« הקודםהמשך »
of a more excellent mind, for a man freely to retract when he is in the wrong, than to be overbearing and positive when he is in the right (u).
A man then must be willing, before he can know himself. If he desireth to see, he must open his eyes; he must yield to evidence and conviction, tho it be at the expence of his judgment, and to the mortification of his vanity.
CH A P. VI.
To be fenfible of our falfe Knowledge, a good
Step to Self-Knowledge. VI. OULD you know yourself, take
heed and guard against falfe knowledge.
See that the light which is within you be darkness; examine your fentiments, and
consider (α) Ει τις με ελεγξαι, και παρασησαι μοι, οι εκ ορθως υπολαμβανώ η πρασσω, δυναθαι, χαιρων με1αθησομαι: ζη» γας την αληθειαν ιφ ης «δεις «σωποηε εβλαβη βλαστε]αι δι ο επιμενων επι της Sav78 analns X el egoules. M. Aur. lib. 6. § 21. If any one can convince me that I am wrong in any point of fentiment or practice, I will alter it with all my
For it is truth I feek, and that can hurt no body. We can only be hurled by perfifting in error or ignorance.
consider what you have to unlearn ; there is frequently as much wisdom in casting off fome of our knowledge, as in acquiring that which we have not. This perhaps inclined Themistocles to reply, when one offered to teach him the art of memory, that he had much rather he would teach hinz the art of forgetfulness.
A fcholar that hath been all his life collecting books, will at length find much rubbish in his library. As his taste and judgment improve, he will reject many as lumber, which, it may be, he once highly valued ; and he will probably replace them with such as are more folid and useful. In like manner we deal with our understand ings, and inspect the furniture of the mind; we should separate the chaff from the wheat, which are generally received into it together. To read trifling productions all our life, is the way to retain a flashy and juvenile turn ; and only to contemplate our first knowledge, cramps the progress of the understanding, and makes our self-survey extremely deficient.
In short, would we improve our understandings to the valuable purposes of Self-Knowledge, we must be
as careful in the choice of our books, as in our company.
· The pains we take in books or arts, • which treat of things more remote from • the use of life, is a busy idleness. If I
ftudy (lays Montaigne) it is to acquire no • other science than what yields Self• Knowledge, which instructs me how to live • and die well (x).'
It is a comfortless speculation, and an evident proof of the imperfection of the human understanding, that, upon a narrow scrutiny into our faculties, we observe
many things which we think we know, but do not; and many which we do know, but ought not; that a good deal of the knowledge we have been all our lives collecting, is no better than mere ignorance, and some of it is worse; to be fenfible of which is a very necessary step to Self-acquaintance (y).
CH A P.
(*) Rule of Life, pag. 82, 90. (y) See Part i. Chap. xiii. fin.
Self-inspection highly necessary on particular
attend to the frame and emotions of your mind under certain extraordinary incidents.
Some sudden accidents, which befal you when the mind is most off its guard, will better discover its secret turn and prevailing disposition, than much greater events for which you are prepared. (1.) Consider how
behave under any sudden afronts or provocations from men. A fool's wrath is presently known*, i.e. a fool is presently known by his wrath. If anger
be foon kindled, it shews that secret pride lies lurking in the heart; which, like gun-powder, takes fire at every spark of provocation : for whatever may be owing to a natural temper, it is certain that pride is the chief cause of frequent and wrathful resentments. Pride and anger are as nearly allied as humility and meekness. Only by U
pride * Prov. xii. 16.
pride cometh contention + : and a man would not know what mud lay at the bottom of his heart, if it were not stirred up by provocation.
Athenodorus the aged Philosopher begged to retire from the court of Auguftus, which the Emperor granted ; and in his compliments of leave, “Remember (faid he) Cæfar, • whenever you are angry, you say or do nothing, before you have distinctly re
peated to yourself the four and twenty · letters of the alphabet.' Whereupon Cæfar, taking him by the hand, politely said, I have need of your presence still; and kept him a year longer (z). This is celebrated by. the antients as a rule of excellent wisdom. But a Christian may prescribe to himself something wiser, viz. "When you are angry, I answer not till
have repeated the fifth petition of the Lord's Prayer, forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive them that trespass against us. And our Saviour's
comment upon it.' For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly father will also forgive you ; but if you forgivë not men their
+ Prov. xiii. 10.