« AnteriorContinuar »
of God; to assure them of final vice souls the peace of God, and all the tory, if they faint not in the day of other blessings which the Son of. trial; and to encourage them, as sol. God freely gives to all who will, diers of Jesus Christ, to fight the receive his word. Knowing ibat good fight of faith, and lay hold on there is no .true happiness to be eternal life.
found here below, they wish us not 5. But this is not all. Man re- to be deceived by the vanities of the mains to be considered as a member world, or deluded by the tempiaof Christ, and an heir of the kingdom tions of Satan. They travail in of heaven. The ordinances of pub- birth till Christ is formed in our lic worship are designed to commu- şouis, till the chains of sin are nicate, to those who will attend broken, and we enjoy the glorious them, the blessings of the Gospel. liberty of the sons of God. They There Christ, the Head of the church, ardently desire to see us possessing meets his servants, who are the a peaceful mind amid all the troumembers of his body. There his bles of life, rising superior to the ministers explain to a ruined world evils which overwhelm others, and the invaluable blessings purchased prizing as we ought the worth of by the blood of a dying Redeemer. our souls, the excellency of divine They set before men the rich pro- things, and the favour and blessing mises he kath given to all who bem of God. In prosperity they wish to lieve. They entreat the trembling see us not tạiņly puffed up, but hum: penitent to rely on the all-sulficient ble and thankful, and enjoying our grace and infinite mercy of a Sa- prosperity with a double relish, as viour. They encourage the feeble- receiving it from the hands of God, miņded to come boldly to him who They wish to see us yseful and acp will not break the bruised reed, nor tive in our stations, a blessing to quench the smoaking flax ; ,who was all around us, the delight of those himself tempted in all points like connected with us. They wish, fias we are, sin only excepted, that nally, to see us, when on a dying he might know how to succour them bed, animated with lively bope, and that are templed. They tell of the supported by divine comforts ; to power which bis Spirit exerts in hear us, in that solemn hour, expresspurifying the hearts of believers by ing our knowledge of Hin in whom his grace, and subduing in them the we have believed, and our full condominion of every evil and corrupt fidence that he is able to keep that affection. They labour to establish which we have entrusted to him to their hearers in the knowledge of that day. Jesus Christ as their Savjour, to che- What important objects are these! rish a spirit of communion with Let us join with our ministers in him as their Lord and Master, to endeavouring to obtain them. Are enlighten their souls with the beans the blessings I have spoken of real, of divine truth, and to comfort their and are they to be attained? Yes: hearts with the sense of his care and the mercy of our beavenly Father love; that so they may joyfully pass has richly provided all these blessthrough the troubles and trials of ings in Christ, and has offered them 2 bis mortal life, and always be cheer- freely to all. O, then, let it be our ed by the bright prospect of eternal endeavour to obtain them. God has glory above, secured to them by the appointed his ordinances as the promise and grace of their Lord and means of obtaining them. Nor is Saviour.
it only the preaching of the Gospel, Oh blessed end of the ministry! which is useful to this end : ibe In this light, then, let us look on the prayers in which we join while we end of the labours of those who mi- offer up boly worship, and the sanister among us. They earnestly crament of the body and blood of desire that we may enjoy in our our Lord received by faith, serye equally to raise our thoughts to hea- advantage of public over private venly things, and to purify our de- worship is manifest.
