صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني
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Thus much concerning the evening examio. ation.

I now proceed to lay before you such con. siderations, as may fill your mind with a just dread and horrour of all sin, and help you to confess your own in the most passionate condition and sorrow of heart.

Consider first, how odious all sin is to God, what a mighty baseness it is, and how abominable it renders sinners in the sight of God ; that it is sin alone, which makes the great difference betwixt an angel and the devil ; and that every sinner is, so far as he sins, a friend of the devil's, and carrying on his work against God ; that sin is a greater blemish and defilement of the soul, than any filth or disease is a defilement of the body ; and to be content to live in sin is a much greater baseness, than to desire to wallow in the mire, or love any bodily impurity

For all sins, wherher of sensuality, pride, or falseness, or any other irregular passion, are nothing else but the filth and impure diseases of the rational soul ; and all righteousness is nothing else but the purity, the decency, the beauty, and perfection of that spirit, which is made in the image of God:

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Consider next your own particular share in the guilt of sin. If you would know, with what zeal you ought to repent yourself, consider, how you would exhort another sinner to repentance ; and what repentance and amend. ment you would expect from him, whom you judged to be the greatest sinner in the world.

Now this case every man may justly reckon to be his own ; and you may fairly look upon yourself to be the greatest sinner, that you know in the world.

For, though you may know abundance of people to be guilty of some gross sins, with which you cannot charge yourself ; yet you may justly condemn yourself, as the greatest sinner that know ; for these following reasons.

First. Because you know more of the folly of your own heart, than you do of other people's ; and can charge yourself with various sins, that you know of yourself only, and cannot be sure that other sinners are guilty of them. So that as you know more of the folly, the base. ness, the pride, the deceitfulness, and negligence of your own heart, than you do of any one's else, so you have just reason to consider yourself as the greatest sinner, that

you know

you know.

Secondly. The greatness of our guilt arisés chiefly from the greatness of God's goodness towards us, from the particular graces and blessings, the favours, the lights, and instructions, which we have received from him.

As these graces and blessings, and the multitude of God's favours towards us, are the great aggravations of our sins against God, so they are known to ourselves only. Therefore every sinner knows more of the aggravations of his own guilt, than he does of other people's'; and consequently may justly look upon himself to be the greatest sinner, that he knows. · How good God has been to other sinners ; what light and instruction he has vouchsafed them; what blessings and graces they have received from him ; how often he has touched their hearts with holy inspirations, you cannot tell. But all this you know of yourself ; there: fore you know greater aggravations of your own guilt, and are able to charge yourself with greater ingratitude, than you can charge upon other people.

This is the reason, why the greatest saints have in all ages condemned themselves as the greatest sinners; because they knew some ag

gravations of their own sins, which they could not know of other people's.

The right way therefore to fill your heart with true contrition, and a deep sense of your own sins, is this ; you are not to consider, nor compare the outward form, or course of your life, with that of other people's, and then think yourself to be less sinful than they, because the outward course of your life is less sinful than theirs.

But in order to ķnow your own guilt, you must consider your own particular circumstan. ces, your health, your sickness, your youth, or age, your particular calling, the happiness of Four education, the degrees of light and instruction, which you have received; the good men, that you have conversed with; the admonitions, which you have had; the good books, which


have read; the numberless multitude of divine blessings, graces, and favours, which you have re. ceived ; the good motions of grace, which

you have resisted; the resolutions of amendment, which you have often broken; and the checks of conscience, which you have disregarded.

It is from these circumstances, that every one is to state the measure and greatness of his own guilt. . As you know only the circumsta of your own sins, so you must necessarily know,

how to charge yourself with higher degrees of guilt, than you can charge upon other people.

God almighty knows greater sinners, it niay be, than you are ; because he sees and knows the circumstances of all men's sins. But your own heart, if it is faithful to you, can discover no guilt so great as your own; because it can only see in you those circumstances, on which, great part of the guilt of sin is founded.

You may see sins in other people, which you cannot chargé upon yourself; but then you know a number of circumstances of your own guilt, which you cannot lay to their charge.

Perhaps that person, who appears at such a distance from your virtue, and so odious in your eyes, would have been much better, than "you are, had he been altogether in your circum. stances, and received the same favours and graces from God, which you have.

This is a very humbling reflection, and very proper for those people to make, who measure their virtue, by comparing the outward course

of their lives with that of other people?s. ". För look at whom you will, however different: from

you in his way of life, yet you can never know, that he has resisted so much divine grace as you have, or that in all vour circunstances,

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