« הקודםהמשך »
a man to watch over his thoughts, in order to a right government of them ? to consider what kind of thoughts find the eafiest admission; in what manner they insinuate themselves, and upon what occalions ?
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
he that does not attend to the motions ~ of his own, is certainly miserable t."
It may be worth our while then here to discuss this matter a little more parti
cularly i * Marc. Anton, Medit. Lib. 2. $ 11. + Marc. Anton. Lib. 2. $ 8.
« Nothing can be more unhappy than that man « who ranges everywhere, ransacks 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 66 its own thoughts.” Id. Lib. 5. $ 16.
cularly; and confider, t. What kind of thoughts are to be excluded or rejected. And, 2. What Otight to be indulged and entertains ed in the heart. .
1. Some thoughts ought to be immediately banished as soon as they have found entrance.
And if we are often troubled with them, the fafeft way will be to keep a good guard on the avenues of the mind by which they enter, and avoid those occafions which commonly excite them. For sometimes it is much eafier to prevent a bad thought entering the mind, than to get rid of it when it is entered.-More particularly,
(i.) Watch against all fretful and discona tented thoughts, which do but chase and wound the mind to no purpose. To har. bour these, is to do yourself more injury than it is in the power of your greateft enemy to do you. It is equally à Christian's interest and duty to “ learn in * whatever state he is, therewith to be « content,” Phil. iv. 11.
(2.) Harbour not too anxious and apprebenfive thoughts. By giving way to tormenting fears, suspicions of some approaching danger or troublesome event, fome 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 « should bear as a Christian. How often “ hath my too timorous heart magnified « former trials ? which I found to be less “ in reality than they appeared in their “ approach. And perhaps the formidable sc 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 feel in “ the apprehension of it before it comes, “ is of my own procuring. Whereby I so often make my sufferings more than « double; for this overplus of them, which 66 I bring upon myself, is often greater « than that measure of them which the “ hand of Providence immediately brings « upon me.”
(3.) Dismiss, as soon as may be, allt angry and wrathful thoughts. These will but canker and corrode the mind, and dispofe it to the worst temper in the world, viz. that of fixed malice and revenge. Anger may steal into the heart of a wise man, but it rests only in the bofom of fools, Ecclef. vii. 9. Make all the most candid allowances for the offender; consider his natural temper ; turn your anger into pity; repeat i Cor. xiii. ; think of the patience and meekness of Christ, and the petition in the Lord's prayer; and how much you stand in need of forgiveness yourself, both from God and man; how fruitless, how foolish is indulged resentment; how tormenting to yourself. You have too much good nature willingly to give others fo much torment; and why should you give it yourself? You are commanded to love your neighbour as yourself, but not forbidden to love yourself as much. And why should you do yourself that injury, which your enemy would be glad to do you * ? Efpecially,
(4.) Ba* The Christian precept in this case is, “ Let not
(4.) Banish all malignant and revengeful thoughts. A spirit of revenge is the very spirit of the devil; than which nothing makes a man more like him, and nothing can be more opposite to the temper which Christianity was defigned to promote, If your revenge be not satisfied, it will give you torment now; if it be, it will give you greater hereafter, Nonę is a greater self-tormentor than a malicious and revengeful man, who turns the poison of his own temper in upon himself *.
(5.) Drive from the mind all filly, trifling, and unreasonable thoughts; which sometimes get into it we know not how, and seize and postess it before we are 2ware ; and hold it in empty idle amusements, that yield it neither pleasure nor profit, and turn to no manner of account in the world; only consume time, and
prevent * the sun go down upon your wrath," Eph. iv. 26. And this precepe Plutarch tells us the Pythagoreanspractised in a literal sense: “ Who, if at any time in as a paflion they broke out into opprobrious language, * before fun-sét gave one another their hands, and " with them a discharge from all injuries; and fo, of with a mutual reconciliation, parted friends." Plut. Flor. Vol. ii. pag. 89. * Malitia ipsa maximam partem veneni fui hibit.
Illud ven num quod serpentes in alienam pernia ciem proferunt, fine lua continent. Non eft huic fie
ile; hoc habentibus peilimum eft. Sen. Epif. 82.