« НазадПродовжити »
“His own iniquities shall take the wicked himself, and he shall be holden with the cords of his sios.
Prov. v. 22.
Man is a being, whose nature, ante- nection with this body of sin and death cedent to every kind of habit, is evil - ceases, evil desires and propensities, evil radical and innate: he is, as it and every evil tendency, shall become were, engendered in an evil element; extinct. The soul shall become assimiand, to use the emphatic language of lated to the ineffable source of all good, inspiration, he is born in sin, and with goodness itself, perfect, and comshapen in iniquity:" he comes into an plete, even with the blessed God; a beevil world-imbibes evil habits: and by ing whose nature is antipathy itself to actual and increased transgression, be- all evil, and, who shall be all and comes more fully confirmed in the dif. in all. ferent kinds of evil, and is thus enabled The supremacy of habit over the fato contribute his aid to the extension culties of the mind, is a subject which and interests of the kingdom of dark- demands our very serious consideration, ness. The different faculties or powers, since its operation, as furnishing the of both body and mind, are subservient most powerful excitements or motives to the same principle of evil, in all their to the will, is most sure and certain; different and multifarious operations; and its influence, when formed and mahowever disguised they may sometimes tured in the mind, carries with it such be, and whatever appearances certain an irresistible sway, that all opposition actions may assume, they invariably is fruitless and unavailing, completely possess this quality, and are only so subduing to its controul, all the intelmany different modifications of evil. lectual and moral faculties with which
The proposition that man is the crea- | habit becomes identified, and is associture of hábit, is true, if we considerated and interwoven with the general him, either in his natural or unregene- disposition of the mind. rate state; or as the subject of divine Habit must not be confounded with influence. In the former case, his ha- the original principles of our nature; bits are evil, and only evil; in the lat- but results from the exercise of two very Ter, there is a mixture of good and evil. important ones; viz. attention and me. The latter state is a state of conflict, mory, in one certain line or direction, o which, however, the influence of di- by their continued tendency to which, vine grace shall últimately prevail in and by the facility of thought, and volithe total eradication of every evil habit, tion, arising therefrom, habit is graduand shall root out the very existence of ally acqaired and matured. The opis ll from the soul; when its present con- nion of Dr. Reid, as far as I am ac
quainted with the operations of my own , erful and extensive domination. We mind, does not appear to be correct, should be careful to distinguish between when he says
habit and feeling. “Habit differs from instinct, not in If we consider our habits and feelings, its nature, but in its origin. The last whether of a mental or moral kind, we being natural, the first acquired. Both find, that while the former are strengthoperate without will or intention-with-ened and increased by exercise and reout thought, and therefore may be petition, the power of feeling is consicalled mechanical principles.”
derably diminished. Those affections Can we suppose, that a man, who is or feelings of mind, which were at first the subject of a confirmed habit-say of called forth, and strongly excited, bedrunkenness—'when he lifts the intoxi- come, by repetition, at length into a cating cup to his mouth, does it without state of apathy. will or intention ? And in the case of With what strong and painful emomerely mental habits, such, for instance, tions of pity and sympathetic feeling, as arithmetical calculations, the rapi- does a person, for the first time, behold dity with which the mind comes to a a butcher plunge his knife into the neck conclusion, on certain operose ques. of an innocent lamb; and while the tions, is no proof that it is done without operator himself inflicts the deadly the concurrence of the will; for as in wound with as much indifference, as the case of casting up a long column of though he were driving a nail into a figures, we are at first conscious of every block of wood, the beholder is wrought step, and of a separate act of volition up to the highest pitch of feeling and accompanying it: But as habit quickens compassion. But let this same person our volitions, it gives such a degree of become familiarized to the operation, activity to their motion, that the mind and he will soon find that habit will becomes unconscious of each and every enable him to take the place of the act as it proceeds. Since, then, our vo- operator; for feeling will gradually give litions appear to keep pace with habit, place to habit, and as our sensibilities it points out the dependance of the for | grow less and less ardent and vivid, our mer upon the latter; for without habit, habits grow stronger and stronger. This we should be immediately conscious of difference may be further illustrated by every separate voluntary act.
