ADVICE TO A PASTOR
An Address to Thomas Hopkins, when he was ordained Pastor of the Church of Christ in Eagle Street, Red Lion Square, London,
13 July, 1785, by Abraham Booth.
As you, my brother, are now invested with the pastoral office in this church, and have requested me to address you on the solemn occasion; I shall endeavour to do it with all the freedom of a friend, and with all the affection of a brother; not as your superior, but as your equal. I shall ground my address on that memorable injunction of Paul, in his charge to Timothy: “Take heed to thyself.” 1 Tim. 4.16.
Very comprehensive, salutary, and important, is this apostolic precept. For it comes recommended to our serious and submissive regard, as the language of a saint, who was pre-eminent among the most illustrious of our Lord’s immediate followers; as the advice of a most accomplished and useful minister of the gospel, when hoary with age, rich with experience, and almost worn down by arduous labours; and as the command of an Apostle, who wrote by the order and inspiration of Jesus Christ. This divine precept I shall now take the liberty of urging upon you.
Take heed to yourself, then, with regard to the reality of true godliness, and the state of religion in your own soul.
You are a partaker of regenerating grace: that you have some experience of those pleasures and pains, of those joys and sorrows, which are peculiar to real Christians, I do not doubt. But this does not supersede the necessity of the admonition. Make it your daily prayer, and your diligent endeavour, therefore, to feel the importance of those truths you have long believedÂ—of those doctrines you now preach. Often seriously inquire of your conscience, what you experience of their comforting, reproving, and sanctifying power? When you have been preaching the promises of grace, or urging the precepts of the word, earnestly pray that their practical influence may appear in your own disposition and conduct. Endeavour to realize the force, and to comply with the requisition of that precept, “Grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.”
Take heed to yourself, lest you mistake an increase of gifts for a growth of grace. Your knowledge of the scriptures, your abilities for
explaining them, and your ministerial talents in general, may considerably increase, by reading, study, and public exercise; while real godliness is far from flourishing in your heart. For, among all the Apostolic churches, none seem to have abounded more in the enjoyment of spiritual gifts, than the church at Corinth: yet few of them appear to have been in a more unhappy state, or more deserving of reproof. I have long been of the opinion, my brother, that no professors of the genuine gospel have more need to be on their guard against self-deception, respecting the true state of religion in their own souls, than those who statedly dispense the gracious truth. For, as it is their calling and their business frequently to read their Bibles, and to think much on spiritual thingsÂ—to pray, and preach, and often to converse about the affairs of true godliness; they will, if not habitually cautious, do it all ex officio, or merely as the work of their ministerial calling, without feeling their own interest in it. To grow in love to God, and in zeal for His honour; in conformity to the will of Christ, and in heavenly mindedness, should be your first concern. Look well, therefore, to your internal character. For it is awful to think of appearing as a minister, without being really a Christian; or of any one officially watching over the souls of others, who is habitually unmindful of his own immortal interests.
In the course of your public ministry, and in a great variety of instances, you may perhaps find it impracticable to enter into the true spirit of a precept, or of a prohibition, so as to reach its full meaning and its various applications, without feeling yourself convicted by it. In cases of this kind, you must fall under the conviction secretly before God, and pray over it with undissembled contrition; agreeably to that saying, “Thou that teachest another teachest thou not thyself?” When ministers hardly ever make this practical application of their public admonitions and cautions, as if their own spiritual interest were not concerned in them, their consciences will grow callous, and their situation, with regard to eternity, extremely dangerous. For, this being habitually neglected, how can they be considered as walking humbly with God? which nevertheless, is of such essential importance in the Christian life, that, without it, all pretences to true godliness are vain.
Take heed that your pastoral office prove not a snare to your soul, by lifting you up with pride and self-importance. Forget not, that the whole of your work is ministerial, not legislativeÂ—that you are not a lord in the church, but a servantÂ—that the New Testament attaches no honour to the character of a pastor, except in connection with his humility and benevolence, his diligence and zeal, in promoting the cause of the Great ShepherdÂ—and, that there is no character upon the earth which so ill accords with a proud, imperious, haughty spirit, as that of a Christian pastor.
