The vanity of thovghts discovered with their danger and cvre. By Tho: Goodvvin, B.D.
Goodwin, Thomas, 1600-1680.

Remedies against vaine Thoughts.

THe first is to get the heart furnished and en∣riched with a good stocke of sanctified and heavenly knowledge in spirituall and heavenly truths: For a good man (saith Christ) hath a good treasure in his Heart, Matt. 13. 35. that is, hee hath all graces, so many precious truths which are as Gold in the Ore, which his thoughts, as the Mint, doth coine and Page  117 beat out, and which words bring forth. A good man, out of the good treasure of his heart, brings forth good things. If therefore there bee not Mines of precious truths hid in the heart, no wonder if our thoughts coyne nothing but drosse, frothy vaine thoughts, for want of better materialls which should feed the Mint, are wanting. There∣fore Solomon saith, Wicked men forge, mint, or ham∣mer wickednesse, Pro. 6. 14. so Iunius reads it: or if men have store of naturall knowledge, and want spi∣rituall usefull knowledge, to themselves; although in company with others, they may bring forth good Page  118 things in speeches, yet when alone, their thoughts runne not on them. For this, take a place of Scrip∣ture, Deut. 6. 6, 7. which shewes, that laying up the Word in the heart, and be∣ing much conversant in it, and getting knowledge out of it, is an effectuall meanes to keepe our thoughts well exercised when wee are alone: for the end why these words are commanded to bee laid up in the heart, ver. 5, 6. is, as to teach them to others, so, to take up our thoughts when we are most retired, and alone, and when a man can doe nothing, but bare∣ly exercise his minde, in thinking; for when a man Page  119 is a riding, or walking, or lying downe, and rising up, (which are often and usual∣ly our most retired times for thoughts, & are whol∣ly spent in them, for many ride alone, and lie alone, &c.) yet then, saith hee, thou shalt talk of the Word: which command he that is alone cannot do, therefore the talking there meant is not onely 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, outward conference with o∣thers (though intended) as to talke to thy bed-fellow of it, and to thy compani∣on: but suppose thou hast none, then to talke of it to thy selfe, for thoughts are 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, talking of the minde; and so comparing Prov. 6. 22. with this place Page  120 (which will fitly interpret it) it appeares; for Solomon exhorting to the same du∣ty of Binding the Word to the heart, useth this mo∣tive, which is the fruit thereof, That when thou a∣wakest, it shall talke with thee, that is, by thy think∣ing of it, it will talke with thee when thou and it art alone: So as thou shalt not need a better companion, it will bee putting in and suggesting some thing.

Secondly, endeavour to preserve and keep up live∣ly, holy, and spirituall af∣fections in thy heart, and suffer them not to coole; Fall not from thy first love, nor feare, nor joy in God; or if thou hast growne re∣misse, Page  121 endeavour to reco∣ver those affections again. For such as your affections are, such necessarily must your thoughts be: and they encline the minde to think of such or such objects as will please them, rather than others; therefore sayes David, Psal. 119. 97. How doe I love thy Law! it is my meditation day and night. It was his love to it made him thinke of it so frequently. So Mal. 3. 16. Those that feared the Lord, and thought upon his Name, are joyned: For what we feare wee often thinke of, and also speake of often; therefore it is added; They spake of one to another; feare made them thinke much of Page  122 his name, and thinking of it made them speake of it: such affection, such thoughts, and such speeches, as they both are. And indeede thoughts and affections are Sibi mutuo causae, the mu∣tuall causes of each other: Whilest I mused, the fire bur∣ned, Psalm. 39. so that thoughts are the bellowes that kindle and enflame affections: and then if they are enflamed, they cause thoughts to boile, therefore men newly con∣verted to God, having new and strong affections, can with more pleasure thinke of God than any.

Thirdly, of all appre∣hensions else, get thy heart possessed with deep, strong Page  123 and powerfull apprehensi∣ons and impressions of Gods Holiness, Majestie, Omnipresence, and Omnisci∣ence. If any thoughts bee of power to settle, fixe, and draw in the minde of man, they are the thoughts of him. What is the reason that the Saints and Angels in Heaven have not a vaine thought to eternity, not a wry stroke, his presence fixeth them, their eie is ne∣ver off him? Take a wan∣ton garish loose spirit, let him be but in the presence of a Superiour whom hee feares and reverenceth, and it consolidates him. Iob made therefore consci∣ence of his thoughts, that hee durst not looke awry, Page  124Iob 31. 1, 2. because God sees it, saith hee. This drew in and fastned Davids thoughts, Psal. 139. from the first to the twelfth, he manifests what continuall apprehension hee had of Gods Greatnesse, Majesty, and Omnipresence; and what effect had this? When I awake I am even before thee, verse 17. Looke what objects they are, have most strong and deepe impressi∣ons in the minde, of those when a man awaketh, hee thinkes of first. Now such strong impressions had Da∣vids thoughts of God, that still when hee awaked, hee was with him, and there∣fore wee finde it by expe∣rience to bee a meanes to Page  125 avoid distractions in pray∣ers, to enlarge a mans thoughts in his preparati∣ons before, or at the beginning with a considerati∣on of Gods attributes and relations to us: and it will and doth make us serious.

