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revenge and cruelty; and yet knew it not : and that the Apostle John should be liable to this censure, whose temper seemed to be all love and sweetness, is a memorable instance how difficult a thing it is for a man at all times to know his own spirit; and that that passion, which seems to have the least
power over his mind, may on some occasions in. sensibly gain a criminal ascendant there.
The necessity of a perfect knowledge of our reigning passions appears farther from hence; that they not only give a tincture to the temper, but to the understanding also; and throw a strong bias on the judgment : They have much the same effect upon the eye
of the mind, as some distempers have upon that of the body ; if they do not put it out, they weaken it; or throw false colours before it, and make it form å wrong judgment of things : in short, they are the source of those forementioned prejudices, which so often abuse the human understanding.
Whatever the different passions themselves that reign in the mind may be owing to, whether to the different texture of the bodily organs, or the different quantity or motion of the animal spirits, or to the native turn and cast of the soul itself; yet certain it is, that men's different ways of thinking are
much according to the predominance of their different passions ; and especially with regard to religion : Thus, we see melancholy people are apt to throw too much gloom upon their religion, and represent it in a very uninviting and unlovely view, as all austerity and mortification : whilft they, who are governed by the more gay and cheerful passions, are apt to run into the other extreme, and too much to mingle the pleasures of senfe with those of religion: and are as much too lax, as the other too fevere. Hence, by the prejudice of their respective passions, or by the force of their natural temper, they are led into different mistakes.
So that would a man know himself, he • 'must study his natural temper; his consti
tutional inclinations, and favourite paffions; • for by these a man's judgment is easily per
verted, and a wrong bias hung upon his
mind: these are the inlets of prejudice ; • the unguarded avenues of the mind, by ! which a thousand errors and secret faults • find admission, without being observed or • taken notice of (m).'
And that we may more easily come at the knowledge of our predominant affections,
(m) Spectat. vol. vi. No. 899.
let us consider what outward events do most impress and move us ; and in what manner : what is it that usually creates the greatest pain or pleasure in the mind ? — As for pain ; a ftoic indeed may
• that we must keep things at a distance; let nothing that is out• ward come within us ; let externals be ex. • ternals still. But the human make will scarce bear the rigour of that philosophy: outward things, after all, will impress and affect us; and there is no harm in this, provided they do not get the possession of us, overset our reason, or lead us to act unbe. coming a man or a Christian ; and one advantage we may reap from hence is the manner or degree in which outward things impress us, may lead us into a better acquaintance with ourselves, discover to us our weak fide, and the passions which most predominate in us.
Our pleasures will likewise discover our reigning passions, and the true temper and disposition of the soul : if it be captivated by the pleasures of sin, it is a sign its prevailing taste is very vicious and corrupt; if with the pleasures of sense, very low and fordid ; if imaginary pleasures, and the painted scenes of fancy and romance do most entertain it, the soul hath then a trifling
turn; if the pleasures of science or intellectual improvements are thofe it is most fond of, it has then a noble and refined taste ; but if its chief fatisfactions derive from religion and divine contemplation, it has then its true and proper taste; its temper is as it should be, pure, divine, and heavenly ; provided these fatisfactions fpring from a true, religious principle, free from that superstition, bigotry and enthusiasm, under which it is often difguised.
Thus by carefully observing what it is that gives the mind the greatest pain and torment, or the greatest pleafure and entertainment, we come at the knowledge of its reigning paffions, and prevailing temper and disposition,
• Include thyself then, O my foul, within
not large, it is deep; and thou wilt there • find exercise enough : thou wilt never be * able to found it; it cannot be known, but
by Him, who tries the thoughts and reins. But dive into this subject as deep as thou canst ; examine thyself; and this knowledge of that which passes within thee will be of more use to thee, than the know
ledge of all that passes in the world. Con• cern not thyself with the wars and quarrels • of public or private persons. Take cog..
6 nizance of those contests which are be
tween thy flesh and thy spirit; between • the law of thy members, and that of thy • understanding; appease those differences; • teach thy flesh to be in subjection; replace • reason on its throne, and give it piety for s its counsellor; tame thy passions, and
bring them under bondage; put thy little * ftate in good order; govern wisely and
holily those numerous people which are • contained in so little a kingdom ; that is to
say, that multitude of affections, thoughts,
opinions and passions which are in thine • heart (n).'
Concerning the secret Springs of our Actions. X. NOTHER confiderable branch
felf-acquaintance is, to know the true motives and secret springs of our actions.
This will sometimes coft us much pains to acquire ; but for want of it, we shall be in danger of passing a false judgment upon our actions, and of entertaining a wrong opinion of our conduct,
(n) Jurieu's Method of Christian Devotion, Part iii. Chap. iii,