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which it concludes, by moderating those enjoyments with which it begins, and enable us to endure that awful responsibility which awaits us in another existence, by inuring us to justice, and righteousness, in this.
In entering into this species of judgment with ourselves, we must resolve not to be deceived; the scriptures do not only say, try thy heart, but try thy heart diligently; meaning thereby, that men are subject to every species of deception in this exercise, and that nothing can render it edifying, but an honest, and manly resolution to get at the truth; to examine into such matters falsely, and feebly, is only to disturb pleasure, without improving godliness; it only renders sin bitter, without bringing us nearer to righteousness; therefore, the affair is to be insisted upon earnestly, and subjected to calm revision; and every habit is to be encouraged, which can render a man candid, and impartial to himself, for wretched indeed is the state of that man, who enquires only to approve, and who throws a veil over the dangers of sin, by the mockery of pious investigation.
I have laid some stress, through the whole of my discourse, upon the necessity of systematic, and intentional self-examination, which I have done for two reasons ;because self-examination, which arises from accident, is often too late, or it may not take place at all: Some men pass through life, without meeting with any serious, and warning visitation of God; they pass through life, therefore, as ignorant of themselves, as of any human being, with whom they have never held the smallest intercourse; there are men, who come near to the grave, without having once entered into their own hearts, or having the slightest conception of that system of passions and feelings, which is going on there, and working their everlasting happiness, or destruction. Many a man dies, possessing all other knowledge than the best; master of the secrets of nature; deeply versed in the habits of mankind; great in the science of governing; completely ignorant of himself; not knowing, to the hour of his dissolution, whether he is the child of sin, or the servant of Christ.
Blessed, indeed, blessed above all
his fellow creatures, is he who can bid adieu to the concluding year, without an aching heart; who can stand upon the threshold of the fresh time, and look back, to say he has not lived in vain; how pleasant, to open his arms to the coming spring, and to think that that which bringeth flowers and green herbs, and layeth the unkind winds to rest, shall bring, also, its increase of piety, and of wisdom, and calm the troubles of the mind. In all Europe, the new year is celebrated with joy, it is a feast to the peasant, and the child; and there is no man, however enlightened his understanding, who will look down on such pleasures, without some share of complacency, and approbation; they have their founda-. tion in the human mind, which is ever prone to hope, and looks forward to brighter seasons, and fairer skies, with the expectations of some great advantage, though it knows not precisely what; let us give way to the general impulse, and usher in the new year by some act of Christian mercy, and goodness, forgive a debt, forget an injury, hold out your hand to a repentant brother, take back to your h art an ofending child, go
into the darkness of the dungeon, and refresh the sorrows of a languishing prisoner, make this season holy before the Lord; do something on it, which may gain you eternal life; before the last days are come; before the years are brought to an end, as it were a tale that is told.