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An Outline of Nathaniel Ranew's "Solitude Improved by Divine Meditation"

What the Bible says about Godly Meditation through the Word
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Check out these works on Divine Meditation.

Ranew’s work on Puritan Meditation is Excellent.

Solitude Improved By Divine Meditation, Nathaniel Ranew

Started with 1 Tim. 4:15

I. Of Divine Meditation in General

    1. Of Divine Meditation in general
    2. The precedents upon the file of Scripture, or some rare examples of the practice, and but briefly.
    3. The nature, ingredients, qualifications, and the several sorts of meditation: and here I must be something large.
    4. The grounds, and supporting reasons of it, to manifest it.
    5. The diverse improvements of it to divers sorts of persons.

II. Of the Nature and Description of this solemn Meditation

  1. That which is more set and solemn, when a man is serious in thinking of any thing for some spiritual end, and so as to allow some due space of time for a right performance of it.
  2. The object. I will consider the proper object of this meditation, in two parts:
  3. Things spiritual and heavenly.
  4. Things, though not in themselves spiritual, yet in a spiritual manner looked upon.
  5. The acting on it.
  6. The ends of this meditation ; for only spiritual ends, or the ends to be aimed at, must be spiritual and only holy.
  7. Christ’s own ordinance.
  8. Man’s duty and obedience.
  9. There is that which is called meditation of ejaculation, which, though serious, yet is more short, and quick, and sudden, wherein the soul darts up to heaven, and makes a short visit thither.

III. Meditation our Duty, our Obedience

  1. A duty in reference to Christ.
  2. It is a duty to myself, and my own soul concernments.
  3. Of the Requisites in Meditation
  4. What I call a foundation, or preparative to it.
  5. Those things that are for the forming and framing it as to the parts and proportions.
  6. The things that finish it up.
  7. What the Will must intend in Meditation
  8. An aim and firm purpose to make the duty a right work, to make sure it be made true.
  9. A free and full purpose of a wise work, to have it a work of spiritual wisdom.
  10. A firm purpose for a vigorous and spirited performing.
  11. A strong purpose of watching and earnest striving against all diversions and interruptions.
  12. Intention and earnestness.
  13. Contention against opposition.
  14. In a firm purpose of utmost endeavor of success, and having the right and kindly end and fruit of the duty.
  15. Of the proper Objects of Divine Meditation
  16. Such as are more properly and purely spiritual and heavenly in their own nature.
  17. Or things considered in a spiritual way, and to a spiritual end and use.

VII. Of the Requisites for Meditation

  1. That which is set and more solemn.
  2. There is requisite a holy awe and reverence, a putting on a reverential frame of heart suitable to the holiness of the duty.
  3. There is requisite a retreat of the thoughts, calling off the mind from all its preceding excursions or engagings other ways.
  4. There is requisite the setting of a strong guard and so sure a watch upon our slippery spirits as we are able, to secure it against all diversions.
  5. Meditation, as to the form and nature, proper notion and essence, consists in application of the mind and thoughts, and setting them upon the subject or matter intended to be considered.
  6. Meditation, as to the nature and essence, consists, as in application of the mind to, so in the intension and due seriousness of thinking on a fit object.
  7. In a diving and searching of thoughts, scanning for a best discovery.
  8. In an abiding due stay of the thoughts upon the work in hand, without precipitation and undue hastening.
  9. It is requisite there be an infusing and intermixing the life and beauties of such affections as are suitable and proper for the duty.
  10. That which is short, sudden, and ejaculatory.

VIII. Two other Requisites

  1. Sounding a retreat of the thoughts, and calling off the mind from all pre-engagements, not only evils and vanities, but all business and duties.
  2. When meditation is to be performed, there must be a strong guard set, a sure watch kept upon all avenues and passages, on all the inlets and outlets of the heart.
  3. Meditation in applying the Mind to a proper Object
  4. Meditation must be a serious Thinking
  5. Meditation includes, as an application, so an intension and seriousness of thoughts.
  6. Meditation must be a Searching and Scanning
  7. This meditation, besides application of the mind to the object, and intension or seriousness on it, includes a searching and scanning, or diving deep, an extension of thoughts, a looking about, or endeavor of comprehensiveness, in respect of the object, so far as we can.

XII. Meditation is a Dwelling of Thoughts

  1. Meditation includes a dwelling of the thoughts upon the object, drawing out the golden thread of holy thinking to its due length; giving the mind its full scope and allowance of abode on the meditated matter.

XIII. Of Affectionateness in Meditation, or the Life and Lustre of it in the Intermixings of suitable Affections

XIV. Of the first Affection, Desire
XV. Of the next Affection, Love

XVI. Of the last Affection, Delight

XVII. Some other Particulars added in some special Scripture Expressions

  1. Meditation should be a work very savoury to the soul.
  2. It should be sweet and pleasing to it.
  3. It should be with satiety in it.
  4. With an admiration, as the crown on the top of it.

