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TUAL MEANS FOR ATTAINING TRUE SELF-KNOWLEDGE.
deavors successful, if they are sincere; which intro- | gagements of the soul, and how happy a means they duces the subject of the following chapter.
are to attain a just self-acquaintance.
And now, reader, whoever thou art, that hast taken the pains to peruse these sheets, whatever be thy cir
cumstances or condition in the world, whatever thy CHAPTER X
capacity or understanding, whatever thy occupations
and engagements, whatever thy favorite sentiments and FERVENT AND FREQUENT PRAYER THE MOST EFFEC- principles, or whatever religious sect or party thou es
pousest, know for certain, that thou hast been deeply in
terested in what thou hast been reading, whether thou Lastly. The last means to self-knowledge which I hast attended to it or no : for it is of no less concern to shall mention, is frequent and devout application to the thee than the security of thy peace and usefulness in fountain of light, and the father of our spirits, to assist this world, and thy happiness in another; and relates to us in this important study, and give us the true know all thy interests, both as a man and a Christian. Perhaps ledge of ourselves.
thou hast seen something of thine own image in the This I mention last, not as the least, but, on the glass that has now been held up to thee : and wilt thou contrary, as the greast and best means of all, to attain go away, and soon 'forget what manner of person a right and thorough knowledge of ourselves, and the thou art ? Perhaps thou hast met with some things way to render all the rest effectual; and, therefore, thou dost not well understand or approve. But shall though it be the last means mentioned, it is the first that take off thine attention from those things thou that should be used.
dost understand and approve, and art convinced of the Would we know ourselves, we must often converse, necessity of? If thou hast received no improvement, not only with ourselves in meditation, but with god in no benefit, from this plain practical treatise thou hast prayer; in, the lowest prostration of soul, beseeching perused, read it over again. The same thought, you the father of our spirits to discover them to us; in know, often impresses one more at one time than whose light we may see light,' where before there was another : and we sometimes receive more knowledge nothing but darkness; to make known to us the and profit by the second perusal of a book than by the depths and devices of our hearts; for, without the first. And I would fain hope that thou wilt find somegrace and influence of his divine illuminations and in- | thing in this that may set thy thoughts on work, and structions, our hearts will, after all our care and pains which, by the blessing of god, may make thee more to know them, most certainly deceive us ; and self-love observant of thy heart and conduct; and, in consewill so prejudice the understanding, as to keep us still quence of that, a more solid, serious, wise, and estabin self-ignorance.
lished Christian. The first thing we are to do, in order to self-know- But will you, after all, deal by this book ye have now ledge, is, to assure ourselves that our hearts are de- read, as you have dealt by many sermons you have ceitful above all things;' and the next is, to remember, heard,--pass your judgment upon it according to your that, the lord searcheth the hearts, and trieth the received and establised set of notions; and condemn reins ;' Jer. xvii. 10. i. e. that he, the Searcher of all or applaud it, only as it is agreeable or disagreeable to hearts,' Chron. xxviii. 9., hath a perfect knowledge of them ; and commend or censure it, only as it suits or them, deceitful as they are : which consideration, as it does not suit your particular taste; without attending suggesteth to us the strongest motive to induce us to to the real weight, importance, and necessity of the labor after a true knowledge of them ourselves, so it subject, abstracted from those views ? Or, will you directs us, at the same time, how we may attain this barely content with the entertainment and satisfaction knowledge ; viz. by an humble and importunate appli- which some parts of it may possibly have given you, cation to him, to whom alone they are known, to make to assent to the importance of the subject, the justness them known to us. And this, by the free and near ac- of the sentiment, or the propriety of some of the obcess which his holy spirit hath to our spirits, he can ef-servations you have been reading, and so dismiss all, fectually do various ways; viz. by fixing our attentions ; without any farther concern about the matter ? Believe by quickening our apprehensions; removing our pre- it, o Christian reader ! if this be all the advantage judices, which, like a false medium before the eye of you gain by, it were scarce worth while to have conthe mind, prevents its seeing things in a just and pro- fined yourself so long to the perusal of it. It has per light; by mortifying our pride; strengthening the aimed, it has sincerely aimed, to do you a much greater intellective and reflecting faculties; and enforcing upon benefit; to bring you to a better acquaintance with one the mind a lively sense and knowledge of its greatest you express a particular regard for, and who is capable happiness and duty : and so awakening the soul from of being the best friend, or the worst ene!uy, you have that carnal security and indifference about its best in- in the world ; and that is--yourself
. It was designed terests, into which a too serious attention to the world to convince you, that, would you live and act consistis apt to betray it.
ently, either as a man or a Christian, you must know Besides, prayer is a very proper expedient for attain yourself; and to persuade you, under the influencee of ing self-knowledge, as the actual engagement of the the foregoing motives, and by the help of the foremenmind, in this devotional exercise, is, in itself, a great tioned directions, to make self-knowledge the great help to it; for the mind is in a better frame than when study, and self-government the great business of your it is intently and devoutly engaged in this duty. It life. In which resolution may almighty god confirm has then the best apprehensions of god, the truest no- you; and in which great business may his grace assist tions of itself, and the justest sentiments of earthly you against all future discouragements and distractions! things; the clearest conceptions of its own weakness; With him I leave the success of the whole, to whom and the deepest sense of its own vileness; and, con- be glory and praise for ever! sequently, is in the best disposition than can be, to receive a true and right knowledge of itself.
And, oh! could we but always think of ourselves in such a manner, or could we but always be in a dispo
APPENDIX, sition to think of ourselves in such a manner, as we sometimes do in the fervor of our humiliations before
REFERRED TO FROM PAGE 23. the throne of grace, how great a progress should wo soon make in this important science! Which evidently The advantage of a common-place book, or register shows the necessity of such devout and humble en- of things deemed worthy of retention in the courso of
d person's reading, must be so obvious to the mind In inserting any article in your Common-Place Book of every reader, that any comment on it is deemed un- you must select some general term by which the subnecessary
ject may be understood, and, taking a left hand page, The following plan, embracing an improvement on enter it in conspicuous characters at the top, on the outthat recommended by Mr. Locke, is conceived suffi- side corner; placing the subject you wish to insert ciently clear to be understood by the meanest capacity within the ruled lines ; observing that you do not occupy
By the method here recommended, an alphabetical the following page by a new head; but leaving it for index is formed, each letter occupying a page ; which any subsequent matter that may occur on the same subis divided into six parts, affixing a vowel to each com- ject. However, should all the partment. In this index is to be written at length in be occupied, those on the right, that remain blank, the page at the top of which its initial letter is found, might be taken, when it is not probable that the heads and in the division occupied by its first vowel ; or its on the left will be continued. second, if the initial letter be a vowel the word which It will be found convenient to reserve a blank in the forms the head of the subject referred to in the body of margin of the Common-Place Book, for brief notes on the book; with the number of the page allotted to that the matter entered ; as also at the foot of the page, for subject; which must be repeated when any fresh mat- references from one head to another; as it often hapter is inserted under the same head in a different part pens that an article placed under one head, may be ilof the book.
lustrative of another; -for example, AIR and ATMOSWhen the initial letter is a vowel, and there is no PHERE other in the word, that vowel is to be considered as Annexed is a page of the Index, with two pages of both the first and second. The word ART, therefore, the Common-Place Book (printed as one,) which will should be inserted in the division A a;-EGG in the serve as an elucidation of the preceding instructions. division E e. A.