THE VANITY OF THOVGHTS.
JEREM. 4. 14.
IN these words hee compares the heart unto some house of common resort, made as Page 2 it were with many and large roomes to entertaine and lodge multitudes of Guests in; into which, be∣fore conversion, all the vaine, light, wanton, pro∣phane, dissolute thoughts, that poste up and downe the World (as your thoughts doe) and runne riot all the day, have free, open accesse, the heart keeps open house to them, gives them willing, cheer∣full welcome, and enter∣tainment; accompanies, them, travels o're all the world for the daintiest pleasures to feed them with; Lodgeth, harbours them, and there they, like unruly Gallants, and roy∣sters, lodge, and revell it Page 3 day and night, and defile those roomes they lodge in, with their loathsome filth and vomits. How long, sayes the Lord, shall they lodge therein? Whilst I with my Spirit, my Sonne, and traine of graces, stand at the doore and knock, Rev. 3. 20. and cannot finde admittance; of all which filthinesse, &c. the Heart this house must be washed; wash thy heart from wicked∣nesse. Washt, not swept onely of grosser evills (as Matth. 12. 43. the house, (the uncleane spirit re-en∣ters into) is said to bee swept of evills that lay loose and uppermost) but washt, and clensed of those defilements which sticke Page 4 more close, and are incor∣porated, and wrought in, into the Spirit. And 2. those vaine and unruly guests must bee turned out of doores, without any warning, they have staid there long enough; too long; How long? and the time past may suffice, as the Apostle speaks, they must lodge there no more. The house, the soule is not in conversion to bee puld downe, but onely these guests turned out; and though kept out they can∣not be, they will still enter whilst wee are in these houses of clay, yet lodge they must not: if thoughts of anger and revenge come in, in the morning or Page 5 day time, they must bee turned out e're night, Let not the Sunne goe downe up∣on your wrath, Ephes. 4. 26. For so you may come to lodge yet a worser guest in your heart with them: Give not place to the Devil, (for it followes) who will bring seven worse with him. If uncleane thoughts offer to come to bed to thee, when thou liest downe, let them not lodge with thee. To conclude, it is not what thoughts are in your hearts, and passe through them, as what lodging they have, that doth diffe∣rence your repentance: many good thoughts and motions may passe, as Strangers thorow a bad Page 6 mans heart; and so like∣wise multitudes of vaine thoughts may make a thorow-fare of a belee∣vers heart, and disturbe him in good duties, by knockings and interrupti∣ons, and breakings in up∣on the heart of a good man; but still they lodge not there; are not foste∣red, harboured.
My scope in our ordi∣nary course is, to discover the wickednesse and vani∣tie of the heart by nature: in the heart we are yet but in the upper parts of it, the understanding, and the de∣filements thereof, which are to bee washt out of it, and the next defilement, which in my broken or∣der Page 7 I meane to handle, is that which is here specifi∣ed, the vanity of your thoughts: for the discove∣ry sake of which onely, I chose this Text, as my ground; That is it, there∣fore, which I will chiefly insist upon. A subject which, I confesse, would prove of all else the vast∣est. To make an exact particular discovery of the vanities in our thoughts, to travell over the whole Creation, and to take a survey, and give an account of all that va∣nity abounds in all the creatures, was (as you know) the taske of the wisest of men, Solomon; the flowre of his studies Page 8 and labours: But the vani∣tie of our thoughts, are as multiplied much in us; this little world affoords more varieties of vanities, than the Great. Our thoughts made the crea∣tures subject to vanitie, Rom. 8. 20. therfore them∣selves are subject to vani∣ty much more. In hand∣ling of them I will shew you, 1. What is meant by Thoughts. 2. What by va∣nity. 3. That our thoughts are vaine. 4. Wherein that vanity doth consist, both in the generall, and some particulars.
First, what is meant by thoughts, especially as they are the intended sub∣ject of this discourse, Page 9 which in so vast an argu∣ment I must necessarily set limits unto: 1. By thoughts, the Scriptures do comprehend all the inter∣nall acts of the minde of man, of what faculty soever, all those reaso∣nings, consultations, pur∣poses, resolutions, in∣tents, ends, desires, and cares of the minde of man, as opposed to our external words and actions, so Isay 66. 18. All acts are divi∣ded into those two, I know their workes and their thoughts: what is trans∣acted within the minde, is called the thoughts; what thereof do manifest them∣selves, and breake out in actions, are called workes.Page 10 And so Genes. 6. 5. Eve∣ry imagination of the thoughts, (omne figmen∣tum) all the creatures the minde frames within it selfe, purposes, desires, &c. (as it is noted in the mar∣gin) are evill; where by thoughts are understood all that comes within the minde, (as Ezech. 11. 5. the phrase is) and so indeed we vulgarly use it, and un∣derstand it, so To remem∣ber a man, is, to thinke of him, Gen. 40. 14. to have purposed a thing, we say, I thought to doe it. To take care about a businesse, is to take thought, 1 Sam. 9. 5. And the reason, why all may thus bee called the thoughts, is, because in∣deed Page 11 all affections, desires, purposes, are stirred up by thoughts, bred, fomented, and nourished by them: no one thought passeth, but it stirreth some affecti∣on of feare, joy, care, grief, &c. No, although they are thus largely taken here, yet I intend not to handle the vanity of them in so large a sense at pre∣sent: I must confine my selfe, as strictly as may be, to the vanity of that, which is more properly called the thinking, medi∣tating, considering power of man, which is in his un∣derstanding or spirit, that being the subject I have in hand: Thoughts not being in this sense opposed one∣ly Page 12 to your workes, but unto purposes and intents, so Hebr. 4. 12. as the soule and spirit, so thoughts and intents seeme to bee oppo∣sed. And Iob 20. 2, 3. Thoughts are appropriated to the Spirit of understan∣ding. And againe yet more strictly, for in the understanding I meane not to speake of, generally, all thoughts therein, neither, as not of the reasonings or deliberations in our acti∣ons: but those musings onely in the Speculative part.
And so, I can no other∣wise expresse them to you, than thus. Those same first, more simple conceits, apprehensions that Page 13 arise; those fancies, medi∣tations, which the under∣standing by the helpe of fancy frames within it selfe of things; those whereon your mindes ponder and pore, and muse upon things, these I meane by thoughts, I meane those talkings of our mindes with the things wee know, as the Scripture calls it, Prov. 6. 22. those same parleys, enterviews, chat∣tings, the minde hath with the things let into it, with the things wee feare, with the things wee love. For all these things our mindes make their com∣panions, and our thoughts hold them discourse, and have a thousand conceits Page 14 about them; this I meane by thoughts. For besides that reasoning power, deli∣berating power, whereby wee aske our selves conti∣nually, what shall wee doe? and whereby wee reason and discusse things, which is a more inward closet, the Cabinet and privie councell of the heart, there is a more outward lodging, that presence chamber, which enter∣taines all commers, which is the thinking, meditating, musing power in man, which suggesteth matter for deliberations, and con∣sultations, and reasonings, which holds the objects till we view them, which en∣tertaineth all that come to Page 15 speake with any of our af∣fections.
2. I adde, which the minde frames within it self, so the Scripture expresseth their originall to us, and their maner of rising, Prov. 6. 14. Frowardnesse is in his heart, fabricatur, hee forgeth mischiefe, as a Smith doth Iron, ham∣mers it out: and the thoughts are the materi∣alls of this frowardnesse in us; upon all the things which are presented to us, the minde begets some thoughts, imaginations on them; and as lusts, so thoughts are conceived, Iames 1. Isay 59. 4. They conceive mischiefe, and bring forth iniquitie, and Page 16 hatch Cochatrice egges, and weave Spiders webbes. And verse 7. hee instanceth in thoughts of iniquity, be∣cause our thoughts are spunne out of our owne hearts, are egges of our owne laying, though the things presented to us bee from without.
