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$ I shall scape as well as the rest of my Com
pany or Acquaintance, and the like.” God only knows how many of us suffer such vile Thoughts as these to lodge in our Breasts.
3. I might instance in our thinking and musing upon things innocent and harmless enough in themselves, which yet become evil becaule of the Seasons of them, that is, because we should then be thivking of better things; for it is certainly lawful to think of our Friends, Relạtions, temporal Concerns, but then it must be in due time and place: they must not justle out all other Thoughts; nay, we must wholly banish them our Minds when we come into God's more especial Presence; at our Prayers, or at receiving of the Sacrament, such Thoughts are. by no means to be admitted. I speak not now of the sudden Excursions of our Thoughts, even when the Mind is about the most serious Employments, nor of the greater Unruliness of our Thoughts on some particular Accidents or Occasions. I mean only our gross Heedlesness, in suffering them to wander to the Ends of the Earth, whilst in pretence and thew we are engaged in worshipping that God, who is a Spirit, and will be worshipped in Spirit and. Truth. What Man that now hears me would be content that all the several things, not only that have suddenly come into his Mind, but which he hath yoluntarily for a considerable time dwelt upon and entertained his Mind. with during this Short Exercise, should be here. openly expos'd to the whole Congregation ? many
of us have been telling our Mope y...
or counting over our Bags, or selling or buying in our Shops, or at our Games and Sports, or ordering our Houshold Affairs, or conversing with distant Friends ? Into how many Countries have some of us travelled? how many Persons have we visited ? how
se. veral Affairs have we dispatched, to fay no worse, since we first this day began Divine Service? 4.
I might farther mention envious, malicious, frercing Thoughts, when our Spirits are disquieted and vexed at the Prosperity and Happiness of other Men, who get the start of us, and are preferred before us, because they have a greater Trade, or are better loved and more respected than our selves. Or,
5. Troublesome anxious Thoughts of future Events, multiplying to our felves endless Fears and Sollicitudes, distracting our Minds with useless unnecessary Cares for the things of this Life, perplexing our felves about things that do not at all concern us, nor belong to us. How many,
who want nothing they can reasonably desire,rendertheir Lives strangely wretched and miserable, only by discontented and melancholy Thoughts, and ill-boding ApprehenSions; their Souls continually haking with the panick Dread of improbable Crosses and Misfortunes, creating to themselyes great Pain and Confusion by tragical and idle Jealoufies of Evils to come, and by vexing at what they cannot help or avoid.
6. I might infilt on haughty, proud, admiring Thoughts of our selyes. How much
many spend in studying and considering their own Worth and Excellencies? How do they please themselves with viewing their own Endowments and Accomplishments, and imagine all others to have the same Opinion of them they have of themselves; that every one is speaking of their praise, and that alt that pass by them take notice of them, and ask who they are ?
I might instance in carking and projecting Thoughts, plotting and contriving for Years and Ages to come, as ifour Houses were to continue for ever, and our Dwelling-places to all Generations.
I might instance in Thoughts of Presumption and Security ; bidding our Souls take their ease, and satisfy themselves with those good things we have laid
many Years, I have not time now to speak of vain, unprofitable, insignificant Thoughts; whén, as we ordinarily láy, we think of
nothing, that is, not any thing we can give an account of: when our Thoughts have no Dependance nor Coherence one upon the other, which I may call the Nonfenfe of our Thoughts; they being like the Conceits of Madmen, or like little Boys in a School, who, as long as the Master is with them, all regularly keep in their several Places, every one minding his proper work; but as soon as his back is turned, are all straight out of their places, in Disorder and Confusion : such are our Thoughts when we forget to watch over them, or command them. But this is an endless Subject.
III. The only thing remaining is, to name to you some plain practical Rules for the right Government of our Thoughts.
1. The first Rule shall be grounded upon the Words of my Text, Out of the Heart proceed evil Thoughts. If they proceed from our Hearts,then we must look especially after them; in the words therefore of Solomon, Proy. 4.23. Keepthy Heart with all diligence, for out of it are the Isues of Life. Thus the Prophet Jeremiah, 4.14. Wash thy Heart from Wickedness, how
long JhallvainThoughts lodge within thee? and here our Saviour, Out of the Heart proceed evil Thoughts. Now by Heart in the Scripture Phrase is most ordinarily meant the Affections, such as Love, Hope, Fear, Joy, Desire, and the like : so that the plain Sense of this place is, that such as Mens Affections are, such as the Objects are upon which they are placed, and toward which they are most carried out, such will their Thoughts be: we shall certainly think most of those things that we love most, that we fear most, that we desire most, Do we not find it thus in all other Instances ? And were our Affections but duly set upon Diş vine and Heavenly Objects, we should as con, stantly and as pleasantly think of them, as the worldly or ambitious Man doth of his Ho, nours and Richeș, Were our Hearts once tho. powly affected with a Sense of God and Goodness, and the things of the other World, we hould hardly find any room in our Thoughts
for meaner and inferior Objects; such Divine and Spiritual Matters would fill our Souls, and wholly enıploy and take up our Minds. if we once really lov'd God above any present Enjoyment or temporal Concernment, it would be impossible that things sensible should exclude the Thoughts of him out of our Minds, or thar we could pass any considerable time without some. Converse with him, and Addresses to him. Have we a Business of such infinite moment depending upon those few hours that yet remain of our Lives, (how few God only knows) and have we time and leisure to spend whole Days and Weeks in unprofitable useless Fancies and Dreams, in the mean time forgetting the Danger we are in, and the only necessary Work we have to do? · Here then must the Foundation be laid, in fecting our Affections upon things above, in frequent considering the Importance, the Necessity, the absolute Necessity of our Duty in order to our Happiness; till by degrees we come to a Love and Liking of Goodness and Religion ; and then holy, pious and devou Thoughts will be easy, free, and almost aatural to us. It is, I grant it, a vain thing to persuade you to look after your Thoughts, whilft your Minds are estranged from God; but a renewed Mind, a new Heart, as the Scripture calls it, would produce new and otherguess Thoughts. As the Fountain is, fuch will the Streams be; where the Treasure is, there will the Heart be also. An evil Tree cannot