A TREATISE OF Earthly-mindedness.
CHAP. I. The Text Opened.
PHILIP. 3. latter part of the 19. verse.
THIS precious Scripture cleerly holds forth the different disposition of wicked and of godly men; especially of such wicked men, as set themselves against the Gospel; for it relates to such as were professed enemies to the Cross of Christ, that labored what they could to hinder the success of the Ministry of Paul. You shall find if you look back a few verses, that this is meant of those kind of Page 2 men especially, for he tels us, that many walk'd so, as they were enemies to the Cross of Christ: they were those that opposed the preaching of Paul, and his Ministry: and he de∣scribes those men what they were by divers Characters, but I'le treat of none but this, Who mind Earthly things.
Who mind Earthly things; who savour, or relish Earthly * things, so you may translate the word as well. It is a ge∣neral word comprehending the actions and operations, both of the understanding and will: It is in Scripture ap∣plied to both, but most commonly to the Actions of the wil and affections; we are particular in Actions of the Will.
Earthly things] The things that are upon the Earth, * whatsoever they be, the Beauty, the Glory, and Parentry of the Earth; the Profits that are Earthly, the Pleasures and Ho∣nors of the world; who mind any things inordinatly that are sublunary accommodations. But we carry and behave our selves as free Denizens of the City of Heaven; for so the * words in the Original are, if we should thus reade them: Our City whereof we are Citizens, and whereunto we have right, is Heaven.
But our Conversation, our City Converse, it is of things that are above the earth: when the Apostle would have men to follow their example and not the example of others, in the 17. verse, he uses this as an Argument, saith he, such and such men are enemies to the Cross of Christ, and they make their belly their god, and they mind Earthly things: do not fol∣low them, do not hearken what they say to you, they come up and down from house to house, and whisper this and that to you, and would take you off from the ways of God, God hath begun to enlighten you, and to stir your consci∣ences, do not let the precious affections of your souls run wast towards them, but be ye followers of us as we are of Christ; for our Conversation is in Heaven with our Lord and Master, there comes in the Argument in the 20. verse. So that being the only scope and meaning of the words, take this Doctrinal Truth.
One of these minds Earthly things: It is a paralel Scrip∣ture that we have in the 8. to the Rom. 5. verse, For they that are after the flesh, do mind the things of the flesh. Do mind, there * is the same word, only here the Participle, and there in the Verb, but the meaning is the same, as they that are after the Earth, mind Earthly things: so they that are after the flesh savours fleshly things: the first part of this point, is the dis∣cription of wicked men, that are enemies to the crosse of Christ, and to the waies of godliness, and they are men that mind Earthly things, the more grosse of them are described before, To have their bellies to be their god, some of them are very sensual, druken, unclean, and altogether given to satisfie the flesh in fleshly lusts: But there are others that do not appear to be so brutish, yet they are men of earthly minds, savour only of earthly things, and these are the men that are secret enemies to the crosse of Christ, yea, and wil many times appear so to be, it will break out at length: Such a man whose spirit hath been earthly for a long time, will appear at length to be an enemy to Christs crosse. Now in the handling of this point, I will propound these Five things to treat of.
First. What it is to mind earthly things in a sinfull way: or thus, When a man may be said to be an Earthly-minded man, that we may know when a man is an Earthly-minded man, what it is to mind Earthly things, that the Apostle here describes a wicked man by. Without the opening of this, al that I shall say afterwards will be but to little purpose.
Secondly. The great evil that there is in minding of Earthly things: and I shall discover to you a grea∣ter evil in it than you are aware of.
Page 4 Thirdly. Lay down some Convincements whereby those men and women that (it may be) think they are cleer from this sin, yet may have it discovered unto their consciences, that they are the men and women that do mind Earthly things.
Fourthly. I shall search into the Reason, Why it is that the hearts of men and women are so much after Earthly things.
Fifthly. I shall labour to take off your hearts from Earthly things. These are the Five things that are to be done in the first part of the point, Namely, the Character of wicked men here laid down, Who mind Earthly things.
For the first. Who they are, that mind Earthly things. Cer∣tainly, they are not all those that enjoy earthly things; all men that do make use of earthly things, must not be con∣demned for minding earthly things. Paul himself in this very Epistle, where he wrote to these Philippians, chap. 4. vers. 12. Though he knew how to want, yet he knew how to abound: he could tell how to make use of earthly things, yea, and he gives charge, That all those that are instructed should make such as had instructed them partakers of all their goods. It may be, they would have said, is not this, To mind Earthly things? To require those that are instru∣cted, to make those that did instruct them partakers of all their goods: Paul doth charge this. Yea, and Christ him∣self, even in that Scripture where he does labor most to take the thoughts of men off from the earth; as not to take any thought, what they should eat, or drink, yet saith he, Your heavenly Father knows that yea have need of these things in the 6. of Matthew: and Gal. 6. 6. Let him that is taught in the Word communicate unto him that teacheth in all good things: and if there be any pretence against it, yet saith he, be not deceived, God is not mocked; for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. Thus therefore it is not here charged, as a note of an Page 5 evil man, to have earthly things, and doth justly require what is due unto him, as here Paul doth; and the Galati∣ans could not charge him, as breaking his own Rule which he wrote to the Philppians; and therefore we must enquire out somwhat else that's here means, by minding earthly things. When a man or woman doth mind earthly things in a sinful way, And for that there are these several parti∣culars considerable.
CHAP. II. Earthly-mindedness discovered in Nine particulars.
THE first is this, When a man looks upon earthly things as the greatest things of all, when he hath a high esteem of earthly things, as THE things: as thus, Oh if I had such and such things as others have, Oh how happy should I be, how happy are such and such men that do enjoy such earthly things at their will, in their dwel∣lings, their furniture, their comings in, Oh these are the brave things, these are the delightful things, these are THE things wherein felicity and happiness doth consist. When men shall promise to themselves felicity in any earthly things, then they mind earthly things. I remem∣ber golden mouth'd Chrysostom hath a speech of a covetous man, That he looks upon his Money, and he sees more beauty in his Money than in the very Sun it self that shines in the Firmament: When men look upon the things of the earth as the most beautiful things in their eyes: Certainly that man is in a distemper, when he puts such a high esteem upon any earthly things, this esteem is not according to what God and his Saints do put upon earthly things, God never puts any great eminencie on any earthly thing; he never made any earthly things to be any great Conduit, Page 6 or means of Conveyance of any great good from himsel unto his Creature; If you would know what your heart, are, you may know it by this one sign as much as any What do you account your excellencie? according to what any man or woman accounts their excellency to consist in, so are their hearts, their hearts are sutable; in the 27. chap. of Genesis, 28. 39. verses. You shall find there Isaac blessing of Jacob and Esau, he blesses them both: but now, what I would observe is this, the difference in the placing of them, you shall observe, the blessing of Jacob in the 28. verse, therefore God giveth of the dew of Heaven, and the fatness of the earth, and plenty of Corn and Wine, that's Jacob's blessing: Now look to Esau's blessing, for the blessing was sutable to their disposition, and Jacob's father answered and said unto him, behold thy dwelling shall be of the fat∣ness of the earth, and of the dew of Heaven from above: mark, Isaac blesses them both with the dew of Heaven and fatness of the earth; but now, in Jacob's blessing the dew of Heaven is first, and the fatness of the earth is in the se∣cond place; but in Esau's blessing the fatness of the earth is first, and then the dew of Heaven: noting this, That a godly man indeed, doth stand in need of the things of the earth, as Christ saith, your father knows you stand in need of this things; I but the great thing in the first place that a godly heart doth mind, it ts, The dew of Heaven, and then in the second place, The blessing of the erath; But now, a carnal heart doth think it hath some need of the things of Heaven, it will acknowledge that: I but in the first place it's the fatness of the earth they desire: and secondly the dew of Heaven, So that that's the first thing: Earthly min∣ded men look upon these things as the high and chief things, and hence it is that the choise of the thoughts of an earthly-minded man is carried out on worldly objects.
Secondly, When the Cream and choise of the thoughts of men and women are busied about earthly things then they mind earthly things in a sinful manner: You may know what your hearts are by your thoughts as much as any thing, the thoughts Page 7 are the immediate ebulitions or risings up of the heart (as I may so call them) that is the bubbles that come from the heart immediately; a man cannot know what is in his heart so much by words and actions, as by the thoughts, because the thoughts immediately spring from the heart, as thus, I can tell what the water is in such a fountain bet∣ter from that that bubbles up immediatly from the fountain-head, than I can tell by the water that runs in the stream a mile or two off, for there may many things intervene in the stream a mile or two off that never came from the foun∣tain-head, but that that immediately bubbles from the fountain-head, that discovers of what nature the fountain is: So the thoughts are as it were the first born of the heart, and therefore the heart may be known what it is by the thoughts, Prov. 23. 7. saith the holy Ghost there, As he thinketh in his heart, so is he; That which is here spoken in a particular case may be applied in the general, As a man thinks in his heart so is he, as his thoughts are so is he: So is the heart as the thoughts of the mind are, Men may keep in words and actions out of by-respects, I but if you could know what the heart is, and look into the haunts of it in secret, that would discover to your selves what you are: as now, Many of your servants, when they are in your pre∣sence before you or before others they may out of divers re∣spects carry themselves fairly, but if you would find them out, labour to know what they do when they are alone in their private haunts: So, would you know your own hearts? do not so much look at them, and take a scantling of them by how you behave your selves in words and acti∣ons before others, but what they are in your private cham∣bers, what they are in the inward thoughts of the mind, there the heart comes to be discovered most; And by these thoughts I do not mean every kind of injection, or suggesti∣on, for sometimes the Devil may cast in evil thoughts into the most holy; but I mean such thoughts as are sweet to the soul, whereby the soul comes to suck out sweetness, and contentment, for that's the minding earthly things, when Page 8 you find the strength of your thoughts to be upon the things of the earth: and they are more sutable to your hearts than any other: It is not when through weakness the mind may be wandring this way or that way, or through suggestions or temptations; but now, when men or women are most themselves when alone and free, then for to examine what are the most sutable thoughts to their hearts, Can you say when you are alone, Oh the very thoughts of God are sweet to me, immediate in his Law day and night, and suck out sweetness there as from an ho∣ny comb? But an unclean wretch will suck out sweetness of his unclean thoughts when he is alone; and so the earthly minded man will suck out the sweetness of his earthly thoughts, and so the Ambitious man the sweetness of his pride when he is alone, and these are the most contentful thoughts to him, he can run along if it be two or three hours together and take delight and pleasure in them: here's Earthly-mindedness.
The third thing is this, An Earthly-minded man, is one whose heart cleaves to the earth: for so I told you the word was, not only to mind, but to savour the things of the earth: his heart doth cleave to the earth: The Psalmist in a far differing case said, that his soul did cleave to the dust: but it's true of many men in this case that I am speaking of, their very souls do cleave to the dust, their spirits are mix∣ed with the earth, and therefore they are drossie: Though it may be they have some good common gifts, some good natural parts, and some workings of the holy Ghost upon them, yet their spirits are drossie: because they are mixt with the earth: discourse never so much to these men of the vanity of the things of the earth, they will give you the hearing, but when you have done all, their souls do cleave to the earth: and discourse never so much to them of the excellency of heavenly things, they will hear you, but when you have done all, their souls stil cleaves to the earth: As a man whose soul cleaves in love to a woman, (As it is said of Sampson, his soul did cleave to Dalilab) talk what Page 9 you will against that women, or of the excellency of any other woman, yet his soul cleaves to that woman: so 'tis in an earthly minded man, let what will be said against the things of the earth, or what can be said for the setting forth of the excellency of the things of Heaven, yet his soul cleaves to the earth: as the Serpents belly did to the dust of the ground. That's an earthly minded man.
