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As we are so indolent that we seldom ex-The conscientious practice we have been amine a truth on more than one side, so recommending, would greatly assist in rewe generally take care that it shall be that ducing us to our proper dimensions, and in side which thall contain some old prejudices. limiting us to our proper place. We should While we will not take pains to correct be astonished if we could see our real dimithose prejudices and to rectify our judgment, nutiveness, and the speck we actually oclest it should oblige us to discard a favourite cupy. When shall we learn from our own opinion, we are yet as eager to judge, and as feelings of how much conscquence every forward to decide, as if we were fully pos- man is to himself? sessed of the grounds on which a sound Nor must the examination be occasional, judgment may be made, and a just decision but regular. Let us not run into long arformed.
rears, but settle our accounts frequently. We should watch ourselves whether we Little articles will run up to a large amount, observe a simple rule of truth and justice, if they are not cleared off. Even our innoas well in our conversation, as in our ordina- cent days, as we may choose to call them, ry transactions; whether we are exact in will not have passed without furnishing their our measures of commendation and cen- contingent-our deadness in devotion-our sure ; whether we do not bestow extrava- eagerness for human applause-our care to gant praise where simple approbation alone conceal our faults rather than to correct is due; whether we do not withhold com-them-our negligent performance of some mendation, where, if given, it would support relative duty- our imprudence in conversamodesty and encourage merit; whethe tion, especially at table-our inconsideration what deserves only a slight censure as im-1-our driving to the very edge of permitted prudent, we do not reprobate as immoral ; indulgences-let us keep these- let us keep whether we do not sometimes affect to over- all our numerous items in small sums. Let rate ordinary merit, in the hope of securing us examine them while the particulars are to ourselves the reputation of candour, that fresh in our memory; otherwise, however we may on other occasions, with less suspi- we may flatter ourselves that lesser evils cion, depreciate established excellence. We will be swallowed up by the greater, we may extol the first because we fancy that it can find when we come to settle the grand accome into no competition with us, and we count that they will not be the less remenderogate from the last because it obviously bered for not having been recordled. eclipses us.
| And let it be one subject of our frequent Let us ask ourselves if we are conscien- inquiry, whether since we last scrutinized tiously upright in our estimation of benefits; our hearts, our secular affairs, or our eterwhether when we have a favour to ask, we nal concerns have had the predominance do not depreciate its value, when we have there. We do not mean which of them has one to grant we do not aggravate it..
occupied most of our time, the larger porIt is only by scrutinizing the heart that we tion of which must, necessarily, to the genecan know it. It is only by knowing the rality, be absorbed in the cares of the preheart that we can reform the life. Any care- sent life; but on which our affections have less observer, indeed, when his watch goes / been most bent; and especially how we wrong, may see that it does so, by casting bave conducted ourselves when there has an eye on the dial plate; but it is only the arisen a competition between the interests of artist who takes it to pieces and examines both. every spring and every wheel separately, That general burst of sins which so freand who, by ascertaining the precise quently rushes in on the consciences of the causes of the irregularity, can set the ma-dying, would be much moderated by previ chine right, and restore the obstructed ous habitual self-examination. It will not movements.
do to repeut in the lump. The sorrow must The illusions of intellectual vision would be as circumstantial as the sin. Indefinite be materially corrected by a close habit of repentance is no repentance. And it is one cultivating an acquaintance with our hearts. grand use of self-inquiry, to remind us, that We fill much too large a space in our own all unforsaken sins are unrepented sios imaginations; we fancy we take up more To a Christian there is this substantial room in the world than Providence assigns comfort attending a minute self-inspection, to an individual who has to divide his allot- that when he finds fewer sins to be noted, ment with so many millions, who are all of and more victories over temptation obtained equal importance in their own eyes ; and he has a solid evidence of his advancement, who, like us, are elbowing others to make which well repays his trouble. room for themselves. Just as in the natural. The faithful searcher into his own heart, world, where every particle of matter that chamber of imagery,' feels himself would stretch itself, and move out of its in the situation of the prophet, * who bems place, if it were not kept in order by sur-conducted in vision from one idol to another, l'ounding particles; the pressure of other the spirit at sight of each, repeatedly esparts reduces this to remain in a contine- claims, here is another abomination !' TE inent from which it would escape, if it were not thus pressed and acted upon on all sides.!
