« הקודםהמשך »
stay to inquire ; but the thing itself is too obvious not to be taken notice of.
Now we should all of us be careful to find out and examine our proper taste of religious things ; that, if it be a false one, we may rectify it; if a bad one, mend it; if a right and good one, strengthen and improve it. For the mind is capable of a falle taste as well as the palate; and comes by it the same way, viz. by being long used to unnatural relishes, which by custom become grateful. And having found out what it is, and examined it by the test of scripture, reason, and conscience, if it be not very wrong, let us indulge it, and read those books that are most suited to it, which for that reason will be most edifying. But, at the same time, let us take care of two things, 1. That it do not bias our judgment, and draw us into error. 2. That it do not cramp our charity, and lead us to cenforioufness.
Of our great and governing Views in Life. XVI.“ ANOTHER part of felf-know
I « ledge, is to know what are “ the great ends for which we live."
We must consider what is the ultimate scope we drive at; the general maxims and principles we live by, or whether we have not yet determined our end, and are governed by no fixed principles, or by such as we are ashamed to own.
There are few that live so much at random as not to have some main end in eye; something that influences their conduct, and is the great object of their pursuit and hope. A man cannot live without some leading views; a wise man will always know what they are, whether it is fit he should be led by them or no; whether they be such as his understanding and reason approve, or only such as fancy and inclination suggest. He will be as much concerned to act with reason, as to talk with reason; as much ashamed of a folecism and contradiction in his character, as in his conversation.
Where Where do our views centre ? In this world we are in; or in that we are going to? If our hopes and joys centre here, it is a mortifying thought, that we are every day “departing from our happiness;" but if they are fixed above, it is a joy to think that we are every day drawing nearer to the object of our highest wishes.
Is our main care to appear great in the cye of man, or good in the eye of God? · If the former, we expose ourselves to the
pain of a perpetual disappointment; for it is much, if the envy of men do not rob us of a great deal of our just praise, or if our vanity will be content with that they allow us. But if the latter be our main care; if our chief view is to be approved of God, we are laying up a fund of the most lasting and solid satisfactions. Not to say that this is the truest way to appear great in the eye of men, and to conciliate the esteem of all those whose praise is worth our wish.
- Be this then, O my soul, thy wise « and steady pursuit ; let this circum“ fcribe and direct thy views ; be this a “ law to thee, from which account it a « fin to depart, whatever disrespect or “ contempt it may expose thee to from
6 others *; be this the character thou re« folveft to live up to, and at all times s to maintain both in public and pri« vatet, viz. a friend and lover of God; « in whose favour thou centereft all thy « present and future hopes. Carry this 6 view with thee through life, and dare « not in any instance to act inconsistently “ with it."
and whether we are fit to die.
L'is of self-knowledge, after all, is, to “ know the true state of our souls towards “ God, and in what condition we are lo 56 die."
* Οσα προτιθεται, τετοις ως νομους, και ως ασεβητων αν σαραβης τι τεων, εμμενε. Οτι δ αν ερη τις σερι σε μη 17160908. Epist. Enchir. cap. 74.-What you bave one wisely proposed to flick to, as a law not to be violated without guilt. And mind not wbat others say of you.
ή Tαξον, τινα ηδη χαρακτηρα σεαυ]ω, και τυπον, ον φυλαξης επι τε σεαυε ων, και ανθρωπους εντυγχανων. Iden. cap. 40.---Fix your character, and keep to it, wbetber 4 lone or in company.
These two things are infeparably connected in their nature, and therefore I put them together. The knowledge of the former will determine the latter, and is the only thing that can determine it ; for no man can tell whether he is fit for death, till he is acquainted with the true state of his own foul.
This now is a matter of such vast mo. ment, that it is amazing any considerate man, or any one who thinks what it is to die, should rest satisfied with an uncertainty in it.-Let us trace out this important point then with all possible plainness, and see if we cannot come to some fatifa faction in it upon the most solid principles.
In order to know then whether we are fit to die, we must first know “ what it is « that fits us for death.” And the answer to this is very natural and easy; viz. that only sits us for death, “ that fits us “ for happiness after death."
This is certain. But the question returns. " What is it that fits us for hap“ piness after death ?”
Now, in answer to this, there is a previous question necessary to be determined, viz. “ What that happiness is ?" M