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"I fhall scape as well as the reft of my pany or Acquaintance, and the like." God only knows how many of us fuffer fuch vile Thoughts as these to lodge in our Breasts.
3. I might inftance in our thinking and mufing upon things innocent and harmless enough in themselves, which yet become evil because of the Seasons of them, that is, because we fhould then be thinking of better things; for it is certainly lawful to think of our Friends, Relations, temporal Concerns, but then it must be in due time and place; they must not justle out all other Thoughts; nay, we muft wholly banish them our Minds when we come into God's more efpecial Prefence; at our Prayers, or at receiving of the Sacrament, fuch Thoughts are by no means to be admitted. I speak not now of the fudden Excurfions of our Thoughts, even when the Mind is about the moft ferious Employments, nor of the greater Unruliness of our Thoughts on fome particular Accidents or Occafions. I mean only our grofs Heedlefnefs, in fuffering them to wander to the Ends of the Earth, whilft in pretence and fhew 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 feveral things, not only that have fuddenly come into his Mind, but which he hath voluntarily for a confiderable time dwelt upon and entertained his Mind with during this fhort Exercife, fhould be here. openly expos'd to the whole Congregation ? How many of us have been telling our Money
or counting over our Bags, or felling or buying in our Shops, or at our Games and Sports, or ordering our Houfhold Affairs, or converfing with diftant Friends? Into how many Countries have fome of us travelled? how many Perfons have we vifited? how many fe. veral Affairs have we difpatched, to fay no worse, since we first this day began Divine Service?
4. I might farther mention envious, malicious, fretting Thoughts, when our Spirits are difquieted and vexed at the Profperity 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 felves. Or,
5. Troublesome anxious Thoughts of future Events, multiplying to our felves endless Fears and Sollicitudes, diftracting our Minds with useless unneceffary 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 reafonably defire,render their Lives ftrangely wretched and miferable, only by difcontented and melancholy Thoughts, and ill-boding Apprehenfions; their Souls continually fhaking with the panick Dread of improbable Croffes and Misfortunes, creating to themselves great Pain and Confufion by tragical and idle Jealoufies of Evils to come, and by vexing at what they cannot help or avoid.
6. I might infift on haughty, proud, admiring Thoughts of our felves. How much
time do many spend in ftudying and confidering their own Worth and Excellencies? How do they please themselves with viewing their own Endowments and Accomplishments, and imagine all others to have the fame Opinion of them they have of themselves; that every one is fpeaking of their praise, and that alt that pass by them take notice of them, and ask who they are?
I might inftance in carking and projecting Thoughts, plotting and contriving for Years and Ages to come, as if our Houfes were to continue for ever, and our Dwelling-places to all Generations.
I might instance in Thoughts of Prefumption and Security; bidding our Souls take their ease, and fatisfy themselves with those good things we have laid up for many Years.
I have not time now to speak of vain, unprofitable, infignificant Thoughts; when, as we ordinarily fay, 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 be ing like the Conceits of Madmen, or like little Boys in a School, who, as long as the Mafter is with them, all regularly keep in their feveral Places, every one minding his proper work; but as foon as his back is turned, are all straight out of their places, in Disorder and Confufion : fuch are our Thoughts when we forget to watch over them, or command them. But this is an endless Subject. III.
III. The only thing remaining is, to name to you fome plain practical Rules for the right Government of our Thoughts.
1. The first Rule fhall 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, Prov. 4.23. Keep thy Heart with all diligence, for out of it are the Iffues of Life. Thus the Prophet Jeremiah, 4.14. Wash thy Heart from Wickedness, bow long JhallvainThoughts lodge within thee? and here our Saviour, Out of the Heart proceed evil Thoughts. Now by Heart in the Scripture Phrafe is most ordinarily meant the Affections, fuch as Love, Hope, Fear, Joy, Defire, and the like fo that the plain Senfe of this Place is, that fuch as Mens Affections are, fuch as the Objects are upon which they are placed, and toward which they are most carried out, fuch will their Thoughts be; we shall certainly think most of thofe things that we love moft, that we fear most, that we defire moft, Do we not find it thus in all other Instances? And were our Affections but duly fet upon Di, vine and Heavenly Objects, we should as con ftantly and as pleasantly think of them, as the worldly or ambitious Man doth of his Ho, nours and Riches. Were our Hearts once thorowly affected with a Senfe of God and Goodnefs, and the things of the other World, we fhould hardly find any room in our Thoughts for
for meaner and inferior Objects; fuch Divine and Spiritual Matters would fill our Souls, and wholly employ and take up our Minds. If we once really lov'd God above any prefent Enjoyment or temporal Concernment, it would be impoffible that things fenfible fhould exclude the Thoughts of him out of our Minds, or that we could pafs any confiderable time without fome Converse with him, and Addreffes 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 leifure 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 neceffary Work we have to do?
Here then must the Foundation be laid, in fetting our Affections upon things above, in frequent confidering the Importance, the Neceffity, the abfolute Neceffity of our Duty in order to our Happinefs; till by degrees we come to a Love and Liking of Goodness and Religion; and then holy, pious and devout Thoughts will be eafy, free, and almost natural to us. It is, I grant it, a vain thing to perfuade you to look after your Thoughts, whilst your Minds are eftranged from God; but a renewed Mind, a new Heart, as the Scripture calls it, would produce new and otherguefs Thoughts. As the Fountain is, fuch will the Streams be; where the Treafure is, there will the Heart be alfo. An evil Tree cannot