תמונות בעמוד

put upon themselves. "They that co"ver their sins shall not prosper," Prov. xxviii. 13. It is dangerous self-flattery to give soft and smoothing names to sins, in order to disguise their nature. Rather lay your hand upon your heart, and thrust it into your bosoms though it come out (as Moses's did) leprous asfnezu, Exod. iv. 6 *. And to sind out our most beloved sin, let us consider what are those worldly ob

{'ects or amusements which give us the tighest delight: this, it is probable, will lead us directly to some one of our darling iniquities, if it be a sin of commission; (ion; and what are those duties which we read or hear of from the word of God, to which we sind ourselves most disinclined: and this, in all likelihood, will help us to detect some of our peculiar sins of omission, which, without such previous examination, we may not be sensible of. And thus may we make a prosiciency in one considerable branch ofself-knowledge *.

* Initium est falutis, notitia peecati: nam qui peceare se nescit, corrigi non vult. Deprehendas te oportet, antequam emendes. Quidam vitiis gloriantur. Tu existimas aliquid de reinedio cogitare, qui mala iua virtutum loco numerant? Ideo quantum potes teipsum coargue: Inquire in te: Accufatoris primum partibus fungere, deindc judicis, noviflime deprecate— ris. AJiquando te ofsende. Sen. BfiJI. 28.—" The "knowledge of sin is the sirst step towards amend"ment; for he that does not know he hath ofsended *• is not willing to be reproved. You must therefore *' sind out yourself, before you can amend yourself. "Some glory in their vices. And do you imagine *i they have any thoughts about reforming, who "place their very vices in the room of virtues? "Therefore reprove thyself: search thyself very nar•* rowly. First, turn accuser to thyself, then a judge, "and then a suppliant: And dare for once to dis. •• please thyself."


* Et hoc ipsum argumentum est in melius tranQati animi, quod vitia sua, qu.x adhuc ignorabat, videt. Sen. EfiiJI. 6.—" It is a good argument of a reformed •* mind, that it sees those vices in itself which it was *' before ignorant of."

A man's predominant sin usually arises out of his predominant passion; which, therefore, he fhould diligently observe. The nature and force of which is beautifully described by a late great master of English verse.

On different senses difserent objects strike.
Hence different passions more or less inflame.
As strong or weak the organs of the frame:
And hence one master-passion in the breast,
J.ike Aaron's serpent, swallows up the rest.
Nature its mother; habit is its nurse;
Wit, spirit, faculties, but make it worse;
Reason itself but gives it edge and pow'r,
As Heaven's blest beam turns vinegar more four.
Ah! if fhe lend not arms as well as rules,
What can she more than tell us we are fools?
Teach us to mourn our nature, not to mend,
A fharp accuser, but a helpless friend!

soft. Efiy at Maa.

The Knowledge of cur most dangerous Temptations necessary to Self-knowledge.

VII. " A MAN that rightly knows him.*,*. "self is acquainted with his "peculiar temptations; and knows when, "and in what circumstances, he is in the "greatest danger of transgressing."

Reader, if ever you would know yourself, you must examine this point thoroughly. And if you have never yet done it, make a pause when you have read this chapter, and do it now. Consider in what company you are most apt to lose the possession and government of yourself; on what occasions you are apt to be most vain and unguarded, most warm and precipitant. Flee that company, avoid those occasions, if you would keep your conscience clear. What is it that robs you most of your time and your temper? If you have a due regard to the improvement of the one, and the preservation of the other, you will regret such a loss, and fhun the occasions of it, as carefully a3 you would a road beset with robbers.

But especially must you attend to the

occasions occasions which most usually betray you into your favourite vices; and consider the spring from whence they arise, and the circumstances which most favour them. They arise, doubtless, from your natural temper, which strongly disposes and inclines you to them- 'That temper then, or particular turn of desire, must be carefully watched over as a most dangerous quarter. And the opportunities and circumstances which favour those inclinations must be resolutely avoided, as the strongest temptations. For the way to subdue a criminal inclination is, sirst, to avoid the known occasions that excite it, and then to curb the sirst motions of it *, And thus having no opportunity of being indulged, it will of itself in time lose its force, and sail of its wonted victory.

The surest way to conquer, is sometimes to decline a battle; to weary out the enemy, by keeping him at bay. Fa» bius Maximus did not use this stratagem more successfully against Hannibal, than a Christian may against his peculiar vice, if he be but watchful of his advantages. It is dangerous to provoke an unequal


* Pfineipiis obsta: scro medieina paratur

Cum mala per lorgas invaluere morae. Cvut,

enemy to the sight, or to run into such a situation, where we cannot expect to e- . seape without a disadvantageous encounter, z *

It is of unspeakable importance, in order to self-knowledge arid self-government, to be acquainted with all the accesses and avenues to sin, and to observe which way it is that we are oftenest led to it; and to set reason and confcience to guard those passes, those usual inlets to vice, which, if a man once enters, he will sind a retreat extremely dissicult *.

"Watchfulness, which is always ne"cessary, is chiefly so when the sirst as"faults are made; for then the enemy is. "most easily repulsed, if we never suffer "him to get within us, but upon the very "sirst approach draw up our forces, and "sight him without the gate. And this "will be more manisest, if we observe by "what methods and degrees temptations "grow upon us.—The sirst thing that f presents itself to the mind, is a plain, F "single

, me vestigia terrent

Omnia te adversum spectamia, nulla retrorsum.


—. Facilis descenfus averni.

Sed revocare gradum, \s?c. V'rg

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