A man may sires. Nothing indeed can be better possibly be much more learned, and suited than the excellent Liturgy of more religious than his minister; our church. to those who are hun- but he would not on that account be gering and thirsting after salvation. justified in withdrawing from public It breathes the desires of their souls. worship. We go to church not It agrees entirely with the feelings merely to be taught by a fellowof iheir hearts. And in this view creature, but to meet the assembly Our public worship will always be of saints; to join with them in prayer found an admirable means of edif- and praise, and to receive the truth cation; because, whatever be the de- of God, conveyed to our souls fects of the preacher, having this through the mouths of his miniLiturgy, we may always worship sters. God in his house, in spirit and in But would we effectually profit by truth.
the ordinances of public worship, Let us ever then attend on the we must prepare ourselves beforeworship of God, with seriousness hand. We must not engage in them and earnestness. Many fail of re- with a vain, light, and trifling mind. ceiving advantage, because they We must pray earnestly thar God either expect none, or they expect may be with us. We must consider none that is of much importance. the great work we have to do, and If, for instance, we only expect to the great blessings which "God is be entertained in the house of God, willing to bestow. We must go as onr object is most unworthy. The into the presence of the great God, point at which we should aim, is, to hold communion with him, and to have our consciences touched, and to receive from his bounty blessings our hearts interested against sin, and of unspeakable value. The time is impressed with borror at the very lost, if we do not enjoy a spirit of thought of transgressing the com- real prayer and praise. The house mandments of God. We ought to of Godwill be a wildess against many. go up to the house of God, not to It will testify against them, that be amused, but profited; and that there they mocked God by bowing sermon alone is useful, that worship the knee, while the heart was far alone is acceptable, after which we from him. It will testify, that there retire home, more separated from they heard the offers of Divine merthe world, and more alive to God; cy, but rejected them. It will also more deeply humbled by a sense of be a witness, blessed be God, in fa our sins, and more comforted by the vour of many : it will testify the knowledge of the grace of God in sincerity of their prayers, and the Christ Jesus.
warmth of their devotion, and their There is one point of view in attention to the word of God. God which the ordinances of public wor- grant that there may be many found ship are particularly interesting. at the last day, and that we may be God has promised them his blessing of their number, who can appeal to It is God, therefore, not the preacher, the Sabbaths here apent, and tell of whom we are to meet. It is God the benefits derived from them; speaking to our consciences by the who, from the joy which they found voice of his minister. Christ hath in the temples of God below, can promised, that wherever two or three look forward with holy rapture to are gathered together in his name, his paradise above, and apply the there will be be in the midst of them. words of the text in their highest In this sense, we may jostly say of and noblest sense. “ How amiable public worship, " This is no other are thy tabernacles O Lord of hosts! than the house of God and the gate My soul longeth, yea even fainteth, of heaven.” In this respect, the for the courts of the Lord: my beart and my flesh crieth out for the quaintance with ourselves, and are living God.” Now unto the King thereby disciplined for the duties eternal, immortal, and invisible, the and difficulties of the world. Selfonly wise God, our Saviour, be bo- knowledge ought, therefore, to be nour and power everlasting. Amen. the chief study, and self-government
the great business of life. These are
essential branches of personal piety. To the Editor of the Christian Obserder.
The consolation, siability, and
peace of the Christian depend, in a In answer to the request expressed considerable degree, on an intimate in your number for January last, p. and proper acquaintance with him19, by a constant reader of your use. self; but an accurate knowledge of ful work, I beg leave to offer the fol. our érue character and spiritual state, lowing familiar thoughts on the duty is not to be attained without frequent, of self-examination. Should they prove serious, and impartial investigation. sufficiently correct for the pages of The appointed means of attaining the Christian Observer, I hope their this knowledge is self-examination; insertion will excite a more serious which has for its object a just acattention to this important part of per- quaintance with ourselves, particusonal piety; and I should be happy larly with our moral or spiritual to see this too much neglected sub- state before God. The object of ject receive, from the pen of some examining the spiritual state of our abler correspondent, a more enlarg- souls before God is to ascertain wheed and complete illustration. Wish- ther we are renewed or unrenewed, ing your judicious miscellany may in the spirit of our minds, in a state increasingly promote the priociples of holiness or sin. It is of the utof pure aud practical religion, most importance to know this; beI am yours, &c.
cause our happiness or misery, both G. B. here and hereafter, is inseparably
connected with it. Here the first A SUMMARY VIEW OF THE DUTY OF inquiry is not, what measure or de SELF-EXAMINATION.