XVIII. Of the Ends of Meditation

  1. Such as refer to the most high God.
  2. The infinite glories and resplendencies of the eternal and all-sufficient God.
  3. The infinite distances and heights he is in above us.
  4. The infinite obligations that ever lie upon us, to exalt him beyond all.
  5. Such as respect ourselves.
  6. Such as relate to others.

XIX. Meditation respecting Ourselves

  1. The grand scope and end of our own happiness.
  2. All other subservient and excellent ends.
  3. Of the particular Ends of Meditation in respect of Ourselves
  4. As a principal improver of saving knowledge.
  5. To make our knowledge clear and distinct.
  6. To found a rich treasury of truths, and make them sure.
  7. To be an introducer of habitual wisdom, an acquired habit of wisdom, to the first given wisdom, in heart renovation.
  8. For a kindler of heavenly fire and flame in the heart.
  9. For a mighty corroborater of holy purpose.
  10. To be a constant quickener of the Christian course.

XXI. Of the next Particular, the fourth End, to produce habitual Wisdom

XXII. Of the fifth End of Meditation, to kindle and inflame the Affections

  1. Meditation finds heart coolings to proceed from a giving way to and the present prevailing of some corruption or lust, that like water quenches the fire.
  2. Meditation on due inquiry finds heart coolings to arise from Christians smothering their heat with heaping up businesses and troubles upon themselves, launching too far into the seas of worldly affairs and over-carings.
  3. Meditation is instrumental to spiritual vivacity and warmth.

XXIII. The End of Meditation in Reference to the Will

  1. Glorifying God
  2. Instrumental to make our purposes wise.

XXIV. Of Meditation as a grand Supporter of the Christian Course

XXV. Of the End or Use of Meditation in reference to Others


  1. Of the several Kinds or Ways of Meditation
  2. The necessity of daily meditation.
  3. Of the Manner and Way of daily Meditation

III. Rules about Meditation

  1. Meditation of setting up the master mark, the glorifying of the most high God. Meditating on:
  2. Jesus Christ, the only way to the Father by his work of redemption.
  3. The Holy Spirit, the great applier of Christ and his redemption.
  4. The holy ordinances of God, the usual ways of the Spirit’s coming to apply Christ by.
  5. The word of God, chiefly the promises of the gospel: these on God’s part.
  6. On our part, by our use of the ordinances, and the word and promises, and that faith and holiness whereby we come to union and communion with God, glorify him, and obtain salvation
  7. Next unto it, meditation of eternal happiness in the enjoying of God.
  8. Meditating then after it of the sure and adequate means for attaining them both.
  9. Of the next End, Salvation
  10. Meditation of salvation.
  11. Of the Means conducing to this chief End
  12. Christ the way
  13. Meditation of the Holy Spirit, the Applier of Christ and his Redemption
  14. Some due proportion of thoughts seriousness is proper to be daily acted, in reference to the mighty and only applier of the work of Christ’s redemption, the Holy Spirit, and our great daily helper.

VII. Of the next Particulars, the incumbent Duties of the Day

VIII. Of Meditation on the Word of God, and the Promises, whereby the Spirit first is given, and after works

  1. Of Meditation of the Spirit’s drawing to Christ by the Promises
  2. Of the next thing Meditation may best take in, which is that on my part I am to perform
  3. Meditate on the life of glorious faith.
  4. Meditate on heavenly graces.
  5. Meditate on spiritual dangers.
  6. Of some Particulars to be added to the former Generals

XII. Meditation of daily Self-denial

  1. All positive actings in sensualities, pride, and covetousness, and other evils, are but to satisfy self.
  2. All negative ways and omittings of good are but to gratify self, to ease slothful self, loth to be put to stir, unwilling to labour, toil, or strive, least of all to lose, smart, and suffer.

XIII. Of some other Particulars which may be sometimes meditated upon in the Day

  1. Sin
  2. Need of graces.
  3. Reviewing the work of the day.
  4. Having Sweet meditation at night.

XIV. Of the Sabbath and Lord’s Day

  1. The nature of the sabbath
  2. The infinite glories of God
  3. The Sabbath in innocence.
  4. The Sabbath as a holy day.
  5. The Law.
  6. The change of the sabbath.
  7. Its connection to redemption.
  8. The fixed time of the sabbath.
  9. Largest spiritual advantages.
  10. The ordinances of Christ.
  11. A day of rest.
  12. Of Occasional Meditation, and that which is more extraordinary
  13. Either such things as purposely we (out of varieties of subjects before us) do single out for meditation, to help and quicken us in godliness.
  14. Or some new, fresh thing which the hand of God’s providence holdeth forth, for our particular observing and improving.
  15. Meditating on Scripture
  16. Meditation on points of religion.
  17. Meditating on the works of God.
  18. Meditating on my own spiritual condition.

