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in a great measure, that outward form and face of religion which is still kept up in the world. For if the point lay here, that every man must of necessity be either a Christian in deed and in truth, agreeably to his principles, or else renounce his principles, and turn infidel ; it is obvious and easy to imagine what condition the world must have been in long before this time. But I proceed to my second general head;

II. To shew what is implied and contained in the precept of the text: “ To keep the heart with all diligence.” Having seen how much depends on the disposition of the heart; the reason and the necessity of the precept must be very apparent : and we have nothing now left to do, but to inquire what it contains, or whereof it consists. It must consist of troo parts, or offices. 1. To preserve our good dispositions ; and 2. To correct our bad ones. And these again will each of them imply two other things: first, a frequent examination of our own hearts; and, secondly, a constant endeavour to wean our affections from this world, and to fix them on another.

1. The first part or office implied in the precept of the text, is to use our best endeavours to preserve our good dispositions, to keep up and maintain such commendable inclinations as we find ourselves already endowed with. This I conceive to be principally intended in the text. The phrase of keeping the heart answers thereto; and besides, it is much more in vur power to keep our hearts from going astray, than to recover them when once gone.

2. The second part or office implied also in the text, is to correct our bad inclinations, and reduce them to reason.

This is a matter of labour and difficulty, to recover a heart after it is gone astray, to call back the wandering affections, and to give them a new turn.

How far this may be within the ordinary power of man, or what degree of grace is required for it, I pretend not to determine, since it depends upon great variety of circumstances. If the heart be the governing principle, as we have before proved, it may be thought a kind of contradiction for a man of himself, and upon his own free motion, to set about the correcting or reforming it. How shall he correct his reigning inclination, without being inclined to do it? And how can any inclination be the reigning one, if there be a superior inclination to reduce and correct it? It comes at length to this; how shall a man be inclined to what he is not inclined to ? Here lies the difficulty: and hence it is that we so seldom see a thorough change of the heart; and when we do see it, we must impute it rather to the powerful hand of God, than to any thing which a man is able to do of himself. The inclinations of men (humanly speaking) once estranged from God and goodness, very rarely return, but rule and prevail over the unhappy creatures all their lives long. No arguments have any weight or force with them; no considerations can find entrance; they are deaf to all persuasion, refusing, like the deaf adder, to “hear “ the voice of the charmer, charm he never so wisely.” When men's hearts and affections are once gone off to this degree, their damnation is certain ; unless it please God to visit them in some remarkable manner, and to give a turn to their thoughts. In the general we may say, according as the heart is more or less abandoned, so the state of the man is either better or worse, and his recovery more or less doubtful. All the hold that any instructions or advices have upon him, lies in this, that he is incessantly desirous of his own happiness : and though he has placed his affections chiefly upon temporal good, yet some degree of inclination towards eternal happiness may abide and continue with him. The embers are not quite dead, but may some time or other kindle afresh, and break out into a flame. To come out of figure and metaphor, I apprehend the matter to lie plainly thus : though wicked men be under the influence of their corrupt, prevailing inclinations, in the ordinary course of their lives; yet at some certain seasons, and especially in the absence of tempt. ations, their enchanted reason and understanding may recover its due force and spring, may represent the ill consequences of a wicked course, and press the consideration thereof close and home : and they may instantly resolve upon ways and means to prevent any such delusion and infatuation for the time to come. This I suppose to be ordinarily in the power of the mind of man, not excluding the influences of God's grace cooperating with him.

It may be thought, perhaps, that, in what hath been said, I have too much heightened or magnified the difficulty of correcting the heart, and that there is little or no difficulty in the thing For, since God's grace is never wanting, but when men are wanting to themselves, any man may repent whensoever he will. This I admit. But is it so easy a matter for a man to will what he has no mind to ? If the man be willing, the thing is as good as done : but there lies the difficulty. The will itself, the first mover, the spring of action, is the very thing that wants to be set right ; and what shall do this? If it be thought that a principle of reason, with which man is endowed, is sufficient for all; the difficulty still returns, how the will, enslaved to passions, shall incline to follow reason. Whoever well considers human nature, and how the generality of mankind must be kept in awe by temporal penalties, or that otherwise the world would immediately run into the utmost confusion, will be apt to believe, that it is a very rare and uncommon talent, to be ever ready and willing to hearken to reason. It is but throwing out so many empty words, to say a man can do thus, or thus, if he will. A man may wantonly throw himself off from a precipice without the least reason for it: or he may put himself to extreme torture upon a rack, without any motive for doing it: or may do things on purpose to make himself contemptible or miserable all his life long: all this a man may do if he will; he has a physical power of acting in this manner, and that is all: but he can never exercise this power in such manner, because he can never have the will to do it, there being no principle in human nature to excite him to it. Now, though the aversion which some persons have to repentance and holiness of life be not the same in degree with such as I have mentioned; yet it may be very great, strong, and forcible: and though it be true, that they may repent if they will, yet it may be no less true, that, in those circumstances, they cannot of themselves have the will to do it, nor without some extraordinary grace preventing and assisting in it. However, as I before said, there is always a principle in our nature, a desire of happiness, which may, at some time or other, call men off from their evil courses; and it will generally operate more or less, according as it hath run a longer or a shorter time in a wrong channel. But, not to weary your patience longer with matters of an abstract nature, whether the difficulty of correcting bad inclinations be greater or less, we may proceed to lay down the means proper for it: and they are the same, in a great measure, with those that are requisite for preserving good ones, as before mentioned.

