Nine CONVINCEMENTS of Earthly-mindedness.
1. Conv. For the further Convincement of an Earthly-minded man, seriously consider this: When a man shall rest upon earthly props, upon worldly helps for the good that he doth ex∣pect; If he can have those things, then his heart seems to be upon the wing, very pleasant; but there's nothing else can revive his heart, it's not a promise that can keep his spirit. Now that that a man or woman most trusts unto, that certainly they make to be their God: for that properly belongs to God to put our trust in Him; then we make God to be our God, when Page 55 we roul our selves upon Him. Now to trust in earthly things though it be but for the comforts of your life, you will say, I cannot trust in earthly things to bring me to God; nay, but to trust in them for the comforts of your life, while you are herein this world; that's an Argument of an earthly spirit: for the truth is, the comfort of a mans life consists not in any earthly thing he doth enjoy.
Object. You will say, Do not these comfort our lives?
Answ. Yes, so far as God is pleased to let out Him∣self through them, but if thy heart doth rest upon these for comfort, and doth not look higher than these for comfort, even for thy outward support: certainlie thou hast an earthlie heart. And so, when thou art about any businesse, thou hast some earthlie means to further thee.
Obj. You wil say, God would have us take all outward means to help us.
Ans. I, but not to trust in any thing; If riches encrease, set not your hearts upon them: so, if friends encrease, set not your hearts upon them, but trust in the living God, let it be the living God that you rest on even for all outward things in this world.
2. Conv. A Second Convincement, is this: When men make most provision for the things of this world, both for them∣selves and for their children. Are not these your thoughts? I do not know what I may want hereafter, and I see many that have lived finely when they have been young, yet af∣terwards they have lived very miserably, and therefore I must make provision for after-times. Thus for the earth.
But now, Do you reason thus for the things of Heaven? do not I see many that have made a great blaze of Religi∣on, and yet afterwards they have come to nothing, they have gone out in a snuffe as men that God hath forsaken, and they have died in horror of Conscience; and therfore let me lay up provision now against an evil time, that I may not miscarrie in the matters of my soul so as others have done; this were a sign your minds were not earthly. And for your children, God hath sent you children, and Oh! Page 56 how you toile and labour, and your thoughts run in the night, and as soon as you awake in the morning, about what you shall get for their portions, and for an estate for them: Now I appeal to your conscience before God (the searcher of all hearts) Have your cares been to provide in a sutable way for their souls, for their spiritual and eternal estates? No question but it's lawful for parents to provide in a Providential way for their children, and they that do not are worse than Infidels; but what is your chief provi∣sion for? are your thoughts more solicitous to provide por∣tions for them, than that they should have instruction in the fear of God, an interest in Christ, than that they should have grace wrought in their hearts? You are loth to die be∣fore you can bring your estate so clear as you may leave it to your children:! Oh are you not loth die before such time as you see some work of grace wrought in the hearts of your children? Oh! these would your thoughts be if you were spiritual: Oh! could I discern but some seeds of grace sown before I was disolved I could rejoyce abundantlie. As ti's repeated of Austen's Mother, that the great thing that she desired to live for, was to see her son Converted; and God did grant her desire, and then she found her self wil∣ling to die. There's nothing wil make the spiritual heart of a father or mother more willing to depart from this world, than to find grace wrought in their children; Oh! that I may see before I die my child left under the promise in Covenant with God: I, this were somwhat-like indeed: But those whose cares & thoughts are most for these earth∣lie things, in providing for themselves and children, that's a Convincement that their hearts are earthly.
3. Conv. A Third Convincement which is very notable (and I beseech you all to lay this to heart and consider se∣riously of it) for this evill of earthly-mindedness is a very secret and close sin, therefore I am the larger in this point: the convincement is this.
