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debts and ceremonies of the law; not balancing the acount as he ought to have done, in this manner :-What! though this man is a publican and a sinner, have not I my vices as well as he? 'Tis true, his particular office exposes him to many temptations of committing extortion and injustice ;-but then-am not I a devourer of widow's houses, and guilty of one of the most cruel inftances of the same crime? He possibly is a profane person, and may set religion at nought; but do not I myself, for a pretence, make long prayers, and bring the greatest of all scandals upon religion, by making it the cloak to my ambition and worldly views? --If he, lastly, is debauched or intemperate-am not I conscious of as corrupt and wanton dispositions; and that a fair and guarded outside is my best pretence to the opposite character.
If a man will examine his works by a comparative view of them with others; this, no doubt, would be the fairer way, and leaft like. ly to mislead him. But as this is seldom the method this trial is gone through,-in fact it generally turns out to be as treacherous and delusive to the man himself, as it is uncandid.
to the man who is dragged into the comparison ; and whoever judges of himself by this rule, --so long as there is no scarcity of vicious characters in the world,-'tis to be feared, he will often take the occasions of triumph and rejoicing, ----Where, in truth, he ought rather to be sorry and ashamed.
A third error in the manner of proving our works, is what we are guilty of, when we leave out of the calculation the only material parts of them ;-I mean, the motives, and first principles from whence they proceeded. There is many a fair instance of generosity, chastity, and felf-denial, which the world may give a man the credit of which, if he would give himself the leisure to reflect upon, and trace back to their first springs,- he would be conscious proceeded from such views and intentions as, if known, would not be to his honour.
The truth of this may be made evident by a thousand instances in life ;-_ and yet there is nothing more usual than for a man, when he is going upon this duty of self-examination,-instead of calling his own ways to remembrance,--to close the whole enquiry at once, with this short challenge ;-"That he de
fies the world to say ill of him.” If the world has no express evidence, this indeed may be an argument of his good luck ;-but no satisfactory one of the real goodness and innocence of his life.- A man may be a very bad man,and yet, through caution,—through deep-laid policy and design, may so guard all outward appearances, as never to want this negative teftimony on his side, that the world knows no evil of bim,-how little foever he deserves it. Of all assays upon a man's self, this may be said to be the slightest; this method of proving the goodness of our works differing but little in kind from that unhappy one, which many unwary people take in proving the goodness of their coin,-who, if it happens to be suspicious,-instead of bringing it either to the balance or the touch-stone to try its worth,—they ignorantly go forth; try if they can pass it upon the world:-if so, all is well, and they are saved all the expence and pains of enquiring after and detecting the cheat.
A fourth error, in this duty of examination of mens works,- is that of committing the talk to others;—an error into which thousands of well-meaning creatures are in nared in the
Romish church, by her doctrines of auricular confession, of works of supererogation, and the many lucrative practices raised upon that capital stock.-The trade of which is carried to luch a height in Popish countries, that if you was at Rome or Naples now, and was di[posed, in compliance with the apostle's exhortation in the text, to set about this duty, to prove your own works,—'tis great odds whether you would be suffered to do it yourself, without interruption; and you might be said to have escaped well, if the first person you consulted upon it did not talk you out of your resolution, and possibly your senses too at the same time.-Prove your works!—for heaven's fake, desift from so rash an undertaking ;what!—trust your own skill and judgment in a matter of so much difficulty and importance —when there are so many whose business it is, --who understand it so well, and who can do it for you with so much safety and advantage ?
If your works must be proved, you would be advised, by all means, to send them to undergo this operation with some one who knows what he is about, either some expert and no
ted ted confessor of the church,—or to some convent or religious society, who are in poffeffion of a large stock of good works of all kinds, wrought up by faints and confessors, where you may suit yourself,—and either get the defects of your own supplied.-or be accommo dated with new ones, ready proved to your hands, sealed and certified to be so by the Pope's commissary, and the notaries of his ecclesiastic court. There needs little more to lay open this fatal error,—than barely to represent it. So I shall only add a short remark,
that they who are persuaded to be thus virtuous by proxy, and will prove the goodness of their works only by deputies,—will have no reason to complain against God's justice,if he suffers them to go to heaven only in the same manner,-that is,-by deputies too.
• The last mistake which I shall have time to mention, is that which the Methodists have revived, for 'tis no new error-but one which has misled thousands before these days, whereever enthusiasm had goot footing,—and that is,
the attempting to prove their works by that very argument which is the greatest proof of their weakness and superstition;-I mean, that