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PSAL. cxix. 59.
I thought on my ways, and turned my feet unto thy teftimonies.
N thefe words two things are obfervable, firft, the Pfalmift's practise: He thought on his ways. Secondly, the refult and con
sequence of that practise: He turned his feet unto God's teftimonies.
The text therefore prefents to us these two points, confideration, and the happy effect of it, reformation, or amendment. These
SERM. will be the fubjects of the prefent difcourfe. And this is the method to be obferved by
I. To fhew, what is implied in confideration, or thinking on our ways.
II. To obferve the proper effect thereof, which is amendment.
III. After which, in the way
I. I am to fhew, in the first place, what is implied in confideration, or thinking
on our ways.
1. It implies a recollecting, and taking a furvey of our paft conduct, with a view of detecting the fins and errours of it, as well as obferving the good we have done,
To think on our ways is to recollect and bring to remembrance the past actions of our life, good and bad: more efpecially our later, but alfo our former conduct: nor only our outward actions, but likewife our thoughts and intentions, the principles and views of our actions, in the feveral paft periods of our life, and the various circumstances we
have been in: How far our behaviour has SERM. been fuitable to the difpenfations of divine Providence toward us: what we have been, and what we have done: how we have behaved in times of profperity, or of adverfity: how far we have regarded and performed, or neglected and omitted, the duties owing to God or men, in the ftations we have been in. By which it may appear, that this is a wide field of meditation, to expatiate in.
2. In the practise of this duty is implied ferioufneffe and deliberation.
I thought on my ways. I recollected them, as juft fhewn and that seriously and deliberatly. I did not beftow only fome few flight, and curforie reflections on my-felf and my paft conduct: but I acted with ferioufneffe and deliberation, being fenfible, it is a thing of no fmall moment. I alloted fome time to this work, and called off my thoughts from other matters, to think of my-felf and my ways. I laid afide other bufineffe, and redeemed fome time from the hurries of life, for the fake of this neceffarie review. I defifted from farther purfuits, untill I had furveyed my past conduct, and could judge, how far it has been right, or how far B 2
SERM. wrong whether I ought to proceed in the prefent courfe, or whether it ought not in feveral refpects to be altered and corrected.
3. I thought on my ways: I confidered and examined them impartially.
This I did, knowing that God fees all things, and that he is acquainted with all my wandrings. He tryes the hearts, and knows all the ways of the fons of men. He is the beft judge of integrity, and will approve of it. He is not to be deceived by falfe pretenfes, and fpecious appearances. All the actions of my life, and all the purposes of my heart, ever fince I have enjoyed this rational nature, and have arrived to the exercife of it's powers, have been under his notice. And he discerns the present frame and actings of my mind.
When therefore I thought on my ways, I refolved to do it in the fear, and as in the prefence of God. I fet afide partial and too favorable regards for my-felf, and refolved not to heed now the fair, and too agreeable fpeeches of friends or flatterers: but to know the truth concerning my-felf, and to pass a right judgement upon my ways.
I examined my-felf, then, and weighed my SERM. actions in an equal balance, without a favorable and partial indulgence: but yet, as I was perfuaded I ought to do, without a rigour and feverity, that has no bounds, and directly, and neceffarily leads to despair and defpondence: believing, that equity, mercie and compaffion, are branches of eternal righteousnesse, and fome of the glories of that infinitly perfect being, who made the world. He certainly is not strict to mark iniquity. He knows all the weakneffes and difadvantages of his creatures, as well as the powers and advantages, he has bestowed upon them. He does not equally refent involuntarie and undefigned failings, and deliberate and wilful wickedneffe. He is ever ready to pardon the penitent, and accepts the fincere and upright, though they are not perfect.
As therefore I would confefs and acknowledge all the offenfes I can defcry, with hopes of finding favour with God; fo would I humbly rejoice, and take fatisfaction in every inftance of virtuous conduct, hoping it be graciously approved of and accepted by him, to whom I am accountable: and