MEDITATIONS UPON Mr Baxter's Review of His Treatise of the Duty of HEAVENLY MEDITATION. IN Answer to the Exceptions of GILES FIRMIN, Against some things in that Treatise concerning MEDITATION.

PUBLISHED [...]r the satisfaction of many sincere Christians, troubled at their inability to perform that Duty as the said Author (and some others with him) have described it and charged it.

By GILES FIRMIN.

Printed in the Year 1672.

Meditations upon the Christian Duty of Meditation.

THat Gospel-Conversion, and Gospel-Cōversation are not things so easie as carnal-gospellers take them to be, the dayly experience of sincere converts, do sufficiently testifie. To make these more easie than God hath made them, is very dange­ [...]es, and of destructive consequence to the souls of men. To make [...]m more difficult than God hath made them, is to lay a block in the [...]ay of the unconverted, and very injurious to the really converted. So [...]ce it is, what Calvin saith in another case. Valde periculosum est auctio­ [...]laqueos induere conscientiis, quam quibus Verb [...] Dei stringantur.

Whither some holy men, whose names are very precious in the [...]rch of Christ, have not exceeded in the latter, I did in my Treatise the Real-Christian, with honourable respects to their names, soberly [...]sider, and I thought I might do it without any offence. For shall we [...]r serious Christians, that were in earnest for Heaven, and proving of [...]mselves, very sadly concluding against their regeneration, because [...]y have not experienced such works, as such holy men have Preached [...] Printed must be in true converts; and others crying out, if this be [...] Duty that God requires, which such an eminent man, with earnest­ [...] of spirit calls for, then we must neve [...] come in Heaven, and shall [...] not have the liberty, with the men of Berea to examine these things the Scriptures, whether they agree with them or no?

Object. It may be you will say, you should have concealed their names.

Ans. This is the Objection of those who never [...]ound that trouble [...] these points, which others have done: and possibly because they [...]ot read the books with that application to their own hearts, which [...]y ought to do. Let such hold their peace. For others who have [...]d the trouble, they will say, if I had left out their Names, I had left [...] the strongest argument. For they being men as of eminent parts and [...], so of very high esteem with Christians. It was their Names that [...] Authority to their Doctrines, and caused that trouble to divers se­ [...]es Christians. For my part, had I met with such things in the works some other men, I could as easily have passed them over, as I do that [...]perate [I know not what else to call it] Divinity, which I meet with [...]ame young mens books, put forth in the heat of their affections: but [Page 3]these being men so eminent, and all of them [except holy Mr. Perkins, dead before my time] known unto me, the high esteem I beat unto their names, made me to consider my self, and see whether in those par­ticulars, they spake as God spake; for if so; not only my self, but the greatest number of those who go for sound Christians [a hundred for one] must all begin again.

Besides I could not well tell how to referr my Reader to the Pages of a book, or give him my reply to a Letter written to me as an answer to what I had objected against such a point in the book, without the name­ing of the Authors, But were all mens names treated with that honour I have done theirs, I think there would be no complaint.

Obj. Why did you not write while they were living.

Answ. 1. While they lived, I was but a novice in the study of Divini­ty as a Minister. 2. I did write to Mr. Shephard, and give you an ac­count of it. 3. I found after their death, more experience of the trou­ble those points had caused. 4. I know they have successors, able to answer, if Christ and his Apostles did so Preach.

Towards the close of my book, I touched upon Meditation, which I saw by a person of eminent abilities, was driven to such a height, made so difficult, and yet charged with such vehemency, that many setious Christians, being not able to come neer it, were rather scared and dis­couraged, then drawn unto their Duty. The question therefore I dis­cussed was this.

Qu. Whether every day, as duly as we Pray; so we must set a part one hour, or half an hour for the duty of Meditation: and more especially in meditating of the joyes of Heaven: and making it for that time our whole work, and intermix other matters with it no more, then we would do with Prayer?

Who was the Author, I mentioned not so much as one Letter of his name, but only that a Learned and Reverend Author had delivered it. Mr. Baxter takes himself to be that Learned and Reverend Author meant, and vindicates himself, his Book, I saw not till August 1671. I drew up my reply to it, so soon as I saw it, but was not determin [...]d to publish it till now: which I am the more enduced to, from the consideration of the great complaints I have heard Christians make against themselves about this duty of Meditation, especially upon their hearing of some mens Sermons, and reading some books upon it. If God requireth that Duty of us, said some, as Mr. Baxter doth, we must not go to Heaven. Another Reverend Divine I see requiring at least half an hour, for young beginners, and one hour for others: another giving twenty heads in the [Page 4]explication of the Duty, being requesite to the right performance of the Duty, I presume these heads will require meditation also, and thus we shall make the Duty difficulty indeed, at last. I very much honour the gifts and graces of these worthy men. But when I considered the Chri­ [...]unt who complain they cannot come up to these men, I observed they were warm in their work [not the lazy sort of Professors] of good un­ [...]erstanding in the things of God: serious attenders upon all the Ordi­ [...]ances of God, in publick, private, and kept their communion with God insecret Prayer, and Reading. Savoury and Spititual in their conversati­ [...] beautified their Profession: walked humbly and beleivingly with God, yea very submissively, under afflicting Providences; very busie a­bout cleating out their state, &c. I thought with my self, can all these things be done without Meditation? I know they cannot be, what then is the matter of their trouble? They cannot fix their thoughts, especially for an hour, or half hour, upon one spiritual object, without other thoughts in­termixing, which is the meditation these worthy men call for.

