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with God and with himself, concerning the ordering of his own ways.

It is true, it is necessary for some men, in some particular charges and stations, to regard the ways of others; and besides, something also there may be of a wise observing of others, to improve the good and the evil we see in them, to our own advantage, and the bettering of our own ways, looking on them to make the repercussion the stronger on ourselves; but except it be out of charity and wisdom, it flows either from uncharitable malice, or else a curious and vain spirit, to look much and narrowly into the ways of others, and to know the manner of living of persons about us, and so to know every thing but ourselves : like travellers, that are well seen in foreign and remote parts, but strangers in the affairs of their own country at home. The check that Christ gave to Peter, is due to such, What is that to thee? Follow thou me. John xxi. 22. Look thou to thine own feet, that they be set in the right way. It is a strange thing, that men should lay out their diligence abroad to their loss, when their pains might be bestowed to their advantage nearer at hand, at home within themselves.

This that the Psalmist speaks here of, taking heed to his ways, as it imports his present diligence, so, also, it hath in it reflection on his ways past, and these two do mutually assist one another. He shall never regulate his ways before him, who has not wisely considered his ways past; for there is wisdom gathered from the observation of what is gone, to the choosing where to walk in time to come, to see where he is weakest, and lies exposed to the greatest hazard, and there to guard. Thus David expresses it in another Psalm, I thought on my ways, and turned my feet unto Thy testimonies. Psal. cxix. 52. And this should be done not only in the great change of one's first conversion from sin, but this double observance must be still continued every day : a man should be looking to his rule, and laying that rule to his way, and observing where the balk and nonconformity to the rule is, and renewing his repentance

for that, and amending it the next day, that still the present day may be the better for yesterday's error.

And surely there is much need of this, if we consider how we are encompassed about with hazards, and snares, and a variety of temptations, and how little we have, either of strength to overcome, or of wisdom to avoid them, especially they being secretly set and unseen, (which makes them the more dangerous,) every where in the way in which we must walk, and even in those ways where we least think. Every where does the Enemy of our souls lay traps and snares for us; in our table, in our bed, in our company, and alone. If the heart be earthly and carnal, there is the snare of riches and gains, or pleasures present, to think upon: and if it delight in spiritual things, that walk is not exempted neither ; there are snares of doubtings, presumption, and pride. And in the converse of one Christian with another, where spiritual affection hath been stirred, it turns often to carnal passions ; as the Apostle says of the Galatians, they begin in the Spirit, and end in the flesh. Gal. iii. 3.

This observing and watching, as it is needful, so, it is a very delightful thing, though it will be hard and painful to the unexperienced. To have a man's actions and words continually curbed, so that he cannot speak or do what he would, these are fetters and bonds; yet, to those that know it, it is a pleasure to gain experience, and to be more skilled in preventing the surprises of our enemies, and upon that to have something added to our own art, and to be more able to resist upon new occasions, and to find ourselves every day outstripping ourselves. That is the sweetest life in the world, for the soul to be dressing itself for the espousals of the Great King, putting on more of the ornaments and beauties of holiness. That is our glory, to be made conformable to the image of God, and of Jesus Christ. If an image had sense, it would desire nothing so much as to look on the original whence it received its name, and to become more and more like it: so it is the pleasure of renewed souls, to be looking on Him, and to be

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growing daily more like Him, whose living image they are, and to be fitting themselves for that day of glory wherein they shall be like Him in the perfection they are capable of. And this makes death more pleasant than life to the Believer: that which seems so bitter to the most of men, is sweetened to them most wonderfully. The continual observance of a man's ways, the keeping a watch continually over them, this casts a light upon the dark passage of death, which is at the end of that walk, and conveys him through to the fulness of life. So that the man who observes himself and his ways through life, hath little to do in examining them when he comes to die. It is a piece of strange folly, that we defer the whole, or a great part of our day's work, to the twilight of the evening, and are so cruel to ourselves, as to keep the great load of our life for a few hours or days, and for a pained, sickly body. He who makes it his daily work to observe his ways, is not astonished when that day comes, which long before was familiar to him every day.

