תמונות בעמוד
PDF
ePub

SERM. doings, so as to find any perfect comfort in himself, or in XLIV. them, who doth not by studying himself discover whence

and why he acts: one may be a flatterer, but cannot be a true friend to himself, who doth not thoroughly acquaint himself with his own inward state, who doth not frequently consult and converse with himself: a friend to himself, I said; and to be fo is one of the greatest benefits that human life can enjoy; that which will most sweeten and solace our life to us: friendship with others (with persons honest and intelligent) is a great accommodation, helping much to allay the troubles, and ease the burdens of life; but friendship with ourselves is much more neceflary to our well being; for we have continual opportunities and obligations to converse with ourselves; we do ever need assistance, advice, and comfort at home: and as commonly it is long acquaintance and familiar intercourse to. gether, which doth conciliate one man to another, begetting mutual dearness and confidence, so it is toward one's self: as no man can be a friend to a mere stranger, or to one whose teinper, whose humour, whose designs he is ignorant of; so cannot he be a friend to himself, if he be unacquainted with his own disposition and meaning d; be cannot in such a case rely upon his own advice or aid when need is, but will suspect and distrust himself; he cannot be pleasant company to himself, but shall be ready to crofs and fall out with himself; he cannot administer consolation to his own griefs and distresses; his privacy will become a desertion, his retirement a mere folitude. But passing over this general advantage, I shall with some more minuteness of distinction consider divers particular advantages accruing from the practice of this duty, together with the opposite inconveniences, which are confe. quent upon the neglect thereof, in the following discourse.

с

-patriæ quis exul se quoque fugit?
Αυτός σεαυτώ χρω συμβέλη, και τω θεώ. Νaz. Εpift. 60.

« "Ένιοι τον ίδιον βίον ως άτερτίσατον θέμα προσιδείν έχ υπομένεσιν, εδ' ανακλασε. τον λογισμών ως φώς έφ' εαυτές και περιαγαγειν· αλλ' η ψυχή γίμεσα κακών τειτοδασών, και Φρίτεσα, και φοβεμένη τα ένδον, εκπηδά θύραζι, ε, Plar, ar Curios. p. 916.

SERMON XLV.

KEEP THY HEART WITH ALL DILIGENCE, &c.

PROV. iv. 23

Keep thy heart with all diligence, c. I PROCEED to the particular advantages of the practice SERM. of this duty, and the inconveniences of the neglect of it.

XLV. 1. The constant and careful observation of our hearts will serve to prevent immoderate felf-love and self-conceit; to render us sober and modest in our opinions concerning, and in our affections toward ourselves; qualifying us to comply with the apostolical precept, un ogovsūv úrèp ô de opo-Rom. xij. a. veiv, that is, not to overween, or overvalue ourselves, and our own things : for he that, by serious inspection upon his own heart, shall discern how many fond, impure, and ugly thoughts do swarm within him ; how averse his inclinations are from good, and how prone to evil; how much bis affections are misplaced and distempered, (while he vehemently delights in the possession, and impotently frets for the want of trifles, having small content in the fruition, and but fender displeasure for the absence of the greatest goods; while empty hopes exalt him, and idle fears deject him; while other various passions, like so many tempests, drive and toss him all about;) who shall observe, how clouds of darkness, error, and doubt do hover upon the face of his soul ; fo that he quickly taketh up opinions, and soon layeth them down, and often turneth from one mistake unto another; how unsettled his refolutions are, especially in the pursuance of the best goods, and

SERM. what corrupt mixtures cleave to his best purposes; who XLV. taketh notice how backward he is unto, and how cold in,

devotions toward God; how little sensible of his goodness, or fearful of his displeasure, or zealous for his honour, or careful of performing his duty toward him; how little also it is that he desireth or delighteth in the good, that he pitieth and grieveth at the evil of his neighbour; how Nuggish also and remiss he is in the pursuance of his owo best affairs, and highest concernments; he that doth, I say, frequently with heedfulness regard these imperfections and obliquities in his own heart, how can he be ravished with felf-love? How can he be much taken with himself? Can any man dote upon such deformity, admire fuch weakness and naughtiness? No surely : that men are so amorous of themselves, so haughty and arrogant in their conceits, doth constantly arise from not refleding on their own hearts; not beholding themselves wistly enough in that mirror; not considering, according to just representation there, how little lovely or worthy they are: if they did practise that, they would see reason, and thence become inclinable, rather to despise, to loathe, to pity themselves.

