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The Duty of Confideration.

PSA L. 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 consequence of that practise: He turned his feet unto God's teftimonies.

The text therefore prefents to us thefe two points, confideration, and the happy effect of it, reformation, or amendment. These

SERM. will be the fubjects of the present difcourfe. And this is the method to be observed by



I. To fhew, what is implied in confideration, or thinking on our ways.

II. To observe the proper effect thereof, which is amendment.

III. After which, in the way of application, I would recommend the practise of confideration by fome motives.

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 past 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 also our former conduct: nor only our outward actions, but likewise 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 stations 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 cursorie reflections on my-felf and my past conduct : but I acted with seriousneffe and deliberation, being fenfible, it is a thing of no small moment. I alloted fome time to this work, and called off my thoughts from other matters, to think of my-self 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 wrong:

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.

He is the



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. beft judge of integrity, and will 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 no- tice. And he difcerns 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 defpair and defpondence: believing, that equity, mercie and compaffion, are branches of eternal righteousneffe, and fome of the glories of that infinitly perfect being, who made the world. He certainly is not ftrict 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 resent 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 may be graciously approved of and accepted by him, to whom I am accountable: and who

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