« הקודםהמשך »
• both in public and private (e), viz. a friend and lover of God; in whose * favour thou centerest all thy present and * future hopes, Carry this view with thee " throʻ life, and dare not, in any instance,
to act inconsistently with it.'
How to know the true State of our Souls ;
and whether we are fit to die. Lastly, HE most important point of
felf-knowledge, is to know the true state of our fouls towards
our fouls towards God; and in what condition we are to die.
These two things are inseparably connected in their nature, and therefore I put
them together. The knowledge of the former will determine the latter, and alone can determine it; for no man can tell whether he be fit for death, till he be acquainted with the true state of his own soul.
(e) Ταξον τινα
Adm. X@pexInpol osavlw, Kett τυπον, ον φυλαξης επι το σεαυε, και ανθρωπους
vTuy xawws. Epiêt. Enchir. cap. 40.– Fix your character, and keep to it ; whether alone or in como pany.
This is a matter of fuch great moment, that it is amazing any considerate man, or any one who thinks what it is to die, can be satisfied, so long as it remains an uncertainty. -Let us trace out this important point, then, with due perspicuity ; and see if we cannot come to some fatisfaction in it upon the most solid principles.
In order to know whether we are fit to die, we must first to know what it is that fitteth us for death. And the answer to this is very natural and easy, viz. that can only fit us for death, that fitteth us for happiness after death.
This is certain.-- But the question returns, What is it that fits us for happiness after death?
Now in answer to this, there is a previous question necessary to be determined, viz. What that happiness is ?
It is not a fool's paradise, or a Turkish dream of sensitive gratifications : it must be happiness suited to the nature of the soul, and what it is capable of enjoying in a state of separation from the body; and what can that be, but the enjoyment of God, the best of beings, and the Author of ours ?
The question then comes to this ; What is that which fits us for the enjoyment of God in the future state of separate fpirits ?
Perhaps we may bring this matter to a determinate issue; by saying it is that which makes us like to him now.—This only is our proper qualification for the enjoyment of him after death, and therefore our only proper preparation for death. For how can they, who are unlike to God here, expect to enjoy him hereafter ? And if they have no just ground to hope that they shall enjoy God in the other world, how are they fit to die ?
So that the great question, Am I fit to die ? resolves itself into this, Am I like to God? For it is this only that fits mė for heaven; and that which fits me for heaven, is the only thing that fits me for death,
Let' this point, then, be well searched into, and examined very deliberately and impartially Most certain it is, that God will not
but those that are like Him; and it is as certain, that none but those that are like Him can take pleasure in Him. - But God is a most pure and holy Being"; a Being of infinite Love,
Mercy and Patience ; whose Righteousness is invariable, whofe Veracity is inviolable, and whofe Wifdom is unerring : these are the moral attributes of the Di. vine Being, in which he requires us to imitate Him; the express lineaments of the Divine Nature, in which all good men bear a resemblance to Him; and for the sake of which only they are the objects of his delight ; for God loveth none but those who bear this impression of his own image on their souls. - Do we find then these visible traces of the Divine Image there ? Can we make out our likenefs to Him in his Holiness, Goodnefs, Mercy, Righteousness, Truth and Wifdom? If so, it is certain we pable of enjoying Him, and are the proper objects of his love. — By this we know we are fit to die, because by this we know we are fit for happiness after death,
Hence, if we are faithful to our consciences, and impartial in the examination of our lives and tempers, we may soon come to a right determination of this important question, What is the true state of our souls towards God? and in what con
dition we are to die* ? Which, as, it is the most important, so it is the last instance of Self-Knowledge I shall mention: And with it close the first part of this Subject.
« * Nor do I apprehend the knowledge of our 6 state (call it assurance if you please) so uncom
and extraordinary as some are apt to imagine. I understand by assurance a satisfactory
evidence of the thing, such as excludes all rea• fonable doubts and disquieting fears of the con
trary, though, it may be, not all transient-sufpicions and jealoufies : Such an affurance and
certainty multitudes have attained, and enjoy o the comfort of; and indeed it is of so high im
portance, that it is amazing any thoughtful • Christian, who believes an eternity, can be easy
week or day without it.' Bennet's Christ. Orat. pag. 569.