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SERM. who is greater than my heart, and knoweth
4. I thought on my ways. It may be herein implied, I have done it frequently.
I thought on my ways: This is a practise, which I have fuppofed to be incumbent on me. The heat of action, and the hurrie and bufineffe of life, occafion much inconfideration. 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 reafon. In the multitude of my words, in my many thoughts and actions, I fear there has not wanted fome, 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 fuffer any long space of time to pass, without this exercife of my mind.
5. I thought on my ways: and when I did fo, I carefully compared them with the rule of right; the reafon of things, and the revealed will of God.
As already obferved, I have recollected SERM. my paft conduct: I have reviewed it seriously and deliberatly: fincerely and impartially: and frequently, laying hold of all fit opportunities for fo doing. And whenever I did fo, 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 obferved the intrinfic excellence, and the beauty and comelineffe of virtue, and all holineffe: and the real evil and foul deformity of vice. I difcerned the reafonableneffe 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 ftatutes 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, fuch as ought to be condemned by me, of which I have reafon to be ashamed, and for which I now humble and abase my-felf. All fuch actions have been contrarie to the will and pleasure of my fovereign, and unfuitable to the digB 4
SERM. nity of my nature. And all the while I have wandered from the right way of holineffe and obedience to God, I have been weakening and finking the powers of my mind, and have more and more indifpofed my-felf for the enjoyment of true happineffe,
6. I thought on my ways: and when I did fo, I confidered the feveral 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 tranfgreffions, and my defects.
Every thing contrarie to truth, purity and righteoufneffe is evil, in all beings who have reason and understanding. But the guilt of tranfgreffors encreafes in proportion to the knowledge they have of the will of God, and the reasonableneffe and equitableneffe of what is required of them. Some have clearer discoveries concerning duty, than others. And by the many bleffings, vouchfafed them in the courfe 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 cafe. The divine
will, and motives to obey it, have been often SERM, fet before me in a clear and affecting manner. I have had many means and helps for preventing fin, and fecuring a virtuous conduct. And the favours of divine Providence have laid me under ftrong obligations to emprove those helps, and to excel, and be steady in virtue.
I fee reafon therefore to own, that I have acted against convictions of duty, and that by temptation I have been induced to act contrarie to refolutions, formerly made. I can recollect too, that I have not kept that strict watch over my-felf, which I knew to be fit and needful in this prefent world, fo befet with dangerous fnares and temptations.
Upon the whole, in recollecting and reviewing my conduct I discerned many things, for which no good excufe or apologie can be made: and therefore, I faw great reafon to condemn and blame my felf on that account. And confidering the advantages, which I have enjoyed; my many paft tranfgreffions, 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 fincere obedience to God: and the fad confequences of fin, and the unavoidable ruin and miferie of fuch as perfift in it.
For a difference there is in things, as I am fully perfuaded, and fee plain reason to believe. And God, the Lord and Governour of the world, is perfectly righteous and holy. And he certainly will fome 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 fo. It is impoffible therefore for me to reconcile the hopes of happineffe with wilful fin, perfifted in, and unrepented of. It must be confeffed, and forfaken or I can never think of finding mercie with God, fo as to entertain any profpect of the reward, that shall be bestowed on the righteous.
This is what is implied in the duty of confideration, or thinking on our ways.