That man that can be content with a slight assurance in the mat∣ters of Heaven, but for the matters of earth he never thinks him∣self Page 57 sure enough, but is very careful to make all things so infalla∣ble as there can be no way that he can be decived in, but he may surely build upon what he hath in the things of this earth. This is an argument of an earthly mind, Come to men that are earthly, and discourse with them concerning matters that concern their souls, What assurance have you that you are gone beyond any formal professor, that you are better than the stony or thorny grounds that we reade of in Scrip∣ture? What evidence have you that the saving work of grace is wrought in you? that you have shot the gulf? that you are translated out of the kingdom of darknesse in∣to the Kingdom of Jesus Christ? and that your sins are pardoned, and your souls justified? that you are at peace with God? what evidences have you of peace made be∣tween God and your souls: This answer would be given: I hope I am converted, I trust in Gods mercy, sure I have grace, I shall be sav'd, God is merciful. But what eviden∣ces can you shew? They know not scarce what belongs to that, nay, you shall have many of them, because they know not what assurance means, therefore they, will think no bo∣dy can be assured; we may hope well but we cannot come to be assured of it: No, a heart that is truly gracious and godly would be loth that should be true for a thousand worlds, they would not lose their parts in the blessing of that, if God would make them Kings or Queens of the earth. But thou hast an earthlie drossie heart, and doest not much look after assurance for matters of thy soul and e∣ternal estate, thou wilt venture those matters and put them upon a peradventure; but when it comes to the matters of the earth there thou wilt make all sure, and go from this Lawyer to another Lawyer to ask council, & to see whether the things are good, and will inrole them; and if there can be any thing done to make more sure (if it be any great sum upon which your estates lies) you will do it. I ap∣peal to you, If you could but hear of any of your neigh∣bors what they had done to make such a thing more cer∣tain than you have done; you would scarce be at rest till Page 58 you had done so as they have done: is it so in matters of your eternal estate? do not you hear of many Saints of God that walk comfortably in the midst of all afflictions upon the assurance of Gods love? you shall have some will be able to say, I, and it's this Scripture I build upon, and through Gods mercie such and such hath the work of God been upon my soul in revealing himself to me, and such a promise I have suck't abundance of honie from. But now generally, come to people upon their sick beds, all that they say is this, They hope in Gods mercie. But for the ground of their hope, for shewing how God hath been pleased to bring their hearts and the word together, and what real effects there hath been upon their spirits by the word, that they can shew nothing of: thou hast not there∣fore got that assurance for thy soul and eternal estate as o∣thers have got, and yet thou canst go on quietly, Oh! it concerns thee that art so busie in making all sure for thy outward estate, to spend more thoughts and care in the matters of thy soul and eternal estate than ever thou hast done, here's an earthly-minded man that can be contented with slight assurance for the matters of his soul, and satis∣fied with no kind of assurance in the matters of the world, but would fain make those things more and more sure con∣tinually.
4. Conv. Further, An earthly-minded man may be con∣vinc'd of his earthlinesse in this, He is content with a little de∣gree of Sanctification, but for the matters of the world, still he would fain have more and more. He looks at those that are the most eminent that are in his rank, and he would fain get up as high as they in the things of this life, but in mat∣ters of Religion he looks at the lowest Christians, and is content to be as low as they; take an earthly-minded man that is of such a trade, if there be any of his profession or calling that had as little to begin as he, and thrive better, he would fain get up as high as he, and is troubled that he is not so rich as he is; thus it is in the world. But now, take them in matters of God, there's such men that Page 59 began since you began, and had as little means for the good of their souls as you have had, they are thriven and got beyond you abundantly in the matters of God, and doth this trouble you? and are your thoughts solicitous a∣bout this? Oh! that I could attain to that degree of grace as such a one hath got, such an one hath a spiritual mind, and full of the joy of the holy Ghost, and full of faith, he is able to depend upon God in the want of all outward comforts, and certainly injoyes much communion with God; but I am far beneath such and such: do these thoughts trouble you? it is ordinary for earthly spirits, if they look but at any one that makes profession of Religion that is low in his profession, I did as such a one doth; and I have as much as they have, and that satisfies them, they look upon the meanest Christans, and are satisfied that they are like them; but for the matters of the world they look upon the highest, and are not satified except they come and attain to what they attain to: and that's a fourth evidence.
