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Young people are generally vain, self-sufficient and assured, because they have taken no time or pains to cultivate a self-acquaintance : and why does pride and stiffnefs appear so often in advanced age, but because men grow old in self-ignorance ? A moderate degree of Self-knowledge would cure an inordinate degree of self-complacency (k).
Humility is not more necessary to salvation, than Self-knowledge is to humility (1).
It would effectually prevent that bad difposition which is too apt to steal upon and infect some of the best human minds (efpecially those who aim at singular and exalted degrees of piety) viz. a religious vanity or spiritual pride : which, without some degree of self-knowledge and self-attention, will gradually insinuate into the heart, taint the mind, and fophisticate our virtues before we are aware; and, in proportion to its preva
(k) Quanto quis minus se videt, tanto minus fe displicet. Greg.
(1) Scio neminem absque sui cognitione salvari, de quâ nimirum mater salutis, humilitas oritur, et timor Domini. Bernard — Utraque cognitio Dei, scilicet et tui, tibi necessaria est ad salutem ; quia ficut ex notitiâ tui venit in te timor Dei, atque ex Dei notitiâ itidem amor; fic è contra, ex ignorantia tui, superbia, ac de Dei ignorăntia venit desperatio. Idem in Cantic.
lence, make the Christian temper degenerate into the pharifaical.
· Might I be allowed to choose my own • lot, I should think it much more eligible ' to want my spiritual comforts, than to abound in these at the expence
hu' mility. No; let a penitent and a contrite
fpirit be always my portion ; and may I ever fo be the favourite of heaven, as never to forget that I am chief of finners. Know
ledge in the fublime and glorious myfteries • of the Christian faith, and ravishing con
templations of God and a future ftate, are most desirable advantages ; but still I
prefer charity which edifreth before the high* est intellectual perfections of that knowledge · which puffeth up *. - Those spiritual ad
vantages are certainly best for us, which ' encrease our modefty, awaken our caution,
and dispose us to suspect and deny ourfelves. — The highest in God's esteem, are meanest in their own.
And their excellency consists in the meekness and trụth, o not in the pomp and oftentation of piety,
which affects to be seen and admired of men (m):
С НА Р.
1 Cor. viii. 1.
Charity another Effect of Self-Knowledge. IV. EL F-KNOWLEDGE greatly
promotes a spirit of meekness and charity.
[CHRIST.] My son, when thou feelest thy foul warmed with devotion and holy zeal for my service, it will be adviseable to decline all 6those methods of publishing it to the world, which vain men are so industrious to take, and content thyself with its being known to God and thine own conscience. Rather endeavour I to moderate and suppress those pompous ex
pressions of it, in which some place the very
perfection of zeal. Think meanly of thine own 6 virtues. Some
of a bold, ungaverned • zeal, aspire at things beyond their strength, and
express more vehemence than conduct in their actions. They are perfectly carried out of them· selves with eagerness; forget that they are still · poor insects upon earth, and think of nothing
less than building their neft in heaven. Now
these are often left to themselves, and taught by - fad experience, that the faint flutterings of men
are weak and ineffectual; that no one foars to heaven except I assist his flight, and mount him
on my own wings.-Virtue does not consist in 6 abundance of illumination and knowledge ; but
in lowliness of mind, in meekness and charity; e in a mind intirely resigned to God, and sincerely
disposed to serve and please him; in a just sense • of every man's vileness, and not only thinking
The more a man is acquainted with his own failings, the more is he disposed to make allowances for those of others. The knowledge he hath of himself, will incline him to be as severe in his animadversions on his own conduct, as he is on that of
very meanly of one's self, but being well con. tent to be so thought of by others.' Idem, Book 3. chap. 8.
• It is a dangerous drunkenness, I confefs, that • of wine; but there is another more dangerous, • How many souls do I fee in the world drunk o with vanity, and a high opinion of themselves ? • This drunkenness causes them to make a thou
fand false steps, and a thousand stumbles. Their ways are all oblique and crooked.
in drink, they have always a great opinion of • their own wisdom, their power and their pru• dence; all which often fail them. Examine • well thyself, my soul; see if thou art not • tainted with this evil. Alas ! if thqu deniest it, • thou provest it. It is great pride, to think one • has no pride ; for it is to think
you are • good indeed, as you esteem yourself. But there
man in the world but esteems himself • better than he truly is.
Thou wilt say, it may be, thou hast a very ill opinion of thyself. But be assured, my soul, thou dost not despise thyself so much as thou
art truly despicable. If thou dost despise thyself - indeed, thou makest a merit of that very thing; o fo that pride is attached to this very con• tempt of thyself.' Ferieu's Method of Devot. pag. 8. ch. 10.
others; and as candid to their faults, aš he is to his own *.
There is an uncommon beauty, force and propriety in that caution which our Saviour gives us,
And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but confdereft not the beam that is in thine own eye ? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, let me pull out the mote out of thine eye, and behold a beam is in thine own eye ? Thou hypocrite, first cast the beam out of thine own eye, and then shalt thou fee clearly to cast out the mote out of ihy brother's eye t. In which words these four things are plainly intimated ; (1.) That fome are much more quick-fighted to discern the faults and blemishes of others, than their own : Can spy a mote in another's eye, sooner than a beam in their own. (2.) That they are often the most forward to correct and cure the foibles of others, who are most unqualified for that office; the beam in their own eye makes them altogether unfit to pull out the mote from their brother's. A man half blind
* The great God seems to have given that commandment, KNOW THYSELF, more efpecially
to those men who are apt to make remarks on 5 other men's actions, and forget themselves.' Plutarch's Mor. Vol. I. p. 273, + Mat. vii. 33-5.