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but he did not trust to that; he was still afraid lest there might be some wicked way in him, which had escaped his notice: therefore he cries to God to search him. And his earnestness appears in the frequent repetition of the same request in different words : Search me, O God, and know my heart ; try me and knot: my thoughts. He was very earnest to know whether there were not some evil way or other in him, in which he went on, and did not take notice of.

1. We ought to be much concerned to know whetber we do not live in a state of sin. All unregenerate men live in sin. We are born under the power and dominion of sin, are sold under sin ; every unconverted sinner is a devoted servant to sin and Satan. We should look upon it as of the greatest importance to us, to know in what state we are, whether we ever had any change made in our hearts from sin to holiness, or whether we be not still in the gall of bitterness and bond of ini. quity; whether ever sin were truly mortified in us; whether we do not live in the sin of unbelief, and in the rejection of the Saviour. This is what the apostle insists upon with the Corinthians, 2 Cor. xiii. 5. “Examine yourseldes, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves; know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates ?Those who entertain the opinion and hope

of themselves, that they are godly, should take great care to see that their foundation be right. Those that are in doubt should not give themselves rest till the matter be resolved.

Every unconverted person lives in a sinful way. He not only lives in a particular evil practice, but the whole course of his life is sinful. The imagination of the thoughts of his heart is only evil continually. He not only doth evil, but he doth no good, Psal. xiv. 3. They are altogether become filthy; there is none that doeth good, no not one. Sin is an unconverted man's trade; it is the work and business of his life ; for he is the servant of sin. And ordinarily hypocrites, or those who are wicked men, and yet think themselves godly, and make a profession accordingly, are especially odious and abominable to God.

2. We ought to be much concerned to know whether we do not live in some particular way which is offensive and dis. pleasing to God: this is what I principally intend. We ought to be much concerned to know whether we do not live in the gratification of some lust, either in practice or in our thoughts: whether we do not live in the omission of some duty, some thing which God expects we should do; whether we do not go into some practice or manner of behaviour, which is not warrantable. We should inquire whether we do not live in some practice which is against our light, and whether we do not allow ourselves in known sins.

We should be strict to inquire whether or no we have not hitherto allowed ourselves in some or other sinful way, through wrong principles and mistaken notions of our duty; whether we have not lived in the practice of some things offensive to God, through want of care, and watchfulness, and observation of ourselves. We should be concerned to know whether we live not in some way which doth not become the profession we make; and whether our practice in some things be not unbecoming Christians, contrary to Christian rules, not suitable for the disciples and followers of the Holy Jesus, the Lamb of God. We ought to be concerned to know this, because,

(1.) God requires of us, that we exercise the utmost watchfulness and diligence in his service. Reason teaches that it is our duty to exercise the utmost care, that we may know the mind and will of God, and our duty in all the branches of it, and to use our utmost diligence in every thing to do it; because the service of God is the great business of our lives; it is that work which is the end of our beings; and God is worthy that we should serve him to the utmost of our power in all things. This is what God often expressly requires of us; Deut. iv. 9. Take heed to thyself, and keep thy soul diligently, lest thou forget the things that ihine eyes have seen, and lest they depart from thy heart all the days of thy life. And v. 15, 16. Take ye therefore good heed to yourselves, lest ye corrupt yourselves. And Deut. vi. 17. You shall diligently keep the commandments of the Lord. your God, and his testimonies, and his statutes which he hath commanded thee. And Prov. iv. 23. Keep thy heart with all diligence ; for out of it are the issues of life. So we are commanded by Christ to watch and pray ; Matt. xxvi. 41, and Luke xxi. 34, 36. Take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and the cares of this life. Eph. v. 15. See that ye walk circumspectly. So that if we be found in any evil way whatsoever, it will not excuse us, that it was through inadvertence, or that we were not aware of it; as long as it is through want of that care and watchfulness in us, which we ought to have maintained.

(2.) If we live in any way of sin, we live in a way whereby God is dishonoured; but the honour of God ought to be supremely regarded by all. If every one would make it his great care in all things to obey God, to live justly and holily, to walk in every thing according to Christian rules; and would maintain a strict, watchful, and scrutinous eye over himself, to see if there were no wicked way in him; would give diligence to amend whatsoever is amiss; would avoid every unholy, unchristian, and sinful way; and if the practice of all were universally as becometh Christians, how greatly would this be to the glory of God, and of Jesus Christ! How greatly would it be to the credit and honour of religion ! How would it tend to

bat he did not trust to that; he was still afraid lest there might be some wicked way in him, which had escaped his notice: therefore he cries to God to search him. And his earnestness appears in the frequent repetition of the same request in different words : Search me, O God, and know my heart ; iry me and know my thoughts. He was very earnest to know whether there were not some evil way or other in him, in which he went on, and did not take notice of.

1. We ought to be much concerned to know whether we do not live in a state of sin. All unregenerate men live in sin. We are born under the power and dominion of sin, are sold under sin ; every unconverted sinner is a devoted servant to sin and Satan. We should look upon it as of the greatest importance to us, to know in what state we are, whether we ever had any change made in our hearts from sin to holiness, or whether we be not still in the gall of bitterness and bond of iniquity; whether ever sin were truly mortified in us; whether we do not live in the sin of unbelief, and in the rejection of the Saviour. This is what the apostle insists upon with the Corinthians, 2 Cor. xiii. 5. “Examine yourseldes, whether ye be in the faith ; prove your own seldes; know ye not your own selves, hou that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates ?” Those who entertain the opinion and hope of themselves, that they are godly, should take great care to see that their foundation be right. Those that are in doubt should not give themselves rest till the matter be resolved.

