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the spirits, and the very substance of the brain, is not to be removed without more time, more difficulty, and more danger. We are by no means to imagine, that the ill effects of intemperance cease with the drunken fit, or with the sickness of stomach, and aching head, that succeed. The frequent repetition of such excesses cannot but greatly distress a body, the health and life of which depend. on parts so extremely fine and delicate, that David, reflecting on it with just apprehensions, says, 'I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Our experience confirms this reasoning two ways; both by the ill health, and short life, of great drinkers; and by the common practice of physic, which begins the cure of most disorders, by emptying the body of those foul sinks, with which intemperance had filled it. The physician and surgeon owe the greater part of their business to the cook and the vintner, who lay in, what they are feed to remove by pukes, purges, blistering, bleeding, and spitting; and to perfect the cure, a long course of low and cool feeding is generally prescribed. From hence may appear the absurdity of his excuse, who says, he gets drunk to comfort his spirits, and retrieve his sickly constitution.
Now his excuse, who drinks hard to stifle his concern for the unfortunate posture of his worldly affairs, is, if possible, still more senseless and desperate. The drunkard will not leave himself sense enough to consider, that his vice does not tend to the improvement of his fortune; the only remedy, humanly speaking, his cares admit of; and that it can do no more, than for a time make him forget he is in debt or distress. If thought, and the sense of his poverty, were never to return, this might be a complete cure for his grief. But to forget his distress, is the way to neglect his affairs, by no means to retrieve them; and to buy this short forgetfulness with such expenses, as drunkenness is always attended with, is the sure way to put his affairs on a more distressful footing, than mere neglect could have occasioned. But if he is already in distress, and cannot bear so much as to think of it, what will be his case, when neglect and extravagance shall have wasted all he has, so that his stupid remedy, and his ruined fortune, shall fail him both at once? Then, to which hand shall be turn him ? He cannot work : to beg he is ashamed. Most unhappy man! his
misery admits of no change, but a jail; of no end, but a halter,
But great as the folly is of drinking to stupify a bodily disorder, or to drive away the cares arising from worldly distress; it is mere wisdom, if compared to that of drinking to stifle the stings of a guilty conscience. If one vice could furnish a cure, or make an atonement for another, we might, with some shew of reason, apologize for all our vices. It is true the drunkard may, for a time, drown his conscience in strong liquor, and silence its clamours with the noise of his roaring companions; but must be not sometimes be sober ? And will not his conscience then have its revenge ? Will not the violence he hath done to it by the new additional vice whet its stings, and drive them into his soul with double force and torture? Remorse and dread of eternal punishment were given him for a remedy against sin; and it is by them that God calls him to repentance and mercy. But because this voice of God is alarming and terrible, he flies to the devil for protection, although all he expects from that quarter, is the benefit of travelling some part of the road to eternal misery with his eyes covered. To act such a part as this, is to insult Almighty God, even under his rod, and to his face; is to give up heaven for ever; and, with the obstinacy, the terror, and despair of a devil, to plunge blindfold into that misery, in comparison of which, the most violent agonies of conscience are mere peace and pleasure.
The drunkard hath other more uncommon and accidental excuses for his vice; but they need not a particular refutation; for he rather pleads them to himself, as human infirmities, than avows them to others, as reasons, by which he would hope to prove he is neither altogether so foolish, or so wicked, as his neighbours might suppose him to be.
He says, he is so exposed to company and business, that it is impossible for him to avoid drinking to excess. Then he is of so easy and so flexible a temper, that he cannot resist the importunities of his friends, as he calls them. · Thus he is for softening his vice into a sort of virtue, and calling that mere good-nature, which his creditor calls villany, and his wife and children cruelty. But he will never own, that so low an appetite as the love of liquor, or so shameful a weakness, as vanity, deserve any share of the blame, that he is a drunkard. And yet, after all, here lies the stumbling-block, over which the habitual drunkard falls. He may have a great soul, but it is not quite so great, as to enable him to despise the pleasure he finds in gratifying this appetite, nor the censure of other drunkards, who would call him penurious, did he not run into the same extravagance with themselves. Nay, great as his soul is, it does not hinder him from being vain, that he can hold more liquor than other men, though in this, as the philosopher observed, the hogshead bas still the advantage of him; nor from vaunting this superiority of his strength, in being able to sit and speak, after drinking the same quantity that hath laid the rest of the company on the floor, though for this he ought to thank his thick skull, and heavy spirits.
