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ter and conduct. But then our es. sions. He has formed a new and tinate must be taken, not from any just estimate of the present and fu. temporary emotions, or transient ture life, has adopted new princi. feelings, however rapturous, but ples of thought and action, directs from the settled choice and decision his endeavours to new ends, and is of the heart and the prevailing tepor governed by new motives. of the conduct. The real predomi. By attending to these general nant bias of the mind, is indeed the principles, we shall surely find no truest criterion of character. Men difficulty in determining whether vainly imagine, that what merely sin or holiness has the dominion dwells in their thoughts can scarce- over us, and whether the concerns of ly be said to have an existence; at time or those of eternity predomileast, that it does not at all go to con- nate in our souls. “To whom ye stitute our real character. But, in yield yourselves servants to obey, truth, we are that before God, which his servants ye are, whether of sinz we are in the main bent of our unto death, or of obedience unto thoughts. The hope, and conse- righteousness." By a fair compaquently the happiness, of the Chris. rison of ourselves with the revealed tian, in the contemplation of his spi- will of God, we may indeed with ritual state, must, if it be well founded, certainty know the state of our minds be supported by a firm and settled The character and condact which conviction, that God and eternal the grace of God and the faith of things bave a decided preference in the Gospel invariably produce, are our regards over every other object; minutely described in the holy Scripthat heavenly and holy desires and tures. "If, on comparing ourselves affections have (though not without with the marks there laid down, much alloy, infirmity, and imperfec- we find an agreement, the conclusion tion) the suprerne, if not the undis- is undeniable; always remembering turbed, possession of our hearts. ebat the Scriptures distinguish the
The person who can say with saving operations of God on the soul truth, that he sincerely seeks the ta- by their purity and their perma. vour of God, and conformity to his nence. We should place ourselves, image, in preference to every thing therefore, in the full light of Revelaelse ; that he delights in the service tion, and then examine our sentiof God, incomparably more than in ments by its doctrines, our heart by any other gratification ; that to obey its spirit
, our life by its precepis, God, and to enjoy him both here and our faith and hope by its proand hereafter, is the chief pursuit of mises and prospects. his life : that person may rest assur We shall be greatly assisted in ed, that a saving change has been deciding on our state, by comparing wrought in his heart : he possesses our own character, disposition, and the best proof that he is in a state conduct with those of the righteous, of acceptance with God, and an beir as recorded in the word of God, of eternal life.
where we have an impartial and For what is the proof that any vodisguised delineation of the true man " is born of God?” It is, that he Christian, under all the varying ciris renewed in the spirit of his mind; cumstances of life. Here we may and is become " a new creature;" behold, as in a mirror, the morethat “
old things are passed away, ments of mind, and the habits of and all ibings are become new ;" life which characterize and distinthat he has a new and holy direc. guish the man of God from all tion imparted to all his powers, and others. passions; that he is the subject of Do we then cordially enter into new and divine feelings and affec- the views, and imbibe and exemplitions, aversions and attachments, joys fy the spirit of the saints of former and sorrows, desires and apprehen- ages? Do we approve and embrace