And this I adde to sever them from such thoughts as are injected, and cast in, onely from without▪ which are children of an∣others begetting, and of∣ten laid out of doores: such as are blasphemous thoughts cast in by Satan, wherein if the soule bee meerely passive, (as the word Buffeting implies, 2 Cor. 12. 7.) they are none Page 17 of your thoughts, but his; wherein a man is but as one in a roome with ano∣ther, where he heares ano∣ther sweare and curse, but cannot get out from him; such thoughts, if they bee onely from without, defile not a man. For nothing defiles a man, but what comes from within, Matth. 15. 18, 19. or which the heart hath begotten upon it by the devil, as thoughts of uncleannes, &c. Where∣in though he be the father, yet the heart is the mo∣ther and wombe; and therfore accordingly they affect the heart, as naturall children doe, and by that wee may distinguish them from the other, namely, Page 18 when we have a soft heart, an inward love unto them, so that our hearts doe kisse the childe, then they are our thoughts, or else when the heart broods upon these egges, then they are our thoughts, though they come from without.
Though this is to bee added, that even those thoughts, wherein the soule is passive, and which Satan casts in, which wee do no wayes owne, where∣in hee ravisheth the heart, rather than begets them on us, (if there bee not any consent to them in us, then it is but a Rape, as in law it is not) I yeeld those thoughts are punish∣ments often of neglect of Page 19 our thoughts, and of our suffering them to wander; as Dinah, because she went cunningly out, to view the Daughters of the land, was taken and ravish't, though against her will: yet it was a punishment of her curio∣sity: or else they are the punishment of the neglect of good motions of the spirit; which resisting, we thereby grieve him, and so he deales with us, as wee with our children, suffers us to bee scared with bug∣beares, and to bee grieved by Satan, that wee may learne what it is to neg∣lect him, and harbour vanity. Lastly, I adde, which the minde, in and by it selfe, or by the helpe of Page 20 fancy, thus begets and en∣tertaines, because there are no thoughts or like∣nesses of things at any time in our fancies, but at the same time they are in the understanding also re∣flected unto it: As when two Looking-glasses are placed opposite and nigh each to other, looke what species appeares in the one, doe also in the o∣ther.
Secondly, let us see what vanity is, take it in all the acceptations of it; It is true of our thoughts that they are vaine.
1. It is taken for unpro∣fitableness. So Eccles. 1. 2, 3. All is vanitie, because there is no profit in them Page 21 under the Sunne, such are our thoughts by nature, the wisest of them will not stand us in any stead in time of need, in time of temptati∣on, distresse of consci∣ence, day of death or Judgement, 1 Corin. 2. 6. All the wisedome of the wise comes to nought, Pro. 10. 20. The heart of the wicked is little worth, not a penny for them all, whereas the thoughts of a godly man are his trea∣sure: Out of the good trea∣sure of his heart, hee brings them forth. He mints them, and they are laid up as his riches. Psal. 138. 17. How pretious are they? he there speakes of our thoughts of Page 22 God, as the object of them thy thoughts, that is, (of thee) are precious.
2. Vanitie is taken for lightnesse. Lighter than vanity is a phrase used, Psal. 62. 9. and whom is it spoken of? of men, and if any thing in them be ligh∣ter than other, it is their thoughts which swim in the uppermost parts, float at the top, is as the scum of the heart; when all the best and wisest, and dee∣pest, and solidest thoughts in Balthazar a Prince, were weighed, they were found too light, Dan. 5. 17.
3. Vanity is put for fol∣ly. So Prov. 12. 11. Vaine men, is made all one with men void of understan∣ding.Page 23 Such are our thoughts among other e∣vills which are said to come out of the heart, Mark. 7. 22. 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 is rec∣koned as one, foolishnesse, that is, thoughts that are such as mad men have, and fooles, nothing to the pur∣pose, of which there can bee made no use, which a man knowes not whence they should come, nor whither they would, with∣out dependance.
4. It is put for Incon∣stancy, and frailty, there∣fore vanity and a shadow are made Synonomaes, Psal. 144. 4. such are our thoughts, flitting and peri∣shing, as bubbles, Ps. 146. 4 All their thoughts perish.
Page 24 Lastly, they are vaine, that is, indeed, wicked and sinfull; vanity in the Text here, is yoaked with wic∣kedness: and vaine men, and sonnes of Belial are all one, 2 Chron. 13. 17. And such are our thoughts by na∣ture. Prov. 24. 9. The thought of foolishnesse is sinne. And therefore a man is to bee humbled for a proud thought, Prov. 30. 32. For so laying hand on the mouth is taken, as Iob 39. 37. for being vile in a mans owne eyes.
And because this is the sense I chiefly must insist on, in handling the vanity of the thoughts, and also men usually thinke that thoughts are free; I will Page 25 therefore prove this to you, which is the onely Doctrine raised, that Thoughts are sinnes.
1. The Law judgeth them, Hebr. 4. 12. rebukes a man for them, 1 Cor. 14. 25. and therefore they are transgressions of the Law: and so also did Christ re∣buke the Pharisees for their ill thoughts, Mat. 9. 4. which argues the excel∣lency of the Law, that rea∣cheth thoughts.
2. Because they are Ca∣pable of pardon, and must be pardoned, or wee can∣not be saved, Acts 8. 22. which argues the multi∣tudes of Gods compassions, seeing thoughts are so in∣finite.
Page 26 3. They are to bee re∣pented of, yea repentance is expressed, as to begin at them. So Esay 55. 7. Let the unrighteous man for sake his thoughts; and a man is ne∣ver truely and throughly wrought on, (as 2 Cor. 10. 4, 5.) till every thought be brought into obedience; which argues that they are naturally rebellious, and contrary to grace. And this also argueth the Power of grace, which is a∣ble to rule and to subdue so great an Army as our thoughts are, and com∣mand them all, as one day it will doe, when wee are perfectly holy.
4. They defile the man: which nothing defiles but Page 27 sinne, Matt. 15. 15, 16, 17. Out of the heart proceed e∣vill thoughts, these defile the man.
5. They are an abomi∣nation to the Lord, who hates nothing but sinne, and whose pure eyes can en∣dure to behold no iniquity, Prov. 15. 16. as good Me∣ditations are acceptable, Psal. 25. ult. so by the rule of contrary, bad are abo∣minable.
6. They hinder all good wee should doe, and spoile our best performances. Vaine thoughts draw the heart away in them, that when a man should draw nigh to God, his Heart, by reason of his thoughts, is farre off from him, Esay Page 28 29. 16. A mans heart goes after his covetousnesse, when hee should heare, as the Prophet speakes, be∣cause his thoughts thus run. Now nothing else but sinne could separate, and what doth estrange us from God, is sinne, and enmity to him.
7. Our thoughts are the first motioners of all the e∣vill in us. For they make the motion, and also bring the heart and object toge∣ther; are panders to our lusts, hold up the object, till the heart hath plaid the adulterer with it, and committed folly, so in speculative uncleanness, & in other lusts, they hold up the images of those Page 29 gods they create, which the heart falls downe and worships; they present credit, riches, beauty, till the heart hath worshipt them, and this when the things themselves are ab∣sent.
To come now to those Particulars wherein this vanity of the thinking, me∣ditating power of the minde consists.
