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ject and its end ; the object of it being God, and the end of it eternal happiness.
The great end of religion is to make us like God, and to conduct us to the enjoyment of him. And whatever hath not this plain tendency, and especially if it have the contrary, men may call religion (if they please); but they cannot call it more out of its name. And whatever is called religious knowledge, if it does not direct us in the way to this end, is not re. ligious knowledge, but something else falsely so called. And some are unhappily accustomed to such an abuse of words and understanding, as not only to call, but to think those things religion, which are quite the reverse of it, and those notions religious knowledge, which lead them the farthest from it.
The sincerity of a true religious principle, cannot be better known, than by the readiness with which the thoughts advert to God, and the pleasure with which they are employed in de vout exercises. And though a person may not always be so well pleased with hearing religious things talked of by others, whose different taste, sentiments, or manner of expression may have something disagreeable ; yet if he have no inclination to think of them himself, or to converse with himself about them, he hath great reason to suspect that his heart is not right with God. But if he frequently and delightfully exercise his mind in divine contemplations, it will not only be a good mark of his sincerity, but
will habitually dispose it for the reception of the best and most useful thoughts, and fit it for the noblest entertainments.
Upon the whole then, it is of as great importance for a man to take heed what thoughts he entertains, as what company he keeps : for they have the same effect upon the mind. Bad thoughts are as infectious as bad company; and good thoughts solace, instruct, and entertain the mind, like good company
And this is one great advantage of retirement ; that a man may choose what company he pleases from within himself.
As in the world we oftener light into bad company than good, so in solitude we are oftener troubled with impertinent and unprofitable thoughts, than entertained with agreeable and useful ones. And a man that hath so far lost the command of himself, as to lie at the mercy of every foolish or vexing thought, is much in the same situation as a host, whose house is open to all comers; whom, though ever 'so noisy, rude, and troublesome, he can
. not get rid of; but with this difference, that the latter hath some recompense for his trouble, the former none at all ; but is robbed of his peace and quiet for nothing,
Of such vast importance to the peace, as well as the improvement of the mind, is the right regulation of the thoughts. And this will be my apology for dwelling so long on this branch of the subject ; which I shall conclude with this
ene observation more ; that it is a very dangerous thing to think, as too many are apt to do, that it is a matter of indifference what thoughts they entertain in their hearts, since the reason of things concurs with the testimony of the holy scriptures to assure us, that the allowed thought of foolishness is sin,'*
Concerning the memory.
XIV. A MAN that knows himself will have a regard not only to the management of his thoughts but the improvement of his memory:
is that faculty of the soul, which was designed for the storehouse or repository of its most useful notions ; where they may be laid пр
in safety, to be produced upon proper occasions. Now a thorough
thorough self acquaintance cannot be had without a proper regard to this in two respects. 1. Its furniture. 2. Its improvement.
1. A man that knows himself will have a regård to the furniture of his memory.; not to load it with trash and lumber, a set of useless notions or low conceits, which he will be ashamed to produce before persons of taste and judgiment.
* Proy, xxiv. 9.
If the retention be bad, do not crowd it. It is of as ill consequence to overload a weak memory, as a weak stomach. And that it may not be cumbered with trash, take heed what company you keep, what books you read, and what thoughts you favour ; otherwise a great deal of useless rubbish may fix there before you are aware, and take up the room which ought to be possessed by better notions. But let not a valuable thought slip from you, though you pursue it with much time and pains before you overtake it. The regaining and refixing it may be of more avail to you than
What pity it is that men should take such immense pains, as some «do, to learn those things which, as soon as they become wise, they must take as much pains to unlearn ! A thought that should make us very curious and cautious about the proper furniture of our minds.
2. Self knowledge will acquaint a man with the extent and capacity of his memory, and the right way to improve it.
There is no small art in improving a weak memory, so as to turn it to as great an advantage as many do theirs which are much strong
A few short rules to this purpose may be no unprofitable digression.
1. Beware of every sort of intemperance in the indulgence of the appetites and passions. Excesses of all kinds do a great injury to the memory.
2. If it be weak, do not overlade it. Charge it only with the most useful and solid notions. A small vessel should not be stuffed with lum. ber. But if its freight be precious and judiciously stowed, it may be more valuable than a ship of twice its burden.
3. Recur to the help of a common place book, according to Mr. Locke's method ; and review it once a year.
But take care that by confiding to your minutes or memorial aids, you do not excuse the labour of the memory ; which is one disadvantage attending this method.
4. Take every opportunity of uttering your best thoughts in conversation, when the subject will admit it ; that will deeply imprint them. Hence the tales, which common story tellers relate, they never forget, though ever so silly.
5. Join to the idea you would remember, some other that is more familiar to you, which bears some similitude to it, either in its nozare, or in the sound of the word by which it is expressed ; or that hath some relation to it'either in time or place. And then by recalling this, which is easily remembered, you will, (by that concatenation or connection of ideas which Mr. Locke takes notice of) draw in that which is thus linked or joined with it ; which otherwise you might hunt after in vain..This rule is of excellent use to help you to remember names.
6. What you are determined to remember, think of before you go to sleep at night, and the first thing in the morning when the facul