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under Obligation as to the acts of the Under: ftanding, but that all Obligation begins there.
Having thus clear'd the way by the Proof of this Preparatory Position, that we are under Obligation as to the acts of the Understanding in general, I may now proceed to consider that our opinion of our selves is one of those aets of the Understanding which are subject to Law, or in other terms, that we are not at our own liberty to entertain what Opinions we please concerning our selves, but that we ought to regu. late them by Come Standard. Now the general reason of this is, because 'tis of great moment and influence in relation to our Practice, what Opinion we entertain concerning ourselves. Indeed there are many acts of the Understanding which tho originally free, yet fall under no Obligation by reason of the Indifferency of the Matter, as in things of pure and naked. Speculation. These are the unforbidden Trees of the Garden, and here we may let loose the Reins and indulge our thoughts the full Scope. Thus there is no danger of Heresy in asserting or denying the Antipodes, nor is Orthodoxy concern'd whether the Moon be habitable. But altho to mistake a Star be of no consequence to the Theorist that fits immured in his Study; yet
be to the Pilot that is to Steer his Course by it. There are other things which
have a practical Aspect, and here 'tis not ino different what we think, because 'tis not indifferent what we do. Now among these the Opinion of our felves is to be reckon'd, as having a great influence upon our well or ill demeaning our selves respectively, as will more minutely and particularly appear when we come in the third and last place to consider the ab. surdities and ill consequences of trangressing the Standard prescribed, and therefore I shall defer the farther prosecution of it till then and in the mean while proceed to the second Observable, Namely,
That the Standard whereby we are to regulate our Opinions concerning our selves, are those excellencies and perfections which we are really indow'd with. Which is collected from these words, according as God has dealt to every man the measure of Faith.
In the former part of the Text there was indeed a Restraint laid upon our Opinions concerning our selves, but it was general only and indefinite. But here the ground is measured out, and the Boundaries precisely set. Mitegu astus, that's the great Ecliptic Line which is to bound the Career of our most forward and Self-indulging Opinions. If we keep within this compass our motion is natural and regular, but if we slide never so little out of it, 'tis unnatural and portentous. Or to speak with greater Simplicity, he that judges of himself according to those excellencies, whether Moral or Intellectual, which he really has, does pega vão a's mò owpegueir, thinks soberly, and he that thinks himselfindow'd with any Kind or Degree of Excellence which really he has not,does spoeovñv mag' di pegvéiv, thinks of himself more highly than he ought to think.
Here then are Two things to be considered.
First that we may proceed fo far as this Standard.
And Secondly, That we may not go be
Firft, That we may proceed so far!
asili ju It has been taught by some of the severe Masters of Spiritual
Mortification, That'we ought ta take up the most low and abję& thoughts of our felves that arella and consequently not to be affected with the least Self-complacenty. That we ought to ac count our sesves 16 be. Nothing to have not thing, to be worth nothing, but to be very
1 Cor. 4.13. refuse and off-scouring of all things. And this
they call the Mystical Death, or- the Spiritual Annihilation. Now whatever degrees of excellency this may have (which I shall not now dispute), ʼtis most certain it can have nothing of Duty. For tho it may, and oftentimes is required of a man to think the Truth, yet he can never he under an Obligation to be mistaken. Besides, 'Tis hard to conceive how any man (especially one that dwels 'much with himself, and heedfully reflects upon the actings of his own mind ) should be master of any considerable excelfency, and yet not be confcious of it. And besides, That very degree of Attention which is required that a man should not think himself more accomplish'd than indeed he is, will also infallibly hinder him from thinking he is less. 'Tis true indeed Mofes knew not that his Face shone, after he had been conversing with God on the Mount. He saw not the Orb of glory that stream'd from him, and wondred what it was that made him so dreadful to the people. But’tis not so with the Soul, whose reflexive faculty will not fail to give her information of her most retir’d; and reservd accomplishments. 'Tis not with the Lesser, as with the Greater World, where whole Tracts and Regions (and those some of the best too) ly undiscoverd. No,
Man cannot be fuch a Stranger to his own Perfections, such an America to himself. For who can know the things of a man, if not the Spirit of man which is in him. And accordingly we find that the Ignorance of our selves with which Mankind has been hitherto so universally tax'd , runs quite in another Chanel, and does not consist in overlooking any of those indowments which we have , but in assuming to our selves those which we have not.
I confess (were it possible) I should think it adviseable for some persons to be ignorant of some of their excellencies, and like the Sun not to refleEt home to their own Sphere of light; Not that I think in the least unlawful to be fully conscious of ones own worth, but only I consider that some men have not heads strong enough to irdure Heights, and walk upon Spires and Pinnacles. But if they can stand there without growing, vertiginous, they need not question the lawfulness of the station, they are still within the Region of Humility. For 'tis not every thinking well of ones felf that falls in with the notion of Pride, but only when there is more of Opinion than there is of Worth. 'Twas this that was the Condemnation of the Apostate Angel, not that he took a just complacency in the eminency of his Station, but that he vainly arrogated to himfelf what was not his due , in that he said, I C