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he would not have been much truer to his duty, than you are.
This is the reason, why I desired you to consider, how you would exhort that man to confess and bewail his sins, whom
upon to be one of the greatest sinners.
Because if you will deal justly, you must fix the charge at home, and look no further than yourself. For God has given no one any powerof knowing the true greatness of any sins, but his own; and therefore the greatest sinner, that every one knows, is himself.
You may easily see, how such a one in the outward course of his life breaks the laws of God; but then you can never say, that, had you been exactly in all his circumstances, you would not have broken them more, than he has clone,
A serious and frequent reflection npon these things will mightily tend to humble us in our own eyes, make us, very apprehensive of the greatness of our own guilt, and very tender in eensuring and condemning other people. ,
Who would dare to be severe against other people, when, for ought he can tell, the severity of God may be more clue to him, than to them? Who would exelaim against the guilt of others,
when he considers, that he knows more of the greatness of his own guilt, than he does of theirs ?
How often you have resisted God's holy spirit ; how many motives to goodness you have disregarded; how many particular blessings you have sinned against ; how many good resolutions you have broken , how many checks and admonitions of conscience you have stifled, you very well knowBut how often this has been the case of other sinners, you know not. And therefore the greatest sinner, that you know, must be yourself.
Whenever therefore you are angry at sin or sinners; whenever you read or think of God's indignation and wrath at wicked men, let this teach you to be the most severe in
your censure, and most humble and contrite in the acknowledgment and confession of your own sins; be, cause you know of no sinner equal to yourself.
Lastly, to conclude this chapter, Having thus examined and confessed your sins, be importunate in your entreaties at the throne of divine grace to prepare you for cleath.
In your prayers on this solemn subject, reckon up all the dangers, uncertainties, and terrours of
death ; let them contain every thing, which can affect and awaken your mind into just apprehensions of it. Let your petitions be all for right sentiments of the approach and importance of death'; and beg of God, that your mind may be possessed with such a sense of its nearness, that you may have it always in your thoughts, do every thing as in sight of it, and make every day a day of preparation for it.
Represent to your imagination, that your bed is your grave; that all things are ready for your interment ; that you are to have no more to do with this world, and that it will be owing to God's great mercy, if you ever see the light of the sun again, or have another day to add to your works of piety. min
.: Then commit yourself to sleep, 'as into the hands of God"; as one, who is to have no more opportunities of doing good ; but is to
awake amongst spirits, that are separate from the body, and waiting for the judgment of the last great day.
Such-a solemn resignation of yourself into the hands of God every evening, and parting, with all the world, as if you were never to see it any more, and all this in the silence and dark
I have now only to add a word or
ness of the night, is a practice, that will soon have excellent effects upon your spirito
For this time of the night is exceeding proper for such prayers and meditations, and the Jikeness, which sleep and darkness have to death, will contribute , very much to inake your thoughts about it the more deep and affecting. So that I hope, you will not let a time, so proper for such prayers, be ever passed over with out them. 1).
CHAP. XIX. The conclusion. On the excellency of a devout aparte
I HAVE thus explained the nature of devotion, both as it signifies a life devoted to God, and as it signifies the habitual performance of prayer. two in recommendation of a life governed by this spirit of devotion,
For, though it is as reasonable to suppose it the desire of all christians to arrive at christian perfection, as to suppose, that all sick men desire to be restored to perfect health ; yet ex
perience shows us, that nothing wants more to be pressed, repeated, and forced upon our minds, than the plainest rules of christianity.
But the thing, which is here pressed upon all, is a life of a great and strict devotion ; which, I think, has been sufficiently shown to be equally the duty and happiness of all orders of men..
Neither is there any thing in any particular state of life, that can be justly pleaded as a reason for any abatements of a devout spirit.
But because in this polite age of ours, we have so lived away
the spirit of devotion, that many seem afraid even to be suspected of it, imagining great devotion to be great bigotry ; that it is founded in ignorance and poorness of spirit, and that little, weak, and dejected minds are generally the greatest proficients in it ; it shall here be fully shown, that great devotion is the noblest temper of the greatest and noblest souls; and that they, who think, it receives any advantage from ignorance and poorness of spirit, are themselves not a little, but entirely ignorant of the nature of devotion, the: nature of God, and the nature of themselves.
People of fine parts and learning, or of great kpowledge in worldly matters, may perhaps