« AnteriorContinuar »
supply the requisite stimulus, and thus lessen the temptation to transgress. The man who is in earnest in his wish to amend, might thus be taught by a wise friend how to strengthen his resolution, or rather (what is equivalent to it) how to make the temptation manageable.
All temptations arise from the animal nature, for unless the emotion were strong and involuntary it would be no temptation at all; and our animal nature has strong instincts given it for its preservation, good in themselves if not allowed to exceed the proper bounds, bad if carried to excess. It is not therefore by prayer against the excesses which our nature is prone to, which of necessity leads us to dwell mentally on what is already becoming too frequent and exciting a thought, that we shall vanquish it. A prayer for judgment; for a blessing on our right endeavours, is purifying and sustaining to the mind;—a prayer against particular temptations is but an indolent endeavour to cast on another the toil we shrink from ourselves, and should be thus characterized. Reason was not-given us for nothing; and I believe few would succumb to temptation, who would take rational methods for lessening the bodily impulse, and diverting the mind from dwelling upon it. Hence
the great importance of providing innocent recreation for the mind and body, and of making both frequent enough to prevent the uneasy craving from being felt, which might lead to
The rest of the seventh day has provided a constantly recurring day of repose which puts aside all temptation to idleness ; for it comes often enough for refreshment:were not this appointed, continued toil would seem like a duty to those who depend on the labour of their hands for a maintenance ; and the man who felt exhausted and took a day for repose, would be blamed as a sluggard, perhaps consider himself so, and think that he had done one wrong thing under a temptation which mastered him, he was already so far gone, that another fault or two would not much alter the account. By legitimatizing the degree of repose requisite to the human frame, it has been made to assume a sanctifying instead of a degrading influence.
Again, had marriage not been appointed, thus hallowing the relation between the sexes, and making it the source of all that is most amiable in human nature, the natural tendency of the race must have been indulged, for it is a propensity implanted by the Creator ; but it would have deteriorated instead of ennobling mankind: as indeed it does in every case where the marriage tie is disregarded. Let us not fight against God then, by endeavouring to eradicate any natural bent, but let us sanctify it, as the Apostle recommends, by doing “all to the glory of God."
The demand of the human mind for recreation ought to be thus legitimatized, and only regulated as to quality and quantity. There is scarcely any other human want which has not been cared for by the law, and its rational and moderate enjoyment legalized : in the matter of recreation alone, an unjust distinction is made between the
and the rich; and whilst these last, who least need such aids, can at all times procure amusements of at least an innocent, and often of an elevating tendency, the poor have nothing left them but the low public house. Places of assemblage for dancing, music, or theatrical diversions, are either put down as nuisances, or are so uncared for, and left in such bad hands, that they ought to be so : yet it would be very possible to make these things conducive to good morals, and to use them as means to civilize and raise the mental standard of the population. Something man must have to recruit him after labour *-the mere eating and going to bed after a day's work, will not fill up all his wants, and the want of the mind, if not so readily appreciated at first, is in the long run even more severely felt than that of the body: the question then is solely—shall this want be so satisfied as to raise or to degrade ? It is vain to ignore the need: it is a part of our nature: the only question is as to the mode of supplying it.
This becomes an especially anxious care where we would effect the voluntary reform of persons
* We have heard of a ship where the plan of allowing the men rational amusement was tried with great
In wild countries the men were taken away for several days by the captain on hunting and fishing expeditions. The result was, they returned to their work with redoubled vigour—the indulgence acted as a reward to the good men, and stimulated the ill-disposed to obtain a good character. It was remarked how little punishment there was in the ship alluded to; the fact was that the forbidding the idle or ill-disposed to partake in indulgences was a very severe punishment, but a mode of punishment impossible where no indulgences are granted.
“ One of the difficult points to overcome with British seamen is their passion for drink, but to allow them rational amusement much tends to improve their tastes and habits.”—Letters on the Navy.
little accustomed to self-controul. To fix minds, till then never exercised in application, on any study, or any consecutive thought, for more than a very short time, would be impossible--the brain, till strengthened by use, is incapable of long protracted attention, and for such persons, as for very young children, the teaching by amusement becomes a necessity. Learning to read, to write, and to cast accounts are wearying to the attention, and it is found by the teachers of Ragged Schools, that even though there is generally a good will to learn, the attention of the pupils very quickly flags, and can scarcely be kept up for above half an hour at a time. In common schools the master forces on the unwilling scholar by the aid of punishment, but in schools where the attendance is wholly voluntary on the part of the children, to punish would be to drive them from you. Here therefore an accidental circumstance has again led to the acknowledgment of a great truth; namely that the usual system of school castigation is a mistake, and that if we wish our pupils to improve, we must suit the length and nature of their lessons to their mental state, taking care at all times never to press learning on so as to induce weariness, and by pauses,