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fault is within them. If they want peace, content, or rest, they lay the blame on this place or that, this or that person or estate; they think if they had their mind in this or that, they should he well: and therefore they are still contriving for somewhat which they want, and studying changes, or longing after this or that, which they imagine would work the cure: when, alas, poor souls, the sin, the sickness, the want is in themselves! It is a wiser mind, a better, more holy, heavenly will, that is wanting to them; without which nothing in the world will solidly content and comfort them. Did you know yourselves in all your griefs, it is there that you would suspect and find your malady, and there that you would most solicitously seek the cure.
By this time, if you are willing, you may see where lieth the disease and misery of the world, and also what must be the cure. Man hath lost himself, by seeking himself; he hath lost himself in the loss of God: he departed from God, that he might enjoy himself; and so is estranged from God and himself. He left the sun, and retired into darkness, that he might behold himself, and not the light: and now beholdeth neither himself nor the light; for he cannot behold himself but by the light. As if the body should forsake the soul, and say, I will no longer serve another, but will be my own. What would such a selfish separation procure, but the converting of a body into a loathsome carcass, and a senseless clod? Thus hath the soul dejected itself, by turning to itself, and separating from God; without whom it hath neither life, nor light, nor joy. By desiring a selfish kind of knowledge of good and evil, withdrawing from its just dependence upon God, it hath involved itself in care and misery, and lost the quieting, delighting knowledge which it had in God. And now poor man is lost in error: he is straggled so far from home, that he knoweth not where he is, nor which way to return, till Christ in mercy seek and save him.
Yet could we but get men to know that they do not know themselves, there were the greater hope of their recovery. But this is contrary to the nature of their distemper. An eye that is blinded by a suffusion or cataract, seeth not the thing that blindeth it: it is the same light that must show them themselves, and their ignorance of themselves. Their selfignorance is part of the evil which they have to know. Those troubled souls that complain that they know not themselves, do show that they begin at least to know themselves. But a Pharisee will say, "Are we blind also?" They are too blind to know that they are blind. The Gospel shall be rejected, the apostres persecuted, Christ himself abused and put to death, the nation ruined, themselves and their posterity undone, by the blindness of these hypocrites, before they will perceive that they are blind, and that they know not God or themselves. Alas! the long calamities of the church, the distempers and confusions in the state, the lamentable divisions and dissensions among believers, have told the world, how little most men know themselves; and yet they themselves will not perceive it. They tell it aloud to all about them, by their selfconceitedness and cruelty, uncharitable censures, reproaches, and impositions, that they know not themselves, and yet you cannot make them know it. Their afflicted brethren feel it to their smart; the suffering, grieved churches feel it; thousands groan under it, that never wronged them; and yet you cannot make them feel it.
Did they well know themselves to be men, so many would not use themselves like beasts, and care so little for their most noble part. Did they know themselves aright to be but men, so many would not set up themselves as gods; they would not arrogate a divine authority in the matters of God, and the consciences of others, as the Roman prelates do: nor would they desire so much that the observation, reverence, admiration, love, and applause, of all that should be turned upon them; nor be so impatient when they seem to be neglected; nor make so great a matter of their wrongs, as if it were some deity that were injured.
O what a change it would make in the world, if men were brought to the knowledge of themselves! How many would weep, that now laugh, and live in mirth and pleasure! How many would lament their sin and misery, that now are pharisaically confident of their integrity! How many would seek to faithful ministers for advice, and inquire what they should do to be saved, that now deride them, and scorn their counsel, and cannot bear their plain reproof, or come not near them! How many would ask directions for the cure of their unbelief, and pride, and sensuality, that now take little notice of any such sins within them! How many would cry day and night for mercy, and beg importunately for the life of their immortal souls, that now take up
with a few words of course, instead of serious, fervent prayer! Do but once know yourselves aright, know what you are, and what you have done, what you want, and what is your danger; and then be prayerless and careless if you can; then sit still and trifle out your time, and make a jest of holy diligence, and put God off with lifeless words and compliments if you can. Men could not think so lightly and contemptuously of Christ, so unworthily and falsely of a holy life, so delightfully of sin, so carelessly of duty, so fearlessly of hell, so senselessly and atheistically of God, and so disregardfully of heaven as they now do, if they did but thoroughly know themselves.
And now, sirs, methinks your consciences should begin to stir, and your thoughts should be turned inwards upon yourselves, and you should seriously consider what measure of acquaintance you have at home, and what you have done to procure and maintain such acquaintance. Hath conscience no use to make of this doctrine, and of all that hath been said upon it? Doth it not reprove you for your self-neglect, and your wanderings of mind, and your alien, unnecessary fruitless cogitations? Had you been but as strange to your familiar friend, and as regardless of his acquaintance, correspondence, and affairs, as too many of you have been of your own, you may imagine how he would have taken it, and what use he would have made of it: some such use it beseemeth you to make of estrangedness to yourselves. Would not he ask, " What is the matter that my friend so seldom looketh at me; and no more mindeth me or my affairs? What have I done to him? How have I deserved this? What more beloved company or employment hath he got?" You have this and much more to plead against your great neglect and ignorance of yourselves.
In order to your conviction and reformation, I shall first show you some of those reasons, that should move you to know yourselves, and consequently should humble you for neglecting it: and then I shall show you what are the hinderances that keep men from self-acquaintance, and give you some directions necessary to attain it.
In general consider, it is by the light of knowledge that all the affairs of your souls must be directed: and therefore, while you know not yourselves, you are in the dark, and unfit to manage your own affairs. Your principal error about yourselves will influence all the transactions of your lives; you will neglect the greatest duties, and abuse and corrupt those which you think you do perform. While you know not yourselves, you know not what you do, nor what you have to do, and therefore can do nothing well. For instance,
1. When you should repent of sin, you know it not as in yourselves, and therefore cannot savingly repent of it. If you know in general that you are sinners, or know your gross and crying sins, which