I must not forget to make some observations with respect to those physical influences which affect the temper and spirits. It is true that these are, at some times, and for a short period, altogether irresistible. This is, however, only in the case of those whose character was not originally of sufficient force and strength to require much habitual self-control, as long as they possessed good health and spirits. When this original good health is altered in any way that alters their natural temper, (all diseases, however, have not this effect,) not having had any previous practice in resisting the new and unaccustomed evil, they yield to it as hopelessly as they would do to the pain attending the gout and the rheumatism. If, however, such persons as those above described are sincere in their desire to glorify God, and to avoid disturbing the peace of those around them, they will soon learn to make use of all the means within their reach to remove the moral disease, as assiduously and as vigorously as they would labour to remove the physical one. Their newly-acquired self-control will be blest to them in more ways than one, for the grace of God is always given in proportion to the need of those who are willing to work themselves, and who have not incurred the evil they now struggle against, by wilful and deliberate sin. I have spoken of only a few cases of ill-temper being irresistible, and even these few only to be considered so at first, before proper means of cure and prevention are used. Under other circumstances, though the ill-temper mourned over may be strongly influenced by physical causes, the sin must still remain the same as if the causes were strictly moral ones. For instance, if you know that by sitting up at night an hour or two later than usual, or by not taking regular exercise, or by eating of indigestible food, you will put it out of your power to avoid being ill-tempered and disagreeable on the following day, the failure is surely a moral one. That the immediate causes of your ill-humour may be physical ones, does not at all affect the matter, seeing that such causes are, in this case, completely under your own control. From this it follows that it must be a duty to watch carefully the effects produced on your temper by every habit of your life. If you do not abandon such of these as produce undesirable effects, you deserve to experience the consequences in the gradual diminution of the respect and affection of those who surround you.
Should the habits producing irritation of temper be such as you cannot abandon without loss or detriment to yourself or others, the object in view will be equally attained by exercising a more vigilant self-control while you are exposed to a dangerous influence. For instance, you have often heard it remarked, and have perhaps observed in your own case, that poetry and works of fiction excite and irritate the temper. You may know some people who exhibit this influence so strongly that no one will venture to make them