« הקודםהמשך »
verse to self-knowledge. Of all tilings, men are most fond of their wrong notions.
The apostle Paul often speaks of these men, and their self-sufficiency, in 'very poignant terms ; who, " though they seem ** wise, yet (says he) must become fools "before they are wise," i Cor. iii. it. Though they think they know a great deal, "know nothing yet as they ought *' to know," i Cot. viii. 2. But "deceive "themselves, by thinking themselves fome"thing when they are nothing," Gal. vL 3. And whilst they '* desire to be teach"ers of others, understand not what they "fay, nos whereof they assirm," J Tim. i. 7. And " want themselves to be taught ** what are the first rudiments and prin** ciples ofwfdfm" Heb. v. 12.
Concerning the Knowledge, Guard, end Gtvtrnment if our Thoughts.
XIII." A NOTHER pan of scls-khow.**- "ledge consists in a due acil quaintance 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 while to be at some pains about it. A man that hath so numerous and turbulent a family to govern as his Own thoughts, which are ib apt to be under the influence and command of his passions and appetites, ought not to be long from home: If he is, they Will soon grow fnutinous and disorderly under the conduct of those two headstrong guides, and raise great clamours and disturbances, and sometimes on the slightest Occasions; and a more dreadful scene of misery can hardly be imagined, fhan that which is occasioned by such a tumult and uproar within, when a raging conscience or inflamed passions are let loose without check or controul. A city in flames, or the mutiny of a drunken crew aboard, who have murdered the caplain, and are butchering one another, are but faint emblems of it. The torment of the mind, under such an insurrection and merciless ravage of the passions, is not easy to be conceived. The most revengeful man Cannot wifh his enemy a greater.
Of what vast importance then is it for
a man to watch over his thoughts, in order to a right government of them? to consider what kind of thoughts sind the easieft, admission; in what manner they insinuate themselves, and upon what occasions?
It was an excellent rule which a wise heathen prescribed to himself, in his private meditations; "Manage (faith he) all "your actions and thoughts in such a man"ner, as if you were just going out of the "world *." Again, (faith he) "A man "is seldom, if ever, unhappy for not "knowing the thoughts of others; but u he that does not attend to the motions "of his own, is certainly miserable f."
It may be worth our whije then here to discuss this matter a little more particularly -,
• Marc. Anton. Medit. Lib. I. § II.
f Marc. Anttm. Lib. 2. § 8.
"Nothing can be more unhappy than that man K who ranges everywhere, ranfacks every thing, digs *' into the bowels of the earth, dives into other men's "bosoms, but does not consider all the while-that his **' own mind will afford him sufficient scope for in"quiry and entertainment, and that the care and "improvement of himself' will give him business "enough. Id. Lib. 2. § 13.
"Your disposition will be suitable to that which "you most frequently think on; for the soul is, as it "were, tinged with the colour and complexion of "its own thoughts." Id. Lib. 5. § 16.
eularly; and consider, t. What kind of thoughts are to be excluded of rejeEitd. And, 2. What ought to be indulged and entertain* ed in the heart.
I. Some thoughts ought to be immediately banished as soon as they have found entrance. —And if we are often troubled with them, the sasest way will be to keep a good guard On the avenues of the mind by which they enter, and avoid those occasions which commonly excite them. For sometimes it is much easier to prevent a bad thought entering the mind, than to get rid of it when it is entered.—'More particularly,
(1.) Watch against all fretsuland discontented thoughts, which do but chase and wound the mind to no purpose. To harbour these, is to do yourself more injury than it is in the power of your greatest enemy to do you. It is equally a Christian's interest and duty to " learn in ** whatever state he is, therewith to be •«, content," Phil. iv. il.
(2.) Harbour not too anxious and apprehenfve thoughts. By giving way to tormenting fears, suspicionsof some approaching danger or troublesome event, some not only anticipate, but double the evil they fear; and undergo much more from the
apprehension of it before it comes, than by suffering it when it is come. This is a great, but common weakness, which a man should endeavour to arm himself against by such kind of reflections as these: —" Are not all these events under the "certain direction of a wise Providence? "If they befal me, they are then that "share of suffering which God hath ap"pointed me; and which he expects I "should1 bear as a Christian. How often "hath my too timorous heart magnisied "former trials? which I found to be less ** in reality than they appeared in theif "approach. And perhaps the formidable "aspect they put on, is only a stratagem "of the great enemy of my best interest, *' designed on purpose to divert me from "some point of duty, or to draw me in"to some sin, to avoid them. However, "why should I torment myself to no pur"pose? The pain and affliction the dread"ed evil will give me when it comes, is "of God's sending; the pain I seel in "the apprehension of it before it comes, "is of my own procuring. Whereby I "often make my sufserings more than "double; for this overplus of them, which "I bring upon myself, is often erpater