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or an intent of giving God fatisfaction for the affronts we have offered him; and whether the aufterity makes Sin truly bitter to us, and works an eternal deteftatation of it in our Hearts; or whether it difpofes us to fall on afresh, and tempts us upon the credit of that piece of Mortification, to venture into new Sins and Enormities?
So in our Zeal for God, Consideration must acquaint us, whether we are more paffionate in things which concern the Honour of God, than in promoting of our own Intereft; whether it be a Zeal according unto Knowledge, and kindled by the Son of Righteousness; or furious,, and lighted by the flames of the burning Lake; whether it be fingularity, peevishness, fpleen, and malice, that makes us hot, or deliberate pondering of the affront, that's put on the Divine Majefty. And whether we are zealous for the greater, as well as for the leffer, matters of the Law; for Judgment, Faith and Mercy, as well as for paying Tythe of Mint, and Cummin, and Anise ?
Without Confideration, our Souls must neceffarily remain under very great darkness and miftakes, and confequently run the hazard of being cheated in the work of Converfion. How should thefe Cheats be discovered, but by our Reafon? How fhall our Reafon judge of them but by Confideration? For Confideration calls them to an account, lays them open, examines their rife and progrefs, difcovers them to be drofs, and Ipies out the danger they involve the Soul in, and by that means works it into a faithfull Resolution to take another course,
Of the various Impediments and Remora's of Confideration. Men fancy greater difficulty in't than there is indeed. Are continually imployed about fenfual Objects Loth to part with their Sins. Ignorant of the pleasure of Confideration. Reflect upon the danger of lofing their unlawful gain. Fear they fhall fall into Melancholy, or go Distracted with fo much Serioufness. Are of opinion, that Converfion in that fenfe the Scripture Speaks of it, is needlefs. Miftake the nature of Confideration. Are difcouraged by evil company. Neglect confult ing with Minifters about this neceffary work. Delude themselves with the Notion of Christ's dying for the fins of the World.
Confideration la Duty fo great, fo noble, fo
neceffary, one would think fhould find fuitable entertainment with all Men that pretend to reafon, or wifdom, or difcretion; For in not giving it refpect and veneration, they call their own Reason in queftion, difparage their Wisdom, and give juft occafion to their Neighbours to fufpect, that difcretion is a flower which never grew in their Garden; the Gueft being so beneficial, who can imagine to the contrary, but every Man will spread open his Doors, and let it in? How! Lock the Gates against a good Angel! Keep out a Meflenger that brings glad ti
dings? Darken the room that I may not fee the
So an impartial ferious Man would think, yet to our grief and lorrow we find, that Men run away from it, as from the Plague, and do as carefully avoid it, as they would do Ratsbane, Rune
or Sublimate, or Night-fhade. This will oblige me in the next place to enquire, what are the Remora's or Impediments that make Men neglect this Panacea, and, like mad Dogs, fhun the water that would cure them, and flight the remedy that would infallibly recover them. It's natural for Men to enquire into the reasons of any decay. If a Tree do not thrive, if Flowers do wither in the Bud, if a Child do not grow, or if the Water of a River fails, the first thing we do, is, to enquire where the ftop is, and what the causes of the defect are, and why things do not profper according to expectation? And he that hath a Vineyard in a very fruitful Hill, and fences it, and gathers the stones out of it, and plants it with the choicest Vine, and builds a Tower in the midst of it,and makes a Wineprefs therein, may well ask the Queftion, Wherefore when I looked that it would bring forth Grapes, it brought forth wild grapes? Ifa. 5. 1, 2, 3, 4.
The clogs and Impediments of Confideration are numberless, for indeed it's the Devil's study and contrivance day and night, which way to prevent it. Where a perfon dares extricate himfelf from the Snares of Senfe, and venture upon this Work, the Enemy juftly fears he shall lofe a Subject; and a Soul will be fnatcht out of his Clutches, and he' fhall not be able to hold the Sinner in his Egypt, or hinder him from facrificing to the Lord his God. He dreads this Land of Gofhen; and to fee People walk that way, makes him fret and ftorm. It grates upon his Spirits to behold a Sinner fet his Face towards Jerufalem, he cannot endure to fee the Disciples
on Mount Tabor; An Ifanc, that's going to medi tate, is a Thorn in his Eyes, and being a Spirit that lives upon Envy, enjoys bis malice, and finds his greatest fatisfaction in deftroying Mens Souls; we must fuppofe he leaves no ftone unturned, no ftratagem untried, no means unattempted, to hinder Men from a ferious recollection of their Thoughts and Imaginations. And no Husbandman can be supposed to fet more traps, or invent more pit-fals, or devife more fnares for vermin and rapacious Animals, than this Sophifter lays to divert the stream of Mens Thoughts into a channel of contemptible and impertinent objects ou
There is fuch Beauty, fuch Loveliness in the ways of God, notwithstanding the courfe outfide, that should fuch a perfon, by ferious Confideration, be tempted to lift up the Veil, and fee what is behind it; remove the Sackcloth and Ashes, and take a view of that which is underneath; open the Iron Gate, and behold the Gold within; unlock the Cabinet, and fee the Jewels there; he would moft certainly be ravish'd with the fight, and not stay one hour longer in the chambers of Death. This the Devil knows; he is fenfible, that Confideration is a Tree of Life, therefore, left Men put forth their hands and take of the Tree, and eat, and live for ever, we may rationally believe he'll cross their endeavours to the uttermoft; fo that we may fuppofe as many impediments of Confideration, as the Devil can invent ftumblingblocks to throw in the way to this Duty. However, let's take a view of fome of the principal.