their principles, as recorded in the said to be their life; and they are Bible? Do we walk' by the same described as being one with him : virule, and mind the same things ? tally united to him by a living faith, Are we governed by the same Di- they imbibe his spirit, so as to have vine precepts, comforted by the same the same mind in them which is also great and precious promises, ani- in him. They imitate his example, mated by the same immortal pro- obey his commands, rely on his saspects? Do we rejoice in hope of the crifice, receive from his fulness, and same in heritance and glory? In a grow up unto him, as their living word, are we seeking to be saved in Head, in all things.” the same way; entirely renouncing But, in performing the duty of our own righteousness, in respect to self-examination, we are io inquire, our justification before God, and re- not only whether we have really lying only on the perfect obedience, commenced the Christian course, atoning sacrifice, and divine merit whether we are really “born again of the Lord Jesus Christ, for accept- of the Spirit;" but what progress we ance with God and eternal life?' have made and are making in the Do we, with all our hearts, approve Divine life. the design, and gratefully embrace The Christian should be “ going the method, of Divine mercy, reveals on unto perfection," " pressing toed in the Gospel for the salvation of ward the mark for the prize of his sinners? In this scrutiny, we should high calling of God in Christ Jesus." not set up any standard of our own. It has been often said, with greattruth, as the test of conversion. A mis- that there is no standing still in the taken rule of this kind bas misled Christian life ; for, if we are not admany pious persons. Scripture and vancing in it, we shall be declining. experience clearly prove,' that the We are exhorted to give all diligence circumstances attending the convic- to add 10 our faith, virtue, knowledge, tion and conversion of sinners are temperance, patience, &c.; and cernot always the same, but often ma- tainly, if religion does not make us terially different. The point which "holy in all manner of conversation, calls for examination is, not the as he who hath called us is holy," mere circumstances attending our re it effects nothing for us to any valupentance and return to God; but whe- able purpose. But, then, let us not iher the change which we have ex suppose that it is designed by God perienced corresponds, in its nature to accomplish this end for us all at and effects, with that change of heart once: no, our sanctification is a grawhich the Scripture requires, when dually progressive work. If we it says, “ putting off the old man, would know whether we are becomwhich is corrupt, put on the new ing more and more meet for the inman, which alter God is created heritance of the saints in light, we in righteousness and true holiness.” must ascertain whether we are adFor if the effects which are expe- vancing in knowledge, in holiness, rienced in our hearts, and exhibit- in hunility, in conformity to the ed in our lives, agree with those image of God. Growth in grace which are recorded with approba- may be known by the increasing tion of the saints in the word of vigour, delight, and spirituality of God, we then have solid evidence our minds in devotional duties, espe. of our repentance and conversion. cially those which are private and In an especial manner are we to personal; as the private perusal and compare ourselves with Him who study of the Scriptures, secret prayer, was given as an example that we meditation on divine subjects, selfmight walk in his steps. It is em- denial, &c. Our progress in repbatically stated as a scriptural ligion may be known by the increascharacteristic of real Christians, that ed frequency and fervour of our dethey are “ in Christ Jesus.” He is sires for complete deliverance from Cunist. OBSERV. No. 127.
all sin, and perfect conformity to the the dominion, of pride, peevisbness, image of God; and by our joyful an- envy, malice, or of a selfish, a coticipations of heaven, as a state of vetous, or a sensual spirit. How af. spotless purity, as well as of safety fecting is it, to see men, who profess and bliss.
to have their supreme treasure in In the scrutiny we make into our heaven,shewing, by the whole course outward conduct, the grand inquiry of their conduct, that they still seek is, whether we are living answerably their happiness on earth? If these to our Christian privileges and pro- things do not predominate to such a fession. Are we glorifying God in degree as to impeach our sincerity, all things!