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whole world; but from the weakness of our affections themselves, which are in part only renewed, and cannot take in the full measures of divine goodness, which in another world they will receive. But whilst we are here, the more we receive them in our minds and souls, the more firmly we adhere unto them, the nearer approaches we make unto our rest and centre.
2. Spiritual things are to be considered as they are filled with divine wisdom. I speak not of himself whose essential wisdom is one of the most amiable excellencies of his holy nature ; but of all the effects of his will and grace by Jesus Christ. All spiritual truths, all spiritual and heavenly things whereby God reveals and communicates bimself unto the souls of men, and all the ways and means of our approach unto him in faith and obedience through Christ Jesus, I now intend. All these are filled with divine wisdom; see 1 Cor. ii. 7. Eph. iii. 10. i. 8, 9. Now wisdom in itself, and in all the effects of it, is attractive of rational affections. Most men are brutish in them and their actings, for the most part, pouring them out on things fleshly, sensual, and carnal. But where they are at all reduced under the conduct of reason, nothing is so attractive of them, so suited unto them, which they delight in, as that which hath at least an appearance of wisdom. A wise and good man doth command the affections of others, unless it be their interest to hate and oppose him, as commonly it is. And where there is true wisdom in the conduct of civil affairs, sober men cannot but approve of it, like it, delight in it, and men of understanding do bewail the loss of it, since craft, falsehood, treachery, and all sorts of villany, have driven it out of the world. So is divine wisdom attractive of divine gracious affections. The psalmist declares his admiration of, and delight in, the works of God, because he hath made them all in wisdom;' Psal. civ. 24. Those characters of divine wisdom which are upon them, which they are filled with, draw the souls of men into a delightful contemplation of them. But all the treasures, all the glory of this wisdom, are laid up, and laid forth, in the great spiritual things of the gospel, in the mystery of God in Christ, and the dispensation of his grace and goodness unto us by him. The consideration hereof blls the souls of believers with holy admi
ration and delight, and thereon they cleave unto them with all their affections. When we see there is light in them, and all other things are in darkness, that wisdom is in them, in them alone, and all other things are filled with vanity and folly, then are our souls truly affected with them, and do rejoice in them with joy unspeakable and full of glory.
Unto the most, this wisdom of God is foolishness. It was so of old as the apostle testifieth, 1 Cor. i. And so it continues yet to be. And therefore is the mystery of the gospel despised by them; they can see neither form nor comeliness in it for which it should be desired. Nor will ever any man have sincere spiritual affections unto spiritual things, who hath not a spiritual view of the wisdom of God in them.
This is that which attracts our souls by holy admiration unto unspeakable delight. And the reason why men do so generally decline from any love unto the gospel, and lose all satisfaction in the mystery of it, is because they are not able to discern that infinite wisdom which is the spring, life, and soul of it. When our minds are raised unto the admiration of this wisdom in divine revelations, then will our affections cleave unto the things that are revealed.
3. The acting of our affections in their adherence unto spiritual things is perfective of our present state and condition. That which of all other things doth most debase the nature of man, wherein it makes the nearest approaches unto brutality, yea, whereby it becomes in some respects more vile than the nature of beasts, is the giving up of the affections unto things sensual, unclean, base, and unworthy of its more noble principles. Hence are men said “to debase themselves unto hell ;' Isa. lvii. 9. And their affections do become vile; so as that their being under the power of them, is an effect of revenging justice punishing men for the worst of sins; Rom. i. 26. There is nothing more vile, nothing more contemptible, nothing more like to beasts in baseness, and to hell in punishment, than is the condition of them who have enslaved their nature unto brutish sensual affections. I say vile affections, fixed on, and cleaving unto, sensual objects, do debase the nature of man, and do both corrupt and enslave all the more noble faculties of it; the very consciences and minds of men are defiled by them. If you see a man whose affections are set inordinately on any
thing here below, it is easy to discern how he goes off from his native worth, and debaseth himself therein.
