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all attainments to every man is, the knowledge of himself. Yet among the thousands who assume a Christian profession, multitudes are ignorant of their spiritual state. They are hastening blindfolded to eternity.—To stimulate such persons seriously and without delay to try their character by the word of God, and to afford some help both to them, and to all who are solicitous to know their real condition, is the design of the Author in this work. His aim has been to treat every part of it with Scriptural plainness and simplicity. As he is not aware of any previous treatise on the same plan, he fondly hopes that it may be serviceable to the cause of vital godli
-To the care of that Divine Redeemer he now commits it, for the spiritual good of whose church it has been penned; and to Him he looks up in prayer, to render this humble effort instrumental in opening the eyes of some who are self-deceivers, and in ministering direction and comfort to his own saints !
GLASGOW, December, 1830.
DUTY AND IMPORTANCE OF KNOWING OUR RELIGIOUS CHARACTER.
Introductory observations,-ignorance of their spiritual state common
among professing Christians,-neglect of self-examination one of the
great causes of this,-this duty enforced, 1. God has commanded it.-
2. God has furnished means suited to its performance.-3. God has pro-
mised the assistance of his Spirit.-4. Ignorance of our state therefore
dishonouring and offensive to God.–5. All other knowledge of little
importance compared with this.—6. Of vast importance to those who are
not genuine Christians.—7. Necessary to the peace and comfort of true
believers.-8. Without it none can aright improve the means of grace.
9. The longer this duty is delayed it becomes the more difficult.-
10. Opportunities for it will soon be at an end.–11. We must soon be
1. The want of scriptural and clear views of what constitute genuine evi-
dences of Christian character.-2. The imposing similarity between sav-
ing grace and its counterfeits.–3. The partiality of self-love.-4. Timo-
rous and humble diffidence in real believers.-5. Diversity of natural
temper, and the effects of early education and habits.-6. Proneness to
look at outward actions, without attending to the motives from which
they proceed ; and inability, in many instances, to ascertain what our
motives were.—7. Smallness of grace, and imperfections of charact
8. Seasons of spiritual darkness and desertion.-9. The temptations of
Satan,-10. A state of melancholy. .
DIRECTIONS FOR SELF-EXAMINATION.
Directions to be observed preparatory to self-examination, l. You must
seriously view it both as your duty, and your interest.–2. You must be
persuaded that, though difficult, it is practicable.-3. You ought to fix on
suitable scripture marks of Christian character, that you may have them
ready for your assistance.—4. You should choose a proper time.-5. You
should go to a suitable place of retirement.–Directions respecting the
manner in which this duty should be performed, 1. This exercise should
be commenced with a deep sense of your inability to perform it aright,
and with prayer for the assistance of the Spirit of God.—2. It should be
executed with much care and diligence.—3. With patient deliberation
-4. With all possible impartiality.-5. Repeatedly.-6. The word of
FALSE MARKS, FREQUENTLY MISTAKEN AS EVIDENCES OF A
1. Sharp and painful convictions.—2. Some kind of sorrow for sin.-3. A
temporary, or a partial forsaking of sin.-4. The non-appearance of vi-
cious affections, mistaken for their non-existence.-5. A strict observance
of religious duties.-6. Religious gifts, viewed as effects of the Holy
Spirit's saving operations.—7. Natural mildness of temper, taken for
Christian meekness.-8. A naturally merciful and beneficent disposition.
-9. Some kind of delight in the ordinances of the gospel.–10. Some kind
of love to the people of God.-11. Some kind of love to Christ.–12. A
spurious zeal in the cause of religion.-13. A formal and written self-
dedication to the Lord.-14. Confident and boasting assurance of salva-
GENUINE EVIDENCES OF SAVING GRACE.
1. Habitual renunciation of all dependence on our own righteousness, and
a humble and fixed reliance on the righteousness of Christ.—2. Love to
Christ in all his offices and characters.-3. A prevailing desire to be con-
formed to his image.—4. Love to the word of God.–5. Love to the approv-
ed followers of Christ.–6. Love to the Lord's day, and to the public ordi.
nances of religion.—7. Habitual endeavours to obey all God's command-
ments.-8. A cordial approval of the spirituality and holiness of the
divine law.-9. The spirit and practice of secret prayer.-10. Resisting
the thoughts and emotions of sin.-11. Heavenly-mindedness.-12. Sincere
concern for the salvation of others.
