Your affectionate Brother.
“Examine yourselves, whether
ye be in the faith: prove your own
selves.”—2 COR. 13:6.
MY DEAR SISTER,
In view of the positive injunction of Scripture, above quoted, no argument is necessary to show that self-examination is a duty. But if the word of God had been silent upon the subject, the importance of self-knowledge would have been a sufficient motive for searching into the secret springs of action which influence our conduct. A person ignorant of his own heart, is like a merchant, who knows not the state of his accounts, while every day liable to become a bankrupt; or, like the crew of a leaky vessel, who are insensible to their danger. The professed follower of Christ, who knows not whether he is a true or false disciple, is in a condition no less dangerous. And, as the heart is deceitful above all things, it becomes a matter of the utmost importance that we should certainly know that we are the children of God. Although we may be Christians, without the assurance of our adoption, yet we are taught in the Holy Scriptures, that such assurance is attainable. Job, in the midst of his affliction, experienced its comforting support. “I know,” says he, “that my Redeemer liveth.” David says with confidence, “I shall be satisfied, when I awake with thy likeness.” Paul also expresses the same assurance. “I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.” All Christians are taught to expect the same, and exhorted to strive after it. “And we desire that every one of you, do show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope, unto the end.” “Let us draw near with a true heart, in full assurance of faith.” “Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God.” “He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself.” “For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba Father. The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God.” “Grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.”
But, as gold dust is sometimes concealed in the sand, so grace in the heart may be mingled with remaining corruption, so that we cannot clearly distinguish its motions. It might not be for the benefit of a person of such low attainments in the divine life, to receive an assurance of God’s favor, until these corruptions have been so far subdued, as to give the principle of grace an ascendency over all the faculties of the soul. Hence God has wisely directed that the sure evidence of adoption can be possessed only by those who have made such eminent