תמונות בעמוד

weakness. This cannot be done, till it be first known ; nor can it be known with, put a good degree of self-acquaintance.

It is strange to observe what pains some men are at to expose themselves ; to signalize their own folly; and to set out to the most public view those things which they ought to be ashamed to think should ever enter into their character. But so it is ; some men seem to be ashamed of those things which should be their glory, whilst others “ glory in their shame,” Phil. iii. 19.

The greatest weakness in a man is to publish his weaknesses, and to appear fond to have them known. But vanity will of ten prompt a man to this, who, unacquainted with the measure of his capacities, attempts things out of his power, and beyond his reach, whereby he makes the world acquainted with two things to his disadvantage, which they were ignorant of before, viz. his deficiency, and his felf-ignorance in appearing so blind to it.

"It is ill judged (though very common) to be less ashamed of a want of temper, than understanding. For it is no real dishonour or fault in a man to have but a small ability of mand, provided he hath not the vanity to set up for a genius, (which


would be as ridiculous, as for a man of small strength and stature of body to set up for a champion), because this is what he cannot help. But a man may in a good measure correct the fault of his natural temper, if he be well acquainted with it, and duly watchful over it. And therefore to betray a prevailing weakness of temper, or an ungoverned passion, diminishes a man's reputation much more than to discover a weakness of judgment or understanding. But what is most dishonourable of all is, for a man at once to discover a great genius and an ungoverned mind ; because that strength of reason and understanding he is matter of, gives him a great advantage for the government of his paffions; and therefore his suffering himself potwithstanding to be governed by them shows, that he hath too much neglected or misapplied his natural talent, ' and willingly submited to the tyranny of those lufts and passions, over which nature had furnished him with abilities to have secured an easy conquest.

A wise man hath his foibles as well as a fool. But the difference between them is, that the foibles of the one are known to himself, and concealed from the world; the foibles of the other are known to the world, and concealed from himself. The wise man sees those frailties in himself, which others cannot; but the fool is blind to those blemishes in his character, which are conspicuous to every body else. Whence it appears that felf-knowledge is that which makes the main difference between a wife man and a fool, in the moral sense of that word.


CHAP. VII. Concerning the Knowledge of our Constituin

tional Sins. VI. “ CELF-ACQUAINTANCE shows

D « a man the particular fins he “ is most exposed and addicted to ; and « discovers not only what is ridiculous, but « what is criminal, in his conduct and 6 temper."

The outward actions of a man are generally the plainest index of his inward difpofitions; and by the allowed sins of his life you may know the reigning vices of his mind. Is he addicted to luxury and debauch? sensuality then appears to be his prevailing taste. Is he given to revenge and cruelty ? choler and malice then reign in his heart.. Is he confident, boiu,

E 2


and enterprising ? ambition appears to be the secret spring. Is he fly and designing, given to intrigue and artifice? you may conclude, there is a natural subtilty of temper that prompts him to this. And this secret disposition is criminal, in proportion to the degree in which these outward actions, which spring from it, tranf. gress the bounds of reason and virtue.

Every man hath something peculiar in the turn or cast of his mind, which distinguishes him as much as the particular conftitution of his body. And both these, viz. his particular turn of mind, and particular constitution of body, incline and dispose him to some kind of fins, much more than to others. And the fame it is that renders the practice of certain vira tues so much more easy to fome than it is to others *.


* Men, with regard to their bodies and bodily appetites, are pretty much alike; but, with regard to their souls, and their mental tastes and difpofitions, they are often as different as if they were quite of another species; governed by different views, entertained with different pleasures, animated with different hopes, and affeded by different motives, and distinguished by as different tempers and inclinations, s if they were not of the same kind. So that I am sy ready to believe, that there is not a greater dif. ence between an angel and some of the best and


Now these fins which men generally are most strongly inclined to, and the temptations to which they find they have least power to regist, are usually and properly called their conftitutional sins; their peculiar frailties; and, in scripture, their own iniquities, Psal. xviii. 23. and the fins which “ do moft easily beset them,” Heb. xii. 1 *.

" As in the humours of the body, so “ in the vices of the mind, there is one s predominant, which has an ascendant over us, and leads and governs us. It « is in the body of sin what the heart is E.3

« in

wiseft of men, or between a devil and some of the
worst and wickedest of men, with regard to their
tempers and difpofitions, than there is between some
sort of men and some others. And what inclines me
to this sentiment is, considering the easy transition
which nature always observes in paffing from one or-
der or kind of beings to another (which I have be-
fore taken notice of), together with the prodigious
difference there appears to be between some and
others of the human species, almoft in every thing
belonging to their fouls: For some there are, “ in
“ whom (as one expresses it) one would think na.
“ ture had placed every thing the wrong way;" de-
praved in their opinions, unintelligible in their reaa
foning, irregular in their actions, and vicious in eve-
ry disposition: Whilst in some others we see almost
every thing amiable and excellent that can adorn and
exalt the human mind under the disadvantages of

in auagriz sustigiS&tos, Tbe zvell-circumstanced fea.

[ocr errors][ocr errors]
« הקודםהמשך »