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which, being acquired by repeated thoughts and acts of any kind, renders the soul more apt and ready to return again to the same thoughts and acts. Here it is to be observed, first, That the quality or disposition mentioned is either always accompanied with, or rather indeed consists in, a kind of pleasure, which the mind perceives in repeating the thoughts or actions formerly repeated; and, secondly, That this pleasure, so far as it arises from repetition, always increases in proportion to the frequency of the repetition.
Again, It is to be observed, that if any particular train of thinking, or course of acting, is of itself agreeable to our natural inclinations, we are, on that account, the more readily habituated to it, both because nature itself introduces, and afterward nourishes, all habits thus grafted on itself.
And, lastly, it is worth remarking, that (such is the effect of repetition) a habit of liking that which is naturally disagreeable is often acquired, and sometimes carried to such a height, as to make that in some sort necessary, which was at first regarded as odious or pernicious. In this instance, although the object remains still the same, the very nature of the mind is changed, to all intents and purposes, as effectually, as if its original aversion had been totally destroyed, and an inclination, entirely new and opposite, introduced instead of it.
But still it is to be remembered, that the pleasure arising from repetition, whether added to the natural inclination, as in the former case, or forced on the mind against nature, as in the latter, becomes as real a motive to thinking, and through that to acting, in this or that particular manner, as any original sensation, affection, or passion, whatever. This appears by the glutton, who hath a real pleasure in eating, although he is not hungry; and by the chewer of tobaccd, who is now extremely delighted with that weed, which was at first as nauseous to him, as to other men.
Now, at the same time that we may thus have new motives, both to thought and action, implanted in our minds, it is worth our while seriously to consider, that few, if any, of these are indifferent as to virtue or vice, and, consequently, as to the happiness or misery of the mind wherein they are found. Either they are moral or immoral in themselves, or produce effects that are. So great a change
wrought in our souls, in the very springs of thought and action, must be a matter of infinite moment to us. We shall be still more sensibly convinced of this, the more attentively we reflect on the force and activity of these habits, which, in certain instances, are frequently found too strong for every thing else within us.
Were there nothing else to prove the power of habit, but that it frequently makes that which is odious extremely pleasing, and sometimes almost necessary, this alone would be sufficient to do it. But, if it is able to do so much against nature, to what lengths may it not carry its influence over our minds, when it seconds, or works with, nature ! Experience shews us, that any of our natural affections, or passions, strengthened by habitual indulgence, becomes insatiable and ungovernable. The natural end of eating is, to recruit the wastes of our bodies, and refit them for the offices of life; and, that we may be in no danger of neglecting the necessary recourse to food, the appetite of hunger is given us. But, as soon as this appetite is changed in any man, by a too luxurious indulgence, into a relish for the high tastes of certain delicacies, that man no longer eats to satisfy his natural appetite, nor to support the health and vigour of his body, but to gratify his habit, although perhaps he knows sickness and pain are sure to follow. The natural end of drinking is, to quench thirst, or at most to refresh the spirits, in order to the due performance of digestion, and the preservation of health. But he, who, pleased either with the delicious flavour of his liquor, or with the transports of mirth it gives him, hath, for a long time, accustomed himself to repeated excesses in drinking, now actually wants what at first he could by no means bear, and drinks on, though he knows it will destroy his health, his spirits, his senses, and his life. The rational use of noney is, to procure us the necessaries and comforts of life. For this reason it is desired; but, by some men, so long, so often, and at length so ardently desired, that it becomes itself the object of desire, insomuch that the love of it is the very thing that starves the covetous, whose bags or chests are filled with it. I might exemplify the present observation by other instances, particularly by one which modesty forbids me to particularize, wherein nature prompts to the production of a new generation, and habit, though grafted on nature, tends to the prevention of that, and the extinction of the present, through scenes of filth, of shame, of misery, and of pain, too shocking to be displayed.
