« הקודםהמשך »
e Cælo descendit yowle sexulov, Juv.
THE THIRTEENTH EDITION.
THEWS; and J. SCATCHERD,
P R E F A C E.
of great importance; and yet I do not remember to have seen it cultivated with that precision, perspicuity, and force, with which many other moral and theological themes have been managed. And indeed it is but rarely that we find it professedly and fully recommended to us, in a set and regular discourse, either from the pulpit or the press. This consideration, together with a full persuasion of its great and extensive usefulness, hath excited the present attempt, to render it more familiar to the minds of christians.
Mr. Baxter, indeed, has a Treatife on this subject, intitled, The Mischief of SelfIgnorance, and the Benefit of Self-Acquaintance ; and I' freely acknowledge some helps I received from him. But he handled it (according to his manner) in so lax and diffusive away, introducing so many things that are foreign from it; omitting others that properly belong to it, and skimming
over some with a too superficial notice, that lown I found myself much disappointed in what I expected from him; and was convinced that something more correct, nervous, and methodical, was wanting on this fubject.
I am far from having the vanity to think that ibis, which I now offer to the public, is entirely free from those faults which I have remarked in that pious and excellent author; and am fenfible chat, if I do not full under a much heavier cenfure myself, it must be cwing to the great candour of my reader; which he will be convinced I have some titelo, if he but duly consider the nature and extent of the subject. For it is almost impossible to let the thoughts run freely upon fo copious and comprehenfive a theme, in order to do justice to it, without taking too large a scope in some particulars that have a close connexion with it; as I fear I have done (Part I. chap. xiv.) concerning the knowledge, guard, and government of the thoughts.
But there is a great difference between a Nort, occasional,
and useful digression, and a wide rambling from the subject, by following the impulse of a luxuriant fancy. A judicious taste can hardly excuse the latter, though it may be content the author should
gather a few flowers out of the common road, provided he soon returns into it again.
This brings to my mind another thing, for which I am sure I have great reason to crave the reader's indulgence; and that is, the free use I have made of some of the ancient heathen writers in my marginal quotations; which I own, looks like an oftentation of reading, shat I always abhorred. But it was conversing with those authors that first turned my thoughts to this subject. And the good sensel met with in most of their aphorisms and fentiments, gave me an esteem for them; and made it difficult for me to resist the temptation of transcribing several of thein, which I thought pertinent to the matter in band. But, after all, I am ashamed to see what an old-fashioned figure they make in the margin. However, if the reader thinks they will too much interrupt the course of the subject, he may entirely oinit them; tho' by that means he will perhaps lose the benefit of some of the finest sentiments in the book.
I remember a modern writer, I have very lately read, is grievously offended with Mr. Addison for lo much as mentioning the name of Plato, and presuming, in one of his Spectators, to deliver his notions of humour in a kind of allegory, after the man