The question then is not, whither Meditation be a Christian Duty, I said enough for that in my Treatise, and only add. I will as soon beleive a man can be a true Chriflian without meditation, as without Prayer. But the question is of meditation, as it is stated in the question; whether that be the duty which God commands his people? That Mr. Bax. hath charged it as the Duty, and that of persons of the meanest capacity, Pag. Edition 4th. 2 [...]1. where he summs up all his large discourse about meditation, is very plain. I shall come to it presently.

It is very true, when I read with what earnestness you press the Duty, [your own words, p. 146. Edit. 4th.] I called for the Scripture, to p [...]ove the Duty [as you had described it and pressed it] to be the command of God. You had charged the Conscience of your Reader with it, p. 251. I hope you will not bind the Conscience but by Scripture. This is that [...]fect Law 19. Psal. 7. This is, Able to make the man of God perfect. 2. Tim. 3.16.17. If I charge Duty towards God upon a Christian, I will not go first to my Reason to prove it: but if the Scriptures will not surnish me sufficiently, and make me perfect, for my proof, the Duty being either expresly mentioned in the true Sense I hope sir, Veroniu [...] with his verbotim and I am a­greed, you might have spared your Au­thor I read him long since. of the Scripture, or dedu­ced by necessary and infallible conscequence I hope sir, Veroniu [...] with his verbotim and I am a­greed, you might have spared your Au­thor I read him long since. from-Scripture, I will cease charging such a Duty upon Christians. If the Scripture speak it, I am [...]e there is Reason but my Reason will not alwayes prove Scripture-rea [...], I observe what you say p. 12. of the Light of Nature, the Law of Nature. But Sir, neither your Reasons nor my Reasons will prove a Du­ty as the Law of Nature will do. Men differ much in their Reasons. Quot Capita, &c

To take a clearer view of your Book, I will draw it into this method, I will consider

  • 1. The Subject of meditation.
  • 2. The Object of meditation.
  • 3. The Time of meditation.
  • 4. Intermixed thoughts in meditation.
  • 5. Methodical-meditation.

These are the things I find in your book, about which our apprehen­sions differ something, but I hope in the conclusion will agree.

As for that accurate method in the Lords Prayer, unto which method we are so bound, that if we observe it not, we sin, p. 9.29. I understand it not, therefore I admire it, and can say nothing to it, but I dare say there will be a sin brought to light, which the world never heard of be­fore.

First then for the Subject, the Persons who are bound to meditate. I read, p. 8. you charge me with Unrighteous dealing, that I had carryed it, as if you had made that manner [of meditation stated in the Question] to be all mens, or most mens Duty. And below in the same page thus You see I make it not so much as a Duty to any that have not Ability and conveni­ency. That, p. 4.5.6. you had said this will not prove every mans Duty, Servants, Poor, the children of poor and carnal Parents are exempted.

Hold a little I pray Sir, what do you mean by Ability? for I find none exempted, but melancholy persons, and some weak headed women, p. 28. I suppose you exempt these upon that score: but I am confident we shall find thousands of sincere Christians besides such, that are unable to hold their thoughts fixed to one Heavenly object, for one hour, or half hour, without other thoughts intermixed, as you have charged them.

[...].|What is the reason Sir, that in this Treatise against me, you have put in Ability seven times, and not once, in your large discourse about it, that I can find, pardon me if it be, it slips my eye. I looked for it nar­rowly where you summe up all, and there you take notice of Convenien­cy, for the poor man, and servant, but not of Ability. Had you there mentioned it once, and given a fair interpretation of it, I question whe­ther you had ever read a line of mine about it.

But do you indeed not make it the Duty of most men, nor of any that have not Ability, &c? then why doth my good Brother charge me with so horrible a crime in the next page 9. I like not the reducing the Rule, to our impotent sinful natures, nor to our crooked Lives. Truly Sir, no more do I, for it is a great sin. But,

1. If this be not a Duty to most men, not to any unable, &c, as you [Page 7]say, [and it is the case of thousands of sincere Christians Vnable to come [...]p to your Rate, that I plead] then there is no Rule to such, if there be a [...]le to such, then I am sure it is their Duty. How then do I reduce Gods Rule to our sinful Natures, when there is no Rule at all?

2. If Gods Rule doth impose the duty as you do, why then did you [...] direct me to that Rule, when I called for Scripture, to prove the-Du­ [...] as you imposed it to be Gods Command: but instead of Scripture, you [...]re me your reason. Before I would have charged my Brother with such [...] sin, I think I were bound, both as Minister and Christian, to have gi­ [...]n him clear Scripture proof for the point I had asserted, which he [...]estioned for want of Scripture proof, and which he called for, but this you are far from. True Sir, you do bring one Scripture to prove what [...] never in the question: and another to prove something in the que­ [...]ion; how aptly, I will examine both in their place: But still the main [...]ess or pinch of the question is left destitute of Scripture; yet thus you are charged me.

To say you brought it as an Argument against me, yea Sir, if you did [...] leave out the Principal ve [...], or rather, the main propositions unpro­ [...]d, viz. That your Rule is Gods Rule, till you have proved this, I pray [...] your Argument into a Syllogisme, and see how finely it will run.

And now Sir, for my unrighteous dealing, as to the Subject.