First, I will discover it in regard of thinking what is good, how unable and loth, &c. it is to good thoughts; and secondly, in regard of the readinesse of it to think of evill and vaine things.
For the first, first in a want of ability ordinarily, and naturally to raise and Page 30 extract holy and usefull considerations & thoughts from all ordinary occur∣rencies, and occasions; which the minde, so farre as it is sanctified, is apt un∣to. A heart sanctified, and in whose affections true grace is enkindled, out of all Gods dealings with him, out of the things he sees and heares, out of all the objects are put into the thoughts he distilleth ho∣ly, and sweet, and usefull meditations: and it natu∣rally doth it, and ordina∣rily doth it, so farre as it is sanctified. So our Saviour Christ, all speeches of o∣thers which hee heard, all accidents and occurrences did still raise and occasion Page 31 in him heavenly medi∣tations, as wee may see throughout the whole Gospels: when he came by a well, hee speakes of the Water of life, Iohn 4, &c. Many instances might bee given; He in his thoughts translated the book of the creatures, into the booke of grace, and so did Adams heart in innocency: his Philosophy might be truely termed Divinity, because hee saw God in all; all rai∣sed up his heart to thank∣fulness and praise: So now in like manner our mindes, so farre as they are sancti∣fied, will doe. As the Phi∣losophers-stone turnes all Metals into Gold; As the Bee sucks honey out Page 32 of every flower, and a good stomack sucks out some sweet and wholsome nourishment out of what it takes unto it selfe: so doth a holy heart, so farre as sanctified, convert and digest all into spiritual use∣full thoughts; this you may see, Psalme 107. ult. That Psalme gives many instances of Gods pro∣vidence, and wonderfull works which hee doth for the sonnes of men; as delive∣rances by Sea, where men see his wonders: delive∣rance to Captives, &c. and still the foot of the Song is, Oh that men would therefore praise the Lord for the wonderfull workes hee doth for the Page 33 sonnes of men. Now after al these instances, hee con∣cludes, that though o∣thers passe over such oc∣currences with ordinarie slight thoughts, yet sayes hee, The righteous shall see it, and rejoyce: that is, extract comfortable thoughts out of all, which shall be matter of joy, and who so is wise will observe those things, that is, makes holy observations out of all these, and out of a prin∣ciple of wisedome hee un∣derstands Gods goodness in all, and so his heart is raised to thoughts of praise, and thankfulnesse, and obedience. Now compare with this the 92. Psalme made for the Sab∣bathPage 34 (when in imitation of God, who that day view∣ed his works, wee are, on our Lords day, still to raise holy praisefull thoughts out of them to his glory, which hee that penned that Psalme then did, vers. 1. and 2. and) ver. 5. How great are thy workes, &c! A brutish man knowes not, nor will a foole understand this: that is, hee being a beast, and having no san∣ctified principle of wise∣dome in him, lookes no further than a beast into all the works of God, and occurrences of things; lookes on all blessings as things provided for mans delight by God: but hee extracts seldome holy spi∣rituall Page 35 and usefull thoughts out of all, he wants the art of doing it.
If injuries be offered us by others, what doe our thoughts distill out of those wrongs, but thoughts of revenge? we meditate how to requite it againe. But see how na∣turally Davids mind di∣stills other thoughts of Shemeis cursing, 2 Sam. 16. 11. God hath bidden him, and it may prove a good signe of Gods favor. God may requite good for it. When we see judgements befall others, severe thoughts of censure our mindes are apt to raise a∣gainst our brother, as Iobs friends did. But a godly Page 36 man whose minde is much sanctified, raiseth other thoughts out of it, Prov. 21. 22. Wisely consi∣ders, &c.
So when outward mer∣cies befall us, the next thoughts wee are apt to have, is to project ease by our wealth, thou hast goods for many yeares: and when judgements befall us, wee are apt to be fill'd with thoughts of complaint, and feares, and cares how to winde out againe. But what were the first thoughts Iob had, upon the newes of the losse of all? God hath given, and the Lord hath taken, blessed be the Lord for all.
Such thoughts as these Page 37 (which all opportunities hint unto) a good heart is apprehensive of, and doth naturally raise for its owne use. So farre Barren as our thoughts are, so farre vaine.
Secondly, the vanitie, and sinfulnesse of the minde appeares in a loath∣nesse to entertaine holy thoughts, to begin to set it selfe to thinke of God, and the things belonging unto our peace; even as loath they are to this as Schoole-boyes are to goe to their Books, or to busie their mindes about their lessons, their heads being full of play; so loath are our mindes to enter into serious considerations, in∣to Page 38 to sad solemne thoughts of God, or death, &c. Men are as loath to thinke of death, as theeves of the execution; or to thinke of God, as they are of their Judge. So to goe over their owne actions, in a review of them, and read the blurd writing of their hearts, and to commune with them, at night in the end of the day, (as David did, Psalm. 119. 59.) men are as loath to doe this, as Schoole-boyes are to perse their lessons, and the false Latins they have made, Iob 21. Depart from us (say they in Iob) unto God, from their thoughts they meant it, for it follows, we desire not Page 39 the knowledge of thy wayes. They would not thinke of him, or know them by their good wills; and therefore our mindes, like a bad stomack, are nausea∣ted with the very scent of good things, and soone casts them up againe, Rom. 1. 28. They like not to retaine the knowledge of God: let us goe and try to wind up our soules, at any time, to holy meditations, to thinke of what we have heard, or what wee have done, or what is our duty to doe, and wee shall finde our minds, like the peggs of an Instrument, slip be∣tweene our fingers, as we are a winding them up, and to fall downe suddenly a∣gaine, Page 40 ere we are aware of it: yea you shall finde, that your mindes will labour to shun what may occasi∣on such thoughts; even as men goe out of the way, when they see they must meet with one they are loath to speake withall; yea men dare not be alone, for feare such thoughts should returne upon them. The best shall finde a glad∣nesse, for an excuse, by o∣ther occasions to knocke off their thoughts from what is good: whereas in thinking of vaine earthly things, we thinke the time passeth too fast, clocks strike too soone, houres passe away ere wee are a∣ware of it.
Page 41 Thirdly, the vanity and sinfulnesse of the minde appeares in the godly, that though they enter∣taine good thoughts, yet the minde is not, will not bee long intent on them. Some things there are, which wee are, and can be intent upon, and accor∣dingly dwell long upon them, and therefore in Iob 17. 11. The thoughts are called the possessions of the heart, (so 'tis in the o∣riginall, and noted in the margin) such thoughts as are pleasing, the heart dwells on them; yea so intent are wee often, that they hinder our sleepe: as 'tis said of wicked men, They cannot sleepe for mul∣titude Page 42 of thoughts, Eccles. 5. 12. So, to devise froward things, Solomon sayes, Prov. 16. 30. That a man shuts his eyes, that is, is ex∣ceeding attentive, poreth upon his plots; for so a man doth use to do, to shut his eyes when hee would be intent, and therefore it is so expressed. But now let the minde be occupied and busied about good things, and things belong∣ing to our peace, how un∣steady is it? which things should yet draw out the intention of the minde: For the more excellent the object is, the stronger our intention should bee. God is the most glorious object our mindes can fa∣sten Page 43 on, the most alluring. The thought of whom therefore should swallow up all other, as not wor∣thy to bee seene the same day with him: But I ap∣peale to all your experi∣ences, if your thoughts of him be not most unsteady, and are, (that I may so compare it) as when wee looke upon a Starre tho∣row an Optique glasse, held with a palsie shaking hand: It is long ere wee can bring our mindes to have ken of him, to place our eyes upon him, and when wee have, how doe our hands shake, and so loose sight ever and anon? So whilst wee are in never so serious talke with him, Page 44 when all things else should stand without, and not dare to offer entrance, till wee have done with him, yet how many chinkes are there in the heart, at which other thoughts come in? and our minds leave God, and follow them, and goe after our covetousnesse, our credit, &c. as the Prophets phrase is, Ezech. 33. So when wee are hearing the Word, how do our minds ever and anon runne out of the Church, and come 〈◊〉 againe, and so doe not heare halfe that is said? So when wee are at our callings, which God bids us to bee conversant about with all our might, Eccles. 9. 10. yet our minds Page 45 like idle truants, or neg∣ligent servants, though sent about never so seri∣ous a businesse, yet goe out of the way to see any sport, runne after the Hares that crosse the way, fol∣low after Butter-flies that buzze about us.