If not intoxicated with a conceit of your own wisdom and importance, you will not, when presiding in the management of church affairs, labour to have every motion determined according to your own inclination. For this would savour of ecclesiastical
despotism; be inconsistent with the nature and spirit of gospel order; and would be implicitly grasping at a much larger degree of power, and of responsibility than properly falls to your share.
It is of such high importance, that a pastor possess the government of his own temper, and a tolerable share of prudence, when presiding in the management of Church affairs; that, without these, his general integrity, though undisputed, and his benevolence, though usually considered as exemplary, will be in danger of impeachment among his people. Nay, notwithstanding the fickleness and caprice of many private professors with regard to their ministers, it has long appeared probable to me, that a majority of those uneasinesses, animosities, and separations, which, to the disgrace of religion, take place between pastors and their several churches, may be traced up, either to the unchristian tempers, to the gross imprudence, or to the laziness and neglects of the pastors themselves.
Take heed to yourself, respecting your temper and conduct in general. Every one that calls himself a Christian, should fairly represent, in his own dispositions and behaviour, the moral character of Jesus. The conversation of every professor should not only be free from gross defects, it should be worthy of general imitation. But though each member of this church be under the same obligations to holiness as yourself; yet your spiritual gifts, your ministerial office, and your pastoral relation, suggests a variety of motives to a godly life which your people do not possess. Make it your diligent concern, therefore, to set your hearers a bright example, formed on that perfect model, the temper and conduct of Jesus Christ.
Yes, my brother, it is required that pastors, in their own persons and conduct, especially in the discharge of ministerial duties, give a just representation of the doctrines they preach, and of Him in whose name they dispense them. But in order to do this, though in an imperfect manner, what integrity, benevolence, humility, meekness, and zeal for the glory of God: what self-denial and readiness for bearing the cross; what mortification of corrupt affections and inordinate desires of earthly things; what condescension and patience; what contempt of the world; and heavenly mindedness, are necessary; not only the scripture declares, but the nature of the thing shows.
Persons who are not acquainted with the true nature and genius of the doctrines of grace, will be always disposed to charge the gospel itself with having a strong tendency to encourage those immoralities which appear in the character of its professors, and especially of those that preach it. Hence an Apostle says, “Giving no offence in any thing, that the ministry be not blamed”. For what can persons, otherwise uninformed, conclude, than that the example of those who propagate the doctrine of salvation by grace, through Jesus Christ, is an authentic specimen of its genuine tendency in the hearts and lives of all those who believe and avow it?
Hence the ministers of Christ are commanded in all things to shew themselves patterns of good works. To be examples to believers in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity. Yes, my brother, the honour and preferment to which our divine Lord calls His ministers, are to give a just representation, in their own conduct, of the graces of His person, and the holiness of His doctrine, to others. For whatever apparently splendid advantages a man may have, with reference to the ministry, if they do not enable him the more effectually to express the humility, the meekness, the self-denial, and the zeal of the chief Shepherd, together with the holiness of the doctrine he teaches, will redound but little to his account another day.
Take heed and beware of covetousness. That evil turn of heart which is here proscribed with such energy and such authority, is, through the false names it assumes, and the pleas which it makes, to be considered as extremely subtle, and equally pernicious. It evidently stands opposed, in scripture, to contentment with Providence; to spiritual mindedness; and to real godliness. It is an extremely evil disposition of the heart; of which, notwithstanding, very little account is made by the generality of those who profess the gospel of divine grace, except when it procures the stigma of penuriousness, or the charge of injustice. But, whatever excuses or palliatives may be invented, either to keep the consciences of covetous professors quiet, or to support a good opinion of others respecting the reality of their religion, the New Testament declares them unworthy of communion in a church of Christ, and classes them with persons of profligate hearts and lives. 2 Cor. 4.2. The existence and habitual operation of this evil, therefore, must be considered as forming a character for hell. Psalm 10. 3; 1 Cor. 6.10.
