« הקודםהמשך »
“ constitutional inclinations, and favour-
And that we may more easily come at the knowledge of our predominant affections, let us consider what outward events do most impress and move us, and in what manner. What is it that usually creates the greatest pain or pleasure in the mind ? --As for pain, a stoic indeed may tell us, “ that we must keep things at a distance; « let nothing that is outward come with“ in us; let externals be externals still." But the human make will scarce bear the rigour of that philosophy. Outward things, after all, will impress and affect us. And there is no harm in this, provided they do not get the possession of us, overset our reason, or lead us to act unbecoming a man or a Chriftian. And one advantage we may reap from hence is, the manner
* Specat. Vol. VI. No. 899.
or degree in which outward things impress us, may lead us into a more perfect knowledge of ourselves, and discover to us our weak fide, and the particular passions which have most power over us.
Our pleasures will likewise discover our reigning passions, and the true temper and disposition of the soul. If it be captivated by the pleasures of lin, it is a sign its prevailing taste is very vicious and corrupt; if with the pleasures of sense, very low and sordid ; if imaginary pleasures, and the painted scenes of fancy and romance, do most entertain it, the soul hath then a trifing turn ; if the pleasures of science or intellectual improvements are those it is most fond of, it has then a noble and refined taste; but if the pleasures of religion and divine contemplation do above all others delight and entertain it, it has then its true and proper taste; its temper is as it should be, pure, divine, and heavenly, provided these pleasures spring from a true religious principle, free from that superstition, bigotry, and enthusiasm, under which it is often disguised.
And thus by carefully observing what it is that gives the mind the greatest pain and torment, or the greatest pleasure and
entertainment, we come at the knowledge of its reigning passions, and prevailing temper and disposition.
« Include thyself then, O my soul, “ within the compass of thine own heart; “ if it be not large, it is deep; and thou of wilt there find exercise enough. Thou “ wilt never be able to found it; it can. “ not be known, but by him who tries " the thoughts and reins. But dive into “ this subject as deep as thou canst. Ex“ amine thyself; and this knowledge of “ that which passes within thee will be “ of more use to thee than the knowledge r of all that passes in the world. Con« cern not thyself with the wars and “ quarrels of public or private persons. “ Take cognizance of those contests which “ are between thy flesh and thy spirit; “ betwixt the law of thy members, and " that of thy understanding. Appeale “ those differences. Teach thy fleih to “ be in subjection. Replace reafon on “ its throne'; and give it piety for its « counsellor. Tame thy paffions, and « bring them under bondage. Put thy “ little state in good order; govern wise« ly and holily those numerous people o which are contained in so little a king
“ dom; 6 dom ; that is to say, that multitude of « affections, thoughts, opinions, and paf
Gons, which are in thine heart *.”
| CHAP. XI. Concerning the secret Springs of our Actions. X. “ ANOTHER considerable branch
11 « of self-acquaintance is, the « knowledge of the true motives and fe« cret springs of our actions." . And this sometimes cannot without much pains be acquired. But for want of it, we shall be in danger of passing a false judgment upon our actions, and of having a wrong opinion of several parts of our conduct.
It is not only very possible, but very common, for men to be ignorant of the chief inducements of their behaviour; and to imagine they act from one motive, whilst they are apparently governed by another. If we examine our views, and look into our hearts narrowly, we shall find that they more frequently deceive us in this
respect * Jurieu's Metbed of Cbrißian Devotion, part iiie chap 3:
respect than we are aware of, by perfuad. ing us that we are governed by much better motives than we are. The honour of God, and the interest of religion, may be the open and avowed motive, whilft secular interest and secret vanity may be the hidden and true one. While we think we are serving God, we may be only facrificing to Mammon. We may, like Jew hu, boast our zeal for the Lord, when we are only animated by the heat of our natural passions *; may cover a cenforious spirit under a cloak of piety; and giving admonitions to others, may be only giving vent to our spleen.
How many come to the place of public worship out of custom or cariofity, who would be thought to come thither only out of conscience? And whilft their exo ternal and professed view is to serve God, and gain good to their fouls, their secret and inward motive is only to show them. selves to advantage, or to avoid fingularity, and prevent others making obfervations on their absence. Munificence and almsgiving may often proceed from a principle of pride and party-spirit, when
• 2 Kings 1. 16.