Faculties and Uses of Meditation by Nathanael Ranew
Yesterday, I shared with you three ways of self-entertainment by Nathanael from the introduction to his book, Solitude Improved by Divine Meditation. One of the greatest strengths of the Puritan divines is their emphasis on application to the preaching and teaching on God’s Word. In many sermons you will find them outlined in “uses” (such as use 1, use 2, etc.). Included in the introduction, Ranew gives four faculties and uses for meditation that I would like to share with you today. As we have seen, meditation fuses the self-entertaining work of prayer and Bible Study, and here Ranew will show you just how meditation makes that fusion a mighty catalyst for the Christian life.
Four Faculties and Meditation Uses
- Meditation is as the attractive faculty, to help assume and take in spiritual food. This it doth by helping to act judgment, wisdom, and faith, to ponder, discern, and credit the things which reading and hearing supply and furnish.
- It is like the retaining faculty, by assisting and corroborating the memory, helping to lock up the jewels of Divine truth sure in that treasury. Meditation superadds to the sensitive memory, the help also of a rational memory, whereby spiritual things are secured as under double lock: what we rationally remember, is best remembered.
- It is like the assimilating or digesting power, by helping to concoct spiritual food, and turn it into spiritual nourishment. This it helps to effect, by being instrumental to work things more powerfully on the will, in a free choice, firm purpose, and ready obedience of the excellent truths of Christ; and likewise by working on and into the affections of love, joy, and the rest, to cleave unto and be inflamed towards the things of Christ. A spiritual digestion is not by head work, but heart work, when the will deliberately and resolvedly chooses, and the affections earnestly embrace heavenly things. Meditation highly conduces to this spiritual digestion by its pondering, proposing, and edging efficaciously, such reasons and incentives as work the heart into compliance and obedience.
- It is like, lastly, the augmenting and growing faculty, to help the good heart to grow better, and shoot up higher heavenward. The true Christian must grow all his lifetime. Natural things grow by new assumed nourishment, acted upon by the inward growing power. The real godly man hath an inward growing power, implanted by the new life given to him: but this, as by other means, so by frequent meditation, is much assisted and carried on. Meditation waters and cherishes the plants of heavenly graces. It helps them to root deeper, shoot higher, and grow stronger. Such Christians as meditate most will grow most, by growing to that end.