« הקודםהמשך »
befitting that character; for it is not the person, but the character, we are to regard ; and to imitate him no further than he keeps to that.
This caution especially concerns youth, who are apt to imitate their superiors very implicitly, especially such as excel in the part or profession they themselves are aiming at ; but, for want of judgment to die stinguish what is fit and decent, are apt to imitate their very foibles, which a partiality for their persons makes them deem as excellencies, and thereby they become doubly ridiculous, both by acting out of character themselves, and by a weak and servile imitation of others in the very things in which they do so too. To maintain a character then with decency, we must keep our eye only upon that which is proper to it.
In fine, as no man can excel in every thing, we must consider what part is al. lotted us to act, in the station in which providence hath placed us, and keep to that, be what it will, and seek to excel in that only.
CHAP. CHAP. V. Every Man should be well acquainted with
his own Talents and Capacities; and in what Manner they are to be exercised and
improved to the greatest Advantage. IV.“ A MAN cannot be said to know
n “himself, till he is well ac« quainted with his proper talents and can “ pacities; knows for what ends he re, « ceived them; and how they may be 56 most fitly applied and improved for 6 those ends."
A wise and felf-understanding man, instead of aiming at talents he hath not, will fet about cultivating those he hath, as the way in which providence points out his proper usefulness,
Ās in order to the edification of the church, the Spirit of God at first confere red upon the ministers of it a great variety of spiritual gifts, 1 Cor. xii. 8,--10, fo for the good of the community, God is pleased now to confer upon men a great variety of natural talents. And “ Every “ one hath his proper gift of God; one " after this manner, another after that," 1 Cor. vii. 7. And every one is to take care « Not to neglect, but to stir up the “ gift of God which is in him," i Tim. iv. 14. 2 Tim. i. 6. Because it was given him to be improved ; and not only the 24 bute, but the neglect of it must be hereafter accounted for. Witness the doom of that unprofitable servant « who laid « up his single pound in a napkin,” Luke xix. 20, 24. And of him who went and « hid his talent in the earth," Mat. XXV. 25,–30.
It is certainly a sign of great self-ignorance, for a man to venture out of his de th, or attempt any thing he wants opportunity or capacity to accomplish. And there. fore a wile man will consider with himfelf before he undertakes any thing of confequence, whether he hath abilities to care ry him through it, and whether the iffue of it is like to be for his credit ; left he fink under the weight he lays upon himself, and incur the just censure of rashness, presumption, and folly. See Luke xiv. 28,32 *. It is no uncommon thing for some who
Juv. Sat. 15.
excel in one thing to imagine they may excel in every thing; and, not content with that share of merit which every one allows them, are still catching at that which doth not belong to them. Why should a good orator affect to be a poet? Why must a celebrated divine set up for a politician? or a statesman affect the philosopher? or a mechanic, the scholar? or a wise man labour to be thought a wit? This is a weakness that flows from felfignorance, and is incident to the greatest men. Nature feldom forms an universal genius, but deals out her favours in the present state with a parsimonious hand. Many a man by this foible hath weakened a well-established reputation *
versate diu quid ferre recufant Quid valeant humeri.
Hor. de Art. Poet, • He that takes up a burden that is too heavy for
him is in a fair way to break his back." - Aviewii, wew! av Etioxsa, ogoly (51 to wpayme. witas **t on osteuls Quoiy.xalapati, se duvacus Bastoan. Epia. Encbir, cap. 36.
" In every business, confider, first, what it is you “ are about; and then, your own ability, whether it “ be sufficient to carry you through it."
non omnia possumus omnes. Virg. Cæcilius, a famous rhetorician of Sicily, who lived - in the time of Augustus, and writ a treatise on the
We must be well acquainted with our Ina
bilities, and those Things in which we are naturally deficient, as well as those in which
we excel. V.“ W E must, in order to a thorough
W “ self-acquaintance, not only « consider our talents and proper abilities, « but have an eye to our frailties and de« ficiences; that we may know where our « weakness, as well as our strength lies."
Otherwise, like Samson, we may run ourselves into infinite temptations and troubles,
Every man hath a weak fide. Every wise man knows where it is, and will be sure to keep a double guard there. There is some wisdom in concealing a
Sublime (which is censured by Longinus in the bes ginning of his), was a man of a hasty and enterprif. ing spirit, and very apt to overshoot himself on all occasions; and, particularly, ventured far out of his depth in his Comparison of Demoftbones and Cicero. Whereupon Plutarch makes this fage and candid re. mark: « If (faith he) it was a thing obvious and eas « fy for every man to know himself, poflibly that " saying, gowto cleUTOV, had not passed for a divina 86 oracle." Plut. Liv. Vol. vii. pag. 347.