Fourthly, An earthly minded man, it on, whose heart is filled with distracting cares about the earth: what he shall eat and drink, and what he shall put on, how he shall provide for himself and his family, and what shall become of him at such a time, Though he be well now yet what may become of him afterwards: when the heart is filled with distracting cares about the things of the earth; so far as the heart hath these prevailing over it, so far such a man may be judged to be earthly.
There are two things that do cause distrating cares a∣bout anie businesse
The first is, An apprehension of some verie great evil In case I should be disappointed, I look upon my disap∣pointment in such a thing as a most intolerable evil to me, If I should be disappointed I know not what in the world to do That's the first
The second is, An uncertaintie in the means for the pre∣ventment of this disappointment: when as I look upon disappointment as a very great evil, so those means that should prevent and help me against disappointment I can∣not trust to: I look upon them as too weak to help me, notwithstanding al such means I may yet be desappointed, this causes distracting thoughts; so, tis in the things of the earth, an earthly minded man or woman hath his thoughts fil'd with distracting cares about the world. That is thus
First, They looking upon the things of the world as such great things, they conceive if they should be disap∣pointed they should be undone; they look upon it as such a fearful unsufferable evil to be depriv'd of their estate and outward comforts in this world.
Page 10 Secondly, They don't look upon the means of provisi∣on for themselves and families as having anie certaintie in it, which is a main thing to be considered of: As for out∣ward things in the world, they find by experience there is uncertainty in them. And then for any promse that there is in Scripture that God will provide for them and their fa∣milies, alas that they dare not trust to, that's a thing that of all means they think to be the weakest, Lord have mercy upon them (say they) if they have nothing else to trust to, but only a word in Scripture, they think themselves most miserable and wretched. But now, it would be otherwise with the soul if it were not earthly minded, it would not be at any great pause how things do fall out here in the matters of the world, it's true, perhaps I may miscarry in such a businesse, and my estate may be taken from me by the Caldeans or Sabeans as Jobs was, but I shall not be un∣done, my happiness is not gone, I shall have that that will comfort me when all that is gone; suppose the worst, yet this will not undo me, Indeed a man that sends abroad in a venture all his whole estate, he is very solicitous because if there be ill news about it he is undone; but another man that hath a great deal of riches, house, and Lands, and a stock at home to maintain him and his family, If there comes such ill news, I have a stock to live on he thinks, therefore he is not so much solicitous: So a worldly man, all his stock is in the earth, there's his only portion, and if he miscarries there he is undone; But a godly man, though he hath the things of the earth, yet he hath some∣thing else, treasures in Heaven to rest upon besides the earth, and therefore he is not so solicitous.
And then for the second, The uncertainty of means and help: if a godly man looks upon outward causes, he sees all is uncertain, but he hath a promise to rest upon, I will never leave you nor forsake you: cast your care upon me for I care for you; and this he looks upon as a certain means and help, whatsoever fals out, here's a promise that he can build upon, and therefore this takes off his solicitous Page 11 cares: But an earthly minded man or woman whose heart is fild with distracting cares, because he look upon himself as undone if he miscarries here, and hath nothing to rest upon for his provision in this world, more than the crea∣ture.
Fifthly, An earthly minded man or woman, is one whose great business of his heart and endeavours of his life are about the things of the earth: he makes it his great bu∣siness, and the strong endeavours of his spirit are exercised in the things of the earth: He eagerly and greedily works with the strongest intention about these things, his whole Soul, the whole man is laid out about the world, it is the adequate object of his soul.
You will say, Other men they are busie in their callings as well as these that you account earthly minded men, I but mark, they are busie about their callings in obedience to God; and for outward things set aside their obedience to God, then (I say) all the things that they busie them∣selves about in the world, were it not under that considera∣tion that they were obeying God in it they would not be adequate objects for their souls. I mean by an adequate object, that that Is sufficient to take up the whole strength of the soul to lay it out fully: I'le give you this similitude to express my mind further, to shew you what I mean by an adequate object, You have a little child, he is playing at sports, now this sport it hath as much in it as there is in his spirit, there is a kind of equality between his spirit and such a sport, there is benefit enough a child conceives in such a sport as it's worth the laying out of all his strength and might upon it: Now it may be, sometimes a man or woman will play with their child, they will do as the child doth to play with it, but this sport it's not an adde∣quat object, that's thus, a man or woman for the while would please themselves with the child, but not so as if there were as much good in this as would fill their souls, so as they would lay out all their mind and might upon this thing as that is fully adequate to the desires of their Page 12 soul; But sport is fully adequat to the desires of the soul of the child, but though a man or woman doth sport so with the child, yet these things are not fully adequat to the desires of a man or woman, and they have other matters in their heads than these, and businesses of a higher nature: and so it is in those that are not earthly minded, though they may be busied about the things of this world, yet they use the world as if they used it not, the things of the world are not objects adequat to their hearts, a spiritual heart reserves the chief strength of it for higher things, I follow these things in the world but so, as I reserve the chief strength for a more desirable good: As a man now, if he hath divers friends to come to him, perhaps he hath some of an ordinary rank, they come first, he makes ordi∣narie provision for them, but if he hath anie choise things for entertainment he reserves them for some choise friends that are coming to him: so a man that is not of the world though he may be busie in earthly things, yet the choise of his heart he both reserve for things of a higher nature. I remember Tertullian hath a speech of the Christians how they eat, and drank; when they sup'd, they eat and drank (saith he) so as they remembred they were to pray that night be∣fore they slept: So a gracious spiritual heart follows his out ward business in the world, but so as he remembers he is to converse with God that night before de sleeps, so that he reserves the strength of his spirit for communion with God; but now the other laies out all his strength as having no∣thing to do afterwards: so that in this an earthly, and a spiritual heart are quite contrary; The Apostle you know would have godly men to use the world as if they used it not; so on the contrary, an earthly-minded man uses spi∣ritual things as if he used them not; look how an earthly minded mans heart is in spiritual things, so a spiritual mind is in earthly things: An earthly minded man wil do some things that are spiritual, he will come and hear the word, perhaps he wil pray in his familie, and reade a chapter, I but his heart is not much there, he doth it as Page 13 he did it not, comes and hears as if he heard not, and praies as if he prayed not, he makes it not his business to pray or hear; so a spiritual minded man he doth the things of the world but as if he did them not, I mean in comparison of his being busie in spiritual things, there he doth it with all his might; An earthly minded man is like to Corab, Da∣than, and Abiram, we reade of them that they were swallo∣wed up of the earth: and so the truth is, the things of the earth, Contentments, provision for themselves and fami∣lies in earthly things, doth as it were open and swallow up the very hearts of earthly-minded men: and that's the fift thing for the discription of earthly mindedness.
Sixthly, But suppose a man doth not seem to be so strongly intent, to lay out his whole strength and heart a∣bout earthly things, yet when anie man or woman shall seek anie earthlie thing for it self (observe it) and not in subordination to some higher good, this is an earthly-minded man so for as this prevailes; in the 2 Cor. 4. 18. our Apostle Paul speaks there of the things that are seen that are but temporal, While we look not at the things that are seen, for the things that are seen are earthly and temporal: the word is * as much as to say, while we do not look as our scope upon temporal and earthly things that are seen, we do not make them our end, but we seek them in subordination, there is somewhat else that we look at higher in all these things, as for instance, a man that is godly, he follows his busi∣ness as other men do, but what is it that he would have? It's this, I shew my obedience to God, and I would provide those things that may be helpful to me to serve God in my generation; that's my end, I can appeal to God in this, that even in the following my business and all outward things, it is that I might follow God in the use of means for the providing of such things as may enable me to serve him the more in my generation: this is my scope in what I do. But now on the other side, an earthly-minded man makes his scope this, he will follow his business and look about the business of his calling that he might gain, he Page 14 would get that he might get, he would have more that he might have more, and that he and his children might be somebodie in the world, and it may be that he might have enough to have his will, and lusts, therefore he fol∣lows his business very intent, meerly that he may get to sa∣tisfie the flesh, yea, indeed all the good things that he doth he brings them in subordination to earthly things. You may take it thus, a spiritual man doth not seek earthly things for himself, but an earthly man doth; or thus more fully, (you may mak it a distinct head if you will,) An earthly man is earthly in all he doth do, both in earth∣ly and spiritual things, and a spiritual minded man is spi∣ritual in all he doth, both in spiritual and in earthly things; an earthly man when he is in earthly things he is altogether earthly, he looks not at obedience to God in what he doth, as thus, I'le follow my calling because God hath required it, but an earthly man thinketh, I'le follow it because I see gain come in by it, this is earth; though the things be lawful, and it's your duty to follow your calling, but to follow it meerly for gain, this is earthly: but because it is your duty and the place God hath set you in, that's spiritualness in earthly things: An earthly man is earthly in earthly things, and he is more earthly in spi∣ritual things: when he performes spiritual duties he hath an earthly end in it, either to get esteem from men, or to cover some evil, or meerly for form and fashion, he doth it in an earthly way, and it may be at the most that that he doth do, it is but meerly for his own quiet, and to sa∣tisfie his own conscience, he is earthly in spiritual things. But now, a spiritual man, is spiritual in earthly things. one of a spiritual mind, is more heavenly and spiritual when he is about his calling though the meanest, as hed∣ging, and ditching, or when he is pulling his ropes and lines, or using his Ax or hammer, he is more spiritual I say then, than an earthly man is, when he is praying, or hearing, or receiving Sacraments; certainly it is so, and it will be found to be so at the great day of Judgment, Page 15 when the secrets of all hearts shall be disclosed: that's the sixt thing, when a man seeks earthly things for him∣self.
And that that we may add as a seventh is, That he is earth∣ly in spiritual things. I grant that the best of the Saints may have some earthlinesse in spirtual things; but I speak of the predominancie, it's that that doth rule in the heart, so that in the performance of spiritual things, his very ends are but earthly, and the frame of his heart is but earthly in spiritual performances.
The eight thing wherein we may find an earthly min∣ded man is this, That he passes through many and great diffi∣culties in matters of the earth, and they are very little to him; and though he hath a great deal of toyl for the matters of the earth, yet he is never weary with it, because he is in his proper element; and therefore let there be what difficulties there will be, which to another man would be very great, he makes of them as nothing, and though there be much toyl and labour yet he is not weary, why? because he is in his own element: The fish is not weary with swimming, but a man is quickly weary, I but the fish is in it's element and a man is not; so, I beseech you observe this, when a mans spirit is in this kind of temper, let him but be busied about earthly things, wherein earthly advantage comes in, no difficulties will hinder him, no wind or weather, he will rise in cold mornings and go abroad, do any thing in the world. Oh! what difficulties will men endure In storms at Sea, and hazards there, and troubles at land ma∣ny waies for things of the earth, and sit up late, and rise early, and toyl themselves, and complain of no wearinesse nor no difficulties But now, let them come but to spiri∣tual things, to soul-businesses that concern God and their spiritual estates, every little difficulty puts them aside and discourages them, every mole-hill is a mountain in their way, I would do so and so indeed, but 'tis so hard, and 'tis tedious to rise in a morning, especially in cold winters morning; it is very hard and difficult to reade and pray Page 16 and so he is complaining of the difficulty of these things: And to watch over the heart, it's a mighty difficulty: to an earthly man any spiritual thing is difficult, and the diffi∣culties doth discourage him, and in spiritual things, Oh how weary are they! as they in the 1. of Micha, 13. they cryed out, What a weariness is it: But in the businesse of the world they can follow it, from morning to night they are never tired, they can work (as we say sometimes of men) like a horse and yet never out of breath: Oh I would but desire you try your hearts once, but to endea∣vour to spend one Sabbath exctly, and see what a weari∣nesse that would be to you, resolve but one Sabbath to rise early in the morning, & to have your thoughts spiritual & heavenly as much as you can, and then get up & pray alone in your closet, then reade, and hear, and meditate, and mark what you hear; and when you go home think of it, and confer about it, and when you come again attend up∣on the word, and so spend the whole day in hearing, rea∣ding, meditating, and conference about good things, Cal∣ling your family to account, and praying again, and see how tiresom this will be unto your hearts if they be car∣nal. But now a spiritual heart will call the Sabbath a de∣light unto it: And the Sabbath unto such an one is no o∣ther than that type and fore runner of that eternal day of rest it shall enjoy in the kingdom of heaven: one that is spiritual accounts the Sabbath to be a day of rest, but an earthly man is quickly tired in spiritual things, he will give over his work and not go through it: we reade in the 4. of Nehe. 6. verse Nehemiah having spoken of the great difficulties that they met withal in their work, and yet (saith he) the work went on, for they bad a mind to it. So, look how a mans mind is, so he will be able to go through his work; If a man be an earthly-minded man, such a man will go through stich with his work, If he take up busi∣nesse for the world he will go through with it, for he hath a mind to it, he is a man of an earthly mind; But let him take in hand a spiritual work, and he will lay it aside be∣fore Page 17 it be half done, he will seldom bring to perfection a∣ny spiritual work, why? because he hath no mind to it, whereas were the heart spiritual, and there were any spiri∣tual work undertaken, such a one would go through with it till all was finished.
