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The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his
master's crib :-but Ifrael doth not know, -my people doth not consider.
IS a severe but an affectionate re
proach of the prophet's, laid against the Israelites, --which may safely be applied to every heedless, and unthankful people, who are neither won by God's mercies, or terrified by his punishments. - There is a giddy, thoughless, intemperate spirit gone forth - into the world, which poffefses the generality of mankind, and the reason the world is undone, is, because the world does not consider,-considers neither awful rea gard to God, or the true relation themselves bear to him.---Could they consider this, and learn to weigh the causes, and compare the consequences of things, and to exercise the reason, which God has put into us for the government
and direction of our lives, there would be some hopes of a reformation:--but, as the world goes, there is no leisure for such enquiries, and so full are our minds of other matters, that we have not time to ask, or a heart to answer the questions we ought to put to ourselves.
Whatever our condicion is, 'tis good to be acquainted with it in time, to be able to supply what is wanting, -and examine the Itate of our accompts, before we come to give them up to an impartial judge.
The most inconsiderate see the reasonableness of this,—there being few. I believe, either so thoughtless, or even fo bad, but that they sometimes enter upon this duty, and have some short intervals of self-examination, which they are forced upon, if from no other motive, yet at least to free themselves from the load and oppression of spirits, they muft necessarily be subject to without it.But as the scripture frequently intimates, and observation confirms it daily,--that there are many mistakes
attending the discharge of this duty,— I cannot make the remainder of this discourse more useful, than by a short enquiry into them. I shall therefore, first, beg leave to remind you of some of the many unhappy ways, by which we often fet about this irksome task of proving our works, without being either the better, 'or the wiser for the employ: ment.
And first then let us begin with that, which is the foundation of almost all the other false measures we take in this matter,----that is, the setting about the examination of our works, before we are prepared with
honest dispositions to amend them.------- This is beginning the work at the wrong end. These previous dispositions in the heart, are the wheels that should make this work go easily and successfully forwards,---and to take them off, and proceed without them, 'tis no miracle, if like Pharaoh's chariots, they that drive them ----drive them heavily along..
Besides, if a man is not sincerely inclined to reform his faults.---'tis not likely he should be inclined to see them.-----nor will all the weekly preparations that ever were wrote, bring him nearer the point;----so that with how serious a face soever he begins to examine,-----he no longer does the office of an enquirer,---but an apologist, whose business is not to search for truth,-----but skilfully to hide it.--------So long.--therefore, as this pre-engagement lasts betwixt the man and his old habits,----there is little prospect of proving his works to any good purpose. -----of, whatever kind they are, with so strong an interest and power on their side.----As in other trials, fo in this, 'tis no wonder, if the evidence is puzzled and confounded, and the several facts and circumstances so twisted from their natural shapes, and the whole proof so altered and confirmed on the other fide, ----as to leave the last state of that man even worse than the first.
A fecond unhappy, though general mistake in this great duty of proving our
works -----is that which the apostle hints at; in the doing it, not by a direct examination of our own actions, but from a comparative view of them, with the lives and actions of other men.
When a man is going to enter upon this work of self-examination ------there is nothing so common, as to see him-----look round him-------instead of looking within him..--He looks round,.----finds out some one, who is more malicious,... fees another that is more covetous, a third that is more proud and imperious than himself,------and so indirealy forms a judgment of himself, not from a review of his life, and a proving of his own works as the apostle directs him, but rather from proving the works of others, and from their infirmities and defects drawing a deceitful conclusion in favour of himself.--.-.--In all competitions of this kind----one may venture to fay, there will be ever so much of felflove in a man, as to draw a flattering likeness of one of the parties------and 'ris well---if he has not so much malignity too, as to give but a coarse picture of