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“ may be delivered from the power of “ evil. Thou hast consulted Thame to “ thine house, by cutting off many people; ~ and hast sinned against thy soul,” Hab. ii. 9, 10*.
Now no man can truly know himself till he be acquainted with this, which is so often the secret and unperceived spring of his actions, and observes how far it governs and influences him in his conversation and conduct.
And to correct the irregularity and extravagance of this passion, let us but reflect how airy and unsubstantial a pleasure the highest gratifications of it afford; how many cruel mortifications it exposes us to, by awakening the envy of others; to what meanness it often makes us submit; how frequently it loseth its end, by pursuing it with too much ardour; (for virtue and real excellence will rise to the view of the world, though it be not mounted on the wings of ambition, which, by foaring too high, procures lút a more fatal fall); and how much more folid pleasure the approbation of conscience will yield, than the acclamations of ignorant arid mistaken men, who, judging by externals only, cannot know our true character; and whose como mendations a wise man would rather des spise than court. “ Examine but the size 5 of people's sense, and the condition of “ their understanding, and you will ne“ ver be fond of popularity, nor afraid « of censure ; nor solicitous what judg~ ment they may form of you, who know " not how to judge rightly of them« felves *."
wings * y7y33 yx): that gaineth a wicked gain. Oh fons of earth! attempt ye still to rife, By mountains pil'd on mountains, to the skies? Heav'n still with laughter the vain toil surveys, And buriey madmen in the heaps they raise. Who wickedly is wife, or madly brave, s Is but the more a fool, or more a knave.
Pope's Elay on Man, * Διελθε εσω εις τα ηγεμονικα αυτων, και οψει τινας 201726 porn 0185 xas trigo auwy oslas agitaso Mars. As ton. Lib. ix. $ 18.
What Kind of Knowledge we are already
furnished with, and what Degree of E
Steem we set upon it. XII.“ A MAN can never rightly know
1 « himself, unless he examines « into his knowledge of other things."
We must consider then the knowledge we have ; and whether we do not fet too high a price upon it, and too great a value upon ourselves on the account of it; of what real use it is to us, and what effect it hath upon us; whether it does not make us too stiff, unfociable, and assuming ; tefty and supercilious, and ready to despise others for their supposed ignorance. If so, our knowledge, be it what it will, does us more harm than good. We were better without it; ignorance itself would not render us so ridiculous. Such a temper, with all our knowledge, shows that we know 1106 ourselves. .A man is certainly proud of that “ knowledge he despises others for the “ want of.”
How common is it for some men to be fond of appearing to know more than they do, and of seeming to be thought men of knowledge ? To which end they exhaust their fund almost in all companies, to outshine the rest. So that in two or three conversations they are drawn dry, and you see to the bottom of them much focner than you could at first imagine. And even hat torrent of learning, which they pour ut upon you at first so unmercifully, raer confounds than satisfies vou. Their
visible visible aim is not to inform your judgment, but display their own. You have many things to query and except against, but their loquacity gives you no room; and their good sense, fet off to so much adyantage, strikes a inodeft man dumb. If you inlift upon your right to examine, they retreat, either in confusion or equivoca. tion; and, like the scuttle-fish, throw a large quantity of ink behind them, that you may not fee where to pursue. Whence this foible flows is obvious enough. Selfknowledge would soon correct it.
But as some ignorantly affect to be more knowing than they are, lo others vainly af. fect to be more ignorant than they are; who, to show they have greater insight and penetration than other men, infilt upon the absolute uncertainty of science; will dispute even first principles; grant nothing as certain, and so run into downright Pyrrhonism; the too common effect of abstracted debates excessively refined *.
I . . Every Socrates's faying, “ Nihil fe fcire, nifi id ipfum," favoured of an affected humility. But they that fola lowed went further; and particularly Arectilas, “ Ne16 gabat effe quicquam, quod sciri potest; ne illud * quem ipsum quod Socrates übi reliquiffet.” And chus the absurdity grew to a fize that was monstrous: For to know that one knocu's nothing, is a contradiction;
Every one is apt to set the greatest vafue upon that kind of knowledge in which he imagines he himself most excels, and to undervalue all other kinds of knowledge in comparifon of it. There wants fome certain rule then, by which every man's knowledge is to be tried, and the value of it estimated. And let it be this, “ That is the beft and most valuable kind 66 of knowledge that is moft subfervient « to the best ends, i. e. which tends to “ make a man wiser and better, or more « agreeable and useful both to himself 66 and others."-For knowledge is but a ' means that relates to some end. And as all means are to be judged of by the excellency of their ends, and their expediency to produce them ; fo that must be the best knowledge that hath the directeft tendency to promote the best ends, viz. a man's own true happincfs, and that of others; in which the glory of God, the ultimate end, is ever necessarily comprised.
Now if we were to judge of the reveral kinds of science by this rule, we should find, 1. Some of them to be very hurtful and pernicious; as tending to per
i vert 1' not to know that he knows even that, is not to know
that he may know fomething. Relig, of Nat. Dd. 6. 40.