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a man to know himself is the hardest thing in the world (6). It was afterwards adopted by Chylon the Lacedæmonian ; and it is one of those three precepts which Pliny affirms to have been consecrated at Delphos in golden letters. It was afterwards greatly admired, and frequently used by others (C). At length, it acquired the authority of a divine oracle; and was supposed to have been given originally by Apollo himself. Of which general opinion Cicero gives us this reason;
because it hath such a weight of sense and wisdom in it as appears too great
(6) See Stanley's life of Thales. (c) Resque quod non es: tollat sua munera cerdo. Tecum habita: et noris quam sit tibi curta supellex.
Perf. Sat. 4. nec te quæsiveris extra.
Id. Sat. 1. te consule, dic tibi quis fis. Juv. Sat. 11. Teipfum concute.
3 Bellum eft enim sua vitia noffe.
Cic. Epift. ad Atticum, lib. 2. Illud (γνωθι σεαυ1ον) noli putare ad arrogantiam minuendam folùm esse dictum, verùm etiam ut bona noftra norimus. Id. Epift. ad Mar. Q. Fratrem, Lib. 3. Epift. 6.
id enim maximè quemque decet quod est cujufque fuum maximè. Quisque igitur nofcat ingenium acremque se et bonorum et vitiorum fuorum judicem præbeat. Id. De Ofíc. lib. 1.
Intrandum est igitur in rerum naturam, et penitus; quid ea postulat pervidendum; aliter enim nosmet ipsos nofle non poflumus, Id. De Finibus.
• to be attributed to any man (d): And this opinion, of its coming originally from Apollo himself, perhaps was the reason that it was written in golden capitals over the door of his temple at Delphos.
Why this excellent precept should not be held in as high esteem in the christian world as it was in the heathen, is hard to conceive. Human nature is the same now as it was then. The heart as deceitful; and the necessity of watching, knowing and keeping it the same. Nor are we less assured that this precept is divine: nay we have much greater assurance of this than the Heathens had; they supposed it came down from heaven, we know it did; what they conjectured we are sure of. For this fa.
(d) Hæc enim (i. e, philosophia) nos cùm cæteras res omnes, tum quod est difficillimum, docuit; ut (nosmet ipsos] nofceremus. Cujus præcepti tanta vita, tanta fententia est, ut ea non homini cuipiam, fed Delphico Deo tribueretur. Cicero De Legib. lib. 1.
Quod Præceptum quia majus erat quam ut ab homine videretur, idcirco assignatum est Deo : Jubet igitur nos Pythius Apollo, noscere [NOSMET Ipsos.] Idem De Finibus, lib. 5. cap. 16.
Et nimirum hanc habet vim præceptum Apollinis, quo monet ut se quisque noscat -- Hunc igitur noffe, (i. e, animum) nisi divinum esset, non effet hoc acrioris cujusdam animi præceptum, fic, ut tributum Deo fit: hoc eft feipfum poffe cognof
Idem Tufcul. Quæft. lib. 5.
cred oracle is dictated to us in a manifold light and explained to us in various views by the Holy Spirit, in that revelation which God hath been pleased to give us as our guide to duty and happiness ; by which, as in a glass, we may survey ourselves, and know what manner of perfons we are *.
This discovers ourselves to us; pierces into the inmost recesses of the mind : ftrips off every disguise ; lays open the inward parts ; makes a strict scrutiny into the very foul and spirit ; and critically judges of the thoughts and intents of the heart (e). It shows us with what exactness and care we are to search and try our spirits, to examine ourselves and watch our ways, and keep our hearts in order to acquire this important self-science; which it often. calls us to do. Examine yourselves, -Prove your ownfelves ; Know you not yourselves (f)?
• James i. 23. (c) Και κριθικος ενθυμησεων και εγγοιων καρδιας. Heb, iv. 12.
(1) Eaules Doxepa selė. 2 Cor. xiii. 5. Tho' soxtua Sex signifies to approve as well as to prove, yet that our translators have hit upon the true sense of the word here, in rendering it prove yourfelves, is apparent, not only from the word immediately preceding (saules meipalele) which is of the fame import, but because self-probation is always piecessary to a right felf-approbation,
Let a man examine himself *. Our Saviour
· Every christian ought to try himself, and may i know himself if he be faithful in examining. • The frequent exhortations of Scripture hereunto • imply both these, viz. that the knowledge of I ourselves is attainable, and that we should en· deavour after it. Why should the apostle put
them upon examining and proving themselves, : unless it were possible to know themselves upon • such trying and proving?' Bennet's Chrift. Oratóry, p. 568.
a Cor. xi. 28. t Luke ix. 55. I Gal. vi. 3:4.
And what stress was laid upon this under the Old Testament dispensation appears fufficiently from those expressions. Keep thy heart with all diligence*. Commune with your own heartt.
Search me, o God, and know my heart; try me and know my thoughtsI. Examine me, O Lord, and prove me ; try my reins and my heart ||. Let us search and try our ways g. Recollect, recollečt yourselves, O nation not desired I (g).–And all this as necessary to that felf-acquaintance which is the only proper basis of solid peace (h).
Were mankind but more generally convinced of the importance and necessity of
-pro (קשש) the verb - התקוששו וקושו (g)
Numb. xv. 32.
* Prov. iv. 23. + Pfal. iv. 4. Pfal. cxxxix.23.
Pfil. xxvi. 2. § Lam. iii. 4. 1 Zeph. ii. 1. (8) - () perly fignities to glean, or gather together scattered sticks or straws; as appears from all the places where the word is used in the old testament (Exod. v. 7, 12.
1 Kings xvii. 10.) Hence by an easy metaphor it fignifies to recolleet, or gather the scattered thoughts together; and ought to be so rendered, when used in the reflective form, as here it is. So saith R. Kimchi, (WWP) est propriè ftipulas colligere. Id fit accuratâ scrutatione hinc dicitur de qualibet inquisitione. Whence 1 think it is evident that the word should be rendered as above,
(h) Clement Alexandrinus faith, that Mofes by that phr.se, so common in his writings, Take heed to thyself (Exod. x. 28. xxxiv. 12. Deut. iv. 9.) means the same thing as the antients did by their goale readlor. Strom. lib. 2. cap. 5.