Do not you yet understand, that whatever enters in at the mouth goes into the belly, and is cast out into the draught?…
I. WHEN MAY YOUR THOUGHTS BE COUNTED VOLUNTARY, AND WE BE TRULY AND JUSTLY ANSWERABLE FOR THEN?
1. When evil thoughts are plainly occasioned by anything that was voluntary in us, then they are to be accounted voluntary and sinful.
2. When evil thoughts proceed from gross, supine negligence and carelessness, then we are accountable for them; when we keep no guard at all over our minds and fancies, but give them free liberty wildly to rove and ramble.
3. Though evil thoughts may be involuntary at the first starting of them, being occasioned by what we could not avoid hearing and seeing, or coming upon us unawares, or proceeding from the temper and habit of our bodies, or the accidental impulses and motions of the animal spirits in our brains, which are the most immediate instruments the soul uses in her operations; though thus the first rise of evil thoughts may be involuntary., yet if we with pleasure entertain and cherish them, if our fancies are tickled by them, if they are delightful and grateful to us, this implies the consent of our wills. They then become greatly sinful to us.
II. THE NATURE AND KINDS OF EVIL THOUGHTS.
(a) Especially dwell on the representing and acting over sins in our minds and thoughts; when we erect a stage in our fancies, and on it with strange complacence, imagine those satisfactions and filthinesses which we have not opportunity to bring into outward act.
1. Consider these lewd imaginations as to the present time. There is no sin or wickedness so vile and heinous but a man may become truly guilty of it in the sight of God only by imagining it done in his mind, and taking pleasure in such a thought.
2. As to what is past, there is reciting and repeating over those sins in our thoughts and fancies, which we had long before committed, and, perhaps, as to the external acts, quite forsaken.
3. With respect to the time to come, the speculative wickedness of men's fancies and imaginations shows itself in the wild and extravagant suppositions they make to themselves, feigning themselves to be what they would fain be, and then imagining in their minds what in such circumstances they would do.
(b) Dwell on unworthy, atheistical, profane, desperate thoughts of (led Almighty.
(c) Thinkings that become evil because of the seasons of them.
(d) Envious, malicious, fretting thoughts.
(e) Troublesome, anxious thoughts of future events.
(f) Haughty, proud, admiring thoughts of ourselves.
III. PRACTICAL RULES FOR THE RIGHT GOVERNMENT OF OUR THOUGHTS.
1. If they proceed from the hearts, then we must look after them.
2. Consider what care and art wicked men use to prevent good thoughts, and let us use the same diligence and endeavours to hinder evil and wicked thoughts and motions.
3. Avoid idleness.
4. Live under the due awe of God's continual presence with us.
5. Serious devotion, especially humble and hearty prayer to God Almighty.
Parallel VersesKJV: Do not ye yet understand, that whatsoever entereth in at the mouth goeth into the belly, and is cast out into the draught?