5. Conv. Then a Fift is this, Earthly-minded men are very wise in matters of the world, but in matters that are spiritual there they are very weak and Simple. You shall have many men, (which I have wondered at sometimes to see) that in mat∣ters concerning Religion there they are very ignorant, if they do but speak in points of saving knowledge they speak like children, so that one would wonder where their understandings were; now turn such men to the matters of the world, Oh! how wise are they in their generation, Oh! how subtile, and crafty are they, they can see an ob∣jecton there and know how to answer it, they can discern any thing that will let them in their profit, many miles off, and can prevent whereas others cannot; but now in those things that hinder their souls, they cannot foresee things there, they are wise in their generation, and they have me∣mories for the matters of the world, they can understand things, and remember things, and they can meditate there, but put them to meditate on a point of Religion, they are presently at a stand: Let me appeal to you, do not your Page 60 consciences tell you, that in the matter, of the world when you are walking from hence to London, you can run in your thoughts upon one business all the way that you walk, you can plot this, and contrive the other way, and foresee this and the other objection, and answer it thus in your own thoughts; but I do but put this to you, when you walk over the fields, settle but upon one meditation concerning Christ, and see whether you are a∣ble to draw out that meditation the while you walk over one field, whereas you can spin out an earthly meditation if it were divers miles; when you awake in the night season presently your thoughts are upon the things of the world, and you can draw them out, and work there understan∣dingly; but now in the things of God, Oh! how bar∣ren, and simple, and weak are you there! there's scarce a∣ny one can over-reach you in the things of the world, but in the matters of Religion you are over-reach't present∣ly, every slight temptation overcomes you there.
6. Conv. And besides, you may know it by the discourse and words of men; 1. John, 4. 5. They are of the world; therefore speak they of the world, and the world heareth them: Their breath is earthly, Oh! it's an ill sign that (you use to say of your friends sometimes) when you come to their bed side, Oh! I am afraid they will die their breath smels so earthly, it's a simptom of the death of the bodie: So your hearts do smel so earthly, and it were somewhat to∣lerable if it were on other daies when your callings re∣quires it to discourse of businesse, but even that time that God hath set apart for himself, you are sometimes discour∣sing in your own thoughts concerning the businesses of the world when you are praying, and hearing: whereas the communication and discourses of men should relish of what they have heard out of the world, not presently to go and talk about some earthly exchange occurrances, and so loose all, Oh! it's this that hath lost many precious truths, it may be when you have been hearing, God hath darted in some beam of Gospel-light into your souls, and you have Page 61 lost is before you have got home, and so have come to loose the impression of the truth that you have heard, Oh! what a seemly thing were it in those that come to hear the word when they depart that there should be no discourse but tending that way? Oh! how often are you in company and never leave any thing to refresh one anothers spirits, or to further one another in the way to eternal life; though God gives you allowance to speak about your business, yet still if you be spiritual and heavenly, he would have you to have something about heaven or eternal life before you do depart.
7. Conv A. further Convincement is this, When Spiri∣tual things must give way to Earthlyness upon every little business: Prayer must pay for it, if I have any businesse, I will take it out of the time of Paayer, or converse in the Word the less, or hear the lesse; when as I say, that earthly things are so high as spiritual things must give way, Heaven must stand by (as ir were) til Earth be served; this is an evil sign of an earthly spirit: whereas were the spirit Heavenly, the very first thing that thou would do when thou awakest in the morning, or arisest, should be to season thy heart with som∣thing that were spiritual: in Psal 139. 17. How precious al∣so are thy thoughts unto me O God! how great is the sum of them? If I count them, they are more in number than the sand: when I awake I am still with thee. Oh! that were an argument of a spiritual mind, that upon the awaking presently to be with God: When I awake I am still with thee. But now, I ap∣peal to you, Who are you withal when you awake? Can you say, Lord, when I awake I am still with thee, I find an inclination in my spirit to be upon the matters of Heaven, and when I am up, I had rather my worldly business should give way than spiritual duties.