Take heed, then, and beware of covetousness. For neither the comfort, the honour, nor the usefulness of a man’s life “consisteth in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.” “Let your conversation be without covetousness;” and, possessing the necessaries of life, without being indebted to any man, “be content with such things as ye have:” for he who governs the world hath said, “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” For as a man’s happiness does not consist in THINGS, but in THOUGHTS, that abundance after which the carnal heart so eagerly pants, is adapted to gratifyÂ—not the demands of reason, much less the dictates of conscience; nor yet the legitimate and sober claims of appetite;
butÂ—a fond imagination; pride of show; the love of secular influence; the lust of dominion; and a secret desire of lying as little as possible at the mercy of Providence. I have somewhere seen it reported of Socrates, the prince of pagan philosophers, that on beholding a great variety of costly and elegant articles exposed for sale, he exclaimed, “How many things are here that I do not want!” So, my brother, when entering the abode of wealth, we behold the stately mansion, the numerous accommodations, the elegant furniture, the luxurious table, the servants in waiting, and the
fashionable finery of each individual’s apparel; with what propriety and emphasis ought each of us to exclaim, “How many things are here which I do not want; which would do me no good; and after which I have no desire!” For we should not forget who it was that said, “A rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven!” I said, possessing the necessaries of life, without being indebted to my man. For this purpose, resolutely determine to live, if practicable, within the bounds of your income; not only so as to keep out of debt, but, if possible, to spare something for the poor.
Supposing, my Brother, that, either through the afflicting hand of God, or the criminal neglect of your people, unavoidable straits approach; be not afraid of looking poverty in the face, as if it were, in itself considered, a disgraceful evil. For poverty is a very innocent thing, and absolutely free from deserved infamy, except when it is found in scandalous company. But if its forerunner and associates be pride, laziness, or fondness for good living, and want of economy, and the contracting of debts without a probability of paying them; it deserves detestation, and merits contemptÂ—is inconsistent with virtuous conduct, and must gradually sink the character of any minister. If, on the contrary, it be found closely connected with humility and patience, with diligence, frugality, and integrityÂ—such integrity as impels, for instance, to wear a threadbare coat, rather than run into debt for a new one; to live on the meanest wholesome food, or to go with half a meal, rather than contract a debt which is not likely to be discharged; such penury will never disgrace either the minister himself or the cause of Jesus Christ. Not the minister himself. Because, in the purest state of Christianity, the most eminent servants of our divine Lord were sometimes distressed with want of both decent apparel and necessary food. 2Cor. 11.27; Acts 3.6. Not the cause of Jesus Christ. For His kingdom not being of this world, but of a spiritual nature; it cannot be either adorned with riches, or disgraced by poverty. Besides, the ministers of divine truth must be poor indeed, if in humbler circumstances than Jesus himself was, when proclaiming the glad tidings of His kingdom. It must, however, be acknowledged, that, so far as a faithful pastor is reduced to the embarrassments of poverty, merely by his people withholding those voluntary supplies which they were well able to have afforded, and to which, in common justice, equally as by the appointment of Christ, he had an undoubted right, 1 Cor. 11.1, the best of causes is disgraced, and the offenders are exposed to severe censure. Were a pastor driven to the painful alternative, of either entering into some lawful secular employment, or of continuing his pastoral relation and stated ministrations, in a course of embarrassment by debts which he could not pay, the former would become his duty. But, if necessity do not impel, the following passage seems to have the force of a negative precept, respecting the Christian pastor: “No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.” A pastor should be very cautious, not only of entering, unnecessarily, into
stated secular employment; but also of accepting any trust, though apparently advantageous, in which the preservation and management of property are confided to his integrity and prudence. For, so critically observed is the conduct of a man that has the management of another’s pecuniary affairs, and so delicate is a minister’s character, that he is in particular danger of exposing himself to censure, and of injuring his public usefulness, by such engagements.