Another note about the discription of an earthly-minded man, is this: An earthly-minded man, is one that doth con∣ceive of the most heavenly Truths that are revealed in the Word in an earthly way, according to his mind, his genious, and disposition of his own heart: And I verily think this is in a special man∣ner meant in this place, for the Apostle is speaking of those that did oppose him in his Ministery, and that were ene∣mies to the Crosse of Christ: Now (saith he) These mind earthly things, their mindes are of an earthly temper, and therefore no marvell (as if he should say) though they do not savour those Heavenly and Spiritual Truths that we bring to them, for their minds being earthly, they only apprehend those things after an earthly manner: As now, what was the great Truth that the Apostle did bring to the Philippians? It was the way of reconciling the world to God, of making our peace with God, and of our Justifica∣tion through Jesus Christ. Now there is no point of Reli∣gion more Spiritual, Heavenly, and Divine, than the Do∣ctrin of Reconciliation, and of Justification by Jesus Christ. So that, one that is of an earthly disposition, though he may be convinc'd of a necessity of pardon of sin, and peace with God, yet he apprehends the making of his peace with God, and obtaining pardon of his sin, but in an earthly manner, he hath carnal thoughts and apprehensions about his peace with God, and about obtaining pardon of sin, he thinks it is the same way that one man obtains peace with another when he is fallen out, and of getting pardon from another man that he hath offended, he conceives it in an earthly way, he looks upon his making peace with God, by some thing that he himself must perform; but for the point of Free justification by the grace of God in Christ, it's too Di∣vine, Spiritual and Heavenly for an earthly-minded man Page 18 to apprehend in the Spiritualnesse of it; an earthly-mind∣ed man, his apprehensions of God are but in a carnal, earth∣ly way; as the Prophet speaks in the 1 of Isa. The Ox knows his owner, and the Ass his masters crib: Even after that man∣ner doth an earthly-minded man know God; as an Ox his owner, and the Ass his masters crib: as thus, the ox knows his owner because he brings him fodder daily, so an earth∣ly-minded man hath no other apprehensions of God but this, he thinks God gives him good things in this world, God makes his corn to grow, or Prospers his voyage. An earthly-minded man may rise so high to have apprehensi∣ons of God as bringing good things unto him here on earth: But one that is spiritual and heavenly doth appre∣hend God as God, doth not look upon God meerly as good in respect of the benefit he receives from God here, but he looks upon God as he is in himself, he sees the face of God: as there's a great deal of difference between a man that knows another man, and a beast that knows a man, The ox knows his owner, the ox knows the man that brings hay or provender to him, but a man knows a man in another way, knows what the nature of a man is, knows what it is to be a rational creature, so one that is spiritual, knows what God is in himself, he sees the face of God, and understands what God is in another way than others do: the difference between the knowledge of God that a spiritual soul hath, one that is pure in heart, and the knowledge of God that an earthly heart hath, is just so much difference as comes to this, As the ox knows the man that drives him to fat pastures, so doth an earthly man know God that gives him good things: but a spiritual heart knows God as one man knows another, not in his full excellency, I mean not so, but there is such a kind of difference in some degree, between the apprehensions of God in a spiritual heart, and the apprehensions of God in an earthly heart: And so we might mention in many o∣ther Spiritual and Divine Truths, that an earthly mind doth apprehend but in an earthly way; consider of Heaven Page 19 its self, how doth an earthly mind apprehend that? he ap∣prehends that he shall be delivered from pain, and shall have some kind of glory, but knows not what it is, conceives it according to the way of the earth, some pompous, glo∣tious thing, that he shall live in pleasures and not in pain; and so apprehends all the glory of Heaven but in sensuali∣ty; whereas a spiritual heart looks at Heaven in another kind of notion, he looks upon the enjoyment of Commu∣nion with God and Jesus Christ in Heaven, and living of the life of God in Heaven; that's a thing that an earthly heart hath no skill at all in, neither doth such an heart so much as savour it. Thus I have in these several particulars discovered what an earthly-minded man is, Oh that you would lay your hands upon your hearts, and every one consider how far these things do reach you. But I have besides these, divers other convincements, to convince the consciences of men and women that yet there is much earthlinesse in them: but of them we shall treat of in their order afterwards.
The Second head to consider is this. The great evill that there is in earthly-mindedness, They mind earthly things. Is that any such great matter (you will say) indeed we cannot imagine the transcendency of the evil that there is in this, We think there's a great deal of evil in swearing, whoring, drinking, and such kind of scandalous sins, and indeed there is, But to have an earthly mind we do not think this to be so exceeding evil; yet you will find that the Scripture doth speak most dreadful things against this, and if God please to set them home upon your hearts, I hope there is much glory may come to God by it, and much good unto you in particular.
CHAP. III. Fourteen Evils of Earthly-mindedness.
The First EVIL.
F•••• The Scripture cals it, Adultery: it is spiritual Adultery, in Jude, 4. vers. Ye Adulterers and Adulte∣resses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmi∣ty with God. They were Adulterers and Adulteresses in respect of their love to the world: you that would ab∣hor the thought of a temptation to Adultery, yet you may commit spiritual Adultery, a man or a woman may be an Adulterer or an Adulteresse before the Lord, though they never commit the act of uncleannesse with another, yet if their hearts be towards another, they be guilty of unclean∣nesse: for Christ saith, whosoever doth but look after a woman to lust after her in his heart, he hath committed a∣dultery already; that is, hath sinned against that com∣mand that forbids adultery: Is it so, that if a man do but let his heart go after another woman more than his wife, and a wife after another man more than her husband, this is adultery before the Lord. So if our hearts be after a∣ny things more than the Lord Jesus Christ, that we profess our selves married to and he to be our husband; this is a∣dultery in Scripture phrase.
The Second EVIL.
Yea further, A worldly or an earthly-mind in Scripture phrase, is called Idolatry; in Ephes. 5. 5. speaking of divers sins that should not be so much as named among them as it became Saints, he hath Covetousness among the rest, and he ads this; And Covetousness which is Idolatry. Now what Page 21 is Earthly-mindednesse, but Covetousnesse, which is Idola∣itry? A man, or woman is an Idolater that is of an Earthly mind: Now Idolatry which is a worshiping of stocks and stones, you all account to be a great sin; but do you, and al others take heed of another Idolatry that may be as bad that is, To have your hearts to make the god of this world to be your God, the cursed Mammon of unrighteousnesse, to make the things of the earth to be your Christ, to fall down and worship the golden-Calfe of the world. It's certain, that that thing a mans heart is most taken with, and set upon, that's his God: and therefore here in this verse out of which my Text is, it's said, They made earth∣ly things (their bellies) their God: The Voluptuous, and Drunkard makes their Belly their God; and the Unclean person, makes his Strumpet to be his goddesse and worshp∣peth that; whatsoever thy heart is most upon, that's thy God: therefore, that you must know to be the meaning of the Commandement, Thou shalt have no other Gods before me: That is, thou shalt give me the strength of thy soul, and no∣thing else: So, I am a God to my Creature when I have its strength exercised about me, to lift up me as the highest good; but if there be any thing else that thy soul is set up∣on as thy highest good, that's thy God, and it's worse than bowing the knee, thou bowest thy soul to that thing: now the meaner any thing is that we make a God of to our selves, the more vile is the Idolatry: as when the Egyptians worshiped divers sorts of gods, they were accounted the most vile Idolaters; whereas other Heathens worshipped more excellent things, the Sun, Moon, and Stars; the E∣gyptians worshiped Dogs, Cats, Onions, and vile things; and therefore their Idolatry was vile. So, the viler any thing is that a man or woman sets their hearts upon, the more vile is their Idolatry; as for a man that should set his heart up∣on unclean lusts, now to make that to be a god, the satisfy∣ing of those lusts, that's abominable, and to make any earthly thing to be a god to us, that's most vile; for of all the things of the works of creation that God hath made, the Page 22 Earth is the meanest, 'tis the basest and lowest thing, and hath the least beauty in it in it's self, and it is the most dul and meanest element of all; and to make earthly things to be a God to you, this is most vile.
Object. You will say for this Idolatry, What is there in it?
Answ. There is Two particulars to open the Evil of Ido∣latry, or Earthly-mindednesse.
First. The Evil of your Idolatry, it is in this. You do de∣part from God; in letting out of your hearts to these things, you do (as it were) go off from God, and renounce the pro∣tection of God, the goodnesse and mercy of God, you leave it all by this: In the 4. chap. of Hofea, 12. verse. They are said, To go a whoring from under their God. It's a notable phrase; that is, by going to Idols they did go off from the protection of God; whereas, while they were worshiping the true God, they then were under the protection of God; but when they went to Idols, they went from under their God, from under his protection: So when thou settest thy heart upon God, and liftest up the infinite First being of all things as the chief good to thy soul, thou art under the in∣fluence of this Grace and Mercy: but when thou doest de∣part from him, and makest other things to be thy Cheef good, thou goest from under his protection, and from his good and mercy.
Secondly: God is slighted and contemn'd in this, When thou choosest rather to make the earth to be thy God than the infinit blessed first-being of all things; As a man that doth dispise his wife, and it were abominable sin, if he should choose to go to a Queen though the most beautifullest woman in the world, and forsake his wife; but to leave a Queen, or Em∣press that were the beautifullest woman upon the earth, and to have the heart cleave to a base dunghil-raker, were not this a great contempt to the Queen that were so beautiful? Yet so it is when thou doest forsake the blessed eternal God as thy chief good, and choosest the things of the earth: for the truth is, the earth is the fink of all the creatures of Page 23 Gods making, and for thee to leave the most blessed and Eternal One, and to make that thy god it must needs be a very vile and abominable thing; and therefore the Pro∣phet Jeremiah in speaking of this Idolatry, he cals the Heavens and the Earth to be amazed at it. Jeremiah, 2. 12. Be astonished O ye Heavens at this, and be horrible afraid, be ye very desolate saith the Lord, Why? what's the matter? For my people have committed two evils, They have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out Cisterns, broken Cisterns that can hold no water. So 'tis here; thou forsakest the fountain of living waters, the blessed God, and thy heart cleaves to the dust, and seekest thy contentment and happinesse in cisterns that can hold no water; let the Hea∣vens be astonished at this horrible wickedness.
The Third EVIL.
