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On Mr. Collins's Discourse of Freethinking
KNOWING ONE'S SELF*.
2 KINGS, viii, PART OF THE 13TH VERSE.
And Hazael said, But what is thy servant a dog, that
be should do this great thing? We have a very singular instance of the deceitfulness of the heart, represented to us in the person of Hazael : who was sent to the prophet Elisha, to inquire of the Lord, concerning his master the king of Syria’s recovery. For the man of God, having told him that the king might recover from the disorder he
* When I first gave this sermon to be published, I had some doubts whether it were genuine ; for, though I found it in the same parcel with three others in the Dean's own hand, and there was a great similitude in the writing, yet as some of the letters were differently cut, and the hand in general much fairer than his, I gave it to the world as dubious. But as some manuscripts of his early poems have since fallen into my hands, transcribed by Stella, I found, upon comparing them, that the writing was exactly the same with that of the sermon; which was therefore copied by her. Swift, in his journal to that lady, takes notice that he had been her writing-master, and that there was such a strong resemblance between their hands, as gave occasion to some of his friends to rally him, upon seeing some of her letters addressed to him at the bar of the coffee-house, by asking him, how long he had taken up the custom of writing letters to himself ? So that I can now fairly give it to the public as one of his, and not at all unworthy of the author. Vol. X. B
was then labouring under, began to set and fasten his countenance upon him of a sudden, and to break out into the most violent expressions of sorrow, and a deep concern for it; whereupon, when Hazael, full of shame and confusion, asked, “Why weepeth my “ lord ?” he answered, “ Because I know all the evil “ that thou wilt do unto the children of Israel; their strong
holds wilt thou set on fire, and their young “men wilt thou slay with the sword, and wilt dash “ their children, and rip up their women with child”. Thus much did the man of God say and know of him, by a light darted into his mind from Heaven, But Hazael, not knowing himself so well as the other did, was startled and amazed at the relation, and would not believe it possible, that a man of his temper could ever run out into such enormous instances of cruelty and inhumanity. “ What!” says he, “is
thy servant a dog, that he should do this great “ thing?”
And yet, for all this, it is highly probable, that he was then that man he could not imagine himself to be; for we find him, on the very next day after his return, in a very treacherous and disloyal manner, murdering his own master, and usurping his kingdom; which was but a prologue to the sad tragedy, which he afterward acted upon the people of Israel.
And now the case is but very little better with most men, than it was with Hazael; however it cometh to pass, they are wonderfully unacquainted with their own temper and disposition, and know very little of what passeth within them: for, of so many proud, ambitious, revengeful, envying, and ill-natured persons that are in the world, where is