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what we shall see, what we shall bear, what we shall gain : how we shall please our senses or our inagination, takes up all our time, and engrosse's all our thougit. So long therefore as we love the world, that is, so long as we are in our natural state, all our thoughts, from morning to evening, and from evening to morning, are no other than wandering thoughts.
3. But many times we are not only without God in the world, but also fighting against him : as there is in every man by nature a carnal mind which is enmity against God: no wonder therefore that men abound with unbelieving thoughts : either saying in their hcarts there is no God, or questioning, if not denying his power or wisdom, his mercy, or justice, or holiness. No wonder, that they so often doubt of his providence, at least, of its extending to all events : or that even though they allow it, they still entertain murmuring or repining thoughts. NearJy related to these, and frequently connected with them, are proud and vain imaginations. Again : Sometimes they are taken up with angry, malicious or revengeful theughts: at other times, with airy scenes of pleasure, whether of sense or, imagination : whereby the earthly sensual mind, becomes more earthly, and sensual still. Now by all these, they make flat war with God; these are wandering thoughts of the highest kind.
4. Widely different from these are the other sort of wandering thoughts : in which the heart does not wander from God, but the understanding wanders from the particular point it had then in view. For instance: I sit down to consider those words in the verse preceding the text, The weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God. I think, ". This ought to be the case with all that are called Christians. But how far is it otherwise ? Look round into almost every part of what is termed the Christian world ?, What manner of weapons are these using? In what kind of warfare are they engaged,
" While men, like fiends, each other tear
In all the hellish rage of war? See how these Christians love one another ! Wherein are they preferable to Turks and Pagans ? What abominaNo. X. 4 B
tion can be found among Mahometans or Heathens, which is not found among Christians also ? And thus my mind run's off, before I am aware, from one circumstance to another. Now all these are in some sense wandering thoughts. For although they do not wander from God, much less fight against him, yet they do wander from the particular point I had in view.
! II. Such is the nature, such are the sorts (to speak rather usefully, than philosophically) of wandering thoughts. But what are the general occasions of them? This we are, in the second place, to consider.
1. And it is easy to observe, that the occasion of the former sort of thoughts which oppose or wander from God, are in general, sinful tempers
. For instance. Why is not God in all the thoughts, in any of the thoughts of a natural men ? For a plain reason : be lie rich or poor, learned or unleamed, he is an atheist'; '(though not vulgarly so called) he neither knows nor loves God. Why are his thoughts-continually wandering after the world? Because he is an idolater. He does not indeed worship an image, or bow down to the stock of a tree : yet is he sunk into equally damnable idolatry : he loves, that is, worships the world. He seeks happiness in the things that are seen, in the pleasures that perish in the using. Why is it that his thoughts are perpetually wandering from the very end of his being, the knowledge of God in Christ? Because he is an unbeliever ; because he has no faith, or at least, no more than a devil. So all these wandering thoughts easily and naturally spring from that evil root of unbelief.
2. The case is the same in other instances; pride, anger, revenge, vanity, lust, covetousness, every one of them occasion thoughts suitable to their own nature. And 60 does every sinful temper, of which the human mind is capable. The particulars it is hardly possible, nor is it needful to enumerate. It suffices to observe, that as many evil tempers as find a place in any soul, so many ways that soul will depart from God, by the worst kind of wandering thoughts.
3. The occasions of the latter kind of wandering thoughts, are exceeding various. Multitudes of them
are occasioned, by the natural union between the soul and body. How immediately and how deeply is the understanding affected by a diseased body! Let but the blood move irregularly in the brain, and all regular thinking is at an end. Koging madness ensues, and then farewell to all evenness of thought. Yea, let only the spirits be hurried or agitated to a certain degree, and a temporary madness, a delirium prevents all settled thought. And is not the same irregularity of thought in a measure occasioned by every nervous disorder ? So does the corruptible body press down the soul, and cause it to muse about many things.
4. But does it only cause this in the time of sickness, or preternatural disorder ? Nay, but more or less, at all times, even in a state of perfect health. Let a man be ever so bealthy, he will be nuore or less delirious, every four-and-twenty hours. For does he not sleep? And while he sleeps, is be not liable to dream? And who then is inaster of his own thoughts, or able to preserve the order and consistency of them? Who can then keep them fixt to any one point, or prevent their wandering from pole to pole?
