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it of yourselves, get the help of some able friend or pastor, and do it in a way of conference with him:' for conference will hold your own thoughts to their task; and your pastor may guide them, and tell you in what order to proceed, and confute your mistakes, besides confirming you by his judgment of your case.
Direct. xvii. ' If you cannot have such help at hand, write down the signs by which you judge either well or ill of yourself; and send them to some judicious divine for his judgment and counsel thereupon.'
Direct. xix. 'Expect not that your assurance should be perfect in this life :' for till all grace be perfect, that cannot be perfect. Unjust expectations disappointed are the cause of much disquietment.
Direct. xx. 'Distinguish between the knowledge of your justification, and the comfort of it.' Many an one may see and be convinced that he is sincere, and yet have little comfort in it, through a sad or distempered state of mind or body, and unpreparedness for joy; or through some expectations of enthusiastic comforts.
Direct. xxv. 'Exercise grace whenever you would see it:' idle habits are not perceived. Believe and repent till you feel that you do believe and repent, and love God till you feel that you love him.
Direct. xxi. • Labour to increase your grace if you would be sure of it.? For a little grace is hardly perceived ; when strong and great degrees do easily manifest themselves. Direct. xx111. 'Record what sure discoveries
have made of your estate upon the best inquiry, that it may stand you in stead at a time of further need:' for though it will not warrant you to search no more, it will be very useful to you, in your after-doubtings.
Direct. xxiv. 'What you cannot do at one time, follow on again and again till you have finished. A business of that consequence is not to be laid down through weariness or discouragement. Happy is he that in all his life, hath got assurance of life everlasting.
Direct. xxv. 'Let all your discoveries lead you up to further duty. If you find any cause of doubt, let it quicken you to diligence in removing it. If you find sincerity, turn it into joyful thanks to your Regenerator: and stop not in the bare discovery of your present state, as if you had no more to do.
Direct. XXVI. Conclude not the worse of the effects of a discovery of your bad condition, than there is cause.' Remember that if you should find that you are unjustified, , it followeth not that you must continue so: you search not after your disease or misery as incurable, but as one that hath a sufficient remedy at hand, even brought to your doors, and cometh a begging for your acceptance, and is freely offered and urged on you : and therefore if you find that you are unregenerate, thank God that hath shewed you your case; for if you had not seen it, you had perished in it: and presently give up yourselves to God in Jesus Christ, and then you may boldly judge better of yourselves; it is not for despair, but for recovery that you are called to try and judge. Nay, if you do but find it too hard a question for you, whether you have all this while been sincere or not, turn from it, and resolvedly give up yourselves to God by Christ, and place your hopes in the life to come, and turn from this deceitful world and flesh, and then the case will be plain for the time to come. you
doubt of your former repentance, repent now, and put it out of doubt from this time forward.
Direct. XXVII. When you cannot at the present reach assurance, undervalue not a true probability or hope of your sincerity: and still adhere to universal grace, which is the foundation of your special grace and comfort.? I mean, 1. The infinite goodness of God, and his mercifulness to
2. The sufficiency of Jesus Christ our Mediator. 3. The universal gift of pardon and salvation, which is conditionally made to all men, in the Gospel. Remember that the Gospel is glad tidings even to those that are unconverted. Rejoice in this universal mercy which is offered you, and that you are not as the devils, shut up in despair : and much more rejoice if you have any probability that you are truly penitent and justified by faith : let this support you till
you can see more. Direct, XXVII. Spend much more time in doing your
duty, than in trying your estate. Be not so much in ask-1/ ing, How shall I know that I shall be saved ? as in asking, What shall I do to be saved ? Study the duty of this day of your visitation, and set yourselves to it with all your might. Seek first the things that are above, and mortify your fleshly lusts : give up yourselves to a holy, heavenly life, and do all the good that you are able in the world : seek after God as revealed in and by our Redeemer: and in thus doing, 1. Grace will become more notable and discernible. 2. Conscience will be less accusing and condemning, and will more easily believe the reconciledness of God. 3. You be sure that such labour shall never be lost; and in well-doing you may trust your souls with God. 4. Thus those that are not able in an argumentative way to try their state to any full satisfaction, may get that comfort by feeling and experience, which others get by ratiocination. For the very exercise of love to God and man, and of a heavenly mind and holy life, hath a sensible pleasure in itself, and delighteth the person who is so employed : as if a man were to take the comfort of his learning or wisdom, one way is by the discerning his learning and wisdom, and thence inferring his own felicity : but another way is by exercising that learning and wisdom which he hath, in reading and meditating on some excellent books, and making discoveries of some mysterious excellencies in arts and sciences, which delight him more by the very acting, than a bare conclusion of his own learning in the general, would do. What delight had the inventors of the sea-chart and magnetic attraction, and of printing, and of guns,
in their inventions! What pleasure had Galileo in his telescopes, in finding out the inequalities and shady parts of the moon, the Medicean planets, the adjuncts of Saturn, the changes of Venus, the stars of the Milky Way, &c.; even so a serious, holy person, hath more sensible pleasures in the right exercise of faith, and love, and holiness, in prayer and meditation, and converse with God, and with the heavenly hosts, than the bare discerning of sincerity can afford. Therefore though it be a great, important duty to examine ourselves, and judge ourselves before God judge us, and keep close acquaintance with our own hearts and affairs, yet is it the addition of the daily practice of a heavenly life, which must be our chiefest business and delight. And he that is faithful in them both, shall know by experience the excellencies of Christianity and holiness, and in his way on earth, have both a prospect of heaven, and a foretaste of the everlasting rest and pleasures.