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and husbands, children and parents, masters and servants, rulers and subjects, but for the instruction they receive in the house of God. Much, therefore, of the peace, the order, and the happiness of society, depends on a due attendance on the ordinances of God's word. 3. But we have to consider mah in a still more important point of view ; as a creature accountable to God, and subject to death and judgment. In a few years more, not one of those who now are of an age to attend the worship of God, will be found there. All of them will have departed this life ; but they will not therefore have ceased to exist. They will first have gone to the judgmentseat of God, where it will be inquired how they have lived, what care they have taken of their souls, on what principles they have acted; whether they have lived to God, or to themselves; and according to the true answer made to these questions, they will be placed in a state of infinite happiness, or banished to a world of torments. When we reflect on this determination, how little and empty do all the pursuits of this short life appear ! Here, then, we have an important object set before us;–how to stand in the dreadful day of account, to have peace in a dying hour, to look forward, without alarm, to death and judgment, heaven and hell. Now, to attain this object, is the end of the public ordinances of religion. Here the man of business, after the hurrying cares of the week, is reminded that he has a still more important concern to attend to, the salvation of his immortal soul. Here the young, flushed with health and spirits, are warned that they must die, and that after death comes the judgment. Here the worldly, whose thoughts are wholly occupied by earthly things, is admonished of the vanity of all earthly things, and of the emptiness of the world and all it contains. In a word, here men
are taught to form a true estimate of
life; they are forced to inquire, what shall I do in the end, and what
should be my great aim in life? Shall 1 spend my money for that which is not bread, and my labour for that which satisfieth not? Let me rather seriously think of my salvation, and, ere it is too late, make my calling and election sure. 4. These observations open to our view a new scene, and set before us a new kind of life; a spiritual life, wholly different in its nature from a life of sense. Man has his salvation to secure. He is a fallen, guilty
creature, requiring to be renewed in
the image of God, before he can be admitted into heaven. Whatever the world may think, this is the most important objeet which can occupy his mind. It is the one thing needful, in comparison of which all other pursuits should be suffered to hold but a secondary place. Now the public ordinances of divine worship are calculated to awaken and to cherish an attention to this spiritual life. By means of them, the conscience is convinced of sin, abd man is taught to know his true character, as a guilty sinner in the sight of God: he is at the same time exhorted to flee from the wrath to come, warned that there is but a step between him and death, and entreated, in the name of God, to repent of his sins, and to lay hold of the Refuge set before him in the Gospel. Some hear and believe: they pray and humble themselves before God; but they meet with many and great difficulties from the world, the flesh, and the devil. Their resolution flags; their faith is staggered; they are assaulted with temptations; but they repair to the house of God, and there those temptations are exposed, their wavering faith is confirmed, and their languishing hopes revived. It is one of the chief objects of the ministers of Christ, to assist their flock in this great work of their salvation. They have to cattion them against the snares and dangers of the world: to point out to them the devices of Satan; to animate them to renewed obedience; to ex
hort them not to sail of the grace
of God; to assure them of final victory, if they faint not in the day of trial; and to encourage them, as soldiers of Jesus Christ, to fight the good fight of faith, and lay hold on eternal life. 5. But this is not all. Man remains to be considered as a member of Christ, and an heir of the kingdom of heaven. The ordinances of public worship are designed to communicate, to those who will attend them, the blessings of the Gospel. There Christ, the Head of the church, meets his servants, who are the members of his body. There his ministers explain to a ruined world the invaluable blessings purchased by the blood of a dying Redeemer. They set before men the rich promises he bath given to all who believe. They entreat the trembling penitent to rely on the all-sufficient grace and infinite mercy of a Saviour. They encourage the feebleminded to come boldly to him who will not break the bruised reed, nor quench the smoaking flax ; who was himself tempted in all points like as we are, sin only excepted, that he might know how to succour them that are tempted. They tell of the power, which his Spirit exerts in purifying the hearts of believers by his grace, and subduing in them the dominion of every evil and corrupt affection. They labour to establish their hearers in the knowledge of Jesus Christ as their Saviour, to cherish a spirit of communion with him as their Lord and Master, to enlighten their souls with the beams of divine truth, and to comfort their bearts with the sense of his care and love; that so they may joyfully pass through the troubles and trials of 4his mortal life, and always be cheerled by the bright prospect of eternal glory above, secured to them by the promise and grace of their Lord and *Saviour. o, Oh blessed end of the ministry' Jn this light, then, let us look on the !end of the labours of those whomi*ister among us. They earnestly desire that we may enjoy in our
souls the peace of God, and all the
