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animus rationalis intuens seipsum (inq. Hug.)' The principal glass for the beholding of God, is the reasonable soul beholding itself.
And you will make but an unhappy progress in your study of the works of God, if you begin not with yourselves. You can know but little of the works of nature, till you know your own nature and you can know as little of the works of grace, till self-acquaintance help you to know the nature and danger of those diseases that grace must cure. The unhappy error of presumptuous students, about their own hearts, misleadeth and perverteth them in the whole course of their studies; that by all, they do but profit in misapplied notions and self-deceit. It is a lamentable sight to see a man turning over fathers and councils, and diligently studying words and notions, that is himself in the gall of bitterness and bond of iniquity, and never knew it, nor studieth the cure. And it is a pitiful thing to see such in a pulpit, teaching the people to know the mysteries of salvation, that know not, nor ever laboured to know what sins are predominant in their own hearts and lives; or, whether they stand before God in a justified or a condemned state! To hear a poor, unsanctified man, as boldly treating of the mysteries of sanctification, as if he had felt them in himself: and a man that is condemned already, and stayeth but awhile till the stroke of death, for final execution, to treat as calmly of judgment and damnation, as if he were out of danger; and exhorting others to escape the misery which he is in himself, and never dreameth of it! This shewetli how sad a thing it is for men to be ignorant of themselves. To see men run out into damnable and dangerous errors on each hand, some into the proud self-conceitedness of the fanatics, enthusiasts and libertines, and some into contempt and scorn of holiness, and every one confident even to rage in his own distractions; this doth but shew us, whither men will go, that are unacquainted with themselves.
This also maketh us so troubled with our auditors, that when they would learn the truth that should convert and save them, are carping and quarrelling with us, and hear us as the Pharisees and Herodians heard Christ, to catch him in his words. (Mark xii. 13.) As if a dying man in a consumption, imagining that he is well, should go to the physician to make a jest of him, or seek to ruin him for telling
him that he is sick. And how frowardly do they reject the wisest counsel, and cast the medicine with unthankful indignation into the face of the physician! And they musttell us themselves what medicine must be given them, what doctrine, and what administrations they must have. But self-acquaintance would teach them to understand that of Augustine, ‘Novit medicus quid salutiferum, quidve contrarium petat ægrotus. Egroti estis, nolite ergo dictare quæ vobis medicamnia velit opponere.'
Yea, they that will not be directed or healed by us, will blame us if others be not healed, and hit the minister in the teeth with the errors and faults of his unteachable hearers. Though we do our best in season and out of season, and they cannot tell us what we have neglected on our part, that was like to do the cure (though I confess we are too often negligent) and though we succeed to the conversion of many others, yet must we be reproached with the disobedience of the impenitent! As if it were not grief enough to us, to have our labours frustrated, and see them obstinate in their sin and misery, but we must also be blamed or derided. for our calamity!
Fecerit et postquam quicquid jubet ipsa medendi
Et loquitur de te convitia, talia jactans,
Heu mihi, quam stultum est medicorum credere nugis!
As if they knew not the power of the disease; and what a wonder of mercy it is that any and so many are recovered.
Non est in medico semper relevetur ut æger;
None would die if physicians could cure all and none would perish if ministers could save all. Rhetor non semper persuadebit, nec medicus semper sanabat,' saith the philosopher. They cast away the medicine, and then blame the physician. 'Crudelem vel infælicem medicum intemperans æger facit.' An intemperate, unruly patient maketh the physician seem cruel and unsuccessful.
12. Lastly, consider but how many great and necessary things concerning yourselves you have to know, and it will shew you how needful it is to make this the first of your studies. To know what you are as men; with what facul
ties you are endowed, and to what use; for what end you live; in what relation you stand to God and to your fellowcreatures; what duties you owe; what sin is in your hearts; and what hath been by commission and omission in your lives; what humiliation, contrition, and repentance you have for that sin; whether you have truly entertained an offered Christ; and are renewed and sanctified by his Spirit; and unreservedly devoted to God, and resolved to be entirely his whether you love him above all, and your neighbours as yourselves: whether you are justified and have forgiveness of all your sins: whether you can bear afflictions from the hand, or for the sake of Christ, even to the forsaking of all the world, for the hopes of the heavenly, everlasting treasure: how you perform the daily works of your relations and callings: whether you are ready to die, and are safe from the danger of damnation. O did you but know how it concerneth you to get all these questions well resolved, you would find more matter for your studies in yourselves, than in many volumes. You would then per
ceive that the matters of your own hearts and lives, are not so lightly and carelessly to be passed over, as they ordinarily be by drowsy sinners: To consider but 'quid, quis, qualis sis; quid in natura, quis in persona, qualis in vita (ut Bern.)' would find you no small labour. And it would redound (saith another) in utilitatem sui, charitatem proximi, contemptum mundi, amorem Dei:' To our own profit, charity to our neighbour, the contempt of the world, and the love of God.
