תמונות בעמוד
PDF
ePub

“ in the body of our nature; it begins “ to live first, and dies last; and whilst it « lives, it communicates life and spirit to “ the whole body of fin; and when it

dies, the body of sin expires with it. “ It is the fin to which our conftitution « leads, our circumstances betray, and ( custom enslaves us ; the fin to which « not our virtues only, but vices too, low“ er their topfail, and submit; the fin, « which when we would impose upon “ God and our consciences, we excuse « and disguise with all imaginable arti“ fice and sophistry; but when we are “ sincere with both, we oppose first, and “ conquer last. It is, in a word, the fin “ which reigns and rules in the unrege" nerate, and too often alarms and di6 sturbs (ah! that I could say no more) “ the regenerate *.

Some are more inclined to the sins of the fiefs; sensuality, intemperance, uncleanness, floth, self-indulgence, and excess in animal gratifications. Others more inclined to the sins of the spirit; pride, malice, covetousness, ambition, wrath, revenge, envy, &c. And I am perfuaded there are few, but, upon a thorough search

into * See Dr. Lucas's Sermons, Vol. i. pag. 151.

into themselves, may find that some one
of these sins hath ordinarily a greater
power over them than the rest. Others
often observe it in them, if they them-
felves do not. And for a man not to
know his predominant iniquity, is great
felf-ignorance indeed, and a sign that he
has all his life lived far from home ; be-
cause he is not acquainted with that in
himself, which every one, who is but half
an hour in his company, perhaps, may be
able to inform him of. Hence proceeds
that extreme weakness which some discos
ver in censuring others for the very fame
faults they are guilty of themselves, and
perhaps in a much higher degree; on
which the apostle Paul animadverts, Rom..
ii. 1 *.

It must be owned, it is an irksome and disagreeable business for a man to turn :: his own accuser; to search after his own

faults, and keep his eye upon that which
it gives him shame and pain to see. It is
like tearing open an old wound. But it
is better to do this, than to let it mortify.
The wounds of the conscience, like those

of

[ocr errors]

* Quis tulerit Gracchos de seditione querentes? Clodius accusat Mæchos? Catalina Cethegum?.

Juv. Sat. 12.

of the body, cannot be well cured till they are searched to the bottom; and they cannot be searched without pain. A man that is engaged in the study of himself, must be content to know the worst of himself *.

Do not therefore shut your eyes against your darling sin, or be averse to find it out. Why should you study to conceal or excuse it, and fondly cherish that viper in your bosom ?-"Some men deal by “ their fins, as some ladies do by their “ persons. When their beauty is decay

ed, they seek to hide it from themselves 66 by false glasses, and from others by • paint. So many seek to hide their fins “ from themselves by false glosses, and 66 from others by excuses or false co“ lours t." But the greatest cheat they

put * nimis gravis angustia! Si me inspicio, non tolero meipfum : fi non infpicio, nescio meipsum. Si me considero, terret nie facies mea : fi me non confi. dero, fallit me damnatio mea. Si me video, horror est intolerabilis: fi non video, mors eft inevitabilis.“ O grievous ftrait! If I look into myself, I can“ not endure myself: if I look not into myself, I can. “ not know myself. If I consider myself, niy own “ face affrights me: if I consider not myself, my 6 damnation deceives me. If I see myself, my hora

ror is intolerable : if I fee not myself, death is un, avoidable.” Anfelme. of Baxter,

put upon themselves. « They that coTo ver their sins shall not profper,” Prov. xxviii. 13. It is dangerous self-flattery to give soft and smoothing names to fins, in order to disguise their nature. Rather lay your hand upon your heart, and thrust it into your bofom, though it come out (as Moses's did) leprous as snow, Exod. iv. 6*.

And to find out our most beloved fin, let us consider what are those worldly objects or amusements which give us the highest delight : this, it is probable, will lead us directly to some one of our darling iniquities, if it be a fin of commis

fion;

• Initium eft falutis, notitia peccati : nam qui peccare se nescit, corrigi non vult. Deprehendas te oportet, antequam emendes. Quidam vitiis gloriantur. Tu existimas aliquid de remedio cogitare, qui mala sua virtutum loco numerant? Ideo quantum potes teipfum coargue: Inquire in te: Accufatoris primum partibus fungere, deinde judicis, novisfime deprecatoris. Aliquando te offende. Sen. Epift. 28.-" The « knowledge of fin is the first step towards amend. « ment; for he that does not know he hath offended « is not willing to be reproyed. You must cherefore « find out yourself, before you can amend yourself. « Some glory in their vices. And do you imagine “ they have any thoughts about reforming, who “ place their very vices in the room of virtues ? " Therefore reprove thyself: search thyself very nar“ rowly. First, turn accuser to thyself, then a judge, " and then a fuppliant: And dare for once to dif. “ please thyself.”

fion; and what are those duties which we read or hear of from the word of God, to which we find ourselves most disinclined: and this, in all likelihood, will help us to detect some of our peculiar fins of omiffion, which, without such previous examination, we may not be sensible of. And thus may we make a proficiency in one considerable branch of self-knowledge *.

| CHAP.

* Et hoc ipsum argumentum est in melius translati animi, quod vitia fua, quæ adhuc ignorabat, videt.

Sen. Epift. 6.-" It is a good argument of a reformed - « mind, that it sees those vices in itself which it was 66 before ignorant of."

A man's predominant fin usually arises out of his predominant passion; which, therefore, he should diligently observe. The nature and force of which is beautifully described by a late great master of Englisfa verse.

On different senses different objects strike. . .
Hence different passions more or less inflame,
As strong or weak the organs of the frame:
And hence one master-passion in the breast,
Like Aaron's serpent, swallows up the rest.
Nature its mother; habit is its nurse;
Wit, spirit, faculties, but make it worse;
Reason itself but gives it edge and pow'r,
As Heaven's blest beam turns vinegar more four.
Ah! if the lend not arms as well as rules,
What can she more than tell us we are fools?
Teach us to mourn our nature, not to mend,
A lharp acculer, but a helpless friend!

Pepe. Elfay on Mon.

« הקודםהמשך »