| its effects oftentimes in reading. When The definition of habit given by Mr. we are engaged in the perusal of a paLocke, is blended with its dependance thetic narrative, containing a strong upon the corporeal system, from which appeal to our feelings, what a lively, he seems to think it wholly arises. His and sometimes almost overpowering words are
impression does it make upon our « Habits seem to be but trains of mo-mind. After a short interval, let us tion in the animal spirits, which, once read the same narrative again, and alset a going, continue on the same steps though the same impression recurs, yet they had been used to, and which, by it is felt in a much less forcible manner; often treading, are worn into a smooth and as our acquaintance with the cir
cumstances of the case increases, our There appears to be more of matter, feelings grow less and less, till at last, than mind, in the above account. That that participating interest with which mental habits depend much upon the we at first began to read, has become body, no doubt can be entertained, as almost extinct; and thus, as one admemory is found to be so also; but in vanced the other receded. what way, or how, are to us inexplica. The effect of habit may also be noble. It were mere useless speculation ticed in obliterating feelings of sorrow, and hypothetical physiology, to dwell and even of deep and pungent grief; upon its connection with the brain and only this we may observe, that the animal spirits, of which we know little more deeply the feeling has occupied or nothing. Let us rather attend to the mind, the longer time does babit facts, the phenomena of which we feel require to erase and root it out. conscious. Let us rather be concerned The gradual diminution of sorrow is to know, how we can best defeat and beautifully illustrated in the case of arrest its progress in our minds, ere Nekayah, in Dr. Johnson's Rasselas, it has brought us beneath its Tron rod, vide chap. 36. and completely subjected us to its pow. We often notice too, that strong pro
fessions of friendship, made in a mo-mixed, we mean, and wholly indepenment of violent impulse and fervour of dent of divine and gracious influence, feeling, have often been evanescent and they ultimately become the slaves of temporary.
habit, and subject to the uncontrolable The importance of this distinction power of its laws. So important are will appear in a still stronger light, if such impressions as these, considered considered in a moral point of view. in themselves, that a man may go on It may be considered as a principle, till he becomes at last completely serthat the moral feeling or conscience mon-proof; proof against warnings, decreases, as habits of sin increase. invitations, promises, threatenings, View the man who has sat beneath the 'prayers, &c. all are heard with indiffersound of a preached gospel for a series ence and neglect. Though in thus of years. He has heard, over and over | gradually losing the feeling, he acquires again, the glad tidings it contains to a habit of hearing sermons, and of talkperishing sinners. He has often heard ing upon religious topics; and no doubt of the blessings which it conveys to the thousands have made their path to hell truly pepitent, and the awful doom it through the house of God. pronounces upon the impenitent and The religion of carnal men, generally unbelieving. He has listened, and per- speaking, is a religion of habit. How haps full of life and feeling, while the many are there, who call themselves servant of the most High proclaimed the Christians, and who would feel much awful thunders of Sinai, or set forth the chagrined were we to question the gesweet invitations of Calvary, and the nuineness of their claim to the name; melting love of the Redeemer's heart. yet whose conduct plainly shows, that The eager attention which marked the they have nothing but the form ; noappearance of the man, indicated how thing but a mere habit of performing deeply interested he seemed to be in certain duties. Religion, with them, what was said. But let the sermon be forms, amongst their other avocations, closed, let the hymn be sung, the prayer a necessary part of the economy of life; ended, and the benediction given, and and the only reason why a great many then view him as he retires from the persons attend upon public worship rehouse of God. No sooner has he passed gularly, and are very punctilious and the threshold, than the feryour before decorous in their observance of the Sabmanifested abates, and the feeling be- bath, in reading certain portions of gins to subside. The exciting cause is Scripture, is inerely because they have Withdrawn from view, and perhaps ere been accustomed to do so; and they he reaches his own door, the feeling has feel uneasy if they should happen to left him : his old habits lay hold upon neglect any part of this routine, of form him again, or rather remind him, that or duty. But here they stop. Habit notwithstanding the temporary suspen acts with such persons as a quietus to sion of their operation, they have not conscience, and supplies the place of a lost their hold, and every effort of this true regard to God to his word, and a kind, to free hiinself, only proves their true spirit of devotion. Should a perstrength thus increased by every at- son of such a cast, through any casual tempt. The influence of these tempo- occurrence, be prevented from occupy. Tary emotions, or resolutions, when ing his accustomed seat in church or brought to bear against habit, fixed and chapel, he would perhaps betray evident permanent, only serves, just like a sun- marks of uneasiness, and even of anxgleam darting its rays through the iety, although when there he can, menIron grating, in some prison wall, tó re- tally at least, effect a sale, or make a veal to the miserable inhabitant within, purchase, with as much composure and the strength of his dungeon, and the indifference as when standing behind hopeless horrors of his condition. his own shop counter. Family worship
