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; in which char. tacy, are, l. That perverse dispositions grow his grace, and spirit to h
This is a very mortifying thought ; but an undeniable truth, and one of the first principles of that science we are treating of, and very necessary to be attended to, if we would be sensible of the duty and obligations we owe to acter he appears for the relief and recovery of mankind under this their universal depravity.
The two miserable effects of the human aposup in our minds from early infancy, soon settle into vicious habits, and render us weak, and unwilling to obey the dictates of conscience and reason : This is commonly called the dominion of sin. Now in both these respects did Christ
the Lamb of God come to take away the sin of the world ;' that is, to take away the reignkg power of it by the operation of his grace ; and its condemning power of it by the atone. ment of his blood ; to sanctify us by his spirit, and justify us by his death ; by the former he reconciles us to God, and by the latter he reconciles God to us, and is at once our right. eousness and strength. He died to purchase for us the happiness we had forfeited, and sends he hath thus purchased. So complete is his redemption! so precisely adapted is the remedy he hath provided, to the malady we had contracted 0 blessed Redeemer of wretched, ruined creatures, how unspeakable are the obligations I owe thee'! But ah ! how insensible
am I to those obligations ! The saddest symptoms of degeneracy I find in my nature, is that base ingratitude of heart which renders me so unaffected with thine astonishing compassions. Till I know thee, I cannot know myself : And when I survey myself may I ever think of thee ! May the daily consciousness of my weakness and guilt lead my thoughts to thee ; and may every thought of thee kindle in my heart the most ardent glow of gratitude to thee, O thou divine, compassionate friend, lover, and redeemer of mankind !'
Whoever then he be that calls himself a christian, that is, who professes to take the gospel of Christ for a divine revelation, and the an. ly rule of his faith and practice; but, at the same time, pays a greater regard to the dictates of men, than to the doctrines of Christ; who loses sight of that great example of Christ, which should animate his christian walk, is unconcerned about his service, honour, and interest, and excludes the consideration of his merits and atonement from his hope of happiness; he forgets that he is a christian ; he does not consider in what relation he stands to Christ, (which is one great part of his character) and consequently discovers a great degree of self ignorance.
3. Self knowledge' moreover implies a due attention to the several relations in which we stand to our fellow creatures : And the obligations which result from thence.
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: If we know ourselves, we shall remember the condescension, benignity, and love that is due to inferiours ; the affability, friendship, and kindness we ought to show to equals ; the re
gard, deference, and honour which belong to superiours ; and the candour, integrity, and benevolence we owe to all.
The particular duties requisite in these relations are too numerous to be here mentioned. Let it suffice to say, that if a man doth not well consider the several relations of life in which he stands to others, and does not take care to preserve the decorum and propriety of those re-lations, he may justly be charged with self ig: norance.
And this is so evident in itself, and so generally allowed, that nothing is more common than to say, when a person does not behave with due decency towards his superiours, such an one does not understand himself. But why may not this with equal justice be said of those who act in an ill manner towards their inferiours? The expression, I know, is not so often thus applied ; but I see no reason why it should not, since one is as common, and as plain an instance of self ignorance as the other. Nay, of the two, perhaps men in general are more apt to be defective in their duty and behaviour towards those beneath them, than they are towards those that are above them. And the reason seems to be, because an apprehension of the displeasure of their superiours, and the detrimental conse
quences which may accrue from thence, may be a check upon them, and engage them to pay the just regards which they expect. But there being no such check to restrain them from violating the duties they owe to inferiours, (from whose displeasure they have little to fear) they are more ready under certain temptations to treat them in an unbecoming manner.
And as wisdom and self knowledge will direct a man to be particularly careful, lest he neglect those duties he is most apt to forget; so as to the duties he owes to inferiours, in which he is most in danger of transgressing, he ought more strongly to urge upon himself the indispensible obligations of religion and conscience. And if he does not, but suffers himself through the violence of ungoverned passion, to be transported into the excesses of rigour, tyranny, and oppression, towards those whom God and nature have put into his power, it is certain that he does not know himself; is not acquainted with his own particular weakness; is ignorant of the duty of his relation ; and whatever he may think of himself, hath not the true spirit of gov. ernment ; because he wants the art of self gov. ernment. For he that is unable to govern himself, can never be fit to govern others.
Would we know ourselves then, we must consider ourselves as creatures, as christians, and as men ; and remember the obligations which, as such, we are under to God, to Christ, and our fellow men ; in the several
relations we bear to them, in order to maintain the propriety, and fulfil the duties of those relations.
We must duly consider the rank and station of life in
which providence has placed us, and what it is that becomes and adorns-it.
III. A MAN that knows himself, will deliberately consider and attend to the particular rank and station in life in which providence hath placed him ; and what is the duty and decorum of that station ; what part is given him to act ; what character to maintain ; and with what des cency and propriety he acts that part, or maintains that character.
For a man to assume a character, or aim at a part that does not belong to him, is affectation. And whence is it that affectation of any kind appears so ridiculous, and exposes men to universali and just contempt, but because it is a certain indication of self ignorance? Whence is it that any seem so willing to be thought something when they are nothing; and seek to excel in those things in which they cannot ; whilst they neglect those things in which they may excel ? Whenee is it that they counteract the intention of nature and providence ; that when these intended them one thing, they would