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Tit. 2. Directions for Self-judging as to our Actions.
Direct. 1. Let watchfulness over your hearts and lives your continual work.' Never grow careless or neglectful of yourselves: keep your hearts with all diligence. As an unfaithful servant may deceive you, if you look after him but now and then; so may a deceitful heart. Let it be continually under your eye.
Object. Then I must neglect my calling, and do nothing else.'
Answ. It need not be any hindrance to you at all. As every man that followeth his trade and labour, doth still take heed that he do all things right, and every traveller taketh heed of falling, and he that eateth taketh heed of poisoning or choaking himself, without any hindrance, but to the furtherance of that which he is about: so is it with a Christian about his heart: vigilant heedfulness must never be laid by, whatever you are doing.
Direct. 11. Live in the light as much as is possible.' I mean under a judicious, faithful pastor, and amongst understanding, exemplary Christians; for they will be still acquainting you with what you should be and do; and your errors will be easily detected, and in the light you are not so like to be deceived.
Direct. III. Discourage not those that would admonish or reprove you, nor neglect their opinion of you.' No, not the railings of an enemy; for they may tell you that in anger (much more in fidelity) which it may concern you much to hear, and think of, and may give you some light in judging of yourselves.
Direct. iv. If you have so happy an opportunity, engage some faithful bosom friend to watch over you, and tell you plainly of all that they see amiss in you.' But deal not so hypocritically as to do this in the general, and then be angry when he performeth his trust, and discourage him by your proud impatience.
Direct. v. Put yourselves in another's case, and be impartial.' When you cannot easily see the faults of others, inquire then whether your own be not as visible, if you were as ready to observe and aggravate them And surely
none more concern you than your own, nor should be so odious and grievous to you; nor are so, if you are truly penitent.
Direct. vi. Understand your natural temper and inclination, and suspect those sins which you are naturally most inclined to, and there keep up the strictest watch.'
Direct. vII. Understand what temptations your place, and calling, and relations, and company do most subject you to; and there be most suspicious of yourselves.'
Direct. VIII. Mark yourselves well in the hour of temptation:' for then it is that the vices will appear, which before lay covered and unknown.
Direct. ix. Suspect yourselves most heedfully of the most common and most dangerous sins.' Especially unbelief and want of love to God, and a secret preferring of earthly hopes before the hopes of the life to come; and selfishness, and pride, and sensual pleasing of the fleshly appetite and fancy: these are the most common, radical and most mortal, damning sins.
Direct. x. Take certain times to call yourselves to a special strict account.' As 1. At your preparation for the Lord's day at the end of every week. 2. In your preparation for the sacrament of Christ's body and blood. 3. And before a day of humiliation. 4. In a time of sickness or other affliction. 5. Yea, every night review the actions of the foregoing day. He that useth to call his conscience seriously to account, is likest to keep his accounts in order, and to be ready to give them up to Christ.
Direct. x1.Make not light of any sin which you discover in your self-examination.' But humble yourselves for it before the Lord, and be affected according to its importance, both in its guilt and evil signification.
Direct. x11. And let the end of all be the renewed exercise of faith and thankfulness, and resolutions for better obedience hereafter.' That you may see more of the need and use of a Saviour, and may thankfully magnify that grace which doth abound where sin abounded; and may walk the more watchfully and holily for the time to come.
Tit. 3. Directions for Self-judging as to our Estates, to know whether we are in a Regenerate and Justified State, or not.
Direct. 1. If you would so judge of the state of your souls, as not to be deceived, come not to the trial with an over-confident prejudice or conceit of your own condition, either as good or bad.' He that is already so prepossessed as to resolve what to judge before he trieth, doth make his trial but a means to confirm him in his conceit.
Direct. 11. Let not self-love, partiality, or pride on the one side, or fear on the other side, pervert your judgment in the trial, and hinder you from the discerning of the truth.' Some men cannot see the clearest evidences of their unsanctified hearts, because self-love will give them leave to believe nothing of themselves which is bad or sad. They will believe that which is good and pleasant, be it never so evidently false. As if a thief could be saved from the gallows, by a strong conceit that he is a true man: or the conceit that one is learned, would make him learned. Others through timorousness can believe nothing that is good or comfortable of themselves: like a man on the top of a steeple, who though he know that he standeth fast and safe, yet trembleth when he looketh down and can scarce believe his own understanding. Silence all the objections of an over-timorous mind, and it will doubt and tremble still.
