THE DUTY OF HEAVENLY MEDITATION, Reviewed by RICHARD BAXTER, At the Invitation of Mr. GILES FIRMIN'S EXCEPTIONS; In his Book Entituled The Real Christian.

LONDON, Printed for Nevil Simmons, at the Sign of the three Crowns, near Holborn Conduit. 1671.

Dear and much honoured Brother,

I Have lately perused your judi­cious Treatise called The Real Christian, in which you seek to deliver the Church from the danger of the Errors of Mr. Daniel Rogers, Mr. Hooker Mr. Shephard, and Mr. Perkins; (And I think Mr. Shephard's Sound Believer needeth more Medication to make it sound, than you have yet used.) Among the rest, I find you have endeavoured in the End, to save the Church also from the trouble and danger of my Directions for Heavenly Meditation in my Saints Rest. And though my own opinion be, that seeing we have formerly had some converse by Writing, it would have been better to have attempted to convince me by Letters, of my Errors, before you had [Page 2] warned the World to take heed of them, that you might have heard first what I had to say for my self; yet I confess those are punctilio's, not to be stood upon in this age; in which no great exactness of foresight, pru­dence or justice is to be expected: Nor have I a desire to abridge you of your li­berty of speaking as publikely as you have a list. But taking your writings as I find them, I shall take the boldness to tell you, I. How far my judgement doth concurr with yours, which shall be answered by my en­deavours: II. How farr I am unsatisfied in your Writings on this point.

I. I am glad, 1. That you are tender of the peace of troubled tender Christians, and would have Ministers take heed lest they should break the bruised reed.

2. I am glad that you would have Mini­sters accurate in their words and writings, and not by heedless unwarrantable expressi­ons wrong the Church.

3. I am glad that you are sensible that ex­treams are to be avoided, and that over-do­ing in doctrines of piety, and pretending to go beyond the Church of God, even farther than God would have us, is one way of in­juring truth and piety.

4. I am glad that you are for keeping close to that rule of Truth and duty, and against making a Religion, or any part of it to our selves.

[Page 3]5. I am glad that you are for a free and faithful opening and disowning the Errors and failings of the most esteemed Divines; that weak Christians may not be injured by the reverence of their names. And that you are not of the pernicious opinion of a multi­tude of Professours of Religiousness in this age, who think that none of their faults or weaknesses should be opened, lest it give matter to their Adversaries to reproach them; and that all that is said against them, is said against Religion; and that to call them to Re­pentance, is to disgrace Religion, and to strengthen the hands of wickedness. I am glad that you see the horrid blindness and wickedness of this conceit; and how odious a thing it is to preferr our selfish personal reputation, before the honour of Christ and true Religion; or else to think that it is an honour to Christ and Religion to justifie our sins. I am glad that you have the wisdome of a Christian, rather to disown the Errors of the Godlyest Divines, than to leave it to angry contentious Adversaries to open them in another manner, and to other ends and uses: And that you think not as our selfish blind ones do, that we may dance naked unseen and undisgraced, if we are but in the net of self-flattery; and that angry Adversa­ries will see none of our errours or faults, un­less we tell them of them by our Repentance. In all this, you and I are of a mind.

[Page 4]6. And in particular, I am afraid as well as you of screwing weak ones too high in this duty of meditation on the Glory of Hea­ven. And therefore lest I should injure the weak, or any others, 1. In the Book it self (The Saints Rest) I have given the Reader these warnings, Pag. 703. Ed. 9. [Yet be cautious in understanding this. I know this will not prove every mans duty: some have not them­selves and their time at command; and there­fore cannot set their hours: such are most ser­vants, and many Children of poor and carnal Parents; and many are so poor that the neces­sities of their families will deny them this free­dome. I do not think it the duty of such, to leave their labours for this work, just at cer­tain set times; no nor for prayer or other ne­cessary worship. No such duty, is a duty at all times: Affirmatives bind not semper & ad sem­per. When two duties come together, and can­not both be performed, it were then a sin to per­form the lesser. Of two duties we must choose the greater (i. e. consideratis considerandis) though of two sins we must choose neither. I think such persons were best to be watchful, to redeem time as much as they can, and take their vacant opportunities as they fall; and especi­ally to joyne Meditation and Prayer as much as they can with the very labours of their Callings. There is no such enmity between labouring and Meditating, or Praying in the Spirit, but that both may conveniently be done together. Yet I [Page 5] say, as Paul in another case, If thou canst be free, use it rather. Those that have more spare time from worldly necess [...]ries, and are Masters to dispose of themselves and their time, &c.

