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by the excellency of the end, and their expediency to produce it; so that must be the best knowledge that hath the directeft tendency to promote the best ends, viz, a man's own true happiness, and that of others ; in which the glory of God, the ultimate end, is ever necessarily comprised.
Now, if we were to judge of the several kinds of science by this rule, we should find, (1.) Some of them to be very hurtful and pernicious, as tending to pervert the true end of knowledge ; to ruin a man's own happiness, and make him more injurious to fociety : Such is the knowledge of vice, the various temptations to it, and the ways of practising it; especially the arts of dissimulation, fraud and dishonesty. (2.) Others will be found unproftable and uselefs; as those parts of knowledge, which, tho' they may take up much time and pains to acquire, yet anfwer no valuable purpose; and serve only for amusement, and the entertainment of the imagination. For instance, an acquaintance with plays, novels, games and modes, in which a man may be very critical and expert,
yet not a whit the wiser or more useful Man. (3.) Other kind of knowledge are good only relatively (or conditionally, and may be more useful to one than to another) viz. a skill in a man's
particular occupation or calling, on which his. credit, livelihood or usefulness in the world depends. As this kind of knowledge is valuable in proportion to its end, so it ought to be cultivated with a diligence and esteem agreeable to that. (Lastly,) Other kinds of knowledge are good, abfolutely and universally, viz. the knowledge of God and ourselves; the nature of our final happiness and the way to it; this is equally necessary to all : and how thankful should we be, that we, who live under the light of the Gospel, and enjoy that light in its perfection and purity, have so many happy means and opportunities of attaining this most useful and necessary kind of knowledge ! A man
can never understand himself, then, till he make a right estimate of his knowledge; till he examine what kind of knowledge he values himself most upon, and most diligently cultivates; how high a value he sets upon it; what good it does him; what effect it hath upon him; what he is the better for it; what end it answers now;
or what it is like to answer hereafter.
There is nothing in which a man's selfignorance discovers itself more, than in the esteem he hath for his understanding, or
for himself on the account of it: it is a trite observation, that empty things make the most found; men of the least knowledge are most apt to make a show of it, and to value themselves upon it; which is very visible in forward confident youth, raw, conceited academics, and those who, uneducated in their childhood, betake themselves in later life to reading, without taste or judgment, only as an accomplishment, and to make a show of scholarship; who have just learning enough to spoil company, and render themselves ridiculous, but not sufficient to make either themselves or others in the least degree wiser.
Beside the forementioned kinds of knowledge, there is another which is commonly called false knowledge ; which, tho it often imposes upon men under the show and semblance of true knowledge, is really worse than ignorance : fome men have learned a great many things, and have taken a great deal of pains to learn them, and stand very high in their own opinion on account of them, which yet they must unlearn before they are truly wise: they have been at a vast expence of time, pains and patience to heap together, and to confirm themselves in a set of wrong notions, that they lay up in their minds as a fund
of valuable knowledge ; which, if they try by the forementioned rules, viz. 'the ten
dency they have to make them wifer and better, or more useful and beneficial to
others,' will be found altogether insignificant.
Beware of this false knowledge: for as there is nothing of which men are more obstin ately tenacious, so there is nothing that renders them more vain, or more averse to self-knowledge; of all things, men are most fond of their wrong notions.
The Apostle Paul often speaks of these men and their felf-sufficiency, in very poignant terms; who, tho they feem wife, yet, says he, muft become fools before they are wife * Tho' they understand much in their own opinion, they know nothing yet as they ought to know t.
But deceive themselves, by thinking themselves fomething when they are nothing I. And whilst they defre to be teachers of others, understand not what they say, nor whereof they affirm s. And want themselves to be taught what are the first rudiments and prin. ciples of wisdom |.
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* Cor. iii. 18.
ti Cor, viii 2,
# Gal. vi. 3.
Concerning the Knowledge, Guard and Govern
iment of our Thoughts. XIII. NOTHER part of self-know
ledge consists in a due acquaintance with our own thoughts and the inward workings of the imagination.
The right government of the thoughts requires no small art, vigilance and resolution; but it is a matter of such vast importance to the peace and improvement of the mind, that it is worth our pains to acquire it : a man that hath so numerous and turbulent a family to govern as his own thoughts, which are too apt to be at the command of his paffrons and appetites, ought not to be long from home; if he be, they will soon grow mutinous under the conduct of those two headstrong guides, and raise great disturbances, and sometimes on the flightest occasions : and a more dreadful scene of misery can hardly be imagined, than that which is occasioned by such a tumult within, when a raging conscience or inflamed passions are let loose without controul : a city in flames, or the mutiny of a drunken crew aboard, who have murdered the captain, and are