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a manifest love, and a manifest loyalty, and a manifest sacredness of heart, which we have been seeking for in vain amongst the ambiguities of the inner man, we should expose the whole of this mysterious territory to the influences of the Sun of righteousness, and this is done by gazing upon him with a believer's eye. It is by regarding the love wherewith God in Christ hath loved us, that the before cold and sluggish heart is roused into the respondency of love back again. That the work of reading be made more easy, the character must be made more legible. That Christianity be clearly reflected from our own bosom, all must be laid open to the Christianity of the Record. If we derive no good from the work of self-examination, because we find that all is confusion and mistiness within, then let us go forth upon the truths which are without, and these will pour a flood of light into all the mazes and intricacies of the soul, and, at length, render that work easy, which before was impracticable.
No doubt, it is by looking inwardly that we discover what is in the mind—but it is by looking outwardly that we so brighten and bring out its characteristics, as to make these discernible. The gratitude that was before unfelt, because it lay dormant, let us awaken it by the sight of him who was lifted upon the cross for our offences, and then will it meet the observation. The filial affection for our Father in heaven, which before was dead, let us quicken it into a felt and gracious sensibility, by looking unto him in his revealed attitude of graciousness, and at our next exercise of self-inspection, we will be
sure to find it. To revive the
of a life that is to come, which the despair of guilt had utterly extinguished in the soul, let us cast our believing regard on the promises of the gospel—and this will set it up again, and then will we more readily ascertain, that our happiness in time is less dear to us than our hopes for eternity. It is thus that by the contemplation of that which is without, we brighten the consciousness of that which is within and the more manifest the things of revelation are to the eye of faith, the more manifest will the things of experience be to the eye of conscience and the more distinctly we can view the epistles of Christ in the written Record, the more discernible will its counterpart be in that epistle which is written not with pen and ink, but by the Spirit of God, on the fleshly tablets of our own heart. And so the work of faith, instead of being proposed by us as a substitute, we should propose as the readiest help, and far the best preparative for the work of self-examination.
It were well, if thus we could compose the jealousy of those who deem it legal to go in quest of evidence--but better still, if we could guide the practice of those with whom the business of salvation forms a practical and not a merely theoretical or speculative question.
And first, we would say to them, that so far from setting faith aside by the work of self-examination, we hold that it is the former which supplies the latter with all its materials, and sheds that light over them which makes them visible to the eye
of sciousness. Were there no faith, there would be no
fruits to inquire after-and it were utterly in vain to go a-seeking where there was absolutely nothing to find. To a sinner in distress, we unfold the pardon of the gospel ; and we bid him look unto Jesus, that he may rejoice. We surely could not say less than this to an inquirer in darkness, even though it be a darkness that has gathered and rests over the tablet of his own character, and hides from his own view all that is good and gracious thereupon. Should the eye fail of its discernment when turned inwardly upon the evidences, we should bid it turn outwardly upon the promises, and this is the way to bring down a clear and satisfying light upon the soul. Just as in some minute and difficult search over the floor of an apartment, we throw open all its windows to the sun of nature, so we ought, by faith, to throw open all the chambers of the inner man to the light of the Sun of Righteousness. They are the truths that be without, which give rise to the traces of a spiritual workmanship withinand the indistinctness of the latter is just the reason why the soul should be ever aiming by attention and belief at a communication with the former. When self-examination is at a loss to read the characters which are written upon the heart, it is faith alone which can make the inscription more legible -and never will man get acquainted with the home of his own bosom, but by constant supplies of light and influence from abroad. If we feel, then, an outset of difficulty, in the work of self-examination, let us go anew to the fountain-head of revelation, and there warm, into a sensibility that may be felt, the cold and the faded lineaments of that image which it is the genuine tendency of the truth as it is in Jesus to impress upon the soul. That we may prosper when we examine ourselves, whether we are in the faith, we should have the faith. We should keep it in daily and habitual exercise, and this will strengthen it. If we be familiar with the truths that are without, less will be our difficulty in recognizing the traces that are within.
The more we gaze upon the radi, ance, the brighter will we glow with the reflectionand so far from opposition in the exercises of self-ex, amination and of faith, there is the most necessary concert, the most important and beautiful harmony.
But, secondly-whatever difficulties there be in self-examination, we should even now make a be ginning of the work.
We should at least try it and if we do not succeed, repeat it again and again, We should set ourselves formally down to it, as we would to a prescribed task--and it were well too if we had a prescribed time every day for the doing of it, and let a whole month of honest and sustained perseverance pass over our heads, ere we say of the work that it is impracticable. The more we live a life of faith through the day, the more distinct and legible will be that other page in the record of our personal history, which we shall have to peruse on the evening-and however little we may have sped at this trial of self-examination, we will either be encouraged or rebuked by it, into a life of greater effort and watchfulness on the morrow. In the business of each day, there will be a reference to the account and settlement that we make at the end of it--and the conclusion of each night will serve either to rectify the errors of our preceding history, or to
animate us the more in that path by which we are moving sensibly onward to the heights of moral and spiritual excellence. Thus indeed will we make a business of our sanctification—and, instead of that vague, and shadowy, and altogether chimerical affair which we apprehend to be the religion of many a professor in our day, will it become a matter of solid and practical acquisitions, each of which shall have a visible reality in time, and each of which, by adding to the treasure in heaven, will have its distinct bearing on the interests of eternity.
Now, when we set about any new exercise whatever, we first begin with that which is easy, and afterwards proceed therefrom to that which is more arduous. In the work of self-examination, there is a scale of difficulty—and it were well perhaps that we should make our first entrance upon the work at some of its lower gradations, lest we begin our attempt at too high a place, and be repelled altogether, by finding that it is utterly inaccessible.
To guide us aright, then, in this matter, we might observe, that the overt acts of our visible history, are far more noticeable by the eye of self-examination than those affections of the heart by which they have been prompted—and, therefore, if not yet able to read the devices of the inner let first attempt be to read the doings of the outer man: “ Hereby know we that we know him, if we keep his commandments.” This is a palpable test, in as far, at least, as the hand, or the mouth, or the footsteps, or any of the bodily organs, are concernedand a series of questions regarding these were a good elementary introduction to the work of self-examina