We will however, for once allow, that the temptations, which ensnare the drunkard, are great enough to prevent the imputation of his having less sense and soul, than the liar, the thief, or other sinners of that rank; and we will proceed to lay before him the woe denounced against him by Almighty God; or in other words, the miserable effects, as well temporal as spiritual, of his favourite vice, that he may compare those effects with his temptations, in order to see which is the greatest. After this he may judge for himself, by his reforming, or continuing in the vice, whether he hath any remains of common sense, or any right to look on himself as a great and generous soul.
The first temporal ill effect of his drunkenness, which I shall take notice of, as contained in the woe, with which he is threatened, is poverty. This must certainly fall to his lot, though his fortune might at first have been very great; for such extravagance and neglect of his affairs, as must accompany the vice of drunkenness, cannot fail to put it out of his power to support himself and his family in that rank of living to which they are used, which they expected always to appear in, and from which therefore they cannot be brought . down, without greater shame and anxiety, than people in lower life usually feel from absolute want of bread. Now this is poverty; and such poverty, as his wife and children will find means to make him feel a share of; although there is still so much left that he may drink on, and be the despicable slave of his worse than beastly appetite, as long as he
lives; which cannot be very long, for his purse must soon prove too hard for his constitution, and lead him, through a course of pain and sickness, to an untimely death. And now he is a dying, what account can he give of his understanding, who hath paid his fortune, his health, and all the cleanly and comfortable satisfactions of life, with life itself, for a short course, full of confusion, sickness, reproach, and trouble? for such, undoubtedly, is the life of a drunkard.
Who hath woe? Who hath sorrow? Who hath contentions? Who hath babblings? Who hath wounds without cause? Who hath redness of eyes? They that tarry long at the wine, they that go to seek mixed wine.'
But when he, who hath no more than enough to support his family, turns a drunkard, he soon runs out his little stock, and reduces the whole family to the last distress. In this situation, he finds himself surrounded with hunger, thirst, and cold. Abroad he is mortified with continual repulses and contempt; at home with the reproaches of a wife in distress, and children crying to him for bread. And is it only to tickle his palate, or for the pleasure of a grin, that he tramples on the ties of nature; that he strips the children of that which is necessary to defend them from the cold ; that he snatches the bit from the mouth of his little infant, already pining for want of food ? His sorry companions, who share the spoils of a heart-broken wife, and ruined family, may cry up his good-nature, and call bim a honest fellow; but reason, common sense, and Christianity, call him a monster of villany and cruelty. And, to finish all, the curse of God pursues him into banishment, or a jail; where his goodly companions forsake him, and no man pities him; where, perhaps, he may live to hear his wife is begging her bread, his daughter earning hers by prostitution, and his son sentenced to the gallows.
The next woe, denounced by God, and the nature of things, against the drunkard, is universal contempt. We all know, how lightly the poor man is regarded, although his poverty is owing to no neglects or vices of his; but when poverty is brought on by vice and extravagance, then contempt and disdain are justly due to it. Now, he who once held up his head, and lived in credit, finds it extremely difficult, to bear with patience the continual snubs and insults,
which those who were once his equals, perhaps his inferiors, are but too apt to throw upon him, now that he is down. Nay, his poverty makes him take that for an affront, which was never intended as such. Add to all this, that he who was once high and haughty, is now forced to cringe, to sneak, and flatter, for the very necessaries of life, and to stoop to be the pitiful spunge of every low company that will bear him, for a little drink. Had he the spirit he pretended to, when he was formerly ranting it in houses of public resort, these mortifications would be worse to him than a thousand deaths.
The third dreadful effect, contained in the woe denounced against him, is ill health, and an untimely death. Of this I have said enough already. But the drunkand declares for a short life and a merry; and accordingly hopes to have his wish. Setting aside the atheistical guilt of such a wish, what security can he give himself, that his health and fortune will last as long as his life ? Hath he not known many others of the same stamp, who have laboured under all the complaints of old age, before they were thirty? Who have been whole years a dying, ere they arrived at that stage? Nay, who, at the best, had so much distraction, so many head-aches, so many untoward accidents, with innumerable other mischiefs, as were enough to sink their brightest days to a level with those of the sober, in which they had least pleasure ?
The fourth and last temporal evil, which I shall insist on, as comprehended in the woe threatened to the drunkard by my text, is madness. Man owes the dignity of his nature to his reason, by which he is both distinguished from the brute creation, and qualified for dominion over that, and the rest of this world. It is by his reason also that he is allied to angels, and enabled to know God in his word and works here, and to enjoy him for ever hereafter. Every man is more happy in himself, and more highly esteemed by others, in proportion as he shews more reason or wisdom in his discourse and actions. We may therefore safely say, that nothing more unfortunate can befall a man in this world, than the loss of his reason. This all men must acknowledge, who are in their senses themselves. What then shall we