of our minds into that holy order wherein they were created. This was that uprightness wherein God made us; namely, the whole blessed order of all the powers, faculties, and affections of our souls, in all their operations, in order unto our living unto God. And this is restored unto us by this grace,
this duty of being spiritually minded. And wherein it falls short of that perfection which we had originally (for the remainders of that disorder which befell us by sin, will still in part continue), it is recompensed by the actings of that new principle of gospel grace which is exercised in it. For every act of our affections towards God, in the power of grace, exceeds, and is of another nature, above that we could do, or attain unto, in the state of nature uncorrupted. Hereby are life and peace brought into our souls, and preserved in them.
3. It is that whereby our hearts and minds are taken off from the world, and all inordinate love thereunto. Where this is in prevalent degree, there is neither life nor peace; and every excess in it both weakens spiritual life, and dis