And so when wee come to pray, Christ bids watch to prayer, Mark. 13. 33. that is, as if wee were at every dore to place a guard that none come in and disturbe 〈◊〉 knock us off. But how oft doth the heart nod, and fall asleepe, and runne into another world, as men in dreames doe? Yea so naturall are distractions to us, when wee are busied about holy duties, that as Page 46 excrements come from men, when very weak and sicke, ere they are aware of it; so doe worldly thoughts from us, and we are carried out of that streame of good our mind was running in, into some by creek ere we are aware of it.
Fourthly, the vanity of the minde appeares, in re∣gard of good things, that if it doth thinke of them, yet it doth it unseasonably. It is with your thoughts as with your speeches, their goodness lies in their placing and order, Prov. 25. 11. If fitly spoken, they are as Apples of Gold in pi∣ctures of silver. And as a man is to bring forth Page 47 actions, so thoughts in due season; as those fruits, so these buds should come out in season, Psalm. 1. Now the vanity of the minde appears in thinking of some good things, some∣times unseasonably; when you are praying, you should not onely have no worldly thoughts come in, but no other than pray∣ing thoughts. But then haply some notions of, or for a Sermon will come readily in: so in hearing, a man shall often have good thoughts that are hetero∣geneall to the thing in hand; So when a man is falling downe to prayer, looke what thing a man had forgotten, when it Page 48 should have beene thought of, will then come in, or what will affect a man much comes in to divert him. This misplacing of thoughts (suppose they bee good) is yet from a vanity of the minde; did those thoughts come at another time, they should be wel∣come: we finde our minds ready to spend thoughts about any thing, rather than what God at present calls unto. When we goe to a Sermon, we finde we could then spend our thoughts more willingly about reading; or happily searching our hearts; unto which at another time, when called to it, wee should be most unwilling Page 49 to. We could bee content to run wild over the fields of meditations and miscel∣lanious thoughts, though about good, rather than to bee tied to that taske, and kept in one set path.
In Adam and Christ no thought was mispla∣ced, but though they were as many as the Starres, yet they marched in their courses, and kept their ranks. But ours as Mete∣ors, dance up and dowve in us. And this disorder is a vanity and sinne, bee the thought materially never so good. Not every one that hath the best part must therefore first step up the Stage to Act, but take his right cue. In Page 50 Printing, let the letters bee never so faire, yet if not placed in their order, and rightly comp•sed, they marre the sense. Souldi∣ers upon no termes should breake their ranks: so nor should our thoughts, Prov. 16. 3. There is a promise to a Righteous man, that (as some reade it) his thoughts shall be ordered.
And so much for the first part, The privative sinfulnesse in our thoughts, in respect of what is good.
Now secondly, I pro∣ceed to discover that posi∣tive vanity, which appea∣reth in our thoughts; in regard of what is evill. And here it is not to bee expected, nor indeed can Page 51 it bee performed by any man, to reckon up the se∣verall particularities of all those vaine thoughts which run through mans heart; I will insist onely on some more generall discoveries, to which par∣ticulars may be reduced, for a taste of the rest.
First, the vanitie of them discovers it selfe, in that which Christ calls, Mark. 7. 22. 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉foolish∣ness: that is, such thoughts as mad men have, and fooles; which foolishnesse is seene, both in that un∣setled wantonnesse and unstayednesse of the minde in thinking, that like quick-silver it cannot fixe, but as Solomon sayes, Prov. Page 52 17. 24. A fooles eyes are in the ends of the earth, are garish, and runne up and downe from one end of the earth to the other, shooting and streaming, as those Meteors you see sometimes in the ayre. And though indeed the minde of man is nimble and able thus to run from one end of the earth to another, (which is its strength and excellency) yet God would not have this strength and nimble∣nesse, and metall-spirit in curvetting and tumbling, (as I may call it) but in steady directing all our thoughts straight on to his glory, our owne salvati∣on, and the good of o∣thers; Page 53 he gave it this nim∣blenesse to turne away from evill, and the first ap∣pearance of it. As we are to walke in Gods wayes hee calls us to, so every thought, as well as every action is a step: and there∣fore ought to bee steady, Make straight steps to your feete, sayes the Apostle, Hebrews 12. 13. turning not to the right hand, nor to the left, untill we come to the journeys end of that businesse wee are to think of. But our thoughts, at best, are as wanton Spa∣niels, who though indeed they goe with, and accom∣pany their Master, and come to their journeys end with him in the end, Page 54 yet doe runne after every Bird, and wildly pursue every slock of sheepe they see. This unsteadinesse, it ariseth from the like curse on the minde of Man, as was on Caine, that it being driven from the presence of the Lord, it proves a vaga∣bond, and so mens eyes are in the ends of the earth.
This foolishnesse or 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 is also seene in that Independence in our thoughts; they hanging oft together as ropes of sand; this wee see more e∣vidently in dreames: And not onely then, but when awake also, and that, when we would set our selves to be most serious, how doe our thoughts jangle and Page 55 ring back-ward? and as wanton Boyes, when they take pens in their hands, scribble broken words that have no dependence. Thus doe our thoughts: and if you would but looke over the copies thereof, which you write continually, you would finde as much non-sense in your thoughts, as you find in mad mens speeches. This madnesse and distem∣per is in the minde since the fall (though it appeares not in our words, because wee are wiser) that if notes were taken of our thoughts, we should finde thoughts so vagrant, that wee know not how they come in, nor whence they Page 56 came, nor whither they would. But as God doth all things in weight, num∣ber, and measure, so doth his Image in us, so farre as it is renewed. And, by reason of these two, the folly, unsetlednesse, and independence of our thoughts, wee bring our thoughts often to no issue, to no perfection, but wilder away our time in thinking (as you use to say) of nothing, and as Se∣neca sayes of mens lives, as of Ships that are tost up and downe at Sea, it may bee said they have beene tossed much, but sayled no∣thing; The like in this re∣spect may bee said of the thoughts: Or as when Page 57 men make imperfect dash∣es, and write non-sense, They are said to scribble, they doe not write: So, in these follies and indepen∣dencies, wee wilder and lose our selves, wee doe not thinke.
