Page images

rupt inclinations, and discover the folly of those reasonings, whereby we deceive ourselves into the love of earthly things, or justify ourselves therein, and bring to light the secret principle of self-love, which is the root of all this evil.

3. If you would be able to make a right judgment in this case, be sure that you have another object for your affections, which hath a predominant interest in your minds, and which will evidence itself so to have on all occasions. Let a man be never so observant of himself, as unto all outward duties required of him, with respect unto these earthly things; let him be liberal in the disposal of them on all occasions; let him be watchful against all intemperance and excesses in the use of them; yet, if he hath not another object for his affections, which hath a prevailing influence upon them, if they are not set upon the things that are above, one way or other, it is the world that hath the possession of his heart. For the affections of our minds will, and must be placed in chief, on things below, or things above, there will be a predominant love in us; and therefore, although all our actions should testify another frame, yet if God, and the things of God, be not the principal object of our affections, by one way or other, unto the world we do belong : this is that which is taught us so expressly by our Saviour, Luke xvi. 9—13. And I say unto you, Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness, that when you fail, they may receive you into everlasting habitations. He that is faithful in that which is least, is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least, is unjust also in much. If therefore you have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches? And if ye have not been faithful in that which is another man's, who shall give you that which is your own? No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other: ye cannot serve God and mammon.'

4. Labour continually for the mortification of your affections unto the things of this world. They are in the state of corrupted nature set and fixed on them, nor will any reasonings or considerations effectually divert them, or take them off in a due manner, unless they are mortified unto

them by the cross of Christ. Whatever change be otherwise wrought in them, it will be of no advantage unto us. It is mortification alone that will take them off from earthly things unto the glory of God. Hence the apostle, having given us that charge, 'Set your affections on things above, and not on things below on the earth,' Col. iii. 2. adds this as the only way and means we may do so, Mortify therefore your members that are on the earth ;' ver. 5. Let no man think that his affections will fall off from earthly things of their own accord. The keenness and sharpness of them, in many things, may be abated by the decay of their natural powers in age, and the like : they may be mated by frequent disappointments, by sicknesses, pains, and afflictions, as we shall see immediately; or they may be willing unto a distribution of earthly enjoyments, to have the reputation of it, wherein they still cleave unto the world, but under another shape and appearance. They may be startled by convictions, so as to do many things gladly, that belong to another frame : but, on one pretence or other, under one appearance or other, they will for ever adhere or cleave unto earthly things, unless they are mortified unto them, through faith in the blood and cross of Christ; Gal. vi. 14. Whatever thoughts you may have of yourselves in this matter, unless you have the experience of a work of mortification on your affections, you can have no refreshing ground of assurance, that you are in any thing spiritually minded.

5. In all instances of duty belonging unto your stewardship of earthly things, attend diligently unto the rule. of the word: without this, the grace exhorted unto may be abused. So of old, under a pretence of a relinquishment of the things of this world, because of the danger in adhering unto them; their own superstition, and the craft of other men, prevailed with many to part with all they had unto the service of others, not better, it may be, not so good as themselves. This evil wholly arose from want of attendance unto the rule of truth, which gives no such direction in ordinary

But there is not much seen in these days of an excess in that kind. But, on the other hand, in all instances, of duties of this nature, most men's minds are habitually inAuenced with pretences, reasonings, and considerations, that turn the scales as unto what they ought to do in proportion


in this duty, on the side of the world. If you would be safe, you must, in all instances of duty, as in works of charity, piety, and compassion, give authority in and over your souls, unto the rule of the word. Let neither self nor unbelief, nor the custom and example of others, be heard to speak; but let the rule alone be attended unto, and to what that speaks, yield obedience.

Unless these things are found in us, none of us, no man living, if it be not so with him, can have any refreshing evidence or assurance, that he is not under the power of an inordinate, yea, and predominant love unto this world.