On the other hand, there are habits of an opposite nature to these, which, being founded on the purer affections of the mind, teach a man to place his delight and happiness in denying himself, that he may give to others; in mortifying his sensual appetites, and living the life of a separate spirit; in thinking with contempt of that wealth, that grandeur, and those pleasures, which the rest of mankind pursue with such infinite eagerness, while he looks upwards, and habitually pants after things, which his eyes have not seen, which his ears have not heard, and which even his heart cannot conceive.' Nature makes us men; the principles of true religion make us wish and endeavour to be good men; but it is habit alone that can wed the heart to those principles; that can subdue its inordinate emotions to their dictates; that can perfect the good Christian, who is prepared to live in the midst of temptations, or die in flames for his God. The mind of man is neither capable of sinking to great depths of wickedness, till long and frequent repetitions have loaded it with habits of sin; nor of rising to the exalted heights of virtue, till use or practice have winged it with a contempt for temporal things, on the one side, and with the love of God on the other. Habit, in a word, finds us men, and makes us either angels or devils. Let our previous principles of thinking, or motives of acting, be what they will, our habits, once they are confirmed, by extinguishing one affection, by inflaming another, and by prescribing our leading pleasures, govern us almost without control. Can he who, for forty years, bath admired and practised, in all his dealings, the strictest honesty, afterward turn a cheat or sharper? Can he who, during a like space of time, hath transacted all his affairs, and pursued all his ends, by fraud and cunning, become afterward a Nathaniel without guile' in his thoughts, or artifice in his actions ? Although it is true, that a man may by nature be inclined to this virtue or that vice, yet he can never become remarkable for an extraordinary act of either, till habit hath hardened bim in the one, or consecrated him to the other.
There is an art in thinking, and a skill in governing passions by principles, which, although it depends on rules invariably the same in their tendency, is nevertheless brought to different degrees of perfection, according to the different degrees of practice wherewith it is encouraged in different men, in the same manner as a bodily craft is more or less perfectly acquired by a longer or shorter apprenticeship. The mind attains to a readiness and agility in pursuing any particular track of thought by use, just as the hand of a tradesman becomes expert and ready at his business by constant application.
But the mind carries its habits to a greater pitch of power and activity than the body; insomuch that it is often hurried away by its habits into thoughts and actions forbid by its reason, its principles, and even its will; whereas bodily habits, though ever so ready to act, never act without orders. The fingers of a musician can perform a tune, or abstain from it, at his discretion. But a mind habitually virtuous or vicious, frequently starts without deliberation or design into good or evil resolutions, and from thence into suitable actions, before it hath time to consider the motives or obstacles to either. And, what is very remarkable, we feel in ourselves, or see in others, instances of this every day, when no new or occasional motive is offered, when we are alone, and in the dark, so that the mind, in this case, works only on thoughts formerly laid in, and is acted purely by the pleasure arising from its habit.
While we are contracting a habit of any kind, the thoughts and acts whereby this is done are generally attended with considerable emotion, and always with a greater or less degree of pleasure, which gilds, as it were, and beautifies to our imagination all the persons, places, and circumstances, that happen to be connected with thoughts so pleasing, and actions so agreeable. The whole smiling scene of circumstances, the whole soothing connexion of thoughts, thus bundled together by pleasure, is immediately painted and stored in the memory. Every repetition of the thoughts raised in us, or of the actions to which we are moved by the object of our habit, being, in like manner, attended with a new set of circumstances, all recommended to the imagination by a still greater degree of pleasure, the whole is committed to the same store. Now this is so often done, and we take such a pleasure in doing it, that our other notions are forced to give way, and make room, both in our memory and attention, for the endless 'train of thoughts that wait on the object of our habit; so that, at length, we have little else to think of, at least that we can think of, with much pleasure, but this object. Hardly any thing can fall within our observation, that is not some way or other connected with it in our minds, and that does not therefore agreeably lead our imaginations to it, and help us to recollect all the pleasures and delights we found in it on former occasions. Hence it comes, that, whatever we are doing, or wherever we are going, this pleasing ghost of our former enjoyments meets, haunts, and courts us to a repetition. Of this we think by day; of this we dream by night; for this we plod, we scheme, we labour, as if we knew no other good.
If, for instance, the mind of a man is habituated to piety, and the love of God, having often taken the rise of his contemplations and devotions from the beauty of the creation, from the possessions he is blessed with, from the dangers or distresses he hath been delivered out of, from the virtuous affection of his wife, from the dutiful and promising behaviour of his children, and the like; as often as any of these objects (which is almost every hour of his life) presents itself to his mind, or is presented by time, place, or other circumstances, his heart overflows with joy; and God, the source of that joy, in all the infinite lustre of his goodness, is instantly confessed as such, is blessed, is adored, in a transport that takes up all the soul, and stands recorded in the mind, as an irresistible invitation to eternal repetitions. All be sees, hears, tastes, knows, nay, even all he fears or abhors, are one way or another so connected in his mind with the goodness of God, by the innumerable acts of devotion to which he hath accustomed himself, that nothing can occur which does not lead him to the exercise of his habitual piety. Those things, which rivet the affections of others to the earth, carry up his to God. Thus his blessed habit consecrates the very world, that snare to the souls of other men, into a holy altar, where the heart of this happy man burns and brightens in the love of God.
In like manner, on the other hand, the habitually cove