But 2. on the contrary if any strong lust, or vio∣lent passion be up, then our thoughts are too fixed and intent, and run in so farre into such sinfull objects, that they cannot bee puld out againe, or any way di∣verted or taken off: which is another vanity. For our thoughts and our un∣derstanding part was or∣dained to moderate, allay, and coole, and take off our passions, when they are a Page 58 playing over, to rule and governe them. But now our thoughts are them∣selves subjected to our af∣fections, and like fuell put under them, doe but make them boile the more. And although our thoughts do first stirre up our feares, joyes, desires, &c. yet these being stirred up once, chaine, and fixe, and hold our thoughts to those objects, so as wee cannot loosen them again. Therefore sayes Christ to his Disciples, Why are you troubled, and why doe thoughts arise in your hearts: For perturbations in the affections cause thoughts like fumes and vapours to ascend. Thus Page 59 if a passion of feare bee up, how doth it conjure up multitudes of ghostly thoughts which wee can∣not conjure downe againe, nor hide our eyes from? But which haunt us, and follow us up and downe, where ever wee goe, so as a man runnes away pursu∣ed by his owne thoughts, the heart then meditates on terrour: As Isay 33. 18. So when sorrow is up, how doth it make us study the crosse that lights upon us? which to forget, would be an ease unto the minde. But a mans passions makes his thoughts to con it, and to say it by heart, over and over againe, as if it would not have us forget Page 60 it. So when love and desire is up, bee the thing what it will, wee are taken with, as preferment, credit, beau∣ty, riches, it sets our thoughts aworke to view the thing all over, from top to toe (as wee say) to observe every part and circumstance, that doth make it amiable unto us: as if a picture were to bee drawn of it. So when joy is up, wee view the thing we rejoice in, and reade it over and over, as wee doe a Booke wee like, and wee marke every tittle, wee are punctuall in it; yea so in∣ordinate are wee herein, as often we cannot sleepe for thinking on them. Eccles. 5. 12. Abundance of riches Page 61 will not suffer him to sleepe, for the multitude of thoughts in his head, spea∣king of a man who is co∣vetous: how doe thoughts trouble the Belshazzers and Nebuchadonezers of the world? Dan. 4. 19. so Proverbs 4. 16. They sleepe not unlesse they have done mischiefe; if their de∣sires remaine unsatisfied, they doe disturbe their thoughts, like froward children by their crying: so as, often, these which men count free (as the most doe thoughts) doe prove the greatest bon∣dage and torment in the earth unto them, and doe hinder sleepe, the nurse of nature, eate out, and live Page 62 upon the heart that bred them, weary the spirits, that when a man shall say (as Iob 7. 13.) My bed shall comfort mee, by put∣ting a parenthesis to his thoughts, and sad discourses, which hee hath when awake, yet then they haunt a man; and as vers. 14. terrifie him. A man cannot lay them a∣side as he doth his cloake: and when men die they will follow them to hell, and torment them worse there; your thoughts are one of the greatest execu∣tioners there, even the worme that dies not.
Thirdly, the vanity of the minde appeares in cu∣riosity, a longing and itch∣ing Page 63 to bee fed with, and to know (and then delight∣ing to thinke of) things that do not at all concerne us. Take an experiment of this in Schollers (whose chiefe worke lies in this shop) how many precious thoughts are spent this way? as in curiosity of knowledge, as appeares by those the Apostle of∣ten rebukes, that affect, as 1 Tim. 6. 4, 20. oppositions of science falsely so called curiosities of knowledge of things they have not seene. So Coloss. 2. and 1 Tim. 4. 7. hee calls such issues of mens braines, they dote on, old wives fa∣bles: because as fables please old wives, so doe Page 64 these their mindes, and of that itch they have in them, even as women with child, in their long∣ings, content not them∣selves with what the place affords, or the season, with what may he had; but of∣ten long after some un∣heard of rarity, far fetcht, or, it may bee, not at all to bee had: Thus men not contenting themselves with the wonders of God discovered in the depth of his Word and Workes, they will launch into ano∣ther Sea, and world of their owne making, and there they saile with pleasure, as many of the Schoole-men did in some of their speculations, Page 65 spending their pretious wits in framing curious webs out of their owne bowels.
Take another instance also in others, who have leisure and parts to reade much, they should ballast their hearts with the Word, and take in those more pretious words of wisdome and sound know∣ledge to profit themselves and others, and to build up their owne soules, and whereby they may bee enabled to serve their Countrey: but now what doe their curious fancies carry them unto, to bee versed in, but Play-books, jearing Pasquils, Roman∣ses, fained stayes, which Page 66 are the curious needle-worke of idle braines, so as they load their heads with Apes and Peacocks feathers, in stead of pearles and pretious stones; so as a man may say as Solomon Prov. 15. 14. The heart of him that hath understand∣ing seeketh knowledge, but the mouth of fooles feeds on foolishnesse. Foolish dis∣courses please their eares and eyes to reade: all these being but purveiors (as it were) for food, for the thoughts, like Camelions men live on ayre and winde.
To leave them, how doe others out of meere curiosity to know and please their thoughts, li∣sten Page 67 after all the news that flies up and downe the world, scum all the froth that floats in foolish mens mouths, and please them∣selves onely with talking, thinking, and hearing of it.
I doe not condemne all herein: some their ends are good, and they can make use of it, and doe as Nehemiah did, who inqui∣red how things went at Ierusalem, to rejoyce with Gods people, and mourne with them, and pray for them, and to know how to fashion their prayers accordingly. But I con∣demne that curious itch that is in men, when it is done, but meerly to please Page 68 their fancies, which is much delighted with new things, though they con∣cerne us not; such the Athenians were, Acts 17. 21. How doe some men long all the weeke, till they heare events and issues, and make it a great part of the happinesse of their lives, to study the state more than their own hearts, and affaires of their callings: who take actions of State as their text to study the meaning of, and to preach on where-ever they come. I speake of those that yet lay not to heart▪ the miseries of the Church of Christ, nor helpe them with their prayers, if at any Page 69 time they happen.
The like curiosity is seene in many, in desiring to know the secrets of other men, which yet would doe them no good to know, and who doe stu∣dy mens actions and ends, not to reforme, or doe good to them, but to know them, and think and muse thereof, when alone, with pleasure; this is curi∣osity, and properly a va∣nity of the thinking pow∣er, which it mainely plea∣seth; and is indeed a great sin, when much of mens most pleasing thoughts are spent on things con∣cerne them not. For the things we ought to know, and which doe concerne Page 70 us, are enough to take up all our thoughts alone, neither shall wee have any to spare: and thoughts are pretious things, the immediate fruits and buds of an immortall na∣ture; and God hath given us power to coyne them, to lay them out in things concerne our owne good, and of our neighbours, and his owne glory; and thus not to spend them is the greatest waste in the world; examine what Corne you put in to grind, for God ought to have toll of all. Prover. 24. 8. Hee that deviseth evill shall be called a mischievous per∣son, not alwayes hee that doth a mischievous action, Page 71 but that deviseth it: and verse 9. he aggravates it, à minori, for every thought is sinne, then a combination and conspi∣racy of wicked thoughts is much more.
But 4. there is a worse vanity than this, and that is that intimated Rom. 13. ult. Taking thought to ful∣fill the lusts of the flesh,〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉[To make projects for it.] For thoughts are the Caterers for our lusts, and lay in all their provision, they are they that looke out where the best markets are, the best opportunities for sin∣ning in any kind, the best bargaines for credit, for preferment; for riches, &c. Page 72 For example, would a man rise? his thoughts stu∣dy the art of it, men frame their owne ladder to climbe withall, invent wayes how to doe it, though often it proves as to Haman their owne Gal∣lows. Would they bee rich? what doe they stu∣dy? even all cheats and tricks on the Cards, (as I may so speake) that is, all the cunning tricks of the world, all the wayes of oppressing, defrauding, and going beyond their brethren, so to pack things in all their dealings, that they themselves shall bee the winners, and those that deale with them, the losers, Isay 32. 7. It is Page 73 said, that the Instruments of the churlish are evill, and hee deviseth wicked devices to destroy the poore: would a man undermine his op∣posite, as one that stands in his light, and who hin∣der his credit? he'll digge and fall a pioning, with his thoughts, his engins, in the night, digge a pit, as the Scripture phrase is, and dig deepe to hide his counsell, to blow him up in the end, and so as hee shall not know who hurt him; and this is worse than all the former, this studied artifi∣ciall villanie. The more devising there is in sinne, the worse: therefore the fact about Vriah, not so much that of Bathsheba,Page 74 is objected against David, because hee used art in it; hee tooke thought for it, but in the matter of Bathsheba, thoughts tooke him.
