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I know my senses are fallible, and therefore may deceive me; but my God, I am sure, cannot. And therefore, let others raise doubts and scruples as they please, I am as fully satisfied and convinced of the truth of this article as any of the rest.
Do thou, O my God, keep me stedfast in this faith, and give me grace so to fit and prepare myself to appear before thee in the white robes of purity and holiness in another world, that whenever my dissolution comes, I may cheerfully resign my spirit into the hands of my Creator and Redeemer; and, from this crazy house of clay, take my flight into the mansions of glory, where Christ sits at the right hand of God; and with the joyful choir of saints and angels, and the blessed spirits of just men made perfect, chant forth thy praises to all eternity!
Formed from the foregoing
As obedience without faith is impossible, so faith without obedience is vain and unprofitable: for as the body, says St. James, without the spirit is dead, so faith without good works is dead also, James ii. 26. Having therefore, I hope, laid a sure foundation, by resolving what and how to believe, I shall now, by the grace of God, resolve so to order my conversation, in all circumstances and conditions of life, as to raise a good superstructure upon it, and to finish the work God has given me to do, i. e. so to love and please God in this world, as to enjoy and be happy with him for ever in the next. And it is absolutely necessary that I should be speedy and serious in these resolutions especially when I reflect with myself, how much of my time I have already spent upon the vanities and follies of youth, and how much enhanced and increased this work, by acquired guilt, by settled and repeated habits of sin, which are not without great difficulty to be atoned for and removed. My heart, alas! is now more hardened in iniquity, more puffed with pride, and more averse from God, than when I first entered into covenant with him and I have added many actual sins and provocations to my original guilt and pollution; instead of glorifying God, I have dishonoured him; and instead of working out my own salvation, I have taken a pleasure and delight in such things as would, in the end, be my ruin and destruction. So that before I can be able to make any progress in the duties of religion,
or walk in the paths that lead to life, I must first be freed and disentangled from these weights and incumbrances that clog and retard me in my spiritual course; I must have my heart cleansed and softened, humbled and converted to God, and all my transgressions purged and pardoned by the merits of my Redeemer. And then, being fully persuaded that there is no way for me to come to the joys of heaven, but by walking according to the strictest rules of holiness upon earth, I must endeavour for the future, by a thorough change and reformation of my life, to act in conformity to the divine will and pleasure in all things, and perfect holiness in the fear of the Lord: for the Most High has told me in his word, that without holiness no man shall see the Lord.
In order, therefore, to qualify myself for this happiness, it will be necessary for me to settle firm and steady resolutions to fulfil my duty, in all the several branches of it, to God, my neighbour, and myself; and to take care these resolutions be put in practice, according to the following method.
I am resolved, by the grace of God, to walk by rule; and therefore think it necessary to resolve upon rules to walk by.
AND this the rather, because I perceive the want of such rules has been the occasion of all or most of my miscarriages. For what other reason can I assign to myself for having trifled and sinned away so much time, as I have done in my younger years, but because I did not throughly resolve to spend it better? What is the reason I have hitherto lived so unserviceably to God, so unprofitably to others, and so sinfully against my own soul, but because I did not apply myself with that sincerity of resolution, diligence, and circumspection, as a
wise man ought to have done, to discharge my duty in these particulars? I have, indeed, often resolved to bid adieu to my sins and follies, and enter upon a new course of life; but these resolutions being not rightly formed upon steady principles, the first temptation made way for a relapse, and the same bait that first allured me has no sooner been thrown in my way, but I have been as ready to catch at it again, and as greedy to swallow it, as ever. At other times again I have acted without any thought or resolution at all; and then, though some of my actions might be good in themselves, yet, being done by chance, without any true design or intention, they could not be imputed to me as good, but rather the quite contrary: so that in this respect the want of resolution has not only been the occasion of my sinful actions, but the corruption of my good ones too. And shall I still go on in this same loose and careless manner as I have formerly done? No, I now resolve with myself, in the presence of the most high and eternal God, not only in general to walk by rule, but to fix the rule I design to walk by; so that in all my thoughts, and words, and actions, in all places, companies, relations, and conditions, I may still have a sure guide at hand to direct me, such a one as I can safely depend upon, without any danger of being deceived or misled, i. e. the holy Scriptures. And therefore,
I am resolved, by the grace of God, to make the divine word the rule of all the rules I propose to myself. As the will of God is the rule and measure of all that is good, so there is nothing deserves that name but what is agreeable and conformable thereto: and this will being fully revealed and contained in the holy Scripture, it will be necessary for me, in directing my course over the ocean of this world, that I should fix my eye
continually upon this star, steer by this compass, and make it the only land-mark, by which I am to be guided to my wished-for haven. I must not, therefore, have recourse to the inward workings of my own roving fancy, or the corrupt dictates of my own carnal reason: these are but blind guides, and will certainly lead me into the ditch of error, heresy, and irreligion, which, in these our self-admiring days, so many poor souls have been plunged in. Alas! how many hath the impetuous torrent of blind zeal and erroneous conscience borne down into a will-worship, and voluntary subjection of themselves to the spurious offspring of their own deluded fancies! If the light that is within them doth but dictate any thing to be done; or rather, if the whimsey doth but take them, that they must do thus or thus, they presently set about it, without ever consulting the sacred writings, to see whether it is acceptable to God, or displeasing to him. Whereas, for my own part, I know not how any thing should be worthy of God's accepting, that is not of God's commanding. I am sure, the word of God is the good old way that will certainly bring me to my Father's house; for how should that way but lead me to heaven, which truth itself has chalked out for me? Not as if it was necessary, that every one of my resolutions should be contained, word for word, in the holy Scriptures; it is sufficient that they be implied in, and agreeable thereto. So that though the manner of my expressions may not be found in the word of God, yet the matter of my resolutions may clearly be drawn from thence. But let me dive a little into the depth of my sinful heart! What is the reason of my thus resolving upon such an exact conformity to the will and word of God? Is it to work my way to heaven with mine own hands? to purchase an inheritance in the land of Canaan with the price of my own holiness and religion? or to swim over the ocean of this world into the haven of happiness, upon the empty bladders of my own resolutions? No: