Eleven Considerations to take off mens hearts from Earthly∣mindedness.
First, Consider this, That all the things of the earth that thy mind and heart is upon, if thou couldst possess them all as thine own, yet there is not so much good in them as to countervail the evil of the least sin, not of the least sin of thought; thy heart is mudling upon the things of the earth, and thinkest that thou shoul∣dest be blest if thou badst thus and thus as others have. Let me tell thee, if thou hast but one sinful thought, there is more evil in that than there's good in all that ever thou shalt get all the daies of thy life in the world; and if this be so, that there is more evil in the least fin than there is good in all the things of the earth, it concerns thee rather to have thy mind how to avoid sin, or how to get the evil of sin to be remov'd, and how to get thy sin to be mortified, that concerns thee more than the minding and plodding about the things of the earth: that's one consideration.
A Second Consideration.
A second is this that may take off the hearts of men from the things of the earth, That the chief things that are in the earth yea, name what terrene excellency possibly a man may be crowned with under Heaven, hath been the portion of Reprobates heretofore, and is to this day, and shall be the portion of multitudes whom God hates, and hath set apart to glorifie his infinite Justice upon eter∣nally. Shall thy mind and heart be set upon such things as are the portion of Reprobates? will a Reprobates porti∣on content thee? will it serve thee? art thou satisfied with dogs meat? If it will not content thee, why is it that thy mind is so much upon the things of the earth? It may be thou that art poor and mean in the world; thy mind is upon some little matter: thou canst never expect to have a∣ny great things in the world, and yet thou mindest them as if that there were thy portion, and thy happiness, some Page 69 small pittance to furnish thy house, to provide for thy self and thy poor family; Oh friend! if it were possible for thee to get the Empire of the whol world under thy foot, yet thou shouldest get no more than hath been the portion of such as God hath hated; and if so be that Kingdoms and Empires have been the portion of Reprobates, why doest thou mind things that are lower abundantly, and let the strength of thine heart flow out upon such things as these are?
A Third Consideration.
A third consideration is this, Surely God hath made man for higher things than the things of this earth. Oh! if thou hadst but thy thoughts often working this way, Where∣fore do I think in my conscience hath God made the chil∣dren of men, for what end? why hath he sent them hither into the world? Of all the creatures that God hath here upon the earth, he hath none capable to know him the in∣finite First being of all things but only the children of men, & God hath given them such a nature as is capable of some converse with him, surely then there be other things that God made man for than to have meat, and drink, and clo∣athes, and here to live a while only to enjoy creatures. Do not we reade often, That Jesus Christ was God and Man, took mans nature upon him, and died for man? Surely there must be some other manner of things that are the fruit of the purchase of the blood of Christ than the things of the earth; Oh my brethren! had you but this setled upon you, that certainly God hath great, glorious, high, and wonderful thoughts about man-kind, this would be a mighty means to take off your hearts from the things of this earth, when thou hast thy heart grovelling here: Oh but are these the things that God made man for? had not God higher thoughts in making of the children of men? do not I find in the word that when man was made there was a kind of Divine consultation with the Trinity, Page 70Come, let Ʋs make man according to our own Image? God had other thoughts of man than of other things. And if man were made for nothing else but meerly to dig in the earth, Certainly, the thoughts of God about man have been but very low and mean (as I may so speak with holy reverence) for these are but low and mean things here that men enjoy in the earth.
The Fourth Consideration.
As God hath higher thoughts concerning man; so the dig∣nity of mans Nature, the rational soul of man is of too high a birth for to have the strength of it spent about the things of the earth. God breathed into man his soul: It's (I may say) a kind of a Divine spark, the soul of man it is of the same nature with Angels, a spirit as Angels are: the thoughts of the minds, the Faculties and Powers of the soul are more pre∣cious things than to be powred out as water upon the ground. If a man have a Golden Mill, he would not use it only to grind dirt, straws, and rotten sticks in. The mind of man, the thinking faculty is too high to be exercised in the things of this earth; the mind of man it is of a most ex∣cellent capacious Nature: it is fit to converse, not only with Angels, but with the eternal God Himself, with Fa∣ther, Son, and Holy Ghost; and to bestow the strength of such a faculty that God hath put into the soul of man up∣on such dirtie, drossie, low, base, mean things, as earthly∣minded men and women do bestow it upon, this must needs be a great evil. Know, the dignity of your Nature, the ex∣cellencie of your Mind, the Soul of man it is of a transcen∣dent being. Put all the world into the Ballance, with it it's nothing. Therefore you know what Christ saith, What shall it profit a man, to gain the whol world, and lose his soul? The soul of the meanest gally-slave is more precious than Heaven and Earth, Sun, Moon, Stars, and all the host of them: Let me add then, all the Silver and Golden mines under ground; and al the unsearchable Riches of the great Page 71 and wide Sea, yea put all these together; and the Soul of the most contemptible beggar that cries for a crust of bread at thy door, is unexpressibly more worth than all these: Now, if mans soul be of such an high-born Nature, if God hath put such a Spirit which is a spark of Heaven in∣to the bosom, for man of him to imploy it in no other use and service, but meerly to be an earth-worm to creep in and upon the ground: this must needs be a very great evil.
