Many, including professing Christians, are into yoga type meditation which is the wrong meditation for a Bible believing Christian. The following is by George Swinnock, 1657-1673.
‘SOLEMN meditation is a serious applying [of] the mind to some sacred subject, until the affections be warmed and quickened, and the resolution heightened and strengthened thereby, against what is evil and for that which is good.
There are five things in this description:
- It is an application of the mind. The understanding must be awake about this duty; it is not a work to be done sleeping. If the mind be not stirring, the affections will be nodding. The understand- ing in this is, as it were, the master workman—if that be out of the way or missing, the servants of the affections will be idle and stand still. It is by this sun that heat is conveyed to the lower world. Darkness, like the night, is accompanied with damps and cold. The chariot of light is attended with warming and quickening beams.
- It is a serious applying [of] the mind. Too quick digestion breeds crudities in the mind as well as in the body and doth often more distemper than nourish. There must be a retentive faculty to hold fast that which nature receiveth until a thorough concoction be wrought, or little strength will be gotten by it. Hereby it differeth from occasional meditation, which is sudden and soon vanisheth: this calls at the door, salutes us, and takes its leave; [solemn meditation] comes in and stays some time with us. Occasional meditation is tran- sient, like the dogs of Nilus that lap and are gone; set meditation is permanent—it, as the spouse begged of Christ, lodgeth all night be- tween the breasts. This duty cannot be done unless the mind be kept close to it; the person that is negligent cannot do this work of the Lord. Things of importance are not to be huddled up in haste; loose thoughts, as loose garments, hinder us in our business. We need our hearts united to think of God as much as to fear God. Short glances do little good…it is not once dipping the stuff into the dye vat, but frequently doing it that giveth the pure scarlet color…It is much blowing that makes the green wood to flame.
- It is about some sacred subject. As good meat and drink breed good blood, so good subjects will breed good thoughts. There is abundant matter for our meditation: the nature or attributes of God, the states and offices of Christ, the threefold state of man, the four last things—the vanity of the creature, the sinfulness of sin, and the love and fulness of the blessed Savior, the divine Word and works. Out of these we may choose sometimes one thing, sometimes another, to be the particular subject of our thoughts (Exo 15:11; Psa 1:1; 119:148; Pro 6:22; 1Ti 4:13). To undertake more than one at a time will deprive us of the benefit of all…Whilst the dog runs after two hares—now after one and presently after the other—he loseth both… When thou hast fixed upon the subject, meditate, if it may be, on its causes, properties, effects, titles, comparisons, testimonies, contraries —all will help to illustrate the subject and to quicken and advantage thee. They do all, as so many several windows, let in those beams that both enlighten the mind and warm the affections, but they must be considered in their places and methodically. The parts of a watch jumbled together serve for no use, but each in its order make a rare and useful piece.
- It is that the affections may be warmed and quickened. Our hearts and affections should answer our thoughts, as the echo the voice and the wax the character in the seal. If our meditations do not better our hearts, they do nothing. Whilst they swim in the mind, as light things floating on the waters, they are unprofitable; but when they sink down into the affections, as heavy and weighty things mak- ing suitable and real impressions there, then they attain their end. Our design in meditation must be rather to cleanse our hearts than to clear our heads. “While I was musing the fire burned” (Psa 39:3). We strike fire by meditation to kindle our affections. This application of the thoughts to the heart is like the natural heat, which digesteth the food and turneth it into good nourishment.
When we are meditating on the sinfulness of sin—in its nature: its contrariety to God, His being, His Law, His honor; its opposition to our own souls: their present purity and peace, their future glory and bliss—in its causes: Satan, the wicked one, its father, the corrupt heart of man its mother—in its properties: how defiling it is, filthiness itself; how infectious it is, overspreading the whole man, polluting all his natural, civil, spiritual actions, and making his praying, hearing, singing, an abomination; how deceiving it is, pretending meat and intending murder—in its effects: the curse of God on all the creatures, evident by the vanity in them, the vexation they bring with them; in the anger of God on sinners, apparent in those temporal punish- ments, spiritual judgments, and eternal torments that He inflicteth on them—I say, when we meditate on these, we should endeavor to get our hearts broken for sin, ashamed of sin, and fired with indigna- tion against sin!
