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Secondly, that, by the grace of God, we may correct our errors and reform our lives. For it will prove fatal to our security, if, after having seen our danger, we do not resort to proper measures to prevent the impending evil from falling upon us. If, then, you perceive, through the teaching of the Holy Ghost, that your hearts are in a ruined, unsanctified state, do not be unfaithful to your light and convictions ; but pray, that being “ renewed in the spirit of your mind, you may prove what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God"." The moment any thing appears to be wrong
your principles, thoughts, designs, or practice, it should be abandoned, though it may previously have been as dear and valuable to you as the most necessary member of your bodies. “If thine eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell-fire, where the worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched".". The excision of the offending limb, painful as it may be, must be submitted to, for the preservation of the other parts of the body: in plain terms, the sacrifice of every sin, lust, and unholy temper must be cheerfully made, if you would be “meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light".
5. The manner in which this examination of ourselves ought to be conducted, deserves particular notice. Let it be undertaken seriously and considerately, as a work of the deepest concern to us. Let us consider ourselves, during the process of examination, as in the presence of God, and as engaged in a most solemn business, that demands the Rom. xii. 2. * Mark is. 13.-49. Mat. v. 29,30. Heb. xii.14. lay open
atmost sincerity in the management of it. Let us be solicitous to know the precise condition in which we stand : and be always ready to confess, deplore, and forsake any iniquity which the trial of our spirits may bring to light. : Do not proceed superficially, or hastily, in this matter. Take sufficient time to sift your souls to the bottom ; for the heart can so disguise its vices, that its various windings, evil workings, and obliquities, cannot be discovered, but by a patient inspection. Search yourselves to the very ground of your hearts, and be not afraid to know the worst of your state. A cursory, superficial inquiry will do no good. If you would extract the core of the matter, you must
the wound, and probe it to the bottom; otherwise there may be some evil concealed, which may gradually poison the whole frame. • To ensure suceess in our investigations, prayer should be offered up to God for wisdom to direct us in the whole of this weighty affair, that we may not act partially and screen our faults, nor pass them hastily over, and thus defeat the end of the inquiry; but that we may deal fairly with ourselves, condemning our vices, and resolving, by Divine assistance, to mortify and destroy them.
6. Particular seasons may be set apart for this duty. At the close of every day, it will be profitable to take a survey of our conduct; and to call ourselves to a severe account for
sins which we have committed, or wrong tempers which we have indulged, or any opportunities which we have omitted of saying or doing anything for God. Let, therefore, the transactions of the day pass in review before us, that bad habits may not be suffered to take such a deep root in our breasts, as to render it impossible to extirpate
them. Besides the evening of each day, the work of self-examination may be profitably engaged in as often as occasion requires. But on the Sabbath, especially, we should devote a portion of our time for the purpose of conversing with our own hearts. On this sacred day, let us be anxious to know how we stand with God, what improvement we have made in righteousness, and whether we have gained any advantage over our besetting sins.
7. The most important benefits will accrue from this line of conduct. The disclosures made, by prying into our souls, will certainly at first be attended with smart and anguish. When we see the abominations which we have committed, in thought, word, and deed, against the Majesty of Heaven, lothe ourselves in our own sight ©,” and “smite on our breasts, saying, God be merciful to us sinners P!” But the moment we are justified by faith, and obtain
peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, our sorrow will be turned into joy. The very medicine, which at first proved nauseous and bitter to the taste, will afterwards be a healing balm, a sweet cordial to our wounded souls. Thus, though, in finding out the sin which most easily besets us, we may be put to momentary pain, yet the discovery will teach us to value the remedy, and to apply it. And when, through faith in Christ's atoning sacrifice, we obtain forgiveness and sanctification, and a well-founded hope of everlasting glory, we shall have a rich counterpoise for our light affliction, and become immense gainers by the examination of our hearts?
8. The neglect of this Christian duty must be productive of fatal results. Indifference about the state • Ezek. xxxvi. 31. p Luke xviii. 13. 42 Cor. iv. 17, 18.
of our souls is to be dreaded, because it argues that we have no wish to know ourselves, or to please God, or to avoid the wrath which is coming on the ungodly". Besides, it demonstrates a love of iniquity, which, by such negligence, is suffered to take root in the heart, and grow worse, until it becomes difficult to eradicate it: it defers, for a short time, the day of trial, which, when it arrives, will bring with it such accumulated and intolerable sorrows, as we had not, in the days of our unregeneracy, the least conception of o.
How much wiser is it to endeavour to obviate the threatened danger, by a timely application of our minds to the things which respect our final peace!
Would any man to whom a valuable estate had been left, object to examine the title-deed by which it was secured; and to take immediate possession, in order to enjoy as speedily as possible the advantages which it offered ? And will you, O careless souls ! be altogether unsolicitous to ascertain whether you are training for the blissful inheritance of the saints, or travelling in the “ broad road that leadeth to destruction*?"
9. Be in earnest about this important personal concern. Engage in it without further procrastination. Every day, sinful habits, if neglected, become more confirmed; but if attended to in time, they may be conquered".
Enter, then, into the chamber of your souls. Converse with yourselves, and with your God. Whilst you are exploring the recesses of your minds, in order to discover your errors, pray after this manner: “O God, what wetsee not, respecting our depravity by nature, and guilt by practice, teach thou us "";
Rev, vi. 14-17. 8 1 Thes. v. 2, 3. * Mat. vii. 13. * Rom. viii. 13. uu Job xxxiv. 32.
that, finding the way of life, we may walk stedfastly therein, to the day of our death !" Ard how blessed will be the result of such a scrutiny, if, through the operation of the Holy Ghost, it should lead to that renewal of our minds, which will inspire us, with confidence at the day of judgment, when penitent and refornied sinners shall: obtain eyerlasting joy and peace!
Matthew xvi. 24. Then said Jesus to his Disciples, If any
man will come after me, let him deny himself. THE ruinous effects which result from the unrestrained indulgence of our carnal desires are seen every day. Multitudes, unable to govern their passions, which clamour for gratification, run headlong into all the vices and follies of life; without duly reflecting, that such a course is incompatible with their Christian calling, and destructive of their peace.
But we shall do well to remember, that there is often much danger in the enjoyment of the very objects which promise' most delight. The fruit which captivates the eye may turn out to be the rankest poison, and destroy those who happen to partake of it.
The sinful pleasures of the world answer to this description. Though they allure the senses, and flatter their infatuated devotees with prospects
of delectable gratifications, yet this is all illusion; for the inoment you strip off the gilt and the tinsel with which they are studiously covered by Satan the father of lies, with a design to impose on his unwary