2. Upon that advantage is consequent, that this practice merito quicquid

will dispose us with equanimity and patience to bear all patiare fe- crosses and grievances befalling us; so producing not only Ovid. Ep.s. an excellent virtue, but a considerable solace to us; for the

being conscious of so much unworthiness, which observation of our heart will necessarily discover, will not only justify the providence, (so removing all just cause of complaint,) but will commend the benignity of God unto us,

(so administering good matter of thanks.) It will prompt Ezra ix. 13. us heartily to confess with those in Ezra, that our punish

ments are less than our deservings; to join in acknowledg. Pl. ciii. 10. ment with the Pfalmift, that God hath not dealt with us

after our fins, nor rewarded us according to our iniquities; Lam. iii. 22. to say with Jeremy, It is of the Lord's mercy that we are

not consumed, because his compassions fail not; with Jacob, Gen. xxxi. I am less than any of thy mercies.

3. Particularly this practice will fence us against immo

Leniter ex

10.

derate displeasure occasionable by men's hard opinions, or SERM. harsh censures passed on us: for he that by inquiry into XLV. himself perceives so many defects in himself, will not so easily nor so greatly be offended, if some of them (or some like to them) be objected to him; fince he finds himself truly liable to many more, and greater. Epictetus's advice is, when you are told, that any man speaks ill of you, that you should not apologize, but answer only, that he was ignorant of many other faults of yours, or he would not only have mentioned those. To be disposed, without dissembling or affe&tion, to follow his counsel, would argue a man very intelligent of himself, and well prepared to endure happily and handsomely encounters of this kind, which every man shall be sure to meet with. None indeed can so contentedly brook reproach, or blame, as he that by intiinate acquaintance with his own heart doth know the censure passed on him to be in effect mild and favourable; as finding himself a witness of more faults, than any adversary can accuse him of; as being a stri&er examiner and severer judge of himself, than the most envi. ous eye or disaffected mind can be.

It is also some comfort, that if censures be very outrageous, a man by knowledge of himself (by knowing his own dispositions, if his person be disfigured by a very ill character; by knowing his own purposes, if his actions be grievousy aspersed) is certain they are such; that he can be as well a faithful witness, and just judge for himself, as against himself.

4. Likewise this practice will defend us, as from the discomforts of harsh censure, fo from the mistakes and miscarriages, to which the more favourable opinions of men, or their flattering expressions, (those luscious poifons,) may expose us a.

-Nihil eft quod credere de se

Non poffit, cum laudatur.It is not only true of great men, but even of all men: the common nature of men disposeth them to be credulous,

• Index ipfe sui fe totum explorat ad unguem, Quid proceres, vanique ferat quid opinio vulgi, Sccurus

SERM. when they are commended, or receive any fignification of XLV. esteem from others: every ear is tickled with this no150r

axvoua, this sweet music of applause: but we are not to rely upon others’ imperfect and ill-grounded judgment, so much as upon our own more certain knowledge concerning ourselves :

ne cui de te plus quam tibi credas. Take no man's word before thine own sense, in what concerns thine own case and character, is an advice deserving our regard and practice: for that a man in questions of this kind is able to be a skilful and indifferent umpire between himself and others; that he is neither elevated nor depreiled in mind by external weights, but keepeth himself equally poised in a just consistence by his own well-informed conscience; that neither his heart is exasperated with the bitterest gall of reproach, nor his head intoxicated with the sweetest wine of flattery, is an invaluable convenience of life; or rather, it is a virtue arguing a most strong and healthful constitution of foul. How great a levity of mind, how greut a vanity is it, faith a good Father, Jetting aside a man's own conscience, to follow other men's opinion, (and even that feigned and forged,) to be snatched away by the wind of false praise, to rejoice in being circumvented, and to receive l'eing mocked for a benefit b? From being thus abused, this practice alone can secure us: if we know ourselves well, we cannot so easily be deluded by the mistakes of others concerning us, on either hand.

5. Likewise, farther upon the same, this practice will conduce to qualify our opinions, and moderate our passions toward others; so that without intemperate anger, or bitterness, we may bear the faults, errors, and infirmities of our brethren; that we shall be benign in our carriage, and gentle in our censures even toward them, who do not

behave themselves so well and wisely as they thould do. Gal. vi. 1. St. Paul thus admonisheth the Galatians: Brethren, if a

Quæ hæc tanta levitas est animi, quæ tanta vanitas relicta propria conscientia alienam opinionem fequi, et quidem fiétam atque fimuiatam ; saps vento falsæ laudationis, gaudere ad circumventionem fuam, et illufionem pro beneficio accipere? Hier. (vel Paulinus) ad Coloni.

« הקודםהמשך »