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You need not be much afraid of being too
you do not guard against, it will soon lead you into beli delusion; the consequences of which may be fatal to you.
! Labour to see yourself as you are ; and view things in a just light, and not in that in which you would have them ap pear. Remember that the mind is always apt to believe those things which it would have to be true, and backward to credit what it wishes to be false ; and this is an influence you will certainly lie under in this affair of self judgment.
severe upon yourself. Your great danger will be of passing a too favourable judgment. A judge ought not indeed to be a party concerned; and should have no interest in the person he sits in judgment upon. But this cannot be the case here, as you yourself are both judge and criminal, whieh shows the danger of pronouncing a too favourable sentence. But remember, your business is only with the revidence and the rule of judgment; and that however yon come off now, there will be a rehearing in another court, where judgment will be according to truth0918
However, look not unequally either at the good or evil that is in you ; but view them as they are. If you observe only the good that is in you, and overlook the bad, or search only after your faults, and overlook your graces, neither of these will bring you to a true acquaintance with yourself!
And to induce you to this impartiality, re: member that this business (though it may be hid from the world) is not done in secret ; God sees how you manage it, before whose tribunal you must expect a righteous judgment. We should order our thoughts so (saith Seneca) as if we had a window in our breasts, through which any one might see what passes there. And indeed there is one that does ; for what does it signify that our thoughts are hid from men? From God nothing is hid.'
15. Beware of false rulers of judgment. This is a súre and common way to self deception : 2. g. Some judge of themselves by what they have been. But it does not follow, if men are not so bad as they have been, that therefore they are good as they should be. It is wrong to make our past conduct implicitly the measure of our present ; or the present the rule of our future; when our past, present, and future coniduct must be all brought to another rule. And they who thus measure themselves bay themselves, and compare themselves with themselves, are not wise.'* Again, others are apt to judge of themselves by the opinions of men ; which is the most uncertain rule that can be for in that very opinion of theirs you may be deceived. How do you know they have really formed so good an idea of you as they profess? But if they have, may not others have formed as bad? And why should not the judgment of
* 2 Cor. x. 12.
these be your rule, as well as the opinion of those ? Appeal to self flattery for an answer. However, neither one nor the other of them perhaps appear even to know themselves; and how should they know you ? How is it possi. ble they should have opportunities of knowing you better than you know yourself ? . A man can never gain a right knowledge of himself from the opinion of others which is so various, and generally so ill founded. For men com, monly judget by outward appearances, cor-inward prejudice, and therefore for the most part think and speak of us very much at random. Again, others are for judging of themselves by the conduct of their superiours who have opportunities and advantages of knowing, acting, and being better :) and yet without vanity be it spoken (say they) we-are pot behind hand with them.'s But what then? Ņeither they igr you perhaps are what the obligations of your character indispensably requires you to be, and what you must be, 'ere you can be happy, But consider how easily, this argument may be restorted. You are better than somes you, say, stylto have greater opportunities and advantages of being good than you have ; and therefore your state is safe. But 18ou issourself have greater opportunities and advantages of being good than some others have, avho are nevertheless better than you; and therefore, by the same rule, your state caiumot be safe. Again, others judge of themselves hy the common maxims of
the vulgar world concerning honour and honesty, virtue and interest ; which maxims, though generally very corrupt and very contrary to those of reason, conscience, and scripture, men will follow, as a rule, for the sake of the latitude it allows them : and fondly think, that if they stand right in the opinion of the lowest kind of men, they have no reason to be severe upon themselves. Others, whose sentiments are more delicate and refined, they imagine, may be mistaken, or may overstrain the matter. In which persuasion they are confirmed, by observing how seldom the consciences of the generality of men smite them for those things which these nice judges condemn as heinous crimes. I need not say how false and pernicious a rule this is.. Again, others may judge of themselves and their state by sudden impressions they have had,
strong impulses upon their spirits, which they attribute to the finger of God; and by which they have been so exceedingly affected as to make no doubt but that it was the instant of their conversion. But whether it was or not, can never be known but by the conduct of their after lives.
In like manner,
others judge of their good state by their
state by their good frames ; though very rare, it may be, and very transient ; soon passing off like a morning cloud, or as the early dew. But we should not judge of ourselves by that which is unusual or extraordinary with us; but by the ordinary tenour and drift of our lives. A bad man may seem good
seem bad in some extraordinary la
. of a bad man by. his best hours, and a good man by his worst, is the way to be deceived in them both. And the same way may you be deceived in yourself.-Pharaoh, Ahab, Herod, and Felix, had : all of them their softenings, their transitory-fits of goodness; but yet they remain upon record under the blackest characters.
These theni are all wrong rules of judgment; and to trust to them, or to try ourselves by them, leads to fatal self deception. Again,
6. In the business of self examination you must not only take care you do not judge by wrong rúles, but that you do not judge wrong by right rules. You must endeavour then to be well acquainted with them. The office of a judge is not only to collect the evidence and the circumstances of facts, but to be well skilled in the laws by which those facts are to be examined.
Now the only right rules by which we are to examine, in order to know ourselves, are reason and scripture! Some are for setting aside these
un to their perverseness"; too straight to measure their crooked ways; are against reason when reason is against them; decrying it as carnal reason? And against scripture, when scripture is against them, despising it as a dead, letter. And thus, rather than be convinced they are