First, I pray how do you agree with your self? for p. 145. The Subject of medi­tation. you press not Reader, to the practise of this Duty thus. Else thou dost frustrate [...]chief design, and makest me lose the cheif of my labour, be who will [...] Reader, this is your Argument, but in vain it seems to most men. p. [...], you tell us, The want of this Duty, is the cause why men digest not, also profit not by Sermont. For want of meditation I think so too, and [...]refore exempt none, p. 251. you say, you bring it down to the meanest [...]q [...]ity, and charge even such at the end of the Paragraph, If thou wilt [...]actise it, do not read it; I read no exemption of such in the Para­ [...]h. Then you set down the Duty. The summ is this. As thou makest [...]science of praying dayly, so do thou of acting of thy graces in meditation, [...] more especially in meditating of the joyes of Heaven. To this end set a [...]et one hour or half an hour every day, &c. intermix other matters no more [...] it, then you would do in Prayer. p. 153. in that you charge your Rea­ [...], as he maketh conscience of Prayer dayly, so &c. here you put as much [...]ty upon it, as upon Prayer, and bind the conscience to it; but I will [...]ay that Prayer is not a Duty for all persons, be they poor, servants, [...], melancholy persons, or unable, all having the use of Reason are [...]d to it, but if your Reasons will serve to salve them from the Duty [...] Meditation, they will as well from Prayer.

[Page 8]2. Let us consult Holy writ, which must determine you and me. The grand Text for meditation is 1 Psal. 2. in other Scriptures we find David putting this Rule into practise, now this Text exempts not servants, or poor, or, most men, but that person that will be blessed, be what he will, here is his Duty, he must meditate in the Law of God day and night. I know no Text that warrants me to teach such distinctions of meditation, whereof one is not the Duty of All men or most men Another is the Duty of All men. Therefore I stated the question according to the Scripture.

3. Though Rich men and Masters, having more time and liberty may be more frequent in Religious duties, yet it is not the having the most time and liberty, which will make a man Able to meditate, and to con­tinue in the Duty: but Ability is All in this point, and that depends.

1. I may say something upon the constitution of the body, some be­ing of a more volatile, some of a more fixed constitution.

2. Upon the strength of the invention being able to expatiate upon a subject, which though but a common gift, yet is very essential to the length of meditation which the question speaks of.

3. Upon the degree of grace infused, the more the will and affections are sanctified, the work is the easier.

4. Upon the degree of the gracious and assisting presence of the Spirit, of God: who being the first cause in Nature and Grace acts both the common gift of the Invention, and the special gift of grace influencing the soul most graciously in what degree he pleaseth.

Hence, a poor man [...]ay be m [...] more able to meditate then a Rich man, a Servant more able then his Master [...] [...]y women more able then many men, because the invention th [...] g [...] the assistance of Gods spirit, may be much more in the Poor Servants, Women, then in the rich, ma­ster, or men. So the exemption you have made in the Subject is ground­less, for as for conveniency, you tell the poor man, and the servant, they may do it when they are about their labours, p. 252.

2. The Ob­ject of our Me­ditation For the Object of meditation. It is the whole word of God. So saith the Text, 1 Psal. 2, In his Law he meditates.

There is not one particular Object which the Scripture hath bound us up unto, that upon this you must meditate every day. The varieties of Providences, temptations, the state, condition and frame of the Soul, with several things, make differences here, why then should we stint Christians to one object every day; I take notice of your words p. 31: What ever 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 cheif part of my meditation, I leave out the sense and life of all. Thus from your [Page 6]example and experience, you prove that Heavens joyes and rest, must be [...]e Object of our Meditation every day, and is this sufficient I pray, to charge a Duty upon Christians in that manner you have done?

Beleive it Sir, we that are of the low form in the School, can find [...]ch things in our Meditations upon our dear Christ, the Promises, the Scriptures, and Grace, that could we but experience them in our hearts, [...] would not fear but we should find Ioy upon earth aboundantly, a be­ [...]ing of Heaven, though we do not meditate upon the joyes and rest a [...]ming: and I must profess to you again, unless I can in some good [...]easure experience them, the thoughts of Rest a coming, afford little joy [...]me.

There may be much heavenly-mindedness, though the Soul doth not [...]ally meditate upon the Ioyes and Rest that shall be in Heaven every [...].

The cheif and main thing an unconverted person should meditate up­ [...] is, his sinful and miserable state he is in, out of Christ. Yet I deny not, [...] the Ioyes and Rest in Heaven are an object, for the unconverted and [...] the converted, though not assured of their conversion, to meditate [...]o, so that you might have spared your Arguments, p. 25.26.27. I [...]w not who oppose you, the great difference you mention is none at [...].

Yet this I say again, Christians that are pressed with the sense of guilt, [...] the continual assaults of impetuous and strong corruptions, cannot [...] redemption applyed, cannot experience the Gospel, and Christ in [...] execution of all his offices though they seek and wait for help: These [...]rislians will have little pleasure to think of Rest and Ioyes in Heaven, [...] will more increase their sorrows, for want of a title apprehended. [...] that hath nothing but an hereafter [which rather terrifies to think of] [...] satisfie his hungry will at present, will be as well pleased as a man who [...]ngry indeed, and you give him nothing at present to satisfie, but leave [...] this to meditate upon, he shall have a rich feast three Moneths [...]e, but till then he must fast.

Though a person be not able to fix his thoughts half a quarter of an [...] upon one spiritual object, but his mind is moving up and down from [...] spiritual object to another, but yet out of every object or flower he [...]ers honey and carries it to his spiritual hive, this person doth answer [...] command as truly, as he that can keep them fixed an hour, for he still [...]ditating in the law, 1 Psal. 2. by what Rule Ministersty up Christi­ [...], but to one only object at a time in the performance of the Duty of [...]tation, I know not.

[Page 10]3. Thirdly, The time of Medi­tation. For the Time of meditation, your Rule saith, an hour, or half an hour, and here lay the main stress of the Question.

