Jeremiah 4:14
Wash the evil from your heart, O Jerusalem, so that you may be saved. How long will you harbor wicked thoughts within you?
Bad LodgersJeremiah 4:14
Bad Lodgers, and How to Treat ThemJeremiah 4:14
Fain ThoughtsS. Conway Jeremiah 4:14
Purity Necessary to SalvationSketches of Four Hundred SermonsJeremiah 4:14
The Heart to be Kept PureJohn Foster.Jeremiah 4:14
The Loving Charge of the Great Searcher of HeartsS. Conway Jeremiah 4:14
The Place of Thought in the Making of CharacterAmerican National PreacherJeremiah 4:14
The Unwashed Heart and the Vain Purposes Cherished in itD. Young Jeremiah 4:14
The Vanity of Man as a ThinkerHomilistJeremiah 4:14
Vain ThoughtsJeremiah 4:14
Vain ThoughtsJ. Jowett, M. A.Jeremiah 4:14
Vain ThoughtsW. Richardson.Jeremiah 4:14
Vain ThoughtsBp. E. Hopkins.Jeremiah 4:14
Vain ThoughtsJ. Waite Jeremiah 4:14
The Proclamation of WoeS. Conway Jeremiah 4:5-31

I. THE LIFE OF EVERY MAN IS GOVERENED BY HIS THOUGHTS. "As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he" (Proverbs 23:7). True as it is that the essential moral quality of the man will always determine the order of his thinking, the converse also is equally true. Thought is the formative principle of all personal life - kindles feeling, touches the springs of purpose, guides the course of moral action. What are character and conduct but the definite expression of secret thought?

"That subtle husbandman,
That sows its little seed of good or ill
In the moist, unsunned surface of the heart.
And what it there in secrecy cloth plant,
Stands with its ripe fruit at the judgment day."

II. EVERY MAN IS RESPONSIBLE FOB THE TENOR OF HIS THOUGHTS. If not, there could be no room in this matter for remonstrance or appeal. The law of the association of ideas may be such that it is as impossible to prevent some particular thought from recurring to the mind as to stay the tide of the ocean; but it is certainly possible for us to regulate our habitual mental conditions. It is given to us by watchful, prayerful self-discipline, especially by occupying the mind with higher and nobler things, to secure that the main drift of our thinking shall be in the right direction. We can choose our own fields of daily contemplation. Those thoughts will "lodge in us which we most encourage and cherish, and for this we are accountable.

III. THE CHERISHING OF VAIN THOUGHTS IS NECESSARILY DEGRADING IN ITS EFFECT. Vain thoughts" are iniquitous thoughts, sinful thoughts. "The thought of foolishness is sin" (Proverbs 24:9). It is impossible to measure the corrupting power of such thoughts.' No evil imagination or purpose can enter the mind, and be allowed for a moment to dwell there, without leaving some moral stain behind it. Accustom yourself to any extent to the play of such influences, your whole being becomes contaminated by them, and -

"The baseness of their nature
Shall have power to drag you down." Our minds cannot be in frequent contact with mean or groveling objects of contemplation without finding that they poison all the streams of moral life within us. "To be carnally minded is death" (Romans 8:6).

IV. THE ONLY CURE FOR THIS EVIL TENDENCY IS THE DIVINE RENEWAL OF OUR SPIRITUAL NATURE. "Out of the heart proceed evil thoughts" (Matthew 15:19). Let that be sanctified, and their power over us shall cease. Superficial expedients, mere external restraints and corrections, are of little use. We need something that shall go to the root of the disease. The fountain of life within must be cleansed if the streams that flow from it are to be pure. The temple at Jerusalem was externally beautiful, its roof so bright with burnished gold that nothing less pure than the glorious sunbeams could rest upon it; but that did not prevent it from being internally the haunt of many a form of hollow hypocrisy, and the scene of a base, worldly traffic - "a den of thieves." Let the Spirit of God make our souls his temple, and that holy Presence shall effectually scatter all vain and corrupt imaginations. They cannot" lodge" where the heavenly glory dwells. Every thought of our hearts shall then be "brought into captivity to Christ." - W.

Wash thine heart from wickedness.
Sketches of Four Hundred Sermons.

1. This doctrine requires definition. Depravity of the heart includes —

(1)The entire absence of the Divine image.

(2)A natural aversion to God and godliness.

(3)A universal propensity or disposition to evil.

2. This doctrine demands evidence.

(1)Divinely revealed.

(2)Practically exemplified.

(3)Deeply lamented.


