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CHAPTER V.

AVOID ALL CIRCUMSTANCES WHICH MOST EASILY EXCITE YOUR TEMPER.

Principiis obsta: sero medicina paratur,

Cum mala per longas invaluere moras.-OVID.

1. ALL circumstances have not the like effect on all tempers, neither is temper always affected in the same degree with the same temptation. Yet there are peculiar circumstances and associations connected, more or less, with every one, which more particularly excite the constitutional weakness. Every one must be the best judge of his

own case.

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2. Mason judiciously advises, Especially you must attend to the occasions which most usually betray you into your favourite vices; and consider the spring from whence they arise, and the circumstances which most favour them. They arise doubtless from your natural temper, which strongly disposes and inclines you to them. That

1 Avoid the principal causes: medicine comes too late, when the malady by long delays has gained strength.

temper then, or particular turn of desire, must be carefully watched over as a most dangerous quarter; and the opportunities and circumstances which favour those inclinations must be resolutely avoided as the strongest temptations. For the way to subdue a criminal inclination is, first to avoid the known causes that excite; and then to curb the first motions of it. And thus, having no opportunity of being indulged, it will of itself in time lose its force, and fail of its wonted victory.'

3. A higher authority saith, "Make no friendship with an angry man, and with a furious man thou shalt not go: lest thou learn his ways, and get a snare to thy soul." Prov. xxii. 24. A man that knows himself will be aware of his remote temptations as well as the more immediate ones. The petition in the Lord's prayer makes it as much a man's duty to be upon his guard against temptation, as under it. Nor can a man pray from his heart that God would not lead him into temptation, if he take no care himself to avoid it.

4. Cecil's Remains is a work replete with excellent advice to all religious professors, and particularly to ministers. He thus admonishes us touching our intercourse with the irreligious and refractory- Let them see that you have some secret in possession, which keeps you quiet, humble, patient, holy, meek, and affectionate, in a turbulent and passionate world.' The following remarks are equally good,' If a man has a quarrelsome temper, let him alone. The world will soon find him employment. He will soon meet with some one stronger than himself, who will repay him better than you can. A man may fight

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duels all his life, if he is disposed to quarrel.' Again- Neither talents nor truth will apologize for pride, illiberality, or bitterness. Avoid therefore, irritating occasions and persons, and particularly disputes and disputants, by which a minister often loses his temper and his character.'

5. Many ill-natured persons will tease and aggravate others by speaking certain words, or referring to certain circumstances which they know will wound; this they do purposely, and with no other view than that base one of exciting pain. Others are habitually of a recriminating temper, and make it their study to torment all about them all such characters ought to be shunned as the pests of society. The apostle has truly said, "Evil communications corrupt good Then let those communications be avoided, that the manners, words, thoughts and tempers, be not corrupted.

manners."

CHAPTER VI.

STUDY EQUANIMITY OF TEMPER.

In a

1. THIS is a very desirable quality; and, like others, it is not to be attained without some degree of attention. It was a noble frame of mind that led the apostle to say, in a season of great trials, None of these things move me. world so changeable as this, it is a great advantage to possess a mind so fortified as not to feel any material alteration or painful sensation under sudden occurrences. This equanimity mainly results from a proper exercise of the thoughts.

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2. The right government of the thoughts requires no small art, vigilance, and resolution. But it is a matter of such vast importance to the peace and improvement of the mind that it is worth while to be at some pains about it. A man that hath so numerous and turbulent a family to govern as his own thoughts, which are too apt to be at the command of his passions and appetites, ought not to be long from home. If he be, they will soon grow mutinous and disorderly, under

the conduct of those two head-strong guides, and raise great clamours and disturbances on the slightest occasions. And a more dreadful scene of misery can hardly be imagined, than that which is occasioned by such a tumult and uproar within, when a raging conscience or inflamed passions are let loose, without check or controul.'1

3. This evening, after a little ease from the raging pain caused by so small an organ as an aching tooth (under which I have behaved so ill as to break two pipes and my spectacles) I began to reflect with admiration on those heroic spirits, which, in the conduct of their lives, seem to live so much above the condition of our make, as not only, under the agonies of pain to forbear any intemperate word or gesture, but also in their general and ordinary behaviour, to resist the impulses of their very blood and constitution. This watch over a

man's self, and the command of his temper, I take to be the greatest of human perfections, and is the effect of a strong and resolute mind. It is not only the most expedient practice for carrying on our own designs; but is also very deservedly the most amiable quality in the sight of others. It is a winning deference to mankind, which creates an immediate imitation of itself wherever it appears; and prevails upon all, who have to do with a person endued with it, either through shame or emulation. I do not know how to express this habit of mind, except you will let me call it equanimity. It is a virtue which is necessary at every hour, in every place, and in all conversations;

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