It is often the case, that persons who too, is conducted much in the same spiare accustomed to sit beneath the sound rit. You may see him much displeased
divine truth, have been the subjects if interrupted or disturbed in reading
very extraordinary, powerful, and the accustomed number of chapters or eep impressions; and which have verses from the sacred volume upon lasted a considerable time; yet, in all Sunday evening; but as soon as that is cases wher the mind has been thus finished, he shuts up the Bible in a sort Toused, and habit has been shaken, line of triumph at having removed such a
- heavy burden out of the way, and thus, portance and truth of which, he has by the drudgery of such good works, I been taught from his earliest infancy. facilitated his way towards heaven. Seconded as they came, by every thing
A very iinportant source of habit he saw and heard, by every association, arises from early impressions, for upon and every thought; the nursery—the these, future habits very often depend. play-ground-the school-friends and The advice of the wisest of men,“ To parents--all contributed to fasten and train up a child in the way it should fix his attention, and exercise his power, go," becomes a most imperative duty, according as they would have his habits and demands our peculiar attention and formed and matured. Such an influregard. The moral culture of the youth-ence as this presents, bearing upon the ful mind must appear to every good mind, is a formidable barrier against man as a most iniportant task ; since all opposition. It forms a sort of Moral the kind of habits by which men are Phalanx, imperious and impregnable. governed, in after life, very much de- It effectually prevents that emancipapend upon the directions which the fa- tion of mind, which is absolutely necesculties of attention and memory may sary to the existence of a liberal spirit take in this early stage; and the pro- of inquiry and rational investigation. mise annexed to the above duty, a pro- Hence the firm and rigid adherence of misé often realized, should encourage many persons to the religion of their parents and guardians, and all who have fathers. The mind has been accustomthe superintendence of the youthful ed to view this important subject through mind, in their efforts, to give a right certain established media. The same direction and bias to the gradually un. views and notions, and the same class folding powers.
of ideas that led the father, lead the Delightful task this, and though son, whose mind, thus strongly bound, sometimes painful feelings occupy the and deeply imbued with the same prinmind from present untoward appear-ciples and feelings, is too firmly rivetted ances, yet what has not perseverance to listen, much less to yield, to argudone; and have we not every reason to ments in favour of contrary sentiments, expect, in the steady discharge of our although amounting to demonstration. duty, the co-operating influence of God, This is the effect of confirmed habit. to second and succeed our efforts, so as Reason durst not venture with her queto produce permanent habits of true ries upon ground so sacred and holy, piety and devotion. Habits derived nor examine into the truth or legitimacy from early impressions, acquire such a of principles such as these, too sacred deep-rooted hold of the mind, and are even to be called into question. Taught so interwoven with all the powers of by those whom they have ever consithought, and reason, and affection, that dered as incapable of deception—whose they will yield to nothing short of om- interests were theirs-whose daily exnipotence. Habits acquired in this way ample seconded the precepts which daily gain strength, gradually stealing they taught—whose exhortations were over the faculties, bringing over one constant and incessant; and whose after another as it advances, till it has dying lips, perhaps, sealed their sincesecured all the powers of the soul, and rity, and produced conviction too strong chained them down in one certain di- ever to be effaced ;what a powerful rection, with fetters stronger than iron. | effect must all these things have, and The mind of man naturally loves those how inveterate must the habits of such things best, and cherishes those feel men be. What a deplorable scene does ings and principles most,- with which such a character present us with, whose it has been longest and most familiarly habits have all been formed in this way acquainted. They become incorporated on the side of error, gross, delusive er with its very nature and constitution; ror; and yet, lamentable as the fact and the mind clings to them with the may be, and painful as it must be, to fondest affection, and holds them with every truly Christian mind, habits such the most tenacious grasp; and any op- as these form the moral character of the position only tends to strengthen and great bulk of mankind. Hence the reincrease their adherence. The mind of ligion of Pagans, Mahometans, Roman such a person is shocked, and recoils at Catholics, and Jews is a religion of haany, even the least, innovation upon bit, and the tenacity of habit gives birth certain principles and actions, the in- to prejudice, prejudice to bigotry, and