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our study and pursuit. If we regard our present peace, satisfaction, and usefulness, or our future and everlasting interests, we shall certainly value and prosecute this knowledge above all others; as what will be most ornamental to our characters, and beneficial to our interest in every state of life, and abundantly recompense all our labour.
Were there need of any further motives to excite us to this, I might lay open the many dreadful effects of self ignorance, and show how plainly it appears to be the original spring of all the follies and incongruities we see in the characters of men, and of most of the mortifications and miseries they meet with here. This would
in a self
soon appear by only mentioning the reverse of * those advantages before specified, which result
from self knowledge. For what is it, but a want of self knowledge that makes us so un settled and volatile in our dispositions ? So subject to transport and excess of passions in the varying scenes of life? So rash and unguarded in our conduct? So vain and self sufficient ? So censorious and malignant ? So eager and confident ? So little useful in the world, in comparison of what we might be ? So inconsistent with ourselves ? So mistaken in our notions of true religion? So generally indisposed to, or unengaged in the holy duties of it? And finally, so unfit for death, and so afraid of dying ? I say, to what is all this tow. ing, but self ignorance? the first and fruitful source of all this long train of evils. And in . deed there is scarce any, but what may be traced up to it. In short, it brutifies man to be ignorant of himself. "Man that is in honour, and understandeth not! (himself especially) is as the beasts that perish.'*: ?OL neglecting soul'; lose not thyself in a wilderness or tumult of impertinent, vain, distracting things. Thy work is nearer thee; the country thou shouldst first survey and travel is within thee ; from which thou must pass to that above thee ; when by losing thyself in this without thee, thou wilt find thyself, before thou art an
* Psalm xlix. 20.
ware, in that below thee. Let the eyes of fools be in the corners of the earth; leave it to men beside themselves, to live as without them selves; do thou keep at home and mind thine own business. Survey thyself, thine own make and nature, and thou wilt find full employment for all thy most active thoughts. But dost thou delight in the mysteries of nature ? Consider well the mystery of thy own. The compendium of all thou, studiest is near thee, even within thee ; thyself being the epitome of the world. If either necessity or duty, nature or grace, reason or faith, internal inducements, external impulses, or eternal motives, might determine the subject of thy study and contemplation, thou wouldst call home thy distracted thoughts, and employ them more on thyself and thy God.' to Set yol ilu?0.207: 100
Now then let us resolve that henceforth the study of ourselves shall be the business of lives. That by the blessing of God, we may arrive at such a degree of self knowledge as may secure to us the excellent benefits before mentioned. To which end, we should do well to attend diligently to the rules laid down a the following chapters. co mi to ile it w2030
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Per! l. Dok200332 CHAP, I. in harmotte
19955 19r| O SZW so Self examination necessary to self knowledge. 9 1. THE first thing necessary to s
self knowledge is self inspection.
We must often look into our hearts, if we would know them. ., They are very deceiti more so than we can imagine, till we have searched, and tried, and watched them well. We may meet with frauds and faithless dealings from men ; but after all, our own hearts are the greatest cheats, and there are none we are in greater danger from than ourselves.
We must first suspect ourselves, then examine ourselves, then watch ourselves, if we expect ever to know ourselves. How is it possible there should be any self acquaintance without self converse ?
Were a man to accustom himself to such self employment, he need not live till thirty before he suspects himself a fool, or till forty before he knows it.
Men could never be so bad as they are, if they did but take a proper care and scope in this business of self examination, if they did but look backwards to what they were, inwards to what they are, and forwards to what they shall be.
And as this is the first and most necessary step to
self acquaintance, it may not be amiss to be a little more particular in it. Therefore,