« AnteriorContinuar »
turbs, yea, destroys all solid spiritual peace. I have occasionally spoken unto it before, as also the way whereby our minding of the things that are above in a due manner, doth deliver and preserve our souls from the shares of it. And if we diligently examine ourselves, we shall find, that in our inordinate affections, and cleaving unto these things, the principal causes why we thrive no more in the power of spiritual life, and whence we meet with so many disquietments and dejections of spirit unto the disturbance of our peace and rest in God, is from hence. For there is no grace which is not impaired by it in its nature, or not obstructed by it in its exercise. Wherefore, to be spiritually minded is life and peace,' because it subdues and expels that inordinate love unto present things, which is destructive of them both, and inconsistent with them.
4. It preserves the mind in a due and holy frame in the performance of all other duties. This also is indispensably required, unto the preservation of life and peace, especially unto the improvement of them. They will not abide, much less thrive and flourish, in any persons who are negligent in holy duties, or do not perform them in a due manner. And there are four things which impede or hinder us from such an attendance unto holy duties, as may be advantageous unto our souls; against all which we have relief by being spiritually minded.
1. Distraction of mind and thoughts hath this evil effect, which many complain of, few take the right way of deliverance from. For this evil will not be cured by attendance unto any particular directions, without a change of the whole frame of our minds. Nothing can give us relief herein, but a prevalent delight in being exercised about things spiritual and heavenly. For hence arise all our distractions; the want of fixing our minds on spiritual things with delight, makes them obnoxious to be diverted from them on all occasions; yea, to seek occasions for such diversions. It is this frame alone, namely, of spiritual mindedness, that will give us this delight. For thereby the soul is transformed into the likeness of spiritual things; so as that they are
suited unto it, and pleasant unto our affections. The mind and the things themselves are thereby so fitted unto each other, that on every occasion they are ready for mutual embraces, and not easily drawn off by any cause or means of the distractions so complained of, yea, they will all be prevented hereby.
2. Despondencies in duties arise from the frequent incursions of the guilt of sin. The remembrance hereof frequently solicits the minds of persons in their first entrances into duty, unless they are under especial actings of grace, stirring them up unto earnestness and fervency in what they undertake. At other seasons it renders men lifeless and heartless, so as that they know not whether they had best pray or no, when duty and opportunity call them thereunto. To be spiritually minded, we have manifested in many instances, is the great preservative against these disheartening incursions of sin. It is the soul's watch and guard against them, whencesoever they arise or proceed. No lust or corruption can be prevalent in a spiritual mind. And this is the principal cause of such incursions of sin, as affect the soul with a disheartening sense of guilt. No affections can abide in any sinful disorder, where the mind is so affected. This also gives sin an entrance unto a distracting sense of guilt. But the sole cure hereof lies in this grace and duty. The like may be said of all other ways, means, and occasions of such incursions of sin.
3. Weariness in, and of, spiritual duties, abate their tendency unto the improvement of life and peace in us. This evil ariseth from the same cause with that of distraction be-, fore-mentioned. And it is ofttimes increased by the weak. ness and indispositions of the flesh, or of the outward man. Sometimes the spirit is willing, but through the weakness of the flesh, it is disappointed. The principal cure hereof lies in that delight which spiritual mindedness gives unto the soul in spiritual things. For where there is a constant delight in any thing, there will be no weariness, at least, not such as shall hinder any from cleaving firmly unto the things wherein he doth delight. Whilst therefore we are exercised in a delight in spiritual things, weariness cannot prevalently assault the mind. And it is the only relief against that weariness which proceeds from the indispositions of the outward man.
For as it will preserve the mind from attending
too much unto their solicitations, crying spare thyself, by filling and possessing the thoughts with other things; so it will offer a holy violence unto the complaints of the flesh, silencing them with a sense of, and delight in, holy duties.
4. The unreadiness of grace for its due and proper exercise, is another thing which defeats us of the benefit of holy duties. The seasons of them are come, sense of duty carries men unto an attendance unto them, and the performance of them. But when they should enter upon them, those graces of faith, love, fear, and delight, wherein the soul and being of them do consist, are out of the way, unready for due exercise; so as that men take
up and satisfy themselves with the mere outward performance of them. The heart and mind have been taken up with other things; due preparation hath been wanting; men come unto them with reeking thoughts of earthly occasions; and it is no easy matter in, or immediately out of, such a frame, to stir up grace unto a due exercise. But herein lieth the very life of being spiritually minded. The nature of it consists in the keeping and preserving all grace in a readiness for its exercise as our occasions require.
And this is an effectual way whereby this grace comes to be life and peace. For they cannot be attained, they cannot be preserved, without such a constancy and spirituality in all holy duties, as we shall never arrive at, unless we are spiritually minded.
Lastly; this frame of mind brings the soul unto, and keeps it at, its nearest approaches unto heaven and blessedness, wherein lie the eternal springs of life and peace. According unto the degrees of this grace in us, such are those of our approaches unto God. Nearness unto him gives us our initial conformity unto him, by the renovation of his image in us, as our presence with him will give us perfection therein; for when we see him, we shall be like unto him. He therefore alone as he is in Christ being the fountain of life and peace, by our drawing nigh unto him, and by our likeness of him, will they thrive and flourish in our souls.
Printed by J. F. Dove, St. John's Square.