Sir, I have nothing to say against two three, six houres, if God hath gi­ven to others such large inventions, strength of grace, and assistance of his spirit: but I hope it is no part of my sinful nature, to which I reduce Gods Rule, that I have not such a large invention as Mr. Baxter hath, which I must have before I or any other can perform the Duty according to your Rule.

This is it I mislike, that where as the wisdome of God hath determi­ned no time, we cannot rest in his wisdome, but must determine the du­ty to an hour, or half hour, as you and another worthy Divines have done after you, p. 5. I see you have quoted 1 Psal. 2. and 119. Psal. 97. for meditation. But Sir, those Texts do as strongly prove that meditation must be All the day, as they prove meditation to be a Duty, and from those Texts I will as well prove that Meditation must be twelve hours, as you can prove it must be one hour, and add but this also which you have char­ged that there be no intermixing of any other thoughts, then we have a hard Duty indeed. But I know David did govern his Kingdome, and his Ar­my, and had many other thoughts, about other Objects then spiritual. So that we must have an interpretation given of the Texts, and such a one as I am sure must not determine hours, or half hours, or quarters. But pag. 16, 17. you give me a Syllogism to prove your determination, and tell me you will not give me a Text for the Conclusion.

Sir Syllogysms are not all on your side. But for your Syllogysme what doth it prove more then I had said before? that a Christian endeavour should be, to get his affections wound up to a suitableness to the object he is meditating upon, that so the end may be attained, this you acknowledge, p. 22. I had said, and must I determine one hour or half hour for this? it may be it may cost two hours, a man may have such woful strugling with his corrupt heart that he cannot get up, it may be another time a quarter, half a quarter may do, I determine no time, my reason is, and therein I shall answer the flout you have given me, p. 22. [I know not how to inter­pret it else] how happy a heart have you that will so easily be got up, &c. O Sir, how corrupt a heart I have I feel, but though I have not your parts, nor grace, yet I have so much acquaintance with the wayes of God, that I know the Spirit of God may and doth sometimes, give in that to a soul, in a quarter or half quarter of an hour, or less, which may cost him seve­ral hours another time, and many Prayers, but cannot reach it, and do you think there are none of the people of God will joyn with me, in wh [...] I say?

I observe you, p. 18. while you prove the defining of the time not to [...]e presumptuous (as you term it (you put this question to me, Suppose I say [...] the master of a family, you that have Ability, may do well yea it is your [...]y oft times [once a day, &c.] to set some time a part to speak methodi­ [...]dly to your family: would you call for a Text to prove this duty? I will give Deut. 6.7.8. and Deut. 11. &c.

To which I answer, I observe two words in your Argument, which doubt will prove you guilty of Sophistry. 1. Here Ability is expressed [...] required, which was not in the Question: and of this before 2. Your [...]gument saith, some time, but the question saith an hour or half hour, the [...] is determined to one of these, but doth he that saith, some time, [...]etermine or define any part of time? what followes this is you know, I [...]e it not. Hold to the Question Sir. I observe p. 23. you argue a­ [...]st me from a like absurdity in a Learned Physician, that said: What [...] all this adoe in Preaching, when all is dispatched in three words, think [...] and speak well, and do well.

But Sir, you must go on, and make your Argument full to answer [...]e, viz. that as he said, so he did speak well, he did think well, and did well, [...] your Argument is lame, for you confess I had said the end and effect [...] Meditation must be attained. Pag. 22. If he did as he said, where was [...] absurdity? so where is mine? Sir here is more Sophistry in your argu­ [...].

1. Question you put to me p. 22. If a Christians affections be brought [...] a suitableness to the object, and so the essence of the Duty is attained, [...] do you regard nothing in duty but the essence? nothing at all the integri­ [...] degree? &c. I answer.

For integrity, where the end and effect are attained, there are all the [...]ses: then the integrity of the duty cannot be denyed: unless you will [...]end about the Logical notion of integrum, as being Argumentum [...]m a primo, and Symbolum effecti, as the members are Symbola cau­ [...], which signifie nothing in this point.

1. For the Degree, the goodness of a duty doth not consist so much [...]e length of time that a person takes up in the performance of it, then [...]m that prayes three hours and preach four hours dully, be esteem­ [...] [...] the excellent Preacher.

2. Why did you not put two houres or four, when you charged the [...] upon your Reader? for this would be a higher degree then one [...], if degree was the thing you aim'd at?

3. But good Sir, let sincere Christians have first such inventions as you [...], [which must be if the length make the degree] let them have the [...]e strength of grace, and assistance of the spirit. Let not him that hath [Page 21] five Talents and can improve them, make his improvement a Rule for him that hath but one Talent or two Talents, when these are faithful in improving two or but one. Because they are unable to hold long, therefore they endeavour to be frequent, and often in it, (as I said, and shall have occasion to mind you of these words presently.)

4. If one meditate two hours, but he comes not up to the end of medi­tation which he ought, another meditates one quarter of an hour, and attains the end which is best?

I find p. 14. you make an argument against me from what I had said my self, viz. that if a man can thus meditate ten hours, he is the happier man and had cause to bless God. Therefore say you, it is some ment Duty.

I answer. Had you charged none with the Duty, but those who were Able to do it, as you describ'd it, you had said something now, and its possible I had said nothing at all, but your discourse ran generally to your Reader, though of the meanest capacity, and your exceptions I have be­fore considred.

2. I shall yet deny your Consequence A man prayes this day two hours, therefore, it is his duty to pray once every day two hours, nay if it were to charge it once a week to be his duty, having Ability and Conveniency, Preach it, or Print it who will, not I, lest when I be called to prove it, I should say to him, I shall give no Text but a Syllogisme.

