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sciousness that I think and act with upright intentions, or the approbation with which my thoughts and actions are honored by others; the victory I obtain over myself and my passions, or the victory I gain over my opponents, my adversaries; the good that I may be able to do to others, or the benefits that I receive from them? Which hurts and disturbs me most, that I have forfeited the complacency of God, or the favor of mankind; that I suffer loss and injury in my internal perfection, or in my outward welfare ; that I sin and fail in my duty, or that I am confined and retarded in my efforts after earthly objects ?—Where seek, where find I my real life, the nourishment of my spirit, the solace of my heart, my pleasure in prosperity, my comfort in adversity, my satisfaction in life and in death?
Is the present to me what it should be to the wise, to the christian, a state of education, of exercise, of preparation; and do I contentedly and readily do and avail myself of whatever this state demands of me? Is the future always important, always present to me; do I consider, judge, treat all things in reference to it, and do I never lose sight of my superior destination, my true and proper home?
Do I steadfastly purpose to lead a serious life, as one under sentence of death ? And, to this end, do I cultivate a spiritual mind, exercise self denial, labor to disentangle my affections from this world, and to raise up my mind to the things which are above; the enjoyments of that superior world for which I was designed ?
Thus, O my soul, examine thyself. Seriously, deliberately, as in the presence of the heart searching God, examine thyself. Pause at every question, and ask thyself whether thou canst answer it with satisfaction and comfort. Wherein thou findest thyself deficient, (and alas, how imperfect at best is thy obedience,) humble thyself, seek forgiveness of him against whom thou hast sinned, and who, for the sake of thy blessed Saviour, is ready to forgive thee, on thy repentance and amendment.
Thou hadst resolved to go to the table of thy Lord, as he had commanded. Let not this inquiry into thy spiritual condition, and thy sense of deficiency, prevent thee. Go, resolving, by divine grace, to be and do all that is required of thee. Go, that thy repentance may be deepened, and thy holy purposes confirmed and strengthened.
Far be it, however, from thee, to believe that this sacred act, without thy concurrence, can produce any change in thee; or procure for thee, without repentance and amendment, the forgiveness of sins, and the favor of God, or be a substitute for thy want of virtue and godliness! That' which refreshes and strengthens thee at the table of the Lord, is not the bread and wine; it is the thoughts with which thy understanding is occupied, the sentiments with which thy heart is pervaded, that is the meat that endureth to everlasting life.
There wilt thou publicly manifest thy belief in God, and his son Jesus, and thus edify thy christian brethren, and confirm thyself in the faith.
There wilt thou solemnise the memorial of Jesus Christ, and particularly, of his innocent, holy death, follow him in his life and sufferings, realize the presence of thy absent friend, as much as possible, to thy mind, his love, his benefits, the blessed connection in which thou dost stand to him, and join thy brethren in openly testifying thy grateful acknowledgments.
There wilt thou declare thy submission and devotion to him, as thy deliverer, as him whom the Father has exalted over all, and excite thyself to renewed ardor, and more constant diligence.
There wilt thou fortify thy mind in a blessed immortality, and the eternal life which he brought to light and has placed beyond doubt by his death, and by his resurrection from the dead; and this hope is to purify thee and enable thee to overcome
both thyself and the world, and not allow thee to be faint and weary in the pursuit of peace, virtue, and superior perfection.
There, by the enjoyment of this social feast of charity, wilt thou unite thyself with all thy brethren near, and afar off, expand thy heart to those emotions of esteem and affection, of benevolence and of beneficence, of commisserating and joyous sympathy which thou owest them.
These objects propose to thyself, and never lose sight of them in this holy act.. This scriptural, generous nourishment, O my soul, there seek and enjoy. Thus adore thy Creator in spirit and truth, and testify thy reverence and love to thy Saviour, not merely in words, but in deed and with the whole heart.
And how far art thou now prepared in regard to these objects, thus to keep this feast? And what, in regard to these objects is the state of thy mind? Are the objects, the memory of which thou art solemnly to cel