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vailing lamentations of the captive and the giving up of hope and effort. They have stricken me, and I was not sick; they have beaten me, and. I felt it not : when shall I awake? I will seek it yet again;" again be stricken and beaten; again float upon the deep, and sleep upon the mast.
No sin has fewer apologies than intemperance. The suffrage of the world is against it; and yet there is no sin so naked in its character, and whose commencement and progress is indicated by so many signs, concerning which there is among mankind such profound ignorance. All reprobate drunkenness; and yet, not one of the thousands who fall into it, dreams of danger when he enters the way that leads to it.
The soldier, approaching the deadly breach, and seeing rank after rank of those who preceded him swept away, hesitates sometimes, and recoils from certain death. But men behold the effects upon others, of going in given courses, they see them begin, advance, and end, in confirmed intemperance, and unappalled rush heedlessly upon the same ruin.
A part of this heedlessness arises from the undefined nature of the crime in its early stages, and the ignorance of men, concerning what may be termed the experimental indications of its approach. Theft and falsehood are definite actions. But intemperance is a state of internal sensation, and the indications may exist long, and multiply, and the subject of them not be aware that they are the signs of intemperance. It is not unfrequent, that men become irreclaimable in their habits, without suspicion of danger. Nothing, therefore, seems to be more important, than a description of this broad way, thronged by so many travellers, that the temperate, when they come in sight of it, may know their danger and pass by it and turn away.
What I shall deliver on this subject, has been projected for several years, has been delayed by indisposition, and the pressure of other labours, and is advanced now without personal or local reference.
Intemperance is the sin of our land, and with our boundless prosperity, is coming in upon us like a flood; and if any thing shall defeat the hopes of the world, which hang upon our experiment of civil liberty, it is that river of fire, which is rolling through the land, destroying the vital air, and extending around an atmosphere of death.
It is proposed in this and the subsequent discourses, to consider the nature, the occasions, the signs, the evils, and the remedy of intemperance. In this discourse we shall consider
THE NATURE AND OCCASIONS OF INTEMPERANCE.
The more common apprehension is, that nothing is intemperance, which does not supersede the regular operations of the mental faculties and the bodily organs. However much a man may consume of ardent
spirits, if he can command his mind, his utterance, and his bodily members, he is not reputed intemperate. And yet, drinking within these limits, he may be intemperate in respect to inordinate desire, the quantity consumed, the expense incurred, the present effect on his health and temper, and moral sensibilities, and what is more, in respect to the ultimate and inevitable results of bodily and mental imbecility, or sottish drunk
God has made the human body to be sustained by food and sleep, and the mind to be invigorated by effort and the regular healthfulness of the moral system, and the cheering influence of his moral government. And whoever, to sustain the body, or invigorate the mind, or cheer the heart, applies habitually the stimulus of ardent spirits, does violence to the laws of his nature, puts the whole system into disorder, and is intemperate long before the intellect falters, or a muscle is unstrung.
The effect of ardent spirits on the brain, and the members of the body, is among the last effects of intemperance and the least destructive part of the sin. It is the moral ruin which it works in the soul, that gives it the denomination of giant-wickedness. If all who are intemperate, drank to insensibility, and on awaking, could arise from the debauch with intellect and heart uninjured, it would strip the crime of its most appalling evils. But among the woes which the
scriptures denounce against crime, one is, “woe unto them that are mighty to drink wine, and men of strength to consume strong drink.” These are captains in the bands of intemperance, and will drink two generations of youths into the grave, before they go to lie down by their side. The Lord deliver us from strong-headed men, who can move the tongue when all are mute around them, and keep the eye open when all around them sleep, and can walk from the scene of riot, while their companions must be aided or wait until the morning.
It is a matter of undoubted certainty, that habitual tippling is worse than periodical drunkenness. The poor Indian, who, once a month drinks himself dead all but simple breathing, will out-live for years the man who drinks little and often, and is not, perhaps, suspected of intemperance. The use of ardent spirits daily, as ministering to cheerfulness, or bodily vigour, ought to be regarded as intemperance. No person probably, ever did, or ever will, receive ardent spirits into his system once a day, and fortify his constitution against its deleterious effects, or exercise such discretion and self government, as that the quantity will not be increased, and bodily infirmities and mental imbecility be the result, and in more than half the instances, inebriation. Nature may hold out long against this sapping and mining of the constitution, which daily tippling is carrying on; but first or last, this foe of
life will bring to the assault enemies of its own formation, before whose power the feeble and the mighty will be alike unable to stand.
All such occasional exhilaration of the spirits by intoxicating liquors, as produces levity and foolish jesting, and the loud laugh, is intemperance, whether we regard those precepts which require us to be soberminded, or the effect which such exhilaration and lightness has upon the cause of Christ, when witnessed in professors of religion. The cheerfulness of health, and excitement of industry, and social intercourse, is all which nature demands, or health or purity permits.
A resort to ardent spirits as a means of invigorating the intellect, or of pleasurable sensation, is also intemperance. It is a distraint upon nature, to extort, in a short time, those results of mind and feeling, which in her own unimpelled course would flow with less impetuosity, but in a more equable and healthful current. The mind has its limits of intellectual application, and the heart its limits of feeling, and the nervous system of healthful exhilaration ; and whatever you gain through stimulus, by way of anticipation, is only so much intellectual and vital power cut off at the latter end of life. It is this occult intemperance, of daily drinking, which generates a host of bodily infirmities and diseases—loss of appetite-nausea at the stomach disordered bile obstructions of the liver-jaundice