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SERM. who is greater than my heart, and knoweth
be herein implied, I have done it frequently.
I thought on my ways : This is a pra&ise, which I have supposed to be incumbent on me. The heat of action, and the hurrie and businesse of life, occasion much inconfidera. tion. And various circumstances there are, which throw us off our guard : and temptations prevail, before we are aware.
Various are the temptations of this world. And my strong affections are apt to carry me beyond the bounds of reason. In the multitude of my words, in my many thoughts and actions, I fear there has not wanted some, if not much fin and follie. I have therefore thought it, in the course of my life, a fit and proper practise, frequently to review my conduct, and call my-self to an account, and not to suffer any long space of time to pass, without this exercise of my mind,
5. I thought on my ways: and when I did so, I carefully compared them with the rule of right; the reason of things, and the revealed will of God.
As already observed, I have recollected SERM. my past conduct: I have reviewed it serioully. I. and deliberatly: sincerely and impartially : and frequently, laying hold of all fit opportunities for so doing. And whenever I did so, it was my concern, carefully to compare my actions by the rule of right; the reason of things, and the will of God, as revealed in his word,
I then observed the intrinsic excellence, and the beauty and comelinefse of virtue, and all holinesse : and the real evil and foul deformity of vice. I discerned the reasonableneffe and perfection of God's precepts : that what he commands is fit to be done, and that what he forbids ought to be avoided by every rational being. All the statutes of Pl. xix. 8. the Lord are right, and fhould be steadily regarded by his creatures. I perceived therefore, that all my thoughts and actions, which agreed not with the rule of God's word, were foolish and wicked, such as ought to be condemned by me, of which I have reason to be alhamed, and for which I now humble and abase my-self. All fuch actions have been contrarie to the will and pleasure of my sovereign, and unsuitable to the dig
SERM. nity of my nature. And all the while I I.
have wandered from the right way of holi- . neffe and obedience to God, I have been weakening and finking the powers
my mind, and have more and more indisposed my-self for the enjoyment of true happineffe,
6. I thought on my ways : and when I did so, I considered the several advantages I have enjoyed, and the peculiar obligations I, have been under : and was thereby led to take notice of the many aggravations of my transgressions, and my defects. .
Every thing contrarie to truth, purity and righteousneffe is evil, in all beings who have reason and understanding. But the guilt of transgressors encreases in proportion to the knowledge they have of the will of God, and the reasonablenesse and equitablenesse of what is required of them. Some have clearer discoveries concerning duty, than others. And by the many blessings, vouchsafed them in the course of Providence, they have been laid under special obligations to attend to the indications of the divine mind.
When I thought on my ways, I could not but own this to be my case. The divine
will, and motives to obey it, have been often Serm, set before me in a clear and affecting man
I. I have had many means and helps for preventing fin, and securing a virtuous conduct. And the favours of divine Providence have laid me under strong obligations to emprove those helps, and to excel, and be steady in virtue.
I fee reason therefore to own, that I have acted against convictions of duty, and that by temptation I have been induced to act contrarie to resolutions, formerly made. I can recollect too, that I have not kept that strict watch over my-self
, which I knew to be fit and needful in this present world, so beset with dangerous snares and temptations.
Upon the whole, in recollecting and reviewing my conduct I discerned many things, for which no good excuse or apologie can be made: and therefore, I saw great reason to condemn and blame my self on that account. And considering the advantages, which I have enjoyed ; my many past transgressions, and
my still remaining defects are attended with no small aggravations.
7. I thought on my ways, and confidered the rewards and encouragements of virtuous conduct, and sincere obedience to God : and the fad consequences of sin, and the unavoidable ruin and miserie of such as persist in it.
For a difference there is in things, as I am fully persuaded, and see plain reason to believe. And God, the Lord and Governour of the world, is perfectly righteous and holy. And he certainly will some time make a difference between the obedient and faithful, and the disobedient and unfaithful among his creatures. It is altogether fit and reasonable, he should do so. It is impossible therefore for me to reconcile the hopes of happinefse with wilful fin, perlisted in, and unrepented of. It must be confessed, and forsaken: or I can never think of finding mercie with God, fo as to entertain any prospect of the reward, that shall be bestowed on the righteous.
This is what is implied in the duty of consideration, or thinking on our ways.