صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

moderation, and make more allowances for the

,
occasioned

question whether I whether he was 'a

I am now upon this récollection, Learn more mistaken opinions of others for the future. Be as charitable to others who differ from you, as you desire they should be to you who differ as much from them. For it may be you cannot be more assured of being in the right than they are.

Again ; this day I found myself strongly inclined to put in something by way of abatement to an excellent character given of an absent person, by one of his great admirers. It is true, I had the command of myself to hold my tongue, and it is well I had, for the ardour of his zeal would not have admitted the exception, (though I still think that in some degree it was just) which might have raised a wrangling debate amosity and contention. But I have since examined the secret spring of that impulse, and find it to be envywhich I was not then sen. sible of ; but my antagonist had certainly imputed it to this : And had he taken the liberty should have had the temper of the philosopher, who, when he was really injured, being asked but I am considering with myself whether I " ought not to be so. I doubt I should not have so much composure, but should have imme. diately resented it as a false' and 'malicious as20 to data 02 9100 979 0

Ohi

persion ; but it was certainly envy, and nothing else ; for the person who was the object of the encomium was much my superiour in many respects. And the exception that arose to my mind was the only flaw in his character ; which nothing but a quick-sighted envy could descry. Take heed then of that vice for the future,

Again ; this day I was much surprised to observe in myself the symptoms of a vice, which, of all others, I ever thought myself most clear of; and have always expressed the greatest detestation of in others, and that is covetousness. For what else could it be that prompted me to withhold my charity from my fellow creature in distress, on pretence that he was not in every respect a proper object; or to dispense it so sparingly to another, who I knew was so, on pretence of having lately been at a considera . ble expense upon another occasion ? This could proceed from nothing else but a latent principle of covetousness ;- which, though I never before observed in myself, yet it is likely others have. of the human heart ! 11 Had my enemy brought against me'a charge of indolence, self indul. gence, or pride and impatience, or a too quick resentment of affronts and injuries, my own heart must have confirmed the accusation, and forced me to plead guilty Had he charged me with bigotry, self opinion, and censoriousness, I should have thought it proceeded from the same temper in himself, having rarely observed

1

[ocr errors]

una o
y set forth in its several

any thing like it in my own. s. But had he
charged me with covetousness, I should have
taken it for downright calumny, and despised
the censure with indignation and triumph. And

,
charge. -Oh, how hard a thing is it to know
myself! This, like all other knowledge, the
more I have of it, the more sensible I am of my
want of it.

The difficulty of self government and self
possession arises from the difficulty of a thorough
self acquaintance, which is necessary to it. tey
I say a thorough self acquaintance, such as

. es, (Part I.) For as self government is simply impossible (I mean considered as a virtue) where self ignorance prevails, so the difficulty of it will decrease in proportion to the degree in, which self acquaintance improves,

il Many perhaps, may be ready to think this

a paradox, and imagine that they know their pre. dominant passions and foibles very well, but still find it extremely difficult to correct them. But let them examine this point again, and perhaps they may find, that that difficulty arises either from their defect of self knowledge (for it is in this as in other kinds of knowledge, wherein some are very ready to think themselves much greater proficients than they are) or else from their neglect to put in practice that degree of self knowledge they have. They know their particular failings, yet will not guard against the

[merged small][ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

, aild

immediate temptations to them. And they are often betrayed into the immediate temptations which overcome them, because they are ignorant of, or do not guard against, the more remote temptations, which lead them into those which are more immediate and dangerous, which may not improperly be called the temptations to temptations; in observing and guarding against which, consists a very necessary part of self knowledge, and the great art of keeping clear of danger, which, in our present state of frailty, is the best means of keeping clear of sin.

To correct what is amiss, and to improve what is good in us, is supposed to be our hearty desire, and the great end of all our self rescarch. But if we do not endeavour alter this, all our labour after self knowledge will be in vain. Nay, if we do not endeavour it, we cannot be said heartily to desire it. For there is most of the heart where there is most of the will ; and there is most of the will where there is most endeavour; and where there is most endeavour there is generally most success: 'So that endeavour must prove the truth of our success will generally prove the sincerity of our endeavour. This, I think, we may safely sảy without attributing too much to the power of the human will, considering that we are rational and free agents, and considering what effectual assistance is offered to them who seek it, to render their endeavours successful, if they are sincere ; which introduces the subject of the following chapter.

[graphic]

CHAP. X.

Fervent and frequent prayer the most effectual means

for attaining true self knowledge.

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

1

be

LASTLY, the last means to self knowledge which I shall mention, is frequent and devout applications to the Fountain of Light, and the Father of our spirits, to assist us in this important study, and give us the true knowledge of ourselves.

This I mention last, not as the least, but, on the contrary, as the greatest and best means of all, to attain a right and thorough knowledge of ourselves, and the way to render all the rest effectual ; and therefore, though it be the last means mentioned, it is the first that should be used.

Would we know ourselves, we must often converse
not only with ourselves in meditation, but with God in
prayer; in the lowest prostration of soul, beseeching
the Father of our spirits to discover them to us ; in
whose light we may see light, where before there was
nothing but darkness; to make known to us the depth
and devices of our heart. For without the grace and
influence of his divine illuminations and instructions,
our hearts will, after all our care and pains to know
them, most certainly deceive us. And self love will so
Prejudice the understanding, as to keep us still in self
ignorance.

The first thing we are to do in order to self know).
edge is, to assure ourselves that our hearts are deceitful
above all things. And the next is, to remember that
• the Lord searcheth the hearts, and trieth che reins'
i. e. that He, the (Kardiognostees). Searcher of all
hearts,'t hath a perfect knowledge of them, tieceitful
Jer. xvïi. 10.

+ 1 Chron. xxviii. 9.

[ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors]
« السابقةمتابعة »