And pag. 704, [Just how oft it should be, I cannot determine, because mens several condi­tions may vary it: But in general, That it be fre­quent, the Scripture requireth, when it menti­oneth meditating continually, or day and night, Psal. 1.2. & 119.97. & 148.19. Circum­stances of our conditions may much vary the cir­cumstances of our duty. It may be one mans duty to hear, or pray ofter than another; and so it may be in this of Meditation: But for those that can conveniently omit other business, I ad­vise that it be once a day at least: So also pag. 707. & 709.

And being afraid lest I should injure una­ble persons, in many books since, I have over and over (lest it should be overlookt) repeated (I feared ad nauseam Lectoris) these Cau [...]ions; As Method for Peace of Consc. p. 12. [studying and serious meditating be not duties for the deeply Melancholy— You must let those alone till you are better able to perform them, lest by attempting those duties which you cannot perform, you utterly disable your self from all, &c.

And I thus conclude my Treat. of The Divine Life, [But now I have given you these few Di­rections for the improvement of your solitude for converse with God, lest I should occasion the [Page 6] hurt of those that are unfit for the Lesson I have given, I must conclude with this caution which I have formerly also published: that it is not Me­lancholy or Weak headed persons who are not able to bear such exercises, for whom I have written these Directions. Those that are not able to be much in serious solitary thoughtful­ness, without confusions and distracting suggesti­ons, and hurrying vexations thoughts, must set themselves for the most part to those duties, which are to be done in company by the help of others; and must be very little in solitary duties; For to them whose natural faculties are so diseased and weak it is no duty; as being no means to do them the desired good: But while they strive to do that which they are naturally unable to endure, they will but confound and distract themselves, and make themselves unable for those other du­ties, which yet they are not utterly unfit for: To such persons therefore instead of ordered, well digested Meditations, and much time spent in se­cret thoughtfulness, it must suffice that they be brief in secret prayer; and take up with such occasional abrupter Meditations, as they are ca­pable of, and that they be the more in reading, hearing, conference, Praying, and praising God with others, &c.] More such I omit.

I now add more particularly (lest I should injure any.) 1. That I take it not to be the duty of a Minister to leave his necessary Study, Preaching, Prayer, &c. for this set Meditation: 2. Nor for a Magistrate to [Page 7] leave his necessary work of Government for it. 3. Nor for any man in an Active life, to leave a necessary duty of his place for it: 4. Nor for any weak persons to stretch their braines beyond their abilitie, to do what they cannot do. Greatest Duties must be preferred, and men must endeavour prudently according to their capacity and power. And God will have mercy and not sacrifice and would not have Religion crack our braines, nor turn out our duties towards men, or of our particular Call­ings.

But for all this I am of the same mind expressed in the Book which you find fault with. 1. That Heavenly mindedness is essen­tial to Holiness. 2. That Heavenly thoughts or Meditations, are much of the exercise of Hea­venly mindedness. 3. And that it is every mans duty to exercise his Thoughts or Me­ditations in the most clear, methodical, af­fecting, practical way that his Abilities and op­portunities (consideratis considerandis) will reach to. For which useful Method I gave the best directions I could. But I will not justifie my weakness, nor deny that it is in­jurious to the Church of God, nor deny the preheminence of my Brethrens understand­ings, nor the greater usefulness of their la­bours. And it is not unlikely that mine may have more faults that I discern, which are soon discerned by more judicious men; [Page 8] for whose correction I would not be un­thankful.

II. And now I sh [...]ll tell you wherein I differ from you.

1. It seemeth to me unrighteous dealing, when you undertake in Print to save Chri­stians from my Errours, to overpass all the limitations before recited which I gave them; and to carry it as if I had made that Manner which you except against, to be all mens, or most mens duty. Yea not only by your preterition of my words, but by your own, to perswade the Reader that so indeed it was: When you say, pag. 314. [This I see is the Meditation strongly urged, upon Christians: A duty very hard I am sure; And if our sal­vation lie upon this being performed after this manner as this learned and Reverend Author hath set down, then most Christians that I meet with, forty to one, and those whom I esteem good Christians, must never come at Heaven, but must to that dark place.]

Did you not intimate in these words, that I make it as necessary to salvation as these words import? If so, Truth and Candor should have prevailed with you, to have left out all such passages. You see I make it not so much as a duty to any that have not ability and conveniency: much less that the mode is of necessity to salvation.

