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To the Inhabitants of the Parishes of
St. John, St. George the Martyr, and
Hallows on the Walls, in the City of Exon.
HE following Treatise contains the
Substance of several Discourses delivered to you from the Pulpit. The Subject of it is undeniably most Useful, and of the greatest Importance to our eternal Welfare : And the more I consider of it, the more I am persuaded of its Moment. And because it is a Matter of Difficulty too, and requires more lasting Attention of the Mind, than any Perrón (how well loever disposed) can give to Sermons when spoken, I thought fit to publijf it, that so you might have these Din rections always before g'ou, which I hope may somewhat alij gou in the Performance of so
And as a Testimony of my great Respect, and an Acknowledgment of the many Obligations I have received from gou, I have dedicated them to you : The
great a Work.
The Epistle Dedicatdry. ther, hoping that you will the more seriously and earnestly apply them. Whatever Defects there are in this Treatise, I hope my Sincerity will be a sufficient Protection to the Meanness of my Endeavours. All
Aim being to contribute to your Spiritual, and eternal Advantage : Which is, and skall be always, Part of the constant and earnest Prayer of,
MATTH. XV. 19.
AM now entred upon a Subject
The Government of the ! Thoughts is what I intend to discourse on
from these Words: Which, as it is a Matter of the greatest Importance, so it is a Thing of no small Difficulty. Few Medicines can reach internal Wounds, and he is an Artist indeed that can cure them. But notwithstanding the Difficulty, I have attempted it; and Thall lay before you the beft Method that I can, in order to the well-governing of the Thoughts. Which
when attained, is an Atchierchent above those of the greatest Conquerors, and deserves Trophies beyond the most famous Exploits of Victory that ever were made. The wiseft of Men telling us, That bethat ruleth bis Spirit, is better than be that taketh a City, Prov.xvi. 32.And our own Experience confirms this Sentence of the wise Man. For there is nothing a more common Observation than that great Generals and Captains, who have carried their Arms through diItant Nations, and have done Wonders, and even brought the World into Subjection, have yet been Slaves to their own selves ; tamely yielding to their own corrupt and wickedHearts and have not obtained a Conqueft over their own Thoughts. They have not avoided soiling their Triumphs with their Vices, and aspersing their glorious Actions with a wicked Life. As if the Reward of their best Actions were to be their worst, and as if it were a Crown to their Arms to be diffolved in Luft, and all manner of Impieties: As if the Blessing of success were Riot and Intemperance, and the greatest of Sins to be their Heralds. What can be a greater and truer Reflection than this ? which as it takes off from the Credit and Applause of the noblest Actions, so it serves to thew that 'cis a more difficult Task to
conquer our owo Thoughts than the most potent Adversaries; to subdue our Hearts and Souls than whole Battalions; and that Man is the greatest Enemy to himself: For out of the Heart procced evil Thoughts — He that searcheth the Heart, and knoweth the Thoughts, spake thela Words.
The Occasion on which he spake them shall be the Firf Thing which I shall confider.
Secondly, I shall shew the vast Advantage of well-governing our Thoughts, in order to the Purposes of Religion in general.
Thirdly, That evil Thoughts arife out of the Heart, and proceed from thence which lays an Obligation on us of reftraiing them, and how far we are able so to do.
Fourtbly, I shall lay down fome general Rules and Directions for our easier and better performing of this great, and difficult, and absolutely
neceffary Work, of well-governing the Thoughts. And,
Fiftbly, I thall select some special kinds of evil Thoughts, and shall discourse more particularly and distinctly of them, and what are the proper Remedies against them.