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It is with sincere pleasure that I offer this new Edition of the following excellent little Treatise to the notice of the public. The importance of the subject must be obvious to all. The duty of “bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ” (2 Cor. x. 5) is so necessary for the attainment of that “holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord" (Heb. xii. 14); of that internal purity of heart, to which alone is annexed the promise of the Blessed Vision of God (Matt. v. 8); that any rules for our guidance in performing it must be hailed with joy by those who are earnestly striving to walk in the strait path which leadeth to everlasting life. But while the Government of the Thoughts in general is a subject in which we are all deeply interested, there are some special kinds of Evil Thoughts which require a more particular notice, and which are apt to cause much anxiety and trouble to those who are labouring under them. These have been treated by the author in distinct chapters, and form the chief design of this little book. Persons afflicted in this way, as even the best of us are liable to be, are frequently met with in the ministrations of the parochial clergy; and it has often been a matter of regret to me that I have not been able to place in the hands of those who have come under my own immediate observation, some such work as the present. It was, therefore, with no slight pleasure that I first met with it. Thinking that many of my reverend brethren may have felt a similar want, I have been induced to republish it.
It would be well to remind the afflicted persons that the sinfulness of Evil Thoughts consists only so far as we indulge them. It is almost impossible to entirely prevent them from arising in our minds; they will come; but we may choose whether we will entertain them or not. It is in our power to do much towards hindering their growth, and rejecting them when they present themselves to us. It has been prettily observed, “In the little garden
1 Seed's Works, vol. i., Sermon ix., ed. 1745.
of the mind, ill thoughts, like weeds, will spring up; they are the natural produce of the soil. But if we take care to root thern up as fast as possible, as well as to cultivate and cherish each generous and beautiful plant, this is all that God requires of us.” If, then, we steadily strive to conquer our Evil Thoughts, and, under the gracious influences of the Holy Spirit, to replace them with good and holy ones, if we till the soil of our hearts, we shall find that God will vouchsafe a blessing on our endeavours, and give unto us that peace, that inward tranquillity and heavenly-mindedness, which the world cannot give. But we must work. “Good thoughts will not court our acquaintance, and make the first advances to us; but if we often read and meditate on religious subjects, if we at stated hours invite them to come and make their abode with us, they will at last come without waiting for the formality of a set invitation." And I think the rules in this little volume will contribute much to our progress in this work, viz., the control of our evil, and cultivation of good, thoughts. But of this I must leave the reader to judge.
2 Seed, ut suprà.
William Chilcot, the author, descended from an ancient and respectable Devonshire family, originally from Tiverton, was the third son of the Rev. Robert Chilcot, rector of St. Mary Major's, Exeter. He was admitted as a commoner of Balliol College, Oxford, 15th March 1679-80, and on taking his B.A. degree Oct. 16, 1683, he is described as Blundell Scholar, so probably he had been educated at Tiverton School. On proceeding to his M.A. December 1, 1686, he is described as “ nuper Socius probandus è fundatione Blundellianâ.” He subsequently became rector of the parish of St. George the Martyr, Exeter, in which city he died on the 30th of May 1711, aged fortyeight years, and was buried on the north side of the communion rails of his parish church, which was pulled down some few years ago. monument erected to the memory of his daughter was added the following inscription :
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