And indeed to add a little farther on the occasion of this digression, it is a sad thing to have this exception made against the state of any man, on just grounds; yea, but he loves the world. He is sober and industrious; he is constant in duties of religion, it may be, an earnest preacher of them, a man of sound principles, and blameless as unto the excesses of life; but he loves the world. The question is, how doth this appear ? it may be, what you say is but one of those evil surmises which all things are filled withal. Wherefore I speak it not at all to give countenance unto the rash judging of others, which none are more prone unto than those who one way or other are eminently guilty themselves : but I would have every man judge himself, that we be none of us condemned of the Lord. If, notwithstanding the things mentioned, any of us do centre in self, which is supplied and filled with the world : if we prefer self above all other things, do aim at the satisfaction of self in what we do well or ill, are useless unto the only good and blessed ends of these earthly things, in supplying the wants of others, according unto the proportions wherewith we are intrusted ; it is to be feared, that the world, and the things that are in it, have the principal interest in our affections.

And the danger is yet greater with them who divert on the other extreme. Such are they, who, in the pride of life, vanity in apparel, excess in drinking, pampering the flesh every day, tread close on the heels of the world, if they do not also fully keep company with it. Altogether in vain is it for such persons to countenance themselves with an appearance of other graces in them, or the sedulous performance of other duties. This one rule will eternally prevail

against them; 'If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. And by the way, let men take heed how they walk in any instance against the known judgment'and practice of the wiser or more experienced sort of Christians, to their regret and sorrow, if not unto their offence and scandal, or in any way whereunto they win the consent of their own light and conscience, by such reasonings and considerations, as will not hold weight in the balance of the sanctuary. Yet thus, and no otherwise, is it with all them who, under a profession of religion, do indulge unto any excesses wherein they are conformed unto the world.

Fifthly, God makes a hedge against the excess of the affections of men, rational and any way enlightened, unto the things of this world, by suffering the generality of men to carry the use of them, and to be carried by the abuse of them, into actings so filthy, so abominable, so ridiculous, as reason itself cannot but abhor. Men by them transform themselves into beasts and monsters, as might be manifested by all sorts of instances : hence the wise man prayed against riches, lest he should not be able to manage the temptations wherewith they are accompanied; Prov. xxx. 8, 9.

Lastly, To close this matter, and to shew us what we are to expect, in case we set our affections on things here below, and they have thereby a predominant interest in our hearts, God hath positively determined and declared, that if it be so, he will have nothing to do with us, nor will accept of those affections which we pretend we can, and do spare for him, and spiritual things. If we abstain from open sins, if we abhor the lewdness and uncleanness of men in the world, if we are constant in religious duties, and give ourselves up to walk after the most strict sort in religion, like Paul, in his Pharisaism, may we not, will some say or think, find acceptance with God, though our hearts cleave inordinately unto the things of this world? I say, God hath peremptorily determined the contrary; and if other arguments will not prevail with us, he leaves us at last unto this, Go, love the world and the things of it; but know assuredly you do it unto the eternal loss of your souls; 1 John ii. 15. James iv. These few instances have I given of the arguments and motives whereby God is pleased to deter us from fixing our affections on things here below. And they are most of them such only, as he maketh use of in the administration of his providence. There are two other heads of things that offer themselves unto our consideration.

1. The ways, means, arguings, and enticements which the world makes use of, to draw, keep, and secure the affections of men unto itself.

2. The secret, powerful efficacy of grace, in taking off the heart from these things, turning and drawing it unto God, with the arguments and motives that the Holy Spirit maketh use of, in and by the word unto this end; and wherein we must shew what is the act of conquering grace, wherein the heart is finally prevailed on, to choose and adhere unto God in love immutable. But these things cannot be handled in any measure, according to their nature and importance, without such length of discourse, as I cannot here divert unto. I shall therefore proceed unto that which is the proper and peculiar subject before us.


What is required in, and unto our affections, that they may be spiritual.

A threefold work on the affections described.

To declare the interest of our affections in this frame of being spiritually minded, and what they contribute thereunto, I shall do these three things :

First, Declare what is required hereunto, that our affections may be spiritual, wherein lies the foundation of the whole duty.

Secondly, What are their actings when they are so spiritual.

Thirdly, What are the means whereby they may be kept and preserved in that frame, with sundry other things of the like nature, how our affections are concerned in, or do belong unto the frame of mind inquired after, hath been before declared. Without spiritual affections, we cannot be spiritually minded. And that they may be of this use, three things are required.

« PreviousContinue »