gree of holiness or piety we pos. “ Man know thyself," is one of the sess; but whether we are at all the most useful and comprehensive pre- subjects of the regenerating and cepts in the whole compass of Chris- transforming grace of God. On the tian morals. Among the many commencement of self-scrutiny, the highly important and interesting question which it most behoves us subjects which religion presents to to ask, is not, whether we are "strong our serious consideration and study, in the faith;" but simply, whether, God and our own hearts are the judging by a faithful comparison of chief. If men continue ignorant our hearts and lives with Scripture, of their Creator, and strangers to we are possessed, in any degree, of themselves, of what avail will be that divine principle which purifies the acquisition of all other kinds of the heart, operates by holy love, and knowledge, however highly esteem- produces a life devoted to God. If ed among men ? The fathers, and this distinction be kept in view, it early reformers of our Christian will secure the mind from much percburch, express the high estimation plexity and indecision in the perthey entertained of the value and uti- formance of this duty. It should lity of self-acquaintance, in the Ho- be remembered, however, that samily on the Misery of all Mankind, tisfactory evidence of the true state which says, “a true knowledge of of our souls is not to be attained on ourselves is very necessary, to come a single scrutiny, however solemn to a right knowledge of God." It and impartial. This is ordinarily the is in retirement, and by self-converse, result of much experience and earthat we gradually gain the best ac- nest prayer, of frequent and vigilant self-observation, and of an anxious to subdue our pride, our prejudice, study of the word of God. The and self-conceit, and to promote true Scriptures are the only, infallible humility, circumspection, and Christest of true religion ; and when we tian candour. It will also lay a ra- , have ascertained from this unerring tional and solid foundation for holy. standard, that we are partakers of hope and joy, in the immediate the grace of God, and have com- prospect of an eternal world. The menced the Christian course, it is almost overwhelming sense of past then incumbent on us to examine sins, which, not unfrequently, rushes daily what progress we have made on the conscience in a dying hour, and are making in the divine life, to will, at least, be greatly moderated, inquire whether we are advancing if not prevented, by a stated devout or declining in practical piety. The regard to the duty of self-examinaduty, as it is here laid down, com- tion through life. Nor is there any prehends, of course, an examination thing which will more effectually of the temper and conduct we main- diminish, if not entirely remove, the tain in the ordinary intercourse of fear of death, than a solid scriptural society, and of the consistency and evidence of the right state of our correspondence of our practice with souls before God; so that when call. our profession.
ed to encounter with the last enemy, The obligation which all profess his terrors will be removed, and we ing Christians are under to the prace shall be enabled, through Divine tice of this duty, arises from the Dir grace, to triumph over death and the vine command. The duty of self- grave. Besides this, by frequently examination is clearly and expressly bringing ourselves to the rest of enjoined in the word of God, 2 Cor. God's word, and impartially comX. 5. 1 Cor. ii, 28-31. It stands paring our heart and life with its therefore, in this respect, on the divine precepts, we shall more efsame footing as repentance, faith, or fectually escape the snares of satan, obedience to the Divine will: we more consistently maintain a converbare also the example of the holiest sation becoming the Gospel, and men in every age of the church, to walk more worthy of the holy vocaincite us to the performance of it. Lion wierewith we are called.
But eren if no express command But, in urging the necessity and had been given to us, the obligation importance of this duty, it is not to of self-scrutiny would hardly have be understood, that the most diligent been less binding than it is. The in- and scrupulous examination will ever dispensible necessity of it would hase place any one in a holy and safe been sufficiently evident, bad we only state of mind, or be the means of considered the depravity and deceit. imparting a devout or spiritual frame fulness of the human beart, the great of heart. It is rather to be viewed tendency there is in us to flaiter our as the means of ascertaining our de selves, our proneness to form our fects, and thus leading us to hum. estimate of ourselves from the opi- ble ourselves before God in repennion which others may express. tance, and to implore his grace: But, above all, the dreadful and i're- of ascertaining also our progress in parable ruin which must attend a mis- the divine life, and thus exciting take with respect to our real charac- our gratisude to Him who bas, by ter before God, establishes the ne- his grace, thus far conducted us on cessity of this duty, on the most un- our way to the heavenly rest. questionable grounds.
