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Ephrsians v. 18.-And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess.
IN the receding discourses I have considered several methods, in which i}. is destroyed, in opposition to the Sixth Command of the Decalogue. In this discourse I shall make some observations concerning another of these methods; viz. DRUNKENNess.
Drunkenness is nearly allied to Suicide. It is equally certain means of shortening life. The principal difference, so far as the termination of life is concerned, lies in the mode. What is appropriately called Suicide, is a sudden, or immediate, termination of life. kenness brings it gradually to an end. The destruction, in both cases, is equally certain; and not materiall different in the degree of turpitude. In many instances, j this catastrophe is brought to pass at least as suddenly by drunkenness, as by Suicide. There is, also, another difference between these crimes. The Suicide intends directly to destroy his life, and makes this his prime purpose. The Drunkard thinks of nothing less. The prime object in his view is the gratification of his relish for strong drink, united with that bewildered elevation of spirits, which he feels in the hour of intoxication.
In the text we are expressly, and universally, forbidden to commit this sin. The penalty, incurred by the commission, is as expressly declared in 1 Cor. vi. 10: where it is said, that Drunkards shall not inherit the Kingdom of God. This threatening we are not indeed to consider as absolute, any more than others, expressed in a similar manner. Undoubtedly, no person, who enters eternity in the character of a drunkard, will inherit the kingdom of God. , But I know of no reason to conclude, that he, who though once a drunkard, has become a penitent, will not be accepted.
This interesting subject I design to consider at large under the following heads.
I. The JNature;
II. The Causes;
III. The Evils; of Drunkenness; and,
IV. The Means; of avoiding it. . I. I shall make a few observations concerning the nature of this Gozo, , Drunkenness is that singular state of man, in which he loses, either partially, or wholly, the use of his bodily and mental pow
ers, under the operation of spirituous drink, opium, or other means of intoxication. Drunkenness is either occasional, or habitual. Occasional Drunkenness exists only in irregular, separate, solitary, or even single instances; and is produced sometimes by design, and sometimes by accident. Habitual Drunkenness is a frequent, and usually a regular, intoxication ; occasioned by that increased and peculiar love of strong drink, which is generated by Occasional drunkenness. Habitual Drunkenness will be the principal subject of this discourse. It will only be necessary to remark concerning Occasional Drunkenness, that all the observations, almost, concerning Habitual Drunkenness, will be applicable to it, although in an inferior degree; and that, wherever the subject shall appear to demand any serious discriminations, I shall endeavour to make them in the progress of the discussion. II. The Causes of this Sin, by which I intend not the immediate, and properly efficient, causes; such as those already mentioned: but those, which, although more remote, are yet deeply concerned in the production of it; are principally the following. 1. Example. By this I intend, that we gradually acquire a habit of Drunkenness, by seeing others drink; and, if I may be allowed the expression, catching the practice merely from the fact, that we often witness it in others. Wherever the character of those, who set the example, is the object of particular affection, esteem, or reverence, the influence of the example becomes proportionally great and dangerous. Parents, in this manner, become peculiarly, and other relations and friends generally, powerful means of seduction, and ruin to their children, and other relatives. In this case I suppose nothing but the example, and the veneration, and endearment, by which it is accompanied, to produce the corruption of those, to whom it is exhibited. 2. Frequenting those places, where strong drink is conveniently obtained. A Tavero, especially a vulgar one, or a dram-shop, or an alehouse, newly opened, usually exhibits strongly, as well as clearly, the efficacy of this cause. Each of them soon begins to attract its train of drinking customers; and within a moderate period becomes surrounded by its circle of drunkards. There is scarcely a greater nuisance to society, than houses of this nature; in which spirituous liquors are sold, in small quantities, to the neighbour: ing inhabitants. Millions of the human race have in these baleful haunts taken the first fatal step towards perdition. 3. Evil Companions. These usually combine all the efficacy of the former causes, with many additional temptations. They present the example: they provide the retreat, and the convenience. At the same time,
ties 2.5i 2 hese refore of direct aid Powerful solicitations; the stro-o-ess of wor: #e rises of stors and songs; the pun: gency of ric-e - the rifierce of roce sature, and affection; a-3 Re Power of oar sy-ra-i- wieci is always found in social festory. Sooch a combina-oes to Power-l to be resisted by co-c =inds: Perrars of a-y == i ==ch is voluntarily, for azy errs of coe. won -s reach. He woo frequents the society of joal co-parices is an estal ====er, may fairly consider or self as dest=ed in the eri to becoce a sot. 4. Cortivory and regular drinking. M-lii:Lies of persons accessor themselves to take a moderate quantity of strors drok day by day, at regular periods: in the Hortos. ==ediately before dinner. or in the evening. Labourirg Tec- in this country, are to a great extent, accustomed to use ardent sports at certain given times of the day; considering them as necessary to recruit their strength, which is supposed to be by their tool. Some of them, less attentive to particular times of drinking, demand stated quantities of strong drink, which they regard as indispensable to enable them to pursue their daily labour. Men of wealth and fashion, with nearly the same regularity, consume large quantities of wine, at, and after, dinner. In these, and in all other cases of regular drinking, an habitual attachment to strong drink is insensibly begun, strengthened, and confirmed. The man, who drinks spirits regularly, ought to consider himself as having already entered the path of habitual intoxication. 