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this self-knowledge, and possessed with a due esteem for it ; did they but know the true way to attain it'; and, under a proper sense of its excellence, and the fatal effects of self-ignorance, did they but make it their business and study every day to cultivate it ; how foon should we find a happy alteration in the manners and spirits of men !-But the misery of it is, men will not think ; they will not employ their thoughts, in good earnest, about the things which most of all deserve and demand them. By which unaccountable indolence and aversion to self-reflection, they are led insensibly blindfold and into the most dangerous paths of infidelity and wickedness, as the Jews were heretofore ; of whose amazing ingratitude and apoftacy God himself assigns this single cause ; * My people do not confider (i).
Self-knowledge is that acquaintance with ourselves, which shews us what we are, what we do, and what we ought to be,
in . ; There is nothing men are
more deficient sin, than knowing their own characters. I know
not how this science comes to be so much neg
lected. We spend a great deal of time in learn• ing useless things, but take no pains in the study
of ourselves; and in opening the folds and 6 doubles of the heart.' Reflečtions on Ridiculón
in order to our living comfortably and usefully here, and happily hereafter. The means of it is self-examination ; the end of it felf-government, and felf-fruition. It principally consists in the knowledge of our fouls ; which is attained by a particular attention to their various powers, capacities, passions, inclinations, operations, state, happiness, and temper. For a man's foul is properly himself. [Mat. xvi. 26. compared with Luke ix. 25. (k).] The body is but the house, the soul is the tenant that inhabits it; the body is the instrument, the soul the artist that directs it (1).
(k) Præceptum Apollinis quo monet, ut se quisque noscat, non enim, credo, id præcipit; ut membra nostra aut staturam figuramque noscamus : neque nos corpora sumus ; neque ego, tibi dicens hoc, corpori tuo dico : cum igitur nosCE Te dicit, hoc dicit, nosce animum tuum. Nam corpus quidem quafi vas est, aut aliquod animi receptaculum; ab animo tuo quicquid agitur id agitur a te. Cic. Tufcul. Quæft. lib. 1. (1) 2 Cor. v. 1.. Rom. vi. 13.
Rom. vi. 13.-— durauis fuxns, To d'e os garss owualos. Nemef. de Nat. Hom. cap.6.
Μη επος συμπεριφαναζε το περικείμενον αγ: γειωδες και τα οργανα ταυλα τα περιπεπλασμενα, ομοια γαρ εςι σκεπαρνω, μονον δε διαφερονα, καθοι σροσφυη εσιν.
Mar. Anton. lib. x. § 37. When you talk of a man, I would not have you tack flesh and blood the notion, nor those limbs aeither which are made out of it;
This science, which is to be the subject of the ensuing treatise, hạth these three peculiar properties in it, which distinguish it from, and render it preferable to, all others-(1.) It is equally attainable by all. It requires no strength of memory, no force of genius, no depth of penetration, as many other sciences do, to come at a tolerable degree of acquaintance with them; which therefore renders them inacceffible by the greatest part of mankind. Nor is it placed out of their reach through a want of opportunity and proper affistance and direction how to acquire it; as many other parts of learning are. Every one of a common capacity hath the opportunity and ability to attain it, if he will but recollect his rambling thoughts, turn them in upon himself, watch the motions of his heart, and compare them with this rule—(2.) It is of equal importance to all; and of the highest importance to every one (m). Other sciences are suited to the various conditions
these are but tools for the soul to work with : and no more a part of a man, than an axe or a plane is a piece of a carpenter. It is true, nature hath glewed them together, and they grow as it were to the soul, and there is all the difference. Collier.
(m) 'Tis virtue only makes our bliss below, And all our knowledge is OURSELVES TO KNOW.
Pope's Ef'ay on Man,
of life: fome, more necessary to some ; others, to others : but this equally concerns every one that hath an immortal foul, whose final happiness he desires and feeks. —(3.) Other Knowledge is very apt to make a man vain ; this always keeps him humble. Nay, it is for want of this knowledge that men are vain of that they have. Knowledge puffethupt :-a small degree of knowledge often hath this effect on weak minds : and the reason why greater attainments in it have not so generally the same effect, is, because they open and enlarge the views of the mind fo far, as to let into it at the same time a considerable degree of selfknowledge. For the more true knowledge a man hath, the more sensible he is of the want of it; which keeps him humble.
And now, reader, whoever thou art, whatever be thy character, station or diftinction in life, if thou art afraid to look into thine heart, and hast no inclination to self-acquaintance, read no farther ; lay aside this book, for thou wilt find nothing here that will flatter thy self-esteem ; but perhaps something that may abate it. However, if thou art desirous to cultivate this important kind of knowledge, and to live
t i Cor, viii. 1.
no longer a stranger to thyself, proceed ; and keep thine eye open to thine own, image, with whatever unexpected deformity that may present itself; and patiently attend, whilst, by divine assistance, I en.. deavour to lay open thine own heart, and lead thee to the true knowledge of thyself in the following chapters.
The feveral Branches of Self-Knowledge. We
must know what Sort of Creatures we are, and what we shall be.
HAT we may have a more
and orderly view of this subject, I shall here consider the several branches of self-knowledge ; or some of the chief particulars wherein it consists : Whereby, perhaps, it will appear to be a more copious and comprehensive science than we imagine. And,
(1.) To know ourselves, "is to know and seriously confider' what fort of creatures we are, and what we shall be.
(1.) What we are.
Man is a complex being, τριμερης υποφασις, a tripartite person ; or a compound creature, made up of three distinct parts, viz. the body, which is the earthly or mortal part of him ; the foul, which is the animal or sensitive part; С