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stronger bearing in reference to our religious character. We do not, nor will we, admit the claims which God has upon us as our Creator, our Redeemer, and our Sanctifier. Did we but take these into our consideration, what light would flash into our minds, and what views would we have of our extreme vileness! At present, any little regard for God, any faint acknowledgment of Christ, any transient compliance with the motions of the Holy Spirit, are judged quite sufficient to justify an approbation of ourselves. But if we considered how entire ought to be our devotion to God, how ardent our love to Christ, how simple and uniform our dependence on the Holy Spirit; if we kept in mind the diversified feelings and affections which the whole state of our existence calls for, and then marked the utter defectiveness even of our best frames, what should we think of ourselves? Should we find any ground for self-congratulation or self-complacency?
But instead of judging of ourselves in this way, we take some transient emotion, and construe it into a habit; or we take some small attainment, and regard it as an indication of true conversion; forgetting what joy the stony-ground hearers may feel, whilst yet they have no root in them ;" and what specious fruits the thorny-ground hearers may produce, whilst they bring forth no fruit to perfection." To illustrate this-We read, that persons may give all their goods to feed the poor, and even their very bodies to be burned, and yet want that charity which is at the root of all acceptable obedience. Declare this to any such liberal and zealous man, and he will
conceive the admonition to be no ground for fear on his part, but only a demonstration of uncharitableness on yours. In a word, we consider not that gold itself requires to be both tried and purified: and till we learn that lesson, we can never know ourselves, or any thing else as we ought to know.
As we are about to introduce to the reader's acquaintance a book, which is admirably calculated to supply the want of which we have been speaking, we will just add a few remarks, in order to impress his mind the more deeply with the importance of attaining self-knowledge.
Without it, we can form no just estimate of our own character. This indeed is obvious: yet does it deserve especial mention, because the fruit of a tree does not more depend on the root, than every holy affection does on our views of ourselves as sinners before God. Neither repentance, nor love, nor gratitude, nor any other grace can flourish, where the heart is not first broken with a sense of sin.
Nor, without it, can we have any proper views of God. What idea can we form of his patience, and long-suffering, and forbearance, but in proportion as we know ourselves to be deserving of his wrath and indignation? How much less, then, shall we be able to appreciate his love, in sending his only dear Son to die for us, and his Holy Spirit to dwell in us, in order to restore us to his image, and to bring us safely to his glory?
Nor, indeed, without it, shall we have suitable feelings towards man. We are taught to "esteem others better than ourselves," and to " prefer others in ho
the lowest place." these directions, if we own hearts ?"
nour before ourselves," and in every company "to take But how shall we comply with know not the plague of our
But a deep acquaintance with our own hearts, whilst it produces contrition before God, will also inspire us with humility toward man; disarming injuries and insults of more than half their force, and disposing us to maintain only such a contest with him, as our God has maintained with us, "rendering good for evil, till we have overcome evil with good."
We must go farther still, and say, that without it we have no real preparation of heart for the Gospel. The Gospel is for those only who are sinful and undone. If instead of feeling ourselves "wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked, we conceit ourselves to be rich and increased with goods, and in need of nothing," of what value will the Saviour be to us? It is only in proportion as we feel ourselves lost, that we shall desire a Saviour, or be willing to accept him on the terms proposed in the Gospel. "The whole need not a physician, but they that are sick :" and then only shall we take his prescriptions, when we are convinced in our souls that there remains for us no other hope of salva
We add, lastly, that without self-knowledge, we have no meetness for the heavenly world. Look at the whole heavenly choir, both of saints and angels: all of them are prostrate on their faces before the throne: the angels, from a sense of their nothingness as crea
tures; the saints, from a consciousness of unworthiness as sinners. But neither will this creature-like spirit be in us, nor this sinner-like spirit, any farther than we are instructed in the knowledge of ourselves. We must be brought to see, that, irrespective of sin, we are "less than nothing, and vanity;" and that, as fallen creatures, we deserve nothing but the utmost abhorrence from our offended God. Then only are we meet for heaven, when with Job, from our inmost souls we cry, “Behold, I am vile;" and when, like him, we "abhor ourselves in dust and ashes."
Now, a book which opens and dissects the heart, we conceive to be of the utmost value to mankind. For it is not every writer, nor every preacher, that cultivates successfully this heavenly science.
There is even in the ministration of the Gospel itself, as it is too generally conducted, somewhat that is calculated to foster the delusions before-mentioned. For a general acknowledgment of our lost estate, is, by many, considered as a sufficient preparative for a reception of the Gospel; the healing balm of which is frequently applied, where there existed scarcely any wound or sense of malady. In many cases, the Gospel is brought forward, rather to silence than to deepen the convictions of conscience, and a blind kind of confidence is required in the place of saving faith. In many cases, the approbation of others is deemed a sufficient ground for the dismissal of all doubt and fear; and persons are led to estimate their own state before God, rather by the confidence maintained in their own
minds, than by any real change of their heart and life.
But even where the gospel is on the whole faithfully stated, and where experimental religion is held as of vital importance, it is not always that the heart is so portrayed as to produce in the hearers that species of self-knowledge, which we consider as most conducive to our spiritual welfare. There are some writers who seem to take pleasure in making the way to heaven so strait that scarcely any one can find it, or at least can have in his soul any satisfactory evidence that he has found it. Some of the American divines, in particular, have insisted on the necessity of our loving God for his own sake, irrespective of any sense of obligation to him for mercies received, or any hope of mercies yet in reserve for us. And many writers of our own draw such very nice distinctions, and refine so much the feelings of piety in the soul, and withal raise such a multitude of objections, and doubts, and fears, as to bewilder, rather than instruct, the simple mind.
There seems also to be sometimes a defect in the statements of Evangelical writers, that they confine their instructions too much to what we may call a sinner-like disposition, without going sufficiently to the root of our apostacy from God, or noticing in us the want of a creature-like feeling towards him. And this has arisen from their tracing our apostacy in the first instance to unbelief. But we think that all these defects will be found, in a great measure, obviated in the book which we take the liberty of recommending to the Christian public-Mr. WALKER'S