1. The possibility of obtaining purity of heart. This appears from —

(1)The design of redemption (Hebrews 9:13, 14).

(2)The ability of the Saviour (John 1:16; 1 Corinthians 1:30).

(3)The promises of Scripture (Ezekiel 36:26, 27; 1 Peter 1:3, 4).

(4)The experience of believers (Romans 6:22; 1 John 1:7).

2. The important duty of seeking purity of heart.


1. A necessary property of religion.

2. A necessary meetness for heaven.

(Sketches of Four Hundred Sermons.)

"You have seen," said Spurgeon, "the great reservoirs provided by our water companies, in which the water to supply thousands of houses is kept. Now the heart is the reservoir of man, and our life is allowed to flow in its proper season. That life may flow through different pipes — the mouth, the hand, the eye; but still all the issues of hand, of eye, of lip derive their source from the great fountain and central reservoir, the heart; and hence there is great necessity for keeping this reservoir in a proper state and condition, since otherwise that which flows through the pipes must be tainted and corrupt." How long shall thy vain thoughts lodge within thee? — Vain thoughts: —

I. CHARACTERISTICS. Those thoughts are vain —

1. From which we do not and cannot reap any good.

2. Which cannot associate in any agreement with useful and valuable ones.

3. Which have to be kept out in order for the mind to attend to any serious or good purpose.

4. Which dwell largely and habitually on trifling things.

5. Which trifle with important things.

6. Which are fickle, not remaining with any continuance on a subject.

7. When the mind has some specially favourite trifle, some cherished, idolised toy.

8. Which continually return to things justly claiming a measure of attention, when the thinking of them can be no advantage.

9. When the mind dwells on fancies of how things might be or might have been, when the reality of how they are is before us.

10. Which men indulge concerning notions and schemings of worldly felicity.


1. Have specified subjects of serious interest to turn to when thought reverts to these vanities.

2. Make a sudden charge of guilt on your mind when vain thoughts prevail.

3. Have recourse to the direct act of devotion.

4. Interrupt and stop them by the question, What is just now my most pressing duty?

5. Have recourse to some practical occupation, matter of business, or a visit to some house of mourning.

6. Constrain your habitual thinking to go along with the thoughts of those who have thought the best, by reading the most valuable books.

7. Think to a certain purpose — towards a purposed end.

8. Reflect on how many things we have to do with which vain thoughts interfere; and also, what would have been the result of good thoughts instead of so many vain.

9. Discipline of the thoughts greatly depends on the company a man keeps (Proverbs 13:20).

10. If the complaint be urged, that this discipline involves much that is hard and difficult, we answer, It is just as hard as to do justice to a rational and immortal spirit placed here a little while by God for its improvement, and then to go where appoints. Hard, but indispensable.

(John Foster.)


1. Many thoughts may be called vain because they are proud, conceited thoughts. Thus, whenever a man thinks himself good by nature, we may say of his thoughts, "Vanity of vanities: all is vanity." If you are unrenewed, and dream that you are better than others because your parents were godly, it is a vain thought. Every thought of self-righteousness is a vain thought; every idea, moreover, of self-power — that you can do this and do that towards your own salvation, and that at any time when it pleases you you can turn and become a Christian, and so there is no need to be in a hurry, or to seek the help of the Holy Spirit: — that also is a vain thought.

2. Another sort of vain thoughts may be ranged under the head of carnal security. The poet says, "All men think all men mortal but themselves," and often as the saying is quoted never was a proverb more generally true.

3. I know another set of thoughts: they are better looking, but they are equally vain, for they promise much and come to nothing: they are vain because they are fruitless. These vain thoughts are like the better order of people in Jerusalem — good people after a sort — that is to say, they really thought that as God threatened them with judgments, they would turn to Him. Certainly they would. They had no intention of being hard hearted. Far from it; they owned the power of the prophet's appeal; they felt a degree of awe in the presence of the just God as He threatened them, and of course they meant — they meant to wash their hearts, and they meant to put away all their forbidden practices; not just yet, but by and by. Some men brood so long over their future intentions that they all of them become addled eggs, and nothing whatever is hatched. O man, "whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it," do it, do it "with thy might."


1. First, they are deceitful. The man that says, "When I have a more convenient season I will send for thee," does not send for Paul any more: he never intended to do so. A man says, "Tomorrow"; but tomorrow never comes. When that comes which would have been "tomorrow" it is "today"; and then he cries, "Tomorrow," and so multiplies lies before God.

