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sions. He has formed a new and just estimate of the present and future life, has adopted new princi. ples of thought and action, directs his endeavours to new ends, and is governed by new motives.

ter and conduct. But then our estimate must be taken, not from any temporary emotions, or transient feelings, however rapturous, but from the settled choice and decision of the heart and the prevailing tenor of the conduct. The real predominant bias of the mind, is indeed the truest criterion of character. Men vainly imagine, that what merely dwells in their thoughts can scarcely be said to have an existence; at least, that it does not at all go to constitute our real character. But, in truth, we are that before God, which we are in the main bent of our thoughts. The hope, and consequently the happiness, of the Christian, in the contemplation of his spiritual state, must, if it be well founded, be supported by a firm and settled conviction, that God and eternal things have a decided preference in our regards over every other object; that heavenly and holy desires and affections have (though not without much alloy, infirmity, and imperfection) the supreme, if not the undisturbed, possession of our hearts.

The person who can say with truth, that he sincerely seeks the favour of God, and conformity to his image, in preference to every thing else; that he delights in the service of God, incomparably more than in any other gratification; that to obey God, and to enjoy him both here and hereafter, is the chief pursuit of his life that person may rest assured, that a saving change has been wrought in his heart: he possesses the best proof that he is in a state of acceptance with God, and an heir of eternal life.

For what is the proof that any man "is born of God?" It is, that he is renewed in the spirit of his mind; and is become a new creature;" that "old things are passed away, and all things are become new;" that he has a new and holy direction imparted to all his powers, and passions; that he is the subject of new and divine feelings and affections, aversions and attachments, joys and sorrows, desires and apprehen

By attending to these general principles, we shall surely find no difficulty in determining whether sin or holiness has the dominion over us, and whether the concerns of time or those of eternity predominate in our souls. "To whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are, whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness." By a fair comparison of ourselves with the revealed will of God, we may indeed with certainty know the state of our minds. The character and conduct which the grace of God and the faith of the Gospel invariably produce, are minutely described in the holy Scriptures. If, on comparing ourselves with the marks there laid down, we find an agreement, the conclusion is undeniable; always remembering that the Scriptures distinguish the saving operations of God on the soul by their purity and their permanence. We should place ourselves, therefore, in the full light of Revelation, and then examine our sentiments by its doctrines, our heart by its spirit, our life by its precepts, and our faith and hope by its promises and prospects.

We shall be greatly assisted in deciding on our state, by comparing our own character, disposition, and conduct with those of the righteous, as recorded in the word of God, where we have an impartial and undisguised delineation of the true Christian, under all the varying circumstances of life. Here we may behold, as in a mirror, the movements of mind, and the habits of life which characterize and distinguish the man of God from all others.

Do we then cordially enter into the views, and imbibe and exemplify the spirit of the saints of former ages? Do we approve and embrace

their principles, as recorded in the Bible? Do we walk by the same rule, and mind the same things? Are we governed by the same Divine precepts, comforted by the same great and precious promises, animated by the same immortal prospects? Do we rejoice in hope of the same inheritance and glory? In a word, are we seeking to be saved in the same way; entirely renouncing our own righteousness, in respect to our justification before God, and relying only on the perfect obedience, atoning sacrifice, and divine merit of the Lord Jesus Christ, for acceptance with God and eternal life? Do we, with all our hearts, approve the design, and gratefully embrace the method, of Divine mercy, reveal ed in the Gospel for the salvation of sinners? In this scrutiny, we should not set up any standard of our own as the test of conversion. A mistaken rule of this kind has misled many pious persons. Scripture and experience clearly prove, that the circumstances attending the conviction and conversion of sinners are not always the same, but often materially different. The point which calls for examination is, not the mere circumstances attending our repentance and return to God; but whether the change which we have experienced corresponds, in its nature and effects, with that change of heart which the Scripture requires, when it says, "putting off the old man, which is corrupt, put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness." For if the effects which are experienced in our hearts, and exhibited in our lives, agree with those which are recorded with approbation of the saints in the word of God, we then have solid evidence of our repentance and conversion. In an especial manner are we to compare ourselves with HIM who was given as an example that we might walk in his steps. It is emphatically stated as a scriptural characteristic of real Christians, that they are" in Christ Jesus." He is

CHRIST. OBSERV. No. 127.

said to be their life; and they are described as being one with him: vitally united to him by a living faith, they imbibe his spirit, so as to have the same mind in them which is also in him. They imitate his example, obey his commands, rely on his sacrifice, receive from his fulness, and "grow up unto him, as their living Head, in all things."

But, in performing the duty of self-examination, we are to inquire, not only whether we have really commenced the Christian course, whether we are really "born again of the Spirit;" but what progress we have made and are making in the Divine life.