5. But suppose we are awake, are we always so awake, that we can steadily govern our thoughts ? Are we not unavoidably exposed to contrary extremes, by the very nature of ihis machine, the body ? Sometimes we are too heavy, too dull and languid to pursue any chain of thought. Sometimes, on the other hand, we are too lively. The imagination, without leave, starts to and fro, and carries us away, hither and thither, whether we will or no ; and all this, from the merely natural motion of the spirits, or vibration of the nerves.
6. Farther, How many wanderings of thought may arise, from those various associations of our ideas, which are made intirely without our knowledge, and independently on our choice? How these connexions are formed we cannot tell; but they are formed in a thousand different manners. Nor is it in the power of the wisest or holiest of men, to break those associations, or to prevent what is the necessary consequence of them, and matter of daily observation. Let thç fire but touch one end of the train, and it immeditaely runs on to the other.
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7. Once more, Let us fix our attention as studionsly as we are ableany subject, yet let either pleasure or pain árise, specially if it be intense, and it will demand our. inumcial attention,' and attach our thought to itself. It will interrupt the steadiest contemplation, and divert the mind from its favourite subject.
5. These occasions of wandering thoughts lie within, are wiought into our very viature. But they will likewise naturally ani necessarily arise, from the various impulse of oictwo rd cbiccts. Whatever strikes upon the organ of sense, the eye or ear, will raise a perception in the roind Aud accordingly, whatever we see or hear, will break in upon our former train of thought. Every inan trecire that does any thing in our sight, or speaks'any thing in cur hearing; occasions our mind to wander more or less fron the point ic, was thinking of before.
9. And there is no question but those evil spirits, who are continually seeking whom they may devour, make use of all the foregoing occasions, to hurry and distract ourminds. Sometimes by one, sometimes by another of these means, they will harrass and perplex us, and so far as God permits, interrupt our thoughts, particularly when they are engaged on the best subjects. "Nor 'is chis at all strange: they well understand the very springs of thoughts and know on which of the bodily organs, the imagination, the understanding, and every other faculty of the mind more immediately depends. And hereby they know, how by affecting those organs, to affect the operations dependent on them. Add to this, that they cau inject a thousand thoughts, without any of the preceding means; it being as natural for spirit to act upon spirit, as for matter to act upon matter. These things being considered, we cannot admire, that our thought so often wanders from any point which we have in view.
III. 1. What kind of wandering thoughts are sinful, and what not, is the third thing to be inquired into. And first, all those thoughts which wander from God, which leave him no room in our minds, are undoubtedly sinful. For all these imply practical atheism, and by these we are without God in the world. And so much niore are
all those which are contrary to God, which imply opposition or enmity to him. Such are all murmuring, discontented thoughts, which say in effect, We will not have thee to rule over us : all unbelieving thoughts, whether with regard to his being, his attributes, or his providence. I mean his particular providence over all things as well as all persons in the universe : that'without which not å sparrow falls to the ground, by which the hairs of our head are all numbered. For as to a general providerice (vulgarly so called) contradisu tinguished from a particular, it is only a decent, wellsounding word, which means just nothing.
2. Again. All thoughts which spring from sintul tempers, are undoubtedly sinful. Such, for instance, are those that spring from a revengesul temper, from pride, or lust, or vanity. 4:1 evil tree cannot bring forth good fruit. Therefore if the tree be evil, so must the fruit be also.
3. And so must those be, which either produce or feed any sinful temper: those which either give rise to pride or vanity, to anger or love of the world, or confirm and increase these or any other vinholy temper, passion, fection. For not only whatever flows from evil is erit, but also whatever leads to it; whatever tends tu'alienate the soul from God, and io make or keep it earthly, sensual, and devilish..
4. Hence even those thoughts which are occasioned by weakness or disease, by the natural mechanism of the body, or by the laws of vital union, however innocent they may be in themselves, do nevertheless become siaful, when they either produce or cherish and increase in us any sinful temper: suppose the desire of the flesh, the desire of the eye, or the pride of life. In like mafiner the wandering thoughts which are occasioned, by the words or actions of other men, if they cause or feed any wrong disposition, then commence sinful. And the same we may observe of those which are suggested or injected by the devil. When they minister to any earthlý or devilish temper"(which they do, whenever we give place to them, and thereby make them our own) then they are equally sinful, with the terpers to which they minister.
5. But abstracting from these cases, wandering thoughts, in the latter sense of the word, that is, thoughts wherein our understanding wanders from the point it has in view,