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towards him; or that I ever understand any divine truth aright, till my heart be brought into subjection to it.
This resolution, therefore, extends itself not only to the subject matter of my thoughts, but also to the quality of them with regard to practice, that they may influence my life and conversation, that whether I speak, or write, or eat, or drink, or whatsoever I do, I may still season all, even my commonest actions, with heavenly meditations; there being nothing I can set my hand to, but I may likewise set my heart a working upon it. Which accordingly I shall endeavour, by the blessing of God, to do. And for the better ordering of my thoughts,
I am resolved, by the grace of God, so to marshal my thoughts, that they may not one justle out another, nor any of them prejudice the business I am about.
My soul being by nature swift and nimble, and by corruption inordinate and irregular in its operations, I can never set myself to think upon one thing, but presently another presses in, and another after that, and so on, till by thinking of so many things at once, I can think upon nothing to any purpose. And hence it is, that I throw away thousands of thoughts each day for, nothing, which, if well managed, might prove very profitable and advantageous to me. To prevent therefore this tumultuous, desultory, and useless working of my thoughts, as I have already resolved to fix and settle my. heart upon necessary, and useful, and good objects, so, to prevent my thoughts rolling from one thing to another, or leaping from the top of one to the height of another. object, I must now endeavour to rank and digest them into order and method, that they may for the future be more steady and regular in their pursuits. I know, the, devil and my own corrupt nature will labor to break the ranks and confound the order of them; what stratagem therefore shall I use, to prevent this confusion? I shall endeavour, by the grace of God, whensoever I find any idle thoughts begin to frisk and rove out of the way, to call, them in again, and set them at work upon one or other
of these objects before mentioned, and to keep them, for some time, fixed and intent upon it; and considering the relations and dependences of one thing upon another, not to suffer any foreign ideas, such, I mean, as are impertinent to the chain of thoughts I am upon, to justle them out, or divert my mind another way. No, not though they be otherwise good thoughts; for thoughts in themselves good, when they crowd in unseasonably, are sometimes attended with very ill effects, by interrupting and preventing some good purposes and resolutions, which might prove more effectual for promoting God's glory, the good of others, and the comfort of our own souls.
These and such like are the methods by which I design and resolve to regulate my thoughts: and since I can do nothing without the divine assistance, I earnestly beg of God to give me such a measure of his grace, as may enable me effectually to put these resolutions in practice, that I may not think and resolve in vain.
RESOLUTIONS CONCERNING MY AFFECTIONS.
BUT whilst I am thus ranging my thoughts, I find something of a passion or inclination within me, either drawing me to or driving me from every thing I think on; so that I cannot so much as think upon a thought, but it is either pleasing or displeasing to me, according to the agreeableness or disagreeableness of the object it is placed upon, to my natural affections. If it comes under the pleasing dress and appearance of good, I readily choose and embrace it; if otherwise, I am as eagerly bent to refuse and reject it. And these two acts of the will are naturally founded in those two reigning passions of the soul, love and hatred, which I cannot but look upon as the grounds of all its other motions and affections. For what are those other passions of desire, hope, joy, and the like, but love in its several postures? And what else can we conceive of fear, grief, abhorrence, &c. but so many different expressions of hatred, according to the several circumstances that the displeasing object appears to be under? Doth my understanding represent any thing to my will under the notion of good and pleasant? My will is presently
taken and delighted with it, and so places its love upon it; and this love, if the object be present, inclines me to embrace it with joy; if absent, it puts forth itself into desire; if easy to be attained, it comforts itself with hope; if difficult, it arms itself with courage; if impossible, it boils up into anger; if obstructed, it presently falls down into despair.
On the other hand-doth my understanding represent any object to my will as evil, or painful, or deformed? How doth it immediately shrink and gather up itself into a loathing and hatred of it! And this hatred, if the ungrateful object be present, puts on the mournful sables of grief and sorrow; if it be at any distance from it, it boils up into detestation and abhorrence; if ready to fall upon it, it shakes for fear; if difficult to be prevented, it strengthens itself with courage and magnanimity, either to conquer or undergo it. These affections, therefore, being thus the constant attendants of my thoughts, it behoves me as much to look to these, as to the other; especially when I consider, that not only my thoughts, but even my actions too, are generally determined to good or bad, accordingly as they are influenced by them. That my affections therefore, as well as my thoughts, may be duly regulated,
I am resolved, by the grace of God, always to make my affections subservient to the dictates of my understanding, that my reason may not follow, but guide, my affections.