But yet I must add, that our Salvation is not unconcerned in any of our duties, though I [Page 9] will not say that our salvation lyeth on it, so as we must else be damned.

What if I had given you a scheme of the admirably accurate Method of Prayer, which is found in the Lords Prayer? I would have said that the observation of this Method is a Duty; and that our salvation is not unconcerned in that duty; I would have said that all men should do their best to come up to that accurate Method in their Prayers; But so, as not to crack their brains, nor hinder them in the Matter, nor neglect any greater duty, to do this; But with mode­rate, just endeavours, according to their abili­ties and opportunities. I would not have said that their salvation so lyeth on it, that none that use not this method can be saved; nor would I be so rough and curst, (as you speak) to those that cannot use this Method, as to deprive them of their comfort: But I would tell them what is their Rule and pat­tern. Even so do I in this case of Medita­tion.

2. And I like not reducing the Rule to our impotent sinful natures, nor to our crooked lives, when our Hearts and lives should be measured by, and reduced to the Rule. I grant that not one of forty doth Pray in the Method of the Lords prayer: no not of Godly People, no nor Ministers; no not in their studied Liturgies. What then? Is it therefore no duty, because few perform it? [Page 10] Were it not enough to have said that me­thodical, set Meditation is a high pitch of duty, which every weak Christian cannot [...]each; or which few can reach; or that it is not so much as a duty to all, as to the circumstances of Time, &c? As I like not the Papists making Gods Law imperfect, that they may make man perfect, and sin Ve­niall, or Vnivocally no sin; so I as little like it in our selves, to say that Duty, is no Duty, and so deny the perfection of the Law, because that every one cannot reach it, and few good people perform it. God forbid I should deny all duty which few good peo­ple perform, any more than justifie all sin which most, or all, good People com­mit.

3. You say [If I should humbly desire a Text or two from Holy Writ, to prove that is the Meditation that God requireth of Christians; if the Reverend Author will answer me, it is a ri­diculous question, (as he hath said in another case,) I must be silent.]

Answ. The case which I call ridiculous, you vainly silence, seeing any understanding Reader (at least of the Book you blame) will see it: They were ridiculous Sectaries, Seekers, and such like, that I then had to do with: If you, or your most skilful Casuist whom you mention, had called for a Text of Scripture to prove that we must pray twice a day in our families, its like I should [Page 11] have given you more Reverent language: though I had thought never the better of the Question: nor do I think sure that you can judge it ever the less a duty, because your Father used it not (which yet I think you were not obliged to have so far told the world.) But why did you not candidly recite those reasonings, by which in that place I manifested the question to be ridicu­lous? Nay doth not your saying that if I do but say [It is ridiculous, you must be silent] imply that I do but barely say so? I will not injure the Reader by the tedious recitation of my words. But to your self I may say, I suppose you are not for Veronius new way of arguing from express Texts of Scripture containing both propositions: If you are, I referr you to Vedelius his Rationale, Theolog. but specially to Dalleus, de fidei ex Script. demonst. Part. 1. Cap. 10, 11, 12, 13.

1. To prove Meditation or frequent Medi­tation day and night a duty, is needless; You confess it. 2. To prove Methodical Meditation a duty to them that have Ability and opportunity, it sufficeth to cite, 1 Cor. 14.26.40. Let all things be done to edifying, and in Order; that is, Right order, not Wrong: and that is, Method. But whether this or that Method be really true and most orderly and edifying, you need not the words of Scripture to tell you: That Cogitationes, judicia & verba, rebus sunt aptanda; that [Page 12] the Verity of Judgement and Speech lyeth in their Congruity to things] are points known by the Light of Reason, and you should not call for a Text to prove them. The Light of nature is not contemptible: The Law of Nature is Gods Law. If Scri­p [...]ure had never spoke it, yet by the Law of Nature it had been a duty to do all things in Order and to Edifying. What is Or­derly, the Nature of the subject meditated on, with the end, will declare.

Preaching is the expressing of those thoughts to others, which by meditation we exercise for our selves. Therefore if it may be known what is Orderly Preaching, by the agreeableness of the expressions to the matter in order to the true End, then so it may be in Meditation, which is a Preaching to our selves. Therefore that Explication and Confirmation should go before Application, that Examination should be furthered by Signes, that Reproof should be furthered by Aggravations of sin, that Exhortation should be furthered by Motives, that Practice should be helped by Directions, the nature of the thing doth prove: And you may as well call for a Text of Scripture for most points in Metaphysicks, or Physicks, or Logick, as for these.

