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in serious Christians another spirit than in the world: and whether they live not upon the things above, which your belief and love did never reach? Look upon believers, and consider why they pray, and watch, and study to please God, and then bethink yourselves, whether you have not as much cause to do so as they and so you may perceive your negligence by their diligence; your senselessness by their tenderness of heart and conscience; your fleshliness by their spirituality; and the rest of your sins by the lustre of their graces. Saith Gregory 'Qui plenissime intelligere appetit qualis sit, talis debet aspicere qualis non est; ut in bonorum forma metiatur quantur ipse deformis est:' that is, He that would fully understand what he is, must look on such as are better than himself, that in the comeliness of the good, he may take the measure of his own deformity. As Isidore saith, Minus homo seipsum ex seipso considerat:' Men know
not themselves by themselves alone.
Hence, therefore, the servants of God may see how exactly they should live, and of what consequence it is that they be eminently holy! when it is they that by their heavenly excellency must convince the world of their sinfulness and misery. O Christians, do you live such exemplary and convincing lives? Is there indeed that excellency of holiness appearing in you, which may shew men, to the glory of your Redeemer, how the heirs of heaven do differ from the world? Alas, our common careless living, doth wrong to multitudes as well as to ourselves; and is a cruelty to the souls whose salvation we are bound by our examples to promote. What then do those men, that by their vicious, scandalous conversation, do harden the ungodly, and cause them to think contemptuously, and to speak scornfully of the holy way! O, woe to them, if they repent not, by whom such offence cometh !
Especially ministers should see that their lives be a continual lecture; as Jerom saith, Episcopi domus et conversatio quasi in speculo posita, magistra est publicæ disciplinæ quicquid fecerit, id sibi omnes faciendum putant.' That is, The house and conversation of a bishop, is set as in a glass (or to be beheld) as the teacher of public discipline: all think they should do whatever he doth. And therefore Chrysostom concludeth That a priest that is bad, doth acquire by his priesthood, not dignity but disgrace: For (saith
he) thou sittest in judgment on thyself: If thou live well and preach well, thou instructest the people: if thou preach well and live ill, thou condemnest thyself. For by living well and preaching well, thou instructest the people how to live: but by preaching well and living ill, thou instructest God as it were how to condemn thee.'
And hence it is also that the servants of God should have the care of their fame, as well as of their conversation; because the reputation of religion dependeth much on the reputation of the religious and reputation doth much to the encouraging or discouraging of the ungodly that are strangers to the things themselves. Saith Augustine, Conscientia necessaria est tibi, fama proximo tuo: qui famam ancupans negligit conscientiam, hypocrita est: qui confidens conscientiæ negligit famam, crudelis est.' That is, Conscience is necessary for thyself: and thy good name is necessary for thy neighbour. He that hunteth after fame, and neglecteth conscience, is an hypocrite: and he that so trusteth to a good conscience as to neglect his good name, is cruel (to others). When we mind our fame for the good of others, and the service of God, and not to please a proud vainglorious mind; and when we do it without immoderate care, seeking it only by righteous means, and referring the issue to the will of God, as being prepared for evil report as well as good, this is but to improve our talent to our master's use.
II. I come next to the internal impediments to selfacquaintance, especially in the worser sort of men.
1. The first that I shall acquaint you with is, That natural deep-rooted sin of pride, which strongly inclineth men to think well of themselves, and to desire that all others do so too: so that where pride is not discovered and subdued by grace, men will scarce endure to be closely questioned by ministers or other friends about their sin, and the condition of their souls. What! question them whether they are ungodly, unsanctified, the servants of sin and Satan; in a state of death and condemnation! Their hearts will rise with indignation against him that will put such questions to them. What! question them whether they have any saving grace! Whether they are regenerate, pardoned, and have any wellgrounded hopes of heaven! They love not the searching
word of God; they love not the distinguishing passages of Scripture; they love not a faithful searching minister, because they would dishonour and trouble them with such doubts as these. A proud man judgeth not of himself as he is, but as his tumified, distempered fancy representeth him to himself to be: To" think himself something when he is nothing," and so to be wilfully his own deceiver, is his disease. (Gal. vi. 3.) And as pride is one of the deepest-rooted sins in man, and of greatest strength, and most hardly extirpated and overcome, so true self-acquaintance must be accordingly difficult, it being carried on but by such degrees as we get ground and victory against our pride. As melancholy men that are wise in all other things, may be far from the right use of reason in some one point, where the fantasy is crazed, and the distemper lieth; so a proud man, how wise soever in any other matters, as to the right knowledge of himself, is like one that is crackbrained, and hath not indeed the right use of reason: pride was his first tutor, and taught him what to believe of himself: so that Christ who comes after with a humbling doctrine, cannot be believed, nor scarce with any patience heard. O what a disease is to be cured, before a proud person will well know himself! What labour do we lose in all our sermons! Yea, how oft doth the medicine irritate the disease! So that a poor wretch that is under the wrath of God, and knoweth not when he is gone out of the assembly, whether the justice of Heaven will not take vengeance on him before he can come hither again, yet cannot abide to hear of this, but with Ahab, hateth the preacher that prophesieth evil of him, be it never so true. It is pride that leadeth up that army of corruptions, that here strive against the light of truth, that is sent to convince and convert the guilty. And is a man like to be saved by the word, while he hateth it, and bends his thoughts and passions all against it?
