« הקודםהמשך »
ill-will to us, which it may concern us to think of coolly when we are by ourselves; to examine whether the accusation be just, and what there is in our conduct and temper which may make it appear so. And by this means our enemy may do us more good than he intended, and be an occafion of discovering something of our hearts to us which we did not know before. A man that hath no enemies ought to have very faithful friends; and one who hath no such friends, ought to think it no calamity that he hath enemies td be his effectual monitors.—" Our friends (fays Mr. "Addison) very often flatter us as much "as our own hearts. They either do not "see our faults, or conceal them from usj *' or soften them by their representations, "after such a manner that we think them "too trivial to be taken notice of. An ad"versary, on the contrary, makes a strict"er search into us, discovers every flaw f< and impersection in our tempers t and u though his malice may set them in too "strong a light, it has generally some "ground for what it advances. A friend "exaggerates a man's virtues;. an enemy "inflames his crimes. A wise man should f give a just attention to both os them, M so far as it may tend to the improve
"ment "ment of the one, and the diminution of "the other. Plutarch has written an ef"fay on the benesits which a man may M receive from his enemies; and, among "the good fruits of enmity, mentions ** this in particular, that by the reproaches "it casts upon us, we see the worst side "of ourselves, and open our eyes to se«* veral blemifhes and desects in our lives '' and conversations, which we should not "have observed without the help of such "ill-natured monitors.
"In order likewise to come at a true «' knowledge of ourselves, we fhould con"sider, on the other hand, how far we "may deserve the praises and approba"tions which the world bestow upon us; "whether the actions they celebrate pro*' ceed from laudable and worthy motives, "and how far we are really possessed of «' the virtues which gain us applause a"mongst those with whom we converse. "Such a reflection is absolutely neces"sary, if we consider how apt we are ei"ther to value or condemn ourselves by "the opinipns of others, and to sacrisice "the report of our own hearts to the "judgment of the world *."
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• spcaat. rri.%\, Ko. 399.
In that treatise of Plutarch here reserred to, there are a great many excellent things pertinent to this subject j and therefore I thought it not improper to throw a sew extracts out of it into the margin *.
* The foolish and inconsiderate spoil the very friendships they are engaged in; but the wife and prudent make good use ot the hatred and enmity ot men against them.
Why should we not take an enemy for our tutor, who will instruct us gratis in those things we knew not before? For an enemy sees and understands more in matters relating to us than our friends So: be* cause love is blind; but spite, malice, ill-will, wrath, and contempt, taljt. much, are very inquisitive and quick-sighted.
Our enemy, to gratify his ill-will towards us, acquaints himself with the insiimitics both of our bodies and minds, sticks to our faults, and makes his invidious remarks upon them, and spreads them abroad by his uncharitable and ill-natur«d reports. Hence we are taught this useful lesson for the direction and management of our converfation in the world, viz. That we be circumspect and wary in every thing we speak or do, as if our enemy always stood at our elbow, and overlooked our actions.
These persons whom that wisdom hath brought to lire soberly, which the sear and awe of enemies hath infused, a:e by degrees drawn into a habit of living so, and are composed and sixed in their obedience to virtue by custom and use. •'' * 'u
When one asked Diogenes how he might be avenged of his enemies, he replied, " To be yourself a "good and honest man."
iAntisthenes spake incomparably well; " That, if a '5mm would live a fase and unblameable lise, it was
It is the character of a very AiKoiutT mind, to be entirely insensible to all that S the
"necessary that he should have very ingenuous and "faithful friends, or very bad enemies; because the "sirst by their kind admonitions would keep him "from sinning, the latter by their invectives."
He that hath no friend to give him advice, or reprove him when he does amiss, must bear patently the rebukes of his enemies, and thereby learn to mend the errors of his ways; considering seriously the object which thele severe censures aim at, and not what he is who makes them: For he who designed the death of Promothous the I'htAalian, instead of giving him a fatal blow, only opened a swelling which he had, which did really favefiis lise. J ft so may the harsh reprehensions of enemies cure some distempers of the mind, which were before either not known or neglected; though their angry speeches do originally proceed from malice or ill-will.
If any man with opprobrious language objects so you crimes you know nothing of, you ought to inquire into the causes or reasons of such false accusations; whereby you may learn to take heed for the future, lest you Ihould unwarily cqjmiit those offences which are unjustly imputed to you.
Whenever any thing is spoken against you that is not true, do not pass it by, or despise it because it is false; but forthwith examine yourself, and consider what you have faid or done that may administer a just occasion iof reproof.
Slothing can be a greater instance of w isdom and huiniliity, than for a man'to beai silently and quietly the follies and reviling* of an enemy, taking as much care not to provoke him as he would to fail fasely by a dangerous rock.'
It is an eminent piece of humanity, and a manisest
token of a nature truly generous, to put up the af
,„ fronts the world says of us; and shows such a considence of self-knowledge as is usually a sure sign of self-ignoranee. The most knowing minds are ever least presumptuous. And true self-knowledge is a science of so much depth and dissiculty, that a wise man would not choose to be over-consident that all his notions of himself are right, in opposition to the judgment of all mankind 5 some of whom perhaps have better opportunities and advantages of knowing him (at some seasons especially) than he has of knowing himself; because they never look through the same false medium of felf-fattery.
Frequent Converse with Superiors, a Help U Self-Knowledge.
IV." A NOTHER proper means of
** >" self-knowledge, is to con
w verse as much as you can with those
fronts of an enemy, at a time when you have a fair opportunity to revenge them.
Let ut carefully obferve those good qualities wherein our enemies excel us; and endeavour to excel ^ -m, by avoiding what is faulty, and imitating what :ellcnt ia them. slut. Altr. Vol. i. fag. 16$. rt