Thirdly, Earthly-mindedness it's enmity against God. Thou wouldst be loth to be found an enemy against God; certain∣ly it's a truth, and it will be found another day, That an earthly-minded man, or woman is an enemy to God: yea the Scripture makes it to be enmity in the very Abstract, James, 4. 4. Know ye not that the love of the world is enmity to God? Observe this, for there's very much in it, if God would be pleased to make us to lay it to heart, you will find it by experience, that earthly-mindednesse doth make men to be enemies to that that is spiritually good, therefore well might the holy-Ghost say, 'tis enmity to God, for whatso∣ever is enmity to any thing that is spiritually good, it is enmity to God; so much as my heart, or any of your hearts are against any thing that is spiritual, so much mine or any of your hearts are enemies to God. Now here in the very Text, these earthly-minded men are made enemies to the Crosse of Christ: that is, enemies to the spiritual preaching of Christ, and holding forth Christ: Indeed, If they would have mixt Christ and Circumcision together, then they would have been content with it; but now this Page 24 spiritual way of preaching Christ, and being justified by faith alone, and Christian Religion in the purity of it, was that that was not sutable to their carnal hearts, and therefore they were enemies to it. Oh! earthly-minded∣nesse doth make us enemies to spiritual things; where have you greater enemies unto the things of God, unto spiritual things, unto the Ministry of the word (as we had occasion to hint) and to the work of Gods grace upon the hearts of men and women, no greater enemies unto these things than earthly minded men, men that savour the things of the earth, that can go up and down and care not if they can but load themselves with thick clay, grow rich in the world and fare deliciously every day with Dives, make provision for the flesh to fulfill the lusts thereof, there is an antipathy in their spirits against Jesus Christ and al goodnesse.
The Fourth EVILL.
Then Fourthly; There is scarce any disposition more opposite, more contrary to the work of grace, to the work of godlinesse in a mans own heart than earthly-minded¦nesse, 'tis so exceeding crosse to the nature of grace, that it may as well put men or women to be at a stand, and put them upon examination whether there be any grace or no in their hearts if earthly-mindednesse prevail, as almost any other thing; if God should suffer your corruptions to pre∣vail over you, so as you should break forth into some out∣ward notorious sins, then it may be you would begin to think, can this stand with grace? and how can that stand with such workings as I have had before? have not I cause to fear that I am but an Hypocrite, a rotten professor? But now, this earthly-mindednesse hath as much opposition to the nature of grace, and the power of godlinesse in the heart as almost any sin that you can name. It is so quite contrary to the very beginning of the work of grace, not contrary to the degrees only, but to the very begining. The main work of God at the very first, in working grace in Page 25 the soul, is to disingage the soul from the creature, it is to take it off from the Earth, and from all creatures here be∣low: for naturally 'tis true, That as we are of the earth, so we are earthly, and have our spirits ingaged to the things of this earth; but then comes the work of grace upon the soul, and takes it off, and discharges the heart from the earth: and therefore you find that Christ laies in this as the first lesson, That he that will be my Disciple, must deny himself, and take up his Cross and follow me: as if he should say, never think of being a Christian except you will deny your selves. Self: what's that? all natural con∣tentment, natural-self, and sinful-self, to be emptied wholly of your selves, and creature-comforts, and content∣ments, and take up my Cross, to be willing to suffer any thing in regard of earthly comforts, to be willing to lay down all at my feet, and to give up your interest in all, and to take up my Cross; this is the very first beginning of Christs bringing Disciples to himself. Then (saith the soul) let me have my sin pardoned, and farewel earth, it's Heaven, Holiness, renewing of the Image of God, communion, and union with God, and living to the eter∣nal praise of his Name in Christ that my heart is upon; I say, this in the beginning of Gods working the heart to himself. The work of Grace when it is first wrought, it hath the name of Vocation: Calling, what is it for a man to be called? give diligence to make your calling & election sure: To be called, is this, and whereas before thou wert altoge∣ther digging and dolving in the earth, and seeking for thy happiness in the world, now it pleases God to make thee to hear a voice behind thee, calling thee, and telling thee, O poor soul, thy happiness is not here, there are other things in which thy chief good consists, thou art made for higher and better things than these, God hath nobler thoughts about man-kind than meerly to let him have a few contentments here in the earth, Oh soul! come away and look after higher things; here's the first work of grace: and the soul answers unto this call of God and saith, Lord, Page 26 I come, and so gives up it's self to God to dispose of it, and this is in the beginning of the work of Grace: Now, how contrary is earthly-mindednesse to the work of God in bringing grace into the heart? Conceive it in these three things.
1. The very work of conversion, it is set out in Scripture by Gods calling the soul out of the world, Whom he hath predestinated; him he hath called. When God effectually be∣gins to work upon the heart of a sinner, he does cause a voice to be heard in the soul, Oh soul, thou hast been busy∣ing thy self about many things, but there is one thing ne∣cesseary, Oh come out of that way of thine that thou art in, thou canst never be happy else, thou wilt be undone in it; the Lord calls the soul out of the world; and that (I say) is the very work of conversion, the souls answearing to Gods call: Now for one stil to be earthly, and to have a heart cleaving to these things, surely such a one is not as yet ef∣fectually called out of the world.
2. And then from thence follows, upon the souls answer to this call; the Lord difingages the heart from all creature∣comforts, and teacheth, the first lesson to deny himself, and to take up Christs Crosse: now what's more opposite to self-denial and the taking up of the Crosse of Christ than earthly-mindednesse? the text saith here, They are enemies to the Cross of Christ.
And then a third thing in conversion it is, The resigning up of the soul to God as the chief good; the soul upon the call of God, it learns the lesson of Self-denial, and taking up the Crosse, and so being disingaged from the creature, now it resigns up it self to God as an infinite soul satisfying good for ever: now you cannot but in the naming of this see how opposite earthly-mindednesse is to it.
And then for the work of grace upon the heart, after the heart is converted and turned to God.
First, Grace brings a new light into the soul: A Spiritual and Divine light is set up in the soul upon the conversion of a sinner to God; but now, the earth you know, it's Page 27 the dark part of the world, and earthly mindednesse it causeth darknesse to be upon the spirit, as the interposition of the earth between us & the Sun, it doth hinder the sight of the Sun from us; And so the interposition that there is of earthlinesse in the soul of man between God and it, doth hinder the sight of God from the soul; there is a Divine light set up in the soul, and when as God works grace that doth discover things of a higher and more excellent and glorious nature, than those things were that before the heart did so much cleave unto.
In the second place: the Scirpture sets forth the work of grace by the New creature. In the soul all things are made new, old things are Past, he that is in Crhist is a new crea∣ture: Now earthly-mindednesse is opposite to the new creation in the soul, it's the old man that is of the earth, the first man is of the earth earthly; and so it is apparant that thou art still only in the stock of the first man, of the earth earthly who art an earthly-minded man. But the second man is, the Lord from Heaven: But now, thou that art an earthly-minded man or woman art yet but a child of A∣dam, of the first man, and so art of the earth earthly, this is opposite to grace, grace works a new creation in the soul.
3. And grace is of an Elevating nature, raises the heart a∣bove its self, and above the creature, yea, above the world, in some respect above Angels themselves, above Principali∣ties and Powers, above all created things, grace is of a raising nature; but an earthly-minded man sinks down to low and base things.
And grace (fourthly) is of an Enlarging nature; it enlar∣ges the heart, so that it cannot be satisfied with any earth∣ly thing, though God should give the whole world to a heart that hath grace, this would not satisfie that heart, why? because it is so Enlarged by the work of grace, the work of grace it is the Divine nature, the Image of God in the soul, and therefore works the soul like to God: and it's said of God in the 40. of Isa. that all the nations of the Page 28 earth are to him, but as the drop of the bucket, and as the smal dust in the ballance. Now grace makes the soul to be like God, to accout all the things of the earth to be as the drop of a bucket, and the dust of the ballance, to be nothing, less than nothing.
5. And then, Grace sanctifies the soul: Now what is it to sanctifie, but to take off from all common uses, and to dedi∣cate to God as the highest act of all things? And therefore, the Greek word that is for Holy, it is taken from a partici∣ple Premitive, and a word that signifies the Earth, as much * as to say, Not Earthly, and a holy one in the Greek language is not an earthly one, according to the usual etimology given of it. Now Grace it makes the soul holy, it sanctifies the soul, it sets apart the soul for God, and dedicates and con∣secrates the soul to God: and therfore you see that it is op∣posite to the work of God in bringing Grace into the soul, and to the work of grace, and the power of godliness in the soul of man: This is the great Evil of Earthly mindedness.
The Fifth Evil.
But Fifthly: For the discovery of the great Evil that there is in Earthly-mindedness: It puts men upon very great Temptations; and for that we need no other Scrip∣ture than that in the 1 of Tim. 6. 9. saith the Apostle there, But they that will be rich, fall into temptation, and a snare. Mark, that is, Those that have set their hearts so much upon the things of the earth, as they are resolved they must have them whatsoever comes of it: Observe the phrase; They that wil be rich, they apprehend a necessity of the things of the earth, they do not only wish and desire, Oh! that we had riches, and had these things of the earth, but they resolve they must have them upon any terms: Wel, If the heart go on in obedience to God in the duties of its calling, and if God send in riches and an estate, it doth thankfully accept it from God; these do not meet with such temptations and a snare as the Apostle here speaks of; but when the heart is Page 29 set upon it, that it needs must have an estate whatsoever comes on it; now they that will be so, they (saith the A∣postle) fall into temptations and a snare. There's dange∣rous temptations in following after the things of the earth, and there is a snare in them that you do not think of, for you think only of the bravery of the things of the earth, how sumptuously you should live, and how fine you should be, in your house, and cloaths, and what table you may keep, you only think of these things that may give the flesh contentment; but you do not think of the temptation, and the snare that is in them; and those whose hearts are set up∣on these things, they fall into the snare, nay, temptation; those that are earthly-minded, have great temptations, to shift up and down, to strain their consciences for the things of the earth; for so it is, that while we live in this world God hath made the things of the earth to be as thorns, and so they are compared in Scripture, and it's hard for one to meddle with thorns without pricking his fingers; they are as briars, & its hard for the sheep ro get among them but she wil lose some of her wool: and so it's hard for the heart to be busie about the things of the earth, but it will be prickt and lose some of its fleece, in will fall into temptation and a snare, and be catch'd: Oh! how many men and wo∣men that have enlightened consciences, & they think some∣times that they would not for all the world do any thing against their consciences, though they might gain all the glory and riches under Heaven: Well, but yet their hearts being earthly, when it comes to some particular, how rea∣dy are they? at least, to strain conscience, and not to attend to the voice of conscience, and are willing that conscience should have its mouth stop'd for the time: Indeed, If their consciences did plainly tell them, that this thing is abso∣lutely sin against God, perhaps they would not do it, but that were not the snare, for tis no snare when I see the dan∣ger before me, here's a deep pit, and if I step a step further I fall into it, this is no snare. But now, there are some that are not catch'd so, by a pit that's open; but the Devil doth Page 30 lay upon the pit (it may) some green grass, so that they shall not perceive, or very hardly perceive the danger; thus such as have earthly hearts they fall into a snare and temptation, they are put upon straining of conscience, and wringing it as much as may be, and many shifts that they are put too, Oh! a man when once he is got into an earth∣ly business he knows not how in the world to bear it if he be crost in it, It may be I have gone thus far, and I have very great hopes that I shall succeed in it, only there is one stop, now for him to think that for this one stop I am like to lose all, Oh it goes to his heart: Oh but now, if you would but strain conscience a little you may get over it presently; an earthly-man will strain hard but he will get over it; whereas now, were the heart taken off from the earth, though such a man had gone on never so far in a business, if there comes a stop in a matter of conscience, yea, if it were but a doubt that such a thing were sin; it's e∣nough to stop him, a meer doubt lest he should sin would be enough for to make him say, let the business fall if it will, there may be a snare in this, and I see some cause to doubt: now if the heart were spiritual it would be taken off; but an earthly mind will go through very many dreadful things and doth not much trouble himself, and so doth insnare himself exceedingly, that he may get an estate, or preserve it when once he hath got it: That's the fifth thing.
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.
The Seventh Evil, opened in Six Particulars.
Further, In the seventh place, Earthly-mindedness, it cau∣ses many foolish lusts in the heart, that's a great evil; and for that you have the same Scripture that was before, for the temptations and snare, 1 Tim. 6. 9. But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurt∣full lusts: lusts that are very foolish and simple.