XVI. Meditation should often be of the Heart’s great Deceitfulness

  1. In pondering the infallible certainty of it, and particulars in it.
  2. Pondering the sad condition every one is under by it.
  3. Weighing the sad attendants and consequences.
  4. The way of deliverance and relief.

XVII. Of divers other things for solemn and set Meditation

XVIII. Meditation of Death

  1. The cause of death
  2. The irreversible nature of death
  3. The uncertainty of the time

XIX. Of Judgment after Death

  1. To begin with those scriptures that most clearly and distinctly present us with the infallible certainty of this grand point.
  2. To gather up the remarkable particulars of it in Scripture, as to the nature, manner, and the things that both accompany and follow it.
  3. How to manage it, to our being best moved and stirred up by it.
  4. Of the general Judgment-day

XXI. Of Meditation of Hell, and Death eternal therein

XXII. Of Heaven and Happiness eternal

XXIII. Meditation on some things providential

XXIV. Of more short and ejaculatory Meditation

  1. It should have its stamp and ingredient of holy reverence.
  2. It should be the product and issue of holy lingering after God, and communion with him.
  3. It should be the glance of a spiritual eye, looking from love, being enamoured with God and Christ, and heavenly things.
  4. It should be aimed and levelled at the right mark, pleasing and glorifying God, and for communion further with him.

XXV. Of the Grounds and Reasons of this so necessary Duty of Meditation

  1. First from the natural order and dependences of the faculties of the reasonable soul; and the several principles of grace given into those faculties, to enable the soul rightly to exercise itself to godliness.
  2. From the transcendent excellency of divine matters, which must have their due and full mindings.
  3. From the use and several ends of divine medi¬tation
  4. From either the great accruing advantages, or the prejudice upon the due performance or sinful neglect of this required meditation.

XXVI. Of the second Ground of this so necessary Duty of Meditation

XXVII. Of the third Ground of this Meditation, as to several Ends and Uses

  1. For a sinner’s first conversion to God.
  2. For all renewed repenting.
  3. For a vigorous acting of grace.

XXVIII. Of other Ends of this Meditation

  1. Meditation is necessary to be an exclusive and keeper out of evil and vain thoughts, and to dislodge them

XXIX. Of the fourth Ground that supports this Duty of Meditation

  1. Of improving our communion and acquaintance with God

XXX. Of Solace and Spiritual Pleasure, another End of Meditation

  1. Three things especially make pleasures excellent.
  2. When the pleasurable things are rich and excellent, as nature yields them, as rare fruits, rich spices, and the like.
  3. When they are rare and excellent, as art reduces them, as art meliorates and perfects them.
  4. When they have a right and curious, an exquisite receiver and perceiver


  1. Of the Improvement of the Doctrine of Meditation, by way first of Instruction
  2. A second Improvement of this Truth byway of Conviction, and for deep Humbling

III. Another particular Cause of Humbling, for so long Neglect of Meditation

  1. two great considerations are the foundations and inlets of the great heart mutation and conversion
  2. A serious meditation of now seen and felt unspeakable misery.
  3. A most serious meditation and pondering of the rich, free grace of God.
  4. For Humbling those that are totally yet to begin Consideration for Conversion
  5. Standing at the bar of God
  6. The word of God to persuade.
  7. Opportunity
  8. Remembering God in our youth
  9. Serious older considerations
  10. Meditating on things unbecoming
  11. Considering our guilt
  12. Of being humbled for Negligence in this Duty of Meditation, after experiencing the Fruit and Sweetness of it
  13. To fail frequently in daily meditation.
  14. To take so seldom into that path of occasional set and solemn meditation, that also of so great advantage, large incomes of light and wisdom, warmth and quickening, strength and encouragings.
  15. And to act no oftener that so easy, quick, and expedite ejaculatory meditating.
  16. A Persuasion to all such as never accustomed themselves to this work of Meditation
  17. Seriously consider, thou canst be no good Christian, no truly godly person, that hast been and art no complier, but a refuser in this particular.
  18. Consider, thou canst be no true subject of Jesus Christ, that dost not submit to this law of Christ, this meditation.
  19. The tyrant of sin reigns in your heart.
  20. Why neglect a holy duty?
  21. Enmity Against God
  22. Following the Devil
  23. Considering where our thoughts go.
  24. When will you propose to do it?
  25. Don’t defer thinking until it is too late.
  26. Awaken out of false security.
  • (1.) To fear exceedingly for thy so great misery and danger, by being under so great wrath of a God, and the curse of his law, (Acts 16:29).
  • (2.) To sorrow and mourn deeply for this thy misery, thy mirth and laughter being turned into heaviness, (James 4:9).
  • (3.) To despair of help in thyself, see the insufficiency of thy own goodness and righteousness, and of thy own ability of wisdom to devise, will to choose, or any power of thine to save thee.
  • (4.) To come from former carelessness and negligence, to an earnest care and desire to be eased and delivered, (Acts 2:37).
  • Endeavour the second consideration of the way of relief and help.
  • [1.] By pondering the infinite love of God, his willingness to receive broken-hearted sinners to mercy, pardon, reconciliation, adoption, and full salvation.
  • [2.] The fulness of redemption in Christ freely offered to all.
  • [3.] By pondering the promises of salvation, righteousness, so perfect and glorious pardon, so full of all graces and happiness.
  • [4.] By earnest, often praying for grace, faith, and other graces, a new heart, and new principles, which will introduce a new power, and make godliness in all the duties of it, and this of meditation, sweet and easy.
  1. Meditation is Difficult