Meditation should be done in Order to Edi­fication: But Order to Edification (in them that have Ability, and Opportunity) requireth that [Page 13] Vnderstanding go first, application after, and that the application intended be furthered with convenient helps, as aforesaid. There­fore Meditation should be done in this or­der, &c.

The Major is found in Nature and Scri­pture: The Minor is a naturally-known truth, exemplified throughout the Scripture, which is written in that Method (and in all Theolo­gical writings) And yet must you have a Text for the Conclusion?

As for Family Prayer I have by me a long Disputation which I think fully proveth it to be a duty; and to most Christian families twice a day. But if the Law of nature must make up neither Major nor Minor, but you must have the Conclusion in express Texts of Scripture, its like if you saw it, you would not be satisfied with it: But it satisfyeth me, as very full proof. But so that there also I believe not that there are no exceptions: Or that no family may have business so ur­gent as to exempt them from this as a duty; or that all families are bound t [...] the same hours, or the same proportion of time.

I will not tell you that it is ridiculous to ask what Text of Scripture maketh it a mans duty, to give meat to his family twice a day: (with the other instances which I laid down.) But if those ridicula capita that then thus pleaded against family Prayer did ask me the same question again, I would tell them so. [Page 14] And I would think this argument might prove a Divine obligation.

[God requireth us to give food to our Fami­lies (if we are able and have opportunity) as oft as is for the benefit or necessity of their natures. But it is for the benefit and necessity of their na­tures to have food twice a day, (ordinarily, and as to most persons:) Therefore God requireth us to give food, to most families, and ordinarily, twice a day. Or suppose I put in but once at least, if you think I cannot prove the twice.

I am not now determining whether fami­l [...] prayer must be as oft, but whether this ar­guing be faulty for want of a Conclusion in the words of a Text of Scripture. I think that Scripture is so admirably suited to the Nature of things, that the farr greatest part of its precepts are found also in the true Law of nature; And that even most of the Gospel precepts may be called, (supposing the History and Doctrine) Lex naturae lapsae reparandae, a Law suited to Natures repara­tion.

4. But I am utterly ignorant of your mean­ing, when you say, that they that can Meditate thus ten hours, &c. are the happier men, and have great cause to bless God for such a mercy. Either you take it to be a Duty to such men (to any men) or no duty: If you take it to be their (or any mens) duty, then 1. You would not call for a Text of Scripture to [Page 15] prove it a duty. 2. Nor you would not pre­tend to differ from me; For I know your Candour abhorreth calumny; And therefore (notwithstanding your forementioned un­handsome intimations) I suppose it is none of your purpose to perswade your Reader that I make it a duty for all men, and you only for some? For as your Piety and your friendship satisfie me that you have no such in­tent, so I know you would discern it to be against the interest of your own reputation, which would suffer when the contrary is seen in my writings. Therefore I cannot understand whether you take it to be any mans duty.

And if not, then you seem to hold the Popish doctrine of Evangelical Councils of per­fection, and of works of supererrogation or per­fection which are no duties. Which yet I will not believe you hold, till I needs must: And therefore having no third exposition of your words, I must leave them all as unintelligible to me.

If you should say that my Limitations are not in the same Book (the Saints Rest) where the Duty is described, I should answer, 1. That is not so; They are in the same. 2. He that confuteth a man twenty years after his Writings are published, is obliged to take notice of what he hath written since: Else if a man reform or correct his own Writings it will signifie nothing; but others are ob­liged [Page 16] to do it still, as supposing it undone. 3. And this Book of yours is not in the same Volume as my supposed Errour is: Therefore if my own will not serve turn, because they are not the same Book, neither will yours.

Or may I doubt lest you did for want of leisure, confound the several parts of my Writing? And take that which I wrote of the common necessity of a Heavenly mind, or of Meditation of Heaven, to be written also to prove or urge the same necessity of the Length or Method? No; I must not be so inju­rious to you; For though you are not ob­liged to read my writings till you understand them; yet I know you cannot forget that you are obliged to understand them, if they are intelligible, before you deliberately oppose them. Therefore I have no way left but to conclude, that you are not intelligible to me.

5. What I have said all this while of the Method, I say also of the Time of Meditation, which is part of your exception.

It is a duty to spend so much Time in Meditation as is best to Edification to attain its End. But to them that have Ability and opportunity, at least a quarter or half an hour, if not more, is best to Edification to attain the End. Therefore to such it is a duty to spend so much time herein.

