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Page 277


The force of habit is very great. It becomes, after a
while, our second nature; and it is very unfortunate
that the habits are so often wrong, leading us, almost in
our own despite, to believe the dogma of man's innate
depravity. We are bigots from habit, inebriates from
habit, gluttons from habit, swearers from habit, — there
is no need of extending the list. How subtly habit
steals upon us! We laugh at the caution which would
save us, and take the first step in sin, that leads to the
plunge down the abyss from which there is scarcely an
escape. How we pet our habits, and palliate them, and
justify them! They get their hold upon us through an
inefficient will, which in itself is a habit. The will
should be cultivated and strengthened, as much as the
body and mind; but habit, at the very outset, says the
will of the child must be crushed out. It should be
encouraged, rather, and directed to its proper end. With
stout will and resolution, we may throw off or resist
habit; but without, it holds us with hooks of steel. It
is unfortunate to know that more than half of our time
is spent in repenting of habits contracted during the
other and better half; and more unfortunate to think
that our own habits have, by example, involved others
in the same habits. In vain we say, “Get thee behind
me, Satan!” if we have not the back-bone to command
it. Satan laughs at us, and treats us contemptuously
every way; for we are weak, and Satan is strong. We
may make loud protestations at high twelve in prayer-meeting,
for we are courageous with the multitude; but
when left to ourselves, and our own weakness, like Peter
on the water, we sink.