VII. An Application to such as are Godly, and have tasted the Sweetness of Meditation

  1. As making it our real and high obedience to God
  2. It is from a choice in the will to do it.
  3. Its aim is pure

VIII. Of the Evidences of a due Meditation

  1. You must go about it with the greatest seriousness
  2. You must do it in fit seasons.
  3. Stir yourself up to do it.
  4. Of the Directions relating to Meditation, First, for such as would begin
  5. To contend and strive after an habitual holy frame
  6. Accomplish serious thinking
  7. Consider serious thinking from the day before
  8. Meditate to some supreme end.
  9. Look for eternal happiness.
  10. Look to glorify God.
  11. Of Directions for Meditation respecting such as are young Christians newly converted
  12. That is a principal point of wisdom, to study and ponder the case of thy peace and assurance of God’s love and favour.
  13. Change and renew your mind
  14. See the beauty of Christ to save.
  15. Of the Directions for particular Cases of young Christians, how they should do therein
  16. Meditate on the Greatness of Christ
  17. Meditate by Faith
  18. Consider God’s promises of sanctification
  19. Meditate on the promises daily.

XII. Of the next Meditation, namely, how weak and imperfect thy Grace is

  1. In the terrible threatenings denounced against it
  2. Sinful examples

XIII. Of Meditation of Corruptions stirring, and often prevailing

  1. Turn from your imaginations
  2. Divert the mind to good thoughts
  3. Fly up to heaven by prayer

XIV. Of Meditation, in respect of Temptations and Assaults by Satan

  1. Consider the work of Satan against the church
  2. Some Directions as to occasional and set Meditation
  3. Choose the most fit season
  4. Choose the best place

XVI. Of Directions in reference to short and ejaculatory Meditations

XVII. Directions for more grown and elder Christians

  1. Grow in grace.

XVIII. Directions more particular

  1. As one excellent way to order and improve thy meditation, take varieties of Scripture passages about any particular subject thou wilt meditate on.

(1.) For Scripture expression hath a foundation of sure and infallible truth, which comes from God that cannot lie: your meditation goes on sure ground.

(2.) Scripture expressions are suited for us by the so infinite wisdom of a God, who knows how best to declare his own mind, and how best to convey and teach it to our capacity and condition.

(3.) Yes, Scripture expressions are sanctified by God, to enable us to sanctify him in this and all other duties.

  1. Be sure frequently and earnestly to meditate both on thy supreme and chief end, and on the proper and proportionate means thereto conducing.
  2. Improve meditation all you can
  3. Let thy meditation be more improved in that particular of the great applier of Christ to thee, and mighty helper of thee, the Holy Spirit
  4. Strive after a better meditating on all the precious promises
  5. Meditate on the ordinances
  6. Mightily contend to exacter musings and ponderings of thy heart’s great wickedness and deep deceitfulness
  7. Meditate more of that enemy the world, that makes the baits for covering Satan’s hooks, without which he could not so catch, as often he doth

XIX. More Directions to old Christians

  1. Meditate on things appropriate to your age.
  2. Meditate on your most pressing needs.
  3. Meditate on corruption, affliction, desertion, and buffeting of Satan.
  4. Divers further Rules
  5. Keep your heart
  6. Mediate on hard lessons to learn
  7. Govern your will.
  8. Meditate accurately

XXI. Directions to Christians of the uppermost Rank

  1. It should be higher in all its ways than with others.
  2. It should be more particular
  3. Strive to excel

XXII. The particular managing of this Meditation-Application general

  1. To be full of knowledge above the weaker Christians.
  2. Arrive at much wisdom
  3. Have the richest treasure of heavenly truths
  4. Exercise yourself in the highest points of faith and deep mysteries of God

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