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preached to others, I myself should be a castaway. Pursuing, then, the apostle's reasoning, let us ask, if the incorruptible crown of heaven is to be attained without an effort, or is unworthy of one? Are the pure joys of a future state to be grafted,
a think you, on the sensual indulgences of the present; and, wbile, with one hand, we cling to the delights of the world, can we stretch out the other, and lay hold of eternal life? It is absurd and impious to suppose, that such rewards are to be attained without a sacrifice; and think you, that you can merit them by those petty self-denials, which may, perhaps, have forced themselves upon you in the course of your vocations? At the approach of indisposition, you may have submitted to short restraints upon your appetites ; in obedience to the forms of polite intercourse, you may have controlled your boisterous passions; on the death of a friend, you may have slackened your career of dissipation; in the presence of a superior, you may have suppressed intemperate language, and checked the oath just escaping from your lips. And for these petty victories do you expect the wreath of honour? Are these the afflictions, which are to work out for you a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory? Indeed, the disproportion is too serious. God grant, that, when we have offered to bear the cross of his Son, we may not be secretly endeavouring to ease ourselves of its weight.
Finally, my friends, those of you, who are now fighting manfully the good fight of faith, be of good courage. The contest will soon be over. The struggle with passion, though bere not completely successful, shall be crowned with victory hereafter in the regions of everlasting peace, where no insolence affronts, and no revenge pursues. The baser appetites, which, even in the best of men, some
times retain an unballowed force, shall lose their office in a world inhabited by pure intelligences, and their power in bodies refined and spiritualized at the resurrection of the just. The tongue, that unruly member, shall not wander from the praises of its author; and the imagination shall be employed on those subjects of celestial contemplation, which at once fill and surpass the conceptions of man; such as eye hath not seen, ear bath not beard, and it hath not entered into the heart of man to conceive.
God grant, that we, who have this hope in us, may purify ourselves, even as God is pure.
1 Cor. XI. 32.
IF WE WOULD JUDGE OURSELVES, WE SHOULD NOT BE JUDGED.
No action, sentiment, or occurrence is presented to the buman mind, on which it forms not some kind of judgment. The multitude of objects, over which the mind ranges, is innumerable ; and the extent of human comprehension, though not infinite, is at least undefinable. All that earth, air, seas, and skies contain, submit themselves to man's investigation. The heavenly bodies appear to come down, and offer themselves to the inspection of the inhabitant of this little planet; the records of time unrol themselves to the observation of this creature of threescore years; he looks from his narrow chamber on the manners and inhabitants of the remotest regions ; nay more, he seems to explore futurity, to converse with the world of spiritual existences, and ascend in contemplation to the throne of God. In this mighty range of thought, next to that great Being, who fills, embraces, and sustains the whole, the most interesting object of speculation is the human mind; and to every individual, his own mind is an object, in comparison with which every other is unimportant. But the knowledge
of one's self, though so interesting, is not an easy acquisition ; and to pass a strictly unbiassed judgment on our own character, is an act of impartiality, of which the records of the human mind never have furnished, and, probably, never will furnish an example.
The duty of self-knowledge is one of those few, which the heathens estimated according to its importance. To the precept, Know thyself, they ascribed, with no great propriety, a heavenly origin ; for there is no one, whose utility unassisted reagon sooner discovers. The passages, also, in scripture, which urge this personal virtue, are numerous, pointed, weighty. We are taught its value, sometimes by direct injunction, sometimes by interesting narrative ; we gather it, in one place, from the prayers of the pious; in another, from their expressions of regret; and in another, from the examples of their presumptuous confidence. When we read the parable of the ewe lamb, by which the holy prophet tanght the monarch of Israel the enormity of his guilt, who marks not the wretched blindness of the royal scholar, who suspected not his own character, till the fearless Nathan exclaimed, Thou art the man ? Hear, too, the aspiring Hazael, when the prophet warned bim of bis guilty usurpation: Is thy servant a dog, says he, that he should do this? Who weeps not, too, when he finds the ardent, but too confident, Peter, declaring, Though I should die with thee, yet will I not deny thee? Yes, Peter, you will deny bim once, twice, thrice, even within the reach of that eye, which, while it tells you, that you are forgiven, teaches you more of yourself, than you ever yet have known.
If we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged. Let us consider the difficulty, the advantages, and the means of forming a correct estimate of ourselves. The portions of our character, which it most concerns us to understand aright, are,
the extent of our powers, and the motives of our conduct. But, on these subjects, every thing conspires to deceive us. No man, in the first place, can come to the examination of himself with perfect impartiality. His wishes are all necessarily engag. ed on his own side ; and though be may place the weights in the balance with perfect fairness and accuracy, he places them in scales unequally adjusted. He is, at once, the criminal, the accuser, the advocate, the witness, and the judge.
Another difficulty, which prevents our passing a correct judgment on our own characters, is, that we can always find excuses for ourselves, which no other person can suspect. The idea of possessing an excuse, which it would be improper to communicate to others, is consolatory beyond expression. Frivolous as the apology may be, it appears satis
, factory, because, while no one knows its existence, no one can dispute its value. From repeated failures in any undertaking few men learn their own incapacity ; because success depends upon such a concurrence of circumstances, minute as they are numerous, that it is much easier to lament the blameless omission of something, which would have ensured success, than to look full in the face our own deficiencies. It is the same with the opinions we form of our moral worth. The motives, wbich co-operate in producing almost every action, are so various and almost imperceptible, that, in contemplating our conduct, we can select those that are honourable, and assign them that influence afterwards, which they ought to have had before. By frequently defending, also, the purity of our motives, we learn, at last, to believe, that they are precisely what they ought to be ; and mistake the eloquence of self-apology for the animation of conscious integrity.
Another, and very essential cause, of our ignorance of ourselves, is, that few men venture to inform us of our real character. We are flat