Take heed, I will venture to add, take heed to your second self, in the person of your wife. As it is of high importance for a young minister in single life, to behave with the utmost delicacy in all his intercourse with female friends, treating with peculiar caution those of them that are unmarried; and as it behoves him to pay the most conscientious regard to religious character when choosing a companion for life; so when in the conjugal state, his tenderest attention is due to the domestic happiness and the spiritual interests of his wife. This obligation, my brother, manifestly devolves upon you; as being already a husband and a father. Next after your own soul, therefore your wife and your children evidently claim the most affectionate, conscientious, and godly care. Nor can it be reasonably doubted, that many a devout and amiable woman has
given her hand to a minister of the gospel, in preference to a private Christian, though otherwise equally deserving, in sanguine expectation, by so doing, of enjoying peculiar spiritual advantages in the matrimonial relation. But, alas! there is much reason to apprehend that not a few individuals among those worthy females have often reflected to the following effect: “I have, indeed, married a preacher of the gospel; but I do not find in him the affectionate domestic instructor, for either myself, or my children. My husband is much esteemed among his religious acquaintances as a respectable Christian character; but his example at home is far from being delightful. Affable, condescending, and pleasing, in the parlours of religious friends; but, frequently, either trifling and unsavoury, or imperious and unsocial, in his own family. Preferring the opportunity of being entertained at a plentiful table, and of conversing with the wealthy, the polite, and the sprightly, to the homely fare of his own family, and the company of his wife and children; he often spends his afternoons and evenings from home, until so late an hour, that domestic worship is either omitted, or performed in a hasty and slovenly manner, with scarcely the appearance of devotion.Â—Little caring for my soul, or for the management of our growing offspring: he seems concerned for hardly anything more, than keeping fair with his people: relative to which, I have often calmly remonstrated, and submissively entreated, but all in vain. Surrounded with little ones, and attended with straits; destitute of the sympathies, the instructions, which might have been expected from the affectionate heart of a godly husband, connected with the gifts of a gospel minister; I pour out my soul unto God, and mourn in secret.” Such has been the
sorrowful soliloquy of many a minister’s godly, dutiful, and prudent wife. Take heed, then, to the best interests of your second self.
To this endÂ—except on extraordinary occasions, when impelled by dutyÂ—spend your evenings at home. Yes, and at an early hour in the evening, let your family and your study receive their demands on your presence, in the lively performance of social and secret devotion. Thus there will be reason to hope that domestic order and sociability, the improvement of your own understanding and communion with God will all be promoted. Guard, habitually, against every appearance of imprudent intercourse and every indelicate familiarity with the most godly and virtuous of your female friends. Be particularly cautious of paying frequent visits to any single woman who lives alone: otherwise, your conduct may soon fall under the suspicion of your neighbours, and also of your own wife, so as to become her daily tormentor; even while she believes you innocent of the great transgression. In cases of this kind, it is not sufficient that conscience bears witness to the purity of your conduct, and the sincerity of your motives: for in matters of such a delicate nature, there should not be the least shadow of a ground, either to support suspicion, or to excite surmise.
There is need for us, my brother, to watch and pray against the greatest sinsÂ—even against those to which, perhaps, we never perceived ourselves to be much inclined. For, alas! we have sometimes heard of apparently gospel ministers falling into such enormous crimes, as not only to disgrace religion, but degrade humanity. Of late, I have been much affected with the following reflection: though, if not greatly deceived, I have had some degree of experimental acquaintance of Jesus Christ for almost forty years;
though I have borne the ministerial character for upwards of twenty-five years; though I have been, perhaps, of some little use in the church of God; and though I have had a greater share of esteem among the Lord’s people than I had any reason to expect; yet, after all, it is possible for me, in one single hour of temptation, to blast my characterÂ—to ruin my public usefulnessÂ—and to render my warmest Christian friends ashamed of owning me. “Hold thou me up, O Lord, and I shall be safe!” Ah! Brother, there is little reason for any of us to be high-minded: and, therefore, “Happy is the man that feareth always.”
Take heed to yourself, with regard to the diligent improvement of your talents and opportunities. It behoves you, as a teacher, to spend much of your time in reading and in study. Of this you are convinced and will act, I trust, agreeably to that conviction. For suitable means must be used, not only in your public ministry, in season and out of season, for the good of others; but with a view to the improvement of your mind, in an acquaintance with divine truth. Yes, my Christian friend, this is necessary, that your ability to feed the flock with knowledge and understanding may be increased;
that your own heart may be more deeply tinctured with gospel principles; that you may be better prepared to preach up divine
truth in every trying event that may occur. Be, then, as careful to improve opportunities, of both obtaining and imparting spiritual benefits, as the prudent and assiduous tradesman or mechanic is, to promote the legitimate designs of his professional calling. If a minister of the gospel behave with Christian decorum, possess tolerable abilities for his work, and having his heart in it, be habitually industrious; there is reason to conclude that, in the common course of providence, he will not labour in vain. As nobody, however, wonders that a merchant, or a manufacturer, who, having no pleasure in his employment, neglects his affairs, and behaves as if he thought himself above his business, does not succeed, but becomes bankrupt; so, if a minister be seldom any further engaged, either in the study of divine truth, or in the public exercises of religion, than seems necessary to his continuance, with decency, in the pastoral station; there is no reason to wonder, if his public ministrations be without savour, and void of success. The church of which such a minister is the pastor, seems completely warranted to cry in his ears, “Take heed to the ministry which thou hast received in the Lord, that thou fulfil it.” Col. 4.17.
