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SERM. able; and what adds to this, and makes it VII.
tremendously important, is, that my state in the world to come will not be brought to an end, as it is here, but such as it shall be at first, so will it remain for ever and
Having thought seriously on this subject, and brought it thoroughly home to you, you
will each of you naturally proceed to ask yourself, To which of these states do my actions entitle me? Have they been such as to give me sufficient cause to flatter myself with the hope of obtaining the rewards of my Creator, or have they been such, that my conscience tells me I can look for nothing but his vengeance? In the first place, how have I behaved myself with respect to him ? have I frequently thought with gratitude of his having first created, and since preserved me; of his having sent his only begotten Son to teach me what I ought to do to please him, and
to gain everlasting life, and of that same SERM.
VII. Son having submitted to a most painful and ignominious death to atone for my imperfect obedience, and to save me from the consequences of my sins?
Have I given him repeated thanks for these instances of his goodness, both in public and private ? Have I not suffered myself to be deterred from these duties by idle and feigned excuses; or if I have been regular and constant in the performance of them, have I been attentive, serious, and hearty? Have I besides prayed to God, for the pardon of my faults, and the supply of my wants ? have I had a zeal for his honour? do I never take his holy name in vain ? never brave and affront him by lies and equivocations ? and do I both by advice and example endeavour to promote the practice of piety and virtue, and to discourage that of wickedness and irreligion? As to my fellow-creatures, how has been my conduct
SERM. with regard to them? Have I, as our SaviVII.
our commands, done unto them, as I would wish them to do unto me? Have I been true and just in all my dealings? Have I been as careful not to defraud others, as to prevent myself from being defrauded? Have I not availed myself of superior wealth to oppress those beneath me in station, or superior cunning to over-reach those beneath me in worldly wisdom? If I am a father, am I careful that my children are virtuously educated, and as well as my situation will admit? If I am a son, am I dutiful and affectionate to my parents ? As a master of a family, do I set my dependants a good example, and am I as gentle and considerate as our common relationship to each other demands ? as a servant, am I faithful, obedient, and respectful ? If I am in good circumstances, am I compassionate and charitable to my poor brethren? If I am indigent, am I humble and lowly to my su
periors, receiving their bounty with grati- SERM.
VII tude, and not envying or repining at their seemingly greater happiness. The time would fail me if I were to go over all the different questions comprized in self-examination, which it is our duty to put to ourselves in our hours of retirement : conscience will suggest the greater part of them, and the frequent reading of the holy scriptures will very much assist you, for in them are enumerated all our virtues and vices, and there you will find precisely marked out both what God commands, and what he forbids. Let me then press upon you a diligent and frequent perusal of this good book, and more particularly of the four gospels contained in the New Testament. Each of those, you know, is a short life of our Saviour, written by different persons, and most parts of them so plainly written, that none can misunderstand them : there you will find both what our Saviour did,
SERM. and what he taught; and from comparing VII.
his example and his instructions with your own practice, you will easily discover what manner of men ye are; how far ye
have deviated from the great standard of perfection, or how closely you have adhered to it- in a word, what are your hopes of attaining heaven, or what reason you have to apprehend an eternity of shame and punishment.
They who can in a satisfactory manner go through this important trial, whose own hearts, on an impartial and honest scrutiny, bid them confidently rely on their innoeence, from the infinite pleasure which self-examination will give them, need little persuasion frequently to have recourse to it: while they on the other hand, who never look into themselves but with shame, anguish, and terror, are too likely to avoid every step which may lead to it, are too likely to fly from solitude and reflection,