“Oh, what a wretch am I,” should the soul think, “to harbor such a traitor against my sovereign! What a fool am I to hug such a serpent in my bosom! What sorrow for it can be sufficient! What hatred of it is enough! What watchfulness against it, what self-abhorrence be- cause I have loved it and lived in it, can equal [what it deserves]! Oh, that I could weep bitterly for the commission of it, watch narrowly for the prevention of it, and pray fervently for pardon of it and power against it! How much am I bound to God for His patience towards so great a sinner! How infinitely am I engaged to Christ for taking upon Him my sins! It was infinite condescension in Him to take upon Him my nature; but oh, what humiliation was it to take upon Him my sins! What life can answer such love! What thankfulness should I render for such grace, such goodness!”
The close applying of our meditations to our hearts is like the applying and rubbing in oil on a benumbed joint, which recovers it to its due sense…David proceeds from meditation of God’s works to application of his thoughts: “When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers…What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him?” (Psa 8:3-4).
5. It is a serious applying of some sacred subject that his resolu- tions may be strengthened against evil and for good. The Christian must not only pray his good thoughts but practice them. He must not lock them up in his mind but lay them out in his life. A council of war or of state is wholly useless if there be none to execute what they determine. That kingdom flourisheth best where faithful execution followeth sound advisements: therefore, the heathen pronounced a city safe that had the heads of old men for consideration and the hands of young men for execution. Action without consideration is usually lame and defective; consideration without action is lost and abortive. Though meditation, like Rachel, be more fair, execution, like Leah, is most fruitful. The beasts under the Law were unclean, which did not both chew the cud and divide the hoof. “Chewing the cud signifieth meditation, dividing the hoof a holy conversation, without which the former will be unprofitable,” saith Augustine.
Reader, hast thou thought of the beauty and excellency of holiness in its nature, its conformity to the pure nature and holy commands of the blessed God—in its causes: the Spirit of God [is] its principal effi- cient, the holy Scriptures its instrumental—in its names: it is the im- age of God, the divine nature, light, life, the travail of Christ’s soul, grace, glory, the kingdom of heaven—in its effects or fruits: [see] how it renders thee amiable in God’s eye, hath the promise of His ear, is entitled to pardon, peace, joy, adoption, growth in grace, persever- ance to the end, and the exceeding and eternal weight of glory, and [it] hast applied this so close to thy heart that thou hast been really affected with its worth and wished thyself enriched with that jewel, though thou wert a beggar all thy life. [Thus, it is] resolved with thy- self: “Well, I will watch, weep, hear, and pray, both fervently and frequently, for holiness. I will follow God up and down and never leave Him until He sanctifieth my soul?”
Now, I say to thee as Nathan to David, when he told him of his thoughts and resolution of building a temple: “Do all that is in thine heart; for God is with thee” (1Ch 17:2). Or as God to Moses, concern- ing the Jews: “They have well said all that they have spoken. O that there were such an heart in them, that they would fear me, and keep all my commandments!” (Deu 5:28-29). It is well thou art brought to any good purposes; but it will be ill if they be not followed with per- formances. Good intentions without suitable actions is but a false conception; or like a piece charged without a bullet, which may make a noise, but doth no good, no execution. Indeed, there is no way better to evidence the sincerity of thy intentions than by answerable actions.
David was good at this: “I thought on my ways”—there was his seri- ous consideration—“and turned my feet to thy testimonies” (Psa 119:59)—there is his holy conversation. So again, “I will meditate in thy precepts, and have respect unto thy ways” (Psa 119:15). It is in vain to pretend that, like Moses, we go into the mount of contempla- tion and converse with God, unless we come down as he did, with our faces shining, our conversations more splendent16 with holiness. This, saith the chief of the philosophers, will [bring] a man to perfect hap- piness if to his contemplation he joins a constant imitation of God in wisdom, justice, and holiness.
Thus, I have dispatched those five in meditations. The first three are but one—though for method’s sake, to help the reader, I spake to them severally—and are usually called cogitation, the other two ap- plication and resolution. Cogitation provides food, application eats it, resolution digests it and gets strength from it. Cogitation cuts out the suit, application makes it up, resolution puts it on and wears it. Cogi tation betters the judgment, application the affections, and resolution the life. It is confessed [that] this duty of set meditation is as hard as rare and as uneasy as extraordinary; but experience teacheth that the profit makes abundant recompense for our pains in the performance of it. Besides, as millstones grind hard at first, but, being used to it, they grind easily and make good flour; so the Christian, wholly dis- used to this duty, at first may find it somewhat difficult, but after- wards both facile and fruitful.