[Page 17]I will give you no Text of Scripture for the Conclusion, nor for the Minor. The nature of the thing, and common experience proveth it.

Christs Sermons recited in Scripture seem to be very short: You may call for a Text now to prove it a duty that a Sermon or Prayer should be an hour or a quarter of an hour long. It is enough that I prove it from the Aptitude of the Means to its end. Experience telleth us, that very few words and short time serve not to inform mens un­derstandings. And after that, the Will and Affections must have time to be duly ex­cited, and resolved; And more time is ne­cessary yet to drive the nail to the head, and to settle the soul against the force of all objections that may be produced to the con­trary; And yet more time to settle it in the right way of Practice. In a word, If short and seldome Preaching to others, be all that is any Preachers duty, murmur not that you are silenced, but write to Ministers to spare the Bishops the labour and odium, and to silence themselves, as to their long unne­cessary Sermons.

If you say that Preaching is more of Di­vine Institution than Meditation, I deny it. There is here no magis or minus: If God have instituted both, it cannot be said that he hath instituted one more than the other; [Page 18] Though it may be said that one (which ever it is) be of greater necessity than the other. And though I confess that he that Preacheth to himself, may omit and abbreviate much, which must be distinctly expressed to others, yet that doth but shew that Preaching must ordinarily be longer than such set medi­tations; but not that these also must not have that Time, which Method and the Ends require, when it may be so done.

Do you not think it as presumptuous to define the Time of a mans Conference about Scripture, with his Children and Servants daily, as to define the time of his Meditati­on? I suppose you will judge the case much like. Suppose then that I should say to a Master of a Family, [Besides your little occasi­onal reflections, you that have Ability and Op­portunity may do well (yea must take it for your duty) oft times (even once a day, if no greater duty hinder you) to set some time apart to speak Methodically and seriously to your Families, first by way of explication and then of Application to convince them, and resolve them, and to drive all home to Practice, &c.] Would you call for a Text to prove this a duty? I would give you then, Deut. 6.7, 8, 9. & Deut. 11.18, 19, 20. for the Major; Ye shall teach them your Children, speaking of them when thou sittest in thy house, &c. With Gen. 18.19. & 1 Cor. 14. [Page 19] 26, 40. And the Minor I would prove by the Light of Nature and experience. The case is the same in the main, as to the exhorting of our selves.

Truly, Brother, if your soul be not much more Heavenly than mine, it needeth a considerable time of holy exercise, to habituate it to converse above; and to bring it to the benefits of Meditation which we must desire. As I cannot get met heat with walking, no nor running neither, by the violence of the motion alone, unless I continue some conside­rable time; no more can I in Prayer and Meditation; though my lazy humour too oft inclineth me, to sit down and content my self with a short Cogitation or wish; (Like the Prayers of those that wash them and button their Doublets and interpose other talk, and yet pray on.) And the warmth which I have once got, is quickly abated, if I give over the duty, and be short and seldome in it. Short and seldome thoughts of Heaven, will not serve with so bad a heart as mine, to keep up the Habit, much less to exercise a Heavenly mind, in that degree as all true Christians must confess desirable. And I suppose God hath therefore appointed us such variety of Ordinances and helpes, and such long and frequent use of them in their several turnes and times, which prophane men count but unnecessary preciseness, that [Page 20] so our hearts may be habituated to a holy and Heavenly frame, by the frequent and much use of holy and Heavenly exercises. For surely we add nothing unto God, nor do we change him, by our words or hours of Religious exercise; But we wait for his grace in the use of those means, which tend to prepare us both for Grace and Glory. And by the same reasonings as you will shift off, or shuffle this Meditation into some cursory thoughts on the by, the world would do so by Prayer, Preaching, Holy Conferences, Sacraments, and all Re­ligion.

But that several men must allow several proportions of Time for this duty, and that all cannot allow it the same Time, again I say, I will not suspect you to suppose and affirme me to deny.

6. Another thing that you oft mention is, that I say, Other thoughts should not be inter­mixt. And without giving you a Text for the Conclusion, the same kind of arguing will prove this, as proved the rest: Adding Eccles. 9.10. and such like. If a man have Ability and Opportunity, will not attending wholly to the work in hand, best Edifie him and further the success? If not, intermix other thoughts also with your greatest stu­dies, your Prayers, your Preaching, and do all diviso vel prae-occupato animo. Let the [Page 21] People when you are preaching to them, talk in the Church to one another. Re­prove them not for thinking of other things. Or give them a Text of Scripture for the Conclusion, saying you may not think or talk of other matters at Sermon time.