Fiftly, the fifth is the representing or acting over sinnes, in our thoughts and imaginations, per∣sonating those plea∣sures by imagination, which at present wee en∣joy not really, faining and imagining our selves to act those sinfull practises wee have not opportunity outwardly to performe: speculative wickednesse Di∣vines doe call it, which to be in the power of imagi∣nation to doe; is evident to you by your dreames; Page 75 when fancy playes its part most, and to allude to what the Prophet sayes, makes us beleeve wee eate when wee are an hungry, to drinke when our soules are thirsty. Isay 29. 8. But I meane not to speake of the power and corruption of it; as in our dreames: it were well if, as the Apo∣stle speakes of Drunken∣nesse, that this speculative wickednesse were onely in the night. But corrupt and distempered affecti∣ons doe cast men into such dreames in the day, and when they are awake, there are then (to borrow the Apostles expression) filthy dreames, Jude 8. that defile the flesh, even Page 76 when awake: when, their lusts wanting worke, their fancie erects to them a stage, and they set their imaginations and thoughts a worke to entertaine their filthy and impure desires, with shewes and playes of their owne making, and so reason and the intention of their mindes, sit as specta∣tours all the while to view with pleasure, till their thoughts inwardly act o∣ver their owne uncleane desires, ambitious pro∣jects, or what ever else they have a minde unto.
So vaine and empty is the heart of man become, so impatient are our desires and lusts of interruption in their pleasures, so sin∣full Page 77 and corrupt.
First, vaine and empty it appeares to bee in this; for take all the pleasures of sinne, when they are never so fully, solidly, re∣ally, and substantially en∣joyed, they are but sha∣dows, a meere outside and figure, as the Apostle cals the world. It is opinion of imagination that casts that varnish of goodnesse on them, which is not tru∣ly in them. So Felix and Bernices pompe is te••…ed 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉; but now this speculative enjoying of them onely in imaginati∣on, (which many mens hearts take so much plea∣sure in,) the pleasing our selves in the bare Page 78 thoughts and imaginati∣ons of them, this is but a shadow of these shadows, that the soul should Ixion-like embrace and commit adultery with clouds one∣ly; this is a vanitie be∣yond all other vanities, that maketh us vainer than other creatures, who, though subject to vanity, yet not to such as this.
Secondly, it argues our desires to be impatient, to bee detained from, or in∣terrupted of their plea∣sures. When the soule shall bee found so greedy, that when the heart is de∣barred or sequestred from those things it desires, and wants meanes or opportu∣nities to act its lusts, as not Page 79 being to stay, it will at least enjoy them in imagi∣nation, and in the interim, set fancie to entertaine the minde with empty pi∣ctures of them drawne in its owne thoughts.
3. Thus they appear also to bee exceeding sin∣full and corrupt; an out∣ward act of sinne, it is but as an act of whoredome with the creature, when really enjoyed: But this is Incest, when we defile our soules and spirits with these imaginations and likenesses which are be∣gotten in our own fancies, being the children of our owne hearts.
And yet (my brethren) such speculative enjoying Page 80 of pleasures, and acting o∣ver of sinnes the minde of man is full of, as will ap∣peare in many particu∣lars.
First, looke what com∣forts men have at present in their possession, and at command, what excellen∣cies or endowments, men love to be alone to study, and thinke of them, and when they are sequestred from the present use of them, yet they will then bee againe and againe re∣counting and casting of them up, taking a survey of their happiness in them, applauding their owne hearts in their conditions. And as rich men, that love money, love to be looking Page 81 on it, and telling it over; so do men to be summing up their comforts and pri∣viledges they enjoy, which others want; as, how rich they are, how great, how they excell o∣thers in parts and gifts, &c. Oh how much of that precious sand of our thoughts runne out this way! Thus he in the Go∣spell, hee keepes an audit in his heart; Soule (saith he) thou hast goods laid up for many yeares. So Ha∣man, Ester. 5. 11. takes an Inventory of his honours and goods, he talkes of all the glory of his riches, and all the things wherein the King had promoted him. So Nebuchadnezzar, Dan.Page 82 4. 30. as it may seeme, hee was alone walking and talking to himselfe, like a foole, saying to himselfe; Is not this the great Babell which I have built by the might of my power, for the glory of my Ma∣jesty.
And as thus upon their comforts, so also upon their excellencies, as their learning, wisdome, parts, &c. Men love to stand looking upon these in the glasse of their owne spe∣culation, as faire fa∣ces love to looke often and long in Looking-glasses: which, as it ariseth from that selfe-flattery is in men; so also that they might keepe their happi∣nesse Page 83 still fresh and conti∣nued in their eye; which thoughts, when they raise not up the heart to thanke∣fulnesse to God, and are not used to that end, but are bellows of pride; they are vaine and abominable in the eyes of God, as ap∣peares by Gods dealing with those fore-mentio∣ned; for to the one hee sayes, Thou foole, this night; the other, whilst the word was in his mouth, (giving him no longer warning) hee strikes with madnesse and brutishnesse: and Ha∣man, you know, was like a Wall that doth swell be∣fore it breakes, and falls to ruine and decay.
Secondly, this specula∣tivePage 84 enjoying of pleasures, and acting over sinnes thus in fancy, doth appeare in regard of things to come; which when wee have in view, or any hopes of mens thoughts goe forth afore to meet them, with how much contentment doe mens thoughts enter∣taine their desires, with vaine promisings and ex∣pectations afore-hand of their pleasures, that are in view and in possibility to bee enjoyed. So they in Esay wind up their hearts to a higher pin of jollity in the midst of their cups, in that their hearts thought and promised them, To morrow shall bee as to day, and much more Page 85 abundant, Isay 56. 12. So they, Iames 4. 13. they say with themselves, Wee will goe to such a City, and continue there a yeare, and get gaine. And the pro∣mise of this, and the thoughts of it afore-hand feeds them, and keepes up their hearts in comfort. When men rise in a mor∣ning, they begin to fore∣thinke with much plea∣sure, what carnall plea∣sures they have the ad∣vousion and promise of that day or weeke, as to goe to such company, and there bee merry; to goe such a pleasant journey, enjoy satisfaction in such a lust, heare such newes, &c. And thus as godly Page 86 men live by faith in Gods promises, Hab. 2. 4. Isay 38. 16. By these men live, and this is the spirit of my life, saith Hezechiah, even what God hath spoken, vers. 15. So doe carnall men live much upon the pro∣mises of their owne hearts and thoughts afore-hand, (for to this head of vaine thoughts, these vaine pro∣misings are to be reduced, Psalm. 49. 11. Their in∣ward thought is, their hou∣ses shall continue for ever, and this thought pleaseth them:) what pleasure al∣most is there, which a man makes much account of, but hee acts it first over in private in his owne thoughts? and thus doe Page 87 men foolishly take their owne words and pro∣mises, and so befoole themselves in the end, as Ieremy speakes, Ierem. 17. They take up before-hand in their thoughts upon trust, the pleasures they are to enjoy, even as spend-thrifts doe their rents, or Heires their re∣venews before they come of age to enjoy their lands, that when they come indeed to enjoy the pleasures they expected, either they prove but dreames, as Isay 29. 6. they finde their soules empty; or so much under their expectation, and so stale, as they have little in them, that there still Page 88 proves more in the imagi∣nation than in the thing, which ariseth from the vastnesse and greediness of mens desires, as the cause hereof; for that makes them swallow up all at once. So Hab. 2. Enlarg∣ing his desires as Hell, hee heapes up all Nations, swal∣lowes them up in his thoughts. So an ambitious Scholler doth all prefer∣ments that are in his view.
