« הקודםהמשך »
man understanding, that, upon a narrow scrutiny into our furniture, we observe a great many things which we think we know, but do not; and a great many things which we do know, but ought not. That of the knowledge which we have been all our lives collecting, a good deal of it is mere ignorance, and a good deal of it worse than ignorance. To be fenfible of which is a very necessary step to felf-acquaintance *
Self-Inspection peculiarly necessary upon fome
particular Occafons. VII. “ W OULD you know yourself,
V “ you must very carefully " attend to the frame and emotions of “ your mind under some particular inci« dents and occasions."
Some sudden accidents which befal you when the mind is most off its guard, will better discover its secret turn and prevailing disposition, than much greater events you are prepared for. e.g. (1.) Consider how you behave under
any Ses Part i, chap. xüi. fin.
any sudden affronts or provocations from men. “A fool's wrath" is presently “ known,” Prov. xii. 16. i. e. a fool is presently known by his wrath.
If your anger be foon kindled, it is a sign that secret pride lies lurking in the heart, which, like gunpowder, takes fire at every spark of provocation that lights upon it. For whatever may be owing to a natural temper, it is certain that pride is the chief cause of frequent and wrathful resentments : For pride and anger are as nearly allied as humility and meekness. 66 Only by pride cometh contention," Prov. xiii. 10. And a man would not know what mud lay at the bottom of his heart, if provocation did not stir it up.
Athenodorus the philosopher, by reason of his old age, begged leaye to retire from the court of Auguftus, which the emperor granted him; and as Athenodorus was taking his leave of him, “ Remember, “ (said he) Cæsar, whenever you are -“ angry, you say or do nothing, before “ you have repeated the four-and-twenty « letters of the alphabet to yourself.” Whereupon Cæsar catching him by the hand, I have need (says he) of your presence
Still, ftill; and kept him a year longer *. This is celebrated by the ancients as a rule of excellent wisdom. But a Christian may prescribe to himself a much wiser, viz. Go When you are angry, anfwer not till « you have repeated the fifth petition of “ the Lord's prayer, Forgive us our tref“ passes, as we forgive them that trespass « against us; and our Saviour's comment « upon it, For if ye forgive men their tref“ pases, your heavenly Father will also for6 give you : but if ye forgive not men their “ trespasses, neither will your Father forgive 66 your trespases," Matth. vi. 14, 15.
It is a just and seasonable thought that of Marcus Antoninus upon such occaHons. “A man misbehaves himself to“ wards me,-what is that to me? The « action is his; and the will that sets him “ upon it is his; and therefore let him " look to it. The fault and injury is his, «s not mine. As for me, I am in the con“ dition Providence would have me, and “ am doing what becomes me t."
But still this amounts only to a philosophical contempt of injuries, and falls
* See Plut, Mor. Vol. i. pag. 238. + Med.tut. Book 5. $ 25.
much beneath a Christian forgivenness of them; which as Christians we are bound to, and which, if we know ourselves, we shall be disposed to. And therefore, in order to a true self-knowledge, we must always take care to examine and observe in what manner we are affected in such circumstances.
(2.) How do you behave under a severe and unexpected affliction from the hand of Providence ? which is another circuma ftance, which, when rightly improved, will help us very much to know ourselves.
If there be any habitual discontent or impatience lurking within us, this will draw it forth, especially if the affliction be attended with any of those aggravating circumstances with which Job's was.
Afflictions are often sent with this intent, to teach us to know ourselves ; and therefore ought to be carefully improved to this purpose. "
And much of the wisdom and goodness of our heavenly Father is seen by a serious and attentive mind, not only in proportioning the degrees of his corrections to his children's strength, but in adapting the kinds of them to their tempers ; -afflicting one in one way, another in another, according as he knows they are most
easily easily wrought upon, and as will be most for their advantage : by which means a Night affliction of one kind may as deeply affect us, and procure as great an advantage to us, as a much greater of another kind.
It is a trite but true obfervation, that a wise man receives more benefit from his enemies than from his friends, from his afflictions than from his mercies; by which means he makes his enemies in effect his best friends, and his afflictions his greatest mercies. Certain it is, that a man never has an opportunity of taking a more fair and undisguised view of himself than in these circumstances : and therefore by diligently observing in what manner he is affected at fuch times, he may make an improvement in the true knowledge of himself, very much to his future advantage, though perhaps not a little to his prefent mortification ; for a fudden provocation from man, or severe affliction from God, may detect something which lay latent and undiscovered so long at the bottom of his heart, that he never once suspected it to have had any place there. Thus the one excited wrath in the meekest man, Psal. cvi. 33. and the other passion the most patient, Job iii. 3.