8. Conv. When a man or woman cares not much how it is with the Church, with the Kingdom of Jesus Christ, so it be well with them in the matters of the world: when as there are things stirring abroad in the world (for we live in stirring times wherein God is shaking the Heavens and the Earth:) now Page 62 he doth not much enquire how things are in respect of the Priviledges of the Saints, the Ark of the Church, so his Cabbin be safe. Truly, there need no oeher thing but the examning of your hearts, how they have been these last years of Jacobs trubles. We find Eli in the time of war he sat trembling because of the Ark of God; he did not sit trembling because, that if the Philistims did prevaile he should be put out of his place, and his estate taken away; no, but because of the Ark of God; that was an argument of the spiritualnesse of Eli's mind. And so it may be an ar∣gument of very great comfort to you in these dangerous times; If our consciences tell us this, that God that knowes all things, knowes that the great thing my heart was solicitous about in these evill dayes, it was, What shall become of thy great Name: Lord, what shall become of Religion: what shall become of thy Gospel: Lord these were the things that took up my heart, not so much what should become of my estate and outward accommodations and relations in this world: Oh! exa∣mine your hearts in this, Whether the care of your spirts be more for the furtherance of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ or for the furtherance of your Estates? but for that man or woman that is most solicitous about businesse that con∣cerns their outward estates, and do not much care how Re∣ligion goes, how the way of the Kingdom of Christ is maintai'd, God at this time doth speak to that soul; Thou art an Earthly-minded man or woman, and therefore take heed lest what hath been spoken concerning the great evil that there is in earthly-mindednesse, lest it befals thee, and especially the last of all, Whose end is destruction, who art drown'd in perdition; lest hereafter this be the thing that thou shalt lie crying out of, and cursing thy self for, Oh! I had a base and earthly heart, and sought the things of the earth, and made my portion there, and in the mean time the blessed God hath been forsaken; and I have lost my Portion in the Holy Land, for I had my portion in Egypt among the Egyptians accoding as I did choose to my self.
Page 63 9. Conv. That the more spiritual any truth is that is reveal'd, the less doth it take with his heart: Some truths of Religion perhaps he is moved with, but these are as by-words to him, he minds them not at at all. The more spiritual an Ordi∣nance is that is delivered, the lesse is his spirit moved with it; if indeed he comes to the Word and there be mingled some earthly natural excellencie, (for so I may call it) as natural parts, wisdom, wit, and eloquence, and learning, that he is mov'd withal, it may be some fine story is more pleasing to him, than the goodly pearls of truth that are revealed in the word; as now, such truths as these, The enjoyment of communion with God, the longing after Jesus Christs coming; the living by faith upon a bare pro∣mise, the excellencie that there is in suffering for Jesus Christ: These truths now are spiritual, The mortifying of the inward lusts, Self-denial, These things are little savored by an earthly-minded man; tell him of the privi∣ledges of the Saints, the mysteries of the Gospel, any thing that is spiritual it is but as a notion to him; As 'tis with men that are upon the earth, they look up to Heaven and see the things of Heaven but little; why is it that the Stars seem so smal to us here, but because we are upon the earth, the earth seems a vast bodie to us, but the Stars seem but lit∣tle to us though they are far bigger than the earth: were we in Heaven, then the heavenly bodies would seem vast to us, and the earthly bodies would scarce be discerned by us; were mens hearts heavenly, all the things of the earth would seem little to them; but because they are earthly, therefore the things of heaven, and spiritual mysteries are very small in their eyes.