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I have endeavoured to use and employ it, but not lean or depend upon it; I make it my affiftant, but not my idol.
I have been careful to wind up my reason and understanding to the higheft key in the fearching out of truths, but efpecially those that are of the greatest concernment in matters of faith. I have made my understanding to be laborious and induftrious, but ftill kept under yoke and rule of thy word, left it should go extravagant and petulant.
I have looked upon my understanding and reafon, as a ray of thy Divine light; and therefore I have used it for thee, and have counted it a moft high facrilege, ingratitude and rebellion, to employ it against thee, thy honour or fervice.
I have endeavoured principally to furnish it with that knowledge, which will be of ufe in the other world: this hath been my business, other studies or acquests of other knowledge, have been either for the neceffary ufe of this life, or harmless divertisements or recreations. In the exercife of my reason; as on the one fide, I have avoided idleness, fupineness, or neglect; fo on the other fide, I have not employed it in vain, curious, unprofitable, forbidden enquiries; I have ftudied to ufe it with fobriety, moderation, humility and thankfulness; and as I have been careful to employ it, fo I have been as careful not to misemploy it. I looked upon it as thy talent, and therefore gave unto thee the glory, the use and service of it.
4. As to the MEMORY thou haft lent me.
On the contemplation of that strange and wonderful faculty, that distinctly, and notwithstanding the intervention of thousands of objects, retains their images and reprefentations, with all their circumftances and confequents, I have admired the wonderful wisdom, power, and perfection of the Lord.
1 have endeavoured principally to treasure up in it those things that may be moft of ufe for the life to
come, and moft conducible to the attaining of it: thy mercies, commands, directions, promises; my own vows, refolutions, experiences, failings; to keep me conftant in my duty, dependant upon thy goodnefs, humble and penitent.
Some things I have ftudied to forget; injuries, vain and hurtful difcourfes, and fuch things as either would make me the worse by remembering them, or take up too much room in my memory, which might be employed and stored with better furniture.
The rest of the employment of my memory hath been to affift me in the ordinary and neceffary converfation with others, the ways of my calling, the performing of my promifes and undertakings, the prefervation of good and lawful learning, that thereby I might. do fervice to thy Name, ferve my generation, and improve myself in knowledge, wifdom and understand
5. As touching my CONSCIENCE, and the light thou haft given me in it.
1. It hath been my care to improve that natural light, and to furnish it with the best principles I could. Before I had the knowledge of thy Word, I got as much furniture as I could from the writings of the best moralifts, and the examples of the best men; after I had the light of thy Word, I furnished it with thofe moft pure and unerring principles that I found in it.
2. I have been very diligent to keep my confcience clean; to encourage it in the vicegerency that thou haft given it over my foul and actings; I have kept it in the throne and greatest reverence and authority in my
3. In actions to be done or omitted: I have always advised with it, and taken its advice, I have neither stifled, nor forced, nor bribed it; but gave it a free liberty to advise and fpeak out, and a free fubjection of my will, purposes, and actions to it.
4. If, through inadvertency of mind, or importunity
of temptations, or precipitancy of occafion, or neceffity of the times, I have at any time done amifs, I have not taken her up short, or ftopped her mouth, or my own attention to her chiding and reproof; but I have with much fubmiffion of mind, borne her chastisement, and improved it to an humbling of myfelf before thee for my failings for I looked upon her as acting by thy authority, for thy fervice, and to thy glory; and I durst not difcourage, discountenance, or difobey her.
5. When she was pleased, and gave me good words, I was glad; for I efteemed her as a glafs that reprefented to my foul the favour and difpleasure of God himself, and how he stood affected towards me.
6. I have more trembled under the fear of a feared or difcouraged confcience, than under the fear of a fharp or fcrupulous confcience, because I always counted the latter, though more troublesome, yet more fafe.
