1. That "misery cometh not forth of the dust; neither doth affliction spring out of the earth." Sickness comes not by hap or chance (as the Philistines supposed that their mice and emrods came, 1 Sam. vi.9), but from man's wickedness, which, as sparkles, breaketh out. "Man suffereth," saith Jeremiah, "for his sins." "Fools," saith David, "by reason of their transgressions, and because of their iniquities, are afflicted." As, therefore, Solomon advises a man to carry himself towards an earthly prince, "if the spirit of him that ruleth rise up against thee leave not thy place, for gentleness pacifieth great sins;" so counsel I thee to deal with the Prince of princes; if the Spirit of Him that ruleth heaven and earth rise up against thee, let not thy heart despair; for repentance pacifieth great sins. And "whosoever returneth in his affliction to the Lord God of Israel, and seeks him, he will be found of him." (2 Chron. xv.4.)
2. Shut to thy chamber door (Matt. vi.6;) examine thy own heart upon thy bed (Psal. iv.4;) search and try thy ways (Lam. iii.40;) search as diligently for thy capital sin as Joshua did for Achan, till thou findest it (Josh. vii.16, &c.) For albeit God, when he beginneth to chasten his children, hath respect to all their sins, yet when his anger is incensed, he chiefly taketh occasion to chasten, and enter with them into judgment for some one grievous sin, in which they have lived without repentance.
3. When thou hast thus considered all thy sins, put thyself before the judgment-seat of God, as a felon or murderer standing at the bar of an earthly judge; and with grief and sorrow of heart confess to God all thy known sins, especially thy capital offences, wherewith God is chiefly displeased. Lay them open, with all the circumstances of the time, place, and manner how they were committed, as may most serve to aggravate the heinousness of thy sins, and to shew the contrition of thy heart for the same. Lift up thy hand, and acknowledge thyself before the righteous Judge of heaven and earth, guilty of eternal death and damnation for those thy heinous sins and transgressions. And having thus accused and judged thyself, cast down thyself before the footstool of his throne of grace (Heb. iv.16), assuring thyself, that whatsoever the kings of Israel be, yet the God of Israel is a merciful God (1 Kings xx.31;) and cry unto him, from a penitent and faithful heart, for mercy and forgiveness, as eagerly and earnestly as ever thou knewest a malefactor, being to receive his sentence, cry unto the judge for favour and pardon; vowing amendment of life, and, by the assistance of his grace, never to commit the like sin any more. All which thou mayest do in these or the like words: --