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which doth not anywise belong unto us, or become SERM. us: as put case we are ignorant of the persons we converse with, as to their quality, their merit, their humour; we shall be apt to miscall and mistake them; to misbehave ourselves in our demeanour toward them; to yield them more or less respect than befits them; to cross them rudely, or unhandsomely to humour them: in like manner, if we be strangers to our hearts, shall we carry ourselves toward our own selves; we shall hence, like men in a phrensy, 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 ra- Rev. iii, 17. ther 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, upon what grounds we proceed, we should be ashamed, and see cause rather to bemoan than to bless ourselves: descending into ourselves, we ut nemo iu might perchance discern that most of our gallant descendere, performances (such as not considering our hearts we presume them to be) are derived from self-love or pride; from desire of honour, 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 xviii. Luke telleth us of certain men, who persuaded"
SERM. themselves that they were righteous, and despised others; upon 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 Gal. vi. 3. righteous deeds did flowa. If any man, saith St. Paul, giving an account of such presumptions, thinks himself to be something, when he is nothing, avTÒV Pрevanaτa, he cheats himself in his mind; but let every man examine his work, and then he shall Пgès avròv have rejoicing in himself alone, (or privately with himself;) some, he implieth, do impose upon 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, dokiμášem čavtoũ tò epyov, explore and examine what he doeth, and in result thereof doth clearly perceive, that he acteth upon good reasons, and with honest intentions, then may he indeed enjoy a solid interior satisfaction, (a true кaúxnμa, 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
a Ῥᾷστον ἑαυτὸν ἀπατᾷν, καὶ οἴεσθαι εἶναί τι οὐδὲν ὄντα, ὑπὸ τῆς κενῆς δόξης φυσιούμενον. Nazianz. Orat. 27.
in himself, or in them, who doth not by studying SERM. himself discover whence and why he acts: one may XLIV. 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 wellbeing; for we have continual opportunities and obligations to converse with ourselves; we do ever need assistance, advice, and comfort at homeb: 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 humour, 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 upon 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 him
bpatriæ quis exul se quoque fugit?
Αὐτὸς σεαυτῷ χρῷ συμβούλῳ, καὶ τῷ θεῷ. Naz. Epist. 6ο.
c *Ενιοι τὸν ἴδιον βίον ὡς ἀτερπέστατον θέμα προσιδεῖν οὐχ ὑπομένουσιν, οὐδ ̓ ἀνακλάσαι τὸν λογισμὸν ὡς φῶς ἐφ' ἑαυτοὺς καὶ περιαγαγεῖν· ἀλλ ̓ ἡ ψυχὴ γέμουσα κακῶν παντοδαπῶν, καὶ φρίττουσα, καὶ φοβουμένη τὰ ἔνδον, ékяndã Oúpage, &c. Plut. de Curios. p. 916.
SERM. self; he cannot administer consolation to his own XLIV. griefs and distresses; his privacy will become a desertion, his retirement 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 upon the neglect thereof, in the following discourse.
KEEP THY HEART WITH ALL DILIGENCE, &c.
Prov. iv. 23.
Keep thy heart with all diligence, &c.
I PROCEED to the particular advantages of the SERM. practice of this duty, and the inconveniences of the XLV. neglect of it.
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 concerning, and in our affections toward ourselves; qualifying us to comply with the apostolical precept, un Opoveïv væèp ò dei opove, that is, not to Rom. xii. 3. overween, or overvalue ourselves, and our own things: for he that, by serious inspection upon his own heart, shall discern how many fond, impure, and ugly thoughts do swarm within him; how averse his inclinations are from good, and how prone to evil; how much his affections are misplaced and distempered, (while he vehemently delights in the possession, and impotently frets for the want of trifles, having small content in the fruition, and but slender displeasure for the absence of the greatest goods; while empty hopes exalt him, and idle fears deject him; while other various passions, like so many tempests, drive and toss him all about;) who shall observe, how clouds of darkness, error, and doubt do hover upon
BARROW, VOL. III.