3. It will not follow to be his Duty, every day thus to meditate, be­cause that this day he could hold out one hour in meditation, it was from the assistance of the good spirit, that helped his invention, and acted his grace. That good spirit is a free agent, will not give forth his assistance the next day, may be not next week or moneth, in that degree which he did this day. My duty is to pray for his assistance, but his Assistance is none of my duty. But it was that Assistance which made the duty this day thus to be performed, and that which makes Christians in their Duties, at one time differ so much from themselves another time: not like themselves: I appeal to Christians whether I write false Divinity in their experiences, we in the low form, Sir, are fain to own that good spi­rit, else we find untoward work.

I find pag. 12. and 17. You insist much upon an Argument from Preaching one hour [that's the Question] to Meditation one hour, [Page 31]and least I should deny the consequence, saying, That Preaching is [...]e of Divine Institution then Meditation, you say you deny it, no magis [...]minus heer, &c.

I. Answer, first, I ever thought that Preaching by Office, [and I now no Preaching properly so called, but is so] was a part of Institu­ [...]ed Worship, but that Meditation is a part of Instituted worship, I never [...]nd any Divine that would say it. I cannot understand that Medi­ [...]a [...]ion is Worship properly, when I examine my self I m ust do it by Me­ [...]ation, But is God the immediate Object of that Act, as I think he is [...] Worship.

2. What Sir, must we Preach as frequently as we must Medi­ [...]e? and must we Preach day and night, and all the day, as we must [...]editate?

3. Because when I Preach to a multitude, some, Atheists, Erro­ [...]s, Hereticks, others very ignorant and weak, doubtful, dead in [...], &c. Therefore I must labour to Illighten, Convince, Confute, [...]orm, and divers things must sall in, that I may come to the end [...]my work [if it be possible] and this will cost so convenient time [...] not to dunt my Auditory, must I needs run over these Topicks, [...]en I am in Meditation with my self? possibly when I hear a man [...]each, I understand the point, the reasons &c. as well as himself: my [...] possibly so convinced of the goodness of the thing, that it saith, I [...]d in no need of your Reasons to convince me, or motives to draw [...] to consent; I consent already: give me the thing saith my will, and [...] it not be the same at home in my Meditation? and yet must I [...]ds require of men as much time at home in Meditation as a Minister [...] his Preaching?

Text of Scripture you tell me you will not, [because you cannot] [...]en me but your Reasons, and what I pray are those Reasons you have [...]en me as strong and clear for one hour or half, every day in meditati­ [...], &c. as the Law of nature you tell me of? Let the Learned Reader [...]ge.

To conclude this Head you tell me: By all this I conjecture, that you [...]l be a gentle censurer of Ministers that Preach short and seldome: and [...]rents that are short and seldome in instructing their family, &c. p. 24. [...]before this p. 17. thus, If short and seldome Preaching to others be all [...] is any Preachers duty, murmure not that you are silenced, but write to [...]isters to spare the Bishops the labour and odium and to silence themselves, [...] their long [...]nnecessary Sermons.

I pray, Brother, what do you mean by this? I shall return no answer but let the Reader judge of it, only as there is another charge of some­thing like sin, let me clear my self if I can.

Sir, had you but so much charity to have suspended your Conjectural­censure, till you had enquired any way, of the Parish or corner where I Preached, whither in my practise [which is the best proof of a mans opi­nion] I was such a seldome and short Preacher, I doubt not but you would have met with a loud confutation.

2. I pray whence do you draw this conjecture? I hope from those words but five or six lines below the words which you have transcribed in the same Paragraph. I had been speaking of Meditation when it had attained its end, and if the end be attained, then my words are these, If this Meditation for the time be not a quarter of an hour, or half quarter, but often in a day [as those who are plagued with their hearts, are put upon these meditations frequently] will not this Meditation answer the Scripture medi­tation, &c.

I pray Mr. Baxter, are often frequent and seldom, Synonoma's? did not I expresly use the words, and yet will you conclude me to be a gentle censurer [a little softer word for a Favourer] of seldome Preaching? Sir, I leave it with your own conscience.

For length or shortness of Preaching instruction of Families, and Prayer, &c. they ought so to be performed, as become the Majesty of God, and may most conduce to their end. Ordered with such prudence, that the affections of people, servants, children, be not made dull, and discour [...] ­ged from attending upon ordinances, through tedious and imprudent prolixity: Let the Appetite and affections be kept up. This I am sure a­grees with Scripture, 5 Eccles. 2. in the first place, then with Reason so­lid and sound. This hath been approved and practised, by holy and ju­dicious men, I could name some of our own Divines, and among forreign Divines there wants not proof. The Churches of Bohemia, if credence may be given to the History of them [and why it should not I know not] had so much Gospel-simplicity amongst their members as is not to be found, but in few Churches. In those Churches the longest Sermon on the Sabbath, was not above one hour, with the Ordinance of singing joyned to it. It was a Law among them, that long Sermons should be avoided, lest people should loath their spiritual food. So Comenius tells us, Hoc potius legis instar est, ut concionum prolixitas vitetur ad evita [...] dum in auditoribus fastidium in other exercises, but half an hour at a time.