2. Vain thoughts are bad lodgers, for they pay no rent; they bring in nothing good to those who entertain them. There is the ledger of self-righteousness, for instance: what good does self-righteousness ever do to the man who entertains it? It pretends to pay in brass farthings: it pretends to pay, but the money is counterfeit. What good does it do to any man to harbour in his mind the empty promise of future repentance? It often prevents repentance.

3. The next reason for the ejectment of these lodgers is this: that they are wasting your goods and destroying your property. For instance, every unacted resolution wastes time, and that is more precious than gold. It also wastes thought, for to think of a thing and to leave it undone is a waste of reflection. It is a waste of energy to be energetic about merely promising to be energetic; it is a great waste of strength to be forever resolving to be strong, and yet to remain weak.

4. Worst of all, these vain thoughts are bad lodgers because they bring you under condemnation. There have been times when to entertain certain persons was treason, and many individuals have been put to death for harbouring traitors. Rebels condemned to die have been discovered in a man's house, and he has been condemned for affording them a hiding place. Now, God declares that these vain thoughts of yours are condemned traitors. Are you going to harbour them any longer?


1. The first thing is to give them notice to quit at once. Let there be no waiting. When a man is converted it is done at once. There is a line, thin as a razor's edge, which divides death from life, a point of decision which separates the saved from the lost.

2. Suppose that these vain thoughts will not go just when you bid them begone. I will tell you what to do to get rid of them: starve them out. Lock the door, and let nothing enter upon which they can feed.

3. The best way in all the world that I know of to get rid of vain thoughts out of your house — these bad lodgers that have gone in and that you cannot get out — is to sell the house over their heads. Let the house change owners. When you have dope that, you know, it will be the new owner that will have the trouble of turning them out; and He will do it. I recommend every sinner here that wants to find salvation to give himself up to Christ. Ah, now the stronger than they are has come, and He will bind the strong ones, and He will fling them out of window, and so break them to pieces with their fall that they shall never be able to crawl up the stairs again. He knows how to do it. He can expel them; you cannot.

( C. H. Spurgeon.)

Heart compared to house, to entertain and lodge guests; into which, before conversion, all the light wanton thoughts that post up and down in the world have open access; while they, like unruly gallants, revel day and night, and defile those rooms they lodge in. "How long?" whilst I, with My Spirit, and Son, and train of graces, stand and knock, and cannot find admittance?


1. The internal acts of the mind; reasonings, resolutions, consultations, desires, cares, etc.(1) The thinking, meditating, musing power in man, which enables him to conceive, apprehend, fancy.(2) Thoughts which the mind frames within itself (Proverbs 6:14; James 1:15; Isaiah 59:4-7).(3) Thoughts which the mind in and by itself begets and entertains.

2. What vanity is.(1) Unprofitableness (Ecclesiastes 1:2, 3).(2) Lightness (Psalm 62:9).(3) Folly (Proverbs 12:11).(4) Inconstancy (Psalm 144:4; Psalm 146:4).(5) Wicked and sinful (2 Chronicles 13:7; Proverbs 24:9).


1. In regard to thinking what is good.(1) A want of ability to raise and extract holy and useful considerations and thoughts from the occurrences and occasions which surround us.(2) A loathness to entertain holy thoughts.(3) The mind will not be long intent on good thoughts.(4) If the mind think of good things, it does so unseasonably; intrudes on prayer and interrupts it (Proverbs 16:3).

2. The readiness of the mind to think on evil and vain things.(1) This vanity shows itself in foolishness (Mark 7:22), which proves itself in the unsettledness and independence of our thoughts.(2) If any strong lust or passion be up, our thoughts are too fixed and intent.(3) A restless curiosity concerning things not affecting us.(4) Taking thought to fulfil the lusts of our flesh.(5) Acting sins over again in our imagination.


1. Get the heart furnished and enriched with a good stock of sanctified and heavenly knowledge in spiritual truths.

2. Endeavour to preserve and keep up lively, holy, and spiritual affections in the heart.

3. Get the heart possessed with deep and powerful apprehensions of God's holiness, majesty, omniscience, and omnipresence.

4. In the morning when thou awakest, as did David (Psalm 119:18), prevent the vain thoughts the heart naturally engenders by filling it with thoughts of God.

5. Have a watchful eye upon thy heart all day; though vain thoughts crowd in, let them know that they pass not unseen.

6. Please not thy fancy too much with vanities and curious flights (Job 31:1; Proverbs 4:25).

7. Be diligent in thy calling (2 Thessalonians 3:11; 1 Timothy 5:13); only, encumber not the mind too much (Luke 10:41).

8. In thy calling and all thy ways commit thy goings to the Lord (Proverbs 16:3).

( T. Goodwin, B. D.)