The first is, a frequent examination of our own hearts find in themselves an inclination to make this first step will not, very probably, be much averse to going further. Without examining, we can never perfectly know what is good or bad in us; what we ought to preserve, and what to correct.

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quires serious reflection, and dwelling much at home, to understand ourselves thoroughly. We ought to search and examine upon what springs our hearts move; whether our views and purposes be chiefly religious or secular; and if secular, what they are, and from whence they arise. When there are several motives to the same thing, (as it often happens,) it should be considered, whether the prevailing one be religious. This is easily known, by setting aside all that is secular and temporal, and then trying the strength of spiritual motives. Thus for instance: if any one would know whether he gives alms upon a true Christian principle, let him only consider, whether he takes the same satisfaction in a private as in a public charity, and his question is answered. Or if a man would know whether he publishes any work out of a sincere love to truth, and a desire to improve the world, (as every writer pretends,) let him think and consider, whether he should be willing publicly to retract an error which might otherwise do mischief; and he will soon perceive how his heart moves. The same method will serve for a thousand other cases. There is another way of discovering how we stand affected ; and that is, by observing the stream and current of our passions. As the ambitious man's passions turn upon honour and power, the libertine's upon sensual pleasures, and the covetous man's upon money; so the religious man's passions hang chiefly upon what relates to his eternal saloation. And it will be easy for him to observe, whether he be as heartily sorry for his sins, as for any worldly losses, crosses, or disappointments ; and whether he be as solicitous about the former, as he is about the latter. All the passions of our souls are nothing else but so many different expressions of the love we have for ourselves : and it may be seen from thence how our self-love stands directed; whether to this world or a better, and to which we are most strongly and invincibly attached.

A little use and observation this way will soon give a man a just idea of himself.

If he finds his inclinations and dispositions to be right and good in the main ; he is next to observe where they are most apt to step awry, and there he is to set a double guard, as it were to defend the weak side. If he perceives them to be solely or chiefly secular ; it concerns him to discover the reigning passion which gives the law to the rest; whether it be for riches, honours, or pleasures : and this will easily be understood from the stream

of his thoughts, the course of his pursuits, and the constant tenor of his life and conversation. When this is done, the last part of this office is to trace the thing up to its fountain head, to see from whence such disposition or affection arises : whether from temper or constitution of body, or from education, authority, example, or custom; from the occupation he pursues, the company he keeps, the books he reads, or any thing of like nature. This seems to be the proper order and method of examining our hearts, if we are desirous to be thoroughly acquainted with our own selves.

When we have thus discovered what is amiss, and whence it arises ; ; nothing remains but to consider of ways and means proper to correct it. Many good rules and directions might be offered to this purpose : but instead of particular rules, which vary according to men's particular circumstances, it may suffice to lay down one general rule, which may equally serve either for preserving good dispositions or reforming bad ones ; and that is,

Secondly and lastly, a constant endeavour to wean our affections from this world, and to fix them firmly on a better. Happiness, in general, we all pursue ; eagerly, constantly, incessantly. Thus far we all agree, down from the prince to the peasant. But then we divide in the choice of the ineans or of the object ; some pursuing eternal happiness, most temporal only, or however chiefly : and these subdivide again into almost as many kinds as the world affords vanities. All the difference between an evil man and a good man is, that the evil man makes this world his chief or only aim ; while the good man makes the world to come his principal concern, and religion is the reigning passion of his heart. The different degrees of goodness depend very much upon keeping the eye more or less fixed upon that, the ultimate end and design of all their labours and endeavours. Such as lean with all the weight and tendency of their minds towards heaven, are of course solicitous and anxious to know whether their principles and practices agree together. They will not suffer themselves to be imposed on in a matter of so great importance : but carefully watch and guard against all those little fallacies which thoughtless men are drawn in by, to make particular judgments contrary to their standing persuasions. In a word, as worldly men are solicitous to secure a firm and strong title to their estates or honours ; so the children of light are par

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