I do not deny that even after the formation of the best habits, there will be a necessity of paying some attention to what we eat and what we drink, from day to day, and from hour to hour; but only that the tendency of this work is not to increase this necessity, but on the contrary, to diminish it. In my own view; these occasions of inquiry in regard to what is right, physically as well as morally, are one part of our trials in this world—one means of forming our characters. We are constantly tempted to excess and to error, in spite of the most firm habits of self-denial which can be formed. If we resist temptation, our characters are improved. And it is by self-denial and self-government in these smaller matters, that we are to hope for nearly all the progress we can ever make in the great work of self-education. Great trials of character come but seldom; and when they come, we are often armed against them; but these little trials and temptations, coming upon us every hour—these it is, after all, that give shape to our characters, and make us constantly growing either better or worse, both in the sight of God and man. But, as I have repeatedly said, the object of this work is to diminish rather than to increase the frequency of these trials, useful though they may be, if duly improved, in the formation of virtuous, and even of holy character.
There is a sense in which every infant may be said to be born healthy, so that we may not only adopt the language of the poet, Bowring, and say
child is born;
Take it, and make it a bud of moral beauty,”
but we may also add—Take it and make it beautiful physically. For though a hereditary predisposition undoubtedly renders some individuals more susceptible than others to particular diseases, yet when the bodily organization of an infant is complete, and the degree of vitality which nature gives it is sufficient to propel the machinery of the frame, it can scarcely be regarded as in any other state than that of health.
Now if it be the intention of divine Providence (and who will doubt that it is?) that the animal body should be capable of resisting with impunity the impressions of heat, cold, light, air, and the various external influences to which, at birth, it is subjected, it may be properly asked why this primitive state of health cannot be maintained, and diseases, and medicines, and even PREVENTIVES wholly avoided.