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heart, life and conversation. In-f both calculated to influence us;
external exactness in dealing But if our ideas of this stand with his neighbor, the only stanärd be loose and obscure, and we dard of his character, another, undertake to try ourselves by kindness to the sick and the poor, these vague and indeterminate another, an external pharisaicideas of truth and duty, our ex-al attendance on ordinances,amination must be very uncer- another, a mere doctrinal knowltain and unsatisfactory, and may edge of a system of religious be ruinous. We might as well truth, and another, universal hoperhaps have neglected to exam- liness of heart and life, it is plain, ine ourselves at all, and shall re- that all of them examining themmain uncertain concerning our selves by their respective ideas true condition. Such an ill con- of the rule, may be approved as ducted examination may very true Christians in their own much discourage and depress a eyes : but only those, who exreal believer, or it may inspire amine by the standard, by which an unbeliever with a presumptu- they will be finally judged, will ous hope, to his destruction. receive any
benefit from the triIt is of importance, therefore, al; the others will be deluded. that people, when about to ex- This standard must respect amine themselves, first of all fix truth, as well as practical duties, upon the rule of trial, and obtain for God as much requires the clear and definite ideas of it; so belief of his testimony, as obethat they may determine with dience to his precepts; and it is precision whether they corres- no less criminal, virtually to give pond with it. And though this him the lie, by rejecting revealmay cost much labor, and close ed truth, than to disobey his application, yet it may abundant commands. ly recompense their faithfulness.
III. The examination should Besides, it is of the utmost always be conducted with the consequence
that we fix
upon the most cool deliberation, and the true standard, by which we are most careful comparison of ourto be judged at the last day ; selves with the rule. If, instead otherwise the result will certain- of a careful and deliberate comly be false, and the consequences parison of our faith and practice, may be fatal. If a quantity of with the standard of truth, we any thing be weighed in a false are hasty and superficial, and balance, and be estimated by it, content ourselves with the result will be wrong ; in the faint resemblance of conformity same manner, and from a like to it, our negligence concerning cause, a trial of ourselves by a our own exercises, will expose false rule will give a false result. us to self-deception, however acHere there is much danger, be- curate our ideas may be of the cause every man will form his standard itself. It is probable own ideas of the rule of trial, and that many mistake here. The our partiality and ignorance are I wicked are not disposed to bring
themselves to the light ; they | influenced us on such occasions. hate the light, and will not come A sordid miser, if on two or three to the light, lest their deeds occasions he should chance to do should be reproved. They are something, which might have disposed to justify themselves on the air of generosity, by continuo any distant resemblance to the ally examining himself, by these rule ; and may mistake zeal for instances of his dealings, might love, party warmth for godliness, think himself a generous man, the effects of conscience for those and mistake his wish at such of holiness, natural compassion times to appear liberal, for a refor pure benevolence, and a fair ally liberal spirit. So there are appearance for real innocence. many people, who have some Men must search out the work- serious contemplations on reliings of their own hearts, and gious subjects, with an apparent consider the principles and se resemblance to devotional exercret springs, by which they are cises ; they may think these influenced. The Pharisee and true devotion ; and by continuthe Publican both prayed, and ally confining their examinations both in the temple, whichwas the principally to these, may believe appointed place; but they were themselves pious ; though the infiuenced by very different mo-general tenor of their lives is a tives ; and therefore, one return- scene of worldly-mindedness and ed to his house rather justified unbelief. Their seriousness, at than the other.