The Author of the book, Entituled, Sacrilegious desertion, of the holy [...]nistry rebuked [it may be Mr. Baxter knows the Authors name] pag. [...]. Exhorts the Non-Conformists in some Parishes to Preach but once a [...]y, telling them, people cannot hear and digest three Sermons in a day [...]; and in the end of that Paragraph, tells them, it is Preaching well, [...] more affecteth people, then Preaching Long and Often. I am of the [...]ne opinion with this worthy Autho [...], and wish that as Satan sometimes [...] play his game, while he puts on some Christians [especially young [...]ginners] to be often at Prayer, thereby to tire them out; so that [...] do not play his game in that so often Preaching, in the great City, [...]d other places, many Hearers at last proving no other then Glutted [...]malists: But shall I say of this Author, what a frien [...] is he to Seldome [...]d Short Preaching? that speakes against Long and Often Preaching?

I come to the fourth head. 4th. Head In­termix­ing. The intermixing other matters in the time [...]formance of the Duty, no more then in Prayer, of this you tell me pag. [...] you oft mention it.

I pray Sir, how often is once? excepting in the question where I must [...]t it, because you had so charged it, p. 153. but else I find not that I [...]k of it above once, and there with just complaint against my self for [...] ficklenefs, inconstancy, of my quicksi [...]ver thoughts; but I oppose [...] not that I see, only in the end of my Paragraph, I spake doubtfully, [...]ther if they did croud in, they were as sinful, as in Prayer, you ha­ [...]g charged your Reader as much against them in Meditation, as in Pray­ [...]. I annexed my Reason, because, Prayer was such Divine worship that [...]deal therein immediately with God: but in meditationwe do not [...]l alwayes immediately with God. I may have many thoughts of [...], when yet I cannot be said to worship God in those thoughts, they [...] immediately terminate in my self, to help me on in my christian [...]se and warfare. Now to my reason you give me no answer at all. I [...]w no serious Christian, that would carelesly, willingly, admit other [...]ghts to hinder the end he aimes at in Meditation. But whether the [...] you bring do prove thoughts crouding in, to be as sinful as in Pray­ [...] for this was the question] I will consider. Your Text is Eccles. 9.10. [...]soever thy hand findeth to do, &c. The sense of the Text must first be [...]ed into. Now,

1. Here I find Mr. Cartwright, Mr. Pemble, and Innius as I understand [...] by his Notes on the 7. v. (with him) take this verse with some ver­ [...]eceding, to be the language of the Epicure, Mr. Cartw. in his Ana­ [...] seems to carry it smoothly, these are men of no small note, and if [...] then it is nothing to the purpose.

[Page 16]2. Quic­quid ali­quis va­let, in sua habere maus aut manu invenire dicitur. Lorinus in Text. Though they be not the Epicures words, yet the Phrase, whatso­ever thy hand findeth needs explication, for the hand to find a thing, is for a man to have a thing in his power, his hand can grasp it he is able to do it, 'tis in his hand, hence the vulgar render it, quodcun (que) facere potest ma­nus tua, and though the Syriak word signifieth invenit, as well as potuit, yet the Translator, render it by potuit. Hence the Calde apply it to gi­ving of Alms: because a Rich mans hand hath wherewithal, he hath the power, add the will. Thus if we compare Texts [the best way of interpretation] 25. Levit. 26.28. in both the verses the word Able as we translate, the Hebrew words are the same in this Text. His hand hath found, &c. or, His hand hath not found sufficiency, that makes him able, thus again. Iudg 9.33. latter end. Do as thy Hand shall find, the same words, but now are spiritual things, the things of eternal concernment, within our grasp? have our hands found them? &c. When I was in the Ministry, I had a desire to have handled the Text, in reference to spiritual things, but upon serious weighing the Text, I laid by my thoughts: to have very good things spoken from a Text, and the Text not the true mother of the children, I did not like it.

3. But make the most you can, it will amount to seriousness and dili­gence in Meditation, but it will not prove that by thoughts creeping in are as sinful as in Prayer: and that is the question.

Now I come to the last, your Methodical Meditation, a new notion that I never met with before, and no part of the question.

That there must be a serious pondring of things in the understanding, before we can apply them to our hearts, so as to have our hearts wrought up to a suitableness with the objects we meditate upon, is very true: and if this were all you meant by Methodical meditation, it would be yeilded the act is not Rational without it. But I see you have other notions, as your argument from Preaching declares, p. 12. where you tell me, Me­ditation is a preaching to our selves, and therefore look what order is in prea­ching, the same may be in Meditation; and here you run through all the parts of a Sermon, and for this Duty you give me a Text to prove it, 1 Cor. 14. ult, Let all things be done in order, p. 11th.

Sir, I think that is orderly Meditation, and tending to edification, which I have mentioned, and I know no other order. Here I perceive you put in Ability again. But why I pray do you bring a Text to prove a Duty, and tell us what is orderly Preaching, and then when you apply it to Meditation say that order may be in Meditation, which is a preaching to our selves? I doubt it must be, if the Text will prove what you bring it [Page 17]for, and there be no orderly preaching but what you have set down. Do Texts which command duty, prove only May bee's? but to the Text, which is but the general conclusion of the 11.12. and 14. Chapters, le­ [...]lled against the undecency and disorder among the Corinthians, of which [...] read in those Chapters. And this is a standing Rule for all Churches, [...] all Church-Acts, in all Ages, that Order be observed. In our interpre­ing of Scriptures, the scope, the circumstances, and series of the Text, [...]hat went before and what followes, must be the guide for interpreta­ [...]. Hilari saith true, Intelligentia dictorum, ex causis sumenda est di­ [...]is, this is very clear to any man that reads the Chapters, but Medi­ [...], was not in the least the subject of the Apostles discourse before, [...] Church-affairs.