other blessings which the Son of God freely gives to all who will, receive his word. Knowing that there is no - true happiness to be found here below, they wish us not to be deceived by the vanities of the world, or deluded by the temptations of Satan. They travail in birth till Christ is formed in our souls, till the chains of sin are broken, and we enjoy the glorious liberty of the sons of God. They ardently desire to see us possessing a peaceful mind amid all the troubles of life, rising superior to the evils which overwhelm others, and prizing as we ought the worth of our souls, the excellency of divine things, and the favour and blessing of God. In prosperity they wish to see us not vainly pufied up, but humble and thankful, and enjoying our prosperity with a double relish, as receiving it from the hands of God, They wish to see us useful and acr tive in our stations, a blessing to all around us, the delight of those connected with us. They wish, finally, to see us, when on a dying
bed, animated with lively hope, and
our Lord received by faith, serve equally to raise our thoughts to heavenly things, and to purify our desires. Nothing indeed can be better suited than the excellent Liturgy of our church. to those who are hungering and thirsting after salvation. It breathes the desires of their souls. It agrees entirely with the feelings of their hearts. And in this view our public worship will always be found an admirable means of edification; because, whatever be the defects of the preacher, having this Liturgy, we may always worship God in his house, in spirit and in truth. I.et us ever then attend on the worship of God, with seriousness and earnestness. Many fail of receiving advantage, because they either expect none, or they expect none that is of much importance. If, for instance, we only expect to be entertained in the house of God, our object is most unworthy. The point at which we should aim, is, to have our consciences touched, and our hearts interested against sin, and impressed with horror at the very thought of transgressing the commandments of God. We ought to go up to the house of God, not to be amused, but profited; and that sermon alone is useful, that worship alone is acceptable, after which we retire home, more separated from the world, and more alive to God; more deeply humbled by a sense of our sins, and more comforted by the knowledge of the grace of God in Christ Jesus. There is one point of view in which the ordinances of public worship are particularly interesting. God has promised them his blessing. It is God, therefore, not the preacher, whom we are to meet. It is God speaking to our consciences by the voice of his minister. Christ hath promised, that wherever two or three are gathered together in his name, there will he be in the midst of them. In this sense, we may justly say of public worship, “ This is no other than the house of God and the gate of heaven.” In this respect, the
advantage of public over private worship is manifest. A man may possibly be much more learned, and more religious than his minister; but he would not on that account be justified in withdrawing from public worship. We to church not merely to be taught by a fellowcreature, but to meet the assembly of saints; to join with them in prayer and praise, and to receive the truth of God, conveyed to our souls through the mouths of his miniSters. But would we effectually profit by the ordinances of public worship, we must prepare ourselves beforehand. We must not engage in them with a vain, light, and trifling mind. We must pray earnestly that God may be with us. We must consider the great work we have to do, and the great blessings which God is willing to bestow. We must go as into the presence of the great God, to hold communion with him, and to receive from his bounty blessings of unspeakable value. The time is lost, if we do not enjoy a spirit of real prayer and praise. The house of Godwill be a witness against many. It will testify against them, that there they mocked God by bowing the knee, while the heart was far from him. It will testify, that there they heard the offers of Divine mercy, but rejected them. It will also be a witness, blessed be God, in favour of many : it will testify the sincerity of their prayers, and the warmth of their devotion, and their attention to the word of God. God grant that there may be many found at the last day, and that we may be of their number, who can appeal to the Sabbaths here apent, and tell of the benefits derived from them ; who, from the joy which they found . in the temples of God below, can look forward with holy rapture to his paradise above, and apply the words of the text in their highest and noblest sense. “How amiable are thy tabernacles O Lord of hosts! My soul longeth, yeaeven fainteth, for the courts of the Lord : my
beart and my flesh crieth out for the living God.” Now unto the King eternal, immortal, and invisible, the only wise God, our Saviour, be honour and power everlasting. Amen.
To the Editor of the Christian Observer.
IN answer to the request expressed in your number for January last, p. 19, by a constant reader of your useful work, I beg leave to offer the following familiar thoughts on the duty of self-examination. Should they prove sufficiently correct for the pages of the Christian Observer, I hope their insertion will excite a more serious attention to this important part of personal piety; and I should be happy to see this too much neglected subject receive, from the pen of some abler correspondent, a more enlarged and complete illustration. Wishing your judicious miscellany may increasingly promote the principles of pure aud practical religion, I am yours, &c.
A sum MARY view of the DUTY OF SELF-ExAMI Nation.
“Man know thyself,” is one of the most useful and comprehensive precepts in the whole compass of Christian morals. Among the many highly important and interesting subjects which religion presents to our serious consideration and study, God and our own hearts are the chief. If men continue ignorant of their Creator, and strangers to themselves, of what avail will be the acquisition of all other kinds of knowledge, however highly esteemed among men The fathers, and early reformers of our Christian church, express the high estimation they entertained of the value and utility of self-acquaintance, in the Homily on the Misery of all Mankind, which says, “a true knowledge of ourselves is very necessary, to come to a right knowledge of God.” It is in retirement, and by self-converse, What we gradually gain the best ac
quaintance with ourselves, and are thereby disciplined for the duties and difficulties of the world. Selfknowledge ought, therefore, to be the chief study, and self-government the great business of life. These are essential branches of personal piety.
