There are, among Puritans, “best” works written on various subjects. On the doctrine of self-examination, this may very well be the best extra-biblical work written. Vincent biblically and exegetically deals with the practical nature of self-examination for the Christian, and how the Christian is distinguished from the heathen.
A Discourse on Self-Examination, by Nathaniel Vincent (1639-1697)
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Nathaniel Vincent (1639-1697) was a nonconformist puritan divine. His colleagues called him “smart…brisk and well-rounded as a minister of the Gospel, holding a facetious and jolly humor, as well as being a considerable scholar.”
In one of the best treatments on self-examination ever written, Vincent takes great care teaching, “Prove your own selves,” from 2 Corinthians 13:5. Christians often do not take the necessary time to examine themselves in light of true Christian conversion and practice. The Apostle Paul even says that Christians must examine themselves before coming to the Lord’s Supper. It is a requirement and commandment of utmost importance.
Vincent explains what it means to prove ourselves, what it is to be proved, what we are to prove, the manner of proving, the rule of proving, special seasons of proving, and arguments for self-examination. He also shows differences between Christians and unbelievers in several cases of conscience, with a practical section of sin-mortifying application. He then concludes the book with how self-examination works prior to the Lord’s Supper, and gives a number of personal meditations on how Christians should think before they come to the Lord’s Supper.
This is not a scan or facsimile, and has been updated in modern English for easy reading. It also has an active table of contents for electronic versions.