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be separate from that meekness and charity before-mentioned; but I choose to give it a distinct mention, because I consider it under a different view and operation, viz. as that which guards and influences our spirits in all matters of debate and controversy.
Moderation is a great and important Christian virtue, very different from that bad quality of the mind under which it is often misrepresented and disguised, viz. lukewarmness and indifference about the truth. The former is very consistent with a regular and well-corrected zeal, the latter consists in the total want of it; the; former is sensible of, and endeavours with peace arid prudence to maintain the dignity and importance of divine doctrines, the latter hath no manner of concern about them; the one seels the secret influences of them, the other is quite a stranger to their power and essicacy; the one laments in secret the sad decay of vital religion, the other is an instance of it. In short, the one proceeds from true knowledge, the other from great ignorance; the one is a good mark of sincerity, the other a certain sign of hypocrisy. And to consound two things together, which are so 'fientially different, can be the effect of
nothing but great ignorance, or inconsideration, or an overheated, injudicious zeal.
A self-knowing man can easily distinguish between these two. And the knowledge which he has of human nature in general, from a thorough contemplationof his own in particular, shows him the' necessity of preserving a medium (as in every thing else, so especially) between the two extremes of a bigotted zeal on the one hand, and an indolent lukewarmness on the other. As he will not look upon every thing to be worth contending for, so he will look upon nothing worth losing his temper for in the contention; because, though the truth be of ever so great importance, nothing can be of a greater disservice to it, or make a man more incapable of desending it, than intemperate heat and passion, whereby he injures and betrays the cause he is over anxious to maintain. "The wrath of man worketh "not the righteousness of God," James i. 20.
Self-knowledge heals our animosities, and greatly cools our debates about matters of dark and doubtsul speculation. One who knows himself sets too great a value upon his time and temper, to plunge ,
rashly into those vain and fruitless controversies, in which one of them is sure to be lost, and the other in great danger of being so, especially when a man of bad temper and bad principles is the opponent; who aims rather to stlence his adversary with overbearing considence, dark unmeaning language, authoritative airs, and hard words, than convince him with solid argument; and who plainly contends not for truth but for victory. Little good can be done to the best cause in such a circumstance. And a wise and moderate man, who knows human nature, and knows himself, will rather give his antagonist the pleasure of an imaginary triumph, than engage in so unequal a combat.
An eagerness and zeal for dispute on every subject, and with every one, shows great self-sussiciency, that never-failing sign of great self-ignorance. And true moderation, which consists in an indifference about little things, and in a prudent and well-proportioned zeal about things of importance, can proceed from nothing but true knowledge, which has its fou>ndation in self-acquaintance. ,
CHAP. CHAP. VI.
Self-Knowledge improves the Judgment.
VI. " A NOTHER great advantage of ,*, *, "being well acquainted with "ourselves is, that it helps us to form a "better judgment of other things."
Self-knowledge indeed does not enlarge or increase our natural capacities, but it guides and regulates them; leads us to the right use and application of them; and removes a great many things which obstruct the due exercise of them, as pride, prejudice, and passion, 6sV. which oftentimes so miserably pervert the rational powers.
He that hath taken a just measure of himself, is thereby better able to judge os' other things.
(1.) He knows how to judge of men and human nature better. For human nature, setting aside the difference of natural genius, and the improvements of education and religion, is pretty much the fame in all. *There are the fame passions and appetites, the fame natural insirmities and inclinations in all, though some are more predominant and distinguishable in some than they are in others. So that if , ,, _i a man a man be but well acquainted with his own, this, together with a very little observation on the ways of men, will soon discover to him those of others, and show him very impartially the particular failings and excellencies of men, and help him to form a much truer sentiment os them, than if he were to judge only by their exterior, the appearance they make in the eye of the world, (than which sometimes' nothing fhows them in a falser light), or by popular opinions and prejudices.
(2.) Self-knowledge will teach us to judge rightly offacts as well ag men. It will exhibit things to the mind in their proper light and true colours, without thole false glofles and appearances which fancy throws upon them, or in which the imagination often paints them. It will teach us to judge not with the imagination, but with the understanding; and will set a guard upon the former, which so often represents things in wrong views, and gives the mind false impressions of them. See Part I. Chap. IV. »
(3.) It helps us to estimate the true value of all worldly good things. It "rectisies our notions of them, and lessens that enormous esteem we are apt to have for them, tjor when a man knows himself, and his