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lest his judgment should suffer; ' not consider ing that his ingenuity and good sense suffer much more by such obstinacy. The fulness of his self sufficiency makes him blind to those imperfections which every one can see in him but himself. So that however wise, sincere, and friendly, however gentle and seasonable your remonstrance may be, he takes it immediately to proceed from ill nature or
or ignorance in you, but from no fault in him to
Seneca, I remember;" tells us a remarkable story, which very well illustrates this matter. Writing to his friend Lucilius, ‘My wife (says he) keeps Harpastes in her house still
, who, you know, is a sort of family fool, and no small incumbrance upon us. o for from taking any pleasure in such prodigies. If I have a mind to divert myself with a fool, I have not far to go for one ; Í can laugh at myself
. This silly girl, all on a sudden, lost her eye sight: And (which perhaps may seem incredible, but it is very true) she does not know she is blind; but is every now and then desiring her governess to lead her abroad, saying the house is dark. Now what we laugh at in this poor creature, you may observe happens to 'us all. 15 No man knows that he is covetous or insatiable. Yet with this difference, the blind seek's k somebody to lead them, but
we are content to wander without a guide. But why do we thus deceive ourselves? The disease is not without us, but fixed deep within. And there
Baby fore is the cure so difficult, because we do not know that we are sick.'
lle I want , t... CHAP, X. chi li 1, The necessity and means of knowing our natural temper. o IX, ANOTHER very important branch of self knowledge is, the knowledge of those governing passions or dispositions of the mind, which generally form what we call a man's natural temper.
The difference of natural tempers seems to be chiefly owing to the different degrees of influence the several passions have upon the mind. €. g. If the passions are eager and soon raised, we say the man is of a warm temper ; if more sluggish and slowly raised, he is of a cool temper ; according as anger, malice, or ambition prevail, he is of a fierce, churlish, or haughty temper ; the influence of the softer passions of love, pity, and benevolence, forms a sweet, sympathising, and courteous temper; and when all the passions are duly poised, and the milder commonly called a quite good natured man.
So that it is the prevalence or predominance of any particular passion which gives the turn or tincture of a man's temper, by which he
is distinguished, and for wbich he is loved or esteemed, or shunned and despised by others.
sant raillery or faithful advice.way of plea
Now what this is, those we converse with are soon sensible of. They presently see the faults of our temper, and order their behaviour accordingly. If they are wise and well mannered, they will avoid striking the string which they know will jar and raise a discord within us.
If they are our enemies, they will do it on purpose to set us on tormenting ourselves. And our friends we must suffer sometimes with a gentle hand to touch it, either by way of plea
But a man must be greatly unacquainted with himself, if he is ignorant of his predominant passion, or distinguishing temper, when every one else observes it.
And yet how common is this piece of self ignorance? The two apostles, James and John, discovered it in that very action wherein they meant to express nothing but a heárty zeal for their Master's honour; which made him tell them, that they knew not what manner of spirit they were of.” Luke ix. 55. i.e. that, instead of a principle of love and genuine zeal for him, they were at that time governed by a spirit of pride, revenge, and cruelty, and yet knew it not. And that' the apostle John should be liable to this censure, whose temper seemed to be all love and sweetness, is a memorable instance how difficult a thing it is for a man at all times to know his own spirit ; and that that passion, which seems to have the least power over his mind, may on
724 IM TVIT V 920nt pel 2011 some occasions insensibly gain a criminal ascendant there
od Dobro brus 14001 Ivo lo b. The necessity of a perfect knowledge of our reigning passions appears further from hence's that they not only give a tincture to the temper, but to the understanding also ; and throw ja strong bias on the judgment. They have much the same effect upon the eye of the mind, as some distempers have upon that of the body. If they do not put it out, they weaken it, or throw false colours before it, and make it form a wrong judgment of things; and, in short, are the source of those forementioned prejudices, which so often abuse the human understanding,
Whatever the different passions themselves, that reign in the mind, may be owing
to, whether to the different texture of the bodily organs, the different quantity of motion of the animal spirits, or to the native turn and cast of the soul itself; yet certain it is, that men’s different ways, of thinking are much according to the predominance of their different passions, and especially with regard to religion, Thusog we see
, melancholy people are apt to throw too much gloom upon their religion, and represent it in a very uninviting and unlovely view, as all austerity and mortification. whilst they who are governed by the more gay and cheerful pas, sions, are apt to run into the other extreme, and too much to mingle the pleasures of sense with those of religion ; and are as much too lax, as the others are too severe. And thus, by the
prejudice or bias of their respective pássions, or the force of their natural temper, they are led into different mistakes.
So that would a man know himself, he must study his natural temper, his constitutional inclinations, and favourite passions ; for by these a man's judgment is easily perverted, and a wrong bias hung upon his mind : These are the inlets of prejudice ; the unguarded avenues of the mind, by which a thousand errours and secret faults find admission, without being observed or taken notice of.'
And that we may more easily come at the knowledge of our predominant affections, let us consider what outward events do most impress and move us, and in what manner. What is it that usually creates the greatest pain or pleasure in the mind ? And as for pain, the stoick in- , deed may tell us, that we must keep things at a distince ; let nothing that is outward come within us ; let externals be externals still. But the human make will scarce bear the rigour of that philosophy. Outward things, after all, will impress and affect us; and there is no harm in this, provided they do not get the possession of us, overset our reason, or lead us to act unbe. coming a man or a christian. And one advantage we may reap from hence is, the manner or degree in which outward things impress us, may lead us into a better acquaintance with our selves, discover to us our weak side, and the passions which most predominate in us.