Page images
PDF
EPUB

guilt of trampling on the body and blood of Christ, to which he has a right at the Lord's table,

THE NECESSITY OF SELF-EXAMINATION CONSIDERED..

2 Cor. xiii. 5.--Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith : prove your own selves : know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates.

THE

THE dispensations of providence begin to be alarming

to this secure generation, and look like the beginning of sorrows, in the great mortality prevailing in several places. And the language of such a dispensation is, as is expressed in the text bidding every one examine themselves, whether they be in the faith, &c. In which words we have two things.

1. A necessary duty proposed ; and that is, the trial of

• Though this discourse, consisting of two short fermons, was not delivered as any part of this catechetical work, yet it is here inserted on account of its affinity to the preceding discourse, and from a persuafion that it may, through the divine blefling, be useful to the reader, as the subject is of no small importance both to saints and funers; and were the design of it properly attended to, might prove a happy means of retrieving the decayed interests of religion amongst us. And it is thought, this discourse will be the more acceptable to the reader, when he is told, that it was the last the author eyer wrote, after he was confioed to his house by the illness of which he djed ; and that these two short sermons were preached from a window in the manse to the people ftanding without, on the 2d and 9th of April 1732; after which he preached no more, the God whom he had served in the work of the gospel, from the latter end of the year 1699, having called him home on the 20th of May, 1732, to inherit the crown of righteousness laid up for him. But by it, and his other valuable writings, he yet speakeih; and his name and memory will be revered, as long as a taste for pure and undefiled religion sublifts amongst us.

their state. It is proposed under a double notion, Eramine, and prove, the call being doubled, because of the weight of the matter. And,

1st, Of self-examination. And here, (1.) Consider the point the apostle would have them put to the trial, Whether ye be in the faith. He knew very well that they professed faith in Christ ; but all is not gold that glisters. None but believers, true believers, whose faith worketh by love, being a spiritual vital principle within them, will see heaven: but many take themselves, and others take them, for believers, who yet are not so. (2.) The trial he would have them to make of that point, Examine yourselves. The church of Corinth was a divided church. There was a cepsorious party among them, conceited of themselves, and despisers of this eminent and highly distinguished apostle. For all the clear demonstrations there were of the Lord's being with him, they sought a proof of Christ's speaking in him, ver. 3. Now, says he, ye are very much abroad, busy examining me, and make much ado for a proof of Christ speaking in me; I would advise you to be more at home, and examine yourselves. Put yourselves to the trial, whether ye are in the faith or not. The original word signifies to make such a trial as one does of a thing by piere, ing through it, whereby he may know what is within, and whether it be sound or not.

2dly, of self-probation : Prove your own selves, to wit, by trial, as in courts offenders are tried, or they who stand for an office are put on trials, to prove whether they be fit for it or not; or rather as goldsmiths try metals, whether by the fire, or by the touchstone, whereby they discerp the true metal from counterfeit. This is near akin to the former expression, Examino, but is not quite the same, This - last speaks the bringing the matter to a point, the pursuing the trial till it should end in a full proof of their state, good or bad. Ye, q. d. seek a proof of Christ speaking in me; pray rest not till ye get a proof of your own state.

2. The weighty ground that makes this duty necessary, most necessary; Know ye not your own selves, hore that Christ Jesus is in you, except ye be reprobates, Wherein we have,

be re

(1.) The ground itself, Christ is in you, except ye probales. Now, Christ dwells in the heart by faith, Eph, lii. 17. Where there is not a vital union with Christ the person is reprobate. There is no union with him but by faith : therefore ye have great need to examine whether ye be in faith or not. Reprobate here is not opposed to élect : for certainly the apostle did not mean to drive them to absolute despair, in case they found themselves naught in the trial ; or to persuade them, that if Christ was not in them already, he would never be in them.

them. But it is opposed to upright and genuine, and so denotes a person, or thing, that being tried is found unsound or counterfeit, as Jer. vi, ult. and so useless, absolutely unfit for the ends desired, Tit. i. ult. and so rejected, Jer, vi. ult.

(2.) The necessity of the knowledge of one's self in this point, Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, &c. Knowledge of one's self is far preferable to the knowledge of other men. Alas! what will it avail men to be raking into the state and case of others, while in the mean time they are strangers to themselves ? They do not advert to this great point, how Christ is in them, else they are all wrong for time and eternity.