Take heed to yourself, respecting the motives by which you are influenced in your endeavours to obtain useful knowledge. For if you
read and study, chiefly that you may cut a respectable figure in the pulpit; or to obtain and increase popular applause; the motive is carnal, base, and unworthy of a man of God. Yet, detestable in the sight of Him who searches the heart as that motive is, there will be the greatest necessity for you to guard against it as a besetting evil. It is, perhaps, as hard for a minister habitually to read and study with becoming diligence, without being under this corrupt influence, as it is for a tradesman prudently to manage a lucrative business, without seeking the gratification of a covetous disposition: yet both the minister and the tradesman must either guard against these pernicious evils, or be in danger of sinking in final ruin. Besides, whatever be the motives which principally operate in your private studies, it is highly probable those very motives will have their influence in the pulpit. If when secretly studying the word of God, it was your chief concern to know the divine will, that you might, with integrity and benevolence, lay it before your people for their benefit, it is likely the same holy motive will attend you in public service. But, if a thirst of popularity, or a lust of applause, had the principal influence in the choice of your subject, and in your meditations upon it, there will be no reason for
surprise if you should be under the same detestable bias when performing your public labour.
Study your discourses, therefore, with a devotional disposition. To this you are bound by the very nature of the case, as a Christian minister. For, when the Bible is before you, it is the word of God on
which you meditate, and the work of God you are endeavouring to perform.
As you should take heed to yourself, respecting the principles on which you act, and the ends at which you aim, in your meditations for the pulpit; so it behoves you to be still more careful in these aspects, when you enter on public service. For then you professedly appear, as a guilty creature, to adore at the feet of Eternal Majesty; as a minister of the divine Jesus, to perform His work; and as the servant of this church, to promote the happiness of all its members. Endeavour, therefore, always to enter your pulpit under the force of this conviction: “I am an apostate creature, and going to worship the omniscient God: a wretch who deserves to perish, yet looking to sovereign mercy: a sinner called by grace, and rusting in the alone merits and atonement of Christ; feeling my insufficiency for the work on which I am entering, but relying on the aids of His Spirit and grace. This will produce deep solemnity, tempered with a holy delight; which mixture of spiritual awe and sacred pleasure should accompany the Christian, and especially the Christian minister, whenever he approaches the Supreme. Remarkable and important is that sayingÂ—”Let us have grace whereby we may serve God acceptably, with reverence and godly fear: for our God is a consuming fire.” Very observable also is the language of David: “I will go to the altar of God, to God my exceeding joy.” May the import of these passages united, exert its force on your very soul, whenever you take the lead in public worship! Then your graces as a Christian, and your gifts as a minister will be exercised at the same time. Your graces being excited, you have communion with God: your gifts being exerted, the people are edified. Whereas, were you to enter the pulpit merely to exercise your ministerial talents, though others might be fed by the truths delivered, your own soul would starve. This, I fear, is the case of many who preach the gospel.
You should seek, with peculiar care, to obtain the approbation of conscience in each of your hearers; as appears by the following words:Â— “By manifestation of the truth, commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.” This illustrious passage presents us with a view of the Apostle Paul in the pulpit; and a very solemn appearance he makes. He has just been adoring in secret, at the feet of the Most High; and, from converse with the Most Holy, he is now going to address his fellow-sinners. Penetrated with the importance of his office, and the solemnity of his present situation, he manifestly FEELSÂ—he seems to TREMBLE. Nor need we wonder, for the subject on which he is to speak, the object he has in view, and the witness of his conduct, are all interesting and solemn to the last degree. TRUTH, CONSCIENCE, and GODÂ—the most important and impressive thoughts that can enter the human mindÂ—pervade his very soul. ETERNAL TRUTH is the subject of his discussion; the approbation of conscience is the object of his desire; and the omniscient Holy One is the witness of his conduct. An example this, which you, and I, and every minister of the word are bound to imitate. Make it your diligent endeavour, then, to obtain the approbation of conscience from those that hear you: for without
deserving that, none of your public labours can be to your honour, or turn to your account, in the great day of the Lord.