Direct. 111. Surprise not yourselves on the sudden and unprepared, with the question, whether you are justified or not; but set about it as the most serious business of your life.' A great and difficult question must have a well-studied answer, and not to be answered hastily and rashly. If one should meet you in the street, and demand some great and long account of you, you would desire him to stay, till you review your memorials, or have time to cast it up. Take some appointed time to do this, when you have no intruding thoughts to hinder you, and think not that it must be resolved easily or quickly upon the first inquiry, but by the most sober and judicious consideration, and patient attendance till it be done.
Direct. IV. Understand the tenor of the covenant of grace, which is the law that you must judge of your estates by:' for if you mistake that, you will err in the conclusion. He is an unfit judge, who is ignorant of the law.
Direct. v. Mistake not the nature of true faith in Christ.' Those that think it is a believing that they are actually pardoned, and shall be saved, do some of them presume or believe it when it is false, and some of them despair, because they cannot believe it. And those that think that faith is such a recumbency on Christ as always quieteth the mind, do think they have no faith, when they have no such quietness: and those that think it is only the resting on the blood of Christ for pardon, do take up with that which is no true faith: but he that knoweth that faith in Christ, is nothing else but Christianity, or consenting to the Christian covenant, may know that he consenteth, even when he findeth much timorousness and trouble, and taketh not up with a deceitful faith.
Direct. vi. Remember in your self-judging, that the will is the man, and what you truly would be, that you are, in the sense of the covenant of grace.
Direct. vII. But remember also that your endeavours must prove the truth of your desires, and that idle wishes are not the denominating acts of the will.'
Direct. v111. Also your successes must be the proof of the sincerity of your endeavours:' for such striving against sin as endeth in yielding to it, and not in victory, is no proof of the uprightness of your hearts.
Direct. 1x. Mark what you are in the day of trial:' for at other times it is more easy to be deceived: and record what you then discover in yourself: what a man is in trial, that he is indeed.
Direct. x. Especially try yourselves in the great point of forsaking all for Christ, and for the hopes of the fruition of God in glory.' Know once whether God or the creature can do more with you, and whether heaven or earth be dearer to you, and most esteemed, and practically preferred, and then you may judge infallibly of your state.'
Direct. xI. Remember that in melancholy and weak- || ness of understanding, you are not fit for the casting up of
so great accounts; but must take up with the remembrance of former discoveries, and with the judgment of the judicious, and be patient till a fitter season, before you can expect to see in yourselves the clear evidence of your state.
Direct. XII. Neither forget what former discoveries you have made, nor yet wholly rest in them, without renewing your self-examination.' They that have found their sincerity, and think that the next time they are in doubt, they should fetch no comfort from what is past, do deprive themselves of much of the means of their peace. And those that trust all to the former discoveries of their good estate, do proceed upon unsafe and negligent principles; and will find that such slothful and venturous courses, will not serve turn.
Direct. x111. Judge not of yourselves by that which is unusual and extraordinary with you, but by the tenor and drift of your hearts and lives.' A bad man may seem good in some good mood; and a good man may seem bad in some extraordinary fall. To judge of a bad man by his best hours, and of a good man by his worst, is the way to be deceived in them both.
Direct. xiv. Look not unequally at the good or evil that is in you; but consider them both impartially as they are.' If you observe all the good only that is in you, and overlook the bad; or search after nothing but your faults, and overlook your graces; neither of these ways will bring you to true acquaintance with yourselves.
Direct. xv. Look not so much either at what you should be, or at what others are, as to forget what you are yourselves. Some look so much at the glory of that full perfection which they want, as that their present grace seemeth nothing to them; like a candle to one that hath been gazing on the sun. And some look so much at the debauchery of the worst, that they think their lesser wickedness to be holiness.
Direct. xvI. 'Suffer not your minds to wander in confusion, when you set yourselves to so great a work:' but keep it close to the matter in hand, and drive it on till it have come to some satisfaction and conclusion.
Direct. XVII. 'If you are not able by meditation to do