If you say, that Meditation is not to be a set duty as Preaching is, and therefore may lawfully be interrupted; I answer, If it be a duty commanded of the same God, it must in its place be regulated by the same General Laws, Let all be done to Edi­fying and in order. For my part, inter­mixing thoughts do hinder the success with me; But what they may do with stronger heads and better hearts I know not.

You say, p. 320. [But when I come to impose duties, as Meditation, &c. upon Christians to be performed by them in such a manner, and for such a time, and their soundness or unsound­ness, seriousness or sleightness is determined ac­cording to their performance according to that manner which I set down, surely I had need bring clear Scripture proof.

Answ. But if there be no word in my Writings that say any such things as deter­mining of soundness or unsoundness by that manner of performance, what do you think the Reader that tryeth it, will think and say [Page 22] of you, and of such passages as these? I will not tell you lest I offend you. But only I tell you, This is not well done: And you had need to have proved what you intimate by some clear words of mine, if you would be believed.

But p. 319. you argue à fine & effectu, and say that Meditation is then rightly performed when the affections are wrought up unto a sui­tableness with the Object I am Meditating on — Now let this Meditation be perform­ed how it will, let it be in what length or short­ness of time, what is that to the essence of the [...]u [...]y.

Answ. 1. But, do you regard nothing in duty but the Essence? Nothing at all the In­tegrity? Nothing the Degree? Why these also are Duty. He that bindeth us to Sacrifice for­biddeth us to offer the halt and the blind and requireth the best we have.

2. How happy a heart have you, that will so easily be got up to a suitableness to God and Heaven! Is it not you now that forget the case of weak Christians? Verily such hearts as mine will need more adoe. It is not [performing Meditation how it will, in shortness] that will serve the turn, to bring my heart to such a suitableness. And I doubt all the weak ones whose case you seem to plead, are not much better.

[Page 23]3. This savoureth much like the saying of a late Learned Physicion of ours, that said, What need all this adoe in Preaching and talk­ing of Religion, when all is dispatched in three words, Think well, and Speak well, and Do well. O but a great many words are necessary to bring us up to these three things: And so are a great many thoughts to bring our hearts to a suitableness to God, to Christ, to Heaven. Tell me if you can, why the same arguing is not as strong against long Conference, or long Preaching? All that Sermons and Conference are to do is, to bring up our hearts to a sui­tableness to the Object: And if this will be done by one sentence, what needs there a quarter of an houres Preaching or Catechising or Discourse: (And so away with this Preaching office;) But it is a false supposition that one sentence will do this, so well as more.

4. And when I think my heart is somewhat well affected, there is much yet to be done, to fix, and settle, and habituate, and direct it, which may be lost by hasty break­ing off, and slubbering over so great a busi­ness.

One work of Meditation is self-examinati­on. I may say as you, If I can but know my spiritual state, Let examination be performed how it will for length or shortness, what's that to the essence of the duty? But it is not such [Page 24] performance that will acquaint me with my Condition. If I have not Time to consider of Evidences, and then of my heart and life, &c. yea and this with serious uninter­rupted thoughts, it will not do. I could put off Religious exercises as cursorily as ano­ther, if cursory brevity would attain the end, and serve turn with such a heart as mine.

But by all this, I conjecture, that you will be a gentle censurer of Ministers that Preach short and seldome, and of Parents that are short and seldome in family instructions, and of all Christians that are so in their Religious Conferences, unless your Cen­sures bear no due proportion among them­selves.

7. But yet you have somewhat to say of the Object of Meditation, The Joyes of Hea­ven, p. 315. and say [It must be supposed as they must have a title to Heaven, so they must know and be assured of that Title to Heaven; there must be no dark cloud, &c.]

Answ. Now I perceive we differ indeed▪ Do you think that neither unconverted nor unassured doubting persons, are called to Meditate much of Heaven? I think that none have greater need, and that nothing will be more powerful to do their work.