7. I have been very jealous either of wounding or grieving, or difcouraging, or deading my confcience. I have therefore chofen rather to forbear that which feemed but indifferent, left there fhould be fomewhat in it that might be unlawful; and would rather gratify my confcience, with being too fcrupulous, than difpleafe, difquiet, or flat it by being too venturous: I have ftill chofen rather to forbear what might be probably lawful, than to do that which might be poffibly unlawful; because I could not err in the former, I might in the latter. If things were difputable whether they might be done, I rather chofe to forbear, because the lawfulness of my forbearance was unqueftionable.
8. As I have been careful to advise impartially with my confcience, before my actions, fo left either through inadvertence, precipitancy, incogitancy, or fudden emergencies, I had committed any thing amifs, either in the nature or manner of the action, I commonly, every night, brought my actions of the day past, before the judicatory of my confcience, and left her to a
free and impartial cenfure of them; and what the fentenced well done, I with humility returned the praife thereof to thy Name; what the fentenced done amifs, I did humbly fue unto thee for pardon, and for grace to prevent me from the like mifcarriages. By this means I kept my conscience active, renewed and preferved my peace with thee, and learned vigilance and caution for the time to come.
6. As touching thy great works of CREATION and
1. I have not looked upon thy works inconfiderately and commonly, and paffed them over as common and ordinary things, as men ufually do upon things of common and ordinary occurrence; but I have fearched into them as things of great eminence and wonder, and have esteemed it a great part of my duty, that the wife God of nature requires of the children of men, who therefore expofed thefe his great works to our view, and gave us eyes to behold, and reafon in fome meafure to obferve and understand them; and therefore I have strictly obferved the frame of the world, the motion, order, and Divine economy of them; I have searched into their qualities, caufes, and operations, and have difcovered as great, if not greater, matter of admiration therein, than in the external beauty and profpect, that at the first view they prefented to my fenfe.
2. And this difquifition and obfervation, did not rest only in the bare perufal of the works themselves, or their immediate natural caufes, upon which they depended but I traced their being, dependance, and government unto thee, the First Caufe, and by this profecution and tracing of things to their original, I was led up to a moft demonftrative conviction, That there is a God that is the firft caufe of their being, and motion. And in the contemplation of the admirable vaftness of the works mine eyes behold, their fingular beauty and order, the admirable utefulnels, convenience,
convenience, and adaptation of one thing to another; the conftancy, regularity, and order of the motion of the heavens and heavenly bodies; the mutual fubferviency of one thing to another, the order and useful pofition of the elements, the fertility of the earth, the variety of beauty, and usefulness of the creatures, their admirable instincts, the wonderful fabric of the body of man, the admirableness and usefulness of his faculties animal, and the fingular adaptation of the organs to those faculties, theftrong powers of the reasonable foul. In the contemplation of these, and fuch as these varieties, I did, to the everlasting filencing of the atheism that my own corruptions were apt to nourish, conclude, That there is but one God, that he is most powerful, most wife, knowing all things, governing all things, fupporting all things. Upon these convictions, I was strengthened in the belief of thy Holy Word, which had fo great a congruity with thefe truths, that the ftrict and due contemplation of thy creatures did fo demonftratively
3. And upon thefe convictions, I did learn the more to honour, reverence, and admire Thee, and to worfhip, ferve, and obey Thee, to depend and reft upon Thee, to walk humbly and fincerely, and awfully before Thee, as being prefent with me, and beholding me; to love and adore Thee as the fountain of all being and good. When I looked upon the glory and ufefulness of the fun, I admired the God that made it, chalked out its motions for it, placed it in that due diftance from the earth, for its ufe and conveniency. When I looked upon the ftars, thofe huge and wonderful balls of light, placed in that immenfe distance from the inferior bodies, and one from another, their multitude and motion, I admired the wisdom and power of that God, whofe hand fpans the Heavens, and hath fixed every thing in its place. Nay, when I looked upon the poor little herbs that arife out of the earth, the loweft of vegetables, and confidered the fecret spark of life that is in it, that attracts, increafeth, groweth, femi