Every unconverted person lives in a sinful way. He not only lives in a particular evil practice, but the whole course of his life is sinful. The imagination of the thoughts of his heart is only evil continually. He not only doth evil, but he doth no good, Psal. xiv. 3. They are altogether become filthy; there is none that doeth good, no not one. Sin is an unconverted man's trade ; it is the work and business of his life ; for he is the servant of sin. And ordinarily hypocrites, or those who are wicked men, and yet think themselves godly, and make a profession accordingly, are especially odious and abominable to God.

2. We ought to be much concerned to know whether we do not live in some particular way which is offensive and displeasing to God: this is what I principally intend. We ought to be much concerned to know whether we do not live in the gratification of some lust, either in practice or in our thoughts: whether we do not live in the omission of some duty, some thing which God expects we should do; whether we do not go into some practice or manner of behaviour, which is not warrantable. We should inquire whether we

do not live in some practice which is against our light, and whether we do not allow ourselves in known sins,

We should be strict to inquire whether or no we have not hitherto allowed ourselves in some or other sinful way, through wrong principles and mistaken notions of our duty; whether we have not lived in the practice of some things offensive to God, through want of care, and watchfulness, and observation of ourselves. We should be concerned to know whether we live not in some way which doth not become the profession we make; and whether our practice in some things be not unbecoming Christians, contrary to Christian rules, not suitable for the disciples and followers of the Holy Jesus, the Lamb of God. We ought to be concerned to know this, because,

(1.) God requires of us, that we exercise the utmost watchfulness and diligence in his service. Reason teaches that it is our duty to exercise the utmost care, that we may know the mind and will of God, and our duty in all the branches of it, and to use our utmost diligence in every thing to do it; because the service of God is the great business of our lives; it is that work which is the end of our beings ; and God is worthy that we should serve him to the utmost of our power in all things. This is what God often expressly requires of us; Deut. iv, 9. Take heed to thyself, and keep thy soul diligently, lest thou forget the things that ihine eyes have seen, and lest they depart from thy heart all the days of ihy life. And v. 15, 16. Take ye therefore good heed to yourselves, lest ye corrupt yourselves. And Deut. vi. 17. You shall diligently keep the commandments of the Lord your God, and his testimonies, and his statutes which he hath commanded thee. And Prov. iv. 23. Keep thy heart with all diligence ; for out of it are the issues of life. So we are commanded by Christ to watch and pray ; Matt. xxvi. 41, and Luke xxi. 34, 36. Take heed to yourselves, lest at any

time be odercharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and the cares of this life. Eph. v. 15. See that ye walk circumspectly. So that if we be found in any evil way whatsoever, it will not excuse us, that it was through inadvertence, or that we were not aware of it; as long as it is through want of that care and watchfulness in us, which we ought to have maintained.

(2.) If we live in any way of sin, we live in a way whereby God is dishonoured; but the honour of God ought to be supremely regarded by all. If every one would make it his great care in all things to obey God, to live justly and holily, to walk in every thing according to Christian rules; and would maintain a strict, watchful, and scrutinous eye over himself, to see if there were no wicked way in him; would give diligence to amend whatsoever is amiss; would avoid every unholy, unchristian, and sinful way; and if the practice of all were universally as becometh Christians, how greatly would this be to the glory of God, and of Jesus Christ! How greatly would it he to the credit and honour of religion ! How would it tend to

your hearts

can understand his errors ? Cleanse thou me from secret faults. By secret faults, the Psalmist means those which are secret to himself, those sins which were in him, or which he was guilty of, and yet was not aware of.

SECT. II.

Why many live in sin, and yet not know it.

That the knowing whether we do not live in some way of sin is attended with difficulty, is not because the rules of judging in such a case are not plain or plentiful. God hath abundantly taught us what we ought, and what we ought not to do; and the rules by which we are to walk are often set before us in the preaching of the word. So that the difficulty of knowing whether there be any wicked way in us, is not for want of external light, or for want of God's having told us plainly and abundantly what are wicked ways. But that many persons live in ways which are displeasing to God, and yet are not sensible of it, may arise from the following things.

1. From the blinding deceitful nature of sin. The heart of man is full of sin and corruption, and that corruption is of an exceedingly darkening, blinding nature. Sin always carries a degree of darkness with it; and the more it prevails, the more it darkens and deludes the mind.-It is from hence that the knowing whether there be any wicked way in us is a difficult thing. The difficulty is not at all for want of light without us, not at all because the word of God is not plain, or the rules not clear; but it is because of the darkness within us.

The light shines clear enough around us, but the fault is in our eyes ; they are darkened and blinded by a pernicious distemper.

Sin is of a deceitful nature, because, so far as it prevails, so far it gains the inclination and will, and that sways and biases the judgment. So far as any lust prevails, so far it biases the mind to approve of it. So far as any sin sways the inclination or will, so far that sin seems pleasing and good to the man : and that which is pleasing, the mind is prejudiced to think is right.—Hence when any lust hath so gained upon a man, as to get him into a sinful way or practice ; it having gained his will, also prejudices his understanding. And the more irregularly a man walks, the more will his mind probably be darkened and blinded; because by so much the more doth sin prevail.

Hence many men who live in ways wbich are not agreeable to the rules of God's word, yet are not sensible of it; and it is a difficult thing to make them so; because the same lust that leads them into that evil way, blinds them in it.--Thus, if a man live in a way of malice or envy, the more malice or

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