2. This Order was such as might be seen, [as was their disorder, in [...] 11. and 14 Chap.] or come under the cognizance of others who be­ [...]ed them. Had Paul been present bodily in the Church of the Colossians [...] might have seen the order. 2 Col. 5. Beholding your order. True, Paul [...] he was with them in spirit beholding their Order, &c. how he could [...]old their carriage in the exercise of Church-discipline [so I perceive [...]derstand this order] 1080, miles with his eyes, Rome being so far [...]ant, as some say, I know not; but had he been present as Epaphras [...], and from whom as some think he had his relation] he could have [...] it is Epaphras did. I can see Order in an Army in the field, [...] [...] are vocabulum est, & denotat cohortem militum instructam, & ordine [...] lobatam. But can Paul or any man behold the immanent acts of [...] soul [as Meditation is] in another person? then he could not see [...], or disorder there.

3. This Text admits of no such limitations as Ability and opportunity. [...]so, the sense must run thus, Let all things be done in order, if you have A­ [...] and opportunity. So that if this Text have any respect to Meditation, [...]ds all, without limitations; will this salve the disorder in Churches, [...] of Ability? are not Churches bound to order unless they have Abi­ [...] but you bind none by the Text, but those that have it.

As for the blame you seem to lay upon me, p. 15. that I had not read [...] her writings, in which you had added limitations, &c. Sir, I read a [...]mat had four times passed the Press, and you might have corrected [...] you saw cause, but I see you have not in the 9th. Edition by what you [...]cribe; and what you tell me out of your other books do as little [...] it. To read all your books, would cost me more money, then I can [...] spare to buy them, but much less should I find time to read them. [...]ell the world, that I am but a gentle censurer of soldome and short [Page 20]Preaching &c. [how truly let the Reader judge] but had you added short writings, I assure you, I would not have censured you at all, but ra­ther thanked you for them. You tell me p. 16. I should understand your writings before I oppose them, which it seems I did not, because I suppose that which you wrote of the Common necessity of the meditation of Heaven, to be written also, to prove or urge the same necessity of the length or me­thod.

Truly Sir, I am not so simple but I understand what an hour or half hour is, which in the brief sum of all your discourse, you charge your Reader with. I think you intend as you write.

2. If length be nothing, why am I judged a gentle censurer, of short Preaching by you, and repeat shortness so often?

3. Why do your Syllogisme endeavour to prove, the hour or half hour, [or quarter, which now you put in]? this is all I meddle with, but what the Length or Method is of your discourse, I did not so much as think of it, not had the least respect to it, therefore I doubt you are mi­staken much in this.

No duty that God requires but the performance of it hath a tendency to our salvation. So hath this of Meditation: and if God requires the per­formance of it, in that manner you have charged, and that as we make conscience of Prayer dayly, then we must endeavour to perform it in every particular, as you have described it: else our hopes of Salvation will be shaken.

But how did I invite you to a Review, as your Title speaks, when I never mentioned one letter of your Name, and another hath required as you, an hour or half hour, and that Heaven may well be an Object none deny; this made all that I meet with, wonder to see my name put in your Title page.

And now Reverend Sir, [whose graces and gifts I do highly honour] I have given you as clearly as I can, an account of those heads, in which our apprehensions seemed to differ; but if that be All which you desire as to this Meditation, viz. to understand and practise these two Texts Mat. 6.21. Phillip. 3.20. As you tell me, p. 30. I assure you I am fully a­greed with you: and never shall there be one line more written by me in opposition to you. I am sure we are All bound to have our conversati­on in Heaven, where our treasure is there will our hearts be, without any li­mitations to Ability and opportunity, the Duty bind All.

Let me but have a few words to the serious, and sincere Christians, who are much troubled about this Duty, and I have done; what is the reason of your trouble, and discouragement from this Duty more then [Page 17]any other, is it because you cannot Meditate? are you not mistaken? Do you not in this Duty, as you do about Prayer, when you hear ano­ [...]er pray one hour or two together, fluent in expression, various in mat­ [...], warm in affections, you cannot pray, no not you, when your Prayers may be as acceptable to God as his, though you cannot pray half [...]hour, is it not the same in Meditation? I grant Meditation is not a rock for Hypocrites, no more then secret Prayer. I speak of Prayer, indeed: such as call upon God in truth. 145. Psal. 18. Such secret [...]yer will either beat the mans Lust out, or his Lust will beate [...] secret Prayer. So it will be with Meditation, if a man medi­tates indeed.

But do you not Meditate? as I said in the beginning, I know some of you, very diligent in reading the Holy Scriptures, so as the word of Christ dwells richly in you, Coll. 3.16. I know you to be those who are [...]ch in heart-searching, very fearful of Hypocrisie. I know you to be [...]y serious in attending upon all the Ordinances of God, desiring and labouring to improve them to your spiritual growth; I know you to be my savoury, you relish the things of Heaven; I know you to be very [...]der of offending God, I know you to be in a great measure crucifi­ed to the world. I know you humble, and low before God, submissive under his afflicting hand, or very much chiding your own hearts if they [...]er to grumble, and earnestly begging for the sanctified fruit of your [...]ctions; ask I pray those worthy and holy men, whose Sermons and [...]ks about meditation have so troubled you, whether, these can be with­ [...] Heditation? with honour to those worthy Divines, I should exa­ [...] that Sermon, or book very well, what that Doctrine is, that cause noble, and sad the hearts of such as these, and make sure it hath a Divine [...]p upon it, else I should be blame worthy.

Obj. But I cannot fix my thoughts one hour, or half hour, no not a [...]ter.

Answ. What then? which Command of God do you break? hath [...] set down hours, or half hours? Let us hear the Text. But though you [...] fix so long, yet,

1. Have you not the savour of the thing upon your spirit which you [...] meditating upon, is there not some suitableness left between your [...]ection and the Object, for the time, though you are but short?