prophct being commanded to dig deeper, quire if there be any way of wickedness' The further he penetrated the more evils he in himself, knowing that the inquiry ought found, while the spirit continued to cry out, to lead to the expulsion, I will show thee yet more abomination. In our self-inquisition let us fortify our vir
Selt-examination by detecting self-love, tue by a rigorous exactness in calling things self-denial by weakening its power, self-go- by their proper names. Self-love is partivernment by reducing its despotism, turns cularly ingenious in inventing disguises of the temper of the soul from its natural bias, this kind. Let us lay them open, strip them controls the disorderly appetite, and, under bare, face them, and give them as little the influence of Divine Grace, in a good quarter as if they were the faults of another. measure restores to the man that dominion -Let us not call wounded pride delicacy. over himself which God at first gave him -Self-love is made up of soft and sickly over the inferior creatures. Desires, pas- sensibilities. Not that sensibility which sions, and appetites, are brought to move melts at the sorrows of others, but that somewhat more in their appointed order; which cannot endure the least suffering itsubjects not tyrants. What the stoics, vain- self. It is alive in every pore where self is ly pretended to, Christianity effects. It re- concerned. A touch is a wound. It is carestores man to a dominion over his own will, less in inflicting pain, but exquisitely awake and in a good measure enthrones hiin in in feeling it. It defends itself before it is atthat empire which he had forfeited by sin. tacked, revenges affronts before they are
He now begins to survey his interior, the offered, and resents as an insult the very awful world within ; not indeed with self-suspicion of an imperfection. complacency, but with the control of a so- In order then to unmask our hearts, let vercign ; he still finds too much rebellion us not be contented to examine our vices, to indulge security, he therefore continues let us examine our virtues also, those his inspection with vigilance, but without smaller taults.' Let us scrutinize to the perturbation. He continues to experience bottom those qualities and actions which à remainder of insubordination and disor- have more particularly obtained public estider, but this rather solicits to a stricter go-mation.-Let us inquire if they were genuvernment than drives him to relax his dis- ine in the principie, simple in the intention, cipline,
honest in the prosecution. Let us ask ourThis self-inspection somewhat resembles selves if in some admired instances our gethe correction of a literary performance. nerosity had no tincture of vanity, our chariAfter many and careful revisals, thoughty no taint of ostentation? Whether when some grosser faults may be done away; we did such a right action which brought us though the errors are neither quite so nu- credit, we slaould have persisted in doing it, merous, nor so glaring as at first, yet the had we foreseen that it would incur censure. critic perpetually perceives faults which he Do we never deceive ourselves by mistaking had not perceived before ; negligences ap- a constitutional indifference of temper for pear which he had overlooked, and even Christian moderation ? Do we never condefects start up which had passed on him strue our love of ease into deadness of the for beauties, He finds much to amend, and world? Our animal activity into Christian even to expunge, in what lie had before ad-zeal? Do we never mistake our obstinacy mired. When by rigorous castigation the for firmness, our pride for fortitude, our selmost acknowledged faults are corrected, his fishness for feeling, our love of controversy critical acumen, improved by exercise, and for the love of God, our indolence of tema more habitual acquaintance with his sub- per for superiority to human applause ?jects, still detect, and will forever detect, When we have stripped our good qualities new imperfections. But he neither throws bare ; when we have made all due deducaside his work, nor reinits his criticism, tions for natural temper, easiness of disposiwhich if it do not make the work perfect, tion, self-interest; desire of admiration ; of will at least make the author humble, Con- every extrinsic appendage, every illegitiscious that if it is not quite so bad as it was, mate motive, let us fairly cast up the acit is still at an immeasurable distance from count, and we shall be mortified to see how the required excellence,
little there will remain, Pride may impose Is it not astonishing that we should go on itself upon us, even in the shape of repentrepeating periodically, • Try me, () God,' ance. The humble Christian is grieved at while we are yet neglecting to try ourselves? his faults, the proud man is angry at them. Is there not something more like defiance -He is indignant when he discovers he has than devotion to invite the inspection of Om- done wrong, not so much because his sin ofniscience to that heart which we ourselves fends God, as because it has let him see that neglect to inspect? How can a Christian he is not quite so good as he had tried to solemnly cry out to the Almighty, 'seek the make himself believe. ground of my heart, prove me and examine It is more necessary to excite us to the iny thoughts, and see if there be any ways humbling of our pride, than to the performof wickedness in me.' while he himself ne-ance of certain good actions : the former is glects to examine his heart,' is afraid of more difficult as it is less pleasant. That • proving his thoughts,' and dreads to in- very pride will of itself stimulate to the perVol. I.
