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things which obstruct their due exercise, as pride, prejudice and passion, &c. which oftentimes so miserably pervert the rational powers. : He that hath taken a just measure of himself, is thereby better able to judge of other things.
(1.) He knows how to judge of Men and human nature better.-For human nature, setting aside the difference of natural genius, and the improvements of education and religion, is pretty much the same in all. There are like passions and appetites, the fame natural infirmities and inclinations in all mankind ; tho' some are more predominant and distinguishable in some, than they are in others. So that if a man be but well acquainted with his own, this, together with a very little observation on human life, will soon discover to him those of other men ; and show him very impartially their particular failings and excellencies, and help him to form a much truer sentiment of them, than if he were to judge only by their exterior, the appearance they make in the eye of the world, or the character given of them by others; both which are often very fallacious.
(2.) Self-Knowledge will teach us to judge rightly of facts as well as men. It will exhibit things to the mind in a proper light and true colours, without those false glosses and appearances which fancy throws upon them, or in which the imagination often paints them. It will teach us to judge not with the imagination, but with the understanding ; and will set a guard upon the former, which so often represents things in wrong views, and gives the mind false impressions. [See Part I. Chap. IV.]
(3.) It helps us to estimate the true value of all worldly good things : it rectifies our notions, and lessens that enormous esteem we are apt to have for them. For when a man knows himself, and his true interests, he will see how far, and in what degree, these things are suitable to him, and subfervient to his Good; and how far they are unsuitable, ensnaring and pernicious. · This, and not the common opinion of the world, will be his rule of judgment concerning them : by this he will see quite thro' them; discern what they are at bottom ; and how far a wise man ought to desire them. Men value them extravagantly because they take a superficial view of them, and only look upon their out-fide, where they are most
showy and inviting. Were they profoundly to examine them, to consider their intrinsic worth, their ordinary effects, their tendency and their end, they would not be so apt to over-value them. And a man that has learned to see through himself, can easily form a proper judgment of all worldly things, (.)
CH A P. VII.
Self-Knowledge directs to the proper Exercise
of Self-denial. VII. A ,
MAN that knows himself best, knows himself.
(b) Abstrahunt a recto divitiæ, honores, poten. tia, et cætera quæ opinione noftrâ chara funt, præcio fuo vilia. Nescimus æstimara res : de quibus, non cum famâ fed cum rerum naturâ, deliberandum eft. Nihil habent ifta magnificum, quo mentes in fe noftras trahant, præter hoc quod mirari illa consuevimus. Non, enim quia concupiscenda funt, laudantur, sed concupiscuntur quia laudata funt. Sen. Epift. 82.-Riches, Honours, Power, and the like, which owe all their worth to our falfe opinion of them, are too apt to draw the heart from virtue. We know not how to prize them ; they are not to be judged of by the common vogue, but by their own nature. They have nothing to attra£t our esteem, but that we are used to admire them; they are not cried up because they are things that ought to be desired, but they are defired because they are generally cried up.
The great duty of Self-denial, which our Saviour so expressly requires of all his followers, plain and neceffary as it is, has been much mistaken and abused; and that not only by the Church of Rome, in their doctrines of penance, fasts, and pilgrimages, but by fome Protestant Christians in the instances of voluntary abstinence, and unnecessary austerities. Whence they are sometimes apt to be too cenforious against such as indulge themselves in the use of those indifferent things, from which they make it a point of conscience to abstain. Whereas would they confine their exercise of Selfdenial to the plain and important points of Christian Practice, devoutly observing the necessary duties to which they are most averse, and resolutely avoiding the known fins whereto they are most inclined, under the direction of Scripture, they would soon become more folid, judicious and exemplary Christians ; and did they know themselves, they would easily see that herein there is occasion and scope enough for felf-denial ; and that to a degree of greater severity and difficulty than there is in those little corporal abstinences and mortifications they enjoin themselves to perform.
(1.) Self-knowledge will direct us to the necessary exercises of Self-denial, with regard to the duties our tempers are most averse to.
There is no one, but, at some times, finds a great backwardness and indisposition to certain duties which he knows to be seasonable and necessary: This is a proper occafion for Self-discipline. For to indulge such an indisposition is very dangerous, and leads to an habitual neglect of known duty; and to oppose it, and to prepare for a diligent and faithful discharge of the duty, notwithstanding the many excuses that carnal disposition may urge for the neglect of it, requireth no small pains and self-denial ; and yet it is very neceffary sto the peace of conscience.
For our encouragement to this piece of self-denial, we need only remember that the difficulty of the duty, and our unfitness for it, will, upon the trial, be found to be much less than we apprehended : The pleasure of reflecting, that we have discharged our consciences, and given a fresh teslimony of our uprightness, will more than compensate the pains and difficulty we found therein. The oftener these criminal pro