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habitually dispose it for the reception of the best and most useful thoughts, and sit it for the noblest entertainments.
Upon the whole, then, it is of as great importance for a man to take heed what thoughts he entertains, as what company he keeps; for they have the fame effect upon the mind. Bad thoughts are as insectious as bad company; and good thoughts solace, instruct, and entertain the mind like good company. And this is one great advantage of retirer%ent; that a man may choose what company he pleases, from within himself.
As in the world we oftener light into bad company than good; so in solitude we are oftener troubled with impertinent and unprositable thoughts, than entertained with agreeable and useful ones. And a man that hath so far lost the command of himself, as to lie at the mercy of every foolish or vexing thought, is much in the fame situation as a host, whose house is open to all comers, whom, though ever so noisy, rude, and troublesome, he cannot get rid os; but with this difference, that the latter hath some recompence for his trouble, the former none at all, but
's robbed of his peace and quiet for no
t. - °f
Of such vast importance to the peace, as well as the improvement of the mind, is the right regulation of the thoughts, which will be my apology for dwelling so long on this branch of the subject: Which I shall conclude with this one observation more; that it is a very danger.ous thing to think, as too many are apt to do, that it is a matter of indifference what thoughts they entertain in their hearts; since the reason of things concurs with the testimony of the holy scriptures to assure us, "That the allowed thought '' of foolishness is sin," Prov. xxiv. 9 '*,
Concerning the Memory,
XIV." A MAN that knows himself will ,*, * "have a regard not only to "the management of his thoughts, but "the improvement of his memory ."
The memory is that faculty of the foul, which was designed for the storehouse or repository of its most useful notions; where they may be laid up in sasety, to be produced upon proper occasions.
* Nam scelus inter fe tapitum qui cogitat ullum Fa,cti crimen habet. Jw. Sat, 13.
Now a thorough self-acquaintance can-, not be had without a proper regard to this in two respects, (i.) Its furniture. (2.) Its improvement.
(1.) A man that knows himself will have a regard to the furniture of his memory; not to load it with trash and lumber, a set of useless notions or low conceits, which he will be ashamed to produce before persons of taste and judgment.
If the retention be bad, do not crowd it. It is of as ill consequence to overload a weak memory, as a weak stomach. And that it may not be cumbered with trash, take heed what company you keep, what books you read, and what thoughts you favour; otherwise a great deal of useless rubbish may six there before you are a-. ware, and take up the room which ought to be possessed by better notions. But let not a valuable thought flip from you, though you pursue it with much time and pains before you overtake it. The regaining and resixing it may be of more avail to you than many hours reading.
What pity is it that men should take
such immense pains, as some do, to learn those things, which, as soon as they become wise, they must take as much pains to unlearn!—A thought that should make us very curious and cautious about the proper furniture of our minds.
(2.) Selfvknowledge will acquaint a man vith the extent and capacity of his memory, and the right way to improve it.
There is r;o small art in improving a weak memory, so as to turn it to as great an advantage as many do theirs w-hich are much stronger. A sew fhort rules to this purpose may be no unprositable digrefsion.
1. Beware of all kinds of intemperance in the indulgence of the appetites and passions. Excesses of all kinds do a great injury to the memory.
2. If it be weak, do not overkad it. Charge it only with the most useful and solid notions. A. small vessel should not be stuffed with lumber: But if its freight be precious, and judiciously stowed, it may be more valuable than a ship of twice its burden.
3. Recur to the help of a common placelook, according to Mr. Locke's method, and review it once a year. But take care that by considing to your minutes or me