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don for what is past, and of his assisting grace to preserve and strengthen us in the ways of his laws, and works of his commands. And,
Fourthly, Some, where they have found themselves guilty upon any head, whether of omitting a duty or committing a sin, have written down the sins 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 several offences before God, and enter their vows and resolu tions the more distinctly against them: and this may be fur ther useful; for by comparing one time with another, you will better discern the amendment of your life, and growth in Christian virtue: but this is only advice; for every one is left to judge of the usefulness and expediency of this method.
Fifthly, They that cannot quiet their consciences by this examination, concerning the lawfulness or unlawfulness of this or that action, or shall meet with scruples and difficulties of any other kind, let them first pray to God to enlighten and establish their mind, and then have recourse to some learned and pious minister of God's word, always remembering to be honest and impartial in this work, between God and their own consciences; for it is in vain to hope to hide any thought, action, or design, from his all-seeing eye, who is the great searcher and judge of all hearts.
And here I would, for the true penitent's greater satisfac tion, recommend to him the reading of the VIth Section of the care of the soul in the NEW WHOLE DUTY of Man.
Heads for the examination of conscience upon those duties wherein God's honour, and our own and neighbour's good are concerned.
Search and examine your own consciences, and that not lightly, and after the manner of dissemblers with God; but so that you may come holy and clean to such a heavenly feast, in the marriage garment required by God in Holy Scripture, and be received as worthy partakers of that holy table. The first exhortation in the communion service :-Come now let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.-Isa. i. 18.
I. Concerning our Duty towards God*. NTER now, O my soul, into the secrets of thy heart, and examine whether thou dost believe and consider that God, by his providence, governs the world and all things
Dost thou remember that God beholds the most secret thoughts and actions of thy heart and life, and will judge thee with severe justice at the last day?
Art thou warned by the sense of God's allseeing providence to take heed to thy ways?
Dost thou ascribe the success of thy undertakings, chiefly to the good providence of God over thee?
Dost thou pray daily for the protection of God, and his blessing upon thy honest endeavours?
Hath the goodness and mercy of God, in creating, preserving, and redeeming thee, that effect upon thy heart, as to make thee love him, and desire to please him?
Hast thou loved God before and above all things?
Have the many testimonies, which thou hast received of God's mercy and goodness, bred in thee a comfortable hope in him?
Hast thou never so far presumed upon his mercy, as to encourage thee to sin against him?
*This duty may be found explained at large in the NEW WHOLE DUTY OF MAN, Sunday 1, Section II.
Hath the consideration of God's majesty and greatness imprinted awful and reverent thoughts concerning him, and bred in thee modest and humble thoughts concerning thyself?
Doth the consideration of the power and justice of God, make thee afraid to provoke him, and afraid of offending him more than man?
Dost thou steadfastly rely upon the truth and promises of God, under all distresses and calamities, so as to wait patiently for a deliverance in God's good time, and never to try to deliver thyself out of calamity by sinful means?
Hast thou gone to witches or cunning men for counsel; or for the recovery of things lost; or been too attentive to dreams, fortunetellers, or the vain predictions of men, or lots, so as to attempt thereby the knowing beforehand of things to come?
Hast thou resigned thyself, and all thy concerns, to the all-wise and good providence of God?
Art thou not immoderately careful and anxious about outward things?
Hast thou not profaned the holy and dreadful name of God, by perjury and unlawful oaths, or by customary swearing or cursing in thy common conversation?
Hast thou not mentioned the name of God, or of his Son Jesus Christ, irreverently or lightly in thy common conversation?
Dost thou take care to admonish and reprove others for their sins, so far as thou mayest with prudence and decency?
Hast thou faithfully received the Scriptures, not as the word of man, but as they are in truth, the word of God?
Dost thou read and observe them, in order to make them the rule of life?
Have the promises and awakening threatenings therein prevailed with thee, to govern thyself according to the holy and admirable precepts therein delivered?
Hast thou honoured him by a reverent usage of whatsoever things or persons belong to him, and are dedicated to his honour and service ?
Dost thou consider the Lord's Day as set apart by God for the care of the soul, and the preparation of ourselves for the next life, and for his more immediate worship, in keeping it holy, to those ends for which it was appointed; by attending the public service of the church; in reading and hearing his holy word; in prayer and meditation, and good discourse on the Sabbath Day?
Dost thou go to church with a hearty inten tion to serve God, and to be instructed in thy duty, or reminded of it; and not only for fashion's sake?
Dost thou afterwards reflect upon what thou hast heard, and lay it up in thy heart, that thou mayest live according to it?
Hast thou so little regarded this holy day, as to spend it in travelling, and taking unnecessary journeys thereupon, such as might as well have been performed on any other day?
Hast thou every day duly prayed to him, and praised him for thy mercies received?
Have thy prayers and praises been always accompanied with such a sense of God, and such seriousness, fervency, and affection, as he requires ?
Hast thou, notwithstanding the means of grace, and the light of the gospel, suffered thyself to live in ignorance of him, and thy duty? Hast thou not been so foolish as to put off thy repentance, thereby rendering thyself less able to set about it?
Hast thou a reverent regard to the sacraments which God hath appointed in his church? Art thou mindful of thy part of the cove nant made with God in baptism?
Hast thou made it thy care to live suitably to thy sacramental profession, and solemn engagements?
Hast thou seriously considered that amaz ing instance of the love of Christ, in redeeming thee from the bondage and dominion of sin, and the tyranny of the devil?
Dost thou depend upon the merits and satisfaction of Christ, and dost thou hope for acceptance with God, only through him, and not for any merit of thy own?