« הקודםהמשך »
that of the world; but a wise and pious man, before all other kinds of knowledge, presers that of God and his own foul.
But some kind of knowledge or other the mind is continually craving after, an3 after a further prosiciency in. And by considering what kind of knowledge it most of all desires, its prevailing turn and temper may easily be known.
This desire of knowledge, like other affections planted in our natures, will be very apt to lead us wrong, if it be not well regulated. When it is directed to improper objects, or pursued in an improper manner, it degenerates into a vain and criminal curiosity. iA fatal instance of this in our sirst parents we have upon sacred record, the unhappy efsects of which are but too visible in all.
Self-knowledge is the subject of the ensuing treatise ;—a subject which, the more I think of, the more important and extensive it appears ;. so important, that every branch of it seems absolutely necessary to the right government of the lise and temper; and so extensive, that the nearer,view we take of the several branches of it, the more are still opening to the view, as necessarily connected with ', as the other, like what we sind in microscopical croscopical observations on natural objects. The better the glasses, and the nearer the scrutiny, the more wonders we explore; and the more surprising discoveries we make of certain properties, parts, or affections belonging to them, which were never before thought of. For in order to a true self-knowledge, the human mind, with its various powers and operations, must be narrowly inspected, all its secret bendings and doublings displayed; otherwise our self-acquaintance will be but very partial and desective, land the heart aster all will deceive us. So that, in treating this subject, there is no small danger, either of doing injury to it, by a. slight and supersicial inquest on the one hand, or of running into a research too minute and philosophical for common use on the other. These two extremes I (hall keep in my eye, and endeavour to steer a middle course between them.
"Know thyself," is one of the most useful and comprehensive precepts in the whole moral system. And it is well known in how great a veneration this maxim was held by the ancients -, and in how high esteem the duty of self-examination, as necessary to it.
Thales the Milesian is said to be the
sirst author of it *; who used to say, "That for a man to know himself is the "hardest thing in the world f." It. was afterwards adopted by Chylon the Lacedemonian; and is one of those three precepts which Pliny assirms to have been consecrated at Delphos in golden letters. It was afterwards greatly admired, and frequently used by others %, till at length it acquired the authority of a divine oracle, and was supposed to have been given originally by Apollo himself. Of which
general general opinion Cicero gives us this reason, "Because it hath such a weight of *' sense and wisdom in it as appears too "great to be attributed to any man *." And this opinion, of its coming originally from Apollo himself, perhaps was the reason that it was written in golden capitals over the door of his temple at Delphos.
* He was the prince of the philosophers, and flourished about A. M. 3330, and was contemporary with Josiah, king of Judah.
t See Stanley's \Aie of Thales.
I Respue quod non es: tollat sua munera cerdo.
Tecum habita: et noris quam sit tibi curta l'u pellex. Pers. Set. 4,
. ncc te quæsiveris extra. Id. Sat. 1.
—— te confute, die tibi quis sis. jfuv. Sat. 11. Teipsum concute. Hor. Lib. I. Sat. 3.
Jiellum est enim sua vitianosse. Cic. Efijl. ad Atticum. Lib. 1. Mud (-yiaii ffixvjov)., noli putare ad arrogantlam minuendam solum csse dictum, verum etiam ut nona riostra norimus. Id. Efijl. ad Mar. £>. Eratrtm, Lib. 3. Epif. 6. •
Id enim maxime quemque decet quod est cujufque suum maxime. Quisque igitur noscat ingenium, acremque se et boriorum et vitiorum suorum judicem præbeat. Id. de Offc. Lib. 1. *
Intrandum est igitur in rerum naturam, et peni'us; quid ea postulat pervidendum; aliter enim noslet ipsos nofle non poslumus. Id. dt Finibus, Lib. 5.
And why this excellent precept should not be held in as high etteem in the Christian world as it was in the heathen, is hard to conceive. Human nature is the fame now as it was then. The heart as deceitsul; and the necessity of watching, knowing, and keeping it the same. Nor are we less assured that this precept is divine: nay, we have a much greater assurance of this than they had. They supposed it came down from heaven; we kno"w it did. What they conjectured, we are sure of. For this sacred oracle is dictat, .A-3 \: ed
* Hæc enim si. c. Philosophia) nos, cum cæteras res omnes, tum quod est difficillimum, docuit; ut' [NOSMET IPSOS] nofceremus. Cujus prxcepti ,/ tanta vis, tanta sententia est, ut ea non homini cui- j '\ piam, sed Delphico Deo tnbucretur. Cicero de Lcgib' Lib. I.
Quod præceptum quia majus e^at quam ut ab homine videretur, idcirco aflignatum est Deo: Jubet igitur 00s Pythius Apollo, noscere [NOSJVIE.T 1PbOSj. Idem dt finibuiy Lib. 5. cap. 16.
ed to us in a manifold light, and explain-
'* James i.«j. v / f Kai x£tTt»*s li(ivfJ.wr\oiv *<w ivw&r xetfilelt. Heb.
, „ iet, 12.
~\ t.aurns Sflx:w«^iT£. 2 Cor. xiii. 5.—Though $oxi' fiet^uv signisies to approve, as well as to prove; yet that our ^tramlators have hit upon the true sense of the word here, in rendering it prove yourselves, is apparent,- not only from the word immediately preceding ('«uTv; ar»j«^i), which is of the fame import, but