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search diligently for the child, whom the star designat. ed. It is composed of two words, one of which sig. nifies the height or top of a thing ; the other signifies to go or walk. The phrase then imports such a caution and exactness in our Christian conversation, as resembles that which men use, when they are walking on the top of a precipice, or the summit of a building, where a small mistep would endanger a fall, and a fall would be fatal.
This circumspection will best be illustrated by its application to particular cases.
1. Walk circumspectly that you may keep within the line of your duty.
Religion is not an extended plain, in which you may walk at large, and turn to any point without passing its limits ; but it is a strait and narrow path, in which you must pursue one steady course without deviating to either side. Your course , often lies in a medium between two extremes. If from this course you devi. ate, you step into the territory of vice. There are some virtues, which are not capable of excess. others which consist in a mediocrity. With reference to these the Apostle says, " Let your moderation be known to all men.”.
Be circumspect, that you may not mistake your duty. Prove all things; and hold fast that which is good." Form your religious sentiments, by the plain doctrines and precepts of the gospel-110t by the vague opinions, or corrupt practices of the world. There are errors, which some embrace with airs of assurance, and defend with ostentation of argument. But be not de. ceived : “ Ponder well the path of your feet, and let your ways be established: ”
Be watchful to retain a sense of virtue and rectitude. "Give earnest heed to the things which you have learned, lest by any means you let them slip."-" Having chosen the way of truth, lay God's judgments before you, and cleave to his testimonies,"
Be attentive, that you may conform to the spirit of God's comniands.
Our Lord says, “ Be wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.”—“Be wise;" but with your wisdom combine “ innocence.” Be harmless, but not silly ; inoffensive, but not unguarded-be prudent, but not crafty ; cautiops, but not insidious, act right yourselves, and beware of men. The Apostle says,
and sin not. You may resent an injury, but not indulge malevolencemay take measures for defence, but not study arts of revenge,
You are cautioned, “ neither to despise the chastening of the Lord, nor to faint under his rebukes.” Be. tween these extremes lies your duty in the day of affiction, Be sensible of, but not impatient under God's corrections—be prayerful, but not complaining be humble, but not disconsolate,
It is a precept of the gospel, “ Take no thought for the morrow." ' This, however, must be understood in a sense consistent with the precepts, which require you to do your own business, abide in your calling and provide for your household. In this mortal state, look and prepare for changes ; but be not solicitous about them. In all conditions maintain a balance of mind. Be neither anxious nor careless--neither perplexed nor stupid-neither thoughtless of contingences, nor dis. tressed with the fear of them.
“ Be gentle and easy to be entreated;" yet never stoop to sinful compliances--be steady in duty, but not obstinate in trifles—hear instruction and reproof; but be well persuaded in your own minds—change your opinions and manners, when you are convinced they have been wrong; but be not children carried about with every wind of doctrine-be strict, but not superstitious-cheerful, but not vain-serious, but not morose--useful in your places, but not busy in other
men's matters exemplary in conversation, but not ostentatious-eminently holy, but unaffectedly humble.
That in these and similar cases you may walk by the strait line of duty, you must walk circumspectly.
2. Walk circumspectly, that you may escape the snares in your way.
“A prudent man foreseeth evil and hideth himself : The simple pass on and are punished.” Your greatest security lies in watchfulness and prayer, lest you enter into temptations. If they meet you, resist them; but your first care must be to avoid them. If
you rashly throw yourselves in their way and challenge them to the combat, there is little reason to hope you will come off unhurt.
Often look forward to descry your dangers : De. cline them, when you can : If you cannot decline them, arm yourselves to meet them, and proceed with courage, relying on divine support. Temptations will most easily prevail, when they take you by surprise.
Attend to your particular situation and condition in life. Poverty and riches, adversity and prosperity, youth and age, a public and a private station, have their respective dangers. Consider your own state, and beware of the temptations which it brings.
Examine your infirmities, biasses and corruptions. Thus you will learn what sins and temptations most easily beset you, and prevail against you ; and thus you will know, where to place your strongest guard.
Often review your past life, and reflect on former temptations, and the circumstances from which they arose. Thus experience will teach you, how to employ your future caution.
Be circumspect, that you may detect your enemies, when they approach you in disguise. They will often come with deceitful pretensions, appear in the fascinating garb of friendship and innocence, and address you by guileful flatteries and subtle insinuations. Beware, 'est you be led away with the errors of the wicked. Examine with care every suspicious suggestion, whether from within or without. Be not ignorant of the de. ceitfulness of the heart, the wiles of the devil, the craftiness of men, and the snares of the world, lest you be seduced from your virtuous resolution, and fall from your stedfastness.
Be vigilant, lest while you oppose one temptation, you invite another; and while you avoid one extreme, you rush into the contrary. Dangers await you on both sides : To guard on one side only, is to leave the other more defenceless.
Never neglect your duty under pretence of shunning a temptation. Where duty calls, thither you must go; apprized indeed of your dangers, but unawed by them. To decline known duty on account of foreseen temptations, is a false caution. The true caution is to collect the strength of your faith, and implore the aid of God's grace.
Circumspection is peculiarly necessary when “temptations actually surround you. David says,
“I will take heed to my ways, that I sin not with my tongue; I will keep my mouth with a bridle while the wicked is before me."
3. Walk circumspectly that you may wisely compori with the aspects of Providence.
The beauty of religion, yea, religion itself, greatly consists in the correspondence of your temper and be. havior with your existing circumstances.
In the day of prosperity be joyful, and in the day of adversity consider. In amiction be patient and humble—in poverty be contented and submissive. In straits and perplexities cast your cares on God-in afluence remember and shew kindness to the poor-in worldly success be thankful, but rejoice with trembling-in preferment check your ambition and study to be extensively useful-in every relation full its appropriate obligations. Every pious affection and virtuous exercise is then most amiable in itself, most acceptable to God, most comfortable to ourselves and most profitable to men, when it is best adapted to our relations and circumstances.
4. Be circumspect, that you may do every duty in its time and place.
You are to attend on the daily worship of God in your families and closets, and you are also to pursue the business of your respective vocations. Here call in the direction of wisdom, that you may not give to the former that time which belongs to the latter; nor that application to the latter which would divert you from, or unfit you for the former. Let each have its due share of your time and attention.
Be kind and beneficent to the poor ; but take heed to yourselves, that ye do not your alms to be seen of men, that you feed not their vices, when you should relieve their necessities, and that you give not in os. tentatious charity, what you owe to the wants of your families or the demands of your creditors. And on the other hand, make not the calls of domestic exigence, or the obligations of social justice a mere pretext to excuse yourselves from doing good, when theoccasion of others requires, and your own ability permits,
You are to regard principally the interest of your souls ; but you may not neglect the care of your bodjes. Here you must be circumspect, lest you suffer your temporal concerns to exclude those of eternity; or lest, under pretence of engagedness in religion, you forget the obligations of industry, justice and beneficence.
You are to attend on the instituted ordinances of the gospel ; but beware lest you substitute these for that solid and substantial holiness, which these were intended to promote.
You must observe the outward forms of religion with godly sincerity ; but never plead the possible want of sincerity as a reason for neglecting the forms.
Prudence will direct you to avoid, when you inno- . çently can avoid, the temporal inconyeniences attend VOL. III.