(For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ:
Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.)
For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death
~ Philippians 3:18-19 & Romans 8:5-6a
A Treatise on Earthly-Mindedness, by Jeremiah Burroughs. An excerpt.
To the Reader
It was the saying of a servant of Christ, “Every day a Christian spends on earth is a day lost in heaven.” He meant it of the place, not the company, for what makes heaven, but union and communion with God in Jesus Christ? This being attainable in this life, what keeps a Christian from living in heaven while he lives upon earth? Truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ, 1 John 1:3 . Our conversation is in heaven, said another apostle, Phil. 3:20 . And I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me, and the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God, Galatians 2:20 .
These were men on the earth, subject to infirmities as we are, yet living in heaven. And there are yet in this declining, wanton, Christ-denying age, a generation upon earth thus living, whose lives and graces, though hidden under a mean outside, under many reproaches and infirmities, yet shine inwardly with the glory of Christ upon them who, though they are in the world, yet follow the Lord with a different spirit than the spirit of the world; and among these hidden ones of the Lord, this blessed man (the Preacher of these sermons, of whom the world was not worthy) was such a one who, while he was upon earth, lived in heaven. And as you may easily perceive, the end and scope of these sermons is to wind up your heart to a like frame and posture, viz., to take it off of perishing vanities, and to set it on that which is the real and durable substance.
We see upon what weak shoulders the fair neck of all worldly pomp and glory now stands, and how the Lord is winding up and putting an end to the glories of the kingdoms of men, who have not contributed their strength and power to the advancing, but rather to the pulling down and eclipsing of the glory of the kingdom of Jesus Christ. Besides what the world tells us, never has an age had more examples laid before them of the world’s vanity than in our days. Therefore, our hearts should sit loose to all things that cannot stretch themselves to eternity. The Apostle’s reason is full of weight.
It remains that both they that have wives, be as though they had none; and they that weep as though they wept not; and they that rejoiced as though they rejoiced not; and they that buy as though they possessed not; and they that use the world as not abusing it.
And this exhortation he puts on by this argument, The time is short, or as the word is, “The remainder of our season is now folding up, as a veil or curtain into a narrow room.”
Time is short and life shorter, and the end of all things is at hand. We have greater things to mind and to set our hearts upon. The divinity of this holy man’s spirit did much appear in this, that having much of the comfort that earth could afford him, he still looked upon all creature contentments with the eyes of a stranger, and in order to the raising of his soul to a more holy, humble, serviceable, self-denying walking with God. For a man who enjoys little or nothing in this world to speak much of the world’s vanity and emptiness, and of taking the heart off that, is not as much as when a man is surrounded with the confluence of creature comforts then, by a Divine spirit, to tread upon the neck of these things, and to be caught up into third Heaven, bathing, solacing, and satisfying itself with sweet and higher enjoyments, with the more savory and cordial apprehensions it has of Jesus Christ. This is comparable to the one who is made a partaker of the Divine nature, and who lives above the world in the enjoyment of the world.
So now, reader, you have these sermons twice printed: once in the practice of this holy man and once again in these papers which we present to you in this preaching style (though we confess things might have been more contracted) because we find this more desired, more acceptable to his hearers and, if we mistake not, more working upon the affections and more profitable to the greatest number of Christians.
The Lord Jesus be with your spirit, and go along with these, and all his other precious labors, to the furtherance of the joy of your faith, building you up in the inner man, and directing you in the way to your eternal rest.
~ Thomas Goodwin, William Bridge, William Greenhill, William Adderly, John Yates, Sydrach Simpson, Philip Nye.
Chapter One: Doctrine: There is a great difference between a wicked man and a godly man. The one minds the earth; the other’s conversation is in heaven
The Text Opened, Philippians 3:19 , “…who mind earthly things…”
This precious Scripture clearly holds forth the different dispositions of wicked and of godly men, especially of such wicked men as set themselves against the Gospel, for it relates to such as were professed enemies to the cross of Christ, that labored as best they could to hinder the success of the ministry of Paul. You will find, if you look back a few verses, that this is meant of that kind of men especially, for he tells us that many walked so, as they were enemies to the cross of Christ. They were those that opposed the preaching of Paul and his ministry. He describes those men by divers characters, but I’ll treat none of them but this, who mind earthly things, who savour or relish earthly things, you may translate this as well. It is a general word comprehending the actions and operations of both the under-standing and the will. It is, in Scripture, applied to both, but most commonly to the actions of the will and affections. We will deal particularly with actions of the will.