1. Unprofitable imaginations.

2. Unscriptural opinions.

3. Unholy desires.

4. Unseasonable ideas.


1. Shall it be till some temporal judgment be sent to awaken you out of your carnal security?

2. Till habit rivets these vain thoughts, and makes repentance and conversion harder than ever?

3. Till the grieved Saviour forsakes thee, and the resisted Spirit ceases to strive with thee?

4. Till the sentence goes forth, cut it down, why cumbereth it the ground?

(J. Jowett, M. A.)


1. Thought brings the outward universe into man's soul, and thus makes it his own.

2. Thought enables us to subordinate the outward world to our service.

3. By the power of thought we construct new universes.

4. Thought determines our condition.(1) Even materially, it influences our health, shapes our countenance, tunes our voice.(2) Spiritually, our condition is almost absolutely governed by thought. By thought we can pierce the heavens, enter into the holy of holies, hold fellowship with the Infinite. By thought we can break forth from our own little earthly sphere — make God our centre, and run a wider and brighter orbit than the stars.


1. Vain thoughts find a lodgment in the minds of some. If the thoughts cherished be vain, the life pursued will be vain. In order in some measure to estimate the amount of vain thought cherished by men, let us do three things. Compare the true theory of happiness with the conduct which men pursue in order to obtain it; the true theory of greatness with the efforts which they put forth in order to realise it; and the true theory of religion with their conduct in relation to it.

2. The expulsion of vain thoughts is a matter of urgent importance.(1) They can be got rid of. By consecration of our energies to true work. By companionship with truthful souls. By realising the constant presence of the heart-inspecting God. By a change in the governing dispositions of the mind.(2) The urgent necessity of this. They waste the mental life; corrupt the heart; imperil the soul.


I. THE EVIL OF PERMITTING VAIN THOUGHTS TO LODGE WITHIN US. By vain thoughts may be meant all unlawful desires, vile affections, wicked tempers, and mischievous imaginations of every kind. If these, or any other evil thoughts to which we are subject, lodge in our breasts, they must render our persons abominable to God, corrupt all our performances, and produce many bitter fruits.

II. THE NECESSITY OF WASHING OUR HEARTS FROM WICKEDNESS. As it would be madness in the husbandman to sow his seed upon ground that was covered with thorns, so it is equally foolish to expect the fruit of good living in any person whose heart lies fallow, unbroken, and overspread with the cares of the world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things, which our Saviour calls thorns.

(W. Richardson.)

American National Preacher.
Anyone who has visited lime stone caves has noticed the stalactite pillars, sometimes large and massive, by which they are adorned and supported. They are nature's masonry of solid rock formed by her own slow, silent, and mysterious process. The little drop of water percolates through the roof of the cavern and deposits its sediment, and another follows it, till the icicle of stone is formed, and finally reaching to the rock beneath, it becomes a solid pillar, a marble monument which can only be rent down by the most powerful forces. But is there not going forward oftentimes in the caverns of the human heart a process as silent and effective, yet infinitely more momentous? There in the darkness that shrouds all from the view of the outward observer, each thought and feeling, as light and inconsiderable perhaps as the little drops of water, sinks downward into the soul, and deposits — yet in a form almost imperceptible — what we may call its sediment. And then another and another follows, till the traces of all combined become more manifest; and if these thoughts and feelings are charged with the sediment of worldliness and worldly passion, then all around the walls of this spiritual cavern stand in massive proportions the pillars of sinful inclination and the props of iniquity, and only a convulsion like that which rends the solid globe can rend them from their place and shake their hold.

(American National Preacher.)

John Huss, seeking to reclaim a very profane wretch, was told by him that his giving way to wicked, wanton thoughts was the original of all those hideous births of impiety which he was guilty of in his life. Huss answered him, that although he could not keep evil thoughts from courting him, yet he might keep them from making a lodging place in his heart; as, he added, "though I cannot prevent the birds from flying over my head, yet I can keep them from building nests in my hair."

A true Christian, who, by experience, knows what it is to deal with his own heart, finds it infinitely more difficult to beat down one sinful thought from rising up in him than to keep a thousand sinful thoughts from breaking forth into open act. Here lies his chief labour, to fight against phantasm and any apparitions, such as thoughts are; he sets himself chiefly against these heart sins, because he knows that these are the sins that are most of all contrary to grace, and do most of all weaken and waste grace. Outward sins are but like so many caterpillars that devour the verdure and flourishing of grace; but heart sins are like so many worms that gnaw the very root of grace.

(Bp. E. Hopkins.)

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