ADDRESS TO THOSE WHO HAVE NO GENUINE EVIDENCE OF A
1. If you are destitute of all the evidences in the preceding Chapter, be
assured you are still in a state of condemnation.—2. Your present con-
dition is peculiarly dangerous.-3. Your punishment shall be dreadful if
you die in your present state.-4. You are not yet without hope.-
5. There is no safety for you except in Christ.-6. Christ is able to save
the very chief of sinners.—7. Christ is willing to save you, and all who
come to him.-8. Let these truths Be impressed on your mind, and, as a
perishing sinner, flee to Christ, and believe in him, and you shall be sav.
ed.-9. Give yourself no rest till you have ground to conclude that you
are truly a believer in Christ.
Different opinions concerning assurance of salvation. - 1. It has been at
tained by many.—2. The sacred scriptures exhort us to seek it, and en-
courage us to expect it.-3. The Bible furnishes us with numerous marks
of Christian character to aid us in arriving at the knowledge of our state.
4. The Holy Spirit witnesses with the hearts of God's children respect-
ing their interest in Christ.–5. Assurance is not inseparably connected
with faith in Christ, and therefore not a common attainment of genuine
believers.-6. None but saints of eminent holiness can ordinarily reach
it.-7. After it is obtained, for a season it may be obscured or lost.-8. As
it may be obtained by every believer, so none should rest satisfied with-
Introductory observations.-1. Growth in grace obviously implies its real
existence in the soul.-2. The divine seed from which it springs, is
usually at first small and weak.–3. The Holy Spirit is the great efficient
cause of growth in grace.-4. It is usually effected by the diligent use of
means.-5. The Christian does not always grow in grace.-6. When grace
grows, its effects are always visible.—7. Growth in grace is generally im-
perceptible to the Christian himself.-8. It is usually most discernible in
the early stages of the Christian life.-9. The Christian may grow in some
graces, and but little in others.-10. Progress in growth in grace is ex-
ceedingly various, but is commonly proportioned to Christian diligence.
-ll. Growth in grace is a blessing which is promised, and after
which every Christian is both commanded and inclined to aspire.
1. That Christian is growing in grace, who finds himself becoming more
dead to the world.-22. More alive to the importance of his salvation, and
more sensible of the difficulties with which it is attended.-3. More hum-
ble under a sense of his weakness, and more dependent on Christ.-
4. More victorious over depraved propensities.-5. More self-denied.--
6. More lively in his relish for religious duties, and more spiritual in
their observance.-7. Increasing tenderness of conscience, and watchful-
ness against sin.--8. A lively concern for the prosperity of Christ's
church.-9. Meekness under injuries, and a spirit of forgiveness.-10. Re-
ceiving with calmness and love the reproofs of good men.-11. A grateful
spirit for even common and small mercies.-12. Resignedness to the will
of God under trials.-13. A habitual sense of the presence of God, and
a desire to act for his glory.
1. Growth in grace is often prevented by the influence of worldly relatives -
and companions.—2. By embarking too deeply in worldly business.-3. By
approximations to fraudulence, for the sake of gain.-4. By devoting too
much time to worldly amusements.5. By immoderate attachment to
any earthly object.-6. By indulging in acrimonious controversies, whe-
ther religious or political.—7. By attendance on an unbelieving and un-
faithfulçminister.—8. By the languid and formal observance of religious
duties.—9. By the frequent omission of religious duties.-10. By shunning
the society and religious converse of Christian friends.-11. By relapses
1. To grow in grace, you must increase in the knowledge of Christ, as
revealed in the scriptures.—2. Be regular in attending the public ordi.
nances of religion.—3. Be frequent in commemorating Christ's death.-
4. Be careful to sanctify the Lord's day in private.-5. Frequently engage
in religious meditation.-6. Often practise self-examination.—7. Abound
in prayer, especially ejaculatory prayer.-8. Exercise habitual watchful.
ness.-9. Frequently converse with them who fear the Lord.-10. Often
visit them who are in affliction, and on a death-bed.-11. Peruse often
the memoirs of eminent saints.-12. Daily recognise the hand of God in
his providential dispensations.-13. Occasionally set apart some time for
a full and particular inquiry into your progress in holiness, and your
1. By growing in grace, you will promote the glory of God. --2. You will
advance your own happiness.-3. You will prove beneficial to those who
are strangers to godliness.-4. You will strengthen the hands and en-
courage the hearts of God's children.-5. You will contribute to the joy of
heaven.-6. You will render every duty more easy and pleasant.—7. You
will be qualified becomingly to bear trials and afflictions.-8. You will be
prepared to meet death itself with composure and triumph.-9. You will
advance your meetness for heaven.-10. You shall obtain distinguished
approbation from Christ, before assembled angels and men.-11. You
shall obtain an enlarged share of heavenly glory.-12. It will afford you
delightful reflections through eternity.