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to catch at praise ; or, however, to drive on our own designs and interests thereby.
It is an argument of self-love, proceeding from a fulness of thought concerning one's self, and a fond affection to one's own things; ( Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh;' assuredly we think much of that, and we like it greatly, concerning which we are prompt to discourse : the imaginations and affections discharge themselves at the mouth.)
This is a foolish and hurtful practice. For,
1. It is vain, and hath no effect. We thereby seek to recommend ourselves to the opinion of men; but we fail therein ; for our words gain no belief. For no man is looked on as a good judge or a faithful witness in his own case ; a good judge and a faithful witness must be indifferent and disinterested; but every man is esteemed to be favorable, to be partial in his opinion concerning himself; to be apt to strain a point of truth and right in passing testimony or sentence on himself: he therefore that speaketh of himself is not believed, his words have no good effect on the hearers : it is true what the wise man observeth ; • Most men will proclaim every one his own goodness, but a faithful man who can find ?' (but it is hard to find one who, in making report or passing judgment concerning himself, will be faithful and just.) Καυχάσθαι ου συμφέρει μοι.
2. Yea it usually hath a contrary effect, and destroyeth that which it aimeth at. Self-commendation is so far from procuring a good opinion, that it breedeth an evil one.
Men have a prejudice against what is said, as proceeding from a suspected witness; one who is biassed by self-love and bribed by self-interest to impose on them. Not he that commendeth himself is approved.'
It is fastidious, as impertinent, insignificant, and insipid ; spending time, and beating their ears to no purpose; they take it for an injury to suppose them so weak as to be moved by such words, or forced into a good conceit.
It is odious and invidious; for all men do love themselves, no less than we ourselves; and cannot endure to see those who affect to advance themselves and reign in our opinion.
It prompteth them to speak evil of us; to search for faults to cool and check us.
It is therefore a preposterous and vain way to think of gaining credit and love : men thereby infallibly lose or depress themselves.
Of all words those which express ourselves and our things, • I' and 'mine,' &c. are the least pleasing to men's ears.
It spoileth conversation ; for he that loveth to speak of himself doth least love to hear others speak of themselves, and so is not attentive.
If a man have worthy qualities and do good deeds, let them speak for him; they will of themselves extort commendation; his silence about them, his seeming to neglect them, will enhance their worth in the opinion of men. Prating about them, obtruding them on men, will mar their credit; inducing men to think them done not out of love to virtue, but for a vainglorious design. Thus did Cicero, thus have many others blasted the glory of their virtuous deeds.
3. Supposing you get the belief and the praise you aim at, to have complacence therein is bad or dangerous; it is a fond satisfaction, it is a vicious pleasure ; it puffeth up, it befooleth.
4. It is against modesty. It argueth the man hath a high opinion of himself: if he believe himself what he saith, he hath so; if not, why would he persuade others to have it ?
Modesty cannot without pain hear others speak of him, nor can with any grace receive commendations; it is therefore great impudence to speak of himself, and to seek praise.
5. We may observe it to be a great temptation to speak falsely. Men, when they affect commendation, will gladly have it to the utmost; are loath to wrong themselves, or to lose any thing; they will therefore at least speak to the extreme bounds of what may be said in their own behalf; and while they run on the extreme borders of truth, it is hard to stop their career, so as not to launch forth into falsehood : it is bard to stand on the brink, without falling into the ditch.
It is therefore advisable in our discourse to leave ourselves out as much as may be; never, if we can help it, to say, 'I,' : mine,' &c. never seeking, commonly shunning and declining occasion to speak of ourselves : it will bring much convenience and benefit to us.
Our discourse will not be offensive; we shall decline envy
and obloquy; we shall avoid being talked of; we shall escape temptations of vanity; we shall better attend to what others
If we will be speaking of ourselves, it is allowable to speak sincerely and unaffectedly concerning our intirmities and faults; as St. Paul does of himself.
There are some cases wherein a man may commend himself ; as in his own defence, to maintain his authority, to urge his example, &c. so doth St. Paul often. He calleth it folly to boast, (because generally such it is,) yet he doth it for those ends.
• Let another praise thee, and not thine own mouth ; a stranger, and not thine own lips.'
THINKING OF OURSELVES. Thinking of ourselves with glee and pleasure; this is a great nourisher of immoderate self-love; for the more they indulge to a gazing on themselves with delight, the more they grow in love, the more passionately they coine to dote on themselves.
It is good to reflect inward, and to view our souls; but we should do it so as to find a wholesome displeasure and regret in beholding ourselves so foul and impure, so weak and defectuous, so ugly and deformed: if we do thus, we shall not overlove ourselves.
Some general Remedies of Self-Love. 1. To reflect on ourselves seriously and impartially, considering our natural nothingness, meanness, baseness, imperfection, infirmity, unworthiness; the meanness and imperfection of our nature, the defects and deformities of our souls, the failings and misdemeanors of our lives. He that doeth this cannot surely find himself lovely, and must therefore take it for very absurd to dote on himself. He will rather be induced to dislike, despise, abhor, and loathe himself.
2. To consider the loveliness of other beings superior to us ; comparing them with ourselves, and observing how very far in excellency, worth, and beauty they transcend us : which if we do, we must appear no fit objects of love, we must be checked in our dotage, and diverted from this fond affection to ourselves.
It cannot but dazzle our eyes and dull our affections to ourselves.
If we view the qualities and examples of other men, who in worth, in wisdom, in virtue, and piety, do far excel us; their noble endowments, their heroical achievements; what they have done and suffered in obedience to God, (their strict temperance and austerity, their laborious industry, their self-denial, their patience, &c.) how can we but in comparison despise and loathe ourselves?
If we consider the blessed angels and saints in glory and bliss; their purity, their humility, their obedience; how can we think of ourselves without contempt and abhorrence ?
Especially if we contemplate the perfection, the purity, the majesty of God; how must this infinitely debase us in our opinion concerning ourselves, and consequently diminish our fond affection toward things so vile and unworthy ?
3. To study the acquisition and improvement of charity toward God and our neighbor. This will employ and transfer your affections; these drawing our souls outward, and settling
them on other objects, will abolish or abate the perverse love toward ourselves.
4. To consider that we do owe all we are and have to the 119 free bounty and grace of God: hence we shall see that nothing
of esteem or affection is due to ourselves; but all to him, who is the fountain and author of all our good.
5. To direct our minds wholly toward those things which rational self-love requireth us to regard and seek: to concern ourselves in getting virtue, in performing our duty, in promoting our salvation, and arriving to happiness; this will divert us from vanity: a sober self-love will stifle the other fond selflove.
END OF VOL. III.
PRINTED BY A. J. VALPY, RED LION COURT, FLLET STRELT.