formance of many things that are laudable. characters when we see the infirmities These performances will reproduce pride, which are blended with their fine qualities, as they were produced by it; whereas hu- and we turn their failings into a justification mility' has no outward 'stimulus. Divine of our own, which are not like theirs overgrace alone produces it. It is so far from shadowed with virtues. To admire the exbeing actuated by the love of fame, that it is cellences of others without imitating them not humility, till it lias laid the desire of fame is fruitless admiration ; to condemn their erin the dust.
rors without avoiding is unprofitable censoIf an actual virtue consists, as we have riousness. frequently had occasion to observe, in the When we are compelled by our cone dominion over the contrary vice, humility is science to acknowledge and regret any fault the conquest over pride, charity over sel- we have recently committed, this fault so fishness : not only a victory over the natural presses upon our recollection, that we seem temper, but a substitution of the opposite to forget that we have any other. This sitquality. This proves that all virtue is foun- gle error fills our mind, and we look at it as ded in self-denial, self-denial in self-know-through a telescope, which, while it shows ledge, and self-knowledge in self-examina- an object, confines the sight to that one obtion. Pride so insinuates itself in all we do, ject exclusively. Others indeed are more and say, and think, that our apparent hu- effectually shut out, than if we were not exmility has not seldom its origin in pride. amining this. Thus while the object in quesThat very impatience which we feel at the tion is magnified, the others are as if they perception of our faults is produced by the did not exist. astonishment at finding that we are not per- It seems to be established into a kind of fect. — This sense of our sins should make us system not to profit by any thing withcui us, humble but not desperate. It should teach and not to cultivate an acquaintance with us to distrust every thing in ourselves, and any thing within us. Though we are perto hope for every thing from God. The petually remarking on the defects of others, more we lay open the wounds which sin has yet when does the remark lead us to study made, the more earnestly shall we seek the and to root out the same clefects in our own remedy which Christianity has provided. hearts? We are almost every day hearing
But instead of seeking for self-knowledge, uf the death of others, but does it induce us we are glancing about us for grounds of self- to reflect on death as a thing in which we exultation ! We almost resemble the Pha- have an individual concern? We consider risee, who with so much self-complacency the death of a friend as a loss, but seldom delivered in the catalogue of his own virtues apply it as a warning. The death of others and other men's sins, and, like the Tartars, we lament, the faults of others we censure, who think they possess the qualities of those but how seldom do we make use of the 004 they murder, fancied that the sins of which for our own amendment, or of the other for he accused the publican would swell the our own preparation, * amount of his own good deeds. Like him. It is the fashion of the times to try experiwe take a few items from memory, and a ments in the arts, in agriculture, in philos few more from imagination. Instead of phy. In every science the diligent professor pulling down the edifice which pride has is always afraid there may be some secret raised, we are looking round on our good which he has not yet attained, some occuit works for buttresses to prop it up. We ex- principle which would reward the labour di cuse ourselves from the inputation of ma-l discovery, something even which the assiny faults by alleging that they are common, duous and intelligent have actually found and by no means peculiar to ourselves. out, but which has hitherto eluded his purThis is one of the weakest of our deceits. suit. And shall the Christian stop short in Faults are not less personally ours because his scrutiny, shall he not examine and inothers commit them. There is divisibility quire till he lays hold on the very heart and in sin as well as in matter. Is it any dimi- core of religion? nution of our error that others are guilty of | Why should experimental philosophy be the same?
the prevailing study, and experimental reSelf-love being a very industrious princi- ligion be branded as the badge of enthus ple, has generally two concerns in hand at asm, the cant of a hollow profession? Shal! the same time. It is as busy in concealing we never labour to establish the distinctica our own defects as in detecting those of between appearance and reality, betwee others, especially those of the wise and good. studying religion critically, and embracing We might indeed direct its activity in the it practically, between having cur conduc latter instance to our own advantage, for if creditable and our hearts sanctified ? Sha. the faults of good men are injurious to them- we not aspire to do the best things from the selves, they might be rendered profitable to highest motives, and elevate our aims with us, if we were careful to convert them to our attainments? Why should we remain their true use. But instead of turning them into a means of promoting our own watch- For this hint, and a few others on the same sutgasse fulness, we employ them mischievously in the author is indebted to that excellent christian two ways. We lessen our respect for pious lralist, M. Nicole.