The Christian should be "going on unto perfection," "pressing toward the mark for the prize of his high calling of God in Christ Jesus." It has been often said,with great truth, that there is no standing still in the Christian life; for, if we are not advancing in it, we shall be declining. We are exhorted to give all diligence to add to our faith, virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, &c.; and certainly, if religion does not make us "holy in all manner of conversation, as he who hath called us is holy," it effects nothing for us to any valuable purpose. But, then, let us not suppose that it is designed by God to accomplish this end for us all at once: no, our sanctification is a gradually progressive work. If we would know whether we are becoming more and more meet for the inheritance of the saints in light, we must ascertain whether we are advancing in knowledge, in holiness, in humility, in conformity to the image of God. Growth in grace may be known by the increasing vigour, delight, and spirituality of our minds in devotional duties, especially those which are private and personal; as the private perusal and study of the Scriptures, secret prayer, meditation on divine subjects, selfdenial, &c. Our progress in religion may be known by the increas ed frequency and fervour of our desires for complete deliverance from 3 I

all sin, and perfect conformity to the image of God; and by our joyful anticipations of heaven, as a state of spotless purity, as well as of safety and bliss.

In the scrutiny we make into our outward conduct, the grand inquiry is, whether we are living answerably to our Christian privileges and profession. Are we glorifying God in all things?-But here it will be necessary to be more particular. First, then, what is our temper and deportment in our intercourse with our families and relative connections? Our conduct in the most intimate of those social circles in which we move, is perhaps the truest test of the habitual state of our hearts. Do we exemplify, in our freest and most unrestrained hours, that spirituality of mind which is calculated to produce in the hearts of those around us a conviction of the reality and import ance of religion? Has Jehovah not only a domestic altar in our dwellings, but do we practically say, "As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord;" and is our conversation ordinarily in heaven? Do we discover to those who are most intimate with us, that our religious principles have had the effect of sweetening our tempers, purifying our motives, subduing our passions, mortifying our evil propensities, and governing our lives? It is not only a possible, but comparatively an easy, thing to abstain from the outward and grosser immoralities, which prevail in the world through lust, but yet at the same time to be the slaves of some unhallowed temper at home*. There are even, it is to be feared, some persons professing Christianity, who keep themselves externally unspotted from the world, while they are a prey to some guilty passion in secret. We may conduct ourselves unblameably before men, and yet suffer our hearts to remain consider. ably under the influence, if not under * Vide an excellent paper on "the Con duct in domestic Life a Test of true Religion," in the Christian Observer for September last, p. 549.

the dominion, of pride, peevishness, envy, malice, or of a selfish, a covetous, or a sensual spirit. How affecting is it, to see men, who profess to have their supreme treasure in heaven,shewing, by the whole course of their conduct, that they still seek their happiness on earth! If these things do not predominate to such a degree as to impeach our sincerity, they yet will, in proportion as they prevail, mar our peace, impede our usefulness, bring darkness and distress on our minds, and be a reproach to the religion we profess.

But it is also incumbent on us to inquire into our conduct as members of civil society. Is our particular engagement, pursuit, and business in life, lawful? are our dealings in the world conscientiously regulated by the word of God? And here it is not the actions only that will require to be examined, for these are sufficiently obvious, but the principles, the motives, the springs of our conduct: these call for the closest scrutiny, and ought to be followed through their most secret windings. It is plain from Scripture, that growth in grace is marked by an increasing circumspection in our common and daily deportment, an holy care and watchfulness over our ordinary conversation and transactions in life.

In this respect, many persons have greatly erred: some have considered real religion to consist exclusively in certain emotions and ecstasies of mind, without in the least attending to the general tenor of their outward conduct; while others, observing how little the practice and temper of many professing Christians correspond with what they profess to feel, entirely discard the consideration of inward emotions, and look only to the outward conduct. Both err. By properly regarding the operations of our minds, as well as the tenor of our outward conduct, we are in less danger of being deceived." The one is a check upon the other; and it is only when our feelings and conduct correspond with each other, and with Scripture, that we have

any well-grounded evidence of our being in the right way.

We should, further, particularly examine how we feel and act towards our brethren in the faith. An affection for all who bear the image of Christ, is one of the scriptural marks of true conversion : "Hereby we know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren." If, then, we are of the household of faith, we shall feel that we have an unity of interest, principle, and affection with all who love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity ;—we shall esteem them the excellent of the earth, and take them as our chosen companions and friends;-and we shall shew our regard to them by cheerfully co-operating with them, to the utmost of our power, in supporting and advancing the cause of God in the world.

choose for this exercise, the time when we are more than ordinarily favoured with a joyful and triumphant state of mind. In either case, we shall be very likely to draw conclusions from the particular impressions of the moment which would not be warranted by a view of our habitual state. In the former case, we should be apt to write unjust and severe things against ourselves; and in the latter, to think more highly of ourselves than we ought to think.