-But here it will be ne- they yet will, in proportion as they cessary to be more particular. First, prevail, mar our peace, impede our then, what is our temper and deport- usefulness, bring darkness and disment in our intercourse with our fa- tress on our minds, and be a remilies and relative connections? Our proach to the religion we profess. conduct in the most intimate of those But it is also incumbent on social circles in which we move, is us to inquire into our conduct as perhaps the truest test of the habimembers of civil society. Is our tual state of our hearts. Do we ex- particular engagement, pursuit, and emplify, in our freest and most un business in life, lawful? are our dealrestrained hours, that spirituality of ings in the world conscientiously mind which is calculated to produce regulated by the word of God? And in the hearts of those around us a here it is not the actions only that conviction of the reality and import. will require to be examined, for these ance of religion? Has Jehovah not are sufficiently obvious, but the prinonly a domestic altar in our dwell- ciples, the motives, the springs of our ings, but do we practically say, “As conduct: these call for the closest for me and my house, we will serve scrutiny, and ought to be followed the Lord;" and is our conversation through their most secret windings. ordinarily in heaven? Do we disco. It is plain from Scripture, that growth ver to those who are most intimate in grace is marked by an increasing with us, that our religious principles circumspection in our common and have had the effect of sweetening daily deportmeot, an holy care and our tempers, purifying our motives, watchfulness over our ordinary consubduing our passions, mortifying versation and transactions in life. our evil propensities, and governing In this respect, many persons have our lives? It is not only a possible, greatly erred: some have considered but comparatively an easy, thing to real religion to consist exclusively abstain from the outward and grosser in certain emotions and ecstasies of immoralities, which prevail in the mind, without in the least attending world through lust, but yet at the to the general tenor of their outsame time to be the slaves of some ward conduct; while others, observ. unballowed temper at home*. There ing how little the practice and temare even, it is to be feared, some per of many professing Christians persons professing Christianity, who correspond with what they profess keep themselves externally unspot- to feel, entirely discard the consideted from the world, while they are
ration of inward emotions, and look a prey to some guilty passion in se only to the outward conduct. Both cret. We may conduct ourselves un err. By properly regarding the opeblameably before men, and yet suf. rations of our minds, as well as the fer our hearts to remain consider. tenor of our outward conduct, we are ably under the influence, if not under in less danger of being deceived.
• Vide an excellent paper on “ the Con. The one is a check upon the other; duct in domestic Life a l'est of true Religion, and it is only when our feelings and in the Christian Observer for September last conduct correspond with each other, p. 549.
and with Scripture, that we have
aoy well-grounded evidence of our choose for this exercise, the timewhen
we are more than ordinarily favourWe should, further, particularly ed with a joyful and triumphant state examine how we feel and act towards of mind. in either case, we shall be our brethren in the faith. An affection very likely to draw conclusions from for all who bear the image of Christ, the particular impressions of the mois one of the scriptural marks of true ment which would not be warrantconversion : “ Hereby we koowed by a view of our habitual state. that we have passed from death unto In the former case, we should be apt kle, because we love the brethren.” to write unjust and severe things If, then, we are of the household of against ourselves ; and in the latter, faith
, we shall feel that we have an 10 think more highly of ourselves unity of interest, principle, and af- than we ought to ihink. fection with all who love our Lord With these exceptions, it will be Jesus Christ in sincerity ;- we shall proper to engage in this duty whenesteem them the excellent of the ever we are about to receive the earth, and take them as our chosen Lord's Supper; and for this we have companions and friends ;--and we an express command of God, I Cor. shall shew our regard to them by xi. 28;-—also on our entering into cheerfully co-operating with them, any new condition or relation of life, to the utmost of our power, in sup- the nature of which will lay us under porting and advancing the cause of new obligations, expose us to new God in the world.
