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hearing of Words. And our Readiness in Chap. speaking and writing them is an Instance of V. the latter, of active Habits. For Distinctness, we may consider Habits, as belonging to the Body, or the Mind: and the latter will be explained by the former. Under the former are comprehended all bodily Activities or Motions, whether graceful or unbecoming, which are owing to Use: Under the latter, general Habits of Life and Conduct, such as those of Obedience and Submission to Authority, or to any particular Person ; those of Veracity, Justice, and Charity; those of Attention, Induftry, Self-government, Envy, Revenge. And Habits of this latter Kind seem produced by repeated Acts, as well as the former. And in like manner as Habits belonging to the Body, are produced by external Acts: fo Habits of the Mind are produced by the Exertion of inward practical Principles, i. e. by carrying them into Act, or acting upon them ; the Principles of Obedience, of Veracity, Justice, and Charity. Nor can those Habits be formed by any external Course of Action, otherwise than as it proceeds from these Principles : because it is only these inward Principles exerted, which are strictly Acts of Obedience, of Veracity, of Justice, and of Charity. So likewise Habits of Attention, Industry, Self-government, are in the same manner acquired by Exercise ; and Habits of Envy and Rea
PA'R T venge by Indulgence, whether in outward
I. Act, or in Thought and Intention, i. e. inVward Act: for such Intention is an Act. Reso
lutions also to do well, are properly Acts. And endeavouring to enforce upon our own Minds, a practical Sense of Virtue, or to beget in Others that practical Sense of it, which a Man really has himself, is a virtuous Act. All these, therefore, may and will contribute towards forming good Habits. But going over the Theory of Virtue in one's Thoughts, talking well, and drawing fine Pictures, of it; this is so far from necessarily or certainly conducing to form an Habit of it, in him who thus employs himself; that it may harden the Mind in a contrary Course, and render it gradually more insensible, i. e. form an Habit of Infenfibility, to all moral Considerations. For, from our very Faculty of Habits, passive Impressions, by being repeated, grow weaker. Thoughts, by often passing through the Mind, are felt less sensibly: Being accustomed to Danger, begets Intrepidity, i. e. lessens Fear; to Distress, lefsens the Passion of Pity; to Instances of Others Mortality, lessens the sensible Apprehension of our own. And from these two Observations together ; that practical Habits are formed and strengthened by repeated Acts, and that passive Impressions grow weaker by being repeated upon us; it must follow, that active. Habits inay
dually forming and strengthening, by a Course CHAP. of acting upon such and such Motives and Excitements, whilst these Motives and Ex-m citements themselves are, by proportionable Degrees, growing less sensible, i. e. are continually less and less fensibly felt, even as the active Habits strengthen. And Experience confirms this: For active Principles, at the very time that they are less lively in Perception than they were, are found to be, fome how, wrought more thoroughly into the Temper and Character, and become more effectual in influencing our Practice. The three things just mentioned may afford Instances of it. Perception of Danger, is a natural Excitement of paflive Fear, and active Caution: And by being inured to Danger, Habits of the latter are gradually wrought, at the same time that the former gradually lessens. Perception of Distress in others, is a natural Excitenient, passively to pity, and actively to relieve it: But let a man fet himself to attend to, inquire out, and relieve distressed Persons, and he cannot but grow less and less sensibly affected with the various Miseries of Life, with which he must become acquainted; when yet, at the same time, Benevolence, considered not as a Passion, but as a practical Principle of Action, will strengthen : and whilst he passively compassionates the distrefsed less, he will acquire a greater Aptitude
PAR Tactively to assist and befriend them. So also
1. at the same time that the daily Instances of nMens dying around us, give us daily a less
fenfible passive Feeling or Apprehension of our own Mortality, such Instances greatly, contribute to the strengthening a practical Regard to it in serious Men; i. e. to forming an Habit of acting with a constant View to it. And this seems again further to Thew, that passive Impressions made upon our Minds by Admonition, Experience, Example, though they may have a remote Efficacy, and a very great one, towards forming active Habits, yet, cạn have this Efficacy no otherwise than by inducing us to such à Course of Action : and that it is, not being affected fo and so, but Acting, which forms those Habits : Only it must be always remembered, that real Endeavours to enforce good Impressions upon our selves, are a Species of virtuous Action, Nor do we know how far it is possible, in the nature of things, that Effects should be wrought in us at once, equivalent to Habits, i. e. what is wrought by Use and Exercife. However, the thing insisted upon is, not what may be possible, but what is in Fact the Appointment of Nature : which is, that active Habits arę to be formed by Exercise. Their Progress may be so gradual, as to be imperceptible of its Steps : It may be hard to explain the Faculty, by which we are capable of Habits,
of a State of Moral Discipline.
1 25 throughout its several Parts ; and to trace it CHAP. up to is Original, so as to distinguish it from V. all others in our Mind : And it seems as if n contrary Effects were to be ascribed to it. But the thing in general, that our Nature is formed to yield, in some such Manner as this, to Ufe and Exercife, is Matter of certain Experience.
Thus, by accustoming ourselves to any Course of Action, we get an Aptness to go on, a Facility, Readiness, and often Pleasure, in it. The Inclinations which rendered us aversé to it, grow weaker : the Difficulties in it, not only the imaginary but the real ones; leffen : the Reasons for it, offer themselves of course to our Thoughts upon all Occasions : and the least Glimpse of them is fufficient to make us go on, in a Course of Action, to which we have been accustomed. And practical Principles appear to grow stronger, abfolutely in themselves, by Exercise, as well as relatively, with regard to contrary Principles; which, by being accustomed to submit, do fo habitually, and of Course. And thus a new Character, in several Respects, may be formed; and many Habitudes of Life, not given by Nature, but which Nature directs us to acquire.