The fifth Consideration.
The fifth Consideration is, The Ʋncertainty of all these things, Ʋncertain Riches. How may any Causuality come and take away from thee al the things of the earth that thy mind is upon? God sends but a little too much heat into the body, and puts thee into a feavour, and where's thy de∣light then? thy body being either too much heated, or too much coold, what's become of all thy comfort here in this earth? Thou goest abroad, and art dangerously wounded by an enemy, what refreshing then doest thou receive from all these things? Let me tell thee, thou art in the midst of a thousand thosand Casualities here, every moment ready to take away all the Comforts of the earth; and usually at that time (observe it) when the minds of men and wo∣men are most fixed upon the earth, that's the time that God hath to strike them in those things, they be then neerest to be depriv'd of the Comforts of the earth, when their thoughts and minds be most set upon them. As you know it was with the Rich man in the Gospel, when he was bles∣sing himself, and crying to his soul, Soul Soul, take thine ease, thou hast goods laid up for many years; even that night (the text saith) this message came so him, Thou fool, this night shall thy soul be taken away from thee, and then, whose shall al these things be? And at that time that Nebuchadnezzer was blessing himself in the pallace that he had built for His Honor, then there comes a message to him from Heaven, so that he was presently outed of all his Court-vanities to Page 72 graze among the beasts of the field. So you may find it in your own experience, that God hath many times then most crost you in the things of the earth, when your minds and hearts have been most glued to them: and it may be in mercy, yea, it's a greater mercy to be crost of these things at such a time, than to prosper in the midst of them; for it may be a good argument that God intends good to a soul, to crosse him at that time when he is most earthly. Oh! many that have been godly indeed, but yet have bin earth∣ly minded, and have found God coming at such a time and crossing them in some earthly Contentment have seen cause to blesse God for thus dealing with them. Whither was I going? I was going altogether to the earth, and minding such things, my heart was set upon them, and God came in in a seasonable time, to shew me the vanity of my heart, and of those things that my mind was busied about; Oh it was a happy crosse that I had at such a season, there was much of Christ that did hang upon it. And that's the fift Consideration.
The sixth Consideration.
Do but consider what's become of those that have been earthly heretofore, that injoyed the greatest accomodations of the earth, what's become of those men in former ages of the world, that lived here, and vapour'd so much in their generation, who but they at Court and in Citie, and had all the earth according to their desires? what's become of Agrippa and Bernice with al their pagentry greatness? now they have acted their parts and are gone off the common stage of the world, all their vanity is buried with them in one grave. What difference is there between the poor and rich when they die? they go all the same way; only they were for a little time, and flourished in the things of the earth, and now are gone, but have left a great deal of guil∣tiness behind them; look but to their example, and what's become of theme? and consider thy case must be as their's Page 75 within a while, the wheel is turning round, which will bring thee as low as them, so that thou ere long must be numbred amongst the dead. Oh! it's a mightie means to take off our hearts from the things of this earth.
The Seventh Consideration.
Consider further, How short thy time is that thou hast here in this world. That's the argument of the Apostle, because the time is short, therefore let us use the world as if we used it not, therefore let our hearts be taken off from these things; we have but a little time, and a great deal of work, we have in this short winter day of life to provide for eterni∣tie, now considering the great weight of the work that doth depend upon us here in this world, it may be a migh∣tie reason for us to bid adue to all the things of this world; indeed if we had time enough for our work, and were sure of our time then we might spend it about trifles. If a man comes into the Citie to do business, of great weight and consequence, and hath but a little time to spend about it, he never minds any thing he sees in the Citie, never minds any body that comes by him, or any shews in shops, what braverie there is there, but goes up and down the streets minding only his own business. Oh! so it should be with us my brethren; consider the great work we have to do, and the little time that we have to effect that work in, there depends upon our little short uncertain inch of time matters of more consequence than ten thousand thousand worlds are worth and if we miscarry in this little time of our lives, we are lost and undone for ever, better we had never been born, or had been made toads or serpents, or the vilest beasts whatsoever, than reasonable creatures. Oh! have you so much time for the spending the very spi∣rits of your souls upon the things of this earth, can you spare so many hours? Certainly if God did but make known to you what eternitie means, if the Lord did but cause the fear of eternitie to fall upon you, you would not Page 76 mispend so much time as you do; many times though you complain for want of time for spiritual things, Oh how much time do you spend in letting out your thoughts and affections upon the things of the earth, more than you need?