But the fixing of spiritual affections on spiritual objects is perfective of our present state and condition. Not that we can attain perfection by it; but that therein our souls
in a progress towards perfection. This may be granted; look how much vile affections fixed on, and furiously pursuing, things carnal and sensual, do debase our natures beneath its rational constitution, and make it degenerate into bestiality; so much spiritual affections fixed on, and cleaving unto things spiritual and heavenly, do exalt our nature above its mere natural capacity, making an approach unto the state of angels, and of just men made perfect. . And as brutish affections, when they have the reins, as they say, on their necks, and are pursued with delight and greediness, do darken the mind, and disturb all the rational powers of the soul (for 'whoredom, and wine, and new wine do take away the heart,'as the prophet speaks, and wickedness altereth the understanding); so holy affections fixed on spiritual things, do elevate, raise, and enlighten the mind with true wisdom and understanding. For the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom, and to depart from iniquity, that is understanding.' And again, as the power of vile affections fill the soul and conscience with tumult, disorder, fear, and shame, where men are not utterly profligate so as that the minds, thoughts, and consciences of persons under their power, is a very hell, for confusion and troubles ; so spiritual affections, duly exercised on their proper objects, do preserve all things in order in the whole soul; they are life and peace. All things are quiet and secure in the mind; there is order and peace in the whole soul, in all its faculties, and all their operations, whilst the affections are in a due prevailing manner fixed upon the things that are above. Hence many persons, 'after great turmoilings in the world, after they have endeavoured by all means to come to rest and satisfaction therein, have utterly renounced all concernments in earthly things, and betaken themselves unto the contemplation of things above, and that only. Many, I confess, of them were mistaken as to the practical part of their devotions, having various superstitions imposed on their minds by the craft of others; but they missed it not in the principle, that tranquillity of mind was attainable only in setting our affections on things above. James iv. 1. •From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members ?' Whence are all the disorders in your minds, your vexations and disquietments, your passions breaking forth sometimes into unseemly brawlings ? are they not from hence? The question is put unto yourselves, and your own consciences, namely, from your lusts, that is the disorderly affections that tumultuate in you. Do but search yourselves, and you will quickly see whence all your troubles and disquietments do arise. Your lusts, or corrupt and inordinate affections, do war in you, continually inclining you to things earthly or sensual. Hence many are best and most at quiet when they are in the world, worst when at home in their families; but never are they in such confusion, as when they are forced to retire into themselves.
The due exercise of our affections on heavenly things, hath quite another tendency and effect. It so unites the mind unto them, it so bringeth them unto it, and gives them such a subsistence in it, as that all the powers and faculties of it are in a progress towards their perfection; see 2 Cor. vii. 1. True wisdom and understanding, with soundness of judgment in eternal things in the mind, holiness in the affections themselves, liberty in the will, power in the heart, and
peace in the conscience, do in their measures all ensue hereon. Whatever tastes we may have of these things, whatever temporary experience we have of them, they will not flourish in us, they will not abide with us in any constancy, unless we are thus spiritually minded.
4. In the future enjoyment of the present object of our spiritual affections, doth our eternal blessedness consist. All men who are convinced of a future eternal condition, do desire when they depart hence to enter into blessedness and glory. Howbeit what that blessedness, even as unto the general nature of it, is, they know nothing at all; and if they did, they would not know how to desire it. For heaven or blessedness is nothing but the full enjoyment of what we are here to love and delight in above all, of that which is the object of our affections as spiritually renewed. Herein have they neither interest nor concern. But this is that which giveth life unto the affections of believers; they know that in the enjoyment of God in Christ, their eternal blessedness doth consist. How this is their happiness and glory, how it will give them an everlasting overflowing satisfaction and rest, they understand in the first fruits of it which they here receive. And this is the ultimate object of their affections in this world, and they go forth unto all other spiritual things in order thereunto. The more therefore their affections are fixed on them, the more they are kept up unto that due exercise, the nearer approaches they make unto this blessed state. When their minds are possessed with this persuasion, when it is confirmed in them by daily experience of that sweetness, rest, and satisfaction, which they find in cleaving unto God with fervent love and delight, in vain shall any other objects rise up in competition to draw them off unto themselves. The more we love God, the more like we are unto him, and the more near the enjoyment of him.
HAVING considered the nature of spiritual affections as renewed by grace, and those notions of their objects under which they cleave unto them, it remains only that we inquire into the way of the soul's application of itself unto those objects by its affections, which belong also unto our being spiritually minded. And I shall give an account hereof in some few particulars, with brief observations on them.
1. It is required that our adherence unto all spiritual things with love and delight be firm and stable. The affections are the powers and instruments of the soul whereby it makes application unto any thing without itself, and cleaves unto it. This is their nature and use with reference unto things spiritual. Transient thoughts of spiritual things, with vanishing desires, may rise out of present convictions, as they did with them who cried out unto our Saviour, 'Lord, give us evermore of this bread,' and immediately left him. Such occasional thoughts and desires are common unto all sorts of men, yea, the worst of them ;' let me die the death of the righteous, and let my end be as his.' Fading satisfaction with joy and delight do often befall men in their attendance on the word, who yet never come to have it rooted in their hearts.