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SERMON ON REFLECTION. which the prophet speaks of in the PSALM cix. 59.
text, of turning our attention to the I called mine own ways to remembrance, would never fail to do with every
written word of God. And this it and turned my feet unto thy testimonies.
reasonable man, were it not that its We have in these words a short de- voice is stifled by a multitude of scription of the two component parts calls upon his attention, far less imof true religion; serious reflection portant indeed, but louder and more upon our own duties and proceed- immediately urgent. It very rarely ings, and a life of obedience to the happens that conscience has fair law of God, as laid down in the play. It is, however, a great part Scriptures, which David calls “ the of our duty, as reasonable creatures, testimonies of the Lord,”— testimo- to cherish and encourage it, and to nies of his goodness, and of man's du- be on the watch for its suggestions, ties and necessities. The second of that we may not incur the aggravated these parts is a natural consequence sin of failing in the performance of of the first. Seldom, indeed, does it our duty, for want of listening to happen, that he who calls his own the advice of a monitor, who speaks ways to remembrance, fails to turn to us from within our own breasts. unto the testimonies of God's law. It is a very common saying,
We are placed in this world for " That every man loves himself the purpose of glorifying God, and best, and thinks most of himself :" of securing, by the same means, our but if we consider that every man's admission hereafter into a better self, properly speaking, is his state. For the guidance and regu- soul, we shall find that the saying lation of our conduct, He has given no longer holds good; and that most two rules or laws, that of conscience, meu think about any thing rather and that of the Scriptures; the than themselves. Their thoughts former implanted in our breasts, a are wholly occupied about the comquick and powerful monitor, but forts and enjoyments of their perishliable to be deceived or corrupted; able part, while the eternal welfare the latter laid open for the inspec- of the soul, which will never die, is tion and information of those who seldom an object of concern. It choose to take it for their guide, is the great business of religion to fixed, certain, and uperring. It is remedy this weakness and perverseby the standard of the Scriptures ness of our nature, and to bring that we must examine the decisions back mankind to proper notions of of conscience, and see whether we their present state and future des may safely abide by them. Indeed, tination-to teach them the hurtful the great use of conscience, is that or the transitory nature of the objects REMEMBRANCER, No. 38,
of this world, which is intended own ways to remembrance, and only to be a passage and introduc- turned my feet unto thy testimonies.” tion to a better state, and the infi. There is no duty, therefore, which nitely greater value of those rewards a minister who has the spiritual which are
more certain, though welfare of his brethren at heart, seen at a greater distance. And will more earnestly recommend, than the great difficulty which the minis- this of seif-communion and meditaters of religion encounter, in their tion; and surely there is none which is endeavours to recall mankind to a rendered more necessary by the in. sense of the relation in which they firmities of our nature, and the danstand towards God, is the reluct. gers with which we are surrou
rounded, ance which most men feel to enter than the habit of occasionally reupon a serious examination of them- tiring within ourselves, and taking selves. When once we can persuade 'a review of our conduct. As we a man to look to his own condition, are placed here in a state of trial, and to reflect upon what he has and are boru to troubles and temptadone, compared with what he ought tions of every sort, while at the to have done, there is every reason same time our final happiness de. to hope that he will go on, and pends upon our uprightness and dibecome a good Christian. He is ligence, it is plain that we should able, perhaps, to quiet for a time the be often, if not always, looking whisperings of conscience; or they around us, and casting our eyes are overpowered by the business or alterujately upon the paths we have amusements of life; but when once already trodden, and upon the steps he steps aside from the bustle of we are about to take. A Christian, the world to the privacy and silence who would live according to the of his chamber, and sets himself to Christian rule of life, striving to be consider his ways—when he “com- perfect, even as his father which is munes with his own heart, and his in heaven is perfect, has so much to spirit makes diligent search *,” it is repent of in the past, and so much scarcely possible that he should re to provide against in the future, main ignorant of his dangerous con that he can never afford to neglect dition. He cannot bat be alarmed an opportunity of laying both to at the fearful array of sins com- heart. Prudence and foresight are mitted, and of duties neglected, much better than repentance--it is which pass in review before him. a much safer and more satisfactory He sees his own miserable and sin- thing, to avoid a fault, than to be ful state, and calls to mind the sorry afterwards for having comthreats of anger and punishment mitted it. But our weakness is such, which God has denounced against and we have so little knowledge of offenders like himself. He begius future trials and dangers, that the to be sensible that religion is a business of repentance must neces: much more serious concern than he sarily occupy most of our thoughts, had believed it to be, and feels that in the hours of retirement and inedi. it will be well for him to take more tation. thought about it for the future : The first thing which a man And thus the first step is taken will naturally do, upon discharging towards conversion, which by the from his mind all concerns but those assistance of God's grace will pro- of the soul, and giving his conscience bably be improved to the purposes an opportunity of making itself beard, of a hearty repentance and true will be, to revert to the weak or turning unto God. . I called mine wicked actions of his life; and these
will naturally appear a more se
rious and pressing concern, than the * Ps.Ixxvii. 6.
