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they that have done good, fhall go into life everlafting; and they that have done evil, into everlafting fire: for the books fhall be opened and the dead fhall be judged out of the things written in those books, according to their works. And then,
Confider how much, how nearly it concerns you to judge yourself before that time, that you be not judged, that is, condemned of the Lord.
But fo many and various are the fins of our lives, in thought, word, and deed, and omiffions against God, our neighbour, and ourselves, that this work will, at beft, be confused, except chriftians have proper belps to bring their feveral fins diftinctly to remembrance; fo that I fball in this form lay before you the feveral heads of our duty to God, our neighbour, and ourselves, as the most effectual help in this cafe; that upon each particular head, you may examine your past life, and try the prefent difpofition of your heart.
First, when you examine yourself, let it be chiefly about your wilful fins, and fins of commiflion; and be not over fcrupulous either to accuse yourself of fins you never committed, or to reckon up all your infirmities; for that would render your examination endless and impracticable: and though there may be fome fins that you may doubt whether you have committed; others you may fear you have forgot; yet be not difcouraged: for when you have acted honeftly and fincerely, reft fatisfied; but what fins you cannot recollect and find out, fo as particularly to confefs and bewail, you ought to conclude under a general repentance for whatfoever you have done amifs; and to pray that God would cleanse you from your fecret faults. Observing where ever you find your felf innocent, to glorify God, and beg of him to preferve and continue you therein.
Secondly, If you have not wholly neglected, and yet defire particularly to increase in fome chriftian virtue, lift up your heart to God, for his holy Spirit to aid and affift your fincere endeavours to grow in it; for we are not barely to avoid fin, but to grow in grace and goodness.
Thirdly, When you come to any fin you have committed often, or deliberately, or against the checks of conscience, or against frequent admonitions, or laftly, against your own special vows and refolutions to the contrary; you must take into the account fuch aggravating circumftances as increase and heighten the guilt of it, to increase your frame and forrow, and to fhew you how greatly we ftand in need of God's pardon for what is paft, and of his affifting grace to preserve
and firengthen us in the ways of his laws, and work of his commands. And
Fourthly, Some, where they have found themselves guilty upon any head, whether of omitting a duty, or committing a fin, have written down the fins they have been guilty of, or have marked them in the margin of their book, that they might be able to make a more exact and particular confession of their feveral offences before God, and enter their vows and refolutions the more diftinctly against them: and this may be farther useful; for, by comparing one time with another, you will better difcern the amendment of your life, and growth in chriftian virtue: but this is only advice; for every one is left to judge of the ufefulness and expediency of this method.
Fifthly, They that can't quiet their confciences by this examination, concerning the lawfulness or unlawfulness of this or that action, or fhall meet with fcruples and difficulties of any other kind, let them firft pray to God to enlighten and establish their mind, and then have recourfe to fome learned and pious minifter of God's word, always remembering to be honest and impartial in this work, between God and their own confciences; for it is in vain to hope to hide any thought, action, or defign, from his all-feeing eye, who is the great fearcher and judge of all bearts...
And here I would for the true penitent's greater fatisfaction re commend to him the reading of the IVth Section, of the care of the Soul in the em WHOLE DUTY of MAN.
Heads for the examination of conscience, upon thofe duties wherein GOD's honour, and our own and neighbour's good are concerned.
Search and examine your own confciences, and that not lightly, and after the manner of diffemblers with God; but fo that ye may come holy and clean to such an heavenly feast, in the marriage garment required by God in holy fcripture, and be received as worthy partakers of that holy table. The firft exhortation in the communion fervice.
Come now let us reason together, faith the Lord: though your fins be as fcarlet, they fhall be as white as fnow; though they be red like crimson, they fhall be as wool. Ifaiah i. 18.
1. Concerning our duty towards GOD.* Nter, now, O my foul, into the fecrets of thy heart, and examine whether thou doft believe and confider that God, by his providence, governs the world and all things in it?
Doft thou remember, that God beholds the most fecret thoughts and actions of thy heart and life, and will judge thee with fevere justice at the last day?
Art thou warn'd by the fenfe of God's all-feeing providence to take heed to thy ways?
Doft thou afcribe the fuccefs of thy undertakings, chiefly to the good providence of God over thee?
Doft thou pray daily for the protection of God, and his bleffing upon thy honeft endeavours?
Hath the goodness and mercy of God, in creating, preferving, and redeeming thee, that effect upon thy heart, as to make thee love him, and defire to please him?
Haft thou lovedGod before, and above all things? Have the many teftimonies, which thou haft received of God's mercy and goodness, bred in thee a comfortable hope in him?
Haft thou never so far prefum'd upon his mercy, as to encourage thee to fin against him?
Hath the confideration of God's majesty and greatnefs imprinted awful and reverent thoughts concerning him, and bred in thee modeft and humble thoughts concerning thyself?
This duty may be found explained at large in the new WHOLE DUTY OF MAN, Sunday 1. Section II.
Doth the confideration of the power and justice of God, make thee afraid to provoke him, and afraid of offending him more than man? 1979vilǝb ni
Doft thou steadfastly rely upon the truth and promifes of God, under all diftreffes and calamities, fo as to wait patiently for a deliverance in God's good time, and never to try to deliver thyfelf out of calamity by finful means?
Haft thou gone to witches or cunning men for council; or for the recovery of things loft: or been too attentive to dreams, fortune-tellers, or the vain predictions of men; or lots, fo as to attempt thereby the knowing before-hand things to come?
Haft thou refigned thyfelf, and all thy concerns, to the all-wife and good providence of God?
Art thou not immoderately careful and anxious about outward things?
Haft thou not prophaned the holy and dreadful name of God, by perjury and unlawful oaths, or by cuftomary fwearing or curfing in thy common converfation?
Haft thou not mentioned the name of God, or of his fon Jefus Chrift, irreverently or lightly in thy common converfation?
Doft thou take care to admonish and reprove o thers for their fins, fo far as thou mayeft with prudence and decency?
Haft thou faithfully received the fcriptures, not as the word of man; but as they are in truth, the word of God?
Doft thou read and observe them in order to make them the rule of life?
Have the promises and awakening threatnings therein prevailed with thee, to govern thyself according to the holy and admirable precepts therein delivered?
Haft thou honoured him by a reverent ufage of whatfoever things or perfons belong to him, and are dedicated to his honour and fervice?
Doft thou confide: the Lord's Day, as fet apart by God for the care of the foul, and the preparation of ourselves for the next life, and for his more immediate worship, in keeping it holy, to thofe ends for which it was appointed; by attending the public fervice of the church; in reading and hearing his holy word; in prayer and meditation, and good difcourfe on the Sabbath Day?
Doft thou go to church with a hearty intention to ferve God, and to be inftructed in thy duty, or reminded of it; and not only for fafhion's fake?
Doft thou afterwards reflect upon what thou haft heard, and lay it up in thy heart, that thou mayeft live according to it?'
Haft thou fo little regarded this holy day, as to fpend it in travelling, and taking unneceffary journeys thereupon, fuch as might as well have been performed on any other day?
Haft thou every day duly prayed to him, and praifed him for thy mercies received?
Have thy prayers and praifes been always accompanied with fuch a fenfe of God, and fuch ferioufnefs, fervency, and affection, as he requires? Haft thou (notwithstanding the means of grace, B 3.