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vand if they were genuine in the principle, simple in the inten. podletion, honest in the prosecution. Let us ask ourselves if oni in some admired instances our generosity had no tincture
of vanity, our charity no taint of ostentation? Whether, when we did sach a right action which brought us credit, we should have persisted in doing it, had we foreseen that it would incur censure? Do we never deceive ourselves by mistaking a constitutional indifference of
temper for Christian moderation? Do we never construe por our love of ease into deadness of the world? Our ani.
mal activity into Christian zeal? Do we never mistake
If an actual virtue consists, as we have frequently had -
Pride so insinuates itself in all we do, and say, and think, that our apparent humility has not seldom its origin io pride. That very impatience which we feel' at the perception of our faults is produced by the astonishment at finding that we are not perfect. This sense of our sins shonld make us humble but not desperate. It should teach us to distrust every thing in onrselves, and to hope for every thing from God. The more we lay open the wounds which sin has made, the more earnestly shall we seek the remedy which Christianity has provided.
But instead of seeking for self-knowledge we are glancing about us for grounds of self-exaltation. We almost resemble the Pharisee who with so much self-complacency delivered in the catalogue of his own virtues arid other men's sins, and, like the Tartars, who think they possess the qualities of those they murder, fancied that the sins of which he accused the Publican would swell the amount of his own good deeds. Like him we take a few items from memory, and a few more from imagination. Instead of polling down the edifice which pride has raised, we are looking round on our good works for buttresses to prop it up. We excuse ourselves from the impotation of many faults by alleging that they are common, and by no means peculiar to onrselves. This is one of the weakest of our deceits. Faults ere not less personally our's because others commit them. There is divisibi. lity in sin as well as in matter. Is it any diminution of our error that others are guilty of the same?
Self-love being a very industrious principle has generally two concerns in hand at the same time. It is as busy in concealing our own defects as in detecting those of others, especially those of the wise und good. We might indeed direct its activity in the latter instance to onr own advantage, for if the faults of good men are in. jurious to themselves, they might be rendered profitable to us, if we were careful to convert them to their true use. But instead of turning them into a nieans of promoting our own watchfulness, we employ them mischievously in two ways. We lessen our respect for pi-" ons characters when we see the infirmities which are blended with their fine qualities, and we turn their fail. ings into a justification of our own, which are not like theirs overshadowed with virtues. To admire the excellences of others without initating them is fruitless ad. miration, to condemn their errors without avoiding them is unprofitable cepsoriousness.
When we are compelled by our conscience, to ac. knowledge and regret any fault we have recently committed, this fault so presses upon our recollection, that we seem to forget that we have any other. This single error fills our mind, and we look at it as through a telescope, wbich, while it shews an object, contiues the sight to that one object exclusively. Others indeed are more effectually shut out, than if we were not examining this. Thus while the object in question is magnified, the others are as if they did not exist.
It seems to be established into a kind of system not to profit by any thing without us, and not to cultivate an acquaintance with any thing within us. Though we are perpetually remarking on the defects of others, yet when does the remark lead us to study and to root out the same defects in our own hearts? We are almost every day hearing of the death of others, but does it induce us to reflect on death as a thing in which we have an individual concern?. We consider the death of a friend as a loss, but seldom apply it as a warning. The death of others we lament, the faults of others we censure, but how seldom do we make use of the one for our own amendment, or of the other for our own preparation ?*
It is the fashion of the times to try experiments in the Arts, in Agriculture, in Philosophy. In every science the diligent professor is always afraid there may be some secret which he has not yet attained, some occult principle which would reward the labour of discovery, something even which the assiduous and intelligent bave actually found ont, but which has hitherto eluded his pursuit. And shall the Christian stop short in his scru. tipy, shall he not examine and inquire till he lays hold on the very heart and core of religion? .
Why should experimental philosophy be the prevailing study, and experimental religion be branded as the badge of enthusiasm, the cant of a hollow profession? Shall we never labour to establish the distinction between appearance and reality, between studying religion critically and embracing it practically? between having our conduct creditable and our heart sanctified? Shall we not aspire
• For this hint, and a tew others on the same subject, the Author is indebted to that excellent Christian Moralist, M. Nicole.
to do the best things from the highest motives, and ele. vate our aims with our attainments ? Why should we remain in the Vestibule when the Sanctuary is open? Why should we be contented to dwell in the outer courts when we are invited to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus ?
Natural reason is not likely to furnish arguments safficiently cogent, nor motives sufficiently powerful, to drive us to a close self-inspection. Our corruptions foster this ignorance. To this they owe their undisputed possession of our hearts. No principle short of Christianity is strong enough to impel us to a study so disagreeable as that of our faults. Of Christianity, humility is the prime grace, and this grace can never take root and Aourisli in a heart that lives in ignorance of itself. If we do not know the greatness and extent of our sins, if we do not kpow the imperfection of our virtues, the fallibility of our best resolutions, the infirmity of our purest purposes, we canpot be humble ; if we are not humble, we cannot be Christians.
But it may be asked, is there to be no end to this vigi. lance ? Is there no assigned period when this self-denial may become unnecessary? No given point when we may be emancipated from this vexatious self-inspection? Is the matured christian to be a slave to the same drudgery as the novice? The true answer is--we may cease to watch, when our spiritual enemy ceases to assail. We may be off our guard when there is no longer any tempo tation without. We may cease our self denial when there is no more corruption within. . We may give the reins to our imagination when we are sure its tendencies will be towards heaven. We may dismiss repentance when sin is abolished. We may indulge selfishness when we can do it without danger to our souls. We may neglect prayer when we no longer need the favour of God. We rray cease to praise him when he ceases to be gracious to us. To discontinue our vigilance at any period short of this will be to defeat all the virtues we have practised on earth, to put to hazard all our hopes of happiness in heaven.
"THE idol self,” says an excellent old divine, * « has made more desolation among men than ever was made in those places wbere idols were served by buman sacrifices. It has preyed more fiercely on human lives, than Moloch or the Minotaur.”
'To worship images is a more obvions, but it is scarcely a more degrading idolatry, than to set up self in opposition to God. To devate ourselves to this service is as perfect slavery as the service of God is perfect freedom. If we cannot imitate the sacrifice of Christ in his death, we are called upon to imitate the sacrifice of himself in his will. Even the Son of God declared, “ I came not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me." This was his grand lesson, this was his distinguishing cha. racter.
Self-will is the ever Aowing fountain of all the evil tempers which deform our hearts, of all the boiling passions which inflame and disorder society ; the root of bitter. ness od which all its corrupt fruits grow. We set up onr own understanding against the wisdom of God, and our own passions against the will of God. If we could ascertain the precise period when sensuality ceased to govern in the animal part of our nature, and pride in the intellectual, that period would form the most memorable ära of the Christian life ; fron that moment he begins a pew date of liberty and liappiness; fron that stage he sets out op a new career of peace, liberty, and virtue.
Self-love is a Proteus of all shapes, shades, and com plexions. It bas the power of dilatation and contraction as best serves the occasion. There is no crevice so small through which its subtle essence cannot force its way, no space so ample that it cannot stretch itself to fill.-- It is of all degrees of refinement; so coarse and hungry as to gorge itself with the grossest adulation, so fastidious as to Fequire a liomage as refined as itself; so artful as to elude