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his Actions before the great Tribunal of SERM, God. And thus the Pfalmift gives this IX. Reason, why he kept God's Precepts and Testimonies, because he considered the Omnipresence of God, that he took Notice of all his Actions: I have kept thy Pre-Pf.cxix. cepts and thy Testimonies ; for all my Ways 168. are before thee.
5. EXAMINE your Conscience frequently, call yourself to an Account, how you have behaved yourself, toward God and toward Men; consider with yourself, what Sins you have committed, what Part of your Duty you have neglected, what Opportunities God has put into your Hands of doing Good, which you have not improved; consider what Proficiency you have made in the Ways of Virtue and Religion; whether
you grow daily better and better, or worse and worse ; whether your Affections are drawn out more after God; whether your Passions are kept in better Order than they used to be ; and whether
Lives are more conformable to the Word of God; do this frequently and constantly, not only before the Receiving the Sacrament, and every Lord's-Day, when those Duties are indispensably necessary, but every Day: This is the Advice which the best Men, and the most celebrated Moralists, have given us, and would certainly have a wonder
Pi. cxix. 59.
SERM. ful Influence upon our Hearts and ComIX. sciences, if duly practised : I thought on my
Ways, says David, and I turned my Feet unto thy Testimonies.
Would Men but every Night, before they compose themselves to sleep, fequester their Thoughts, for a few Moments, from their worldly Affairs, and enter into the Closet of their Breasts ; consult their own Consciences, and take a View of what they find recorded there, concerning the past Actions of the Day; they would find so much Benefit and Advantage by it, as would yield them sufficient Recompence for the Time and Pains they have been at; their Sleep would be more found and sweet, and they would awake, next Morning, in a more holy Frame of Spirit, and better disposed to keep a Conscience void of Offence, all the Day after ; thus
in the fourth Pfalm, when David had Ver. 4. given this Advice, Commune with your own
Heart upon your Bed, and be still; he tells
us what Benefit he found by putting this Pcr. 8. Precept in Practice: I will both lay me
down in Peace, and sleep, for thou, Lord, makest me dwell in Safety. Nay, we find, that even God himself did not only survey
the Works of the Creation, at the End of the sixth Day, when he had finished and perfected them all; but heSERM. took a View of them every Day, and pro- IX. nounced them good : And did we but imitate our heavenly Father in taking a daily Survey of our Actions, and confidering their Quality and natural Tendency, it would very much conduce to make ours so. For we should not be so easily tempted to commit Sin, when we know that we must give an Account of it, not only to God, but to our own Consciences ; we should be more sensible how numerous our Transgressions are, and by Consequence more fearful of adding new Articles to that Indictment, which already lies so heavy against us; our Consciences would be more tender and vigorous in their Admonitions, and more impartial in directing us in the Performance of our Duty, did we but call ourselves daily to an Account, and acquaint ourselves thoroughly with the Condition of our own Souls. This is Advice which I have frequently given you, and must insist upon still; nay, I cannot too frequently inculcate it; For, could I but persuade my Hearers, to call themselves to an Account daily, my other Instructions would be more useful and effectual to them ; would they but thus frequently and diligently examine their
SERM. own Consciences, their Consciences would
either in this World or the next.
all with fervent Prayer to our good God, that he would forgive us all our past Offences, direct us what we ought to do, and help and assist us, by his Grace, to obey all his Commands, and, to keep a Conscience void of Offence, toward God and toward Men. For, by Prayer, we do not only acknowledge God to be the tor and Governor of the World, and beg of him those Supplies, which we have Need of, but also render Souls fit and capable to receive them. By a serious Confession of our Sins to God, we become sensible of our Wants and Failings; by praising him for his Benefits, we acknowledge our Dependance upon him; and by interceding for others, and begging a Supply for the Wants and Neces, fities of our Neighbour, we fill our own Breasts with Pity and Compassion, we blow
the Coals of Love towards him, and increase our Charity to all Mankind. And I am persuaded, that, were but these two last Directions perfectly learned, and conscientiously put in Practice, s. e. did we but call our ourselves
to an Account daily, and carefully exa-SE RM4.) mine our own Hearts and Consciences; and IX, then devoutly and affectionately implore God's Pardon and Forgiveness for the Breaches of our Duty, and for his Grace and Assistance to enable us to do better for the Time to come, it would be morally impossible for any one to indulge himself in a wicked Course of Life,
And therefore, that I may prevail with every one, to put in Practice these Directions, which are so easy, and yet necessary in order to keep a Conscience void of Offence, toward God and toward Men, I shall conclude with some Motives to stir up and invigorate our Endeavours; and these shall be only two:
First, The Consideration of the Terrors which attend an evil Conscience.
Secondly, The Comforts and Satisfaction which naturally flow from a Conscie ence void of Offence. And,
I. LET us consider what Terrors and Agonies of Mind naturally flow from an evil Conscience. The Heathens described them by the Punishments of the Furies, who wreaked their Anger upon wicked Men, by lashing and scourging them, with Snakes and lighted Torches; and it is certain that there is no Trouble and