2. Are not your thoughts often in a day upon one or other spiritual Ob­je [...]t? what though you cannot stay long upon one, but going off to ano­ther, like the Bee, but still gathring Honey, what then, what will this [...]gne, want of Grace, obedience to a command? let them name it, that [Page 20]affirm it, it seems you are meditating in the law.

3. If there ariseth a suspition of Hypocrisie, if some vile corruption be stirring, if fear be up, or love enlarged from apprehensions of Gods love, then you can fix for longer time, though I will not say with no other thoughts intermixed.

4. Prayer is an easier Ordinance then fixing the thoughts in medita­tion to one object: but what if you cannot pray one hour or half an hour at a time every day, what then? you do pray and that seriously; let them who will blame you for not praying so long every day, at one time, prove where God hath bound his people to such length of time every day in Prayer, if not in Prayer why in meditation. Look to thy self, that thou beest serious in all, labour to attain the end of duties.

5. I observe that your conversations are day and night in some mea­sure becoming your profession [I know you have your infirmities] then certainly you do meditate day and night in the Law of God, else I know not how you come to have your conversations so ordered, whether you meditate by half quarters, or quarters, or half hours, or two houres, I know not, nor do I regard as to any command that binds you to this or that set time or place.

Why then Christian art thou troubled more about this Ordinance then other Ordinances. I know we have cause to be troubled, that in every ordinance we come not up to that holiness the ordinance require, and there I joyn with you.

How persons that are uniform in their conversations, who except a­gainst no command or duty, but have respect to all the Commandments, 119. Psal. 6. are serious in all other Ordinances, and there not so much blamed, come to be so tardy, and so much blamed in this of meditation, I could not well tell: supposed that work of grace in their hearts, and that good spirit dwelling in them, would carry them on in the practise of this Duty, as well as the other, unless it were that wor­thy men did strain this Duty in some circumstances beyond what the word of God hath done. Is there nothing that enables one man to be longer in a Duty, but meerly Grace in the heart of one man more then another; in which though God will shew his good pleasure in giving to one a larger measure then another; yet as for Grace, you will say, that is alike required of all, and our fault it is if we fall short.

But is there nothing else I say but Grace? Is there not something that is not properly Grace, but of a more common nature, a common gift, strength and largeness of invention, fixedness of constitution, besides the presence of that good spirit, who commonly doth give out his assistance [Page 21] [...]rding to his former gifts to the creature, whether those gifts be Com­ [...] or Special, I leave this to the piously learned to judge, there was [...] blame I hope imputed to him that had but two Talents, and in [...] ­ [...] them but to four, not ten, 25. Matth. 22.23. had he that had but [...], been diligent, and increased but one, I doubt not of acceptance.

Besides consider we the several conditions most Christians are under, which are no small hindrances, some burdned with cares not easy to cast [...]f, the husbandman when he carried on that which mend his ground, [...]wed, Sowed, &c. he is assured he hath performed his part right as to [...]e use of fit means to his end. But the Physician that hath life in hand, [...] not so sure that he hath hit the cause of a Disease, and used the fittest means for his end. So the cares which others may lye under, variety of occasions, and businesses, not pulled upon themselves neither by their covetousness, others their Callings cast them into all sorts of compa­nies, others great charge of children, low, and forced to hard labour to maintain them; others wofully, unequally yoaked, and children it may [...]e [...]s perverse; others in debt not able to pay; it peirced my heart, when I had been Preaching of Faith, one of my Auditors [who went for a Professor] going from Church, being pressed with the temptation, burst [...], Faith will pay no debts, said he, I deny not but he was to blame, for [...]aith hath paid debts. No man can tell what the conditions and tempta­tions of others are, but those who have been under the same conditions [...] temptations every way circumstantiated. For Gods Rules they must [...] pressed, let mens conditions or temptations be what they will, but for [...] Rules which I perceive some of our late Reverend Divines, [whose [...]ce I highly honour] have pressed upon Christians very high for their [...]yly practise, which if I were asked how I proved this were God's [...]mand, that all these Rules, [...] pressed, should be dayly practi­ [...], I could not tell; for these Rules I have thought with my self, I [...]d never press them or Print them my self, unless I had passed under these conditions and temptations, and experienced, how under these [...]ditions and temptations I could practise these Rules my self, yet God [...]y give that in to one under such a condition and temptation, which [...] denies to another who is truly Gracious.

To conclude. As for the greatest part of sincere Christians, this is all [...] to say, while we have bodies that call for Food, Raiment and [...]ealth: while we have our Callings to be employed in, and it is a mercy [...] have them, being not able alwayes to be feeding upon spiritual Ob­ [...], while here we live among present sensible things, that our nature [...] but desire, while we walk among temptations every where, [Page 22]while we live by Faith on this side Vision, and while we have a body of death yet remaining in us: can they but look to their foundation that it be layed upon the Rock, to their hearts, that they be sound in Gods Sta­tutes. Can they by Meditation, and all other Ordinances of Christ, the good spirit blessing all unto them, keep up grace in the prevalency: Can they get and maintain the upper hand of flesh, World and self. Can they walk in the fear of the Lord, dread sin, and grow in the love of Christ; for my part [...] all not press them with a multitude of Rules, which I know they cannot practise, nor shall I tell them how long they must be in Duties, but that they be serious, and labour to attain the end of all in Duties, for others to whom God hath given larger abilities and grace, they have the more cause to bless the Lord, but let them not mea­sure all by themselves.

FINIS.

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