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be sure is no part of Revelation ; because, then, one part of our rule would clash with the other. And thus reason was designed to be our guard against a wild and extravagant construction of Scripture.
(2.) The other part of our rule is the sacred Scriptures, which we are to use as our
guard against the licentious excursions of fancy, which often imposeth itself upon us
for right reason. Let any religious scheme or notion, then appear even fo plausible, if it be not founded on the evident principle of Scripture, it is forthwith to be discarded, and that sense of Scripture which is violently forced to bend towards it, is very much to be suspected.
It must appear very surprizing to those who read and study the sacred Scriptures with unbiassed minds, to see what elaborate, fine-fpun, flimsy glosses men will invent and put upon some texts, as the true and genuine sense of them ; merely because it is most agreeable to the opinion of their party, from which, as the standard of their orthodoxy, they durft never depart ; who, if they were to write a critique in the same
on any Greek or Latin author, would render themselves extremely ridicu
lous in the eyes of the learned world. But, if we would not pervert our rule, we must learn to think as Scripture speaks, -and not compel that to speak as we think.
Would we know ourselves, then, we must often view ourselves in the mirrour of God's w.ord. And when we have taken a full survey of ourselves from thence, let us not soon forget what manner of perfonts we are *. If our own image do not please us, let us not quarrel with the glafs, but set about mending ourselves.
The eye of the mind is not like that of the body, which can see everything else but itself; for the eye of the mind can turn itself inward and survey itself. However it must be owned, it can see itself much better when its own image is reflected upon it from this mirrour : and it is by this only that we can come at the bottom of our hearts, and discover those fecret prejudices and carnal prepossessions, which self-love would conceal.
This is, therefore, the first thing we must do in order to Self-Knowledge. We must examine, scrutinize and judge ourselves, diligently, leisurely, frequently and impartially ; and that not by the falfe maxims of the
world, * James i, 23, 24,
world, but by the rules which God hath given us, reason and Scripture ; and take care to understand those rules, and not set them at variance.
CH A P. II.
Constant Watchfulness necessary to Self-Know
ledge. II. W2
OULD we know ourselves, we
must be very watchful ouer our hearts and lives.
(1) We must keep a vigilant eye upon our hearts, i. e. our tempers, inclinations and passions. A more necessary piece of advice, in order to self-acquaintance, there cannot be, than that which Solomon gives us *, keep your heart with all diligence, or as it is in the original, above all keeping (0). 9. d. Whatever you neglect or overlook, be fure you mind
your heart (P): narrowly observe all its inclinations and aversions, all its motions and affections, together with
* Prov, jv, 23.
מבלי משמר (0)
(Þ) Parallel to this advice of the Royal Preacher, is that of the Imperial Philofopher Erfon Baste erdor gap egy To ayad. Look within ; for within is the fountain of good. M. Aurel, lib. 7. 59.
the several objects and occasions which excite them. This precept we find in Scripture inforced with two very urgent reasons ; first, because out of it are the ifsues of life, i. e. As our heart is, so will the tenor of our life and conduct be: as is the fountain, so are the streams; as is the root, fo is the fruit * : and the other is, because it is deceitful above all things t. And therefore, without a constant guard upon it, we shall insensibly run into many hurtful self-deceptions. To which I may add, that without this careful keeping of the heart, we shall never be able to acquire any considerable degree of selfacquaintance or self-government.
(2.) To know our felves, we must watch our life and conduct, as well as our heart; and by this the heart will be discovered, as the root is best known by the fruit. We must attend to the nature and confequences of every action to which we are disposed, before we comply; and we must consider how it will appear in a future, review.
too much inclined to watch the conduct of others : a wife man will be as critical and as fevere upon his
* Mat. vii. 18.
+ Jer. xvii. 9.
For truly our own behaviour is of more concernment to us than that of other men ; as we are to answer for ourselves, and not for them. By observing the conduct of other men, we know them ; by carefully observing our own, we must know ourselves.
CH A P. III.
We should have fome Regard to the Opini
ons of others concerning us, particularly of Our Enemies.
III. OULD we know ourselves,
we should not altogether negleet the opinion which others may entertain concerning us.
Not that we need be very folicitous about the censure or applause of the world, which are generally erroneous, and proceed from the particular humours or prepossessions of men : and he that knows himself, will soon know how to despise them both. • The judgment which the • world makes of us, is frequently of no • use to us ; it adds nothing to our souls • or bodies, nor doth it lessen any of our • miseries. Let us constantly follow rea