THE affections being of themselves blind and inordinate, unless they are directed by reason and judgment, they either move toward a wrong object, or pursue the right in a wrong way. And this judgment must be mature and deliberate, such as arises from a clear apprehension of the nature of the object that affects me, and a thorough consideration of the several circumstances that attend it. And great care must be taken, that I do not impose upon myself by fancy and imagination, that I do not mistake fancy for judgment, or the capricious huDiv. No. I.
mors of my roving imagination for the solid dictates of a well-guided reason; for my fancy is as wild as my affections; and if the blind lead the blind, they will both fall into the ditch.
And, alas! how often am I deceived in this manner! If I do but fancy a thing good and lovely, how eager are affections in the pursuit of it! If I do but fancy any thing evil and hurtful to me, how doth my heart presently rise up against it, or grieve and sorrow for it! And this, I believe, hath been the occasion of all the enormities and extravagances I have been guilty of through the whole course of my past life, divesting me of my reasonable faculties as to the acts and exercises of them, and subjecting my soul to the powers of sense, that I could not raise my affections above them. Thus, for instance, I have not loved grace, because my fancy could not see its beauty; I have not loathed sin, because my fancy could not comprehend its misery; and I have not truly desired heaven, because my fancy could not reach its glory whereas if the transient beauty and lustre of this world's vanities have been but presented to my view, how has my fancy mounted up to the highest pitch of pleasure and ambition, and inflamed my heart with the desire of them?
And thus, poor wretch! have I been carried about with the powerful charms of sense, without having any other guide of my affections, but what is common to the very brutes that perish; fancy supplying that place in the sensitive, which reason does in the rational soul. And, alas! what is this, but, with Nebuchadnezzar, to leave communion with men, and herd myself with the flocks of the beasts of the field? And what a shame and reproach is this to the image of God, in which I was created!
O thou, that art the Author of my nature, help me, I beseech thee, to act more conformably to it for the time to come; that I may no longer be bewildered or misled by the blind conduct of my straggling faney-this ignis fatuus, that hurries me over bogs and precipices to the pit of destruction; but that I may bring all my affections and actions to the standard of a clear and sound
judgment; and let that judgment be guided by the unerring light of thy divine word, that so I may neither love, desire, fear, nor detest any thing, but what my judgment, thus formed, tells me I ought to do!
I know it will be very hard thus to subject my affections to the dictates and commands of my judgment; but, howsoever, it is my resolution this morning, in the presence of Almighty God, to endeavour it, and never to suffer my heart to settle its affections upon any object, till my judgment hath passed its sentence upon it. And as I will not suffer my affections to run before my judgment, so whenever that is determined, I stedfastly resolve to follow it; that so my apprehensions and affections always going together, I may be sure to walk in the direct path of God's commandments, and enter the gate that leads to everlasting life. And the better to facilitate the performance of this general resolution, it being necessary to descend to particulars,—
I am resolved, by the grace of God, to love God as the best of goods, and to hate sin as the worst of evils.
As God is the centre of our concupiscible affections, so sin is the object of those we call irascible; and the affections of love and hatred being the ground of all the rest, I must have a great care, that I do not mistake or miscarry in them; for if these be placed upon wrong objects, it is impossible any of the rest should be placed upon right ones. In order therefore to prevent such a miscarriage, as God is the greatest good and sin the greatest evil, I resolve to love God above all things else in the world, and to hate sin to the same degree; and so to love other things only in relation to God, and to hate nothing but in reference to sin.
As for the first, the loving God above all things, there is nothing seems more reasonable; inasmuch as there is nothing lovely in any creature, but what it receives from God; and by how much the more it is like to God, by so much the more it is lovely unto us. Hence it is, that beauty, or an exact symmetry and proportion of parts and