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Serm. II. Let us now observe the proper effect
For to a good man it may be fometimes the ground and occasion of peace, joy, pleasing reflections, and comfortable hopes and expectations, and afford cause of thankfgiving to God. It will especially do so, at the end of life, to such as have made it a frequent practise, and have thereby been engaged in a strict and steady course of virtue. Like the Apostle, they will be able to fay: Our rejoycing is this, the testimonie of our 2 Cor. i. conscience, that in fimplicity and godly finceria ty, not with fleshly wisdom, but by the grace of God, we have bad our conversation in this world. And when he was yet nearer the period of his days on earth, he reflects, and looks forward in this manner: I bave fought 2 Tim. iv. a good fight, I have finished my course, I 7, 8. bave kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousnelle, which the
Serm. Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at 1. that day.
This fatisfaction, we may well suppose, was sometimes the result of the Psalmist's thinking on his 'ways. For though he did not always perform agreeably to the obligations he was under, yet he never laid aside the profession of religion, nor abandoned himself to an allowed and deliberate course
of wickedneffe. So he declares in this Ver. 102. Pfalm: I have not departed from thy judgeVer. 22.
ments, for thou bast taught me. And, Re
move away from me reproch and contempt : Ver. 165. for I bave kept thy testimonies. And, Lord, Mo. 167.
I have hoped in thy salvation, and done thy commandments. My soul has kept thy testimonies, and I love them exceedingly. I have kept thy precepts, and thy testimonies : for all my ways are before thee.
But this was one 'happy effect of serious consideration, or thinking on his he was better disposed and enabled to amend
what had been hitherto amiss, and to adVer. 67. vance in piety. As he says: Before I was
affliated, I went astray, but now have I kept, thy word. There were errours and faults in his conduct, in the time of ease and prospe
rity, which afflictions had taught him to SERM. correct and reform.
I. So here in the text : I thought on my ways : and having on that recollection and review observed fome, or even many defects and transgressions, I turned my feet unto God's testimonies. Whatever I discerned to be contrarie to duty, gave me grief and concern, and I resolved to do so no more. I determined, not to persist in any thing, which I had seen the evil of: knowing, that any one fin, wilfully indulged, is a presumptuous disrespect to the authority of the divine law: and might harden my heart, and extirpate all sense of religion in my mind, untill I become totally forsaken of God, and abandoned to all manner of wickedneffe.
Having seen my errours, I refolved to be for the future more exact, careful and circumspect. And I have actually found, by experience, that this frequent, ferious and impartial recollecting and reviewing my past conduct has been of great use to me, and proved an excellent mean of my amendment and emprovement.
III. It remains, that in the way of ap
plication I recommend this duty of consideration, or the practise of think
ing on our ways, hy some motives. 1. It is a very fit and proper employment of rational creatures, whilft in a state of trial: wherein they labor under many frailties and imperfections, and are exposed to various fnares and temptations.
What can be more proper for such beings, in fuch circumstances, than to think on their ways ? They are accountable to God. And must it not be very becoming them, to Thew a respect to him, and his laws, by frequently considering their behaviour : that, if at any time, through surprize, or any other means, they have been misled, they may make humble confeflions of their offenses, and resolve and aim and endeavour to do better in time to come.
2. I observe fecondly, (which follows from what was just said,) that this practise is very proper for all men.
It is proper for such, as have not yet ferioully devoted themselves to God and his ser
vice: and also for those, who are really and Serm. fincerely, but only imperfectly good. It is I. greatly needful, and of the utmost importance for the former, to think on their ways. And it
be very expedient and beneficial for these laft likewise. The Psalmist Thews as much by his own example, who ought to be placed in this later rank. And he well understood, to intend by this observation, to recommend the practise to others. 3.
This exercise of the mind is oftentimes expressly recommended to men by God himself, or his Prophets, speaking in his name, and by his authority.
In the first chapter of the book of Isaiah God laments and complains, as it were, that Ifrael did not know, his people did not conhder. II. i. 3: And earnestly calls to them, to attend to the end of things. Wash ye, make you clean:
16. Put away the evil of your doings from before my eyes. Ceafe to do evil, learn to do well. Come now, and let us reason together, faith the Lord.
If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land. But if ye refuse, and rebell, ye shall be destroyed. For the mouth of the Lord bath fpoken it. They are severely checked and reproved, who go on securely in