Excerpt from Yorick's Sermon "Self Examination"

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Excerpt from Yorick's Sermon "Self Examination"


Yorick (Sterne) criticizes some of the mistakes that people make in order to avoid religious self-reflection.


Yorick classifies the workings of the Methodist church (that the greatest way to show connection to God is through charity and good works) as a mistake in lacking the self reflection on particular actions needed to be a good person.


Laurence Sterne


Early English Books Online Text Creation Partnership


University of Michigan






Public Domain


Sentimental Journey to France and Italy


Text; part of a sermon



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The last mistake which I shall have time to mention, is that which the me|thodists have revived, for 'tis no new error — but one which has misled thou|sands before these days wherever enthusi|asm has got footing, — and that is, — the attempting to prove their works, by that very argument which is the greatest proof of their weakness and superstition; — I mean that extraordinary impulse and intercourse with the Spirit of God which they pretend to, and whose operations (if you trust them) are so sensibly felt in their hearts and souls, as to render at once all other proofs of their works needless to themselves. — This, I own, is one of the the most summary ways of proceeding in this duty of self-examination, and as it proves a man's works in the gross, it saves him a world of sober thought and enqui|ry after many vexatious particulars.

Indeed, if the premises were true, — the inference is direct. For when a man dreams of these inward workings — and wakes with the impression of them strong upon his brain; — 'tis not strange, he should think himself a chosen vessel, — sancti|fied
within and sealed up unto the per|fect day of redemption; and so long as such a one is led captive to this error, — there is nothing in nature to induce him to this duty of examining his own works in the sense of the apostle: — for how|ever bad they are, — so long as his cre|dulity and enthusiasm equals them, 'tis impossible they should disturb his con|science or frighten him into a reforma|tion.

Original Format

Part of Sermon


Laurence Sterne, “Excerpt from Yorick's Sermon "Self Examination",” Enlightenmens, accessed December 4, 2022, http://enlightenmens.lmc.gatech.edu/items/show/829.

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