1. That Meditation is most profitable to the unconverted which tendeth most to [Page 25] bring their hearts to the Love of God. But the Meditation of the Infinite Good­ness of God revealed in the Heavenly Glory, and offered to all, tendeth most to bring their hearts to the Love of God, — Ergo

That which representeth God most amiable tendeth most to bring the soul to Love him. But the explication of the Heavenly Glory where he is enjoyed in the fullest Love, representeth God most amiable— Ergo

2. That Meditation is most profitable to the unconverted, which tendeth most to de­stroy all carnal concupiscence and worldly Love, by drawing their hearts to better things. But such is the Meditation of Ever­lasting Glory—Ergo

3. That Meditation is most profitable to a sinners Conversion, which draweth him most effectually to consent to the Covenant of Grace (For that consent is Conversion.) But such is the Meditation of the Heavenly feli­city —Ergo

4. That Meditation is most profitable which tendeth most to make men Repent of sin, and be fully willing of a holy life. But such is the Meditation of Heaven (when they see what sin depriveth men of, and what they are like to get by Holi­ness)—

[Page 26]5. That Meditation is most profitable to conversion, which fullyest sheweth men the excellency of Christ and of all his Grace. But such is the Meditation of Heaven, (as being the highest benefit of Christ and Grace)— Ergo

6. That Meditation is most profitable to the wicked, which tendeth most to save them from Temptations: But such is the Medita­tion of Heaven, (as setting that in the bal­lance which alone can weigh down all that can be offered by the tempter)—.

7. That is the most profitable Meditation which is exercised on God in his fullest Reve­lation — But, &c.

8. That is the most profitable and power­ful Meditation which is about the ultimate End; Because that it is the End that is Loved for it self, and all means but for the End: And the End guideth us in the choise, the estimation and the use of means, and is the very life of them all — But, &cErgo.

John Preached the Kingdom of Heaven, more expresly than the Person of the Messi­ah: And Christ sent his Disciples to Preach the Kingdom of God, when he forbad them to tell men that he was the Christ, (because the Miracles, Resurrection, and other Proofs of it, must first be made, and then be Preached to win belief) Luke 9.2, 21. And by the [Page 27] Kingdom of God he meant that of Grace, as related to Glory, vers. 27, 28.

It is the want of thinking more seriously what Heaven is, and the certainty of it to all believers, that causeth men to follow the flesh and world, and to lose it by contempt or gross neglect. Ungodliness consisteth much in a neglect of Heaven, for want of convincing, quickning Meditations of it. And when you bring a sinner to be but soberly thoughtful of Heaven, you have done much towards his true Conversion. So that in this, you and I do vastly differ, if you think as you write.

I will crave your pardon for my over-pas­sing all the rest of your opposition (sup­posing that I have spoken to the main,) and shall shut up all with these three professions and admonitions to the Reader.

I. Since I find that this judicious worthy man hath made these exceptions, I have con­sidered again whether there be not cause; And I find what long agoe I found, that I was too blame that I observed no more, the weakness and danger of melancholy persons, when I first wrote it; and that I was not more large in disswading them from taking that to be their work which they cannot do. For I believe I have spoken with farr more than ever this Reverend Brother hath done (though he be a Physicion) who have [Page 28] been disabled by Melancholy and other weakness of brain from this work: which made me so oft since give them such warn­ing. And I do here again desire, most Women and all Melancholy persons, to take up more with shorter and occasional Meditations, and with such holy thoughts as good Books and Conference do more easily bring into their minds; and not to over-stretch their brains, by striving to do more than they are able, and so disable themselves yet more.

II. The review of these things doth con­vince me, that Learned men, and all men of Opportunity and Ability to bear Meditation, should use this duty much more than they do; And that much of our ignorance, unbe­lief, ungodliness and uncomfortableness is for want of making a set and serious business of it. And I think that few men that Labour in their Shops, or ever walk or travel abroad, can truly say, that they are wholly destitute of leisure. And I think that poverty and crosses in the world, should make the thoughts of Heaven the more welcome to them; And that it should be so farr from being taken for an ungrateful burden, that it should be the sweetest pleasure in this World; and farr more delightful, than to think of Lands or dearest Friends. And I admonish all that have Ability and Opportunity to take heed lest [Page 29] short and seldome and slight thoughts of Heaven, do harden them in that unacquaint­edness above, which will be the unho­ [...]iness of their lives, and their terrour at death.

