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SELF-EXAMINATION
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[ Also see Confession Conscience Investigation Meditation Reflection Self-knowledge ]

Because authority, though it err like others,
  Hath yet a kind of medicine in itself
    That skins the vice o' th' top; go to your bosom,
      Knock there, and ask your heart what it doth know
        That's like my brother's fault; if it confess
          A natural guiltiness such as is his,
            Let it not sound a thought upon your tongue
              Against my brother's life.
      - William Shakespeare, Measure for Measure
         (Isabella at II, ii)

Observe thyself as thy greatest enemy would do; so shalt thou be thy greatest friend.
      - Jeremy Taylor

Love took up the harp of Life, and smote on all the chords with might;
  Smote the chord of Self, that, trembling, pass'd in music out of sight.
      - Lord Alfred Tennyson, Locksley Hall
         (l. 33)

Explore thyself. Herein are demanded the eye and the nerve.
      - Henry David Thoreau

Of all literary exercitations, whether designed for the use or entertainment of the world, there are none of so much importance, or so immediately our concern, as those which let us into the knowledge of our own nature. Others may exercise the understanding or amuse the imagination; but these only can improve the heart and form the human mind to wisdom.
      - Bishop William Warburton

Let not soft slumber close your eyes,
  Before you've collected thrice
    The train of action through the day!
      Where have my feet chose out their way?
        What have I learnt, where'er I've been,
          From all I've heard, from all I've seen?
            What have I more that's worth the knowing?
              What have I done that's worth the doing?
                What have I sought that I should shun?
                  What duty have I left undone,
                    Or into what new follies run?
                      These self-inquiries are the road
                        That lead to virtue and to God.
      - Isaac Watts, Self Examination

Though not always called upon to condemn ourselves, it is always safe to suspect ourselves.
      - Archbishop Richard Whately

There is a luxury in self-dispraise;
  And inward self-disparagement affords
    To meditative spleen a grateful feast.
      - William Wordsworth, The Excursion (bk. IV)

It is greatly wise to talk with our past hours, and ask them what report they bore to heaven, and how they might have borne more welcome news.
      - Edward Young

'Tis greatly wise to talk with our past hours;
  And ask them what report they bore to heaven:
    And how they might have borne more welcome news.
      - Edward Young, Night Thoughts
         (night II, l. 376)

Selfishness is the only real atheism; aspiration, unselfishness, the only real religion.
      - Israel Zangwill, Children of the Ghetto
         (bk. II, ch. 16)

You should examine yourself daily. If you find faults, you should correct them. When you find none, you should try even harder.
      - Xi Zhi

Never lose sight of this important truth, that no one can be truly great until he has gained a knowledge of himself, a knowledge which can only be acquired by occasional retirement.
      - Johann Georg von Zimmermann


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