The Sixth Evil.
The Sixth thing wherein the danger of earthly-minded∣nes consists is this: That 'tis one of the greatest hinderances in the world to profiting by the Ministry of the Word. Oh! many of you cannot but be convinc'd in your consciences that you have not profited by the Word, and sometimes you will complain of the want of profiting under the means, Oh that you had but hearts to look into the cause of it, from whence it is that you profit so little: It will appear to come from your earthly-mindedness, you bring a heart full of Page 31 the world, full of drosse with you, no marvel though you do not see those spiritual and heavenly things that are in the Word, when as there is so much drosse in your eyes; you know travellors in the summer time, travelling in the midst of dust and in company, they have not that freedome of their eyes to see things as at another time: Oh! many men com to the word with their thik clay, & a great deal of filth that doth clam up their very eyes, and dead their hearts in the hearing of the Word; you know what Christ said to Martha, when Mary was sitting at Christs feet, and hearing his word, but Martha was cumbred with many things; so 'tis many times with those that come to hear the Word, though they are in the presence of Christ, and have the sound of the Word in their ears, yet their hearts are cum∣bred about many things, there's a great noise in their hearts, they are busied in the world even while they are hea∣ring of the Word, as you find it in the 33. of Ezek. 31. ver. there is an notable discription, I fear it may be of many of you: And they come unto thee (saith the Lord to the Prophet) as the people cometh, and they sit before thee as my people, and they hear thy words; but they will not do them, for with their mouth they shew much love, but their heart goeth after thir Covetousness: They sit befor thee as my people, and they hear thy words, (mark) and they shew much love with their mouth; they will commend the Sermon; it may be they will say, He is an excellent Preacher, it's a very good Sermon that we heard this day; they wil shew love with their mouth; but yet their hearts go after their covetousnesse for all that; they heard a man speak fine things, and brought excellent expressions for to set forth his matter that he had in hand; but yet their hearts are after the things of the earth, and after their Covetousness, they had carnal, earthly, drossie hearts, and hence it was, that there was no good came un∣to them by the Ministry of the Word: And that famous place which we have for this, which shews it cleerly in the 13. of Matt. 22. ver. you know the several sorts of ground that had the seed of the Word sown into them, but there Page 32 was but one of them that was good and faithfull, and a∣mong others there was the thorny ground; He also that re∣ceived seed among the thorns, is he that heareth the word, and the care of this world, and the deceitfulnesse of riches choaks the Word and it becometh unfruitful. I beseech you observe it, these that our Saviour speaks of here in this parable that get no benefit by the Word are not men that live lewdly, your drunkards, swearers and whoremasters, but those that have earthly hearts; it's said, the deceitfulness of riches; the things of the earth do not hinder in an open way, for thousands of men that have earthly hearts, they do not know that they have earthly hearts, no, it is the deceitfulnesse of riches, and it choaks the Word, it may be just when they are in hearing of the Word it doth affect them, Oh they think it's sweet, and they will remember it, but the deceitfulnesse of riches, and the cares of this world choaks the word, when they come, they have businesses a∣bout the world, and their houses, and gardens, and co∣mings in, and full tables, and all the delights that they have in the world, comes and possesses the heart that the word is choakt, it cannot get down into the soul to sink in there, and so to prevail in the soul to bring forth fruit, Oh the word is choakt; Oh many of you come here three times on the Lords day, and have precious seed sown all those times, and yet, Oh! how it is choakt through the cares of this world, and through the deceitfulnesse of the things of this world! You bring with you, and keep with you, and carry along with you earthly minds, and hence it is that the Word prevails not with your hearts: Oh! what do you loose through this earthlinesse? you lose the fruit of the Word that should save your souls; a spiritual heart having received some one truth into it, afterwards blesses God for it, and would not for ten thousand worlds but he had had that truth preached unto his heart at such a time, Oh he hath cause to blesse God for such a morning, for such a day that he hath had such a goodly pearl of great price presented to him, and taking root in his heart, Page 33 (I say) it's more than if God had given them thousands of worlds to possess. But now, many of you, having your thoughts and hearts about some petty thing of this world, all those blessed Truths, that you hear from time to time, that the very Angels desire to pry into, they are all choak'd and come to be unfruitful. What was the reason when the young man came to Christ, to know what he should do to the Eternal life that he got no good? the Text saith, That he had great possessions. A man (no question) may be a rich man, and yet a godly man, a holy man: but when the heart is in the estate, mixed with the earth, Oh! this it was that hindred the young man from imbracing of Jesus Christ even when he came to him. Young men for the most part are rather guilty of fleshlinesse, than seeking after the riches of the world; yet sometimes it hath been the bain of some young men, at their first setting up; they were very forward when they were servants, Oh! how precious was the Word unto them, but when they were got into the world, and found the sweetness of it coming in, Oh then the Word hath been choak'd to them; and they have lost the savour they had in the Word, they have lost the relish of the Word, it is not now sweet to them as formerly it hath been, Oh many examples there hath been this way: That's the great evil of Earthly-mindednesse, that it doth hinder the great benefit of the Word, and there is much e∣vill in this; If you had hearts to receive what is delivered your hearts would tremble at the thought of this, Oh Lord, what shall I be hindred from profiting by this word? 'tis the great blessing of God to the world, it's that that must save my soul, there's more worth in it than ten thou∣sand worlds, whatsoever should hinder my profiting by thy Word I had need take heed of it; take heed of earth∣ly-mindednesse, many of your consciences cannot but tell you this, sometimes any businesse will keep an earthly-minded man from coming to the Word, and when he doth come there is earth in his heart and ears that keeps him from attending upon the Word: and when thy thoughts Page 34 are about earthly things in the hearing of a Sermon, it may be there is some truth passes by thy soul that might have sav'd thee eternally, and thou hast lost that opportu∣nity which perhaps thou shalt never have again.