2 Corinthians 13:5
Examine yourselves, whether you be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know you not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you…
I. Self-examination being so important an exercise, permit me to direct your attention towards it IN REGARD TO THE GENERAL MANNER IN WHICH IT ought to be conducted.
1. Seriousness is the first requisite of self-examination.
2. For similar reasons self-inspection must be frequent. An account with conscience, like worldly accounts, unless often looked into, is apt to run into confusion. Besides this daily reminiscence, the more solemn return of the Sabbath, in which all classes of men may find some leisure for their spiritual concerns, may well be employed, in part, in the useful business of self-inspection.
3. Self-examination, thus solemn and frequent, ought moreover to be conducted with candour. The introverted eye must search the remotest recesses, and penetrate with keen glance the darkest foldings of the soul. Men are but too apt to satisfy themselves on false grounds with respect to the security of their condition. Deal with thyself plainly, impartially, strictly. Scrutinise the foundation of thy confidence towards God.
4. But all this seriousness, frequency, and candour will be of little avail if unaccompanied by earnest prayer unto Him who is the presiding judge, and the all-seeing witness, in the secret court of self-inspection. Unless there be a deep sense of His presence, His purity, His infallibility.
II. Seek a more particular qualification for the work of self-inspection, BY FURNISHING OURSELVES WITH THOSE INQUIRIES OF WHICH ITS SUBSTANCE OUGHT TO CONSIST. Self-examination respects the past, the present, and the future.
1. As it respects the past, it is requisite that Christians carry back their investigation to the earliest period of their lives; and mark in what instances they have failed of their duty to God, their neighbour, and themselves. Take note of all your minuter but habitual and ingrained faults. Do we own, on the whole retrospect, that we are inexcusable before God, and have only to throw ourselves upon His mercy, through Christ, for spiritual health and for salvation?
2. From these reflections the Christian will be led forward to inquire into the tenor of his present conduct. How stand now his affections towards God? Do they centre all in God, as the supreme object of love? Does he think of Christ as his only stay — of the Holy Spirit as his essential guide? His other motives — are they those of the gospel? How have these principles, if genuine, operated in detail? Has their efficacy been manifested by any substantial improvement in holiness? Is anything perverse in his disposition corrected?
3. Anticipation of the future is now the last link in the chain of self-examination, and is as intimately connected with attention to the present as that is with reflection on the past. A mighty conqueror of old sat down and wept because he found no more of territory to subdue; but this can never happen in the Christian warfare. The Canaanites are still in the fastnesses of the land; and even in the repose of conquest there remaineth much country to be gained. How have they made up their minds to encounter temptations yet to come? Are they not inclined to anticipate apologies for future remissness?
4. In conclusion, may we not observe, that the happiest effects can be prognosticated from self-.examination thus wisely conducted?
(J. Grant, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?