trials, and call for the additional To close this branch of the sub. exercise of Christian grace ;-and, ject
, I will merely add, that the duty moreover, when we commence any of self-examination extends not only remarkable period of time, as the to our sins, failings, and sinful pro- entrance of a new year, the anniverpensities, but to our prejudices, and sary of our birth, or the annual reour errors in judgment: not only to our turn of the day on which a parent external couduct, but to our opinions, or near relative died. These and to our creed, and to the foundation similar seasons seem to be well of our faith. There can be no doubt, adapted for self-scrutiny and serious if we receive the Divine testimony,
reflection. that there exists an inseparable con It is necessary further to remark, nection between faith and practice; that whatever be the particular and that the faith of Christ produces point to which at any time we direct a set of opinions and feelings, and a our inquiry, we should examine it course of conduct, peculiar to itself. narrowly, and rigorously probe
It may now be proper to consider every purpose of the heart which has the time when this duty should be a reference to it. It is hardly pos-, attended to. Besides that daily vi sible to enter too closely and deeply gilance which we ought to exercise, into the scrutiny of our hearts; and and that more careful self-inspection this scrutiny should be undertaken wbich should accompany every
with an anxious desire to promote reLord's-day, it is highly expedient pentance and humiliation of soul, and that certain periods should be fixed renewed acts of faith and holy obefor a still more solemn performance dience. But having done our utmost of this duty
to be secure from self-deception, we It is, however, unadvisable to se- must still say, with the Psalmist, lect , for the performance of this duty,
“ Search me, o God, and know my a time when we are under a deep heart; try me,and know my thoughts: and affecting sense of our own sin- and see if there be any wicked way fulness and corruption, or when we in me, and lead me in the way everare overwhelmed with temptation, lasting.” The necessity of this ri
and are in great darkness and disc gorous investigation will be more, obFortress of mind. Neither should we vious, if we consider that it is not
3 1 2
Our being right in one thing, wbich and targ from it with penitence and will prove that our state is right in contrition of soul. And here let us the sight of God: on the contrary, never forget, that all sins which are we must ever remember, that, while not forsaken may be considered as some defect in the exercise of the sins of which we have not repented; Christian graces will always attend and that our confessions of such sins, us in the present life, the total ab and professed sorrow on account of sence of any one such grace is in them, if unaccompanied by constant consistent with real godliness. watchfulness against them, and a
Whenever we engage in this duty, vigorous resistance to them, must be we should particularly pray that we insincere. If this duty be properly may be enabled to keep in view the performed, we shall frequently find mediation, sacrifice, and interces- it necessary to retrace the steps we sion of the Lord Jesus Christ, that have already taken, and to repeat we may not be immoderately de- our earliest and most solemn enpressed or discouraged. A clear gagements with which we comperception of the intinite and abid. menced our religious course, and ing merit of our Saviour, and a firm to commend ourselves afresh, as dereliance on the all-sufficiency of his praved, destitute, and guiliy creagrace, will not only preserve us from tures, to the infinite mercy and grace sinking into despondency, but in. of God through Christ, that we may spire us with holy hope and confi- be redeemed from all evil, sanctified dence in the Divine mercy.
wholly in body, soul, and spirit, and In examining ourselves, we should saved with an everlasting salvation* not fail to observe what is right in
G.B. our hearts and conduct, in order that
* The following Scriptures may be consalted we may give God the glory, and with advantage in reference to the daty of derive thence encouragement and self-examination, viz.--Malt. v. 4, and si. comfort to our souls. It is no part 24. Johin xiii. 35. 1 Cor. vii. 31, and usi. of true humility to overlook or un
2 Cor. xiii. 5. Heb. iii. 13, and 1. 4, dervalue what Divine grace has ac
and xi. 10, and xii. 15. Col. iii. 2-3 complished on our behalf. It is, Philip. iii. 20. Titus ii. 11, 12. 1 Pet. ii. however, a still more essential part of 12, and iv. 7: 1 Jolin ii. 15, &c. &c. See
also the Christian Observer, Vol. I, pp. 699, this scrutiny to detect and mark whatever is wrong; that we may Vol. 1V. p. 716. Vol. V. pp. 341 and 541.
and 693. Vol. II. pp. 205, 401, and 65%. be duly humbled on account of it, Vol. VI. p. 439, and Vol. X. p. 952.
To the Editor of the Christian Observer. the interval, to keep up the atten
tion of your readers to a point of very The subject of the inquiry in the great consequence, the education of following paper is, "Whether, in our children and youth. present systems of education, reli There are iwo questions which I gion be sufficiently regarded ; and propose to discuss; how far they are capable of improve 1. Whether, in our present sro ment in this particular.” It will be stems of education, religion be sufffound, I apprehend, in a great mea- ciently regarded. sure coincident in sentiment with II. How far they are capable of your excellent correspondent B. T.; improvement in this particular. and, as he seems to be seized with one I. It seems to be usually suppos of his fits of silence, may serye, during ed, that in the early stages of child