The Eighth Consideration.
Consider therefore in the next place, That a little will serve the turn to carry us through this world. We are here but in our Pilgrimage, or in our voyage; now a little will serve the turn here for the carrying of us through this world: men will not take more in a journy than may help them. If a man that is to go a journy should get a whol bundle of staves and lay them upon his shoulder, and you should ask him the reason why he carries that bundle, why saith he, I am going a great journy, and I know not what need I may have of staves to help me; it's true, to car∣ry a staff in a mans hand will help him; thus Jacob was helped by his staff over Jordan; but to carrie a bundle up∣on his shoulder will hinder him: Now a little will serve your turn, if you have but meat and drink, food and rai∣ment (saith the Apostle) be content; and the servants of God in former time, past through this world with a very little, and manie of them the less they had, the more peace and comfort they had in God, and they were the more fit to die. I remember Ecolampagius when he was to die being verie poor, profess'd that he would not have been richer than he was, for he saw what a hindrance it was, and so he could pass out of the world with more ease and qui∣et a great deal; Certainly a little will serve the turn here: we say, Nature is content with a little; and if there were Grace it would be content with less; and therefore let not our minds be upon the things of the earth: we have not so much need of the things of the earth as we think for.
The Ninth Consideration
And then further, consider though upon our minding the things of the earth we should enjoy never so much; Yet there is no comfort, no good to be had in them any further than God will be pleased to let himself through them; they are but as channels to convey the blessing and goodness of God to us: Man lives not by bread, nor meat only, you are deceived to think that if you had such and such things you should cer∣tainly have a comfortable life, I say you may be deceived in this, for it is God in these that doth comfort the heart, there is a notable Scripture for this in the 62. Psal. where the holy Ghost saith at the 10. verse, Trust not in oppression, and become not vain in robbery, if riches increase, set not your hearts upon them, do not mind them, why? in the 11. verse, God hath spoken once, twice have I heard this, That power belongeth unto God, if riches increase, set not thy heart upon them; let not your hearts and minds be upon riches, or any thing in this earth: why? God hath spoken once, twice have I heard, that is, again and again: God hath spoken effectually to me that all power to do any good belongeth unto him, it's not in riches, there's no power there for making of thee happy, but all belongs to him. This I confess is a spiri∣tual meditation that earthly minded men will have but lit∣tle skill in, yet where earthly-mindedness prevails in any one of the Saints, this may do him good, whereas the truth is, it is not in the creature, or creature-comforts can do me good, if I had a thousand times more than I have, I might be miserable in the earth, and have as little comfort as those that have least, and therefore let me set my affecti∣ons upon things above, and not on things on the earth.
The Tenth Consideration.
Moreover lay this to heart, If you be godly God promises to take care for you for the things of this earth, and to that end that Page 78 he might ease you of the burden of your care, cast your care upon God for he careth for you, and take no thought for these things, for your heavenly Father knows you have need of them, your heavenly Father takes care, See how he cloaths the lillies, and are not you much better than they? Now children they do not much mind the things of the earth to provide for themselves, because they know they have their father to provide for them; a child that hath his father and friends to make provision for him, it very much easeth him; but indeed those that are left fatherlesse, and friend∣lesse, they seem to have some excuse; I had need take care of my self for. I have no body to provide for me: I but the Saints cannot say so, they have a father to provide for them, and all the earth is the Lords as well as heaven, and the fulnesse of them both; now the earth be∣ing the Lords as well as heaven, the earth being thy fathers, why should thy care be so much upon the things of the earth? Let thy care be to do thy duty to thy father, to walk as a child, but let it not be for the things of the earth, thou dost as much as disavow the care of thy father for thee; and canst thou beleeve that God shall give his Son to thee and not give thee all things else? hath not godliness the promises of this life as well as of that to come? Oh! thou unworthy child that professest an interest in such a fa∣ther, or unworthy Christian that professest an interest in such promises, and hop'st that God hath done such things for thee as he hath done, and yet hast thy heart in the things of this earth, as if the Lord had settled thee only here, and put thee to shift for thy self here from door to door: no certainly, the care of God is over his peo∣ple in the things of the earth, as truly as it is over them in regard of spiritual and eternal things. Some men can think, at least they trust that they do trust God for their souls, but cannot for their bodies so well; but surely faith wil teach thee to trust God for thy body as wel as thy soul, for God hath care of both, and both were redeem'd by the blood of Jesus Christ, and hath told thee, that he that fears Page 79 the Lord shall never want any thing that's good for him: Now these considerations may mightily prevail to take off the hearts of men from the things of this earth.