1. As for instance; It causes men to follow after things that are very vile and mean, it causes men to bestow the strength of their immortal souls about things that have no worth at all in them: that's a foolish lust, to bestow the strength of an immortal soul about vanities: If you should see men that are of excellent parts for to spend their time about tri∣fles and toyes, as about catching of flies, and following of feathers, you would say, surely they begin to be besot∣ted: so for the soul of man, that is capable of such excel∣lency as it is, of communion with God, with the Father, Son and holy Ghost, for such a soul to have the strength of it spent about such poor trifling things that cannot pro∣fit in the evil day, Oh this is a foolish lust.
Secondly, Foolish lusts, for earthly-mindedness, cau∣ses thee to be a servant to thy servants: you would account that man a fool that should be a servant to his servants: So God hath made the things of the earth to be a servant to thee, and yet thou wilt come and put thy neck under thy ser∣vants yoke, and art a servant to thy servant: yea, were it not a great deal of folly for a man to expect all his honour and respect to come from his servant rather than from any excellency in himself; as thus, Suppose a man were travel∣ling, & indeed there is respect given to him, but it's for his servants sake rather than his own; If he should come to Page 35 know this, this he would account a great dishonor to him∣self: But an earthly heart (I say) puts himself into such a condition, as indeed he makes it to be his greatest honour to have honour from his estate and riches: So that men do not respect rich men for any worth that there is in them∣selves, or for any excellency of their own, but only for their riches, as much as to say, a man is not respected for himself but for his servant. Take some men that have had estates, but now they are deprived of them, and are become as poor as any Almes-men or Beggars amongst us; who doth regard them then? But now, let a man have grace and holinesse, if he were turned out of all and made as poor as Job, yet he were one that the Angels of Heaven would look upon with honour, and would glory in atten∣ding upon him; this is the difference between the carnal earthly heart, and the spiritual heart. It's a foolish lust to make himself to be a servant to his servant.
3. It brings into foolish lusts, For a man might have as much (it may be) more of the earth if he did not mind it so much as he doth. Now for a man to mind the earth and to indanger himself in the minding of it, when as he might have it as well with∣out so much minding, surely, this is a foolish thing: For a man to bestow a great deal of labour about a thing when as he might have it with lesse labour, he is a fool surely. Certainly if you be such as belongs to God, especially you may rather expect God to bless you if you kept your hearts more spiritual, you might expect that God would grant to you more of the good things of this world if you were lesse earthly-minded than you are, and it's your earthly∣mindednesse that makes God cut you short of these things; I am verily perswaded there are many men that have ill suc∣cesse in their earthly affairs, and it's a fruit of Gods displea∣sure upon them because their hearts are so much upon worldly businesses, did you go on in your imployment in obedience to God, and commit it to God for successe, you might be crowned with more successe than you have been: now what a foolish thing is this?
Page 36 4. Yea further: It's a great deal of folly, for any of you to go and buy a thing and to pay a greater price for it than it's worth: If you send a servant to buy you commodities, and when he comes home you ask him what it cost, and he tells you it cost such a price which is ten times more than it's worth, you will say, Thus it is to send a fool to Market: so an earthly - minded man manifests himself to God, and his Angels and all the Saints to be a fool, for why? thou be∣stowest that upon this world, that is a thousand times more worth than the things of the world, for thou besto∣west that upon the world that might bring thee to heaven; I may say to an earthly-minded man, those thoughts, and cares, and affections, and endeavours that thou doest spend upon the things of the world, If they had been spent about the things of God might have sav'd thy soul to all eternity, thou mightest have got Christ and Heaven, and Eternity, the Lord would have gone along with thee; and thou mai∣est come hereafter to see it at the great day when all things shall be opened before men and Angels: had I but spent those thoughts and cares, and endeavours, about under∣standing the waies and things of God and eternal life, my soul might have bin sav'd for ever: Not that our works wil do it, but that God would have gone along together with you in such waies as those are; now for you to spend thoughts and cares about that that perhaps you shall not have, for many men and women spend their souls about the things of the world and never have them, this is a sad thing; Oh! wil not this be folly? will not you curse your selves hereafter for your folly? Oh that I should spend my self and be spent about that that I have not got neither, and I must be damn'd for that, whereas had I spent time about things that concern'd my soul and eternal life it would have been more like that I should have gotten those things; for God doth not fail men so in spiritual things as he doth in earthly things, a man may be as diligent as it's possible for any man to be in business of the earth, and yet he may miscarry; but give me any man or woman that Page 37 ever was diligent in seeking the things of God and eternal life that ever did miscarry; I verily beleeve at the day of Judgment there will not be one man found, that shall be a∣ble to say, Lord, I did improve what talents thou didest give me to the uttermost to save my soul, but Lord, because I was not able to do any more, without thy grace, thou didest deny thy grace to me, and therefore now I must be damn'd: I beleeve there will not be any soul that will be able to say so; but in the matters of the world men do say so, that they have done what they could, nad labour'd and toyl'd, and yet for all that they miscarry. Oh what a foolish thing is this then, for thee to toyl and labour a∣bout that which is so uncertain: for were it not a foo∣lish thing for a man to bestow all his estate about buying of pibble stones, and that that will afford him no kind of benefit at all: This folly is in the heart of man: I'le but put this care to you, If two of you should go to the Indies, where precious stones are, and one should purchase a la∣ding of precious stones and other rich commodities, and the other that carried as much money with him, he laies out all his money about baubles and trifles, and they both come home laden, Both went out with the same stock, both come home laden, and one comes home with precious stones that makes him rich, and his posterity to be great men; the other brings home nothing but a company of pibble stones which makes him scorn'd and jeer'd at by all his Neighbours; Oh! how would he be ready to tear his flesh for his folly in this kind: This will be the difference between men and women at the day of Judgment, for the truth is, what is this world but a sea-fare? we are here sailing in this world, and here we have the market of pearls, or else of that hath no worth at all in it: when you live in the times of the Gospel I say there is a mar∣ket for pearls, for those things that may enrich you to all eternity; now there's one man, he bestows the strength of his thoughts and heart about those things that he shall be blessing of God in the highest heavens to all eterni∣ty Page 38 for, and the other man bestows his thoughts and heart but upon the things of the earth, and lades himself with thick clay (as the Scripture phrase is;) and now at the day of Judgment when it shall appear, here's a man or woman that shall be to all eternity blessed, that shall joyn with Angels and Saints in the highest heavens to magnifie the free grace of God in Christ: and here's another had that he bestowed but his thoughts, and heart about the same things he might have been so blessed for ever, but he minding the things of the earth is a cursed fool, and is the scorn and contempt of men and Angels to all eternity; earthly∣mindednesse brings men into foolish lusts (the Scipture speaks:) Oh! though men of earthly minds think them∣selves the only blessed men, I applaud my self at home, let men talk what they will; but the holy Ghost saith, that those Iusts that are caused by earthly-mindednesse are foo∣lish lusts.
Fifthly, That's folly for a man to do that that he must undo a∣gain. Now especially those earthly-minded men that have this earthlinesse so to prevail with them as to get any thing of the earth by false waies; they must certainly undo all they have done: you have got so much of the earth in some cunning cheating way, and you blesse your selves that you have found out such a mystery of iniquity; this is a foolish lust: Foolish, Why? it must be done again, either you must be eternally damn'd, or else you must restore as Zacheus did if you be able, though it be to the impoverishing of your selves, yet it must out again, all the sorrow and repen∣tance that can be will not be sufficient, thou canst not be pardoned upon all thy sorrow and repentance if thou dost not restore if thou beest able, what thou hast ill gotten; I do not know that there was ever any Minister of the Gospel upon the face of the earth but held this, that it was of ab∣solute necessity to salvation to restore, and this one reason cannot but satisfie any mans conscience, That a man cannot truly repent of a sin, and yet wilfully to continue in it. Now ex∣cept you do restore, you do wilfully continue in it; for Page 39 why? you do not only wrong the man the first hour, but so long as you keep any thing that is his you do wrong him: and if you be able to restore and do not, because you are loth to part with so much mony, or so many goods, you do wilfully continue in the sin: now, no man or woman can truly repent of a sin and yet wilfully persist in that sin: what a foolish lust is this, for a man or woman to go and get the things of this world in such a way as he must undo all again though it be to his shame; Oh! consider what a fol∣ly it is. You deceitful servants, that spend away that upon your lusts, that you cheat and cosen your master of; after∣wards when you come to set up for your selves, you must restore what you have purloind, and it may be a great part of your estate must be repaid in way of restitution, it must be done, there's no gain-saying of it; and therefore what a foolish lust it is, to be set upon the things of the earth so as to get them in an earthly way.
6. And then foolish, (observe this one note) By Earthly∣mindednesse, they do lose the comfort of earthly things before they have them. I make it out thus, A man or woman that hath carking thoughts about the things of the earth, and it may be by their inordinate thoughts, and cares, and affections after some earthly things, they contract much guiltinesse upon their own spirits, yet after this perhaps God doth give them that earthly thing; now when they have got it, if they have any light in their consciences, their convinced consciences will then reflect thus upon them, I have got this indeed, Oh! but have I it with the blessing of God? I have it in my costody, but I got it dearly, it cost me such thoughts and cares, and affections before I had it, and now I have it, I cannot say it comes out of Gods love, I ra∣ther fear that God hath given it me in his wrath because I got it in such a way; now all the comfort is gone and lost, whereas had it come in the way of God, and hadst thou gi∣ven up thy self to God, and then providence had brought such a comfort to thee, thou mightest have enjoyed much of God in it, & bless'd God for it, the Lord hath bless'd me Page 40 in my trading, Oh! I have it from the Love of God. But now, when thy heart was earthly before it came, when it doth come thou hast no comfort in it, the comfort of all is lost before it comes, thou hast spent so much upon it; as if a man hath got a thing, & after he hath gotten it, he thinks thus, What hath this cost me; it hath cost me a great deal more than it's worth; now the comfort of it is vanished.
The Eighth Evil.
Earthly-mindednesse, It is the root of Apostasie. I'le give you but one Scripture, & compare it with another: 2 Tim. 4 10. there's a notable Text, that shews how earthly-min∣dednesse breeds Apostasie; 'tis the example of Demas, For Demas (saies the Apostle) hath forsaken me: what's the mat∣ter? having loved this present world. It was that that made Demas to be an Apostate; why? what was Demas before? compare this Scripture with that you have in the Epistle to the Colossians, and you shal see what he was before this time: he was a forward Disciple of Paul; and the Apostle had some good esteem of him, in the last to the Colossians, 14. vers. mark there in that Epistle, where Paul was directed by the holy Ghost, Luke the beloved Physitian and Demas greet you: Paul doth rank Demas here among the famous Professors of Religion; the Apostle, writing to the Colossians, saith, De∣mas greets you among the rest. When we send to our friends and say, Such a one commends him to you, we use not to name them except they be entire friends. So it appears, and I find that Interpreters severally do think it was the same Demas, and the word gives us some ground for this! for in Timothy you find, that he names Luke there too: It seems that Demas and Luke were two great Assossiates: and Paul mentions them together; when Demas had forsaken him, yet Luke rode with him, and when Paul sends them gree∣ting of Luke that was the beloved Physitian, he sends the greeting of Demas too: But now, one was truly godly, and whatsoever sufferings Paul met withal, one cleaved to him, Page 41 and would not forsake him: But when Paul begins to suf∣fer, and Demas thought, that there's no thriving for me, if I should follow this persecuted Apostle; Demas now would have no more of Paul, he thanks him for his company and fairly departs from him: He hath forsaken me: and what's the root of it? He had imbraced this present world. And that's another note, that though he was a forward Proffessor, yet the heart of Paul was not so much for him, for saith he, Luke the Beloved Phisitian and Demas great you; He doth not say, the Beloved Demas; it's true, Demas was a forward Proffessor, and did seem to wear a cloak of Religion; yet Paul was directed by the holy-Ghost only to speak of him as a Proffessor; but in that the holy-Ghost directs him to speek of two together that were two companions, and gives one an Epethite, Beloved, and the other only his name. By this we may gather, that those that have discerning spirits, may shew some kind of sign in those that are earthly, at least to darken their esteem of them, and to make them somwhat jealous of them: as now, ther's two men, and both very forward, and two companions together; yet those that are godly, old Disciples can savour one more than the other; Indeed they are both Proffessors, and both have excellant parts and gifts, and yet there's more spiritualness, and greater experiences in one than in the other, so it appears there was in Luke rather than in Demas, and indeed, your earthly-minded men, afterwards prove to be Apostates, usually before their grand Apostasy do manifest some dead∣nesse and waywardness of spirit to that that's good. yea, their spirits before discover themselves to be earthly spirits, they smell of the earth. As a man before he dies, his breath will smell very earthly; you will say: Oh! such a one cannot live, his breath is so earthly; so it is with those that are very great proffessors of Religion; that those that have intimate acquaintance with them before they do Apo∣statise they smell their breath to be earthly in their duties, in their conferences: Oh take heed of earthly-mindedness, least it be the root of Apostasie; This may be written upon Page 42 many an Apostates grave, This was an earthly minded man or woman in the midest of their profession. And hence it is that they fell off from the truth in times of danger, when they were brought to the tryal, they were base back sliders from God and his truth.
