Page images

which they often feel to see a husband or wife, or parent or child, thus debased, and rushing to ruin, are inexpressible. Further this vice may have, and doubtless often does have, the most pernicious influence on the morals of a family. We often see children follow the example which a parent has set them in this respect. And even if it should not have this unhappy effect, this vice must lessen a parent's dignity in the eyes of his children and their esteem for him, and thus render him unfit to do the duty of a parent-to train up his children in the way that they should go. But these are not all the injuries which families receive from this vice; the mischief frequently extends further. Drunkards often injure their families by abusive words, and sometimes by blows. Of this, many families can doubtless bear witness. Yea the lives of families have sometimes been put in jeopardy, and they have been obliged to seek safety by flight. And further, the want of the necessaries of life, is another of the serious train of evils which this vice brings upon families. Look into prisons where debtors are confined, while their families. at home are reduced to distress, and you will find all this distress frequently occasioned by intemperance. Go to the houses where by an execution for debt, families are stripped of the necessaries of life, without even a bed left on which to lie; inquire into the cause, and you will frequently find that intemperate drinking has done this. Go to our alms-houses and our poor lists, and inquire into the reason why those here found are reduced to the necessity of being supported by the public charity; and you doubtless will frequently find that intemperance, either in themselves or friends, has done this. But I forbear. The evils which result to families from this vice are almost innumerable, and beyond description.

5. Another evil of drunkenness is, it injures health, and if persisted in must finally destroy the strongest constitution. In confirmation of this permit me to make a quotation from a medical writer* of Europe. "Every act of intoxication (says he) puts nature to the expense of a fever in order to discharge the poisonous draught. When this is repeated, almost every day, it is easy to foresee the con

[blocks in formation]

sequences. That constitution must be strong indeed, which is able long to hold out under a daily fever.These fevers frequently end in inflammations which produce fatal effects. Though a drunkard should not fall by an acute disease, he seldom escapes those of a chronic kind---paralytic and convulsive disorders, obstructions, atrophies, dropsies, and consumptions of the lungs.These are the common ways in which drunkards make their exit." *An eminent physician of our own country after enumerating a list of stubborn diseases as the effects of this vice adds, "It would take up a volume to describe how much other disorders, natural to the human body, are increased and complicated by it." And he gives it as his opinion, that "not less than 4,000 people die annually, from the use of ardent spirits, in the United States."— To these sentiments of the injurious consequences of drunkenness to health, physicians in general will doubtless, bear their testimony. And they who have for any considerable time observed the fate of persons addicted to this vice, must from their own observation be convinced of the correctness of these remarks. What a dreadful consequence of intemperance is this! The drunkard is a self-murderer! He as surely is the author of his own death as the man who takes his life, by a single act of violence; and at the bar of God he must as surely answer for the crime of suicide. Further, the drunkard not only injures his health and shortens his life, in the way which has been pointed out, by impairing his constitution, and laying the foundation of disease; but he exposes his life to be cut off by accidents, which while in a fit of intoxication, he is unable to to see or avoid. Many have in this state been suddenly cut off by a violent death, and thus have awakened from their drunken slumbers, at the bar of their final judge. And to all this we may add, that this vice is one of the most fruitful causes of those crimes which issue in capital punishments. Judge Rush, in a charge to a grand jury of Pennsylvania says: "I declare in this public manner, and with the most solemn regard to truth, that I do not recollect an instance since my being concerned in the administration of justice, of a single person being put on his trial

Dr. Rush.

for manslaughter, which did not originate in drunkenness; and but few instances of trials for murder, where the crime did not spring from the same unhappy cause."

6. Finally, to crown the catalogue of evils, this vice if continued in will destroy the soul forever. God has in his word frequently prohibited it, and enjoined the contrary virtue. "Add to your faith, virtue; and to virtue, knowledge, and to knowledge, temperance." 2 Pet. i. 5, 6. "The grace of God that bringeth salvation, hath appeared to all men; teaching us, that denying ungodliness, and worldly lusts, we should live soberly." Tit. ii. 11, 12. "Be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess." Eph. v. 18. "Let us walk honestly as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness." Rom. xiii. 13. "Take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and so that day come upon you unawares." Luk. xxi. 34. Such are the laws of God. And will he not punish the wilful and habitual transgressor of his laws? He assuredly will.Accordingly he hath pronounced woes upon those who are addicted to this vice, and hath expressly excluded them from his kingdom." "Wo to the drunkards of Ephraim." Is. xxviii. 1. And in our text. "Wo unto them that rise up early in the morning that they may follow strong drink, that continue until night, till wine inflame them." "Be not deceived; neither fornicators &c. nor drunkards, shall inherit the kingdom of God." 1 Cor. vi. 9, 10. "The works of the flesh are manifest which are these, adultery &c. drunkenness, of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God." Gal. v. 19, 21. In these passages the drunkard may see his doom. It is impossible for him while he sustains this character to enter the kingdom of God. And he must be an heir of eternal misery. Thus my hearers I have brief

