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honor. The truth of this may be made evident by a thousand instances in life ;-and yet there is nothing more usual, than for a man, when he is go ing upon this duty of self-examination,-instead of calling his own ways to remembrance,—tơ close the whole inquiry at once, with this short challenge, "That he defies the world to say ill of him." If the world has no express evidence, this indeed may be an argument of his good luck,-but no satisfactory one of the real goodness and innocence of his life. A man may be a very bad man,

and yet, thro' caution,-thro' deep-laid policy and design, may so guard all outward appearances, as never to want this negative testimony on his side, that the world knows no evil of him,-how little soever he deserves it. Of all assays upon a man's self, this may be said to be the slightest i This method of proving the goodness of our works -differing but little in kind from that unhappy one, which many unwary people take in proving the goodness of their coin-who, if it happens to be suspicious, instead of bringing it either to the balance or the touch-stone to try its worth,they ignorantly go forth,-try if they can pass it upon the world—If so, all is well, and they are saved all the expense and pains of inquiring after, and detecting the cheat.

A fourth error, in this duty of examination of mens works,is that of committing the task to others;an error into which thousands of wellmeaning creatures are ensnared in the Romish church, by her doctrines of auricular confession, of works of supererogation, and the many lucra tive practices raised upon that capital stock; the trade of which is carried to such a height in popish countries, that if you was at Rome or Naples now, and was disposed, in compliance with the apostle's exhortation in the text, to set about this duty, to prove your own works,➡it is great odds


whether you will be suffered to do it yourself, without interruption; and you might be said to have escaped well, if the first person you consult, ed upon it, did not talk you out of your resolution, and possibly your senses too, at the same time. Prove your works! -for heaven's sake desist from so rash an undertaking ;—what trust your own skill and judgment in a matter of so much difficulty and importance-when there are so many whose business it is,-who understand it so well, and who can do it for you with so much safety and advantage?

If your works must be proved, you would be advised, by all means, to send them to undergo this operation with some one who knows what he is about, either some expert and noted confessor of the church, or to some convent or religious society, who are in possession of a large stock of good works of all kinds, wrought up by saints and confessors, where you may suit yourself, and either get the defects of your own supplied,


-or be accommodated with new ones, ready proved to your hands, sealed and certified to be so by the pope's commissary, & the notaries of his ecclesiastic court. There needs little more to lay open this fatal error, than barely to represent it, So I shall only add a short remark, that they who are persuaded to be thus virtuous by proxy, and will prove the goodness of their works only by deputies, will have no reason to complain against GoD's justice, if he suffer them to go to heaven only in the same manner, that is, by deputies too.

The last mistake which I shall have time to mention, is that which the Methodists have revived; for it is no new error,but one which has misled thousands before these days, wherever entkusiasm had got footing, and that is, the attempting to prove their works by that very argument which

is the greatest proof of their weakness and superstition I mean, that extraordinary impulse and intercourse with the spirit of GoD which they pretend to, and whose operations (if you trust them) are so sensibly felt in their hearts and souls, as to render, at once, all other proofs of their works needless to themselves. This I own, is one of the most summary ways of proceeding in this duty of self-examination; and as it proves a man's works in the gross, it saves him a world of sober thought and inquiry after many vexatious particulars.

Indeed, if the premises were true, the inference is direct. For, when a man dreams of these inward workings, and wakes with the impression of them strong upon his brain; it is not strange he should think himself a chosen vessel, sanctified within, and sealed up into the perfect day of redemption; and, so long as such a one is led cap. tive to this error, there is nothing in nature to induce him to this duty of examining his own works in the sense of the prophet: For, however bad they are, so long as his credulity and enthu siasm equal them, it is impossible they should disturb his conscience, or frighten him into a reformation. These are some of the unhappy mistakes in the many methods this work is set about, which in a great measure rob us of the fruits we expected, and sometimes so entirely blast them, that we are neither the better or wiser for all the pains we have taken.

There are many other false steps which lead us the same way; but the delineation of these, bow. ever, may serve at present. not only as so many land-marks to guard us from this dangerous coast which I have described, but to direct us likewise into that safe one, where we can only expect the reward the gospel promises. For if, according to the first recited causes, a man fails in examining

his works, from a disinclination to reform them, from partiality of comparisons, from flattery to his own motives, and a vain dependance upon the opinion of the world; the conclusion is unavoidable, that he must search for the qualities the most opposite to these for his conductors; and, if he hopes to discharge this work so as to have advantage from it, that he must set out upon the principles of an honest head, willing to reform itself, and attached principally to that object, without regard to the spiritual condition of others,or the misguided opinions which the world may have of himself.

That, for this end, he must call his own ways to remembrance, and search out his spirit ;-search his actions with the same critical exactness, and the same piercing curiosity, we are wont to sit in judgment upon others; varnishing nothing, and disguising nothing. If he proceeds thus, and in every relation of life takes a full view of himself without prejudice, traces his actions to their principles without mercy, and looks into the dark corners and recesses of his heart without fearand if, upon such an inquiry-be acts consistent with his view in it, by reforming his errors, separating the dross, and purifying the whole mass with repentance; this will bid fair for examining a man's works in the apostle's sense: And whoever discharges the duty thus, with a view to scripture, which is the rule in this case-and to reason which is the applier of this rule in all cases-need not fear but he will have what the prophet calls rejoicing in himself, and that he will lay the foundation of his peace and comfort where it ought to lie-that is, within himself-in the testimony of a good conscience, and the joyful expectation, that having done his utmost to examine his own works here, that GOD will accept them hereafter, thro' the merits of CHRIST; which God grant. Amen. VOL. III. Q

Job's Expostulation with his Wife,

JOB ii. 10.

What! shall we receive good at the hand of God, and

shall we not receive evil also ?

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HESE are the words of Job, uttered in the

depth of his misfortunes by way of reproof to his wife, for the counsel we find she hath given him in the foregoing verse; namely, not to retain his integrity any longer, but to curse God and die. Tho' it is not very evident, what was particularly meant and implied in the words" Curse Gon and die," yet it is certain, from Job's reply to them, that they directed him to some step which was rash and unwarrantable, and probably, as it is generally explained, meant, that he should openly call God's justice to an account, and, by a blas phemous accusation of it, provoke Gop to destroy his being; as if she had said, After so many sad things which have befallen thee, notwithstanding thy integrity, what gainest thou by serving GOD, seeing he bears thus hard upon thee, as tho' thou wast his enemy? Ought so faithful a servant as thou hast been, to receive so unkind treatment at his hands, and tamely to submit to it ?-patiently to sustain the evils he has brought upon thy house, and neither murmur with thy lips, nor charge him with injustice?-Bear it not thus ;— and, as thy piety could not at first protect thee from such misfortunes, nor thy behavior under them could since move GoD to take pity on thee; change thy conduct towards him-boldly expostulate with him upbraid him openly with unkindness-call his justice and providence to an account, for oppressing thee in so undeserved a manner, and get that benefit by provoking him, which thou hast not been able to obtain by serving him; to die at once by his hands, and be freed at least, from the greater misery of a lingering, and a more tormenting death.


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