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a Christian, that is, who prosesses to take the gospel of Christ for a divine revelation, and the only rule of his faith and practice; but, at the fame time, pays a greater regard to the dictates of men, than to the doctrines of Christ; who loses sight of that great example of Christ, which should animate his Christian walk, is unconcerned about his service, honour, and interest, and excludes the consideration of his merits and atonement from his hope and happiness; he forgets that he is , a Christian;—he does not consider in what relation he stands to Christ, (which is one great part of his character,) and consequently discovers a great degree of selfignorance.
(3.) Self-knowledge moreover implies a due attention to the several relations m which we stand to our fellow-creatures; and the obligations that result from thence.
If we know ourselves, we shall remember the condescension, benignity, and love that is due to inseriors; the affability, friendship, and kindness we ought to snow to equals; the regard, deserence, and honour we owe to superiors; and the candour, integrity and benevolence, we owe to all.
The particular duties requisite in these
relations are too numerous to be here men
P tionedr tioned. Let it sussice to say, that if a man. doth not well consider the several relations of lise in which he stands to others, and does not take care to preserve the decorum and propriety of those relations, he may justly be charged -with self-ignorance. And this is so evident in itself, and so generally allowed, that nothing is more common than to fay, when a person does not behave with due decency towards his superiors, such a one does not uriderjla: d kimflf. But why may not this with equal justice be said of those who act in an ill manner towards' their inferiors? The expression, 1 know, is not so often thus applied; but I see no reason why it should not, since one is as common, and as plain an instance of self-ig* norance as the other. Nay, of the two, perhaps men in general are more apt to be desective in their duty and behaviour towards those beneath them, than they are towards those that are above them; and the reason seems to be, because an apprehension of the displeasure of their superiors, and the detrimental consequences which may accrue from thence, may be a check upon them, and engage them to >ay the just regards which they expi ct: mt there being no such check to restrain
them them fiom violating the duties they owe to inseriors, (from whose displeasure they have little to sear,) they are more ready, under certain temptations, to treat them in an unbecoming manner. And as wisdom and self-knowledge will direct a man to be particularly caretul, lest he neglect those duties he is most apt to forget; so, as to, the duties he owes to inseriors, in which he is most in danger of transgressing, he ought more strongly to urge Upon himself the indispensable obligations of religion and conscience. And if he does not, but suffers himself through the violence of ungoverned passion to be transported into the excesses of rigour, tyranny, and oppression, towards those whom God and nature have put into his power, it is certain he does not know himself; is not acquainted with his own particular weakness; is ignorant of the duty of his relation; and, whatever he may think of himself, hath not the true spirit of government; because he wants the art of selfgovernment. For he that is unable to govern himself, can never be sit to govern others.
Would we know our/elves then, we must
consider ourselves as creatures, as Christians,
D 2 and and as men ,• and remember the obligations, which, as such, we are under to God, to Christ, and our fellow-men; in the several relations in which we stand to them: in order to maintain the propriety, and ful* sil the duties, of those relations.
We must duly consider the Rank and Station of Life in which Providence hath placed us, and what it is that becomes and adorns it.
III. A MAN "that knows himself,-will .** " deliberately consider and at*' tend to the particular rank and station *' in life in which Providence hath placed "him; and what is the duty and decorum "of that station : what part is given him "to act; what character to maintain; and "with what decency and propriety he "acts that part or maintains that cha"raster."
For a man to afsume a character, or aim at a part that does not belong to him, is affectation. And. whence is it that affectation of any kind appears so ridiculous, and exposes men to universal and just
contempt, contempt, but because it is a certain indication of self-ignorance? Whence is it that many seem so willing to be thought something when they are nothing, and seek to excel in those things in which they cannot, whilst they neglect those things in which they might excel? Whence is it that they counteract the intention of nature and providence, that when this intended them one thing, they would fain be another? Whence, I fay, but from an ignorance of themselves, the rank of life they are in, and the part and character which properly belongs to them?
It is a just observation, and an excellent document of a moral heathen, that human lise is a " drama, and mankind the "actors, who have their several parts as**, signed them by the master of the theatre, "who stands behind the scenes, and ob** serves in what manner every one acts. "Some have a short part allotted them, *' and some a long one, some, a low, and "some a high one. It is not he that acts *' the higheft or most shining part on the "stage, that comes off with the greatest "applause; but he that acts his part best, "whatever it be. To take care then to "act our respective parts in lise well, is D 3 "ours j