times, may be no more than the IV. The examination in ques- ordinary effects of natural contion should respect our general science. Believers too, whose line of conduct. We are to en- general conduct is greatly influ. quire what we usually do, and enced by the Spirit of Christ, how we usually think and feel, may at times, like Peter, do some and by what principles we are notorious wickedness, or become permanently actuated ; for this comparatively stupid and regardwill best determine what we are ; less of their duty, and be unable and we are less liable to mistake on such occasions to perceive concerning our general conduct, any holiness in their hearts, and than about our feelings, exercis- if they examine themselves chiefes and principles of action, in ly by such detached parts of their some insulated and particular lives, they may conclude, that parts of our lives, or frames of they are altogether destitute of roind on uncommon occasions. godliness. This will dishearten
make such particular and render them incapable of frames the principal subject of praising God for giving them our examinations, there will be a a new heart, which is the greattwo-fold danger. One is the dan- est blessing they ever received ger of singling out some of our from him. It is therefore manimost specious frames, or instan- fest, that in our examinations we ces of practice, which have the are to regard our general state nearest apparent resemblance to of mind and practice. the standard ; for we are prone
V. In seasons of self-examito partiality in favor of ourselves. nation, it is necessary that our The other is the danger of mis- minds be solemnized, by a sense taking the true motives, which l of the presence of an holy and
all-seeing God. We should con- | that we are believers, when we sider ourselves as immediately are not, is extremely dangerous. before him : for many things, For when a selfish man thinks which appear well, when we he has secured eternal life, he have not the presence and puri- will naturally compose himself, ty of God in view, will not bear to rest in his present condition. our own inspection, when we He will not be alarmed by the think of bringing them into his awful threatenings of God, besight. Nothing so effectually cause he concludes, that they do does this as prayer, and especial- not respect him. Nor does he ly, as imploring God himself to wish for more religion than is search us. By such prayers we necessary to secure him a place also call in the aid of the Holy | in heaven. Thus the Scribes and Spirit, to give us a true discern- Pharisees depended on their ment of ourselves, and of the false hopes, and by their fancied standard by which we are to be security hardened themselves tried. Therefore David prayed against convictions ; while pubto God to search him, and try licans and sinners, who had not him to search his heart and his thus deluded themselves, entered reins, and see if there was any into the kingdom of God. This wicked way in him. This had examination should therefore be a direct tendency in itself, to conducted with great care. And render him more faithful and if any one finds, that he can be impartial in his review. And satisfied with a measure of holiin answer to his prayer, he had ness, which might merely acalso encouragements to expect quit him at the judgment, he the influences of the Holy Spirit, may consider this as an evidence, to enlighten his mind, respect that he has no delight in holiing the rule, and his own life, ness, and no wish to serve God, and assist him to compare them except for the sake of a reward. together to advantage. Prayer The other object to be sought then, and a solemn sense of the and obtained by self-examination presence of God, and that our is different. A man may be well decision must be re-judged by satisfied that he is a true believinfinite rectitude, are of the uter, but not contented with that most importance to self-exami- only, he may desire to know nation.
how far forth he is sanctified, VI. There are two objects to what progress he has made in be sought after in trying our holiness, in what he is deficient, selves. The first is, that we and in what respects and by what may know, whether we are true means, he may reform his heart believers in Jesus Christ, and so and life, what sips to repent of are entitled to the promises į or and guard against, and what whether we are in a state of im- particular graces require special penitence and condemnation. cultivation. This is a very im
This is a question of infinite portant end of the Christian's importance to us, as the answer examination, and very useful. to it will at the general judg. We are commanded to watch, ment determine our everlasting and this watchfulness is derived, destiny. A wrong determination in a great measure, from searchof this question, so as to conclude ) ing ourselves. Without it, a beVOL. V. NO. 11.
