Heretofore I placed much of my religion in tenderness of heart, and grieving for sin, and penitential tears; and less of it in the love of God, and studying his love and goodness, and in his joyful praises, than I now do. Then I was little sensible of the greatness and excellency of love and praise, though I coldly spake the same words in its commendation as I now do. And now I am less troubled for want of grief and tears, though I more value humility, and refuse not needful humiliation; but my conscience now looketh at love and delight in God, and praising him, as the top of all my religious duties, for which it is that I value and use the rest.
My judgment is much more for frequent and serious meditation on the heavenly blessedness, than it was heretofore in my younger days. I then thought that a sermon on the attributes of God, and the joys of heaven, were not the most excellent; and was wont to say ’Every body knoweth this, that God is great and good, and that heaven is a blessed place; I had rather hear how I may attain it.’ And nothing pleased me so well as the doctrine of regeneration, and the marks of sincerity, because these subjects were suitable to me in that state. But now I had rather read, hear, or meditate on God and heaven, than on any other subject; for I perceive that it is the object that altereth and elevateth the mind, which will be such as that is which it most frequently feedeth on; and that it is not only useful to our comfort, to be much in heaven in our believing thoughts, but that it must animate all our other duties, and fortify us against every temptation and sin; and that the love of the end is the poise, or spring, which setteth every wheel agoing, and must put us on to all the means; and that a man is no more a Christian indeed, than he is heavenly.
I was once wont to meditate on my own heart and to dwell all at home, and look little higher. I was still poring either on my sins or wants, or examining my sincerity. But now, though I am greatly convinced of the need of heart-acquaintance and employment, yet I see more need of a higher work; and that I should look oftener upon Christ, and God, and heaven, than upon my own heart. At home I can find distempers to trouble me, and some evidences of my peace; but it is above that I must find matter of delight and joy, and love and peace itself. Therefore I would have one thought at home, upon myself and sins, and many thoughts above, upon the high, and amiable, and beautifying objects.
-Richard Baxter, “The Practical Works of Richard Baxter, Volume I, A Christian Directory,” page lvi