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your own souls, nor the precious remedy which mercy hath provided you. To cure the sicknesses of other men's bodies, and never feel a stony, proud or sensual heart, nor use any care and industry for the cure! To know the matters of all arts and sciences, to be able to discourse of them all to the admiration of the hearers, is but an aggravation of thy lamentable folly, if thou be all this while a stranger to thyself, and that because thou art mindless of thy soul's condition. You would but laugh at such a learned fool that knew not how to dress himself, or eat, or drink, or go, and yet could talk of the profoundest speculations in metaphysics or other sciences. It is more necessary to know yourselves, your sin, your duty, your hopes, your dangers, than to know how to eat, or drink, or clothe yourselves. Alas, it is a pitiful kind of knowledge, that will not keep you out of hell; and a foolish wisdom that teaches you not to save your souls. 'Per veram scientiam itur ad disciplinam; per disciplinam ad bonitatem; per bonitatem ad beatitudinem,' saith Hugo. Till you know yourselves, the rest of your knowledge is but a confused dream: When you know the thing, you know not the end, and use, and worth of it. Self-knowledge will direct you in all your studies, and still employ you on that which is necessary, and will do you good, when others are studying but unprofitable, impertinent things; and indeed are but "proud, knowing nothing (when they seem to excel in knowledge) but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds and destitute of the truth, that take gain for godliness.” (1 Tim. vi. 4, 5.) Self-knowledge will help you in all your studies, to know, 'Quo ordine, quo studio, quo fine unumquodque scire oporteat. Quo ordine; ut illud prius, quod maturius movet ad salutem: Quo studio; ut illud ardentius, quod vehementius ad amorem: Quo fine; ut non ad inamen gloriam et ostentationem, sed ad tuam et aliorum salutem,' saith Bernard. You will know in what order, with what study, and to what end every thing should be known: In what order, that that may go first, that most promoteth our salvation: With what study or desire; that we may know that most ardently, which most vehemently provoketh love: To what end, that it be not for vainglory and ostentation, but for your own and other men's salvation.
And as it is ourselves and our own affairs that are nearest to us, and therefore first in order to be known; so it is ourselves that we have a special charge of, and that we are most obliged to study and to know; and it is our own condition. and soul affairs that most concern us. Though sun, and moon, and earth, be not little things in themselves; yet the. knowledge of them is a small, inconsiderable matter to thee, in comparison of the knowledge of thyself. The words even of Seneca are so pungent on this subject, that I shall recite some of them to shame those professed Christians that are so much short of a heathen. Quid ad virtutem viam sternit syllabarum enerratio, verborum diligentia et fabularum memoria, et versuum lex et modificatio? Quid ex his metum demit, cupiditatem frænat?' What furtherance to virtue is the enarration of syllables, the diligence of words, the remembering of fables, and the law and modification of verses? What of these taketh away fear, and bridleth concupiMetiri me geometer docet latifundia: potius doceat quomodo metiar quantum homini satis sit: Docet quomodo nihil perdam ex finibus meis: at ego discere volo quomodo totum hilaris amittam. Scis rotunda metiri: si artifex es, metire hominis animum; dic quam magnus, dic quam pusillus sit. Scis quæ recta sit linea: quid tibi prodest si quid in vita rectum sit ignoras?' The geometrician teacheth me to measure spacious grounds: let him rather teach me to measure how much is sufficient for a man: He teacheth me how I may lose nothing of my possessions: but that which I would learn is, how I may lose all with a cheerful mind. Thou canst measure rounds; if thou be an artist, measure the mind of man; tell him how great it is, or how little or low. Thou knowest a straight line: and what the better art thou if thou know not what is right or straight in thy own life? Hoc scire quid proderit, ut solicitus sim, quum Saturnus et Mars è contrario stabunt?
beralium artium consectatio molestos, intempestivos, verbosos, sibi placentes facit, et ideo non discentes necessaria, quia supervacua didicerunt.' What good will it do me, that I should be solicitous to know when Saturn and Mars will stand in opposition? This diligent study of the liberal arts, doth make men troublesome, unseasonable, wordy, self-pleasing, and such as therefore learn not things necessary, because they have learned things superfluous.
When our nearer, greater works are done, then those that are more distant will be seasonable, and useful, and excellent in their proper places. When men understand the state and affairs of their souls, and have made sure of their everlasting happiness, they may then seasonably and wisely manage political and economical affairs, and prudently order and prosecute their temporal concernments: when they "first seek the kingdom of God and his righteousness," subordinate things may be seasonably considered. But for a man to be taken up about matters of law, or trade, or pleasure, when he mindeth not the matters of his salvation; and to study languages, arts and sciences, when he studieth not how to escape damnation, is not to be learned, but to dote; nor to be honourably or prudently employed, but to walk as a 'noctambulo,' a man in a dream, and live besides the reason of a man, as well as below the faith of a Christian : These seemingly wise and honourable worldlings, that labour not to know what state and relation they stand in towards God, and his judgment, do live in a more pernicious distraction than he that is disputing in mood and figure while his house is burning over his head, or he that is learning to fiddle or dance, when he is assaulted by an enemy, or to be tried for his life.
