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trespasses, neither will your father forgive you your trespasses *
It is a just and seasonable thought, that of Marcus Antoninus upon such occasions ;
A man misbehaves himself towards me, s
what is that to me? The action is • his, and the will that fets him upon it is
his; and therefore let him look to it. · The fault and injury belong only to to him. As for
I am as Providence would have me, and am doing • what becomes my, condition (a).
However, this amounts merely to a philofophical contempt of injuries; and falls much beneath the dignity of a Christian forgiveness, to which Self-knowledge will happily dispose us. And, in order to judge of our improvements therein, we must always take care to examine and obferve, in what manner we are affected in such circumstances.
(2.) How do you behave under a severe and unexpected afliktion from the hand of Providence ? Which is another circumstance, wherein we have a fair opportunity of coming to a right knowledge of ourselves.
If * Mat. vi. 14. 15. (a) Meditat. Book 5. $ 25.
If there be an habitual discontent or impatience lurking within us, this will draw it forth ; more especially if the affliction be attended with any of those sufferings which attended Job in his afflictions.
Distresses are often sent to teach us to know ourselves; and therefore ought to be carefully improved to this good purpose.
The Wisdom and Goodness of our hea. venly Father is displayed to a serious and attentive mind, not only in proportioning the degrees of correction to his children's strength, but in adapting the kinds of them to their tempers ; afflicting some one way, fome in another, according as He knows they are most easily wrought upon, and as will be most for their advantage. By which means, a small affliction of one kind
may as deeply affect us, and be of more advantage, than a much greater of another.
It is a trite, but true observation, that a wife man receiveth more benefit from enemies than from friends ; from afflictions than from mercies: by which means his enemies become, in effect, his best friends, and his afflictions his greatest mer
cies. Certain it is, a man never hath an opportunity of taking a more fair and undisguised view of himself, than in those circumstances. And by diligently observing in what manner he is affected at such times, he may improve in the true knowledge of himself, very much to his future advantage, though, perhaps, not a little to his present mortification. For a sudden provocation from man, or a severe affliction from God may detect something latent and long undiscovered at the bottom of his heart, which he never sufpected to have had any place there. Thus the one excited wrath in the meekeft man *, and the other passion in the most patient +.
Hence, by considering in what manner we bear the afflictions God is pleased to allot us, and what benefit we receive from them, we may obtain a very considerable acquaintance with ourselves.
(3.) What is our usual temper and difposition in a time of peace, prosperity and pleasure, when the soul is generally most unguarded ?
This is the warm season that nourishes and impregnates the feeds of vanity, selfU 3
confidence, * Psal. cvi. 33.
+ Job iii. 3.
confidence, and a supercilious contempt of others. Even after the frost of adversity had nipped it, and, as we thought, killed it ; if there be such a root of bitterness in the heart, it will be very apt to shoot forth in the sunshine of uninterrupted prosperity ; adversity is not a less trial than prosperity, which is commonly attended with more dangerous temptations. Were the mind but as seriously disposed to selfreflection, it would have a greater advantage of attaining a true knowledge of itself under the latter than under the former. But, unhappily, the mind is seldom difposed for such an employment. It has the concerns of the world to attend to ; and is too much engaged with external things, to advert to those within ; and is more disposed to enjoy than to examine itself. However, it is the most necessary season for self-examination, and if rightly improved, a very proper time to acquire fome degree of self-acquaintance.
Lastly, How do we behave in bad company? That may be deemed bad company in which there is no probability of our effecting any good, but apparent danger of the contrary ; I mean, our giving offence
to others, by an indiscreet zeal, or incurring guilt to ourselves, by a criminal compliance.
Are we carried down by the torrent of vanity and vice? Will a flash of wit, or a brilliant fancy, make us excuse a profane expression ? If this be the case, we shall foon come to relish it, when thus seasoned, and use it ourselves.
This is a time when our zeal and wifdom, our fortitude and firmness, are generally put to the most delicate proof ; and when we may too often take notice of the unsuspected escapes of folly, fickleness and indiscretion.
At such seasons, we may discern what lies at the bottom of our hearts, better than we could in the more even and customary scenes of life, when the passions are calm and settled : therefore, would we know ourselves, we should be very attentive to our frame, temper, disposition, and conduct on those occasions.
CH A P.