With these exceptions, it will be proper to engage in this duty whenever we are about to receive the Lord's Supper; and for this we have an express command of God, 1 Cor. xi. 28;-also on our entering into any new condition or relation of life, the nature of which will lay us under new obligations, expose us to new trials, and call for the additional exercise of Christian grace;—and, moreover, when we commence any remarkable period of time, as the entrance of a new year, the anniversary of our birth, or the annual return of the day on which a parent or near relative died. These and similar seasons seem to be well adapted for self-scrutiny and serious reflection.

To close this branch of the subject, I will merely add, that the duty of self-examination extends not only to our sins, failings, and sinful propensities, but to our prejudices, and our errors in judgment: not only to our external conduct, but to our opinions, to our creed, and to the foundation of our faith. There can be no doubt, if we receive the Divine testimony, that there exists an inseparable con- It is necessary further to remark, nection between faith and practice; that whatever be the particular and that the faith of Christ produces point to which at any time we direct a set of opinions and feelings, and a our inquiry, we should examine it course of conduct, peculiar to itself. narrowly, and rigorously probe It may now be proper to consider every purpose of the heart which has the time when this duty should be a reference to it. It is hardly posattended to. Besides that daily visible to enter too closely and deeply gilance which we ought to exercise, and that more careful self-inspection which should accompany every Lord's-day, it is highly expedient that certain periods should be fixed for a still more solemn performance of this duty.

It is, however, unadvisable to select, for the performance of this duty, a time when we are under a deep and affecting sense of our own sinfulness and corruption, or when we are overwhelmed with temptation, and are in great darkness and distress of mind. Neither should we

into the scrutiny of our hearts; and this scrutiny should be undertaken with an anxious desire to promote repentance and humiliation of soul, and renewed acts of faith and holy obedience. But having done our utmost to be secure from self-deception, we must still say, with the Psalmist, "Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me,and know my thoughts: and see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting." The necessity of this rigorous investigation will be more obvious, if we consider that it is not

Our being right in one thing, which will prove that our state is right in the sight of God: on the contrary, we must ever remember, that, while some defect in the exercise of the Christian graces will always attend us in the present life, the total absence of any one such grace is inconsistent with real godliness.

Whenever we engage in this duty, we should particularly pray that we may be enabled to keep in view the mediation, sacrifice, and intercession of the Lord Jesus Christ, that we may not be immoderately depressed or discouraged. A clear perception of the infinite and abiding merit of our Saviour, and a firm reliance on the all-sufficiency of his grace, will not only preserve us from sinking into despondency, but in spire us with holy hope and confidence in the Divine mercy.

In examining ourselves, we should not fail to observe what is right in our hearts and conduct, in order that we may give God the glory, and derive thence encouragement and comfort to our souls. It is no part of true humility to overlook or undervalue what Divine grace has accomplished on our behalf. It is, however, a still more essential part of this scrutiny to detect and mark whatever is wrong; that we may be duly humbled on account of it,

and turn from it with penitence and contrition of soul. And here let us never forget, that all sins which are not forsaken may be considered as sins of which we have not repented; and that our confessions of such sins, and professed sorrow on account of them, if unaccompanied by constant watchfulness against them, and a vigorous resistance to them, must be insincere. If this duty be properly performed, we shall frequently find it necessary to retrace the steps we have already taken, and to repeat our earliest and most solemn engagements with which we commenced our religious course, and to commend ourselves afresh, as depraved, destitute, and guilty creatures, to the infinite mercy and grace of God through Christ, that we may be redeemed from all evil, sanctified wholly in body, soul, and spirit, and saved with an everlasting salvation*.

G. B.

*The following Scriptures may be consulted with advantage in reference to the duty of self-examination, viz.-Matt. v. 44, and vi. 24. John xiii. 35.

14.

2 Cor. xiii. 5.

1 Cor. vii. 31, and xvi. Heb. iii. 13, and x. 4, and xi. 10, and xii. 15. Col. iii. 2-4. Philip. iii. 20. Titus ii. 11, 12. 1 Pet. ii. 1 John ii. 15, &c. &c. See 12, and iv. 7. also the Christian Observer, Vol. I, pp. 692, and 693. Vol. II. pp. 205, 401, and 653, Vol. IV. p. 716. Vol. V. pp. 341 and 541. Vol. VI. p. 459, and Vol. X. p. 352.

MISCELLANEOUS.

To the Editor of the Christian Observer.

THE subject of the inquiry in the following paper is, "Whether, in our present systems of education, religion be sufficiently regarded; and how far they are capable of improvement in this particular." It will be found, I apprehend, in a great measure coincident in sentiment with your excellent correspondent B. T.; and, as he seems to be seized with one of his fits of silence, may serve, during

the interval, to keep up the attention of your readers to a point of very great consequence, the education of children and youth.

There are two questions which I propose to discuss;

I. Whether, in our present systems of education, religion be sufficiently regarded.

II. How far they are capable of improvement in this particular.

I. It seems to be usually supposed, that in the early stages of child

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