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will always determine himself by the end ; or by such a retrospective view of things, considered as paft.
On the other hand, if you find a strong propenfion to any particular action, examine that with the like impartiality : perhaps it is what neither your reason nor conscience can fully approve ; and yet every motive to it is strongly urged, and every objection against it flighted : sense and appetite grow importunate and clamorous, and want to lead, while reason remonftrates in vain; but turn not aside from that faithful and friendly Monitor, whilst with a low, ftill voice, she addresses you in this soft but earneft language. - Hear me, I beseech you, but this one
The action is indeed out of · character; what I shall never approve.
The pleasure of it is a great deal over-rated; you will certainly be disappointed. It is a
false appearance that now deceives you. . And what will you think of yourself when . it is paft, and you come to reflect seriously
on the matter ? believe it, you will then I wish you
had taken me for your councellor, * instead of those enemies of mine, your * lusts and passions, which have so often * misled you, tho you know I never < did.'
6 word more.
Such short recollections as these, and a little leisure to take a view of the nature and consequences of things or actions, before we reject or approve them, will prevent much falfe judgment and bad conduct; and by degrees wear off the prejudices which fancy has fixed in the mind, either for or against any particular action ; teach us to distinguish between things and their appearances ; strip them of those false colours that so often deceive us; correct the fallies of the imagination, and leave the reins in the hand of Reason.
Before I dismifs this head, I must observe, that fome of our strongest prejudices arise from an excessive felf-esteem, or too great à complacency in our own good sense and understanding. Philautus in everything Thews himself well satisfied with his own wisdom, which makes him very impatient of contradiction, and gives him a distaste to all who shall presume to oppose their judgment to his in any thing; he had rather persevere in a mistake than retract it, left his judgment should fuffer; not confidering that his ingenuity and good sense fuffer much more by such obstinacy : the fulness of his self-sufficiency makes him blind to those imperfections which every one can see in him but himself; and however wise, sincere and
friendly, however gentle and seasonable your remonstrances may be, he takes it immedi-, ately to proceed from ill-nature or ignorance in you, but from no fault in him.
Seneca, I remember, tells us a remarkable story, which very well illustrates this mat
Writing to his friend Lucilius, ' my ' wife (says he) keeps Harpastes in her house
still, who, you know, is a sort of family
fool, and no small incumberance upon us. * For my part, I am far from taking any * pleasure in such prodigies. If I have a • mind to divert myself with a fool, I have
not far to go for one ; I can laugh at my• felf. This filly girl, all on a sudden, lost • her eye-light; and (which perhaps may • seem incredible, but it is very true) she • does not know she is blind; but is every
now and then defiring her governess to lead her abroad, saying the house is dark. --Now what we laugh at in this poor
creature, you may observe happens to us • all. No man knows that he is covetous, 6 or insatiable: Yet with this difference; the • blind seek somebody to lead them, but we • are content to wander without a guide.
But why do we thus deceive ourselves ? · The disease is not without us, but fixed deep within. And therefore is the cure
' so difficult, because we do not know that
we are fick (1)
The Neceffty and Means of knowing our
A of felf-knowledge is, the knowledge of those governing paffrons or difpofitions of the mind, which generally form what we call a man's
The difference of natural tempers seems to be chiefly owing to the different degrees of influence the several passions have upon
the mind; e. g. if the passions are eager and soon raised, we say the man is of a warm temper : if more sluggish and slowly raised, he is of a cool temper; according as anger, malice or ambition prevail, he is of a fierce, churlish or haughty temper; the influence of the fofter passions of love, pity and benevolence, form a sweet, sympathifing and courteous temper; and when all the passions are duly poised, and the milder and pleasing ones prevail, they make what is commonly called a quite good-natured man,
(1) Sen. Epift. 51.
So that it is the prevalence of any particular passion which gives the turn or tincture to a man's temper, by which he is loved or esteemed, or shunned and despised by others,
Now what this is, those we converse with are foon sensible of. They presently see the fault of our temper, and order their behaviour accordingly. If they be wise and well mannered, they will avoid striking the string which they know will jarr and raise a discord within us. If they are our enemies, they will do it on purpose to fet us on tormenting ourselves. And our friends we must suffer sometimes with a gentle hand to touch it, either by way of pleasant raillery or faithful advice.
But a man must be greatly unacquainted with himself, if he is ignorant of his predominant paffion or distinguishing temper, when every one else observes it. Yet how common is this piece of self-ignorance ? The two Apostles Peter and John discovered it in that very action wherein they meant to express a most hearty zeal for their Master's honour; which made him tell them, that they knew not what manner of spirit they were of, Luke ix. 5. i. e. that, instead of a principle of love and genuine zeal for him, they were at that time governed by a spirit of pride,