Though the Scriptures prescribe Let us consider also, in this view, no particular rules by which we the advantages attending it. By en. must proceed in the discharge.of this abling us 10 penetrate into the in- duty, they afford sollicient informamost recesses of our minds, self- tian to direct and decide all our ininspection will prove the best means -quiries, Unquestionably, is should
he entered on with the utmost seri- an universal regard to the will of ousness and deliberation, and always God. Instead of comparing ouraccompanied with earnest prayer for selves in all the parts of faith and the Divine assistance, and for the duty with the whole of the Divine Special direction and blessing of God; law, we are apt to rest on some one without which, all our efforts will line or course of conduct, or some be vain and fruitless. The most separate set of actions, as an evi. general complaint among Christians dence that all is well with us. This, in the practice of this duty is, the however, will not do.
We must want of sufficient stedfastness of honestly aim to know, from 'a carethought. Indeed, we have too much ful comparison of our whole spirit, cause to deplore the instability of temper, and conduct, with the direcour minds in all the duties of devo- tions and requisitions of Scripture, tion ; especially in those which are what it is which may be fairly said most spiritual, and which call for the to distinguish our character, and to most fixed attention.
give a decided denomination to our In this duty, especially, we find moral and religious state. the absolute necessity of the pro
With the view of still more satismised agency of the Holy Spirit, to factorily ascertaining, whether a rapreserve the mind in an intent, and dical change has been effected in still more in an impartial, frame. our hearts and lives, we ought imBut while we earnestly implore the partially to compare our present effectual influence of Divine grace, with our former mioral condition and we should on no account omit the habits; particularly at the time when "use of all the other means which we had no serious concern about the are adapted to secure the proposed salvation of our soul. In this scrutiny, end; such as selecting the most we should well weigh the difference "convenient time that our circum- between the predominant principles stances will allow for retirement, and pursuits ofour heart and life, now taking care to preserve a faithful and formerly, as well as the motives recollection of those failures in duty, which have influenced the change. or tendencies to failure, which call for Do we conscientiously abhor and peculiar vigilance, and more earnest abstain from whatever gratified our supplication; avoiding places and carnal propensities in the days of persons, which expose us to tempta- our ignorance and sin? Have we retion ; availing ourselves of the coun- linguished the world, as our ultimate sel of judicious friends, &c. &c. rest and portion, as the prevailing
In every part of the proposed in- object of our cares and anxieties; and "vestigation, the Holy Spirit of God are we now seeking our supreme samust be our guide, and the Scripturés tisfaction in the favour and service, our only rule of judgment; and the and everlasting enjoyment of God ? scrutiny, to be effectual, must be Are we so enlightened as to perceive careful, impartial, and rigorous. A the infinite value and importance of transient glance, or a casual view, divine and spiritual things, and to will be in officient and unavailing. prefer and delight in them above The human heart is " deceitful above all the pleasures and possessions of all things, and desperately wicked," the present life? In these respects, and must ise examined in every va- has a perceptible change been effecttiety of aspect, and especially in re- 'ed in the deliberate assent of our spect to the tendency of its prevail- understanding, the determination of ing desires,' and prevailing habits, our will, and the delight of our afboth of thought and action. fections? If so, a Divine renovation . We can never form a right judg. has been wrought in us; we are ment of ourselves, from partial and truly renewed in the Divine image. detached views of our feelings, chia- This is a plain and safe rule, by racter, and conduct. We must pay which to judge of our moral charac