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a man may smoke, or drink, or take snuff, until he is unable to pass away his time without it; not to mention how our delight in any particular study, art, or science, rises and improves in proportion to the application which we bestow upon it. Thus, what was at first an exercise, becomes at length an entertainment. Our employments are changed into our diversions. The mind grows fond of those actions she is accustomed to, and is drawn with reluctancy from those paths in which she has been used to walk.
Not only such actions as were at first indifferent to us, but even such as were painful, will by custom and practice become pleasant. Sir Francis Bacon observes in his natural philosophy, that our taste is never pleased better, than with those things which at first created a disgust in it. He gives particular instan. ces of claret, coffee, and other liquors, which the palate seldom approves upon the first taste; but wben it has once got a relish of them, generally retains it for life. The mind is constituted after the same manner, and after having babituated herself to any particular exercise or employment, not only loses her first aversion towards it, but conceives a certain fondness and affection for it. I have heard one of the greatest geniuses this age has produced,' who had been trained up in all the polite studies of antiquity, assure me," upon his being obliged to search into several rolls and records, that notwithstanding such an employment was at first very dry and irksome to him, he at last took an incredible pleasure in it, and preferred it even to the reading of Virgil or Cicero. The reader will observe, that I have not here considered custom as it makes things casy, but as it renders them delightful; and though others have often made the same reflections, it is possible
Dr. Atterbury-placed much higher by his contemporaries than by posterity.-G.
" I have beard one-assure me. A tautology. Better read and dispose thus:- "One of the greatest, &c. has assured me, that, thoug upon his being, dc, he found the employment at first very dry,” dc.
they may* not have drawn those uses from it, with which I intend to fill the remaining part of this paper.
If we consider attentively this property of human nature, it may instruct us in very fine moralities. In the first place, I would have no man discouraged with that kind of life or series of action, in which the choice of others, or his own necessities, may have engaged him. It may perhaps be very disagreeable to him at first; but use and application will certainly render it not only less painful, but pleasing and satisfactory.
In the second place I would recommend to every one that admirable precept which Pythagoras is said to have given to his disciples, and which that philosopher must have drawn from the observation I have enlarged upon. Optimum vitæ genus eligito, nam consuetudo faciet jucundissimum. Pitch upon that course of life which is the most excellent, and custom will render it the most delightful. Men, whose circumstances will permit them to chuse their own way of life, are inexcusable if they do not pur. sue that which their judgment tells them is the most laudable. The voice of reason is more to be regarded than the bent of any present inclination, since, by the rule above-mentioned, inclination will at length come over to reason, though we can never force reason to comply with inclination.
In the third place, this observation may teach the most sen. sual and irreligious man, to overlook those hardships and difficul. ties which are apt to discourage him from the prosecution of a virtuous life. “The gods, (said Hesiod,) have placed Labour before Virtue, the way to her is at first rough and difficult, but grows more smooth and easy the further you advance in it.' The man who proceeds in it, with steadiness and resolution, will in a little time find, that “her ways are ways of pleasantness, and that al. her paths are peace.'
* It is possible they may. i. e. It may be they may. It should either be----they may not, or it is possible they have not.
To enforce this consideration, we may further observe, that the practice of religion will not only be attended with that pleasure, which naturally accompanies those actions to which we are habituated, but with those supernumerary joys of heart, that rise from the consciousness of such a pleasure, from the satisfaction of acting up to the dictates of reason, and from the prospect of an happy immortality.
In the fourth place, we may learn from this observation which we have made on the mind of man, to take particular care, when we are once settled in a regular course of life, how we too frequently indulge ourselves in any the most innocent diversions and entertainments, since the mind may insensibly fall off from the relish of virtuous actions, and, by degrees, exchange that pleasure which it takes in the performance of its duty, for delights of a much more inferior ^ and upprofitable nature.
The last use which I shall make of this remarkable property in human nature, of being delighted with those actions to which it is accustomed, is to shew how absolutely necessary it is for us to gain babits of virtue in this life, if we would enjoy the pleasures of the next. The state of bliss we call heaven, will not be capable of affecting those minds which are not thus qualified for it; we must, in this world, gain a relish of truth and virtue, if we would be able to taste that knowledge and perfection, which are to make us happy in the next. The seeds of those spiritual joys and raptures, which are to rise up and flourish in the soul to all eternity, must be planted in her, during this her present state of probation. In short, heaven is not to be looked upon only as the reward, but as the natural effect of a religious life.
* Inferior is, itself, a comparative. It should be--for delights of an inferior and much more unprofitable nature.
On the other hand, those evil spirits, who, by long custom, have contracted in the body habits of lust and sensuality, malice and revenge, an aversion to every thing that is good, just, or laudable, are naturally seasoned and prepared for pain and misery. Their torments have already taken root in them, they cannot be happy when divested of the body, unless we may suppose, that Providence will, in a manner, create them anew, and work a miracle in the rectification of their faculties. They may, indeed, taste a kind of malignant pleasure in those actions to which they are accustomed, whilst in this life, but when they are removed from all those objects which are here apt to gratify them, they will naturally become their own tormentors, and cherish in them•selves those painful habits of mind, which are called in scripture phrase, “the worm that never dies.' This notion of heaven and hell is so very conformable to the light of nature, that it was discovered by several of the most exalted heathens. It has been finely improved by many eminent divines of the last age, as in particular by Archbishop Tillotson and Dr. Sherlock, but there is none who has raised such noble speculations upon it, as Dr. Scott, in the first book of his Christian Life, which is one of the finest and most rational schemes of divinity that is written in our tongue, or in any other. That excellent author has shewn how every particular custom and habit of virtue will, in its own nature, produce the heaven, or a state of happiness, in him who shall hereafter practise it : as on the contrary, how every custom or habit of vice will be the natural hell of him in whom it subsists.
No. 451. THURSDAY, AUGUST 7.
-- Jam sævus apertam
IIor. 2. Ep. i. 148.
There is nothing so scandalous to a government, and detestable in the eyes of all good men, as defamatory papers and pamphlets; but at the same time there is nothing so difficult to tame as a satirical author. An angry writer, who cannot appear in print, naturally vents his spleen in libels and lampoons. A gay old woman, says the fable, seeing all her wrinkles represented in a large looking.glass, threw it upon the ground in a passion, and broke it in a thousand pieces; but as she was afterwards sur. veying the fragments with a spiteful kind of pleasure, she could not forbear uttering herself in the following soliloquy. What have I got by this revengeful blow of mine? I have only mul. tiplied my deformity, and see an hundred ugly faces, where before I saw but one.
It has been proposed,' to oblige every person that writes a book, or a paper, to swear himself the author of it, and enter down in a public register his name and place of abode.'
This, indeed, would have effectually suppressed all printed scandal, which generally appears under borrowed names, or under none at all. But it is to be feared that such an expedient would not only destroy scandal, but learning. It would operate promiscuously, and root up the corn and tares together. Not to mention some of the most celebrated works of piety, which have proceeded from anonymous authors, who have made it their