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moderation, and make more allowances for the
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
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
any thing like it in my own. s. But had he
The difficulty of self government and self
. 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
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.
Fervent and frequent prayer the most effectual means
for attaining true self knowledge.
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
The first thing we are to do in order to self know).
+ 1 Chron. xxviii. 9.