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he is conversant in the one or the other, till he is utterly unqualified for relishing that to which he has been for some time disused. Nay, a man may smoke, or drink, or take snuff, till 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 thos 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 disgustin it. He gives particular instances, of claret, coffee, and other liquors, which the palate seldom approves upon the first taste, but, when it has once got a relish of them, generally retains it for life. The mind is constituted after the same manner, and after having habituated herself to any particular exercise or employment, not only loses her first äversion 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 easy, but as it renders them delightful; and though others have often made the same reflections, it is possible 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
* Dr. Atterbury
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 choose their own way of life, are inexcusable if they do not pursue 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 sensual and irreligious man to overlook those hardships and difficulties 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 farther 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 all her paths are peace."
To enforce this consideration, we may farther 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 a 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 of 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 unprofitable 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 habits 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, gaiu 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.
On the other hand, those evil spirits, who, by long custom, have contracted in the body habits of lust and sensuality, malice and revenge, and 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 themselves those painful habits of mind which are called, in Scripture phrase, “the worm which 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 divinès of the last age, as in particular bý 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.
MONDAY, AUGUST 4, 1712.
Fædius hoc aliquid quandoque audebis.JurSat. ii. 82.
avoided, for men insensibly go on when they are once entered, and do not keep up a lively abhorrence of the least unworthiness. There is a certain frivolous falsehood that people indulge themselves in, which ought to be had in greater detestation than it commonly meets with. What I mean is a neglect of promises made on small and indifferent occasions, such as parties of pleasure, entertainments, and sometimes meetings out of curiosity, in men of like faculties, to be in each other's company. There are many causes to which one may assign this light infidelity. Jack Sippet never keeps the hour he has appointed to come to a friend's to dinner; but he is an insignificant fellow, who does it out of vanity. He could never, he knows, make any figure in company, but by giving a little disturbance at his entry, and therefore takes care to drop in when he thinks you are just seated. He takes his place after having discomposed every body, and desires there may be no ceremony; then does he begin to call himself the saddest fellow, in disappointing so many places as he was invited to elsewhere. It is the fop's vanity to name houses of better cheer, and to acquaint you that he chose yours out of ten dinners which he was obliged to be at that day. The last time I had the fortune to eat with him, he was imagining how very fat he should have been, had he eaten all he had ever been invited to. But it is impertinent to dwell upon the manners of such a wretch as obliges all whom he dis
appoints, though his circumstances constrain them to be civil to him. But there are those that every one would be glad to see, who fall into the same detestable habit. It is a merciless thing that any one can be at ease, and suppose a set of people, who have a kindness for him, at that moment waiting out of respect to him, and refusing to taste their food or conversation with the utmost impatience. One of these promisers sometimes shall make his excuses for not coming at all, so late that half the company have only to lament that they have neglected matters of moment to meet him whom they find a trifler. They immediately repent of the value they had for him; and such treatment repeated, makes company never depend upon his promise any more; so that he often comes at the middle of a meal, where he is secretly slighted by the persons with whom he eats, and cursed by the servants, whose dinner is delayed by his prolonging their master's entertainment. It is wonderful that men guilty this way could never have observed, that the wiling time, the gathering together, and waiting a little before dinner, is the most awkwardly passed away of any part in the four-andtwenty hours. If they did think at all, they would reflect upon their guilt, in lengthening such a suspension of agreeable life. The constant offending this way has in a degree an effect upon the honesty of his mind who is guilty of it, as common swearing is a kind of habitual perjury. It makes the soul unattentive to what an oath is, even while it utters it at the lips. Phocion beholding a wordy orator, while he was making a magnificent speech to the people, full of vain promises; “Methinks,” said he, “ I am now fixing my eyes upon a cypress tree; it has all the pomp and beauty imaginable in its branches, leaves, and height: but, alas! it bears no fruit."
Though the expectation which is raised by impertinent promisers is thus barren, their confidence, even after failures, is so great, that they subsist by still promising on. I have heretofore discoursed of the insignificant liar, the boaster, and the castle-builder, and treated them as no illdesigning men (though they are to be placed among the frivolously false ones), but persons who fall into that way purely to recommend themselves by their vivacities; but indeed I cannot let heedless promisers, though in the