« EelmineJätka »
this omniscient Observer is one day to be our Judge.
In addition to the great and leading rules which we have laid down for the prevention or suppression of evil habits, there are some practical directions on the subject, which may be attended to with advantage; and of wbich, though we cannot now fully enter into them, it
be desirable to mention two or three. It is, for example, an useful practical maxim, to ACCUSTOM OURSELVES TO SELF-CONTROL IN MATTERS OF SMALL MOMENT, AS A TRAINING FOR THOSE OF GREATER IMPORTANCE. There are many practices not absolutely sinful, which yet may be inexpedient. There are numerous acts from which we shall do well to abstain, were it merely for the sake of a lesson of forbearance. If we permit ourselves to go to the very verge of what is right, the mere movement thus far, -the indulgence up to this point,-may have the effect of betraying us beyond the limit. Perpetual self-government even in little things is necessary in such a scene of temptation as we live in, not only because little things lead on to great, but because the habit acquired by such acts of mortification is a salutary and safe one. The passions are thus curbed and kept under due management; the judgment is preserved clear and watchful; and the heart,
SITE RIGHT HABIT.
prepared by discipline, is more easily subjugated to the law of Christ.
In like manner, when we have discovered any particular wrong habit, we should inSTANTLY BEGIN A COURSE OF ACTS CALCULATED TO COUNTERACT IT AND TO INDUCE THE OPPO
There is no neutral ground in morals. The tendency of our nature to make that easy which we do repeatedly, is constantly operating. The moment, therefore, that conscience reproaches us with a habit of sin, and we discover that we are really faulty, no time is to be lost. We must not stand delaying
We must at once rend ourselves from the transgression, however long accustomed to it, and begin those particular acts which are of a directly opposite tendency. We cannot expect to find the same delight in this new course, which we had in the old one. Nor is it in the first instance necessary. Pleasure is not to create the habit, but habit the pleasure. Enter, therefore, with whatever disinclination, on the duty to be performed. If the sinful inclination has been towards covetousness, task yourself with deeds of beneficence; if towards the vanities of the world, abridge yourself of even lawful indulgences; if towards harshness and severity, impel yourself to acts of kindness and love. The attempt, if united with prayer, will prove successful. The right line of conduct,
firmly and resolutely pursued, will re-act upon, and gradually rectify, the mental disposition. It is not by speculation and reasoning that habits are acquired, but by acts. No man overcomes evil tendencies, and frames himself to the contrary good ones, in solitude merely; it is in the scenes of active duty that principles are exercised and invigorated, and habits formed and natured.
As the rule we have just considered relates to the correction of evil habits when once formed, so the next I shall mention is directed to prevent their formation. ALWAYS AVOID, then, THE FIRST ACTS OF A DOUBTFUL NATURE. Every single instance of compliance with our evil inclinations, impairs our powers of resistance, and leaves us more accessible to the next assault. The Christian habit of the mind is broken in upon; the sensibility of conscience is weakened ; and a foundation of evil habit is laid which it may not be easy hereafter to dig up, so to speak, and destroy. All questions, then, of conformity to the world, to its corrupt or questionable practices, to its sinful or frivolous amusements, are at once to be resolved on the safe and the only safe side. Whatever you doubt of, avoid.—Such hearts as ours, in such a position as we occupy, are not to be trifled with. We must remember that we have enemies who can enter in at the
smallest breach; enemies, whom we are safe only in completely excluding, and with whom even to-parley is to surrender.
In this connexion, I would particularly inculcate the importance of FORMING RIGHT HABITS IN THE EARLY PART OF OUR RELIGIOUS PROFES
Were there no other motive to deter us from sinful or inexpedient indulgences in youth, the consideration of the influence which they
too probably produce in our future lives, might operate as a sufficient dissuasive. The few first years of our religious course, very commonly give a colour to all the rest. The rashness, self-will, and obstinacy, which are sometimes observable in young persons professing a regard to religion, may usually be regarded as no doubtful preludes to worse evils at a future period of their career',--to gross inconsistencies of conduct, to dangerous mistakes of opinion, perhaps to heretical errors, or even to final apostacy To be cautious, then, and humble, and docile, in the beginning of our Christian life, is of the greatest importance. This is the only temper appropriate to that season of inexperience; the only proper or efficient preparation for a course of scriptural piety, -of piety, ripe, well-ordered, consistent, uniform, permanent, heavenly.
We may close our consideration of the means by which unfavourable habits are to be
avoided, or to be discovered and overcome, by proposing one rule of great comprehensive
Let us be BETTER GROUNDED AND EXERCISED IN THE FIRST ELEMENTS OF 'TRUE RELIGION. Let a sense of our acccountableness, of the holiness of God's law, of the evil and malignity of sin, of the person and work of Christ, of his atonement and intercession, of salvation by grace, of justification by faith only, of union with Christ and love to him, of the person and work of the Holy Spirit, of his grace and influences on the heart, and of the insufficiency of all human endeavours without his mighty operations, be more fixed and wrought into our souls. Many unfavourable moral habits, like many bodily diseases, arise from the circumstance of the whole constitution being infirm or distempered." Let the general tone and vigour of health be restored, and the particular symptoms will disappear. Let the root of the tree be duly nourished, and the fruit will abound. In vain shall we labour at setting right this or that disordered temper or affection, unless we at the same time live near to Christ, imbibe his grace, and are sanctified by his Spirit. In vain shall we endeavour to rectify our particular habits, unless our governing principles be sound and vigorous; and never can these be sound or vigorous, unless we abound in faith and in love to a crucified Re,