My Meaning is, that we fo fix our Aims and Designs, as that it shall be the constant unchangeable Principle of our Minds, and the great Business we propose to ourselves throughout the whole Course of our Lives, to endeavour to approve ourselves to God in our whole Conversation. Whatever other Projects we may have in our Heads, yet to make it our first and chief Care to please God in every Action we do, and for no Consideration in the World to violate our Duty, or make our Conscience uneasy. This that I now say is not only an Instance of circumspect Walking, but the very Foundation of it. If we would walk not as fools, but as wise, we must lay the first Step here, for it is the Fear of the Lord is the Begin- Prov.9.10. ning of Wisdom, as Solomon tells us. And without doubt this is that which he adviseth in another Place, where he faith, My Son, keep thy Heart with all Diligence, Ib. 4. 23. for out of that are the Illues of Life. Thine Heart : What is that but thy Designs, thy Purposes, thy Intentions, which are the Springs and Principles from which thy Actions flow? If these be well fixed ; if these be guarded and preserved pure and sincere, they will produce such a Conversation, as will end in eternal Life; buc otherwise, the Issues of them will be Death.

2. But, Secondly, another Instance of Circumspection, is to examine carefully


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every Action before we engage in it. The circumspect Man will not venture upon Things hand over head, but first considers and weighs the Matter that is before him. And always his first Enquiry is, whether che Thing be lawful, whether it be consistent with his Duty ; and if it be not, he will by no means engage in it: Nay, tho’ it be lawful, if it be not also expedient, (which is the next Thing he considers) that very Consideration is enough to make him forbear the Action. It is not the Company he is engaged in, nor the Sollicitation of his Friends, nor his present Inclination or Humour, nor the Heat of a Passion, nor the serving of any Intereit; I say, none of these Things will sway him ; but he will examine both his own Conscience, and the Fitness or Unfitness of the Action; nay, he will take a View as far he can, of all the Consequences that will follow upon it, and what Influence it will have upon his own spiritual Good, or the Good of others, before he will venture upon it. Easy, and weak, and careless Persons are drawn to do any thing that is presented to them under fair Colours; but those who are circumfpect, will examine all the Colours, by putting them into several Lights. The very Notion of Circumspection is to look round, and to view, and consider every Thing in all its several Shapes, and Refpects, and Tendencies. And if we would make it our Practice thus to look before us, thus to scan and examine our Actions before we engaged in them, how happy, how good, how virtuous might we be ? How many Sins should we avoid, that we are now daily surprized into ? How many Temptations might we overcome, that now daily lead us captive ? But, alas! here is our Misery, we rush into Actions upon a present Heat and Impetus without much thinking or considering; and hence it comes to pass that we are betray'd into a thousand Follies and Sins, which afterwards we have too just Cause to repent of. If we did but use to look before us, we should rarely miscarry. Ponder the Paths of thy Feet, Prov.4.26. says Solomon, and then all thy Ways fall be ordered aright.


3. Another Instance which this Precept of circumspect Walking will oblige us to, is to be careful to put a Stop to the first Beginnings of Evils that we feel in ourfelves. All our Sins do arise from fome Passion or Appetite that is within us, which commonly is excited and takes fire at some external Object, and from hence grows unreasonable and extravagant; and there begins the Sin. Now it is pretty much in our Power, if we have used our Minds to think, and are not Strangers to our own Humours and Constitutions; I say, it is very much in our Power to stop the Beginnings or the first Motions of any irregular


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Passions or Appetites; I mean so far, as that it shall not proceed to a criminal Action; nay, not so far as to obtain a full Consent of the Will. For before it comes to that, Reason may interpose; and if we cannot vanquish the Desire or the Passion by Arguments, yet we may stifle it easily, by diverting our Thoughts to other objects

, But if we once give way to it, and do not presently suppress it, it is a hundred to one it grows too strong for us, and doth produce its Effects in our outward Actions, tho' much to our Sorrow and Repentance afterwards. It is here just as in any combustible Matter which is set on fire : If we take the Flame presently, it is soon extinguish'd; but give it a little Scope, and it proves often beyond your Power to quench it till it hath done Mischief. Here therefore will lie a great Part of the Christian Circumspection that is required of us, viz. to attend carefully to the first Motions and Inclinations that are excited in our Hearts by any Object or Occasion that happens to be presented to us; and if we find them irregular, and tending to Sin, by all means to put an immediate Stop to them. If we take this Method, it is impossible we should fall into any grievous or presumptuous Sin: And tho' we may be guilty of many Faults and Infirmities, yet we shall not be capable of doing any thing that shall much wound our Conscience, or forfeit our Title to God's Fayour.

4. Ano


4. Another Instance wherein this Vigilance and Circumspection that is here recommended by the Apostle is to be exercised, is this; We should never in this World apprehend ourselves free from Danger,

but live in constant Expectation of being assaulted by our spiritual Enemies ; and upon that consideration we should always be upon our Guard.

upon our Guard. We are never so secure, but that we may be in Danger the next Moment. How often are drawn away to that which is evil, even then when we did not in the least dream of any such Matter. Temptations are always ready at hand, so long as we carry these mortal Bodies about us. There is nothing so innocent, but it may, and often doth, prove a Snare to us. Our Business, our Company, our dearest Relations, nay, our very Meat and Drink, as necessary as these Things are, yet do they oftentimes prove great Temptations to Sin. And if we are thus tempted when we are most at our own Command, what Temptations must we expec in our other Conversations and Intanglements with a busy, designing, and yet a malicious and a wicked World. Yet such is the Lot and Portion of all of us, that whether we will or no, we shall be engag'd in some troublesome and dangerous Adventures. It concerns us all therefore, as much as the Frailty of human Nature will allow us, always to keep a strict Guard


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