« הקודםהמשך »
other Men's; much more intimate, sensible and perfect; so the Result of these two Sorts of Knowledge must be equally different. We would not exchange Beings, Persons, or Natures with any Man: We could not do it, because we know not their Natures as we do our own; we have not a like Consciousness of them, nor Complacency resulting therefrom. Was such an Offer made us, and brought near to us, we should recoil at it : It would be acting in the dark upon
the most important Occasion, and giving up a very valuable Cercaincy, for we know not what. As to all external Matters, whether they relate to ourselves, or others, we come at the Knowledge of them in the same way; and . can by that means make such an Estimate, as not to refuse a proper Ex
ange, when offered to us. Nature indeed inclines us to prefer external Things, which are our own, to other
Men’s, when theirs may possibly be of more real Value; and by this means leads us gently to Content and Chearfulness, but she does not constrain us, as in the former Case.
This necessary good Liking and Preference of our own internal Nature, seems to be a very wise and gracious Institution.
If there had been nothing of this, or any ching contrary to this, implanted in us, what forlorn and gloomy Creatures had we been? How essentially disfacisfy’d, envious and malicious ? Whereas, as things are ordered, every Man has a perpetual Source of Content and Satisfaction within. We may easily observe, that the Occasions of Anxiety and Torment which we so frequently encounter, do not arise from Reflexions on our own internal Nature, buc wholly from things without us. This Esteem of ourselves, thus grounded on a. Consciousness of, and Compla
cency in our natural internal Perfections, is a strong Incentive to the Improvement of those Perfections ; for they all appear, to the first Observation, to be improveable. A good Liking of any thing, prompts us to the Cultivation of it, because by chat means our Esteem and Enjoyment of it are increas’d: But it is not enough for a Man to have a general Complacency in himself, which, as was before observ'd, he cannot well avoid, but is in some degree a necessary Result of his Composition; he must and will proceed further; he will descend to Particulars, and select fome Endowment or other from the rest, make that his Favourite, place it first in his Esteem, and endeavour to 2dorn it, not only for his own retired Enjoyment, but for the Pleasure of exhibiting it to ochers, and exciting by that means their Value and Esteem fór himself. The general Compla
cency, tho' so extremely useful, is not liable to any great Abuses; but when we come to be more particular, and chuse for ourselves, the Danger is considerable; because there is great matter of Choice, and a Mistake in chat respect would be of no small moment to us.
As it is therefore a Point of some Importance, I hall here offer a few Reflexions
The Rectitude of our Self-Esteem must turn wholly upon these two Points, the Nature of the obje&t we make choice of, and the Degree of Value we set upon it. If we single out any Part of ourselves, which is inferior, and less worthy, and cultivate it with ever so much Industry, our Choice is wholly misplac'd; and all our consequent Esteem and Conduct upon that Account, wrong, and ridiculous: The more Pains we take in improving this mean, and less
worthy Part of us, the more we neglect the more worthy and noble Parts; and the more diligent we are in shewing these Improvements, the more we discredit and expose ourselves. If a Man takes ic into his Head to admire his Face, his Shape, or any Part of his Person, or any thing that results from his whole Perfon, he will naturally adorn and improve it with all the Care imaginable; and when he has done all, it is no more than adorning the Shell of a House, which is perhaps useless and unfurnish'd, void and desolate within. If we value ourselves chiefly for our Birth, Titles, or Fortune, which all of them, in a proper Degree, deserve to be valued; yet these are Things exterior to us, and if we esteem ourselves for them, we esteem ourselves for what is no Part of us; and by this means what constitutes our Person is neglected : for what we