Fourthly, especially do this when thou awakest, as David did there, when I a∣wake I am still with thee: to prevent winde which ari∣seth from emptinesse, men use to take a good draught in the morning, which the stomacke feeds; so to pre∣vent those vaine, windy, frothy thoughts the heart naturally ingenders, and which arise from empti∣nesse; first fill thy heart with the thoughts of God; Page  126Goe downe into his Wine∣celler: observe it when you will, when you first open your eyes, there stand ma∣ny suitors attending on you, to speake with your thoughts, even as Cliants at Lawyers doores, many vanities and businesses; but speake thou with God first, hee will say something to thy heart, will settle it for all day: and this doe be∣fore the croud of busines∣ses come in upon thee. Of some Heathens it is said that they worship that as their God, for all day, which they first see in the morning; so it is with the idols of mens hearts.

Fiftly, have a watchfull eye, and observe thy heart Page  127 all day, though they croud in, yet observe them, let them know that they passe not unseene; if a man would pray aright, he must watch also, who comes in, and who goes out: where strict watch and ward is kept, and Magistrates ob∣servant, the Marshall and Constable diligent to exa∣mine vagrant persons, you shall have few there; that such swarmes of vagrant thoughts make their ren∣devous, and passe, is be∣cause there is not strict watch kept.

This is in a manner all thou canst doe, for they will passe however, but yet complaine thou of them, whip them, and give Page  128 them their passe.

Sixtly, please not thy fancy too much with vani∣ties and curious sights, this engenders vaine thoughts; therefore Iob sayes, Chap. 31. vers. 1. That hee made a covenant with his eyes, lest he should thinke of a Maide, Prov. 4. 25. Let thine eyes looke right on.

Seventhly, bee diligent in thy calling, and what thine hand findes to doe, doe it with all thy might, as it is, Ecclesiastes 9. 10. that is, putting to all the intention and strength of the minde that may bee in it. Let all the streame runne to turne about thy Mill; the keep∣ing thy thoughts to that channell, keeps them from Page  129 overflowing into vanity and folly, 2 Thes. 3. 11. Those that labour not are bu∣sie bodies. And 1 Tim. 5. 13. Idle, wandring,〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, they are not onely called 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, Idle only, because not busie about what they should, but 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, as intent on things they should not; they goe from house to house: so their bodies do, because their mindes doe wander, having no center. When David walked a∣lone, what extravagancy did his spirit run into? let the ground lye fallow, and what weeds will there soone grow in it? God hath appointed us our cal∣lings to entertaine our thoughts, and to finde Page  130 them worke, and to hold them doing in the interims, between the duties of his worship, because the spi∣rit and thoughts of men are restlesse, and will bee busied some way; as ther∣fore Kings keep those men that have active spirits in continual imployment, lest their heads should be wor∣king and plotting amisse: so did God appoint even in Paradise the active spirit of man, a calling to keepe him doing. God hereby hedgeth in mans thoughts, and sets them to goe in a narrow lane, knowing that if they are unconfined and left at liberty, they would like wilde Asses snuffe up the winde, as Ieremy speaks, Page  131Ieremy 2. 24. onely take heed of encumbring thy minde with too much bu∣sinesse, more than thou canst graspe. It made Mar∣tha forget that one thing necessary, being cumbred with many things, Luke 10. 4. this breeds care 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, which distracts the minde, (so the word signifies 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, as dividing it, and so causeth wandering thoughts nothing more, so that the minde is not it selfe. For this weakens it, enervates it, and this be∣ing vanity, Exod. 18. 18. said Iethro to Moses, when encombred with business, Thou wilt fade away as a leafe, out of which the moisture is dryed up, even Page  132 that juyce which should be left for good duties will be exhausted: as dreames come through multitude of businesse, Eccles. 5. 3. so do a multitude of thoughts from a cumber of business.

Eightly, in thy calling, and all thy wayes, for the successe and thy wayes therein, Commit thy wayes to God, Prov. 16. 3. Commit thy way unto the Lord, and thy thoughts shall be establi∣shed, or ordered: that is, kept from that confusion and disorder, and those swarms of cares, which others are annoyed with: and thereby thy aimes may bee as well accomplished: a few thoughts of faith would save us many thoughts of Page  133 cares and feares, in the bu∣sinesses wee goe about, which prove therefore vaine, because they for∣ward not at all the businesse wee intend. When such waves tosse the heart and turmoile it, and the windes of passions are up, if a few thoughts of faith come into the heart, they calm all presently.