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others cannot; but the fool is blind to those blemifles in his character, which are conspicuous to every body else. Whence it appears, that felf-knowledge is that which makes the main difference between a wife man and a fool, in the moral sense of that word.

CH A P.

VII.

Concerning the Knowledge of our Constilutional

Sins.

VI.
SEL

ELF-ACQUAINTANCE shew's

a man the particular fins he is most exposed and additted to ; and discovers not only what is ridiculous, but what is criminal, 212 his conduct and temper.

A man's outward actions are generally the plainest index of his inward difpofitions : and by the allowed fins of his life you may know the reigning vices of his mind. Is he addicted to luxury and debauch ? sensuality then appears to be his prevailing taste.

Is he given to revenge and cruelty ? choler and malice then reign in his heart. Is he confident, bold and enterprizing ? ambition appears to be the secret spring. Is he fly and designing, given to intrigue and artifice ? you may conclude, there is a natural subtilty of tem

F

per

per that prompts him to this; and this fecret disposition is criminal, in proportion to the degree in which these outward actions, which spring from it, transgress the bounds of reason and virtue.

Every man hath something peculiar in the turn or cast of his mind, which diftin. guilhes him as much as the particular conftitution of his body and both these, viz. his particular turn of mind, and constitution of body, not only incline and dispose him to fome kind of fins, more than to others, but render the practice of certain virtues much more easy *.

Now

* Men, with regard to their bodies, and bodily appetites, are pretty much alike; but with regard to their fouls, and their mental tastes and difpofitions, they are often as different as if they were quite of another species ; governed by different views, entertained with different pleasures, animated with different hopes, and affected by different motives and distinguished by as different tenpers and inclinations, as if they were not of the fame kind. Whence, I am very ready to believe, that there is not a greater difference between an angel, and some of the best and wisest of men, or between a devil, and some of the worst and wickedest of men, with regard to their tempers and dispositions, than there is between some fort of men, and some others. And what inclines me to this sentiment is, considering the easy transition which nature always observes in passing from one order or kind of beings to another, (which I have

before

Now these fins to which men are commonly most inclined, and the temptations to which they have least power to resist, are, and not improperly, called their conftitutional fins; their peculiar frailties; and, in Scripture, their * own iniquities, and the fins which ť do most easily befet them (u).

. As in the humours of the body, so in

the vices of the mind, there is one pre• dominant; which has an ascendant over

us, and leads and governs us. It is in the body of fin, what the heart is in the body of our nature; it begins to live

first, and dies laft. And whilst it lives, it 'communicates life and spirit to the whole

body of sin; and when it dies, the body of Gin expires with it. It is the fin to F 2

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before taken notice of) together with the prodigious difference there appears to be between some and others of the human species, almost in every thing belonging to their souls. For some there are, ' in whom (as one expresses it) one would

think nature had placed every thing the wrong 6 way; depraved in their opinions, unintelligible in their reasoning, irregular in their actions, and vicious in every difpofition. Whilst in some others we see almost every thing amiable and excellent that can adorn and exalt the human mind, under the disadvantages of mortality. * Pfalm xviii. 23.

+ Heb. xii. 1! (u), amaglia evospisalt, the well circumstanced fin.

• which our constitution leads, our cir' cumstances betray, and custom inslaves us ; • the fin to which not our virtues only, but 'vices too, lower their topfail, and submit • the fin which, when we would impose

upon God and our consciences, we disguise with all imaginable, fophiftry ; but, when we are fincere with both, we oppose

first, and conquer last. It is, in a word, 'the sin which reigns and rules in the unre

generate, and too often alarms and dis' turbs (ah! that I could say no more) the regenerate (w)

Some are more inclined to the sins of the flesh; sensuality, intemperance, uncleanness, floth, self-indulgence, and excess in animal gratifications. Others to the fins of the spirit; pride, malice, covetousness, ambition, wrath, revenge, envy, &c. And I am persuaded there are few, but, upon a thorough search into themselves, they find that some one of these fins hath ordinarily a greater power over them than the rest. Others often observe it in them, if they themselves do not. And for a man not to know his predominant iniquity is great selfignorance indeed ; and a sign that he has all his life lived far from home; because he is not acquainted with that relating to himself,

which (w) Dr. Lucas's Sermons, vol. i. pag. 151.

which every one, who is but half an hour in his company, perhaps may be able to inform him of. Hence proceeds that extreme weakness which fome discover in censuring others, for the very fame faults they are guilty of themselves, and perhaps in a much higher degree; on which the apostle Paul animadverts, Rom. ii. 1. (x)

It must be owned, it is an irksome and disagreeable business for a man to turn his own accuser ; to searce after his own faults, and keep his eye upon that which gives him shame and pain to see. It is like tearing open an old wound: but it is better to do this, than to let it mortify. The wounds of the conscience, like those of the body, cannot be well cured till they are searched to the bottom; and they cannot be searched without pain. A man that is engaged in the ftudy of himself, must be content to know the worst of himself (y). F 3

Do

(x) Quis tulerit Gracchos de feditione quærentes? Clodius accusat Mæchos ? Catalina Cethegum ?

Juv. Sat. 12. (y) nimis gravis angustia ! Si me infpicio, non tolero meipfum : fi non infpicio, nescio me ipsum. Si me considero, terret me facies mea; si me non considero, fallit me damnatio mea. Si me video, horror eft intolerabilis : fi non 'video, mors eft inevitabilis. - grievous freight ! if I look

into

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