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all mankind ; some of whom may have better opportunities of knowing him, especially at certain feasons, than he has of knowing himself; as they never look thro the false medium of felf-flattery.
Frequent Converse with Superiors a Help to
Self - Knowledge.
Knowledge, is to converse, as much as you can, with those who are your Superiors in real excellence. He that walketh with wife men shall be wise
have a fair oppor
Nothing can be a greater instance of wisdom and humanity, than for a man to bear silently the follies and revilings of an enemy; taking as much care not to provoke him, as a mariner would use to fail by a dangerous rock.
It is very humane and a manifest token of a nature truly generous, to forgive the affronts of an enemy, at a time when
you tunity to revenge them.
Let us carefully observe those good qualities wherein our enemies excelus: and let us endeavour to furpass them, by avoiding all manner of evil and by imitating what is excellent in them. Plut. Mor. Vol. i. pag. 265; et feq. * Prov, xiii. 20.
vices ; your
Their example will not only be a motive to laudable pursuits, but a mirrour to your mind; by which you may possibly discern fome deficiencies in yourself, which were before unnoticed. You will fee the unreasonableness of your vanity, when
you observe how much you are surpassed by others in knowledge and goodness. By the luftre of their virtues, you will better fee the deformity of your negligence, by their assiduity; your pride, by their humility ; your passion, by their meekness; and your folly, by their wisdom.
Examples not only move, but teach and direct, much more than precepts ; and fhow us not only that such, virtues may be practised, but in what manner.
cannot have them always before our eyes, we should endeavour to have them constantly in our mind ; and especially that of our great Head and Pattern, who hath fet us a perfect example of the most irreproachable conduct, under the worst and most disadvantageous circumstances of human life (t).
c H A P.
(t) Qui plenifsimè intelligere appetit qualis fit, tales debet afpicere qualis non eft; ut in bonorum formâ, metiatur quantum deformis eft. Greg,
Of cultivating fuch a Temper as will be the
best Disposition to Self-Knowledge. V. T F a man would know himfelf, he muft,
with great care, cultivate that temper which will best dispose him to receive this Knowledge.
Now, as there are no greater hindrances to Self-Knowledge than pride and obstinacy; so there is nothing more helpful to it, than humility and an openness to conviction.
1. One who is in quest of Self-Knowa ledge, must, above all things, seek Humi
And how near an affinity there is between these two appears from hence, that they are both acquired the same way. The very means of attaining Humility are the properest methods for attaining Self-acquaintance. By daily keeping an eye upon our wants and errors we become more humble ; and by the same
we become more self-intelligent, By considering how defective we are in point of duty, and especially by a diligent study of the word of God, we entertain meaner thoughts of ourselves ; and
hence we come to have a better acquaintance with ourselves.
A proud man cannot know himself : pride is that beam in the eye of the mind, which renders him insensible to any
ble mishes there. Consequently, nothing is a more certain sign of self-ignorance, than vanity and oftentation.
Indeed true Self-Knowledge and humility are so necessarily connected, that they depend upon, and are mutually productive of each other. A man that knows himself, difcerns the worst of himself, and therefore cannot but be humble; and an humble mind frequently contemplates its own faults and weaknesses, which greatly improves it in Self-Knowledge.
(2.) An opennefs to convi&tion is no less necessary to Self-Knowledge than humility.
As nothing is a greater impediment to true Knowledge than obstinacy of opinion, and à fear to depart from old notions, which (perhaps before we were capable of judging) we had long taken up for truth; so nothing is a greater bar to Self-Knowledge, than a strong aversion to part with those sentiments of ourselves, to which we have been blindly accustomed.
Such an unwillingness to retract our sentiments, in both cafes, proceeds from the fame cause, viz, a reluctance, to self-condemnation. For he that assumes a new way of thinking, contrary to that which he hath long received, therein condemns hiinself for having lived in an error; and he that begins to see his own faults condemns himself for having lived in fin and ignorance. This is a most ungrateful business, and what felf-flattery can by
can by no means endure. An inflexibility of judgment, an hatred of conviction, is a very unhappy and hurtful turn of mind. And a man, that is resolved never to be in the wrong, will probably never be in the right.
Infallibility being no privilege of the human nature, it is no diminution to a man's good sense or judgment to be found in an error, provided he be willing to retract it; and it is his own good sense and judgment that constantly guides him, which shines to great advantage in thus directing him against the biass of vanity and selfopinion. And in thus changing his sentiments, he only acknowledges that he is not [what no man ever was] incapable of bemg mistaken. In short, it is an argument