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was the reason that it was written in goldencapitals over the door of his temple at Delphos.
And 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 is 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 a 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 sacred oracle is dictated to us in a manifold light, and explained to us in various views by the Holy Spirit, in thạt 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 persons we are.?*
This discovers ourselves to us; pierces into the inmost recesses of the mind ; strips off every disguise; lays open the inward part; makes a strict scrutiny into the very soul and spirit, and critically judges of the thoughts and intents of the heart It shows us with what exactness and care we are to search and try our spirits, 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 own selves; *** James i. 23.
know ye not yourselves? Let a man examine himself.'* Our Saviour upbraids his disciples. with their self ignorance, in not knowing what manner of spirits they were of.' And saith the apostle, "If a man (through self ignorance) thinketh himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself. But let every man prove his work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself, and not in another.'f Here we are commanded, instead of judging others, to judge ourselves ; and to avoid the inexcusable rashness of condemning others for the very crimes we ourselves are guilty of, Rom. ii. 1, 21, 22, which a self-ignorant man is very apt to do ; nay, to be more offended at a small blem. ish in another's character, than at a greater in his own; which folly, self ignorance, and hypocrisy, our Saviour with just severity animadverts upon, Matt. vii. 3-5.
And what stress was laid upon this under the Old Testament dispensation, appears sufficient
. ly from those expressions-Keep thy heart with all diligence."
Commune with your own heart.' Search me, O God, and know my heart ; try me and know my thoughts.'T - Éxamine me, O Lord, and prove me; try my reins and my heart.*** "Let us search and try our ways.'ttc Recollect yourselves, O nation not desired.'It And all this is necessary
* 1 Cor. xi. 28. † Luke ix. 55. *Gal. vi. 3.
#Zeph. j. 2.
. 14 to that self acquaintance which is the only proper basis of solid peace.
Were mankind but‘more generally convinced of the importance and necessity of this self knowledge, and possessed with a due esteemi for it ; did they but know the true way to attain it; and under a proper sense of its excellence, and the fatal effects of self ignorance, did they but make it their business and study every day to cultivate it ; how soon should we find a happy alteration in the manners and spirits of men !--But the misery of it is, men will not think; will not employ their thoughts, in good earnest, about the things which most of all deserve and demand them. By which unaccount. able indolence, and aversion to self reflection, they are led blindfold and insensibly into the most dangerous paths of infidelity and wickedness, as the Jews were heretofore : of whose amazing ingratitude and apostacy God himself assigns this single cause--My people do not consider.'*
Self knowledge is that acquaintance with ourselves, which shows us what we are and do, and ought to be and do, in order to our living comfortably and usefully here, and happily hereafter. The means of it is, self examination ; It principally consists in the knowledge of our souls; which is attained by a particular attention to their various powers, capacities, pas
* Isaiah i. 3.
sions, inclinations, operations, state, happiness, and temper. For a man's soul is properly himself, Matt. xvi. 26, compared with Luke ix. 25. The body is but the house, the soul is the tenant that inhabits it; the body is the instrument, the soul is the artist that directs it.
This science, which is to be the subject of the ensuing treatise, hath these three peculiar properties in it, which distinguish it from, and render it preferable to all other.--1. It is equally attainable by all. It requires no strength of memory, no force of genius, no depth of penetration, as many other sciences do, to come at a tolerable degree of acquaintance with them ; which therefore renders them inaccessible by the greatest part of mankind. Nor is it placed out of their reach through a want of opportunity, and proper assistance and direction how to acquire it ; as many other parts of learning are. Every one of a common capacity. hath the opportunity and ability to attain it, if he will but recollect his rambling thoughts, turn them in upon himself, watch the motions of his heart, and compare them with his rule.-2. It is of equal importance to all, and of the highest importance to every one. Other sciences are suited to the various conditions of life. Some, more necessary to some; others, to others. But this equally concerns every one that hath an immortal soul, whose final happiness he desires and seeks.3. Other knowledge is very apt to make a man vain ; this always keeps him hum
ble. Nay, it is for want of this knowledge that men are vain of that they have.
• Knowledge puffeth up.'* A small degree of knowledge often hath this effect on weak minds. And the reason why greater attainments in it have not so generally the same effect, is, because they open and enlarge the views of the mind so far, as to let into it at the same time a good degree of self knowledge. For the more true knowledge a man hath, the more sensible he is of the want of it ; which keeps him humble.
And now, reader, 'whoever thou art, whatever be thy character, station, or distinction in life, if thou art afraid to look into thine heart, and hast no inclination to self acquaintance, read no farther ; lay aside this book'; for thou wilt find nothing here that will flatter thy self esteem; but perhaps something that may abate it. But if thou art desirous to cultivate this important kind of knowledge, and to live no longer a stranger to thyself, proceed, and keep thy eye open to thy own image, with whatever unex. pected deformity it may present itself to thee" ; and patiently attend, whilst, by divine assistance, I endeavour to lay open thine own heart to thee, and to lead thee to the true knowledge
of thyself in the following chapters. aj ta osoba uudet to Hup Cor. viii, 1791 r. dilo o risobias De
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