described to you some of the fatal consequences, here and hereafter, of the sin of intemperance. To what has been said under this head, permit me to add the words of Solomon. Prov. xxiii. 29, 30, 31, 32, 34. "Who hath wo? Who hath sorrow? Who hath contention? Who hath babbling? Who hath wounds without cause? Who hath redness of eyes? They that tarry long at the wine, they that go to seek mixt wine. Look not thou upon the

wine when it is red, when it giveth his colour in the cup, when it moveth itself aright. At the last it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder. Yea thou shalt be as he that lieth down in the midst of the sea, or as he that lieth upon the top of a mast." We proceed,

II. To inquire into some of the causes that lead to this destructive vice.

1. The example and conduct of some parents, have led their children into this vice. Children are prone to imitate the example of parents; and doubtless example in this respect has often had a pernicious influence, and has been the cause of intemperance in many children. Parents also, sometimes indulge their children, when young, in the free use of spirituous liquors, until a love for them is contracted. They also, sometimes are not sufficiently careful to restrain them from places, and company, where they are in danger of contracting this habit.

2. An opinion that spirituous liquors, are necessary to brace the system, and strengthen it to bear bodily labour and fatigue, has frequently been the cause of producing a habit of intemperance. If a little be useful, which however has been denied by the most eminent physicians, it had need to be taken with great caution lest a habit is induced. For if it be established as a principle that a man cannot labour without it, and that every time he feels weary he must take some to invigorate him, the consequence will be that a habit of intemperance will almost certainly be soon formed.

3. Another cause which sometimes leads to intemperance is, at first using spirituous liquors as a medicine. “I have known (says Dr. Rush) many men and women of excellent characters and principles, who have been betrayed by occasional doses, taken as a medicine, into the love of spirituous liquors, insomuch that they have afterwards fallen sacrifices to their fatal effects."

4. Another frequent cause is evil company. This has led astray many promising youth, and ruined them, both for this world and the next. They have fallen into jovial company, where strong drink was freely used; and where they have been urged to partake; and if they declined or drank sparingly, they were ridiculed as void of spirit. Unable to bear the reproach of fools, they yielded. They went away ashamed, resolved never again to act thus a

gainst their judgment and conscience. Temptation was again presented; their scruples were more easily overcome; and thus by degress the warning voice of conscience has been stifled, and many have contracted a habit of intemperance and ruined themselves forever.

5. Another cause has sometimes been, the troubles of this life. Many have had recourse to the intoxicating bowl to drown their cares and their sorrows, and thus have brought upon themselves one of the greatest of afflictions which could befall them.

There are other causes which we have not time to notice. But,

6. There is one which holds a prominent place, which I feel it to be my indispensable duty, while on this subject, to mention. I mean the many tippling houses which are to be found in our land. These are the most fruitful causes of the destructive vice of intemperance, which is annually destroying the peace and happiness of numerous families, bringing thousands to an untimely grave, and sending multitudes to the bottomless pit. The baneful influence of these houses appears from the anxiety which our Legislature has discovered to suppress them, by enacting laws against them; and it also appears from their effects which we are forced to behold. Concerning these houses one of the chief magistrates of a neighbouring state remarks. "These are the polluted fountains that send forth constant streams to corrupt and demoralize the people.Here our youth the growing hopes of their country, are initiated in all the mysteries of iniquity, and lay the foundation of those destructive habits that never forsake them." I proceed to the

III. Thing proposed, which was to point out the remedies and preventives of the vice of intemperance.As to remedies, to cure the habit in those in whom it has become confirmed, we have but little hope indeed that any can be pointed out which will prove effectual. This remark, painful as it is, we are compelled to make from facts; for rarely indeed do we see the drunkard forsake his cups. This vice perhaps more than any other, blinds the mind, hardens the heart, sears the conscience, and unfits a person for serious reflection. And drunkards indeed seem to be given up of God, to walk for a little while in their own ways, and follow their own heart's lusts, and

« PreviousContinue »