in the vestibule when the sanctuary is open?, Christ in his death, we are called upon to Why should we be contented to dwell in the imitate the sacrifice of himself in his will. outer courts when we are invited to enter Even the Son of God declared I came not into the holiest by the blood of Jesus? Ito do my own will, but the will of Him who
Natural reason is not likely to furnish ar- sent me.' This was his grand lesson, this guments sufficiently cogent, nor motives suf- was his distinguishing character. ficiently powerful to drive us to a close self- Self-will is the ever flowing fountain of all inspection, Our corruptions foster this ig- the evil tempers which deform our hearts, norance, To this they owe their undis- of all the boiling passions which inflaine and puted possession of our hearts. No princi- disorder society; the root of bitterness on ple short of Christianity is strong enough to which all its corrupt fruits grow. We set up impel us to a study so disagreeable as that our own understanding against the wisdom of our faults. Of Christianity, humility is of God, and our own passions against the the prime grace, and this grace can never will of God. If we could ascertain the pretake root and flourish in a heart that lives in cise period when sensuality ceased to govern ignorance of itself. If we do not know the in the animal part of our nature, and pride greatness and extent of our sins, if we do in the intellectual, that period would form not know the imperfections of our virtues, the most memorable era of the Christian the fallibility of our best resolutions, the in-life; from that moment he begins a new firmity of our purest purposes, we cannot be date of liberty and happiness; from that humble; if we are not humble, we cannot stage he sets out on a new career of peace, be Christians.
liberty, and virtue. But it may be asked, is there to be no end Self-love is a Proteus of all shapes, shades, to this vigilance? Is there no assigned pe- and complexions. It has the power of dilariod when this self-denial may become un- tion and contraction as best serves the occanecessary? No given point when we may sion. There is no crevice so small througla be emancipated from the vexatious self-in-which its subtle essence cannot force its way, spection ? Is the matured Christian to be no space so ample that it cannot stretch a slave to the same drudgery as the novice? itself to fill.-It is of all degrees of refineThetrue answer is-we may cease to watchment, so coarse and bungry as to gorge itself when our spiritual enemy ceases to assail. with the grossest adulation ; so fastidious as We may be off our guard when there is no to require a homage as refined as itselt; so longer any temptation without. We may artful as to elude the detection of ordinary cease our self-denial when there is no more observers; so specious as to escape the obcorruption within, We may give the reins servation of the very heart in which it reigns to our imagination when we are sure its paramount : yet, though so extravagant in tendencies will be towards heaven. We its appetites, it can adopt a moderation which may dismiss repentance when sin is abolish- imposes, a delicacy which veilsits deformity, ed. We may indulge selfishness when we an artificial character which keeps its real can do it without danger to our souls. We one out of sight. may neglect prayer when we no longer need! We are apt to speak of self-love as if it the favour of God. We may cease to praise were only a symptom, whereas it is the dishim when he ceases to be gracious to us.-temper itself; a malignant distemper which 'To discontinue our vigilance at any period has possession of the nioral constitution, of short of this, will be to defeat all the virtues which malady every part of the system parwe have practised on earth, to put to hazard ticipates. In direct opposition to the effect all our hopes of happiness in heaven, produced by the touch of the fabled king,
which converted the basest materials into gold, this corrupting principle pollutes, by
coming in contact with it, whatever is in itCHAP, XIII.
self great and noble.
Self-love is the centre of the unrenewed Self-Love.
heart. This stirring principle, as has been
observed, serves indeed • The idol Self,' says an excellent old di
The virtuous mind to wake; sine, * has made more desolation among men than ever was made in those places but it disturbs it from its slumber to ends and where idols were served by human sacrifices. purposes directly opposite to those assigned It has preyed more fiercely on human lives, to it by our incomparable bard. * Self-love than Moloch or the Minotaur.'
is by no means the small pebble which stirs To worship images is a more obvious, but the peaceful lake.' It is rather the pent-up it is scarcely a more degrading idolatry, wind within, which causes the earthquake; than to set up self in opposition to God. To it is the tempest which agitates the sleeping devote ourselves to this service is as perfect ocean. Had the image been as just as its slavery as the service of God is perfect free-clothing is beautiful ; or rather had Mr. dom. "If we cannot imitate the sacrifice of Pope been as sound a theologian as he was
an exquisite poet, the allusion in his hands among neighbours, and discord in families. might have conveyed a sounder meaning It is the same principle which, having in the without losing a particle of its elegance. beginning made 'Cain the first male child, This might have been effected by only sub-a murderer in his father's house, has been stituting the effect for the cause ; that is, by ever since in perpetual operation ; has bten making benevolence the principle insteail of transmitied in one unbroken line of succesthe consequence, and by discarding self-love sion, through that long chain of crimes of from its central situation in the construction which history is composed, to the present of the metaphor.