Direct. 1. He therefore that will ever know himself, must first let in so much of the light as may take down his arrogancy, and bring him as a little child to the school of Christ. First know what thou art as a man; and then know what thou art as a sinner, and sentenced by God, that so thou mayest come to know what thou art as one that is under the hopes and duties of the redeemed. When thy proud heart rebelleth against conviction, remember with whom thou hast
to do. Will God speak submissively to thee for fear of offending thee? Will he cry thee mercy for handling thee so roughly as to tell thee thou art yet the child of wrath? Is he afraid to talk to thee of death or of damnation? Will he recal his threatenings, and repent him of the severity of his laws, because such worms are angry with them, or will not believe them? Perhaps thou mayest make a falsehearted, frightful, man-pleasing minister, to change his strain or plainer dealing, and become thy flatterer, or be silent but will God be silenced? Will he stoop to thee, and bend or stretch his word to humour thee? O no; he will one day tell thee what thou art with another voice than this of a mortal and despised man, and in another manner than preachers tell it thee. If thou canst frown the preacher out of the pulpit, or out of his fidelity to God and thee, yet canst thou not frown God out of heaven. He will speak to thee more terribly than the most terrible preacher that ever thou heard and if thy pride shall rise up, and tell him that he doth thee wrong, how quickly will thy" mouth be stopped," and thou be forced to confess thy guilt! (Rom. iii. 5, 6. 19.) O stoop, man, to the humbling word of grace, or God will make thee stoop to the words and strokes of wrath! Fear him that will make the proudest fear, before he hath done with them. Judged thou must be; by thyself, to selfabasing and conversion, or by God to desolation and confusion: and canst thou easier bear God's judgment than thy own! Stoop, foolish self-deluding dust! Stoop, sinful wretch, and know thy misery! If thou stand it out a little longer, an undiscerned blow may bring thee down; and thou shalt not see the hand that strikes thee, till thou art humbled in the grave and hell. O how absurd, yet pitiful a sight is it, to see poor sinners brave it out against the humbling message of the Lord, as if they could make good their cause against him! And scorn to know that they are going to hell, till they are there! And then will pride preserve them from the knowledge of it? It is shameful folly to be proud and obstinate, where a man knoweth beforehand that he must submit at last, and is not able to stand it out.
2. The second intrinsical impediment to self-acquaintance is an unreasonable tenderness of ourselves; when an inordinate love of ease and quietness of mind doth prevail with us to hold fast all that thus quieteth us at the present,
without regard of due provision for the time to come; in this there is a mixture of unreasonableness and self-love: it is indeed the very brutish disposition. A beast will not willingly be dieted for his future health: let him have at present what he loveth and you please him, though you feed him for the slaughter! for he hath not reason to foresee what followeth. An ox must be bound, and cast and held down by force, if you will shoe him, though it be to the keeping of his feet from hurt; or if you will pull out a thorn, or do any thing for his good that hurteth him at the present. You please not your horse by letting him blood, though you save his life by it. Fleshly-minded men have thus brutified themselves, so that they judge of things by present feeling, and have not reason and faith to look before them, and judge of things by what they tend to, even by the good or hurt that will follow in the end. It is a very terrible troublesome thing for a man that is unregenerate, unjustified, and unreconciled to God, to know it; for a man that hath any feeling left, to find himself in a state of condemnation: this is to stir up all the terrors of his soul, and cast him into perplexing fears and disquietments of mind; so that he cannot eat or drink, or sleep in quietness, but the troublesome thoughts of sin and everlasting wrath torment him: and the inconsiderate man that judgeth of things by present feeling, will not endure this; and therefore must needs have the windows shut, and the light removed, that sheweth him these perplexing sights. As most men hate those that speak against them, be the matter never so true, so they cannot endure those thoughts that do accuse them, nor to have a reprover so near them, even in their own breasts: a conscience within them, to preach to them night and day; not one hour in a week, but wherever they go, and whatever they are doing; to be so near, so constant, so precise, and so severe and terrible a preacher, as usually a newly enlightened and awakened conscience is; this seemeth intolerable to them; and whatever come of it, this preacher must be silenced, as turbulent and vexatious, and one that would make them melancholy or mad. "And this is the condemnation (of these miserable souls,) that light is come into the world, and they loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil: for every one that doeth evil, hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should