The consolation, stability, and peace of the Christian depend, in a considerable degree, on an intimate and proper acquaintance with himself; but an accurate knowledge of our true character and spiritual state, is not to be attained without frequent, serious, and impartial investigation. The appointed means of attaining this knowledge is self-examination; which has for its object a just acquaintance with ourselves, particularly with our moral or spiritual state before God. The object of examining the spiritual state of our souls before God is to ascertain whether we are renewed or unrenewed in the spirit of our minds, in a state of holiness or sin. It is of the utmost importance to know this; because our happiness or misery, both here and hereafter, is inseparably connected with it. Here the first inquiry is not, what measure or degree of holiness or piety we possess; but whether we are at all the subjects of the regenerating and transforming grace of God. On the commencement of self-scrutiny, the question which it most behoves us to ask, is not, whether we are “strong in the faith;” but simply, whether, judging by a faithful comparison of our hearts and lives with Scripture, we are possessed, in any degree, of that divine principle which purifies the heart, operates by holy love, and produces a life devoted to God. If this distinction be kept in view, it will secure the mind from much perplexity and indecision in the performance of this duty. It should be remembered, however, that satisfactory evidence of the true state of our souls is not to be attained on a single scrutiny, however solemn and impartial. This is ordinarily the result of much experience and earnest prayer, of frequent and vigilant self-observation, and of an anxious study of the word of God. The Scriptures are the only infallible test of true religion ; and when we have ... from this unerring standard, that we are partakers of the grace of God, and have commenced the Christian course, it is then incumbent on us to examine daily what progress we have made and are making in the divine life, to inquire whether we are advancing or declining in practical piety. The duty, as it is here laid down, comprehends, of course, an examination of the temper and conduct we maintain in the ordinary intercourse of society, and of the consistency and correspondence of our practice with our profession. The obligation which all professing Christians are under to the practice of this duty, arises from the Diwine command. The duty of selfexamination is clearly and expressly enjoined in the word of God, 2 Cor. x. 5. 1 Cor. ii. 28–31. It stands therefore, in this respect, on the same footing as repentance, faith, or obedience to the Divine will : we have also the example of the holiest men in every age of the church, to incite us to the performance of it. But even if no express command had been given to us, the obligation of self-scrutiny would hardly have been less binding than it is. The indispensible necessity of it would have been sufficiently evident, bad we only considered the depravity and deceitfulness of the human heart, the great tendency there is in us to flatter ourseives, our proneness to form our estimate of ourselves from the opinion which others may express. But, above all, the dreadful and irreparable ruin which must attend a mistake with respect to our real character before God, establishes the necessity of this duty, on the most unquestionable grounds. Let us consider also, in this view, the advantages attending it. By enabling us to penetrate into the inmost recesses of our minds, selfinspection will prove the best means
to subdue our pride, our prejudice, and self-conceit, and to promote true
humility, circumspection, and Chris-,
tian candour. It will also lay, a rational and solid foundation for holy hope and joy, in the immediate prospect of an eternal world. The almost overwhelming sense of past sins, which, not unfrequently, rushes on the conscience in a dying hour, will, at least, be greatly moderated, if not prevented, by a stated devout regard to the duty of self-examination through life. Nor is there any thing which will more effectually diminish, if not entirely remove, the fear of death, than a solid scriptural evidence of the right state of our souls before God; so that when called to encounter with the last enemy, his terrors will be removed, and we shall be enabled, through Divine grace, to triumph over death and the grave. Besides this, by frequently bringing ourselves to the test of God's word, and impartially comparing our heart and life with its divine precepts, we shall more effectually escape the snares of satan, more consistently maintain a conversation becoming the Gospel, and walk more worthy of the holy vocation wherewitt, we are called. But, in urging the necessity and importance of this duty, it is not to be understood, that the most diligent and scrupulous examination will ever place any one in a holy and safe state of suiad, or be the means of imparting a devout or spiritual frame of heart. It is rather to be viewed as the means of ascertaining our defects, and thus leading us to humble ourselves before God in repentance, and to implore his grace ; of ascertaining also our progress in the divine life, and thus exciting our gratitude to Him who has, by his grace, thus far conducted us on Our way to the heavenly rest. Though the Scriptures prescribe no particular rules by which we must proceed in the discharge of this duty, they afford sufficient informatian to direct and decide all our in-quiries. Unquestionably, it should