« הקודםהמשך »
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 66 would not remain speechless. But they 166 that are born deaf are always dumb t.”
Again, self-knowledge will teach us to pray not only with fluency, but fervency; will help us to keep the heart, as well as corder our speech before God; and fo pro mote 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 imporfible we should be so dead, spiritless, and formal in this duty as we too often are. The very thought would inspire us. with life, and faith, and fervour.
P (2.) Self* Ille Deo veram orationem exhibit qui femetipfum cognoscit. Greg.
(2.) Self-knowledge will be very helpfúl 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 fenfible 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 thofe very mercies, · which others disesteem and depreciate, and
perhaps defpise, 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, felf-knowledge is of excellent use, to enable us to understand and apply that which we read or hear. Did we understand our hearts better, we should understand the word of God better ; for that speaks to the heart. A man that is acquainted with his heart easily sees how it penetrates and explores, searches and lays open its most inward parts. He
feels what he reads; and finds 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 fees 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 bea nefit by it.
(4.) Nothing is of more eminent fervice 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 unfit to converse with his heart, as he is with a stranger he never faw, 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 fix 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 who hath made it the study of his life to be acquainted with himself, is soon disposed to enter into a free and familiar converse with his own heart; and in such a self-conference improves more in true wifdom, and acquires more useful and subftantial knowledge, than he could do from the most polite and refined conversation in the world.–Of such excellent use is self-knowledge in all the duties of devotion and piety.
N « an habitual preparation for es death, and a constant guard against the «surprise of it,” because it fixes and settles our hopes of future happiness. That which makes the thoughts of death so terrifying to the soul, is its utter uncertainty what will become of it after death. Were this uncertainty but removed, a thousand things would reconcile us to the thoughts of dying *.
“ Distrust Illa quoquc res morti nos alienat, quod hæc jarr
« Distrust and darkness of a future state, “ Is that which makes mankind to dread
" their fate : “ Dying is nothing; but 'tis this'we fear, “To be we know not what, we know not
Now, felf-knowledge in a good degree removes this uncertainty : for as the word of God hath revealed the certainty of a future state of happiness, which good men shall enter upon after death, and plainly described the requisite qualifications for it; when a good man, by a long and laborious self-acquaintance, comes distinctly to discern those qualifications in himself, his hopes of heaven soon raise him above the fears of death; and though he may not be able to form any clear or distinct conception of the nature of that happiness, yet in general he is assured that it will be a moft exquisite and satisfying one, P 3
novimus, illa ad quæ tranfituri sumus, nefcimus qualia fint. Et horremus ignota. Naturalis præterea
tencbrarum metus est, in quas adductura mors credi* tur. Sen. Epift. 83.- It is this makes us averse to
“ death, that it translates us to things we are unac« quainted with; and we tremble at the thought of as those things that are unknown to us. We are na1 turally afraid of being in the dark; and death is a
leap in the dark."