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greater in Virtue and Goodness; in the Love and Favour of God; in a pure Confcience here, and eternal Happiness hereafter.

4. Another excellent Rule for the good Government of our Thoughts is, that we should live under a conftant Senfe of God's Prefence and Infpection over us. It is impoffible to enumerate the feveral ridiculous Fancies, wherewith the Imagination amufes itself; yet we please ourselves, that, whatever the inward State and Disorder of our Minds may be, thofe, we converfe with, know nothing of the Matter. And indeed it is wifely defigned by Providence, that we cannot fee one.another's Thoughts; for if, notwithstanding all the Arts of Hypocrify and Diffimulation, Men cannot, on feveral Occafions, forbear to render themselves diftafteful and offenfive; how intolerable would they appear to one another, if all their vain and afpiring, all their envious and revengeful, all their covetous and carnal Thoughts lay open without Disguise? But in the mean time, that we are fo careful, not only to hide our fecret criminal Inclinations, but to put on the falfe Colours of Virtue, be that made the Eye, fhall not be fee? And, if he do fee, fhall not be punish? Hell and Destruction are before the Lord, how much more then the Hearts of the Children of Men ?

Thefe are fome of the Rules, that are generally prescribed for the good Government of our Thoughts: And, to give them a greater Power and Efficacy, there are fome particular Exercises, proper to be recommended on this Occafion; fuch as reading the Holy Scriptures, and other good Books; frequent Meditation on religious Subjects; and, above all, devout and conftant Prayer to God, that he would be pleased to fend his Holy Spirit into our Souls, in order to illuminate our Under


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ftandings, and fanctify our Wills; to fearch us, and know our Hearts; to try us, and know our Thoughts; to fee if there be any wicked Way in us, and to lead us into the Way everlasting.

Of Religious Meditation.


NDER the Government of our Thoughts, may very well be reduced the particular Act or Exercise of Meditation, which confifts in a ferious Confideration of Matters relating to Religion, that are discovered and fet before us, to the End, that we may receive Advantage, by fixing our Thoughts upon them, and thereby becoming more pious and holy And, in order to explain this Duty, we fhall, 1. Obferve, what are the proper Objects of it; and then, 2. Endeavour to recommend it to Practice, by the Confideration of its Excellence and Ufefulness.

I. Meditation is called by the Antients, the Soul's converfing with itself; its contemplating its own Nature, and reflecting upon its own Actions; and therefore the firft Work, that it puts us upon, is to confider the ineftimable Worth and Value of our immortal Spirits; and what the great Bufiness, for which they were fent into this World, is: To remember, that the State we are now in, is but a State of Trial, in order to another World, and that therefore it nearly concerns us to know, how we are provided for it: To weigh and confider, how frail, how uncertain our Life is, a Vapour, that appears but a little, and then is gone; but that, after Death, moft certainly comes Judgment: To represent to our Imaginations the difmal Scene of the Ïaft Day; how impartial the Judge is, before whom we must appear; and how fevere the Inquifition will be into all our Actions: To ponder it in our Minds, that we fhall then be configned,


either to that perfect Blifs and Happiness, which are in the Manfions of Glory, or to that unfpeakable Woe and Mifery, which is the juft Reward of the Impenitent, in the Regions of Darkness: And, because the Eternity of those two States is That, which makes the one fo defirable, and the other fo terrible, it will nearly concern us to be very frequent and ferious in our Confideration of what it is to live for ever in the Presence of God, what to live with everlasting Burnings.

Thus our own Nature and Concerns afford us Matter worthy our Meditation, and much more then may we find it in the Nature and Attributes of God: In his Omnipotence, whereby he created the World at firft, and continues to maintain it in its Being In his Omniscience, whereby he not only takes Notice of all Events, but has a perfect Knowledge of them, before they come to pass : In his Wifdom, whereby he fo governs and disposes of all Things, that they ultimately redound to his Glory, and the Good of Mankind: In his Goodnefs, whereby he fhews himself kind to his Creatures: In his Justice, whereby he severely animadverts on those that tranfgrefs his Laws: In his Immenfity, whereby he fills all Places, but is contained in none; and, in his Immutability, whereby he is always the fame, without any Variableness, or Shadow of Change.

