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here, the consideration of our external condition in life, be it what it will, will have no undue influence on the mind in its search after self-knowledge, .

CHAP. IX. The Practice of Self-Knowledge, a great

Means to promote it. , IX. “T ET all your self-knowledge be

e “ reduced into practice." The right improvement of that know. ledge we have is the best way to attain more,

The great end of self-knowledge is selfgovernment, without which it is but a useless speculation. And as all knowledge is valuable in proportion to its end, so this is the most excellent kind of knowledge, only because the practice of it is of such extensive use, as hath been already shown.

Above all other subjects (says an an“ cient pious writer) study thine own self. " For no knowledge that terminates in “ curiosity or speculation is comparable “ to that which is of use; and of all use“ ful knowledge, that is most fo which ( consists in the due care and just notions « of ourselves. This study is a debt which


" every one owes himself. Let us not “ then be so lavish, so unjust, as not to « pay this debt, by spending some part, “ at least, if we cannot all or most of our “ time and care upon that which has the “ most indefeasible claim to it. Govern

your passions ; manage your actions « with prudence ; and, where false steps “ have been made, correct them for the « future. Let nothing be allowed to “ grow headftrong and disorderly; but “ bring all under discipline. . Set all your “ faults before your eyes; and pass fen« tence upon yourself with the same fe« verity as you would do upon another, « for whom no partiality hath biaffed “ your judgment *.”

What will our most exact and diligent self-researches avail us, if after all we fink into indolence and sloth? Or what will it signify to be convinced that there is a great deal amiss in our deportments and difpofitions, if we sit still contentedly under that conviction, without taking one step towards a reformation ? It will indeed render us but the more guilty in the fight of God. And how fad a thing will it be to

have * St. Bernard's Medit, chap. s.

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have our self-knowledge hereafter rise up in judgment against us!

vi Examination is in order to correction « and amendment. We abuse it and our“ selves, if we rest in the duty without « looking farther. We are to review our “ daily walk, that we may reform it; and « consequently a daily review will point « out to us the subject and matter of our “ future daily care.—This day (faith the “ Christian, upon his review of things at “ night) I loft To much time, particularly « at I took too great a liberty, par« ticularly in . I omitted such an

opportunity that might have been ime « proved to better purpose, I mismar • naged such a duty, -I find such a cor. “ ruption often working ; my old infir. “ mity-still cleaves to me; how easily. « doth this fin beset me!--Oh! may I « be more attentive for the time to come « more watchful over my heart; take “ more heed to my ways ! May I do so “ the next day !"_The knowledge of 6. a distemper is a good step to a cure; " at least, it directs to proper methods « and applications in order to it. Self6 acquaintance leads to self-reformation. “ He that at the close of each day calls

is over

" over what is past, inspects himself, his « behaviour and manners, will not fall «« into that security, and those uncensur« ed follies that are fo. common and so « dangerous *.”

And it may not be improper, in order to make us sensible of and attentive to some of the more secret faults and foibles of our tempers, to pen them down at night, according as they appeared during the transactions of the day; by which means, we shall not only have a more distinct view of that part of our character to which we are generally most blind, but shall be able to discover some defects and blemishes in it, which perhaps we never apprehended before. For the wiles and doublings of the heart are fometimes so hidden and intricate, that it requires the nicest care and most steady attention to detect and unfold them.

For instance: “ This day I read an au“ thor whose sentiments were very diffe« rent from mine, and who expressed him“ self with much warmth and confidence: “ it excited my spleen, I own, and I imu mediately passed a severe censure upon “ him; so that had he been present, and

« talked * Bennet's Christ. Orat. pag. 578.

« talked in the same strain, my ruffled o temper would have prompted me to “ use harsh and ungrateful language, “ which might have occasioned a very “ unchristian contention. But I now rea 56 collect, that though the author might “ be mistaken in those sentiments (as I “ still believe he was), yet by his particu“ lar circumstances in life, and the me« thod of his education, he hath been “ strongly led into that way of thinking ; “ so that his prejudice is pardonable, but “ my uncharitableness is not, especially “ considering that in many respects he “ has the ascendant of me.—This pro66 ceeded then from uncharitableness, which “ is one fault of my temper I have to - watch against; and which I never was " before fo sensible of as I am now upon “ this recollection. Learn more modera« tion, and make more allowances for the e mistaken opinions of others for the fu“ ture. Be as charitable to others who « differ from you, as you desire they “ should be to you, who differ as much " from them; for it may be you cannot “ be more aflured of being in the right " than they are.

“ Again: This day I found myself strong“ ly inclined to put in something by way.

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