Causes of Propensity to Peculiar Vices
Hebrews 12:1-2
Why seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight…


1. A propensity to particular sins may be complexional, derived from constitutional frame and temperament. Men are born with different propensities to pleasure, avarice, ambition, resentment, malice, envy, or the like. They may, indeed, by various methods be cultivated, and acquire vigour; but the seeds of them seem to be natural to the soil, and, in proportion to our neglect of them become still more difficult to be extirpated.

2. Another occasion of propensity to particular vices is, the power of custom or habit; which is commonly reputed a second nature, a kind of new nature ingrafted upon the former; and is often, in its influence and effects, not much inferior to it. It is to this principle, e.g., not to nature, that we may ascribe the vice of intemperance. Nature approves moderation; is disgusted and oppressed by excess. But custom leads men beyond the temperate limits marked out by nature into the extremes of intemperance; where, though nature denies them permanent pleasures, they form to themselves some that are fantastic, and subsist only in imagination. Another sin into which men are led by mere custom, and by nothing else, is the common practice of profaning the name of God.

3. Another occasion of a bias or inclination to some particular vice, may arise from our situation and condition of life. Every situation is exposed to some peculiar inconvenience; every condition of life to its own trials. Thus, affluence and poverty have each their respective inducements. And the same observation might be extended to the different periods of life, and to different professions and employments.

II. THE OBLIGATION INCUMBENT ON US, OF ENDEAVOURING TO CORRECT OR LAY IT ASIDE. The greater the propensity we feel in ourselves towards any culpable passion or failing, with the more care should we guard against it. It is in our power to maintain the authority of reason, to oppose the corruptions of our nature and the dominion of evil habits; to resist seducements from objects without, and temptations from passions within us. This is the proper work and business of religion: this the duty which God requires at our hands; and has therefore, undoubtedly, given us ability to perform. One great obstacle, indeed, to the correcting or guarding against the sin that most easily besets us, is the difficulty we often find in discovering and detecting it. Such likewise is the prepossession in our own favour, so flattering the glass that self-love holds before us, that this also prevents us from seeing our deformities, and marking the true features and complexion of the mind. Quick-sighted as we all are to the faults or foibles of others, we do not, or will not, with the same facility discern our own. Our passions are our apologists; they plead for our vices, and mislead our judg. ment. This may be a monition to us, to scrutinise with the strictest caution our own heart, to look well if there be any culpable inclination or passion lurking in it, that we may not be deceived by any flattering reports of our character made by self-partiality. To assist us in forming a Tight judgment of our conduct, and seeing it in a true light, the best method perhaps would be, to put ourselves as much as may be out of the question; to divest ourselves of all concern in it; and to suppose that we are passing judgment, not on ourselves, but on another person.

(G. Carr, B.A.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,

WEB: Therefore let us also, seeing we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, lay aside every weight and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,

Besetting Sins
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