5. Affliction, also, is not unfrequently, a Cause of Drunkenness. The affliction, here referred to, is both ily and mental. Certain diseases of the body, it is well known, bring with them lowness of spirits, discouragement, and melancholy. #. patient oftentimes resorts to the use of strong drink, as a remedy for these evils; and finds in it a temporary relief from the pressure. Of. tentimes the physician prescribes this remedy in form; and thus adds the sanction of his skill, and character, to the patient's inclination. In every case of this nature, a degree of pain is usually experienced in that part of the stomach, which is sometimes called the “Second Sensory.” This is commonly relieved, at least in some degree, by the use of strong drink, taken, at first, in moderate quantities. The remedy, however, leaves the disease worse than it found it. To produce the desired effect, a greater quantit is soon necessary; and then a greater still. In this manner multitudes of persons become Drunkards. The mental evils, which give birth to this unhappy habit, are numerous. Most, or all, of them, however, are such, as, instead of exciting, waste, or destroy, the energy of the mind. Of this nature are a strong sense of irretrievable disgrace; a painful consciousness of per i. or desperate, circumstances; merited loss of esteem ...s. ection, highly valued by ourselves; long-continued suspense concerning some important interest; final discouragement of ardent wishes, or favourite pursuits; together with several other very anxious, and hopeless, situations of the mind. From the distress, suffered in these and the like cases, it often betakes itself for relief to spirituous liquors. The relief is necessarily transient; and, in order to be enjoyed to any great extent, must, . be often repeated. By this repetition the sufferer soon becomes of course habitually intemperate. 6. A small number of persons find a Cause of Drunkenness in an original, native appetite for strong drink. The number of these is so small, and the Cause itself so little needs explanation, that it is unnecessary to dwell on this part of the subject. III. The principal Evils of Drunkenness are the following. 1. It exhibits the subject of it in the light of extreme Odiousness, and Degradation. Drunkenness always deprives a man, either partially or wholly of his reason; and very often of his bodily faculties. . A man without reason is either a maniac, or a brute; and, for the time, presents the eye with a spectacle, more sunk, than the brute, and more painful than the maniac. The loss of Reason is, to man, the loss of all, which renders him either comfortable, respectable, or useful. How painful, how humiliating, is the sight of an Idiot! How excruciating the appearance of a Lunatic How lowering to human pride and independence, to sober contemplation, and real dignity, a respectable man, transformed by age, or sickness, into a Driveller | Such a transformation the Drunkard accomplishes for himself, during every period of his intoxication ; and adds to all the other circumstances of degradation, the peculiarly humbling, and hateful one, that he has voluntarily degraded himself. In this situation the Drunkard becomes, in the literal and most emphatical sense, a fool. His conversation is that of a tongue, vibrating without a mind; moving, because it has been accustomed to move; lisping and babbling an imperfect, cluttered, and drag. ging articulation: a kind of instinctive effort, resembling that of the Idiot, who, having learned to count the strokes of a Clock, continued to count, after the Clock had ceased to go. In the mean time, many Drunkards, who partially lose their reason, set their passions on fire. All restraints, in this case, vanish with their reason. The mind becomes a furnace of frenzy; and the bodily powers, stimulated to more than ordinary vigour, are j only as the instruments of rage and violence. In the former case, the man sunk down to the lyel of a Swine. In this, he converts himself into a Tiger. In to former case, he became loathsome and despicable, In this, he becomes equally the object of hatred and terror. vol. III. 49
There is, however, a stage in the progress of both, at which the lose alike, and absolutely, the powers of both body and mind. Eac then becomes absolutely stupid: a mass of flesh, in which a soul onee lived, thought, animated, and controlled; but from which it has fled, indignant at the brutal abuse, which it has suffered. It has become palsied, lifeless, and for the period, extinct, under a shock which it was unable to sustain. 2. Drunkenness erposes the Subject of it to many, and those often ertrome, Dangers. The Drunkard is always exposed to be overreached, and defrauded, during the seasons of his partial insanity. . At these seasons, many persons, devoted to the use of strong drink, are peculiarly inclined to manage business, and make bargains. The weakness, the want of self-control, and the incapacity of forming just estimates of men and things, always visible at these seasons in such men, mark them out as prey for the cheat and the sharper. Aceordingly they often take such measures, to produce in them such a degree of intoxication, as they well know will effectually answer their own purposes. Without any such preconcertion, there are, however, always sharpers enough, ready to arrest the Drunkard in his intoxication, and Drunkards enough to furnish them with victims. At almost all such periods, the Rosses incurred are material, frequently they are great; and sometimes they are fatal. At other seasons, when the intoxication is complete, the subject of it is exposed to extreme personal dangers. Few men, in this situation, are aware, so long as they retain a partial use of their limbs, and some faint glimmerings of understanding, how incompetent they have become to direct their own conduct with safety. Of course, they venture without apprehension into such situations, as demand the full exercise of their bodily and mental powers. Hence one of them has fallen from his horse; and broken his limbs, or his neck. Another has fallen into the fire; and either terminated his life, or made himself through the remainder of it a miserable cripple. A third has lost himself in a wintry storm; and perished, because he could not find the way to his own house. A fourth has fallen overboard, and been drowned. A fifth has killed himself by swallowing a larger quantity of ardent spirits, than he was aware, or than #. nature could sustain. By these, and many other accidents, to some or other of which the Drunkard is almost always exposed, multitudes have come to an untimely end. * **, Nor is the danger much less to the intoxicated person of doing, without any design, and even in contradiction to his prevailing wishes, serious injuries to those around him. Not a small number of dwelling-houses have teen consumed by these undesigning incendiaries. In the conflagration, the inhabitants, whoever they may have been, most frequently his family, and perhaps as frequently the Drunkard himself, have perished. Who that has the