« הקודםהמשך »
mankind; and will prevent his shooting at a wrong mark, or missing the right mark he aims at, as thousands do for want of this necessary branch of self-knowledge. See Part I. Chap. V.
CHAP. IX. Self-Knowledge lends to a Decorum and Conn
fiftency of Character. IX, “ A MAN that knows himself,
I « knows how to act with dis56 cretion and dignity in every station and 66 character."
Almost all the ridicule we see in the world takes its rise from self-ignorance. And to this, mankind by common assent ascribe it, when they say of a person that acts out of character, he does not know himself Affectation is the spring of all ridicule, and self-ignorance the true source of affectation. A man that does not know his proper character, nor what becomes it, cannot act suitably to it. He will often affect a character which does not belong to him; and will either act above or beneath himself, which will make him equally contemptible in the eyes of them that know
A man of superior rank and character that knows himself, knows that he is but a man ; subject to the same sicknesses, frailties, disappointments, pains, passions, and forrows, as other men; that true honour lies in those things in which it is possible for the meanest peasant to exceed him, and therefore he will not be vainly arrogant. He knows that they are only tranfitory and accidental things that set him above the rest of mankind; that he will foon be upon a level with them; and therefore learns to condescend: and there is a dignity in this condescension, it does not fink, but exalts his reputation and character.
A man of inferior rank that knows himself, knows how to be content, quiet, and thankful in his lower sphere." As he has not an extravagant veneration and esteem for those external things which raise one man's circumstances so much above another's, so he does not look upon himself as the worse or the less valuable man for not having them; much less does he envy them that have them. As he has not their advantages, so neither has he their temptations; he is in that state of life, which the great arbiter and disposer of all things hath allotted him, and he is fa
tisfred : tisfied : but as a deference is owing to external superiority, he knows how to pay a proper respect to those that are above him, without that abject and servile cringing which discovers an inordinate esteem for their condition. As he does not overesteem them for those little accidental ad-' vantages in which they excel him, so neither does he over-value himself for those things in which he excels others.
Were hearers to know themselves, they would not take upon them to dictate to their preachers, or teach their ministers how to teach them; (which, as St. Austin observes *, is the same thing as if a patient, when he sends for a physician, should prescribe to him what he would have him prescribe); but, if they happen to hear something not quite agreeable to their former sentiments, would betake themselves more diligently to the study of their Bibles, to know whether those things were Jo, Acts xvii. 11.
And were ministers to know themselves, they would know the naiure and duty of their office, and the wants and infirmities, of their hearers better, than to domineer over their faith, or shoot over their heads, and seek their own popularity rather than their benefit. They would be more solicitous for their edification, 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 risk 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
* Norit mcdicus quid falutiferum, quidve contrarium petat ægrotu.. Ægroti eftis, nolite ergo dictare qux vobis medicamina velit opponcre.
always the most wholesome. Patients · must not expect to be always pleased, nor
physicians to be always applauded.
CHAP. X. Piety, the Effect of Self-Knowledge. X.“ÇELF-KNOWLEDGE tends great
“ ly to cultivate a spirit of true « piety."
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,
bigotry, and enthusiasm, those common counterfeits of piety, which by weak and credulous minds are often mistaken for it. But true piety and real devotion can only spring from a just knowledge of God and ourfelyes; and the relation we stand in to him, and 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 favour; and as entirely and continually dependent upon him for every thing we have and hope for ; and whilst we bear this thought in our minds, what can induce or prompt us more to love, and to fear, and trust him as our God, our father, and all-sufficient friend and helper?
| CHAP. XI. Self-Knowledge teaches us rightly to perform
the Duties of Religion. XI. “SELF-KNOWLEDGE will be a
D “good help and direction to us in many of our religicus duties and Chri« ftian exercises.” Particularly,
(1.) In the duty of prayer; both as to