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SELF-EXAMINATION is the duty of every Christian, not merely that he may ascertain whether his faith be genuine, but whether it be sufficiently operative. It ought not to be a frequent and undecided question with any one,-"Am I in reality a child of God?" but it should be a constantly recurring inquiry, "Is there any one branch of religious obligation, which, through the deceitfulness of the human heart, I do not feel? or, through a criminal heedlessness, I habitually neglect?" The object of self-examination, with a believer, is to supply those defects in his graces, and to put away those remains of his corruptions, which, though they may not prove that he has no piety, prove that he has less than he ought to have. For this purpose, he should often bring his actions and his motives to the standard, and try his whole profession; as well what he does that he should not do, as what he does not that he should do. If we are to exhort one another daily, lest any of us be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin, we surely ought to examine ourselves daily, for the

same reason. Our guilty self-love is perpetually attempting to throw a veil over the sinful infirmities of our nature-to hide their criminality from our view; and thus to keep us in a state of false peace, by keeping us in ignorance. Against this deceitfulness of our heart, we can only be guarded by a frequent and close examination of our whole selves.

A frequent examination of our hearts and conduct is necessary, because of the multitude of our daily sins, which are often so minute as to escape the observation of a careless and superficial glance, and so numerous as to be forgotten from one day to another; and so, they either come not into notice, or pass out of recollection: and therefore they should be summed up every evening, and repented of, and forgiven, before we compose ourselves to sleep, that nightly returning harbinger, and monitor, and image, of approaching death. The advantages of frequent examination are so many and so great, as to recommend the practice strongly to all who are deeply anxious about the welfare of their souls by this means we shall not only detect many sins which would otherwise be lost in our attention to greater ones, but we shall more easily destroy them, and more speedily revive our languishing graces; just as a wound may with greater facility be cured while it is yet fresh and bleeding, and an extinguished taper, while yet it retains a strong sympathy for light, may be rekindled, either by the near contact of a neighbouring flame, or by the timely application of a little well directed breath. "Sins are apt to cluster and combine, when either we are in love with small sins, or when they

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proceed, from a careless and incurious spirit, into frequency and continuance; but we may easily keep them asunder by our daily prayers, and our nightly examinations, and our severe sentences; for he that despiseth little things," said the son of Sirach, "shall perish by little and little." Afrequent examination of our actions will tend to keep the conscience clear, so that the least fresh spot will be more easily seen; and so tender, that the least new pressure will be felt; for that which comes upon an already blotted page is scarcely discerned, and that which is added to an already great accumulation is hardly seen or felt. This, also, is the best way to make our repentance pungent and particular. But on this subject we shall have more to say presently. If self-examination be neglected for want of opportunity, it is plain that those, at least, who have their time at their own command and disposal are far too deeply involved in the business of the world and the labyrinths of care: no man ought to allow himself to be so taken up in looking into his secular pursuits, as to have no time to look into the state of his soul; and to be so greedy after gain, or so intent upon the objects of an earthly ambition, as to be careless about examining whether we are growing in grace, and increasing in the riches of faith and love, discovers a mind which either has no religion at all, or has reason to fear that it has none.

But besides that cursory retrospect which we should take every evening of the conduct of the day, a portion of time should be frequently set apart for the purpose of instituting a more minute and rigid inquiry into the state of our personal piety; when,

taking in our hand the Word of God, we should descend with this candle of the Lord into the dark and deep recesses of the heart, enter every secret chamber, and pry into every corner, to ascertain if anything be hiding itself there which is contrary to the mind and will of God. Many standards will be found in the Scriptures, all concurring with each other in general purpose and principles, by which this investigation of our spirits should be conducted. We now propose the law of love.

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1. On these occasions of introspection, we should inquire how far our faith is working by love. I will conceive of a professing Christian who has set apart a portion of time,-say on a Saturday evening, before he is to eat on the next day the Lord's supper; or on a Sabbath evening, when he has received the sacramental memorials of the Saviour's love, to examine into the state, not only of his conduct, but the frame and temper of his spirit. He is anxious to know how far he is living so as to please God. We can imagine him, after having read the Scriptures, presenting his fervent supplications to God, in the language of the Psalmist, and saying, "Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my thoughts; and see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting." He now enters upon the business of self-examination; and the subject of inquiry that evening is the frame of his heart towards his fellowcreatures, the state of his mind in reference to the law of love, the measure of his charity, and the infirmities of his temper. Hear his holy colloquies with himself. "I have no just reason, thanks be to

sovereign grace! to question whether I have received the fundamental doctrines of the Gospel I believe my creed is sound; nor have I any serious ground for suspecting the sincerity of my faith, or the reality of my conversion: my conduct, too, so far as the estimate of man goes, has, through the help of God, been free from immorality. And though I may without presumption say that I love God, yet I am covered with confusion that my love is so weak and lukewarm. But my solemn business at this time is, to examine into the state and measure of my Christian charity; for I am persuaded, that whatever knowledge, or faith, or seeming raptures, or supposed communion with God, I may lay claim to,—I am but a very imperfect Christian, if I am considerably deficient in love. Taking the apostolic description of this lovely virtue, I will bring my heart to the test.

* Do I then love, in his sense of the word? Is my heart a partaker of this disposition? Is the selfishness of my corrupt nature subdued, and made to give way to a spirit of universal benevolence; so that I can truly say I rejoice in happiness, and am conscious of a continual benevolent sympathy with universal being, and of a perpetual efflux of good-will to all creatures? Do I feel as if my own happiness were receiving constant accessions from the happiness of others; and that my soul, instead of living in her own little world within, an alien from the commonwealth of mankind, indifferent to all but herself, is in union and communion with my species? In short, do I know the meaning of the Apostle's emphatic expression, He that dwelleth in

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