« הקודםהמשך »
rashly into those vain and fruitless controversies, in which one of them is sure to be loft, and the other in great danger of being so, especially when a man of bad tem. per and bad principles is the opponent ; who aims rather to hlence his adversary with overbearing confidence, dark unmeaning language, authoritative airs, and hard words, than convince him with folid 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 wife 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-sufficiency, that never-failing lign 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 foundation in self-acquaintance. •
CHAP. | CHAP. VI. Self-Knowledge improves the Judgment. VI. “ A NOTHER great advantage of
I“ being well acquainted with s 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, &c. which oftentimes so miserably pervert the rational powers.
He that hath taken a just measure of himself, is thereby better able to judge of 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 same passions and appetites, the fame natural infirmities and inclinations in all, though some are more predominant and distinguishable in some than they are in others. So that if
a man be but well acquainted with his own, this, together with a very little observation on the ways of men, will foon 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 of 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 shows them in a falser light), or by popular opinions and prejudices.
(2.) Self-knowledge will teach us to judge rightly of facts as well as men. It will exhibit things to the mind in their proper light and true colours, without thole false glosses 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 rectifies our notions of them, and leffens that enormous esteem we are apt to have for them. Tor when a man knows himself, and his
true interests, he will see how far, and in what degree, these things are fuit.ble to him, and subservient to his good ; and how far they are unsuitable, enfnaring, and pernicious. This, and not the common opinion of the world, will be his rule of judging concerning them. By this he will fee quite through them ; see what they really are at bottom, and how far a wise man ought to desire them. The reason why men value them so extravagantly is, because they take but a superficial view of them, and only look upon their outside, where they are most show and inviting. Were they to look within them, consider their intrinsic worth, their ordinary effects, their tendency and their end, they would not be so apt to overvalue them. And a man that has learned to see through himself, can easily fee through these *
* Abftrahunt a recto divitiæ, honores, potentia, et cætera quæ opinione nostra chara funt, precio fuo vir lia. Nescimus æftimare res: de quibus, non cum fama sed cum rerum natura, deliberandum est. Nihil habent ifta magnificum, quo mentes in fe nostras trahant, præter hoc quod mirari illa confuevinius. Non enim, quia concupiscenda sunt, laudantur, sed concupiscuntur quia laudata funt. Sen. Epift. 82.--" Riches, as honours, power, and the like, which owe all their “ worth to our false opinion of them, are too apt to
draw the heart fronı virtue. We know not how
CHAP. VII. Self-Knowledge directs to the proper Exercise
of Self-Denial. VII. “ A MAN that knows himself, best
A “knows how, and wherein, “ he ought to deny himself.”
The great duty of self-denial, which our Saviour fo expressly requires of all his followers, (plain and necessary as it is), has been much mistaken and abused, and that not only by the church of Rome in their doctrines of penance, fafts, and pilgrimages, but by some Protestant Christians in the instances of voluntary abstinence, and unnecessary austerities; whence they are sometimes apt to be too censorious against those who indulge themselves in the use of those indifferent things, which they make it a point of conscience to abstain from. Whereas, would they confine their exercise of self-denial to the plain and im.
“ to prize them; they are not to be judged of by the « common vogue, but by their own nature; they « have nothing to attract our esteem, but that we “ are used to admire them; they are not cried up “ because they are things that ought to be desired, - but they are desired because they are generally crie sed up."