It is now in the flow of this day 4:39 PM Monday late afternoon. I am down in the lower level because I put away my set of The Complete Works of Thomas Boston. I am not in the right place spiritually to read 18th century Scottish Reformed Spirituality. To be honest I am out of It. I am wandering the waste places these days. I do not know what to read as a Christian these days. I have a huge Christian library which is buried in dust down here. As I was putting away Boston's Works my eye caught a book I have often looked at in my wanderings titled, "Instructions about Heartwork: What is to be done on God's part and our for the cure and keeping of the heart, that we may live in the exercise and growth of grace here, and have a comfortable assurance of glory to eternity" by that eminent gospel minister Mr. Richard Alleine (with a preface by Dr. Samuel Annesley) Edited by Dr. Don Kistler retypeset from the second edition published in London in 1684/reprint 2003 Soli Deo Gloria Publications.
"Our evil hearts will hinder us from doing good to ourselves, or receiving or laying up good for ourselves. Romans 7:19: "The good that I would. I do not." Why, what hinders? See verse 21: "I find a law," the law of sin in the heart. When I would do good evil is present with me. Galatians 5:17: "The flesh lusteth against the spirit, so that we cannot do the things that we would." Some times good counsel is given from the Lord, but we do not take it. How many good counsels have your heard from the ministry of the Word that are lost and forgotten and come to nothing? Sometimes a good motion comes into the heart to repent and mend our ways; to pray or to meditate, or to search our hearts to cease from this earth and flesh; from serving our sense, and minding only the present, and to lay up treasure in heaven, and provide for the time to come. Do you never have such motions? Do you never hear such a voice within you, "Get goods that do not grow old, a treasure in heaven that does not fail?" Choose the good part; lay hold of eternal Life; give yourself to praying; keep a good conscience; take heed and beware of covetousness; use more diligence; live with more heedfulness; have your conversation in heaven, and keep yourself unspotted by the world; keep yourself in the love of God; set the Lord always before your eyes; behold His face in righteousness; "study to shew thy self approved unto God," and to walk so that in all things you may be accepted by God.
Do not such motions as these come into your hearts? You who are Christians, surely you have many such good motions, but do they take? What do they bring forth? If you had obeyed all the good motions that you have sometimes felt within you, oh, what manner of Christians would you have been! What mortified, what circumspect, what raised and heavenly-minded Christians would you have been! But how do the good motions take? What success are they attended with? Do you not see that they are often strangled in their birth, and die and come to just nothing? Or at least do you not merely halt and trifle in the pursuit of them? If you pray, or hear, or set your hearts to humble yourselves before the Lord, how you are distracted, diverted, and deadened, and all your duties spoiled in doing them, so that you can have little comfort or real advantage by what you do. Do you not often mourn over your prayers, sermons, and sabbaths, as merely lost to you? You would work upon your hearts heavenward and fix them above; you would love and delight yourselves in the Lord, and solace yourselves in the contemplation of the divine love and goodness; you would fain set your hearts to live such a godly, consciencious, circumspect, self-denying life. Then comfort yourselves with such thoughts: "I hope I shall never live such a careless, carnal, useless, unsavory, earthly life again." I hope you have many such thoughts, desires, hopes, and aims (you are lamentable Christians if you do not). . ." pg. 138-140 Richard Alleine (1611-1691)