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The previous post in this series may be found here: https://memoirandremains.wordpress.com/2013/12/24/paul-baynes-brief-directions-onto-a-godly-life-chapter-ten/

CHAPTER ELEVEN: PRIVATE DISCIPLINES: WATCHING

The first private help is watchfulness: which is a careful observing of our hearts (Proverbs 4:25); diligent looking to our ways (Psalm 39:1) that they may be pleasing and acceptable to God.

The necessity of this help may appear many ways, for without this, sobriety is lost (first Peter 5:7) and the force of our prayers abated (Matthew 26:1). And for want of this (as experience shows) many Christians are not acquainted with a well ordered and settled course, but out and in, off and on, never stayed; because of the contrary carelessness and security, many, not evil men or plunged into the various noisome temptations, and find many wounds in their souls, and lack many comforts in their lives. So that some are as untrusty [untrustworthy] as Gehazi (1 Kings 5:15-27); some as hasty, furious, and unsociable as Nabal (1 Samuel 25:10-12).

What Watching Entails

The manner of this watchfulness is set down by the apostle (2 Timothy 4:5) to be in all things at all times and by all occasions in all places with all persons, and that constantly, so long as we are in danger of temptation (Mark 13:33).

All of us therefore that desire to walk with God in peace, may go about this duty to purpose and set our minds and delight upon it; our evil lust wherewith we be full fraught, to carry us headlong into sundry [various] iniquities, and so much that we can go about nothing but we may feel (if we can discern) but some one or other of them is in our way to hurt us, and at hand to molest and disquiet.

If we be occupied in spiritual duties, we have shame and hypocrisy on the one side to hinder us; dullness, weariness, untowardness, etc., on the other side to break us off. In things lawful, we are secure and careless no matter what the manner or end may be. In evil, we have eyes open to see the seeming pleasure or profit they promise, and reason to extenuate the danger; but we have no ears to receive the strongest dissuasions that can be brought.

We Must Watch

We therefore must be skillful to know these disordered lust, diligent to espy [spy them out], prevent and avoid them. We must abstain and wean ourselves from that which our hearts would desire most (1 Peter 2:10). We must not dally with the baits of sin. We must not be so bold as to venture upon all companies, to fall into any talk, or to take liberty in any desires without respect [due consideration of what it may entail]. And onto this care we must add prayer, is that which does quicken and put life to it, so that it may be continued with much cheerfulness and little tediousness.

It is further also to be marked, that because the servants of God have some special infirmities wherewith they find themselves more troubled than with any other, they must be most suspicious of and vigilant against them. And where they see Satan and most likely to wind in himself, there they must carry a more narrow and strait eye, avoiding the least occasion that tends that way, and bestowing more time and labor in the rooting out of these corruptions, from the which most danger may be feared.

As in troubles we must watch against impatience; in prosperity, against wantonness; because these are most likely to ensue. And when we have broken out of our constant course a little, and that our conscience begins to check us, then we must tremble to think of it, return speedily again, and we must fear after, lest we should offend.

Watching is a Means to Liberty

This may seem onto many to be too strict, that our hearts may not range where they list [desire], nor delights be fastened [obtained] where we please; but that all powers of our minds and members of our bodies must be held within a compass. But onto those who are acquainted with it, and see what safe peace, what sweet joy it brings to their life, it is no tedious bondage, but a spiritual and heavenly liberty. On the other side, those that will not be persuaded to entertain it, they must look to live destitute of a chief part of godliness; or if it be but now and then in some special actions and parts of our lives recorded looked onto, it will make the godly life in great part to be bereaved of her gain and beauty.