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ourselves."* But he, with his favor, doth seem to promise for his friend more than she is able to perform; the main part of this knowlege doth lie beyond the reach of any particular method; the empyric seems to have more to do here than the doctor. Philosophy may perhaps afford us some plausible notions concerning the nature of our soul, its state, its power, its manners of acting ; it may prescribe some wide directions about proceeding in the discovery of ourselves; but the particular knowlege (and therein the chief difficulty lieth) of our. selves, how our souls stand inclined and disposed, that only our particular earnest study and assiduous observation can yield unto us ; and it is an inestimable advantage to obtain it. All men are very curious and inquisitive after knowlege; the being endued therewith passeth for a goodly ornament, a rich possession, a matter of great satisfaction, and much use : men are commonly ashamed of nothing so much as ignorance; but if any knowlege meriteth esteem for its worth and usefulness, this, next to that concerning Almighty God, may surely best pretend thereto; if any ignorance deserveth blame, this certainly is most liable thereto: to be studious in contemplating natural effects, and the causes whence they proceed; to be versed in the writings and stories of other men's doings; to be pragmatical observers of what is said or done without us, (that which perchance may little concern, little profit us to know,) and in the mean while to be strangers at home, to overlook what passeth in our own breasts, to be ignorant of our most near and proper concernments, is a folly, if any, to be derided, or rather greatly to be pitied, as the source of many great inconveniences to us. For it is from ignorance of ourselves that .we mistake ourselves for other persons than we really are ; and accordingly we behave ourselves toward ourselves with great indecency and injustice ; we assume and attribute to ourselves that which doth not anywise belong unto us, or become us: as put case we are ignorant of the persons we converse with, as to their quality, their merit, their humor; we shall be
Hæc enim una nos cum cæteras res omnes, tum quod est difficillimum docuit, ut nosmetipsos nosceremus.-Cic. de Leg. 1.
apt to miscall and mistake them; to misbehave ourselves in our demeanor toward them; to yield them more or less respect than befits them; to cross them rudely, or unhandsomely to humor them : in like manner, if we be strangers to our hearts, shall we carry ourselves toward our ownselves; we shall hence, like men in a frenzy, take ourselves for extraordinary people, rich, and noble, and mighty, when indeed, our condition being duly estimated, we are wretchedly mean and beggarly. We do frequently hug ourselves, (or rather shadows in our room,) admiring ourselves for qualities not really being in us; applauding ourselves for actions nothing worth, such as proceed from ill principles, and aim at bad ends; whenas, did we turn our thoughts inwards, and regard what we find in our hearts, by what inclinations we are moved, on what grounds we proceed, we should be ashamed, and see cause rather to bemoan than to bless ourselves: descending into ourselves, we might perchance discern that most of our gallant performances (such as not considering our hearts we presume them to be) are derived from self-love or pride ; from desire of honor, or love of gain; from fear of damage or discredit in the world, rather than out of love, reverence, and gratitude toward God, of charity, compassion, and good-will toward our brethren, of sober regard to our own true welfare and happiness : which are the only commendable principles and grounds of action. St. Luke lelleth us of certain men, who persuaded themselves that they were righteous, and despised others;' on occasion of whom our Saviour dictated the parable of the Pharisee and Publican. Whence, think we, came that fond confidence in themselves, and proud contempt of others ? From ignorance surely of themselves, or from not observing those bad dispositions, those wrong opinions, those corrupt fountains within, from whence their supposed righteous deeds did flow. If any man,' saith St. Paul, giving an account of such presumptions, thinks himself to be something, when he is nothing,' èavròn opevanarõ, he cheats himself in his mind; but let every man examine his work, and then he shall have rejoicing in himself alone,’ (or privately with himself;) some, he implieth, do impose on and delude themselves, imagining themselves
somebodies, (endued forsooth with admirable qualities, or to have achieved very worthy deeds ;) whenas, if they would inquire into themselves, they should find no such matter ; that themselves were no such men, and their works no such wonders : but if, saith he, a man doth, Sokiud elv éautoũ tò čpyov, explore and examine what he doeth, and in result thereof doth clearly perceive that he acteth on good reasons, and with honest intentions, then may he indeed enjoy a solid interior satisfaction, (a true kaúxnua, or exultation of mind,) whatever others, not acquainted with those inward springs of his motion, do please to judge of him and his proceedings. No man indeed can truly value himself, or well approve of his own doings, so as to find any perfect comfort in himself, or in them, who doth not by studying himself discover whence and why he acts: one may be a flatterer, but cannot be a true friend to himself, who doth not thoroughly acquaint himself with his own inward state, who doth not frequently consult and converse with himself: a friend to himself, I said; and to be so is one of the greatest benefits that human life can enjoy; that which will most sweeten and solace our life to us : friendship with others (with persons honest and intelligent) is a great accommodation, helping much to allay the troubles, and ease the burdens of life; but friendship with ourselves is much more necessary to our well being; for we have continual opportunities and obligations to converse with ourselves; we do ever need assistance, advice, and comfort at home: and as commonly it is long acquaintance and familiar intercourse together, which doth conciliate one man to another, begetting mutual dearness and confidence, so it is toward one's self: as no man can be a friend to a mere stranger, or to one whose temper, whose humor, whose designs he is ignorant of; so cannot he be a friend to himself, if he be unacquainted with his own disposition and meaning; he cannot in such a case rely on his own advice or aid when need is, but will suspect and distrust himself; he cannot be pleasant company to himself, but shall be ready to cross and fall out with himself; he cannot administer consolation to his own griefs and distresses; his privacy will become a desertion, bis re
tirement a mere solitude. But passing over this general advantage, I shall with some more minuteness of distinction consider divers particular advantages accruing from the practice of this duty, together with the opposite inconveniences, which are consequent on the neglect thereof, in the following discourse.
SUMMARY OF SERMON XLV.
PROVERBS, CHAP. IV.-VERSE 23.
PARTICULAR advantages of this duty, and inconveniences arising from the neglect of it, considered.
1. The constant and careful observation of our hearts will serve to prevent immoderate self-love and self-conceit; to render us sober and modest in our opinions and affections towards ourselves, &c. : that men are so fond of themselves, so haughty and arrogant in their conceits, arises constantly from not reflecting on their own hearts; not considering how little worth they are.
2. On the preceding advantage is consequent, that we shall be disposed with equanimity and patience to bear all crosses and grievances befalling us; not only an excellent virtue, but a considerable solace being hereby produced.
3. This practice will fence us against immoderate displeasure occasionable by men's hard opinions, or harsh censures passed on us: for he that by inquiry into himself perceives so many defects in himself, will not be so easily or greatly offended, if some of them be objected to him, &c.
4. Likewise this practice will defend us, as from the discomforts of harsh censure, so also from the mistakes and miscarriages to which the more favorable opinions, or flattering expressions of men may expose us. It is true of all men, that their nature disposes them to be credulous when they are commended.