A minister may say things that are profoundly learned, and very ingenious; that are uncommonly pretty, and extremely pleasing to the generality of his hearers; without aiming to reach their consciences, and to impress their hearts either by asserting divine authority, or by displaying divine grace. When this is the case, he obtains, it may be, from superficial hearers, the reward which he sought; for he is greatly admired and applauded. But, alas! the unawakened sinner is not alarmed! the hungry soul is not fed; and the Father of mercies is defrauded of that reverence and confidence, of that love and obedience, which a faithful declaration of the gracious and sanctifying truth might have produced. Yes, my brother, it is much to be suspected, that many ministers have recommended themselves to the fancies, the tastes, the affectations of their hearers, who never deserved, and who never had, in a serious hour, the approbation of their consciences.
Now my young friend, if you keep conscience in view; if you remember that God himself is a witness of your latent motives, and of your public labours; you will not choose an obscure text, principally that you may have the honour of explaining it; nor will you select one which has no relation to the subject you mean to discuss, in order that your acumen may shine, by making it speak what it never meant. The more you keep the approbation of conscience and the presence of God in your eye, the more dependent will you be on divine assistance, in all your ministerial addresses. Yes, bearing in mind, on every occasion of this kind, that your business here is to plead for the interests of sterling truth, under the immediate inspection of Him who is THE TRUTH; you cannot but feel your incapacity, and seek all your help from God, whose cause you desire to promote. The more you keep the consciences of men and the presence of God in your view, the more will you be impressed with the importance of your subject, and the more earnest will you be in addressing your hearers; for that minister must have a strange set of passions who does not feel himself roused by such considerations. The more you keep the approbation of conscience and the inspection of God in remembrance, the less will you be disposed to indulge in a light and trifling spirit, and the more spiritually minded will you be, in the course of your administrations; for the ordinances of God are too sacred to become the vehicles of entertainment, and His presence is too solemn to permit the smile of levity.
Again: Keeping the consciences of men, and the Searcher of hearts in view, it will afford you much more pleasure to find, that persons who have been hearing you, left the place bemoaning their wretched state as sinners, and very deeply abased themselves before God, than to be informed, that they greatly admired you as a preacher, and loudly applauded your ministerial talents. Because, for a person to depart from public worship, in raptures with the minister’s abilities, is no proof that he has received any spiritual
benefit. But if, smitten with a sense of guilt, he cry out,Â—”How shall I escape the wrath to come?” and “God be merciful to me a sinner!” Or if he exclaim, “Who is a God like our God!” or “How great is His goodness, and how great is His beauty!” and “What shall I render to the Lord for all his benefits?” then it looks as if the preacher had commended himself to his conscience, and as if the truth had reached his heart. For language of this kind, from a
reflecting hearer, has a devotional aspect, and gives glory to God. It indicates a soul, either as being apprehensive of deserved ruin, or as
rejoicing in revealed mercy; as having a good hope through grace, or as revering divine authority. Whereas, barely to admire and praise the preacher, is quite consistent with reigning depravity, and
with rooted enmity to God. As it is written, “They sit before thee as thy people, and they hear thy wordsÂ—With their mouth they show much love, but their heart goeth after their covetousness. And lo thou art unto them as a very lovely song of one that hath a pleasant voice, and can play well on an instrument: for they hear thy words, but they do them not.”
Take heed to yourself, with regard to that success, and those discouragements, which may attend your ministry. Should a large
degree of apparent success, through the favour of heaven,
accompany your labours, there will be the highest necessity to guard gainst pride and self-esteem. Agreeable to that saying, “Pride goeth before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.” remember, therefore, my brother, that though it is your indispensable duty to labour and pray for prosperity in your work;
yet, that a season of remarkable success will generally prove an hour of peculiar temptation to your own soul. Take heed to yourself, at such a time, and watch the secret motions of