The Ninth Evil.
Earthly-mindednesse doth wonderfully dead the heart in prayer. It sinks the spirits of men, and straightens them in spiritual duties; yea, and indeed, doth defile every duty of Religion; in the 119. Psal. 37. ver. David (you shall find) paryes there to God, That he will turn away his eyes from beholding vanity, and that he would quicken him in his law. Certainly by the vanity that he speaks of there, he means the things of the world, and by his eyes he understands the eyes of his mind, chiefly the working of the thoughts of his heart after earthly things; for if you will cast your eyes but to the 36. verse, faith he there, Incline my heart to thy testimonies, and not to covetousness; Oh Lord, let not my heart be inclined to covetousness: afterwards, Turn away mine eyes from beholding vanity, to the end that my heart may not be inclin'd to covetousness; Lord, let not my thoughts be busied about such vain things, but quicken me in thy Law: as if he should say, Lord, while my mind is turned to vanity, or my heart to covetousnesse, after the things of this earth, I alwaies find my spirit dull and hea∣vy in any holy duties, I have no quickness at all in my in∣ward man when I come in thy presence, and by experience I find this to be the cause that my heart is so drossie, be∣cause my thoughts and mind are set upon earthly things that are but vanity, therefore, Lord let not mine heart be in∣clin'd to covetousness nor mine eyes looking after vanity, but turn away mine eyes from these things and quicken me in thy Law: If you would have your hearts quicken'd in Gods Law, in the Duties that God sets you about, take heed of your eyes that they look not after vanity, & your hearts that they fol∣low Page 43 not after covetousnesse; for an earthly spirit will be a dead spirit, as the element of earth it's the sluggishest, and deadest element of all; so earthlinesse in the heart makes the heart sluggish and dead, and listlesse to any holy and spiritual duty: I appeal to your consciences in this, when you have let out your hearts after the things of this earth, and been exercised in the world, in abundance of busines∣ses, when you have come to enjoy communion with God, Oh! how dead have you found your hearts! a drossie heart must needs be a dead and a straight heart in heavenly exer∣cises: you complain many times of your vain thoughts in performance of holy duties, you cry out of dead spirits then, but there lies the cause, you have given your hearts up so much to the things of the earth at other times, and hence when you should come to have converse with God your hearts are so dead and dull & straight as they are, look at this to be the ground of it; this is the great root of all, it lies here in your earthly-mindednesse, Oh! how many prayers have been quite spoil'd with an earthly heart! whereas, such as have had spiritual hearts, have enjoyed blessed communion with God at the Throne of his Grace, and have been sweetly refreshed as a Gyant with wine; the while thou hast gone with a dead heart, and continued so there, and came away with as dead an heart, without anie quicknesse and life, and this is that that comes by, thy earthly-mindednesse, which is such a remora and pulback to duties.
The Tenth Evil.
10. Earthly-mindednesse, is so great an evil wheresoever it prevails, as it were just with God that thy name who art so earthly-minded should be written in the earth. I say, those that are earthly-minded and have this sin prevailing upon their hearts, and are not sensible of it, they have cause to fear least God should write their names in the dust: yea, lest God hath already written their names in the earth; in the 17. of Jerem. 13. we reade of such an expression, OhPage 44Lord, the hope of Israel, all that forsake thee shall be ashamed, and they they that depart from thee shall be written in the earth: because they have forsaken the Lord the fountain of living waters. And it's apparant that he speaks of earthly spirits here, for in the 11. verse he saith, As the Partridg sitteth on eggs and hat∣cheth them not, so he that getteth riches and not by right, shall leave them in the midst of his daies, and at his end shall be a fool: and then he goes on and describes the excellencie of God and his Sanctuarie, A glorious high Throne from the beginning is the place of our Sanctuary, &c. As if he should say, There are a company of foolish vain men that seek after nothing but getting riches and the things of the earth; But a glori∣ous high Throne from the beginning is the place of our Sanctuary: Oh Lord we see an excellencie in thee and in thine Ordi∣nances, and thy Sanctuary, Oh Lord the hope of Israel in whom there is such excellencie, is there any that do forsake thee who hast so much excellencie in thee, who art the hope of Israel, Oh Lord, just it were that their names should be written in the earth, that they should never come to partake of those good things that there are in thee, the excellent things that there are in thine Ordinances, and in thy Gospel, but Lord, let their names be written in the earth: an earthly spirit (I say) may fear least the name of it be written in the earth, lest God write concerning such a man or such a woman, earth shall be their portion, and their mouths shall be fil'd with earth one day, and that's all the good that they shall have from the Almighty: Oh those who have known God and the things of eternal life they cannot but apprehend this to be a sad and a grievous evil, for their names to be written in the earth.
The Eleventh Evil.
An Earthly-minded man hath the curse of the Serpent upon him: What was that? Ʋpon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat. Thou hast the curse of the Serpent, thou grove-lest upon the earth (as it were) upon thy belly, thy soul Page 45 cleaves to the ground in a sinful way, and dust thou feedest upon: While the Saints are feeding upon Jesus Christ, up∣on the very flesh and blood of Christ; when they are refre∣shing themselves with the hidden Mannah, Angels bread, corn from Heaven; thou art satiating thy self with the earth, that's thy food, and that's the very curse of the Serpent; it's a sign of a serpentine brood of the old Serpent, to be groveling upon the earth and to feed upon it.
The Twelfth Evil.
Earthly-mindedness is a dishonor to God, and a scandal to Reli∣gion. What! shalt thou profess an interest in Christ? and are there no higher things to be had in God than such base things as thy heart is upon? What! doest thou hold forth the everlasting Gospel in thy hand to others; and doest o∣penly professe a nearnesse to God more than others; and is there no difference between the workings of thy heart and the workings of others after the things of this world? Oh! how does this darken the excellency of Grace! if there be any grace at all: it very much clouds it; as the mixing of earth and drossie stuff with pure mettle, it takes away the excellencie of the pure mettle; so the mixing of earth with the profession of Religion, blemisheth the beauty and splen∣dor of the profession of Religion: Thou wilt never be the man or woman that is like to convince any by thy Con∣versation: thou art never likely to be a means to draw any to the love of the waies of godlinesse, because there is so much darknesse and earthlinesse in thy Conversation: Oh will they say, Indeed, he or she makes a great blaze in the world, and talks much of Religion, and of Ordinances, and such things, but as worldly as any, and groveling in the earth as much as any; people that are standers by wil think that profession is but a meer verbal thing, or a mock-shew, when as they see as much earthlinesse in your conversation as in the conversation of those that are without: you do bring an ill report on the things of God, as the Spies did Page 46 on the Land of Canaan. Whereas every professor of Reli∣gion should endeavour to put a lustre upon Religion, and to make the waies of God to be beautiful, amiable, and glorious in the eyes of all that do behold them: But now, to give a lye to your Gospel-profession by your Earthly∣conversation, is a very great scandal to the Name of Christ that is upon you and to his Gospel that you seem to stand up for. Oh! there's a great evil in this, and a very ill re∣port comes upon the waies of Religion by this means; ma∣ny that have had little religion in them, yet have some kind of generousness of spirit, so that they scorn such base sor∣dednesse as some sorts of Professors are given unto. Oh! for shame let not those that have only common gifts of na∣ture, and education outstrip you, that seem to be the follo∣wers of Christ; away with that base, muddy, earthly, sa∣ving, pinching disposition, it becomes none but Judas that carried the bag and betraied his Lord and Master for Eigh∣teen shillings and four pence. Let me argue with you, you that have to deal with any friends or neighbors, that you yet are afraid have not the power of godlinesse in them as you desire, but yet you see they have much ingenuity, and generousnesse, and publickness of spirit in them for publick good; take heed of scandalizing such men, for certainly such men if they could be brought to the love of Religion, to the power & strictness thereof, had they the work of the holy Ghost upon their hearts to humble them for sin, and to shew them the excellencie of Jesus Christ, they would be glorious Instruments in the Church of God and Common-wealth, and therefore it's a very great evil to scandalize such men as these; no, you should labor to walk so as they might see a beauty and excellencie in the waies of Religion by your Conversation; Oh! better, a thousand times bet∣ter that you be cut short of these things in the world, than that you should scandalize the waies of God, and the pro∣fession of the Name and Gospel of Jesus Christ.
The Thirteenth Evil.
