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be infested with him. And this certainly we are able to do: We may undoubtedly chuse whether we will consent to wicked Thoughts, and approve them, or not. If they do indeed meet with a kind Entertainment at our Hands, Do wonder that they grow bold, and familiar: But if we deny them Admittance, and shut them out, we shall at length be rid of them, or at least they will not be charged upon us. Even the Devil is put to Flight by Resistance, as St. James tells us, Chap. iv. 7. He remembers his ApoItaly; he trembles at the Name of Jesus; and when a Chriftian behaves himself brávely against him, he doth not care to abide the Combat. If we give the same reply to all his Suggestions as our Blessed Lord did, our Trouble is greater than our Danger. If we would but be watchful over ourselves, and have as much care as we can of our Thoughts, I am apt to think, we Thould not complain so much of them as we often do. "Tis much for want of a due Observation of ourselves, and keeping our Hearts with all Diligence, that so many evil Thoughts proceed from thence. The Malignity or Folly of our Imaginations is much owing to ourselves, to our own Sloth and Carelessness to Idlencss, or to an Habic.of Sin, or some C 3 :
fuch Cause; and when it is so we ought to repent of them, and look of them as our Sins. Though the Corruption of our Nature, and the Malice of the Devil, be many times the Cause of them, yet we ourselves are often more chargeable with them, than either of these ; and if we narrowly and truly examine ourselves, we Thall find it so.'
Upon the whole, it is sufficiently plain, that out of the Heart proceed evilThoughts; the Soul is the Soil where this Hemlock is sown. There wicked Thoughts are conceived; they owe their Original either to the Corruption of the Soul itself. or are thrown in by the Instigations of the Devil. From thence they proceed ; and therefore it must be acknowledged that there doch lie an Obligation on us of well governing them. That we are not allogether unable to do any Thing in order to it, but something is in our Power. We can chuse whether we will cherish them or not; we can cither bid them welcome, or bid them be gone.
And besides we can use other Helps and Aslistances, and follow these Rules and Directions, which are necessary to the well-governing our Thoughts. And what they are, is the Subject of the following Chapter.
T HE Rules and Directions which
we are to follow, in order to the better Performance of this great Work (viz.) the virtuous and religious Government of our Thoughts, are divided into
And, II. Particular. - The General will have Relation to all kinds of Evil Thoughts, whatsoever they be. The Latter will concern chiefly cheie forts of them hereafter mentioned.
The General Rules and Directions then are these following.
I. First Prayer: Constant and Fervent Prayer. This is a Catholicon, a sovereign Remedy for every Ail and Indifpofition of the Soul, Gen. xxxii. 28 It is very powerful with God, and availeth much, James v. 16. "Tis a Preservative from the Violence of Temptations, and a Defence against all kinds of evil Thoughts. Prayer, as it engageth the Divine Favour, and the Protection of Almighty God in all Cases, so ic naturally cleanseth and purifiech the Heart, keeps it in a due Frame, and religious Temper. The Soul is thereby prompted and disposed to that Which is good, and ponderates towards
Lo aflitregularity ott he would not his holy
God. It gives a Relish of Dimme and Spiritual Things, and makes the soul more and more averse to all evil, vain, or filly Thoughts and Imaginations. And therefore if we desire to be preserved from wicked Thoughts, to keep our Hearts in due Temper and Government, we should be conítant and earnest in our Approaches to the Throne of Grace daily, and fervent in our Prayers to God for his Grace, to assist us in conquering the Stubbornness and Irregularity of our Thoughts and Imaginations. That he would be pleas'd to take possession of our Souls by his holy Spirit; and by him to govern, subdue, and fanctify all the Motions, Powers, and Faculties of our Souls. That no unclean Spirit may inhabit there ; but that they may by swept and garnished in the best Sense, and ever prepar'd to receive the Visits of Heaven, and the benign Influences of the Holy Ghost.
Be sure then that you'omit not the Observance of this first Rule, in order to the well-governing your Thoughts; for without this, all the rest will signify nothing.
II. Secondly, the next Rule is that you avoid Idleness; that hateful Vice, which makes the Soul of a Man like the Field of the. Sluggard, all over-grown with Thorns and Briars : Prov. xxiv. 30, 31. Full of
pi all manngt of wanton Desires; evil MoIt tions, and impure Thoughts. When a
Man is idle and loitering, a thousand ill & Things come into his Mind, which an I honest Industry would prevent. And the i most desirable Opportunity the Devil hath i for injecting wicked Thoughts or Temp
tations successfully, is when a Man hach nothing to do. It is absolutely necessary therefore that we avoid being idle ; and so practise both Parts of our Blessed Sam' viour's Advice: Watch and pray, that ye enter not into Temptation. Mat. xxvi. 41. Idleness is the Nurse of Wickedness, Sin's Procurer, a Vice most odious in its self, and leading into all others. It lays a Man open to all Affaults and Temptations, and exposeth him to the dangerous Sollicitations of a Legion of the Infernal Spirits at once. Whereas an industrious Man puts Satan to the Toil of a long Siege, as it were, the negligent and idle Perfon makes a Present and voluntary Surrender of himself to him. Thus much is signify'd by that Parable of our Blessed Lord's (Mat. xii. 43.) When the unclean Spirit is gone out of a Man, he walketh through dry Places, seeking Rest; and find ing none, be saith, I will return into my House, from whence I come out : And where be is comé, be findetb it empty, swept and C5