Page images
PDF
EPUB

vine approbation, and a foretaste of his future favour and reward.

[blocks in formation]

HAVING thus hown the rank and

AVING thus shown the rank and

value of all our passions and affections, or the regard that is due to each in the conduct of our lives. I shall give fome practical directions, how to suppress what is irregular and vicious, and promote what is right and virtuous in us.

1. If any of our inferior passions have gained the ascendency in us, so that a . propensity to any species of indulgence is become excessive, and, in consequence of it, bad habits have been formed, it is

certainly

1

certainly a man's wisdom, as soon as he begins to suspect that he is in a wrong course, to weigh in his own mind such considerations as have been mentioned above, respecting the nature and tendency of our passions; that he may thoroughly convince himself how foolish a part he has chosen for himself, how injurious his conduct is to others, how displeasing to his maker, and how much it is the cause of shame and remorse to himself. It is generally through want of timely reflektion, that men abandon themselves to irregular indulgences, and contract bad habits so that if they would give themselves time to think, and consider deliberately of the nature and consequences of their conduct, they would chuse a wise and virtuous course. For no man is so infatuated as, that, when no particular temptation is present, when he is perfectly master of himself, and cannot but see what is for his true interest, purposely and knowingly to lay afide all regard to it. All mankind wish to be happy, and no man can

voluntarily

voluntarily chuse to be miserable. Were any -man, therefore, truly sensible, that there is no kind of vice to which he does not sacrifice either the health of his body, his reputation with the thinking part of mankind, or even his worldly interest, sometimes all these together, and always the peace and tranquillity of his mind, who would chuse to persist in it; admitting that a regard to the good of others, and to the known will of God should have no weight among them; though there are few perfons, I believe, who are not more or less influenced even by these generous and disinterested considerations.

2. Particular care should be taken on our entrance into the world, that we contract no bad habits ; for such is the nature of habits, that when once a man has been accustomed to any thing, it may give him the greatest pain to break himself of it, even though he have no pleasure, yea though he be really unhappy in continuing in it. Youth is, on every account, that

time of life which requires our greatest attention, for then only is the mind sufceptible of new impressions, so as to be capable of changing for the better. When once a man's connections and mode of life have been settled, which is generally before, or soon after he is arrived at thirty years of age, the bent of his mind is compleatly formed, and it is a thousand to one but that after this there will be no material change in his disposition or conduct to the end of his life. If his mind be vitiated then, there is little hope of a change, without a total revolution in his connections and affairs; or unless his mind be roused by some uncommon calamity. In this case, entering, as it were, upon life again, with wisdom bought by experience, his old connections being broken, and new ones to be formed, he may chuse a wiser course, and in time may make it familiar and pleasing to him. But still there is great danger of his relapsing into his former habits, the first

opportunity

A new

A new set of principles, new views and expe&tations may be equivalent to such an intire revolution in a man's affairs as was mentioned above. For many persons are so disposed that if they had more knowledge they would have more virtue. Thus the doctrines of a resurrection, and of a future ftate of retribution, produced a very great and speedy change in the moral state of the heathen world, at the first promulgation of christianity, affecting the old as well as the young.

But when nothing new takes place, with respect either to a man's circumstances, or his knowledge, there is but little probability that his conduct will be materially affected by an attention to truths and faEts, to the contemplation of which he has been long accustomed.

3. If bad habits have, unhappily, been formed, and a man thinks he has strength of mind to break through them, he has no other way but resolutely to avoid every associated circumstance belonging to them,

whatever

« PreviousContinue »