If you have but many and weighty businesses to think on in the world, you are so taken up with care, that you cannot turn away your thoughts. And yet do you find no work at home, where you have such a world of things to think on, and such as of all the matters in the world, do most nearly concern you?
Having shewed you so much reason for this duty, let me now take leave to invite you all, to the serious study of yourselves. It is a duty past all controversy, agreed on by heathens as well as Christians, and urged by them in the general, though many of the particulars to be known are beyond their light: It brutifieth man to be ignorant of himself. "Man that is in honour and understandeth not (him
self especially) is as the beasts that perish." (Psal. xlix. 20.) Saith Boetius, 'Humana natura infra bestias redigitur, si se nosse desierit: Nam cæteris animantibus sese ignorare natura est; hominibus vitio venit.' It is worse than beastly to be ignorant of ourselves, it being a vice in us, which is nature in them.
Come home you wandering, self-neglecting souls; lose not yourselves in a wilderness or tumult of impertinent, vain, distracting things; your work is nearer you; the country that you should first survey and travel, is within you; from which you must pass to that above you: when by losing yourselves in this without you, you will find yourselves before you are aware, in that below you. And then (as Gregory speaks) he that was 'stultus in culpa,' a fool in sinning, will be 'sapiens in pœna,' wise in suffering! You shall then have time enough to review your lives, and such constraining help to know yourselves, as you cannot resist. O that you would know but a little of that now, that then you must else know in that overwhelming evidence which will everlastingly confound you! And that you would now think of that for a timely cure, which else must be thought of endlessly in despair. Come home then, and see what work is there. Let the eyes of fools be in the corners of the earth! Leave it to men besides themselves, to live as without themselves, and to be still from home, and waste that time in other business, that was given them to prepare for life eternal. Laudabilior est animus, cui nota est infirmitas propria, quam qui ea non perspecta, mania mundi, vias syderum, fundamenta terrarum, et fastigia cœlorum scrutatur, (inquit August.)' The soul is more laudable that knows its own infirmity, than he that without discerning this doth search after the compass of the world, the courses of the stars, the foundations of the earth, and the heights of the heavens. Dost thou delight in the mysteries of nature? Consider well the mysteries of thy own. Mirantur aliqui altitudines montium, ingentes fluctus maris, altissimos lapsus fluminum, et oceani ambitum, et gyros syderum, et relinquunt seipsos, nec mirantur,' saith Augustine. Some men admire the heights of mountains, the huge waves of the sea, the great falls of the rivers, the compass of the ocean, and the circuit of the stars, and they pass by them themselves without admiration. The compendium of all
that thou studiest without thee, is near thee, even within thee, thyself being the epitome of the world. If either necessity or duty, nature or grace, reason or faith, internal inducements, external repulses, or eternal attractives and motives, might determine of the subject of your studies and contemplations, you would call home your lost, distracted thoughts, and employ them more on yourselves and God.
But before I urge this duty further, I must prevent the misapplication of some troubled souls. I must confess it is a grievous thing for a guilty soul to judge itself, and see its own deformity and danger: and I observe many troubled, humbled souls, especially where melancholy much prevails, are exceeding prone to abuse this duty, by excess and misdoing it. Though wandering minds must be called home, we must not run into the other extreme, and shut up ourselves, and wholly dwell on the motions of our own distempered hearts. Though straggling thoughts must be turned inward, and our hearts must be watched, and not neglected, yet must we not be always poring on ourselves, and neglect the rest of our intellectual converse. To look too long on the running of a stream, will make our eyes misjudge of what we after look on, as if all things had the same kind of motion. To look too long on the turning of a wheel, will make us vertiginous, as if all turned round. And to pore too long on the disordered motions, the confused thoughts, the wants, the passions of our diseased minds, will but molest us, and cast us into greater disquiet and confusion. The words of Anselme notably express the straits that Christians are here put to, O nimis gravis Angustia, si me inspicio, non tolero meipsum: si non inspicio, nescio meipsum: si me considero, terret me facies mea: si me non considero, fallit me damnatio mea; si me video, horror est intolerabilis: si non video, mors est inevitabilis.' O grievous strait! If I look into myself, I cannot endure myself: if I look not into myself, I cannot know myself. If I consider myself, my own face affrighteth me: if I consider not myself, my damnation deceiveth me: if I see myself the horror is intolerable: if I see not myself, death is unavoidable.
In this strait we must be careful to avoid both extremes; and neither neglect the study of ourselves, nor yet exceed in poring on ourselves. To be carelessly ignorant of ourselves, is to undo ourselves for ever: To be too much