III. Though I said it not before, I will now say, that even Methodical Heavenly Medi­tation is a Duty to all that have the free use of Reason; But not a Duty which they are presently fit, and able to performe; And therefore it is (as the Sacrament to the un­prepared) a mediate duty: They sin in not doing it, because they sin in being unprepared for it. But yet it is not Immediately to be done, till shorter and easier Meditations have first prepared them. But Gods Law ceaseth not to be perfect because we are imperfect, nor to oblige us to duty, because we are mo­ [...]ally undisposed. I will not say, The highest [...]orme in the School must not Learn Greek, because the lowest are unfit for it; nor that [...]he lowest are not Mediately to be brought up to it. It is every weak Christians sin, [...]hat he Prayeth not Methodically, because his disability is sinful; though it be a sin that God forgiveth to all that are sincere. But as I will not be one that shall rob the sincere of the comfort of that forgiveness, so neither will [...] be one that shall perswade them to impeni­ [...]ence by saying, It is no sin, nor accuse Gods Law of imperfection.

[Page 30]Understand and Practise these two Texts, and I desire no more of you as to this medita­tion; Matth. 6.21. Where your treasure is, there will your hearts be also. Phil. 3.20. Our Conversation is in Heaven. The Lord forgive my neglect of this duty, and yet help me to perform it, with more Heavenly Life, and Light, and Love, till I shall be above the Life of Faith.

IV. Not medling now with the reason [...] of other men, against either Method or length of Prayer, Preaching, or heavenly Me­ditation, my own sad experience commandet [...] me to give this caution to all Christians, wit [...] a special earnestness; Take heed of a sloth­ful omission or cursory performance o [...] such holy duties; lest when you have los [...] the Life and Sweetness of them, you los [...] next the sense and belief of their excellenc [...] and necessity. When you cannot perswad [...] your self to them, you will be much mor [...] unapt to perswade others to them. And whe [...] you have suffered your hearts to grow i [...] different to them, you will too easily b [...] drawn to take them for things that are [...] indifferent. Practice helpeth us to an experi­ence and taste of the goodness of Duty which will do more to draw us to it, th [...] bare reasoning alone will do. And wh [...] Practice is neglected, Love, willingness an [...] pleasure first abateth; and next the Under­standing [Page 31] it self is in danger of judging it no better or more necessary than we feel it.

For my own part, when my Conscience commandeth me to omit Meditation, because of some greater and more urgent duty, for­bidding it at that time, I usually find that it is my affliction to fall under any such diver­sions, that both may not be done. And I find that whatever else I think of, of Christ, of Scripture, of Promises, of Threatnings, of sin, of Grace, &c. if I leave out Heaven and make it not the chief part of my Meditation, I leave out the sence and Life of all. Thence must I fetch my Light, or I must be in Dark­ness; Thence must I fetch my Life, or I must be Dead, and my Motives or I must be Dull, or not sincere; and my daily Comforts, or I must be uncomfortable or worse. My Hear­ing, and Reading, and Studies grow to Com­mon things, if Heaven be not the principal part: My life groweth towards a common and a carnal Life, when I begin to leave out Heaven: Death groweth terrible to my thoughts, and Eternity strange and dreadful to me, if I live not in such frequent and serious thoughts of the Heavenly Glory, as may ren­der it familiar and grateful to my soul. Yea I cannot think with any due Knowledge, Love or Pleasure, of the ever-blessed God himself, if I think of him only as he is revealed to us [Page 32] in this World, and not as we shall see him in the World of Light. I find my self but a common man, if Heavenliness make me not to differ: And I find my self unfit to Live or to Die, and that my soul is void of the true Consolation, that is needful both in Life and at Death, when I grow a stranger to Heaven­ly Thoughts, and consequently to Heavenly Affections: And that as nothing will serve turn instead of Heaven to be my Happi­ness; so nothing will serve turn instead of Heaven to make up the end of my Religion, and forme my Heart and Life to Holiness. And therefore by experience I counsel all Christians that are able to perform it, especially Ministers, and Learned men, to be much in the serious fore-thoughts of Hea­ven, and to Comfort themselves and others with these words, that We shall for ever be with the Lord, 1 Thes. 4.17, 18.

And I adjure the Reader, not to conceive of the worthy person to whom I write this, as any Adversary to a Heavenly Life: For he is a Sober, Godly, faithful Minister (though silenced) who hath been in New England; and brought back with him a great deal of Judgement and Moderation, in Church-mat­ters, as having seen the experience of the evil of extreams (as his former Writings witness.) And as he opposeth not Mr. Rogers, [Page 33] Hooker, Shephard, out of any ill-will to their Persons, but lest those whom he best loved should wrong the Church, so I have reason to believe that he doth with the same Candour, deal with me. And if we do differ at all (which I am not sure of) it is so little as is not like to cause the least disaffection. I would all our differences made no wider a distance than is betwixt this faithful Brother and Me.—


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