Observe from the connection, That self-judging is a pro: per mean to bring people off from rash judging of others. It was not rash judging in Peter, when he pronounced Simon Magus to be in the gall of bitterness and bond of ini. quity, who had offered money for the extraordinary power of conferring the Holy Ghost. Neither is it rash judging, to pronounce profane men, scandalous in the habitual course of their lives, to be going in the way to destruction; for the spirit of God by Paul says the same thing, Gal. v. 19,-21. Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these, adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lascivi. ousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like : of the which I tell

you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things, shall not inherit the kingdom of God.? But it was rash judging in these Corinthians, to question Christ's speaking in Paul, because in some things he was not so acceptable to them as some others. So it is rash

judging, to reject men who conscientiously appear to ad. here to the uncontroverted points of practical godliness, because they differ from them in some points controverted among good and holy men. Self-judging would call men home to their own case, so that they would not be at so much leisure to ramble abroad. It would let them see so much evil in themselves, and so much they have need to be forgiven of God, that they would not dare be severe on their brethren, and rigorous on their behaviour, lest the measure they mete to others should be measured to them again. Therefore I cannot but most earnestly recommend this practice of self-judging, which will happily tend to make you low in your own eyes, and preserve you from many miscarriages to and inisconstructions of others.

Having thus explained the words, and considered their connection with the preceding context, I shall at this time only observe from them the following doctrine, viz. Doct. It is a most necessary duty lying on men profess

ing the name of Christ, to examine themselves, whether they are in the faith or not; and to pursue that examination and trial, till, bringing the matter to a proof, they come to a point with reference to that great concerp.'

In discoursing from this important doctrine, I shall con

sider,

I. The point to be tried,
II. The trial of the point,
III. Make some improvement,

I. I shall consider the point to be tried. The point concerning which every one is to try himself is, whether he is in the faith. And here let us consider,

1. What it is to be in the faith.
2. The weight and importance of this point,

First, I am to shew, what it is to be in the faith. To have true faith, or to be true believers, and to be in the faith, is all one as to the matter ; even as to be in Christ, and Christ's being in us, is the same thing in effect. The man that is endowed with the grace of faith, enriched with precious faith, is in the faith: and the faithless, the unbelieving, in whom the grace of saving faith has never been wrought by the Holy Spirit, is not in the faith. But I conceive the expression aims at these three things.

1. The elect's peculiarity of this heavenly gift; hence called the faith of God's elect,' Tit. i. 1. It is the peculiar treasure of these happy objects of everlasting love; it is given to none but them; it remains among that blessed party, as a peculiarity of their community. Hence the apostle Peter addressed himself to those to whom he writes, under this character, to them that have obtained like precious faith with us,' 2 Pet. i. 1. There is a fourfold faith mentioned in scripture: An historical faith, that devils partake of, Jam. ii. 19; a faith of miracles, which one may have, and yet want charity, or true saving grace, 1 Cor. xiii. 2. a temporary faith, which apostates in the end may have had, like the stony-ground hearers, Matth. xiii. 20, 21. But the faith here to be tried, is the faith that unites to Christ, which none have but those ordain. ed to eternal life,' Acts xiii. 48. It is that whereby a sinner receives and embraces Jesus Christ as a Saviour, and relies upon and trusts in him as his Saviour in particular, for the whole of his salvation, and in virtue of which he lives to God. Now, it is every one's concern to try whether he be in this faith or not.

2. The life of faith. The Christian life is indeed the life of faith. Hence Paul says, “The life which I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God, Gal. ii. 20. By Adam's eating the forbidden fruit, mankind were led off from the heavenly life into the life of sense, living to gratify their senses, follow their passions, please the vanity of their minds, and the vileness of their affections. Now, God has by Jesus Christ brought in a new way of heavenly life as the road to happiness ; and that is the life of faith. Ye should try whether ye are in that road or not. The life of sense is indeed a spiritual death: see whether ye are in the faith, as in the life, the true life of the soul.

3. The operativeness or efficacy of faith: for "faith worketh by love, Gal. v. 6. Faith lies inwardly, undiscernible to all the world, but to God and the believer him

« PreviousContinue »