Thus the Nature of God gives Scope for our fublimeft Thoughts, and moft exalted Contemplations; and, in like Manner, his Works, whether of Creation, Providence, or Redemption, are the deferved Objects of our Meditation. "Look up "to the Heavens, (was the Advice of fome an"cient Philofophers) and obferve the Order, and "conftant Course of the bright Luminaries,

placed there, because those illuftrious Specta"cles are vifible Arguments, and fhining Demon"ftrations

"strations of the greater Glory of him, that madė "them." Look down upon the Air, the Earth, the Sea, and all the Things contained in them; obferve their admirable Frame and Compofition, and the excellent Ends and Ufes for which they were defigned; nay, observe the Make and Contexture of the leaft and meaneft Animals, that vaft Variety of their Kinds, and the wonderful Inftinct of their Natures; how the Stork knoweth her appointed Time, and the Turtle, and the Crane, and the Swallow obferve the Time of their Coming; and, by thefe Things, that are made and visible, the invifible Things of God, i. e. his eternal Power, and Wisdom, and Goodness will be clearly feen and understood.

From the Works of the Creation, we may proceed to thofe of Providence; and, for fome Time, dwell upon this comfortable Thought and Reflection, that, notwithstanding the strange Viciffitudes and surprising Changes, that we may obferve, God rules among the Children of Men; that the Eyes of all wait upon him, and he giveth them their Meat in due Seafon; that be openeth his Hand, and satisfieth the Defire of every living Thing, filling their Hearts with Food and Gladness: For certainly this common and large Provifion, which is made for Mankind, may justly entertain our Thoughts; and a pleasant Meditation it needs must be to obferve, how this great Family of the World is, every Day, taken Care of, and fupplied.

From the Works of Providence, we may ftill advance to a nobler Theme, the Work of our Redemption; and here we fhall find Occafion to cry out, with the Apostle, O the Depth of the Riches both of the Wifdom and Knowledge of God! When we confider, how, by the wilful Apoftacy of our first Parents, we are all defiled with Sin, and thereby made liable to the Divine Wrath; how our bleffed Saviour undertook to appease this Wrath, by removing


moving our Pollution and Defilement firft, then our Guilt and Obnoxiousness to Punishment, and fo putting us in a State of Salvation and Happinefs; how, to effect this, though, being the eternal Son of God, he vouchfafed to cloath himfelf with Flesh, and to affume our human Nature; to live a poor obfcure Life, and fuffer a painful and ignominious Death for our Sake, and in our Stead; how, by his infinite and irresistible Power, he rose from the Dead in a fhort Time, after that, afcended into Heaven, and thence fent down his Holy Spirit, to furnish his Church with all Gifts and Graces; and, laftly, how the Affiftance of this Spirit, the Acceptance of our Prayers, the Favour of God, our Adoption, our Juftification, and eternal Glory in the Manfions above, are all the bleffed Fruits of this Redemption. These are the great and astonishing Things, which even the glorious Angels defire to look into; and much more then is it our Business and Employment to be thoroughly acquainted with them. And to this Purpose another Object of our Meditation is the Word, as well as the Works of God; for there we are entertained with those sublime Do&trines, thofe divine and heavenly Truths, which are not to be found in the Volumes of other Authors. There is Hiftory, the most ancient in the World, and on whofe Authority we may entirely depend: There are Precepts, and Commands, and Rules of Life, fuch as none of the Masters of Ethicks could ever prescribe: There are Promises, to folace and refresh our Minds; there are Menaces, to curb our Appetites, and alarm our Fears; and there, in fhort, is every Thing, that deferves our Care and Contemplation,

Thus we have chalked out a Path for our religious Meditation, and come now to confider the great Excellency and Usefulness of this Exercife;

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