liever would be very much ex. what state of sanctification he is. posed to have some sin, which By comparing himself with the easily besets, and insensibly scriptures, he may detect all his grow upon him ; some grace or wickedness of heart and life, duty would be imperceptibly trace out his real character, see neglected ; religion might in wherein he is conformed to duty, some of its branches greatly de- provided he faithfully examines cay, and he would grow lax in himself in the way just pointed some duties. But when a Chris- out. And by comparing his pretian calls himself to a frequent sent with some past examinaand strict account, concerning tion, he may ascertain what his whole course of faith and proficiency he has made, and duty, he will discover his defi- wherein to repent and amend. ciencies, and see what to repent “ The word of God is quick and of, and what is to be done, that powerful.” he
may be delivered from sin, The holy scriptures have also grow in grace, and be to the given us the real character of glory of God. A true Christian true believers, as they are in this desires to press forward for per- imperfect state, and have taught fection, and may derive great us what things are essentially advantage from proving himself necessary, to constitute a true in this way, and be more useful believer. They are the standard to the church of God. This ap- by which we are to prove ourpears to have been the object of selves, and know whether we David, when he prayed to God are believers or unbelievers. to search and try him, and dis- The History of many of the saints cover to him every wicked thing, is given, and their characters which should be found in him. delineated in the scriptures; and There is reason to fear, that ma- so they teach us by example. ny real Christians fear much, by And Christ has expressly infornot bringing themselves to a medus, what the essential things more frequentand strict account. are, that we may know them by Believers, however, are willing his description. He has explainto come to the light. When ed to us repentance, faith, obepeople examine themselves fre- dience, submission and holy love: quently for these purposes, and he has also taught us the great are faithful to make all the a- doctrines to be believed, and has mendments, which their exami- left nothing unnoticed, which nations show to be necessary, it could be of any benefit to us, as may be expected, that they will a rule of self-examination, or to be growing Christians.
instruct us how we may profit VII. After all that has been by it. The word of God is adwritten concerning self-examina- mirably full and explicit on this tion, it will be expected, that the subject. standard, by which we are to That we may be able in the try ourselves, will be pointed best manner to prove our docout. The holy Bible is the only trines, hearts and lives by the rule of trial. This is a perfect rule God has given us in his standard of holiness, and gives a word, we must diligently acjust representation of sin, and so quaint ourselves with the Bible, enables the Christian to know in carefully observe and treasure before us.
up the doctrines it contains, the may profit by it. We shall careduties it enjoins, the marks fully acquaint ourselves with the which distinguish the real Chris- holy Bible, and make it our contian, and which evidence profi-stant companion ; our examinaciency in the divine life. These tions will be frequent, and we are given in plain and decisive shall make them a serious and language ; and it must not be fixed business. If it should apour business to warp them to pear, that we are not interested our wishes, or to our pre-con- in the promises, let us consider ceived opinions, but to take them the importance of believing in as they stand in the word of God, Christ, and entering into his serin its most natural import. vice without delay ; let us im
We, in this favored land, have mediately become his disciples. had opportunity from our child- And may the foregoing obserhood, to acquaint ourselves with vations be attended with a divine these things. The rule of truth blessing, and be made the means and duty, and the standard of real of detecting the deceived, conChristianity, have always been verting sinners, comforting, es
It must therefore tablishing and quickening Chrisarise from very criminal negli- tians, and exciting them to praise gence, or prejudice against the distinguishing grace, and make things contained in the holy greater proficiency in the divine scriptures, if we are not under life! advantages, to go into an imme- Finally : Let us bear it in diate and profitable examination, mind, and if our own hearts conand thorou ghly investigate our demn us, God is greater than real state and characters, at least we, and knoweth all things. so far as to teach us our present Examine yourselves whether duty. In doing this, let us take ye be in the faith ; prove your heed to the standard of truth and own selves.” QUESTUS, duty, examine ourselves with cool deliberation, and carefully compare ourselves with the un
Reflections on the sin of Achan. erring
OD had commanded to utculties and dangers to which we are exposed by prepossessions, the sin of its inhabitants, and let prejudice and a desire to have a nothing remain, which the fire good opinion of ourselves. We would consume; but all the gold must not trust to an examina- and silver was to be devoted to tion by some detached parts of God, for sacred purposes.-One our lives, but ground it on our of the executioners of divine general state and conduct. If we vengeance, from the covetous sincerely desire to know our and selfish feelings of his heart, selves, we shall implore divine was under strong temptation to aid, and consider ourselves under violate the divine command.the all-seeing eye of infinite pu- When he saw a beautiful garrity. We shall be solicitous to ment, wrought with great skill assure ourselves, whether we are and labor, that was about to be real believers, and if we find sat- lost in the general destruction, isfying evidence of this, shall and shining treasures of gold still examine ourselves, that we l and silver in his power ; in se