« הקודםהמשך »
soon lead you into self-delusion, the consequences of which may be fatal to yoų. Labour to see yourself as you are ; and view things in the light in which they are, and not in that in which you would have them be. Remember that the mind is always apt to believe those things true which it would have be so; and backward to believe those things true which it wishes were not so; and this is an influence you will certainly lie under in this affair of self-judgment,
You need not be much afraid of being too fevere upon yourself; your great dan ger will generally be of passing a too favourable judgment. A judge ought not indeed to be a party concerned, and should have no interest in the person he sits in judgment upon. But this cannot be the case here, as you yourfelf are both judge and criminal, which shows the danger of pronouncing a too favourable fentence. But remember your business is only with the evidence and the rule of judgment;, and that, however you come off now, there will be a rehearing in another court, where judgment will be according to truth.
“However, look not unequally either 5 at the good or evil that is in you, but 6 view them as they are. If you observe
“ only the good that is in you, and over“ look the bad, or search only after your 6 faults, and overlook your graces, nei" ther of these will bring you to a true “ acquaintance with yourself *.”
And to induce you to this impartiality, remember that this business (though it may be hid from the world) is not done in fecret ; God sees how you manage it, be fore whose tribunal you must expect a righteous judgment. « We should order « our thoughts so (faith Seneca) as if we « had a window in our breasts; through “ which any one might see what passes o there. And indeed there is one that “ does; for what does it fignify that our « thoughts are hid from men? From God “ nothing is hid t."
(5.) Beware of falle rules of judgment. This is a sure and common way to self-deception. e. g. Some judge themselves by what they have been. But it does not follow, if men are not so bad as they have been, that therefore they are as good as they should be. It is wrong to make our past conduct implicitly the measure of our present; or the present the rule of our future ; when our past, present, and future conduct must all be brought to another rule. And they who thus “ measure “ themselves by themselves, and compare « themselves with themselves, are not so wise,"? 2 Cor. x. 12.--Again, Others are apt to judge of themselves by the opi. nions of men, which is the most uncertain rule that can be, for in that very opinion of theirs you may be deceived. How do you know they have really so good an opinion of you as they profess? but if they kave, have not others as bad ? and why should not the opinion of these be your rule as well as the opinion of those ? Appeal to self-flattery for an answer. However, neither one nor the other of them perhaps appear to know themselves, and how should they know you ? how is it poflible they should have opportunities of knowing you better than you know yourself? A man can never gain a right knowledge of himself from the opinion of others, which is so various, and generally so ill founded; for men commonly judge by outward appearances, or inward prejudice, and therefore for the most part think and speak of us yery much at ranj dom.- Again, Others are for judging of themselves by the conduct of their superiors; who have opportunities and advantages of knowing, acting, and being better; and yet, without vanity be it fpoken, (say they) we are not behind hand with them. But what then? Neither they nor you perhaps are what the obligations of your character indispensably require you to be, and what you must be ere you can be happy. But consider how easily this argument may be turned upon you: You are better than fome, you say, who have greater oppor: tunities and advantages of being good than you have, and therefore your state is safe ; but you yourself have greater opportunities and advantages of being good than some others have, who are nevertheless better than you ; and therefore, by the same rule, your state cannot be safe. Again, Others judge of themselves by the common maxims of the vulgar world concerning honour and honesty, virtue and interest, which maxims, though general: ly very corrupt, and very contrary to those of reason, conscience, and scripture, men will follow as a rule, for the sake of the latitude it allows them; and fondly think, that if they stand right in the opinion of the lowest" kind of men, they have no
paft * Baxter's Director, pag. 876.
+ Sic cogitandum tanquam aliquis in pectus inti. mum infpicere poflit; et poteft. Quid enim prodeft. ab homine aliquid effe fecretum? Nihil Deo clausuin the Sen. Epift. 84.
reason to be severe upon themselves. Others, whose sentiments are more delicate and refined, they imagine, may be mistaken, or may overstrain the matter. In which persuasion, they are confirmed, by observing how seldom the consciences of. the generality of men smite them for those things which these nice judges condemn as heinous crimes. I need not say how false and pernicious a rule this is.-Again, Others may judge of themselves and their state by sudden impresions they have had, or strong impulses upon their spirits, which they attribute to the finger of God; and by which they have been so exceedingly affected, as to make no doubt but that it was the instant of their conversion: but whether it was or not can never be known but by the conduct of their after lives.- In like manner, others judge of their good state by their good frames, though very rare it may be, and very transient, foon passing off like a morning cloud, or as the early dew.' “ But we « should not judge of ourselves by that « which is unusual or extraordinary with “us, but by the ordinary tenor and drift 6 of our lives. A bad man may seem “ good in some good mood, and a good Pas man may seem bad in some extraordi