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pleasure. All that his eye covets, he endeavours to obtain. He is restrained indeed by civil usages, by the laws of his country, by the laws of honour, by a regard to his health, by some sense of moral character ; but his real governing object is still the world, amusement, company, folly. And how is all this? What has made him morally insensible to the obligations of holiness, purity, and the love of God? The habit to which he has resigned himself. The effect has not been brought about at once. The desire for indolent and sensual gratification has increased with indulgence. Every
Every day his resolutions for serving God have become weaker, and his practical subjugation to an earthly life has been confirmed. He has lost almost all notions of spiritual religion and self-government. He moves mechanically. He has little actual relish even for his most favourite pleasures; but they are necessary to him. He is the slave of the animal part of his frame. He vegetates rather than lives.' Habit has become a second nature. Wide is the gate and broad is the way which leadeth to destruction.
But there arise from this class of persons two other classes, which stop not in the decencies that control those of whom we have been speaking THE DRUNKARD AND THE IMPURE, Perhaps there are no cases where habit more obviously and fatally blinds and destroys man.
Few persons intend to become either the one or the other of these characters. They yield, perhaps unwillingly at first, to the sin. They submit to pressing solicitations. They reflect on the crime, when committed, with horror. They determine to avoid the repetition of it. The next temptation, however, finds them an easier conquest than before. The imagination begins contentedly to tamper with the iniquity. The dread of it is lessened, the inclination increased. The custom begins to be formed. Each attack of the vice meets them, not where they began at first, but in the spot and with the temper in which the last commission of it left them. Thus imperceptibly the act becomes a course, and the course an inveterate habit. Their eyes are full of adultery, and they cannot cease from sin. Their very mind and conscience is defiled. Ineffectual efforts at amendment only leave them in closer bondage. Alarms seize the .conscience. Still they follow on, as an ox goeth to the slaughter, or as a fool to the correction of the stocks. They have stricken me, they say, and I was not sick ; they have beaten me, and I felt it not; when shall I awake? I will seek it yet again.
If we turn from this description of persons, and view the force of habit in multitudes of those who are engaged in the AFFAIRS OF TRADE AND COMMERCE, OR 'IN THE PROSECUTION OF RE
SPECTABLE PROFESSIONS, we need only ask what can account for the practical object of their lives? I suppose them to be exempt from a direct course of sensual indulgence, and from the vices to which it too often leads. But are not spiritual obedience to God, and faith in the sacrifice of Christ, quite out of their thoughts ? Are not their earliest and their latest hours occupied in the things of this world? Are not their cares and projects limited to the earth: Do not the customs of trade or the usages of a profession often clash with, often supersede, the laws of God? Why else is the Sabbath so commonly violated? Why are nefarious or doubtful practices so frequently countenanced? Why are precarious speculations so eagerly embraced? Why are the aggrandizement of a family, the amassing of riches, the gratification of ambition, so openly pursued? And how does it arrive that this sort of spirit pervades so many thousands around us? It is their habit. It is the force of custom and the influence of the circle in which they move. The operation has been gradual. The syren by her fascinating arts has first decoyed and then entangled her captives. They came by degrees within the magic charm, and are now fixed and bound to earth and its concerns.
Again, notice for a moment the intellectual babits of MANY OF THE SCHOLARS AND PHILOSQ
PHERS OF OUR AGE. The world by wisdom knows not God. The pride of our corrupted hearts readily forms the properly intellectual or reasoning part of our nature to habits, as ensnaring and as fatal, as any which have their seat more directly in the bodily appetites. If once the inquisitive student resigns himself to a daring curiosity, and applies to the simple and majestic truths of revelation the sort of argumentation which may safely be employed in natural inquiries, he is in imminent peril of scepticism and unbelief.' The mind comes within a dangerous influence. Knowledge puffeth up. Truth reaches not the proud. Such men are incapable of discerning it. They no longer feel the right impression of moral evidence. An impiety which can venture to dispute the plainest doctrines of the Inspired Volume, secretly gains possession of the soul. Reason usurps the province of faith. The obstacles which such a state of mind opposes to an ingenuous and cordial reception of Christianity, I need not stop to point out. A young and superficial reader once fixed in a habit of this sort, comes at last either tacitly to explain away the fundamental doctrines of the Holy Trinity, of the fall, of human corruption, of redemption, and the work of the Holy Ghost; or openly to sacrifice them to the madness of infidelity, or to the scarcely less pernicious errors of the Socinian heresy.
And whence is all this? Habit, working on a corrupt nature, has produced it, confirmed it, riyetted it. Habit is as fruitful and as fatal a cause of intellectual disorder as of merely, animal or sensual depravation.
What, again, seduces the MERE EXTERNAL WORSHIPPER Of God to withhold from his Maker his heart, whilst he insults him with a lifeless service of the lips? What, but the surprising and unsuspected influence of evil habit?, He knows that the Almighty sees every thing. He is aware that God is a spirit, and must be worshipped in spirit, and in truth, He cannot but acknowledge that outward ceremonies, though important in their place and for their due end, yet, if destitute of that fervent and humble devotion which should be their animating principle, are nothing less than a mockery of God, and abominable in his sight. And yet be proceeds in a heartless round of religious duties-a compensation for sinful indulgenees,-a purchase-money reluctantly paid,-a mere lifeless shadow of piety. This he has so long allowed himself to offer to the Almighty, that at last his mind is unconscious of the impiety of which he is guilty. A habit of formality and ceremonial observance, with a practical, and perhaps at length an avowed, opposition to the grace of true religion as converting and sanctifying the whole soul, has darkened even his judgment: