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3. Another advantage from this kind of study, is this, that it teacheth a man how to behave himself patiently, when he has the ill fortune to be cenfured and abused by other people. For a man who is thoroughly acquainted with his own heart, doth already know much more evil of himself than any body else can tell him ; and when any one speaketh ill of him, he rather thanketh God, that he can say no worse. For could his enemy but look into the dark and hidden receffes of the heart, he confidereth what a number of impure thoughts he might there fee brooding and hovering like a dark cloud upon the face of the soul; that there he might take a prospect of the fancy, and view it acting over the several scenes of pride, of ambition, of envy, of luft, and revenge; that there he might tell how often a vitious inclination hath been restrained, for no other reafon, but just to save the man's credit or interest in the world ; and how many unbecoming ingredients have entered into the composition of his best actions. And now, what man in the whole world would be able to bear fo severe a test, to have every thought and inward motion of the heart laid open and exposed to the view of his enemies? But,
4. AND laftly, Another advantage of this kind is, that it maketh men less severe upon other people's faults, and less busy and industrious in spreading them. For a man employed at home, inspecting into his own failings, hath not leisure enough to take notice of every little spot and blemilh that lieth scattered upon others : or, if he cannot escape the fight of them, he always passes the most easy and favourable construction upon them. Thus, for instance, does the ill he knoweth of a man proceed from an unhappy temper and constitution of body ? he then considereth with himself, how hard a thing it is, not to be born down with the current of the blood, and spirits ; and accordingly layeth some part of the blame upon the weakness of human nature, for he hath felt the force and rapidity of it within his own breast, tho' perhaps in another instance ; he remembereth how it rageth and swelleth by opposition, and tho' it may be restrained, or diverted for a while, yet it can hardly ever be totally subdued. Or, hath the man finned out of custom: he then, from
his own experience, traceth a habit into the very first rise and imperfect beginnings of it; and can tell, by how flow and insensible advances it creepeth upon the heart : how it worketh itself by degrees into the very frame and texture of it, and so palleth into a second nature ; and consequently he hath a just sense of the great difficulty for him to learn to do good, who hath been long accustomed to do evil.
Or, lastly, hath a false opinion betrayed him into a fin? he then calleth to mind what wrong apprehensions he hath had of some things himself; how many opinions that he once made no doubt of, he hath, upon a ftricter examination, found to be doubtful and uncertain; how many more to be unreasonable and absurd. He knoweth, further, that there are a great many more opinions that he hath never yet examined into at all, and which, however, he still believeth, for no other reason, but because he hath believed them so long already without a reason. Thus, upon every occafion, a man intimately acquainted with himself, consulteth his own heart, and maketh every man's cafe to be his own, (and so puts the moft favourable interpretation upon it.) Let every man therefore look into his own heart, before he begin. neth to abuse the reputation of another, and then he will hardly be so absurd, as to throw a dart that will fo certainly rebound, and wound himself. And thus, thro' the whole course of his conversation, let him keep an eye upon that one great and comprehensive rule of Chriftian duty, on which hangeth not only the law and the prophets, but the very life and spirit of the gospel too ; Whatsoever ye would that men foould do unto you, do ye even So unto them. Which rule that we may all duly observe, by throwing aside all scandal and detraction, all spite and rancour, all rudeness and contempt, all rage and violence, and whatever tendeth to make conversation and commerce either uneasy or troublesome, God of peace grant, for Jesus Christ's sake, &c.
CONSIDER what hath been said, and the Lord give you a right understanding in all things. To whom, with the Son, and the Holy Ghost, be all honour and glory, now and for ever.
The End of the First Volume.