Even works of charity seem but absurd, preposterous acts, in those that are not charitable to themselves. To be careful to feed or clothe the bodies of the poor, and senseless of the nakedness and misery of your own souls, is an irrational, distracted course of mercy: As if a man should be diligent to cure another of a bile, while he minds not the plague or leprosy upon himself: or should be busy to pull a thorn out of another's finger, and senseless of a stab that is given himself in the bowels or at the heart. To love yourself, and not your neighbour, is selfish, unsociable and uncharitable. To love neither your neighbour nor yourself, is inhuman: To love your neighbour and not yourself, is preposterous, irrational, and scarcely possible. But to love first yourself (next God,) and then to love your neighbour as yourself, is regular, orderly, Christian charity.
10. Consider also, that the ignorance of yourselves doth much unfit you to be useful unto others. If you are Magistrates, you will never be soundly faithful against the sin of others, till you have felt how hurtful it is to yourselves. If
you are Ministers, you will scarcely ever be good at heartsearching work, till you have searched your own: nor will you know the deceitfulness of sin, and the turnings and windings of the crooked serpent, till you have observed them in yourselves: nor will you have due compassion on the ignorant, impenitent, ungodly, unconverted, or on the tempted, weak, disconsolate souls, till you have learned rightly to be affected with sin and misery in yourselves. If men see a magistrate punish offenders, or hear a minister reprove them, that is as bad or worse himself, they will but deride the justice of the one, and reproofs of the other, as the acts or words of blind partiality or hypocrisy; and accost you with a 'Medice cura teipsum,' Physician heal thyself: with a 'Loripidem rectus derideat, Æthiopem abbus,' &c. And a 'Primus jussa subi,' &c. And a‘Qui alterum incusat probri, ipsum se intueri oportet.' First sweep before your own door. It is ridiculous for the blind to reproach the purblind. Quæ in aliis reprehendis, in teipso maximè reprehende.' Reprehend that more in thyself, which thou reprehendest in another. The eye of the soul is not like the eye of the body, that can see other things, but not itself. There are two evils that Christ noteth in the reproofs of such as are unacquainted with themselves, in Matt. vii. 3, 4. Hypocrisy and unfitness to reprove. "Why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thy own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye, and behold, a beam is in thy own eye? Thou hypocrite, first cast the beam out of thine own eye, and then thou shalt see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye." Thy own vices do corrupt thy judgment, and cause thee to excuse the like in others, and to accuse the virtue that in others is the condemner of thy vice, and to represent all as odious that is done by those that by their piety and reproofs are become odious to thy guilty and malicious soul. Dost thou hate a holy, heavenly life, and art void of the love of God, and of his servants? Hast thou a carnal, dead, unconverted heart? Art thou a presumptuous, careless, worldly wretch? Hast thou these beams in thy own. eye? And art thou fit to quarrel with others that are better than thyself, about a ceremony, or a holy day, or a circumstance of church-government or worship, or a doubtful,
controverted opinion? And to be pulling these motes out of thy brother's eye? (Yea, rather wouldst pull out his eyes, to get out the mote :) First get an illuminated mind, and a renewed, sanctified heart; be acquainted with the love of God, and of his image; and cast out the beam of infidelity, ungodliness, worldliness, sensuality, malice and hypocrisy, from thine own eye; and then come and play the occulist with thy brother, and help to cure him of his lesser involuntary errors and infirmities. Till then the beam of thy sensuality and impiety will make thee a very incompetent judge of the mote of a different opinion in thy brother. Every word that thou speakest in condemnation of thy brother, for his opinion or infirmity, is a double condemnation of thyself for thy ungodly, fleshly life. And if thou wilt needs have "judgment to begin at the house of God," for the failings of his sincere and faithful servants, it may remember thee to thy terror, "what the end of them shall be that obey not the Gospel of God." And if you will condemn the righteous for their lamented weaknesses, "Where think you the ungodly and the sinner shall appear?" (1 Pet. iv. 17, 18.)
11. If you begin not at yourselves, you can make no progress to a just and edifying knowledge of extrinsic things. Man's self is the alphabet or primer of his learning. Non pervenitur ad summa nisi per inferiora.' You cannot come to the top of the stairs, if you begin not at the bottom. 'Frustra cordis oculum erigit ad videndum Deum, qui nondum idoneus est ad videndum seipsum: Prius enim est ut cognoscas invisibilia spiritus tui, quàm possis esse idoneus ad cognoscendum invisibilia Dei; et si non potes te cognoscere, non præsumas apprehendere ea quæ sunt supra te (inquit. Hug. de Anim.)' i. e. In vain doth he lift up his heart to see God, that is yet unfit to see himself. For thou must first know the invisible things of thy own spirit, before thou canst be fit to know the invisible things of God. And if thou canst not know thyself, presume not to know the things that are above thyself. You cannot see the face which it representeth, if you will not look upon the glass which representeth it. God is not visible, but appeareth to us in his creatures; and especially in ourselves. And if we know not ourselves, we cannot know God in ourselves. 'Præcipuum et principale est speculum ad videndum Deum