The Eleventh Consideration.
The last that I shall name is this, That all that are Profes∣sors of Religion, they are dead to the world, or should be so: nay, if you be truly Religious you are so, by profession you do professe your selves to be dead unto the world. The Scripture makes this argument to take off mens hearts from the things of this world, in the 3. Colos. 2, 3. Set your affections on things above, not on things on the earth: why? for you are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. Ye are dead, the Apostle writes to the Colossians, and yet he tels them that they were dead; the Sripture speaks much of the death of the Saints: As it's said of women that liv'd in pleasures in Timothy, that they were dead while they liv'd: so it may be said of Christians that they are dead while they live, dead to the world, I am crucified to the world (saith the Apostle) and we are dead with Christ, I find that some interpret that Scripture in the 1. Cor. 15. 29. Else what shall they do that are baptized for the dead? they interpret it thus, That all those that came in, which were Heathens and converted to Christianity and were baptized, they were baptized for dead men; that is, by their baptizm; now there was a profession that they did pro∣fesse themselves from that time for ever as dead men to the world, baptized for the dead; you have it in some of your books over the dead, but the word is, for, and so it is trans∣lated in this last translation, For dead men: your baptizm is administred unto you as a sign of your profession, to be as dead men unto the world, so I find some carry it. This is the profession of Christians to be as dead men to the world; Oh do not dishonor your profession of Religion, for indeed there is a greater evil (as we said) for professors of Religion to be earthly minded than for any others, and Page 80 yet how many are guilty of this? It's an observation of Luther, when God rivealed himself to Abraham and told him, that he would multiply his seed; he made use of two similitudes, one was this, That he would make his seed as the stars of Heaven, and at another time God saith, that he would make his seed as the sand upon the sea shore; Now saith Luther, by these two expressions there is signified two sorts of Abrahams seed, there are some that are as the stars of Heaven, that are heavenly minded; There are others that are as the sand of the Sea: that is, There are some professe themselves to be of Abrahams seed but are of earth∣ly spirits: Oh now, my brethren, we should labor to have such minds and hearts so as we should appear to be the seed of Abraham, as the stars of heaven, to be of the number of those that are as the stars of heaven, that is, through hea∣venly-mindednesse. But that we shall come to when we come to speak of the conversation of Christians, how it ought to be in heaven.
But now, if any one should say, May we not mind earth∣ly things and heavenly things too?
Know there is a great mistake here, you cannot serve two masters, God and Mamon; and it's very observable that text of Scripture, in the 3. of Colos. 2. verse, mark the opposition, Set your affections on things above, not on things on the earth: they are there opposed one to another: Set your affections or minds, for so I think it is the same word with that in my text, who mind earthly things. A man cannot look up to heaven and down to the earth both at the same time, there is an opposition between these two, between the earthly-mindedness that hath been opened to you, and minding of heavenly things.
I but you will say, For these things while we are upon the earth we have need of them, how can we do otherwaies but mind them? When we come to heaven, there we shall have dispositions sutable to heaven, but sure not till then?
To that I answer, Though Christians do live upon the earth, yet they are not of the earth, there's a great deal of Page 81 difference between one that is of the earth, and another that lives upon the earth: Christ saith concerning him∣self, that he was not of the earth, it's true, though he did live a while upon the earth, yet he was not of it: In the 3. of John 31. He that cometh from above, is above all, he that is of the earth is earthly, and speaketh of the earth: now Christ while he spake these words he was upon the earth; but He was not of the Earth: And so it is with Christians, they are upon the Earth, but they are not of the Earth, they are a people redeem'd from the earth, therefore that's not enough: it's true, these things are things that we need, therefore we must not mind them, for so in the 6. of Mat. where Christ speaks against taking thought what we shall eat, or what we shall drink, or what we shall put on. Saith he, Your Heavenly Father knows you have need of these things; you have some need, I but you have need of other things, and greater need of other things than of these things, what need is there for thee to live upon the earth but in order to providing for eternity, and of living to the honor of Christ and the praise of his Gospel? I say thou hast no need of any thing on the earth but in subordination to higher things; there is no need thou shouldest live, but for some other end, and therefore let not that be any such argument to plead for earthliness, as indeed an earthly spirit is very witty in pleading for its self.
I shall close this Point with some Exhortation to you, and Directions about this Point of Earthly-mindedness.