Earthly things are those that are on the earth, whatever they are, the beauty, the glory, and pageantry of the earth; the profits that are earthly, the pleasures and honors of the world; who mind any things inordinately that are sublunary accommodations. But we carry and behave ourselves as free citizens of the city of Heaven, for so the words in the original are, if we should thus read them, “Our city, where we are citizens and where we have rights, is heaven.”
But our conversation, our city converse, is of things that are above the earth. When the Apostle would have men to follow his example and not the example of others, in the 17th verse, he uses this as an argument that such and such men are enemies to the cross of Christ, and they make their belly their god, and they mind earthly things. Do not follow them; do not harken what they say to you; they come up and down from house to house and whisper this and that to you, and would take you off from the ways of God. God has begun to enlighten you and to stir your consciences; do not let the precious affections of your souls run toward them, but be followers of us as we are of Christ, for our conversation is in heaven with our Lord and Master, this argument coming in the 20th verse. That being the only scope and meaning of the words, take this doctrinal truth:
THIS IS THE GREAT DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A WICKED MAN AND A GODLY MAN: ONE MINDS EARTHLY THINGS, AND THE OTHER HAS HIS CONVERSATION IN HEAVEN.
I intend to handle both these in order.
One of these minds earthly things. It is a parallel Scripture to Romans 8:5 , For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh. “Do mind,” there is the same word, only here it is the participle and there it is the verb, but the meaning is the same. They that are after the earth mind earthly things; they that are after the flesh favor fleshly things. The first part of this point is the description of wicked men, they that are enemies to the cross of Christ and to the ways of godliness. They are men that mind earthly things, and the more gross of them are described before this as having their bellies as their gods. Some of them are very sensual, drunken, unclean, and altogether given to satisfy the flesh in fleshly lusts. But there are others that do not appear to be so brutish, yet they are men of earthly minds who savour only earthly things, and these are the men that are secret enemies to the cross of Christ, yea, and will many times appear so to be; it will break out at length. Such a man whose spirit has been earthly for a long time will appear at length to be an enemy to Christ’s cross. Now in the handling of this point, I will propound these five things:
First, what it is to mind earthly things in a sinful way, or thus: When a man may be said to be an earthly-minded man, that we may know when a man is an earthlyminded man, what it is to mind earthly things that the Apostle describes here a wicked man by. Without the opening of this, all that I shall say afterwards will be to little purpose.
Secondly, the great evil that there is in minding earthly things, and I shall help you discover a greater evil in it than you are aware of.
Thirdly, lay down some proofs whereby those men and women that think they are clear of this sin may have it revealed to their consciences that they are the men and women that do mind earthly things.
Fourthly, I shall search into the reason why the hearts of men and women are so much after earthly things.
Fifthly, I shall labor to take your hearts off of earthly things. These are the five things that are to be done in the first part of the point, namely, the character of wicked men here laid down, who mind earthly things. ‘
First, who they are that mind earthly things. Certainly they are not all those that enjoy earthly things. All men who make use of earthly things must not be condemned for minding them. Paul himself, in this very epistle, Philippians 4:12 , wrote that though he knew how to want, yet he knew how to abound. He could tell how to make use of earthly things, and he gives charge that all those that are instructed should make such as had instructed them partakers of all their goods. Paul charges this! Yea, Christ Himself, in that Scripture where He labors most to take the thoughts of men off the earth, and not to take any thought for what they should eat or drink, still says, Your heavenly Father knows that ye have need of these things, Matthew 6:32 . Galatians 6:6 , Let him that is taught in the Word communicate unto him that teacheth all good things, and if there be any pretence against it, yet he says, Be not deceived, God is not mocked for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.
Therefore, it is not here charged, as a mark of an evil man, to have earthly things, and to justly require what is due unto him, as Paul does here. And the Galatians could not charge him with breaking his own rule which he wrote to the Philippians. Therefore, we must inquire what is meant by minding earthly things. When does a man or woman mind earthly things in a sinful way? For that there are several particulars.
From men which are thy hand, O LORD, from men of the world, which have their portion in this life, and whose belly thou fillest with thy hid treasure: they are full of children, and leave the rest of their substance to their babes.
~ Psalms 17:14
For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?
~ 1 Corinthians 3:3
And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not.
~ 2 Peter 2:3