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of their hearers tetter, than to domineer over their faith, or fhoot over their heads, and seek their own popularity rather than their benesit. They would be more solicitous for their edisication, than their approbation; and, like a faithful physician, would earnestly intend and endeavour their good, though it be in a way they may not like; and rather rifle their own characters with weak and captious men, that withhold any thing that is needful for them, or be unfaithful to God and their own consciences. The most palatable food is not always the most wholesome. Patients - must not expect to be always pleased, nor physicians to be always applauded.
Piety, the Effect of Self Knowledge.
X." OELF-KNOWLEDGE tends great*-'," ly to cultivate a spirit of true
Ignorance is so far from being the mother of devotion, that nothing is more destructive of it. And of all ignorance none is a greater bane to it than self ^-ignorance. This indeed is very consistent-with superstition, 3 bigotry, bigotry, and enthusiasm, those common counterfeits of piety, which by weak and credulous minds are often miftaken for it. But true piety and real devotion can only spring from a just knowledge of God and ourselves; and the relation we stand in to him, arid the dependence we have upon him. For when we consider ourselves as the creatures of God, whom he made for his honour; and as creatures incapable of any happiness, but what results from his savour; and as entirely and continually dependent upon him for every thing we have and hope for; and whilst we bear this thought in pur minds, what can induce or prompt us more to love, and to sear, and trust him as our God, our father, and all-sussicient friend and helper?
Self-Knowledge teaches us rightly to perform, the Duties of Religion.
XI. " GELF-KNOWLEDGE will be a *-* "good help and direction to us, "in many of our religious duties and Chri"stia« exercises." Particularly,
(i.) In the duty of prayer; both as to 4 the the matter and mode*. He that rightly
knows himself will be very sensible of his spiritual wants; and he that is well acquainted with his spiritual wants, will not be at a loss what to pray for. "Our "hearts would be the best prayer-books, "if we were skilful in reading them. "Why do men pray, and call for prayers, "when they come to die? but that they "begin a little better to know themselves. "And were they now but to hear the "voice of God and conscience, they "would not remain speechless. But they •*' that are born deaf are always dumbs." Again, self-knowledge will teach us to 'pray not only with fluency, but servency j will help us to keep the heart, a6 well as .order our speedh before God; and so promote the grace as well as gift of prayer. Did we but seriously consider what we are, and what we are about; whom we pray -to, and what we pray for; it is impossible we should be so dead, spiritless, and formal in this duty as we too often are. The very thought would inspire us. with ,lise, and faith, and servour.
. P (2.) Self
* Ilk Deo -veram orationem exhibit qui scmetipsum cognoscit. Grig. f Baxter.
(2.) Self-knowledge will be very helpful to us in the duty of thanksgiving; As it makes us mindful of the mercies we receive; the suitableness and the seasonableness of them. A self-knowing man considers what he hath, as well as what he wants; is at once sensible both of the value of his mercies, and his unworthiness of them: And this is ,what makes him thankful. For this reason it is that one Christian's heart even melts with gratitude for those very mercies, ,which others disesteem and depreciate, and perhaps despise, because they have not ,what they think greater. But a man that knows himself, knows that he deserves nothing, and therefore is thankful for every thing. For thankfulness as necessarily flows from humility, as humility does from self-acquaintance.
(3.) In the duties of reading and hearing the word of God, self-knowledge is of excellent use, to enable us to underjland and apply that which we read or hear. Did we understand our hearts better, we should under/land the word of God better; for that speaks to the heart. A man that is' acquainted with his heart easily sees howit penetrates and explores, searches and lays open its most inward parts. He
seels what he reads; and sinds that a quickening spirit, which to a self-ignorant man is but a dead letter.
Moreover, this self-acquaintance teaches a man to apply what he reads and hears of the word of God: he sees the pertinence, • congruity, and suitableness of it to his own case ; and lays it up faithfully in the storeroom of his mind, to be digested and improved by his after-thoughts. And it is by this art of aptly applying scripture, and urging the most suitable instructions and admonitions of it home upon our consciences, that we receive the greatest benesit by it.
(4.) Nothing is of more eminent service in the great duty of meditation, especially in that part of it which consists in heart-converse. A man who is unacquainted with himself, is as unsit to converse with his heart, as he is with a stranger he never saw, and whose taste and temper he is altogether unacquainted with: he knows not how to get his thoughts about him; and when he has, ^he knows not how to range and six them, and hath no more the command of them, than a general has of a wild undisciplined army, that has been never exercised or accustomed to obedience and order. But P 2 one