That I sin not with my tongue.] It is the Wise Man's advice, Keep thy heart with all diligence, or, above all keeping; and he gives the satisfying reason of it, For out of it are the issues of life. Prov. iv. 23. Such as the spring is, so will the streams be. The heart is the spring whence all the natural life and vital spirits flow through the body; and, in the Scripture sense, it is the spring of all our actions and conversation ; for it sends out emissaries through all, through the eye, the hand, and all the senses and organs of the body, but through none more constantly and abundantly than the tongue; and therefore Solomon, after these words, immediately adds, Put away from thee a froward mouth, and perverse lips put far from thee. The current of the heart runs in that channel ; for it is the organ of societies, and is commonly employed in all the converse of men. And we can still, when all the other members are useless, use our tongues in regretting their unfitness for their offices; as sick and old persons are wont to do. Thus David here, as it seems, under some bodily sickness, labours to refrain his tongue, and lest it should prove too strong for him, he puts a curb upon it: though it did not free him from inward frettings of his heart, yet he lays a restraint upon his tongue, to stay the progress of sin, that grows in vigour by going out, and produces and begets sin of the same kind in the heart sand mouths of others, when it passes from the heart to the tongue. The Apostle James does amply and excellently teach the great importance of ordering the tongue in all a Christian's life. But we are ever learning and never taught. We hear how excellent a guard this is to our lives, to keep a watch over our tongue ; but I fear, few of us gain the real advantage of this rule. We are far from the serious thoughts that a religious person had of this scripture, who, when he heard it read, withdrew himself for many years to the study of this precept, and made very good proficiency in it.

In all the disorders of the world, the tongue hath a great share. To let pass those irruptions of infernal furies, blasphemies and cursing, lying and uncharitable speeches, how much have we to account for unprofitable talking! It is a lamentable thing, that there is nothing, for the most part, in common entertainments and societies of men together, but refuse and trash; as if their tongues were given them for no other end than to be their shame, by discovering their folly and weakness ! So, likewise that of impatient speech in trouble and affliction, which certainly springs from an unmortified spirit, that hath learned nothing of that great lesson of submission to the will of God. But for all the disorders of the tongue, the remedy must begin at the heart. Purge the fountain, and then the streams will be clean. Keep thy heart, and then it will be easy to keep thy tongue. It is a great help in the quality of speech, to abate in the quantity ; not to speak rashly, but to ponder what we are going to say. Set a watch before the door of thy lips. Psal. cxli. 3. He bids us not build it up like a stone wall, that nothing may go in or come out, but he speaks of a door, which may be sometimes open, oft-times shut, but withal to have a watch standing before it



continually. A Christian must labour to have his speech as contracted as can be, in the things of this earth ; and even in Divine things, our words should be few and wary. In speaking of the greatest things, it is a great point of wisdom, not to speak much. That is David's resolution, to keep silence, especially before the wicked, who came to visit him, probably, when he was sick : while they were there, he held a watch before his lips, to speak nothing of God's hand on him, lest they should have mistaken him. And a man may have some thoughts of Divine things, that it were very impertinent to speak out indifferently to all sorts even of good persons. This is a talkative age, and people contract a faculty to speak much in matters of religion, though their words for the most part be only the productions of their own brain ; little of these things in their hearts. Surely, speeches of this kind are as bad as any, when holy things are spoken of with a notional freedom, where there is nothing but empty words. They who take

. themselves to solitude, choose the best and easiest part, if they have a warrant so to do; for this world is a tempestuous sea, in which there are many rocks, and a great difficulty it is to steer this little helm aright amidst them. However, the Apostle James makes it a great character of a Christian's perfection, If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man. Jam. iii. 2. But where is that man ? Seeing we find men generally, and most of all ourselves, so far from this, it cannot choose but work this, to stir up ardent desires in us, to be removed to that blessed society where there shall be never a word amiss, nor a word too much.

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