making provision for his future be
haviour: and therefore the Psalmist into the dangerous state of the soul. does not say, I considered the way But if we remember that the good in which I ought to walk, and turned things of this life are talents enmy footsteps to it; but “I called trusted to our keeping, and its evil mine own ways to remembrance, and things trials or warnings intended turned my feet unto thy testimonies.” for our improvement, we shall see
Repentance is the first step to. the necessity of pausing from time wards a conversion and turning to time, to consider the use which we to God; it is the first and earliest have made of both, and what reason doctrine of the Gospel: Jesus said, we have to look forward towards “Iam come to call sinners to repent. that heavenly state which is proauce *.” “I showed,” says St. Paul, mised only to the penitent and the “ first to the Jews and then to the faithful. Gentiles that they should repent and There are two objects upon which turn to God t.'_We must all be the Christian's meditations ought washed in the waters of this Jordan, principally to dwell; the remembefore we can be cleansed from the brance of past sins, and the prose leprosy of sin-our spirit must come pects of the life to come. A serious again like the spirit of a young child, review of his past conduct, compared before we can enter into the kingdom with the law of the Gospel, will show of heaven. And how can this be ef- him the danger of persevering in the fected without the help of self-exa- same thoughtless or ungodly ways mination? If we do not withdraw in which he has hitherto walked ; ourselves from all other thoughts, and the prospect of beavenly redescend into our own souls, and wards will confirm his better resosee wbat are the sins by which they lutions, and show him the folly of have been defiled, how can we know sacrificing his chance of imperishthen or be sorry for them as able treasures for the short-lived enought? This is a duty which no joyments of sin. This self commuman can do for us, nor materially nion is the proper exercise of the assist us in, except by exhorting us soul, which is requisite to keep it in to the performance of it. “Every health, compared with which," boman knoweth the plague of his own dily exercise," as the Apostle says, heart t:" every man knows best, if he “profiteth little g.” It is the struggle will let his conscience tell the truth, by which it gradually disengages itself what his offences are. But he knows from the incumbrances of this life, them not, while be is hurried and prepares itself for its flight to a along by the business of the world, better. It awakens our reason and or intoxicated with its pleasures.- our conscience, and breaks through He knows them not, until he makes the delusions of the flesh; we see inquiry into their nature and amount; before us in their true and lively and this he cannot do, except be colours the sinfuluess of our own looks back in quiet and seriousness conduct, and the holiness of the upou his former life and calls to true Christian; the deceitfulness of membrance the days that are past." this world, and the glories of that While every thing goes on well with which is to come.
It furnishes us us, and the prosperous state of our
with remedies for past transgressions, worldly affairs seems to be the re aud preservatives against them for ward of our diligence or contrivance, the time to come, and with abunWe are more apt to look with com dance of comfort under distress placency upon our flourishing con “ In the multitude of my troubled dition in this world, than to inquire thoughts within me,” said David,
thy comforts delight my soul ll.” * Mat, ix, 13. + Acts xxvi, 20. | 1 Kivgs viii. 38.
$ 1 Tim, iv, 8. || Ps. xciv. 19.
