A Short Directory for the Great, Necessary, and Helpful Duty of Self Examination

Thomas Wilcox (1622-1687)

I. Questions relating to Religious Exercises.

1. Have I had any sensible Communion with God in the Exercise?

2. Have I neglected my Private, or my Family-Duties?

3. Have I omitted Reading the Word of God?

4. Have I holy Meditations:

1. concerning the Word Preached;

2. concerning God;

3. concerning Christ;

4. concerning Sin;

5. concerning Scriptures, the Word of God;

6. concerning Providences, the Works of God;

7. concerning my Duties;

8. concerning Death;

9. concerning the last Judgment;

10. concerning Hell;

11. concerning Heaven, etc.

5. Have I been careless and formal in Prayer, either Private or Family-prayers; and performed the same out of custom, and not out of love and affection to the duty?

6. Have I been careless and superficial in reading the word, but serious and zealous to pray for a blessing, for increase of life and light by that duty?

7. Have I for worldly business, cut off my Prayers short, or lain upon my bed for idleness, when I should have been upon my knees?

8. Have I after duty, gone upon my Watchtower, to look out, and watch for a blessing and the fruits of my duty?


II. Questions relating to Sins and Temptations.

1. Have I guarded against and feared Temptations--or have I heedlessly rushed among them?

2. What Temptations have I this day striven against and conquered?

3. Have I this day done nothing against or contrary to my knowledge--or have I sinned with full purpose and resolution?

4. Do I knowingly live in a course of sin, either of omission or commission?

5. Have I carefully kept myself from my iniquity, or have I again relapsed into it?

6. Have I given any man occasion or offence, or been offended unjustly by any this day?

7. Does sin light upon my heart--so that the Gospel and Grace, Christ and the Promises are less sweet and precious to me?

8. When I fell into any sin, did I seriously without delay rise again by repentance, and neither palliated or extenuated my sin?


III. Of Thoughts of the heart.

1. Have I kept my heart in a serious, spiritual, and holy frame, so to be ready at all times for the exercise of holy duties?

2. Have I had the Lord always before my eyes, and especially, are my thoughts on him when I awake?

3. Has Eternity made any impressions on my heart, and have I set Death and Judgment, with the consequences thereof before my eyes?

4. Have I made conscience of vain, idle and wandering thoughts, and guarded against them?

5. Have I been serious and frequent in holy short prayers all the day, and so walked with God in all my affairs?

6. Have I endeavored when private and solitary, to order and govern my thoughts holily?


IV. Questions about Eating and Drinking.

1. Have I seriously and zealously before eating, craved a blessing, and after eating with the same devotion returned thanks; or have I done it out of custom and fashion only?

2. Have I eaten and drank to the glory of God; or did I sit down to table with no better design than the beasts of the field have, to satisfy hunger and thirst?

3. Have I been immoderate in my eating and drinking, even to surfeiting, over-charging my stomach?

4. Have I risen from the table without speaking of the Name of God, or of his Word yes, without once thinking thereon with delight?


V. Questions about our Callings.

1. Have I this day, in the duty of my calling, had respect to the Lord and served him?

2. Have I been diligent in it, or idle and lazy?

3. Have I dealt justly and honestly in my calling, have I cheated any man in any way? Have I done to everyone as I would they should do unto me?

4. Have I broken my promise in my calling, and been as good as my word?

5. Have I overladen and over charged myself with worldly affairs, and been immoderately anxious, solicitous, and careful about them, to the disadvantage and neglect of my Soul?


VI. Questions relating to our behavior among others.

1. Have I behaved myself as a Christian ought to do in reference to Superiors and Inferiors, Juniors and Seniors, and my Equals?

2. Have I neglected some Duties to them to whom I have a particular Relation; and have I done nothing contrary to my duty to such but duly and truly discharged it?

3. Have I (being a Father or Mother) taken care, first for the Souls and then for the Bodies of my Children, and wrought for them?

4. Have I (being a Child) honored my Father and Mother; have I loved, been obedient and thankful to them?

5. Have I (being a Husband) been careful for the Soul and Body of my Wife, and loved her?

6. Have I (being a Wife) loved, honored and obeyed my Husband, and heartily cared for his and the families good?

7. Have I (being a Master) been careful for the Souls and Bodies of my Servants, and given them good exhortations, reproofs and examples?

8. Have I (being a Servant) honored and obeyed my Master, and been true and diligent in his concerns, as a Christian ought to do?

9. Have I (being a Ruler, either in Church or State) been conscientious to do the duties of my place?

10. Have I (being a Subject in the State, and a Member in the Church) behaved myself as becomes a Christian towards the Magistrate and Minister, highly respecting them, being subject and obedient to them, and praying for them?


VII. Questions relating to our Time and Opportunities.

1. Have I this day redeemed time for the good of my Soul, as esteeming it precious?

2 Have I slept too long, and more than was necessary, so that my Exercises in Private or in the Family must be shortened, or some necessary or profitable work omitted?

