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Our pleasures will likewise discover our reigning passions, and the true temper and disposition of the soul. If it be captivated by the pleasures of sin, it is a sign its prevailing taste is very vicious and corrupt ; if with the pleasures of sense, very low and sordid; if imaginary pleasures, and the painted scenes of fancy and romance do most entertain it, the soul hath then a trifling turn ; if the pleasures of science or intellectual improvements are those it is most fond of, it has then a noble and refined taste ; but if its chief satisfactions derive from religion and divine contemplation, it has then its true and proper taste ; its temper is as it should be, pure, divine, and heavenly ; provided these satisfactions spring from a truly religious principle, free from that superstition, bigotry, and enthusiasm under which it is often disguised.
And thus, by carefully observing what it is that gives the mind the greatest pain and torment, or the greatest pleasure and entertainment, we come at the knowledge of its reigning passions, and prevailing temper and disposition,
* Include thyself, then, O my soul, within the compass of thine own heart; if it be not large, it is deep, and thou wilt there find exercise enough. Thou wilt never be able to sound it ; it cannot be known but by Him, who tries the thoughts and reins. But dive into this subject as deep as thou canst. Examine thyself ; and this knowledge of that which passes within thee, will be of more use to thee, than the
knowledge of all that passes in the world. Concern not thyself with the wars and quarrels of publick or private persons. Take cognizance of those contests which are between thy flesh and thy spirit ; betwixt the law of thy mem, bers, and that of thy understanding Appease those differences. Teach thy flesh to be in subjection. Replace reason, on its throne; and give it piety for its counsellor.
Tame thy passions, and bring them under bondage. Put thy little state in good order. Govern wisely and holily those numerous people which are contained in so little a kingdom ; that is to say, that multitude of affections, thoughts, opinions, and passions, which are in thine heart.”
Concerning the secret springs of our action.
X. ANOTHER considerable branch of self acquaintance is, to know the true motives and secret springs of our actions, it coulement
This will sometimes cost us, much pains to, acquire. But for want of it, we should be in danger of passing a false judgment upou our actions, and of entertaining a wrong opinion of our conduct.
It is not only very possible, but very common, for men to be ignorant of the chief inducements of their behaviour ; and to imagine
they act from one motive, whilst they are apparently governed by another. If we examine our views and look into our hearts narrowly, we shall find that they more frequently deceive us in this respect than we are aware of; by persuading us that we are governed by much better motives than we really are. The honour of God, and the interest of religion, may be the open and avowed motives ; whilst secular in. terest and secret'vanity may be the hidden and true one. While we think we are serving God, we may be only sacrificing to mammon. We may,"like Jehu, boast our. zeal for the Lord, when we are only animated by the heat of our natural passions ;* may cover a' censorious spirit under a cloak of piety; and giving admonition to others may be only giving vent to our spleen.
Many come to the place of publick worship out of custom or curiosity, who would be thought to come thither only out of conscience. And whilst their external and professed view is to serve God, and gain good to their souls, their secret and inward motive is only to show themselves to advantage, or to avoid singularity, and prevent others making observations on their absence. Munificence and almsgiving may often proceed from a principle of pride and party spirit, and seeming acts of friendship from a mercenary motive.
* 2 Kings X. 16.
By thus disguising our motives, we may impose upon men, but at the same time we are imposing upon ourselves; and whilst we are deceiving others, our own hearts deceive us. . And of all impostures self deception is the most dangerous, because least suspected.
Now, unless we examine this point narrow ly, we shall never come to the bottom of it ; and unless we come at the true spring and real motive of our actions, we shall never be able to form a right judgment of them ; and they may appear very different in our own eye, and in the eye of the world, from what they do in the eye of God. For the Lord seeth not as man seeth : for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.** And hence it is, that that which is highly esteemed among men, is, oftentimes, abomination in the sight of God.'t: Every way of a man is right in his own eyes'; but the Lord pondereth the hearts. 'I
Every one that knows himself, is in a particular man.
ner sensible how far he is governed by a thirst for applause.
XI. ANOTHER thing necessary to unfold a man's heart to himself is, to consider what is his appetite for fame, and by what means he seeks to gratify it.
This passion in particular having always so main a stroke, and oftentimes so unsuspected an influence on the most important parts of our conduct, a perfect acquaintance with it is a very material branch of self knowledge, and therefore requires a distinct consideration.
Emulation, like the other passions of the human mind, shows itself much more plainly, and works much more strongly in some than it does in others. It is in itself innocent; and was planted in our natures for very wise ends, and, if kept under proper regulations, is capable of serving very excellent purposes; otherwise it degenerates into a mean and criminal ambition.
When a man finds something within him that pushes him on to excel in worthy deeds, or in actions truly good and virtuous, and pursues that design with a steady unaffected ardour, without reserye or falsehood, it is a true