Thirdly, this specula∣tive wickednesse is exerci∣sed in like maner towards things past, in recalling namely, and reviving in our thoughts the pleasure of sinfull actions passed; when the minde runnes Page 89 over the passages and cir∣cumstances of the same sins long since committed, with a new and fresh de∣light; when men raise up their dead actions long since buried, in the same likenesse they were trans∣acted in, and parley with them, as the Witch & Saul did with Satan in Samuels likenesse. And whereas they should draw crosse lines over them, and blot them out through faith in Christs blood, they rather copy and write them o∣ver againe in their thoughts, with the same contentment. So an un∣cleane person can study and view over every cir∣cumstance passed in such Page 90 an act, with such a person committed; so a vaine∣glorious Scholler doth re∣peate in his thoughts an eminent performance of his, and all such passages therein as were most ele∣gant. And thus men chew the cudd upon any speech of commendation uttered by others of them. And all this even as a good heart doth repeate good things heard or read, with the remembrance also of what quicknesse they had in such and such passages, and with what affections they were warmed, when they heard them; or as a godly man recalls with comfort the actions of a well-past life, as Heze∣chiahPage 91 did, Lord I have walked before thee with a perfect heart; and thereby doe also stirre and provoke their hearts to the like temper againe: So on the contrary, doe wicked men use to recall, and revive the pleasingest sinfull pas∣sages in their lives, to suck a new sweetnesse out of them: Then which nothing argues more hardnesse and wickednesse of heart, or provokes God more. For,
First, it argues much wickednesse of heart, and such as when it is ordinary with the heart to doe thus, is not compatible with grace: for in the 6. of the Romans, ver. 12. the Apo∣stle shewes that a good Page 92 heart useth to reape no such fruit of sinfull acti∣ons past, But what fruit had you of those things whereof yee are now asha∣med? The Saints reap and distill nothing out of all those flowers, but shame and sorrow, and sad sighs: when Ephraim remem∣bred his sinne, he was asha∣med, & repented; and canst thou in thy thoughts, reap a new harvest and crop of pleasure out of them, again and againe?
Secondly, it argues much hardnesse of heart; nothing being more op∣posite to the truth and practice of repentance, the foundation of which is to call to mind the sinne with Page 93 shame and sorrow, and to recall it with much more griefe, than ever there was pleasure in the com∣mitting of it: and whose property is to hate the ap∣pearance of it, and to en∣flame the heart with Zeale and revenge against it. And thereby it provoketh God exceedingly, our hearts are thereby embru∣ed in a new guilt, wee thereby stand to, and make good our former act: even so, by remem∣bring it with pleasure, wee provoke God to remem∣ber it with a new detesta∣tion of it, and so to send downe new plagues; who, if wee recall it with griefe, would remember it no more:Page 94 wee shew wee take delight to rake in those wounds wee have given Christ al∣ready; to view the sinnes of others with pleasure, Rom. 1. ult. is made more than to commit them: But much more to view and revive our owne with a fresh de∣light: and therefore know that how-ever you may take delight here to re∣peat to your selves your old sins, yet that in Hell nothing will gall you more, than the remem∣brance of them; every circumstance in every sin will then be as a dagger at thy heart. This was the rich mans taske and study in Hell, to remember the good things hee had recei∣ved,Page 95 and his sins commit∣ted in the abuse of them. And if godly men here be made to possesse the sinnes of their youth with horrour, as Iob, and to have them e∣ver afore them, as David, how will wicked men bee continually affrighted with them in hell? whose punishment is in a great part set forth to us, by this Psalme 50. 20. I will set them in order before thee.
Fourthly, the fourth thing wherein this specula∣tive vanity appeares, is in acting sinnes upon meere imaginary suppositions men faigne, and contrive to themselves, and make a supposition to themselves Page 96 in their own thoughts, first of what they would bee, and then what they would doe. Men create fooles paradi∣ses to themselves, and then walke up and downe in them; as, if they had money enough, what plea∣sures they would have; if they were in such places of preferment, how they would carry themselves. To allude to that Absolom said, 2 Sam. 15. 4. Oh if I were a Iudge in the Land, I would doe this or that, &c. doing this with a great deale of pleasure, almost as much as those that really enjoy them. This may well bee the meaning of that Psalme 50. 18. where of the hypocrite (who Page 97 outwardly abstaines from grosse sins) 'tis said, that hee consenteth with the thiefe, and partaketh with the adulterer, namely, in his heart and fancie, sup∣posing himself with them, and so desires to bee doing what they doe. Thus take one who is na∣turally ambitious (whom both nature, parts and education have all made, but a Bramble never to rule over the trees, and hath fixt in a lower sphere, as uncapable of rising higher or being greater, as the earth is of becom∣ming a Starre in Hea∣ven, yet) hee will take upon him in his owne heart, faining and suppo∣sing Page 98 himselfe to bee, and then act the part of a great man there, erect a throne, and sit downe in it; and thinkes with him∣selfe what hee would doe, if a King or a great Man, &c. So take a man that is uncleane, but now growne old, and a dry tree, and so cannot act his lust as for∣merly, yet his thoughts shall supply what is wan∣ting in his strength or op∣portunity. And he makes his owne heart both Bawd, Brothel house, Whore, Whoremonger, and all: so a man that is na∣turally voluptuous, loves pleasures, but wants meanes to purchase them, yet his inclinations will Page 99 please themselves with the thoughts of what mixture and composition of delights hee would have; hee will set downe with himselfe his Bill of fare, how hee would have, if he might wish, his cup of pleasure mingled, what ingredients put into it. So a man that is revengefull, and yet wants a sting, yet he pleaseth himselfe with revengefull thoughts and wishes, and will be making invectives and railing dia∣logues against him, hee hates, when hee is not by. A man in love, in his fan∣cy hee will court his Para∣mour though absent, he will by his imagination make her present, and so Page 100 frame solemn set speeches to her.
In a word, let mens in∣clinations and dispositions bee of what kinde so ever, and let the impossibilities and improbabilities be ne∣ver so great of being what they desire; yet in their fancies and thoughts they will discover themselves what they would be. To∣tumque quod esse desiderant sibi apud semetipsos cogita∣tionibus depingunt, men will bee drawing Maps of their desires, calculate their owne inclinations, cut out a condition of life which fills their hearts, and they please them∣selves withall: and there is no surer way to know a Page 101 mans naturall inclination, than by this.
First, which yet first is as great a folly as any o∣ther, imitating children herein; for is it not chil∣dish to make clay pies, and puppets? what else are such fancies as these? and to bee as children acting the parts of Ladies and Mistresses, and yet such childishnesse is in mens hearts.
2. And secondly, a vanitie also, because a man sets his heart on what is not: the things themselves are not, if a man had them, Prov. 23. 5. but to please themselves with suppositions is much worse.