Earthly-mindednesse, it doth exceedingly hinder preparation for death, and it is like to make death to be very grievous and terrible to them when it comes (that are like the rich fool in the Gospel) In the 21. of Luke, the 34. verse, (this I have from the Scripture) Take heed to your selves (Christ here speaks to his Disciples) lest at any time your hedrts be over-charged with surfitting and drunkenness and cares of this life; (he puts them together) It's very strange you will say that Christ should speak this to his Disciples, to forewarn them of this, we do not think that they were drunkards so as to follow after Taverns and Ale houses, or to reel in the streets; but by this drunkennesse he means any excesse in the use of the creatures in meat or drink, and professors of Religion may be subject to that, to give up themselves too much to sensual delights and excesse in the use of the creature, but besides that, though many there are that would abhor glutteny and drunkennesse, yet the cares of this life takes up their hearts; therefore saith Christ, Take heed to your selves lest at any time your hearts he over charged with the cares of this life: why? what evil would the over-char∣ging of the heart which the cares of this life bring? mark, (saith the text) And so that day come upon you unawares, for as a snare shall it come upon all them that dwell upon the face of the whole earth, watch ye therefore and pray alwaies &c. I may apply this to death: though the Scripture be speaking of Christs coming; now in the time of death Christ comes particularly, there is a particular day of Judgment at the day of death; it may likewise be applied to the time of any affliction, and then it may be inlarged thus, and so then the evil of earthly-mindednesse appears in this, that it doth hinder the preparation of the soul for afflictions. Oh! earthly-mindednesse will make thine affliction to be grievous and heavie to thee: an affliction is a very grievous thing to an earthly spirit; if God comes to take away any comforts of Page 48 this world, now because thy heart cleaves so close to them there must be a rending of them from thee, and that will put thee to pain; a man that hath his garments loose, he can easily put them off when he goes to bed at night, but if a man hath a sore upon his body, and his inward garments shall cleave to the sore, If he puls them off then it puts him to a great deal of pain, Oh then he cries out of his pain! Truly, this earthly-mindednesse comes from distemper of spirit, and the things of the earth they cleave to the hearts of men and women that are earthly, as the inward gar∣ment should cleave to a sore on a mans body; and now when afflictions or death comes to take the things of the earth from them, or them from the things of the earth, Oh it's painful to them, it's grievous to them and for one that hath an earthly spirit, a hundred to one if he hath any light of conscience left in him, but his conscience will trouble him in time of sicknesse and then tell him how he hath spent his time and strength of his spirit about the things of of the earth, whereas they should have bin spent about more excellent things, and when he comes to die then his spirit will be troubled, I am now to leave all these things that I have spent my care and thoughts upon and let out my heart about, and what good is it to me now that I shall leave so much more than my neighbor doth, what great content is this to me when I am upon my sick and death bed? what comfort can I have in all the good things I have enjoyed? yes, (it may be) through the earth∣linesse of my spirit, I have enjoyed but little of them, but I have had carking thoughts about them; But now, death is like to be to me as a Strainer, that strains out the good and leaves the drosse and the dirt behind it. And so all the good of the things of this world is gone, But the guil∣tinesse that I have contracted upon my spirit with my im∣moderate care and affections that I have let out upon the world that now is upon my spirit, Oh! death hath been very grievous to worldly spirits. I remember there's one that liv'd in a place not far from the place that I have for∣merly Page 49 liv'd in, a covetous, earthly spirit, when he was to die, cals for his Money, and fals a swearing, Must I leave you now? (speaking to his Bags, and hugging of them) What! must I leave you now? An earthly man that had spent his spirits and strength upon these things, and indeed let out his heart to them as his portion, and then he sees that he must be stript from all, must bid an eternal fare-wel to all, no more houses, nor lands, nor comming-in, nor money: Oh! death is grievous to such a one. Now, what should be the life of a Christian, but a continual preparati∣on for death? Many of the Heathens said of Philosophy, that it was but a preparation for death. A special excellency of Christianity consists in this, that it is a Preparative for death; and therefore you should let out your hearts to the things of this world so, as to be continually thinking of death, that when God cals you to depart from these things, that you may do it with ease, with as much ease as a man when he is going to bed casts off his cloaths that are loose about him; for so the grave is as a bed to the Saints where they fall asleep when they die, and so they may lay down all things and go to their sleep with ease and peace. A man or woman that can have their consciences tell them, I have been diligent in my calling, but God knows through faith∣fulnesse to him, rather than l••e to the world; and I have kept my heart close to God, and faithful to him, I can bid the world now farewel, as the world hath done with me, so I have done with it; so long as my time was to work for God, God continued those things that this frail nature of mine had need of, and now my work is done, farewell the the comforts of this world, I expect other kind of comforts that I am now going to: So, such a one that is spiritual may die with comfort; but those that have their hearts o∣vercharged with the cares of this life, they will have the day of Christ come upon them unawares.
The Fourteenth Evil
Earthly-mindednesse, is that that will bring destruction at last, it will drown thy soul in perdition; there's those two texts for it; the first is here in this very Scripture wherein my Text is, saith the Apostle here (speaking of men who mind earthly things.) Whose end is destruction. They are both joyn'd together, earthly-mindednesse will bring destructi∣on at last: And the forenamed place that for other purpo∣ses we have had, in 1 Tim. 6. 9. where the Apostle speaks of bringing them into snares, and foolish lusts: saith he, which drown men in destruction and perdition. Some that are washing themselves in the Thams, go a little way at first, & then ven∣ture a little surther & further, & at length they are over head and ears, and there they are drown,d and cannot recover themselves: So it will be with your hearts if you look not to them; you think you may venture so far to the things of this world, why? Are they not good, and in themselves lawful? I get not my estate by wrong, cheating and cous∣ning, and so by degrees your hearts are stoln away from God, and taken with these earthly things, and ye get dee∣per & deeper into the world, til at length you are plunged over head and ears before you are aware, and you cannot recover your selves; that man or woman that will give their hearts to the things of this world, and think that they will go no further, but thus and thus far, a hundred to one but when once these things have taken up their hearts they get more and more advantage till they be even drowned in destruction and perdition: A man or woman may be undone by earthlinesse, and be damn'd and perish eternally as well as by adulterie, or drunkenesse, murder, or by any notorious sin, many that are great Professors of Religion, it's very like that this will be the sin by which they will perish to oll eternity, The earthlinesse of their minds. Do not please your selves in this, that because you keep from those grosse & notorious sins that others live in Page 51 therefore you hope to be sav'd, your earthlinesse may damn you as well as any thing else: As upon dunghils you cast not only filthy carrion, and such nastie stuff, but your dust, that is swept out of your houses, I may compare Hell which is the place where God casts those damned out of his presence, it is (as it were) the common dunghil upon which filthy creatures are cast; now upon that dunghil there are not only carions, and filthy blasphemers, and whorema∣sters, and theeves, those are as it were the dead dogs cari∣on: but likewise there will be dust cast upon that dunghil, and scrapings that are from your houses will be cast upon the dunghil of Hell from the presence of God; and there∣fore satisfie not your selves in this, that you do not live in such filthy abominable lusts as others do, but if you have foul earthie hearts you may be cast upon the dunghill as well as those that have liv'd most notoriously wicked; and therefore take heed of earthly-mindednesse.
You will say,
And for preparation I will lay down this.
First. That a man or woman may be earthly minded, and yet little think of it themselves, not know that they are so: Yea, and it may be even perisheternally through their earthly-min∣dednesse, and not know of it themselves.
Six things may be wrought in a man, and yet Earthly minded.
1. A man may have his judgment convinc'd that there is a vanity in all things in this world, and yet be an earthly-minded man for all this: many think they are not earthly-minded, why? Because they are convinc'd that all these things are vanity; come and speak to them about the things of this world, and they will acknowledg there's a vanity in all these things, that they are vanity of vanities, al is va∣nity.
2. A man may have some kind of contentment in his estate, and yet have an earthly mind; at the 33. of Gen. 9. verse, Esau that was one of the earth, yet he said he had enough, yet certainly one of an earthly spirit, and his portion was in the earth: how many of you come so far as Esau did? to say for your estates, you have enough: Oh 'tis a shame for those that are professors of Religion, and would seem to be of the seed of Jacob, and yet they can never say they have enough, when as an Esau can say, he hath enough: I have enough my brother.
3 Men and women may speak very great words about the vanity of all the things of this world: When you come to discourse, you may (I say) discourse much about them, and yet have a very earthly spirit.
4. A man may be free from getting any thing of this world by false waies, by deceit, by injustice, &c. and yet be earthly for all that.
5. Through some predominate lust some other way, A man may seem to despise some earthly thing: As manie men that have a lust of Ambition, will seem to despise money; that hath a lust to shew themselves to be generous; and those that have a lust of sensualitie will seem to despise the things of the world? manie a man through one lust will seem as if he would hate the other, though the truth is, he doth not hate it as a sin, but for the practice of it his heart is against it, not (I say) from the dislike of it as a sin against God, Page 53 but because it is opposite to some other lust that he hath; as your Prodigals, your Young Spendthrifts, they will speak against covetousness as if they hated that sin, where∣as the truth is, no wicked man hates any sin any further than one sin crosses another, so much he may hate it but not as a sin, in the 13. of Isa. 17. Behold (saith the text) I will stir up the Medes against them, which shall not regard silver, and as for gold they shall not delight in it: the Medes they were Heathen wicked people that had no grace in them at all, and yet (the text saith) they shall not regard silver, and for gold they shall not delight in it; some men they think it i• through the work of grace, and because they find that they are above that base covetousness that they see in other men, they do not regard silver and gold, and to be getting all for themselves, and they dispise those men that are of such a base covetous way, and upon that they think their condition good because they think they are got above that lust; but ye see it is no other than that a Mede may get, a Heathen may disregard silver and gold, but how? it is be∣cause his spirit is upon another lust, that's the ground of it: canst thou say this, (consider what I am now upon) you that seem to scorn Covetousnesse and hate such base sordidnesse as you see in some men: can you say, it comes from hence, The Lord hath made me to see the excellent things of the Gospel, the treasures of grace that are foun∣tain'd up in Jesus Christ: the Lord hath made me to know what communion with himself in Jesus Christ doth mean, and since that time I blesse God my heart hath been above all these earthly things, and that's the ground that makes me look upon all these earthly things as vanity, because the Lord hath discovered unto me those excellent and glo∣rious things that are infinitly above these earthly things: I, that's somewhat indeed, if you can be above earthlinesse upon this ground, that's a good argument: therefore ex∣amine upon what ground it is that your spirit is against such things, whether it be upon the sight and experience of better things, then it's right: but certainly men and wo∣men Page 54 may go far in seeming to be above earthly things in respect of the sin of covetousnesse and yet still have earthlie minde; wherefore to give you convicements, besides things that have been hinted.
As how a man doth value himself and value others, is it not because that others, or your selves have much of the things of the earth? can you value a poor man that is god∣ly above the richest man that is wicked? and so, can you value your selves for the least work of grace upon your hearts to make you more excellent thā the greatest cōmings∣in of your estates? (but these things we have hinted)
And then, where lies the chief Joy and chief Sorrow of mens hearts? what's that that doth most trouble your hearts? is it the losse of the light of the face of God, or the losse of an estate, the losse of a voyage, or the commission of a sin? So, what's your chief Joy, your profitting by the word, or gaining by your bargains? you have come to the word, and there somtimes God hath reveal'd some truth to you, and you have profited; can you go away rejoycing because God hath made you to know his Law, the Lord hath darted some truth into my soul this morning, Oh! I go away rejoycing, and having my heart fil'd with more joy than ever I have had upon any bargain wherein I have got never so much of the world: These be two convince∣ments we hinted not before.
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.
CHAP. IV. Seven Reasons of mens Earthly-mindedness.
I Shall now proceed unto the Reasons of the Point, Why is it that mens hearts are so much set upon the earth, to mind earthly things. I give you briefly these Reasons for it.
First, The things of the earth appear real to them, but spiritual and heavenly things be but a notion: Now that that hath reali∣ty in it, takes with the heart most; though men are decei∣ved in this, for the Scripture speaks of spiritual things as the only real things, and earthly things as that that hath no being at all; in Prov. 23. 15. Wilt thou set thine eyes upon that which is not, (speaking of the riches of the world) it hath no reality at all in it. But in the 8. Prov. 20. 21. I lead in the way of righteousness, in the midst of the paths of Judgment: That I may cause those that love me to inherit substance; to inhe∣rit that which is, that which hath a being, othert hings they are not, the honors of the earth are but a fantasie and vain shew; you have read of Bernice and Agrippa, They * came with much Pomp, with great Fansie, so the original is: but to an earthly man these earthly things are real things, and therefore he minds them: and wisdom is a lye unto a fool.
Secondly, These things they look upon as the present necessary things, though the Scripture tels us, but of one thing that is necessiary, but yet they think that these are pre∣sent now, they may have need of heavenly things hereafter: They may have need of reconciliation with God, pardon of sin, peace of conscience, and such things, they may have need of them, that is, when they depart out of this life. Oh! the infinite folly of most hearts to think, that there is no present necessity of spiritual and heavenly things, whereas indeed, our life consists in them for the Page 65 present, This is eternal life: we may come here in this world to enjoy eternal life; but the generality of people they look upon all spiritual things only as our good for the future, when we go from hence and are seen no more.
Thirdly, These things are most sutable to mens hearts. It's no wonder that they mind earthly things; They are of the earth, and from the earth, they have nothing but the * first Adam in them; now the first man was from the earth earthly. The truth is, the happiness of mans estate even in innocency in the morning of the day of his creation in comparison of the things that are now reveal'd by the Gospel, was but earthly: take man when he was in Para∣dice, that Paradice was but earthly: but then take man in his fallen and corrupt estate then he must needs be earthly, and every thing closes with that that is sutable to it: com∣fort, it doth not come so much from the goodness of a thing but from the sutablness of the object with the facultie. Now the things of the earth, they are sutable to men that are of the earth, and therefore they mind them: the heart will abundantly run out upon that which is sutable to it.
