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one who hath made it the study of his life to be acquainted with himself, is soon difposed to enter into a free and familiar converse with his own heart; and in such a self-conference improves more in true wisdom, 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 picty.
Self-Knowledge, the best Preparation for
SELF KNOWLEDGE will be
an habitual preparation for a 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 foul, 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 *.
“ Distrut * Illa quoquc res morti nos alienat, quod hæc jam
“ Distrust and darkness of a future state, ~ Is that which makes mankind to dread
o 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 felf-acquaintance, comes distinctly to discern those qualifications in himself, his hopes of heaven foon raise him above the fears of death; and though he may not be able to form any clear or diftinct conception of the nature of that happiness, yet in general he is aflured that it will be a most exquisite and satisfying one, P3
novimus, illa ad quæ tranfituri sumus, nescimus qualia fint. Et horremus ignota. Naturalis præterea tenebrarum metus est, in quas adductura mors creditur. 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 " those things that are unknown to us. We are na
turally afraid of being in the dark; and death is a leap in the dark.”.
and will contain in it every thing necessary to make it complete, because it will come immediately from God himself. Whereas, they who are ignorant what they are, muft neceffarily be ignorant what they shall be. A man that is all darkness within can have but a dark prospect forward *.
O! what would we not give for solid hope in death! Reader, wouldst thou have it, know God, and know thyself.
* Illi mors gravis incubac
Qui, notus nimis omnibus,
Sen. Tha. Tbyer
Showing how Self-Knowledge is to be
attained. FROM what hath been said under the
two former parts of the subject, selfknowledge appears to be in itself fo excellent, and its effects so extensively useful and conducive to the happinefs of human kind, that nothing need further be added by way of motive or inducement to excite us to make it the great object of our ftudy and pursuit. If we regard our present peace, satisfaction, and usefulness, or our future and everlasting interests, we shall certainly value and prosecute this knowledge above all others, as what will be most ornamental to our characters, and beneficial to our interest in every state of life, and abundantly recompense all our labour. Were there need of
further motives to excite us to this, I might lay open the many dreadful effects of self-ignorance, and show how plainly it appears to be the original spring of all the follies and incongruities we see in the characters of men, and of most of the mortifications and miseries they meet with here. This would soon appear, by only mentioning the reverse of those advantages before specified, which naturally attend self-knowledge : for what is it, but a want of self-knowledge and self-government, that makes us so unfettled and volatile in our dispositions ? so subject to transport and excess of passions in the varying scenes of life ? so rash and unguarded in our conduct ? fo vain and felf-sufficient? fo cenforious and malignant? so eager and confident ? so little useful in the world, to what we might be? fo inconsistent with ourselves ? fo miltaken in our notions of true religion? fo generally indisposed to, or unengaged in, the holy exercises of it? and, finally, fo unfit for death, and so afraid of dying ? I say, to what is all this owing, but selfFarance ? the first and fruitful fource of his long train of evils. And, indeed,