« הקודםהמשך »
ledge, the more I possess, the more sen' fible I am of my want of it*.'
The difficulty of self-government and self-possession ariseth from the arduousness of a thorough self-acquaintance, which is necessary to it; I say a thorough self-acquaintance such as has been already set forth in the several branches ; [Part 1.] self-government is simply impossible (I mean considered as a virtue) where self-ignorance prevails, so the difficulty of it will decrease in proportion to the degree in which selfacquaintance improves.
* Cicero was undoubtedly the vainest man in life; or he could not have had the effrontery to beseech Cocceius, in writing the Roman History, to set the administration of his confulship in the most diftinguished point of glory, even at the expence of historical truth; and yet, when he is begging a favour of the like kind, even of Cato himself, he has these astonishing words.-Si quisquam fuit unquam remotus et naturâ et magis etiam (ut mihi quidem fentire videor) ratione atque doctrinâ ab
SERMONIBUS VULGI, ego profectò is funi. Lib. i. Ep. 4. If ever any man
and the defire of popular applause, it is myself; and this dispofition which I have by nature, is (methinks) grown yet stronger by reafon and philofophy.- Ah ! how secretly doth self-ignorance (not only insinuate into but) conceal itself within the most impraved and best cultivated minds ! - Reader, beware,
was a STRANGER
Many perhaps may deem this a paradox, and imagine that they know their predominant passions and foibles, but still find it almost impossible to subdue them. However, when they re-examine this point, they will probably find, that that difficulty arises either from their defect of Self-knowledge, (for it is in this as in other kinds of knowledge, wherein some are very ready to think themselves much greater proficients than they are) or else from their neglect to put in
practice that degree of Self-knowledge they have. They are often betrayed into temptations which overcome them, because they are ignorant of, or do not guard against, the more remote enticements : whence they are led into those more immediate and dangerous, which may not improperly be called the folicitations to temptation ; in guarding against which, confifteth a very necessary part of Self-knowledge, the best means of avoiding sin, in our present state of frailty.
To correct what is amifs, and to improve what is good, in us, should be our hearty desire, and the great end of all our felf-researches ; and if we do not endeavour, we cannot heartily desire it.
the heart accompanies the will; and where
. there is assiduity, there is generally success.
So that endeavour must evince the truth • of our desire, and an happy issue will “ generally prove the fincerity of our la
bours (F). This we may safely say, without attributing too much to the power of the human will, considering that we are rational and free agents, and that effectual aslistance is offered to those who seek it, to prosper their endeavours, if they are fin
Which introduces the subject of the following Chapter.
CH A P. X.
Fervent and frequent Prayer the most effectual
Means for attaining true Self-Knowledge. Lastly; THE laft means to Self-knowledge
which I shall mention, is frequent and devout applications to the Fountain of Light, and the Father of our spirits, to assist us in this important study, and give us the true Knowledge of ourselves.
This. I mention ultimately, not as the least, but on the contrary, as the greatest
and best means of all, to attain a right and thorough knowledge of ourselves; the only way to render all the rest effectual. And therefore, tho' it be the last mentioned, it is the first means that should be used.
In order to Self-knowledge, we must often converse, not only with ourselves in meditation, but with God in Prayer.
In the lowest prostration of soul, befeeching the Father of our spirits to discover them to us; in whose light we may fee light, where before there was nothing but darkness; to make known to us the depth and devices of our heart. For, without the graces and influence of his Divine illuminations, our hearts will most certains ly deceive us. And self-love will fo prejudice the understanding, as to keep us still in self-ignorance.
Would we know ourselves, we must first be persuaded that our hearts are deceitful above all things. Next, to remember that the Lord searcheth the hearts, and trieth the reins *. i. e.
i. e. that : He, the (Kærdiogowns) searcher of all hearts +, hath
* Jer. xvii, 10.
+ 1 Chron, xxviii. 9.
a perfect knowledge of them, deceitful as they are. Which confideration, as it suggefteth the most powerful motive to labour after, so it directs us, at the Tame time, how we may attain this true knowledge, viz. by an humble and importunate application to God, who knoweth all things, to disclose our secret failings unto us; which He can perform various ways, by the free access which his Holy Spirit hath to our spirits ; by fixing our attention, by quickening our apprehenfions, by removing our prejudices, (which, like a false medium before the eye of the mind, prevents its seeing things in a just and proper light ; ) by mortifying our pride, strengthening the intellectual faculties, and by enforcing upon the mind a lively sense of its greatest happiness and duty; thereby awakening the Soul from that carnal security and indifference about its best interests, whereinto it is apt to be betrayed by a too serious attention to the world,
Besides ; Prayer is a very suitable expedient for attaining Self-knowledge, as the engagement of the mental faculties, in this devout exercise, is a great help to it: for the mind is never in a better frame,