Fourthly, These things of the earth have a very fair shew in the flesh, they have a kind of goodly appearance in the eye of sence, yea, and in the eye of that reason that is now corrupted by sin; we have a most elegant expressi∣on of these earthly things, and earthly minded men ha∣ving their hearts set upon these things, it is in the 6. to the Gal. 12. verse, As many as desire to make a fair shew in the flesh saith the Scripture, the words are to signifie when a man looks smug and neat, as you shall have some men dresse themselves curiously, and having handsom bodys they look so trim, fine, handsom, and very brave to the eye of all that do behold them. So saith he, these men that are the false teachers, they desire to make a fair shew in the flesh, that is, they look upon the things of the flesh as those things that are very brave to the eye, and they love to have all things so compleat about them, that they may look smug, and carry themselves with such beauty before the Page 66 world; Oh! this is their happiness, this they take content in, they seem to have fine estates, and to have brave cloa∣thing, and all curious things about them, this looks so brave in the eyes of the world, and therefore it is that their hearts are upon them, they are here enemies to the Crosse of Christ, they think suffering for Christ, poverty, disgrace looks but untowardly. But now, those that desire to make a fair shew in the flesh, that would have their counte∣nances well wash'd, fair, and beautiful wheresoever they come, and be as sombody in the world, these do thus and thus, these forsake the truths of God, and seek to pro∣vide for themselves in the things of the flesh.
Fiftly, Men naturally never knew better things than the things of the earth: and therefore no marvel though they mind earthly things so much: Children that are born in a dungeon and never knew any better place, they can play up and down in the dungeon: So it is with men that never knew what the things of heaven and eternal life meant, they can mind earthly things better than those: but when once the Lord opens the eyes of their understan∣dings to see into the reality, excellency, and glory of spiri∣tual things, they then wonder at their former blindness in minding such poor, low, mean foolish rattles, as the things of the earth are.
Sixtly, There are earthly principles continually dropt into men by converse with other men that are men of the earth: 49. Psal. 11. and 13. Their inward thoughts is, that their houses shall continue for ever, and their dwelling place to all gene∣rations, they call their lands after their own names. Their hearts are set upon these things, then in the 13. verse, This their way is their folly, yet their posterity approve their sayings. They are applauded by men, they see that every body do applaud them in these waies, and when they converse one with another, they do converse about the things of the earth, and the common example of men, they see every bo∣dy following the things of the earth, and are greedy after these toyes, and that likewise doth incline their minds to the things of the earth.
Page 67 Lastly, The sensible experience they have had of the sweetnesse that there is in the things of the earth: This is that that takes off their minds from spiritual things, and makes them to mind the things of the earth.
But though these be the reasons why men do thus mind the things of the earth, and an earthly-minded man blesses himself in his way, and thinks he hath good reason for what he doth, and thinks all men fools that do not grovel in the ground like a mole with himself, and looks upon the matter of Religion but as meer words and talk, let them do what they will, I find contentment here: yet cer∣tainly at length it will prove folly, this their way, as the holy Ghost saith in the 49 Psal. This their way it is but their folly, and in the end the wise men of the earth, those that have sought the things of the earth, and blesse themselves in their way, they will prove to be the greatest fools, the holy Ghost accounts them so: In the 17. of Jere. 11. verse, As the Partridge sitteth on eggs and hatcheth them not, so he that getteth riches and not by right, shall leave them in the midst of his daies, and at his end shall be a fool. He applauds himself for the present in what he hath got, but at the end he shall be a fool.
NOW the main thing that is still behind in the Point, It is therefore to endeavour to take off the minds of men and women from the things of this earth, that so by it I may make preparation to the next Point, which is of infinite concernment, The Conversations in Heaven. But because their conversations cannot be in Heaven till their minds be taken off from the earth, till the disease of Earthly-mindednesse be cur'd; therefore we must now propound those things that may help to take off the minds of men from the earth.
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.
CHAP. VII. EXHORTATION.
OH! considering what hath been delivered, I be∣seech you lay it seriously to heart, especially you that are yong beginners in the way of Religion, Page 82 lest it proves with you as it doth with many that are dig∣ging of Veins of gold and silver under ground; that while they are digging in those mines for riches, the earth many times fals upon them and buries them, so that they never come up out of the mine again: and so it is with many that are beginning in the way of Religion, that are dig∣ging in the mines of Salvation, for unsearchable riches, for that that is abundantly better than gold and silver; now while you are thus seeking for grace and godliness, Oh take heed that you be not covered with the earth while you are digging in the world, but keep wide open some place to Heaven, or otherwise if you dig too deep there will come up damps, if the earth falls not upon you, yet I say, there will be damps rise from the earth that may choak you, if there be not a wide space open that you may let the air that comes from heaven in to you. Those that are dig∣ging into Mines they are very careful to leave the place o∣pen for fresh air to come in; and so, though thou maiest follow thy calling, and do the work that God sets thee here for as others do, be as diligent in thy calling as any, yet still keep a passage open to Heaven, that there may be fresh gales of grace come into thy soul, if at any time thou beest got into the world, if thou spendest one day and hast not some spiritual air from Heaven, take heed, there's a damp coming up that will choak thee. Oh! that Christians would consider of this while they are here below! I re∣member I have read of Austin in his Comment upon the 72. Psal the 19. vers. saith the text, They that dwell in the wilder∣ness shall bow before him, and his enemies shall lick the dust: He in a wittie way applied it to earthlie-minded men, saith he, If you do so lick the dust, by this you will come to be ac∣counted one of the enemies of God. It's true, the scope of the place is different, but take heed that in this metaphori∣cal sence that you do not lick the dust and so come to be ac∣counted an enemie to God. You that would be accounted as friends and seek reconciliation with God, Oh do not lick the dust, to be alwaies here as Moles upon the earth, Page 85 they say Moles, though they be blind, yet if they be with∣out the earth then their eyes are opened, and then they shake and tremble: and so though the earth may close the eyes of men here for a while, yet certainly there will be a day when their eyes shall be opened, to see how they have gul'd and deceiv'd themselves. And now it's worse too in the time of the Gospel to be earthly-minded than at other times, it was not such an evil thing to be an earthly min∣ded man in the time of the Law, when all the promises of God were carried in a kind of earthly way. Though I do not say that all promises that were made to them under the Law were meer earthly, but they were carried in an earth∣ly way; therefore you shall find when God promises his people in the time of the Law what great mercies they shall have, it is by earthly expressions, as of gold and silver and such kind of things, and their promises for Heaven it went under the expression of living in the Land of Canaan as be∣ing a type of Heaven, now though they were taken with earthly things when God reveal'd himself to them in an earthly manner; yet now in the time of the Gospel, lift up your hearts for your calling is from above, now there are Heavenly things revealed, he that is from above is come amongst us, and the Heavens are broken open, and the glory of it doth shine upon the Churches in a far more brighter manner than it did before. And therfore Gospel∣light doth aggravate the sin of earthly-mindednesse, and therefore now above all times should the hearts of men and women be disingaged from the things of the earth.
CHAP. VII. Five Directions how to get our hearts freed from Earthly∣mindedness.
FIrst, To that end be watchful over your thoughts, do not take liberty to let your hearts run too far in the things of the earth, what time you have for me∣ditation let it be as much as can be reserved for spi∣ritual things; most men and women think they may take liberty in their thoughts; why the thing in its self is not unlawful, I but your thoughts will steal upon you and af∣fect your hearts very much: therefore watch narrowly o∣ver your thoughts, keep them within Scripture bounds.
The Second Direction
Be much humbled for sin, That will take off the heart much from earthly-mindedness. Your earthly-minded men, who have earthly and drossie hearts, they have not known what the weight and burden of sin hath meant, let God but lay the weight and burden of sin upon the soul, it will take off the soul from earthly things quickly; Oh! those men that have gone on in the world in a secure condi∣tion, and never knew what trouble of conscience meant for sin, they grow seer'd in those earthly Contentments; but now those men that have had but the weight of sin lie upon them, know what it is to have to deal with an infinite God, in the bearing of the burden of the wrath of an incensed Deity, such know, that they have other things to look after than the things of the earth: If God did but humble your hearts, the humiliation of your spirits would quicken you, and take off the dulness and deadness of your spirits, and stir you up to look after other things than the things of this life.
The Third Direction.
Further, Set the example of the Saints before you, that have been the most precious servants of God, in former times; how they accounted themselves as Pilgrims and strangers here in the earth: read at your leisure that Scrip∣ture in the 11 of the Heb. at the 13. verse, These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them a∣far off, and were perswaded of them, and imbraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth: and mark therefore how it follows in the 37. verse, They were stoned, they were sawn asunder were tempted, were slain with the sword, they wandred about in sheeps-skins and goats-skins, be∣ing destitute, afflicted, tormented. Who were these? They were they of whom the world was no tworthy, They wan∣dered in deserts, and in Mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth: and yet such precious Saints of God as the world was not worthy of. Now when we set before us how joyfully these servants of the most high went through all their wil∣dernesse condition, this should make us ashamed of our earthly-mindedness, and would be a mighty help to us.
The Fourth Direction.
And then if we consider the great accompt that we are to give for all earthly things; you only look upon the comfort of them, but consider the account you must give for them: this would be a means to take off the heart from earthly-mindednesse: And consider, what if you were now to die, and to go the way of all flesh, what good would it be to me to remember what contentments and pleasures I had in the earth?
The fifth Direction.
But above all, the setting Jesus Christ before you, and Page 88 the meditating of the death of Jesus Christ: (I say) that's the great thing that wil take off the heart from the things of the earth: The looking upon Christ Crucified; how he that was the Lord of Heaven and Earth, yet what a low condition he put Himself into, meerly for the redeeming of us! The conversing much with the death of Jesus Christ deads the heart much to the world. In the 3. to the Philip∣pians we have a notable text for that, in the example of Paul, he accounted all things as dung and drosse for Jesus Christ: at the 8. verse, I account all things but loss for the ex∣cellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the liss of all things, and do count them but DƲNG that I may win Christ. And then in the 19. verse, That I may know Him, and the power of his Resnrrection, and the fellowship of His Sufferings being made conformable unto his Death. Paul desired to be so conformable to the very Death of Christ, that he accounted all things in the world but as dung and drosse in comparison of that; Paul had the death of Christ before his eyes, and meditated much on the death of Christ, and that meditation had a great impression upon his spirit, that made him account all these things as drosse, as dogs meat in comparison, and that he might have fellowship with the death of Christ, Perhaps some of you may think of the glory of Christ in Heaven, and that may for the present make you lesse worldly; but let me intreat you to meditate on the death of Christ, and know that there is an excellen∣cie in Conformity even to the death of Christ, such an Ex∣cellency that may take off your hearts from the things of the world. It's said of the King of France, that he asking one once about an Eclypse, saith he, I have so much busi∣nesse in the earth, that I take little notice of the things of Heaven.
Oh my Brethren! for the close of all, I beseech you let not this be said concerning any of you, that you have such and such worldly imployments, that you cannot enquire after Jesus Christ. Plead not that you have such great bu∣sinesse, that you have so much to do in this earth that you Page 89 take little notice of the things of Heaven; no, surely, the Saints of God have their businesse in Heaven, (as we shall see God willing hereafter:) Their City Business, their Tra∣ding, their Aims, their Bent, it is higher than the things of this earth. There are things that a man may let out his thoughts and affections too as much as he wil: This shews the vanity of the things af this world, that a man had need be very wary how much he minds them, he cannot enjoy the comforts of this earth without some fear: but now, when he comes to converse with Heaven, there he may let out himself to the uttermost; that shews the excellency of these things. And you that are but poor and mean in the things of this earth, be not discomforted, because there is a charg from God that men should not mind these things; surely there is no great matter in them, as God charges that we should not mind them: Oh the excellency it lies in things above which are heavenly and spiritual, where the Saints have their conversation. But of this more at large in this following Treatise of Heavenly Conversation.