triumphant spoiler of Europe. - In cultivaBut by arraying a beggarly idea in prince- ted societies, laws repress, by punishing, ly robes, he knew that his own splendid the overt act in private individuals, but no powers could at any time transform mean- one thing but the Christian religion has ever ness into majesty, and deformity into been devised to cleanse the spring. beauty,
The heart is deceitful above all things and After all however, le vrai est le seul beau. desperately wicked, who can know it?' Tliis Had he not blindly adopted the misleading proposition, this interrogation, we read with system of the noble sceptic, his guide, plus complacency, and both the aphorism and the losopher, and friend,' he might have trans- question being a portion of Scripture, we ferred the shining attributes of the base-born think it would not be decent to controvert thing which he has dressed out with so many it. We read it however with a secret resergraces, to the legitimate claimant--benevo-vation, that it is only the beart of all the rest lence ;-of which self-love is so far from be- of the world that is meant, and we rarely ing, as he represents, the moving spring, make the application which the Scripture that they are both working in a course of intended. Each hopes that there is one heart incessant counieraction, the spirit striving which may escape thecharge, and he makes against the flesh, and the flesh against the the single exception in favour of his own. spirit.
But if the exception which every one makes To Christian benevolence all the happy were true, there would not be a deceitful or effects attributed to self-love might have wicked heart in the world. been fairly traced. It was only to dislodge As a theory we are ready enough to admire the idol and make the love of God the cen- selt-knowledge, yet when the practice comes tre, and the poet's delightful numbers might in question we are as blindfolded as if our have conveyed truths worthy of so perfect happiness depended on our ignorance. To a vehicle. This centre móved,' does in-lay hold on a religious truth, and to maintau deed extend its pervading influence in the our hold, is no easy matter. Our undervery manner ascribed to the opposite prin- standings are not more ready to receive than ciple : does indeed spread from its throue in our affections to lose it. We like to hare au the individual breast, to all those successive intellectual knowledge of divine things, circles, 'wide and more wide,' of which the to cultivate a spiritual acquaintance with poet makes self-love the first mover. * them cannot be effected at so cheap a rate.
The apostle James appears to have been We can even more readily force ourselves of a different opinion from the ethic bard; to believe that which has no affinity with he speaks as if he suspected that the pebble our understanding, than we can bring our stirred the lake a little too roughly. He selves to choose that which has no interest traces this mischievous principle from its in our will, no correspondence with our birth to the largest extent of its malign in- passions. One of the first duties of a Chris fluence. The question, whence come tian is, to endeavour to conquer this antipawars and fightings among you,' he answers thy to the self-denying doctrines against by another question ;-Come they not, which the human heart so sturdily holds hence, even of your lusts that war in your out. The learned take incredible pains for meinbers?
the acquisition of kpowledge. The philoThe same pervading spirit which creates sopher cheerfully consumes the midnight hostility between nations, creates animosity oil is his laborious pursuits ; he willingir
sacrifices food and rest to conquer a difficu:• Self-love thus pushed to social, to divine,
ty in science. Here the labour is pleasant, Gives thee to make thy neighbour's blessing thine :
the fatigue is grate!ul, the very difficulty is
not without its charms. Why do we feel so Self-love but serves the virtuous moind to wake, As the small pebble stirs the peaceful lake;
differently in our religious pursuits? Be The centre mov'd, a circle straight succeeds,
cause in the most operose human studies, Another still, and still another spreads;
there is no contradiction of self, there is no Friend, parent, neighbour, first it will embrace,
opposition to the will, there is no combat His country next, and next all human race.
the affections. If the passions are at all inThe author hopes to be forgiven for these remarks: plicated, if self-love is at all concerned, it is she has hazarded them for the sake of her more youth. rather in the way of gratification than of o ful reailers.--She has not forgotten the time whet), in the position). admiration of youthful enthusiasm, she never suspected that the principle of these finished verses was less excellent than the poetry.
| religion, so wellexecated and so resembling,