« הקודםהמשך »
stinacy. The fulness of his self-sufficiency makes him blind to those imperfections which every one can see in him but himfelf. So that however wise, sincere, and friendly, however gentle and seasonable your remonstrance may be, he takes it immediately to proceed from ill-nature or ignorance in you, but from no fault in him.
Seneca, I remember, tells us a remarkable story, which very well illustrates this matter. Writing to his friend Lucilius, “ My wife (says he) keeps Harpastes in “ her house still, who, you know, is a “ fort of family-fool, and an encumbrance “ upon us. For my part, I am far from “ taking any pleasure in such prodigies. “ If I have a mind to divert myself with “ a fool, I have not far to go for one; I “ can laugh at myself. This ally girl, all “ on a sudden, lost her eye-light; and “ (which perhaps may seemn incredible, « but it is very truc) she does not know " she is blind, but is every now and then “ defiring her governess to lead her a“ broad, saying the house is dark. Now, “ what we laugh at in this poor creature, “ we may observe, happens to us all. No “ man knows that lie is covetous or infa“ tiable. Yet with this difference, the “ blind ieek somebody to lead them, but 3 .
« we are content to wander without a « guide. But why do we thus deceive « ourselves ? The disease is not without “ us, but fixed deep within. And there“ fore is the cure fo difficult, because we “ do not know that we are fick *.”
CHAP. X. The Necessity and Means of knowing our
Natural Tempers. IX. “ ANOTHER very important
1 " branch of self-knowledge is, " the knowledge of those governing pasa “ fions or dispositions of the mind, which “ generally form, what we call, a man's « natural temper.”
The difference of natural tempers seems to be 'chiefly owing to the different degrees of influence the several passions have upon the mind. e. g. If the passions are eager and soon raised, we say the man is of a warm temper; if more fluggish and ·lowly raised, he is of a cool temper; according as anger, malice, or ambition prevail, he is of a fierce, churlis, or haughty temper; the influence of the softer pal
sions * Sen. Epift. 57.
fions of love, pity, and benevolence, forms a sweet, Sympathizing, and courteous temper; and where all the passions are duly poised, and the milder and pleasing ones prevail, they make what is commonly called a quite good-natured man. ,
So that it is the prevalence or predominance of any particular passion, which gives the turn or tincture to a man's temper, by which he is distinguished, and for which he is loved and esteemed, or shunned and despised by others. .
Now, what this is, those we converse with are foon sensible of. They prefently see through us, and know the fault of our temper, and order their behaviour to us: accordingly. If they are wise and wellmannered, they will avoid touching the string which they know will jar and raise a difcord within us. If they are our enemies, they will do it on purpose to set us on tormenting ourselves. And our friends we must suffer sometimes with a gentle hand to touch it, either by way of pleasant raillery or fạithful advice.
But a man must be greatly unacquainte ed with himself, if he is ignorant of his predominant pallion, or distinguishing temper, when every one else observes it. And yet liow common is this piece of
felf-ignorance? The two apostles Peter and John discovered it in that very action, wherein they meant to express nothing but a hearty zeal for their master's honour; which made him tell them, “ That they knew not what manner of of spirit they were of,” Luke ix. 5. ; i. e. that instead of a principle of love and genuine zeal for him, they were at that time governed by a spirit of pride, revenge, and cruelty. And that the apostle John should be liable to this censure, whose temper seemed to be all love and sweetness, is a memorable instance how difficult a thing it is for a man at all times to know his own fpirit ; and that that paffion, which feems to have the least power over his mind, may on some occasions insensibly gain a criminal ascendant there.
And the necefsity of a perfect knowledge of our reigning passions appears further from hence ; because they not only give a tincture to the temper, but to the understanding also, and throw a strong bias on the judgment. They have much the same effect upon the eye of the mind, as some distempers have upon the eyes of the body; if they do not put it out, they weaken'it, or throw false colours before it, and make it form a wrong judgment
of things: and, in short, are the source of those fore-mentioned prejudices, which so often abuse the human understanding.
Whatever the different pafsions themselves that reign in the mind may be owing to ; whether to the different texture of the bodily organs, or the different quality or motion of the animal spirits, or to the native turn and cast of the soul itself; yet certain it is, that men's different ways of thinking are much according to the preciominance of their different passions, and especially with regard to religion. Thus, €. g. we see melancholy people are apt to throw too much gloom upon their relie gion, and represent it in a very uninviting and unlovely view, as all austerity and mortification ; whilst they who are governed by the more gay and cheerful parfions, are apt to run into the other extreme, and too much to mingle the pleasures of sense with those of religion ; and are as much too lax, as the other too fevere. And so by the prejudice or bias of their respective passions, or the force of their natural temper, are led into the mistake on both fides.
“ So that would a man know himself, 5 he must study his natural temper, his