3. Have I misspent my time in idle, unnecessary or fruitless discourse, or with unnecessary and unreasonable reflections?

4. Have I fed many idle and vain imaginations and thoughts which time might have been improved to the advantage of my Soul.

5. Have I lost time with to much and long discourse about worldly things, or by doing more about them than was necessary?

7. Have I diligently improved my time this day for God, and for Eternal Salvation, striving to take Heaven by violence?

8. Have I this day omitted some incumbent opportunity, whereby I might have improved my talents, and done good to the Soul and Bodies of others, either by word or works, of civility or mercy?

9. Have I constantly observed every opportunity to the good of my Soul either to my instruction or reproof, or to excite to more diligence?


VIII. Questions relating to good Company.

1. Have I chosen good and holy people for my Companions, and that because they are such, and for a good end?

2. Have I endeavored to excite such by my example, and in spiritual conferences, to Love and Good-works?

3. Have I carried myself towards them, as loving them with a hearty and brotherly affection, and peaceably?

4. Have I delighted in their Company, and rejoiced in their Prosperity?

5. Have I born their infirmities and covered them--or done the contrary?

6. Have I been advantageous to them with admonitions, consolations, reproofs, counsels and other service; and have I sought the like advantage from them, and found it.


IX. Questions about bad Company.

1. Have I carried myself prudently and wisely among the Ungodly, so that they have been a snare to me, or have they done me any damage?

2. Have I carried myself so holily, that I have been a Stone of stumbling to any of them--or have I been a good Example and Conviction to them?

3. Have I been serious, courteous, and compassionate towards them, endeavoring to do them good by reproofs, instructions and admonitions?

4. Have I been ashamed of the Word, Ways and Children of Christ when among those who hate and persecute them?


X. Questions relating to our behavior under various Providences.

1. Have I observed the particular Providences of God concerning myself and others?

2. Have I endeavored to discern the dealings of God with my Soul and Body?

3. Have I been thankful for the daily blessings and benefits received from God?

4. Have I born my cross this day willingly and cheerfully, and in adversity submitted to the hand and will of God?


XI. Questions relating to the Exercise of the principal Gifts and Graces.

1. Have I lived by Faith, depending constantly upon the Promises, and on Christ for help, strength, success, and acceptance with God?

2. Have I with diligence endeavored to express my love to God, to men, and to my enemies themselves this day?

3. Have I denied myself this day, and curbed my passions and affections in all occurrences, so behaving myself as one that denies himself?

4. Have I walked the whole day in the fear of the Lord, whether in company or alone, or in worldly affairs; always guarded against sin?

5. Have I been humble and in all things striven against Pride and High-mindedness?

6. Have I shunned sinful anger, and carried myself meekly before God and Men?

7. Have I been content with my state and condition in which the Lord by his Providence has set me?

8. Have I been patient, not murmuring or repining when I meet with difficulties from God, and oppressions from men?

9. Have I in all things expressed and declared my uprightness and honesty, and shunned and striven against all deceit and hypocrisy?

10. Have I been heavenly-minded, and delighted myself in God and striven against earthly mindedness, and satisfaction in the vanity thereof?


XII. Questions relating to the use of the Tongue.

1. Have I bridled my Tongue from vain, unnecessary, angry and perverse words?

2. Have I spoken evil of any man behind his back; or did the Lord call me by discovering the wickedness of another, to advance and further my neighbors interest?

3. Have I with Reverence used the Name and Word of God, and spoken thereof to the edification of others and myself, at home and abroad, at my rising up and lying down?

4. Have I always spoken the truth, and not sometimes made lies or half-lies?

5. Have I been silent when the Lord called me to speak for his Glory and the Edification of others?

6. Have I spoken when I should have been silent?


XIII. An Epitome of the former Questions, when we have little time or leisure to the Duty of Self-Examination.

1. Have I been serious and jealous in Secret and Family-religious exercises this day, and have had any sensible Communion with God?

2. Have I striven against my temptations and guarded against my own selfish inclinations?

3. Have I been careful to keep my heart from duty to duty in a spiritual frame?

4. Have I conceived vain thoughts, or promoted vain and idle discourse?

5. Have I had through the day many ejaculatory Prayers and sighs?

6. Have I thought and spoke much of the Word of God?

7. Have I carried myself moderately, Self-denyingly, and Spiritually in the use of God's blessings?

8. Have I injured no man this day, neither in words or works?

9. Have I been all the day diligent and careful on my watch and guard?

10. Have I neglected my duty to those that I have particular relation to, or have I performed it?

11. Have I misspent my time, or omitted any good opportunity to do, or to receive Good?

12. Have I this day been seriously working for the Glory of GOD, and my Souls Salvation?

13. Have I been immoderately meditating on Earthly things?

14. Have I given way to sinful Anger, Discontentedness, or Impatience?

15. Have I lived by Faith, and fetched all my strength from Christ?

16. Have I let my light shine among men, and been profitable both to good and bad?

17. Have I had a right aim and end in all my doings?

18. Have I walked in Love both towards GOD and my Neighbor?