Page 102 Thirdly, this argues the greatest incontentati∣on of minde that may bee, when men will in their owne thoughts put themselves into another condition than God ever ordained for them.
HAving discovered the vanity of your thoughts and your estates thereby, bee humbled for them; This I ground upon, Proverbs 30. 21. where Agur teacheth us to humble our selves as well for thoughts as acti∣ons. Page 103If thou hast done foo∣lishly in lifting up thy selfe, or if thou hast thought evill, lay thine hand upon thy mouth. Now as smiting upon the thigh is put for re∣pentance and shame and sorrow in Ephraim, Ierem. 31. 19. so is laying the hand upon the mouth put for greater and deeper humi∣liation, as arguing full con∣viction of ones guilt, Rom. 3. 19. Every mouth must be stopped. Having nothing to say, not to plead and excuse, that thoughts are free, and it is impossible to bee rid of them, &c, but as Ezechiel, 16. 65. To re∣member and to bee confoun∣ded, and never to open thy mouth more! to bee vile, and Page 104 not to answer againe, as Iob 39. 27, 28. this is to lay thy hand on thy mouth, that is, to humble thy selfe.
And indeed there is much cause, for your thoughts they are the first begotten, and eldest sons of originall sin, and there∣fore the strength of it, as Iacob called Reuben the first-borne; yea also, and the Parents and begetters of all other sinnes, their brethren; The first plot∣ters and contrivers, and Achitophels, in all the treasons and rebellions of our hearts and lives; the bellows and incendiaries of all inordinate affections; the Panders to all our lusts, that take thought to Page 105 provide for the satisfying of them; the disturbers in all good duties, that inter∣rupt and spoile and fly∣blow all our prayers, that they stinke in the nostrills of God.
And if their hainous∣nesse will nothing move you, consider their num∣ber, for they are continu∣ally thus: which makes our sinnes to be in number more than the sands: the thoughts of Solomons heart were as the Sand, and so ours; not a minute, but as many thoughts passe from us, as in a minute sands doe in an Houre-glasse. So that suppose, that taken seve∣rally, they be the smallest and least of your sinnes, Page 106 yet their multitude makes them more and heavi∣er than all your other. Nothing smaller than a graine of Sand, but if there bee a heape of them, there is nothing heavier, Iob 6. 3. My griefe is heavier than the Sand. Suppose they be in themselves, but as Far∣thing-tokens, in compari∣son of grosse defilements: yet because the Mint never lies still, sleeping nor wa∣king, therefore they make up the greatest part of that treasure of wrath which wee are a laying up: and know that God will rec∣kon every Farthing, and in thy punishment bate thee not one vaine thought. And that God lookes up∣on Page 107 our thoughts thus, see but the inditement he brings in against the old world; which stands still upon record, Gen. 6. when he pronounced that heavy judgement of destroying the old world, doth he al∣ledge their murthers, adul∣teries, and grosse defilements chiefly as the cause? Their thoughts rather; which because so many, and so continually evill, provoked him more than all their other sinnes. Goe downe therefore into thy heart, and consider them well, to humble thee, to make thee vile, and if in one roome such a treasure of wickednesse bee found laid up, what in all those Page 108 other Chambers of the belly, as Solomon calls them? consider them to humble thee, but not for all this their multitude to discou∣rage thee. For God hath more thoughts of mercy in him, than thou hast had of rebellion, Psal. 40. 5. Thy thoughts to us-ward, (spea∣king of thoughts of mer∣cy) are more than can bee numbred. Thou begannest but as yesterday to thinke thoughts of rebellion a∣gainst him, but his thoughts of mercy have beene from everlasting, and reach to everlasting: and therefore in Esay 55. vers. 7. having made mention of our thoughts, let the unrighte∣ous man forsake his thoughts, Page 109 and hee will have mercy on him; because this object∣ion of the multitude might come in to discourage men from hopes of mercy, therefore purposely hee addes, hee will multiply to pardon; and to assure us that hee hath thoughts of mercy to out-vie ours of sinne, hee addes, for my thoughts exceed yours, as Heaven doth the earth.
LEt us make for ever conscience of them, so Iob did, Iob 31. 1. I made a convenant with mine eyes, why should I thinke upon a Maide? Solomon gives in especiall charge, above all Page 110 keeping, keepe thy heart, Prov. 4. 23.
First, thou art to keepe the Lords day holy, thy selfe unspotted of the World. To keepe thy brother, to keepe all the Commande∣ments, but above all to keepe thy heart, and in it, thy thoughts; for this is the Great Commandement, be∣cause it extends it selfe (as the foundation) unto them all: for as in the same Com∣mandement where mur∣ther is forbidden, a malici∣ous thought is also, and so of the rest; So in keeping the thoghts, thou virtually keepest all the Comman∣dements: as originall sinne is said to bee forbidden in all the Commandements, Page 111 so are thy thoughts taken order for in all.
Secondly, out of it are issues of life; thoughts and affections are the spring, speeches and actions the streame: as are our thoughts, so are our affe∣ctions; for these are the bellows: so also our pray∣ers, so all, for they are in the soule as the spirits in the body, they run through all, move all, act all.
Thirdly, if you looke to God, our thoughts are that spot of ground, which he proclaimes him∣selfe sole Lord of, and makes it one of his grea∣test titles, that hee knows them, and judgeth them. Kings attempt to rule your Page 112 tongues, to binde your hands, and rule your acti∣ons; but God onely your thoughts. By them wee chiefly sanctifie him in our hearts, by them wee walke with God, and shall we not make conscience of them?
Fourthly, if you looke to the worke and power of grace, wherein lies it, But in bringing every thought into obedience? 2 Cor. 11. 4. This is the glory of our re∣ligion above all other in the world: wherein lies the difficulty of it, the strictness of it, what makes it so hard a taske? but the observing and keeping the thoughts in boūds: wherin lies the difference between sincere hearted Christians Page 113 and others? but the keep∣ing of our thoughts, with∣out which all Religion is but bodily exercise. Papists may mumble over their prayers, hypocrits talke, but this is godlinesse.
Fiftly, if wee looke to things wee have a care of; if wee have a care of spee∣ches, because Christ hath said, wee shall answere for every idle word; why not also for the same reason, should wee have a care of thoughts? which are the words of the minde, onely they want a shape, to bee audible to others, which the tongue gives them, for which you must answer as well as for words, Heb. 4. 12. 1 Cor. 4. 5. If you be Page 114 carefull what companions you have, and whom you lodge in your houses, and who lie in your bosomes, then much more of your thoughts, which lodge in your hearts, which are not yours, but Gods houses; built for himselfe, and for Christ and his Word to dwel in: seeing also the things you think of have the most neare intimate fellowship and converse with you. And therefore when you thinke of the Word, it is said to talk with you, Pro. 6. If you be carefull of what you eate, because such blood you have, &c. then be careful what you think, thoughts being Pabulum animae, as Tully calls them. Page 115Thy words did [I eate] saies Ieremiah, speaking of me∣ditating on it.
Sixthly, if you looke to the issue of things: what shall be the subject of that great inquest at the Day of Judgement? the thoughts and councels, 1 Corin. 4. 5. And after the Day of Judgement, mens thoughts shall prove their greatest executioners: what are the cords God lashes you with to all eternity? your owne thoughts; thoughts accusing, whereby you stu∣dy over every sinne; and every one will be as a dag∣ger, Isay 33. 18. the Hypo∣crites torment, is to medi∣tate terrours, to study Gods wrath, and the Saints bles∣sednesse, Page 116 and their owne sinnes and misery.
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.