One of the greatest recommen which he felt at these omissions, dations of the duty of calling our awakened him to vigilance, and he own ways to remembrance, is, that now finds, that his faith has been it is the surest, if not the only stronger, his piety warmer, bis atmethod of avoiding, for the future, tention to the offices of religion more The sins and the follies of which we conscientious, his charity more ready have been heretofore guilty; and in and active: and the satisfaction, this respect, it is beneficial, even in which he feels at his own improvea worldly point of view. If men ment, both rewards him for his past could always pause before the com endeavours, and encourages him to mission of an action, and calmly go on, and “let patience have her consider its probable consequences, perfect work; that he may be perwhat a safeguard would it be against fect and entire, wanting nothing sin? But it generally happens, that In short, it may be truly said, that experience must be bought; and every time we retire within ourselves therefore the next best thing, is ta for the purpose of calling our own look back upon our past conduct, ways to remembrance, we draw one and consider the consequences which step nearer to God. None of us are it has produced; and if in these so far advanced toward perfection as consequences we number not only not to require an occasional survey the actual inconvenience and suffer- and remembrance of our own ways. ing, the uneasiness and dissatisfac- The noblest and most profitable use tion which our bad actions have which we can make of memory, is produced, but also the danger in to recall whatever we have done which they have placed us of losing amiss; and if we do not take ad
elernal salvation, we shall vantage of a faculty, which God tas have the strongest possible motives given us for the purpose of selffor avoiding a repetition of them, amendment, our sin will be very great. whether we consider ourselves merely The state of our soul is a matas the children of this world, or as ter of the most fearful import. creatures intended for a better. ance; let us not perish eternally for
Since there is no method so likely want of laying it to heart. Let us to make us amend our conduct, as judge ourselves, that we be not that of reflecting upon our past ways, judged of the Lord. Let us look it follows, that the oftener we have back upon our past lives with strictrecourse to it, the better we shall be, ness and repentance, and then we and the more agreeable will be the may look forward to the future with performance of the duty itself. How hope. If not, let us remember that sweet a satisfaction is it to the pious time wears away, and the number of Christian, when he retires for the sins unrepented of is increasing, and purpose of self-examination, to dis. the night cometh, in which no work, cover that the sins, which he had not even that of repentance, can be occasion to lament, when he last in- done. And think with yourselves, quired into his own condition, have how fearful the condition of that not been committed since ; that he is
man will be, who calls his own ways able to wipe out one offence from to remembrance for the first time the catalogue of those which then when he stands before the judgment made him tremble for his salvation. seat of Christ! May we, before The last time that he called bis it be too late, take heed to the ex. own ways to remembrance, he found hortation of the prophet. “Let us perhaps, that he had been remiss in search, and try our ways, and turn his devotions, careless in his per- again to the Lord t." formance of public worship, negli
B. gent in relieving the distress of his poorer brethren.
James i, de Lam, iii. 40,
THE HEAVENLY WITNESSES NOT AUTHENTIC. To the Editor of the Remembrancer. rather than of the fifteenth century,
can scarcely weigh a feather in the Sir,
scale of evidence; for, supposing It is with infinite and sincere regret, the conjecture to be true, the argu. that I see made, as well by your ment to be balanced from the disself, as by the learned and inde- crepancy of the manuscripts, is not fatigable bishop of St. David's, such whether one particular manuscript strenuous exertions to support the were of the thirteenth or fifteenth authenticity of the too celebrated century; but whether it be not much passage of the heavenly witnesses; more probable, that the verse should à passage which, notwithstanding have been fraudulently thrust into what has been now further urged in one solitary Greek manuscript, than its favour, I venture to pronounce, that it should have been negligently not only a foul and scandalous in or purposely omitted in all the terpolation of the epistle itself, but Greek manuscripts besides, which a sad reproach to the whole Chris. have been bitherto consulted; and, tian episcopate, in that they have especially, when with this triumtranquilly suffered it to be imposed phant majority of the manuscripts on the Christian world, without agree, likewise, all the ancient verusing their best endeavours to give sions that were ever made from the publicity to the fraud, and to arrest Greek tongue in the early ages of its progress.
the Church. For what, I pray, is the result of That it was originally no part of all the laborious enquiries which the Syriac version, is known to all. have been made in tracing its ex- Gutbir, indeed, in his very laboriistence before the invention of print ous and useful edition, has inserted ing? It is proved not to have been it; but since the antithesis of, cited by any of the numerous and in earth, is not likewise inserted voluminous fathers of the Greek in the eighth, the deformity of the Church; nor to bave been extant patchwork is most glaring; and the in any Greek manuscript whatever, whole of the praise due to the saving a very suspicious and modern learned editor is, that he has left one, into wbich the verse had doubt now but a very little to do for those less been translated, and copied from that may come after him. He prothe text of the Vulgate. It was to bably felt ashamed to interpolate be found neither in the Syriac, por too much at once; and, indeed, to in the Coptic, nor in the Æthiopic, an ingenuous mind like his, I can vor in the Armenian version; ver. easily conceive, that the insertion sions which must have been seve of the seventh verse even, would rally made from Greek manuscripts be attended with some little misof the very first ages of the Chris- giving of conscience at the guilt tian Church ; an argument with me which he was contracting. of such preponderance and force, For the whole of the New Testathat had the passage been found ment in Coptic, corrected from the in twenty of the existing Greek authority of the best manuscripts, manuscripts instead of one, I should we have to thank the industry of the still have condemned it as an inter- learned David Wilkins. In this verpolation of the text.
sion the passage does not appear. That the Dublin manuscript The editor, however, has very obligshould have been thought by Dr. ingly left a space; so that in the Adam Clarke to be of the thirteenth event of there ever being a call for