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(1.) In the duty of prayer ; both as to the matter and mode (w).---He that rightly knows himself, will be very sensible of his spiritual wants ; and he that is well acquainted with his fpiritual wants, will not be at a loss what to pray for.
• Our hearts • would be the best prayer-books, if we were • well skilled in reading them. Why do men pray,
pray, and call for prayers when they come to die, but that they begin a little better to know themselves ? And
were they now but to hear the voice of . God and conscience, they would not • remain speechless. But that they are • born deaf are always dumb (x).'
Again ; Self-knowledge will teach us to pray, not only with fluency, but fervency; it will assist us to keep the heart, as well as to order our speech before God; and thereby promote the grace, as well as gift,
Did we but seriously consider what we are about: whom we pray to, and what we pray for, it is impossible we should be so dead, spiritless and formal in this duty, as we too often are.
(w) Ille Deo veram orationem exhibet qui semetipsum cognofcit. Greg.
thought should inspire us with life, and faith, and fervour.
(2.) Self-Knowledge will be very helpful to us in the duty of thanksgiving : as it fhews us how suitable and how feasonable the mercies are which we receive. A Christian, that keeps up an intelligence with himself, considers what he hath, as well as what he wants; and is no less fenfible of the value of his mercies, than his unworthiness of them; It is this which makes him thankful : For this reason it is, that a Christian's heart even melts with gratitude for those very mercies, which others disesteem, depreciate, and, perhaps, despise, because they have not what they think greater. But a man who knows himself is sensible that he deserves nothing, and therefore is thankful for every thing: for thankfulness as necessarily flows from humility, as humility doth from Self-acquaintance.
(3.) In the duties of reading and hearing the word of God. Self-Knowledge is of excellent use to enable us to understand and apply that which we read or hear: did we understand our hearts better, we should understand the word of God better ; for that speaks to the heart. A man, that is acquainted with his own heart; presently sees how deeply the Divine Word penetrates
and explores, searches and lays open its most inward parts. He feels what he reads; and finds that a quickening Spirit, which, to a self-ignorant man, is but a dead letter.
Moreover, this felf-acquaintance teaches a man to apply what he reads and hears of the word of God: He fees the pertinence, congruity and suitableness of it to his own case ; and lays it up faithfully in the storeroom of his mind, to be digested and improved by his after-thoughts. It is by this : art of applying Scripture, and urging the most suitable intructions and admonitions of it home upon our consciences, that we receive by it the greatest benefit.
(4.) Nothing is of more eminent service in the great duty of meditation ; especially in that part of it which consists in heart-converse. A man who is unacquainted with himself, is as unfit to converse with his heart, as he is with a stranger he never saw, whose taste and temper he is altogether unacquainted with.
He knows not how to collect his thoughts; which, when he has done, he knows not how to range and fix them; and hath no more the command of them, than a general has of a wild undisciplined army, that has never been exercised, or accustomed to obedi
ence and order. But one, who hath made it the chief study of his life to be acquainted with himself, is foon disposed to enter into a familiar converse with his own heart; and, in such a self-conference, improves more in true wisdom, and acquires more useful and fubftantial knowledge, than he could do from the most polite and refined conversation in the world. Of such excellent use is Self-Knowledge in all the duties of Piety and Devotion.
CH A P. XII.
Self-Knowledge the best Preparation for Death. XII. ELF-KNOWLEDGE will
be an habitual Preparation for death, and a constant guard against the surprise of it; as it fixeth our hopes of future happiness. That which renders any thoughts of death fo terrifying to the soul, is its utter uncertainty what will become of it after death, Were this uncertainty to be removed, a thousand considerations would reconcile us to the thoughts of dying (y).
() Illa quoque res morti nos alienat, quod hæc jam novimus, illa ad quæ tranfituri fumus, nefcimus qualia fint. Et horremus ignota Naturalis
Distrust, and darkness of a future State,
GOD prætereà tenebrarum metus eft, in quas adductura mois creditur. Sen. Epift. 83. It is this makes us aver fe to death, that it translates us to objeEts we are unacquainted with, and we tremble at the thoughts of those things that are unknown to us. We are naturally afraid of being in the dark ; and death is a leap in the dark.