Thomas Boston’s Directions on Theological Meditation

These directions on how to meditate are taken from the 18th century Puritan theologian Thomas Boston. The type of meditation Boston is describing is the Puritan practice of meditation by theological subject. In this type of meditation, the topics meditated on were often the attributes of God, or other systematic theological subjects.

How to Meditate

  1. Begin with a short prayer asking God to bless your time in meditation. A good example is David’s prayer in the Psalms, ‘O Lord, open my eyes that I may behold wondrous things out of your law.”
  2. Be resolute to meditate on this subject and finish. Your mind will be pulled in all kinds of ways. Satan will try to divert you. Do not have it.
  3. Write out a short description of what the subject you have chosen is.
  4. If there are different kinds or categories within your subject list them out and consider the differences.
  5. If possible, consider the causes of your subject and write them out.
  6. Consider the effects of your subject and write them out.
  7. Consider the properties of your subject. Of what does it consist? Write these out.
  8. Consider if there are opposites of your subject. What are they and why are they opposites?
  9. What things can your subject be compared to? Is there anything similar?
  10. Look up and examine all the Scriptural testimony concerning your subject. Does it shed further light for any of the previous? A topical concordance would be good for this.
  11. Think and enlarge on the subject that your heart my be affected and touched with it. Pray that God would give you a suitable relish and affection for the subject at hand.
  12. Mourn the lack of this affection in your soul to God.
  13. Work to deeply desire the affection for this spiritual subject that you lack.
  14. Confess your inability to do for yourself what you lack to God.
  15. Ask God to work in you this desire, and petition him for it dearly.
  16. Believe that God will grant your request.
  17. Conclude all of this with thankfulness to God and commit yourselves to him.

For further reading see The Whole Works of Thomas Boston, Volume 4, p. 453. The Duty of Solemn Meditation. For help in which subjects to consider, Thomas Watson (a contemporary of Boston), offers an abundance of different topics for this type of meditation in his classic treatise on meditation titled, ‘The Christian on the Mount.’

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