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thorough degradation of the man who is subject to it. For the time, the faculties which distinguish him from the inferior animals are merged beneath the nature of the brute; and divested of reason and conscience, he is unfitted for the discharge of any one of the functions of an intellectual, a moral, and an immortal being. In this debased condition, without understanding, with excited passions, what deeds of atrocity is he not capable of committing! What may he not suffer self in his person, exposed to the most extreme danger, in which life is often lost! What loss may he not sustain in his property, from those who are ever ready to seize upon their fellow-creatures as their prey! How wasteful to his property is the indulgence of that habit which he has formed? How ruinous and disgraceful to himself, his connexions, and dependants ! Is he a parent? How melancholy is the spectacle which his children are doomed to witness in the person of that being whom nature teaches them to venerate! Is he a son, the object of parental fondness, the person who was looked to as the stay and the hope of his family? What disappointment and suffering does he inflict on those whom he should feel anxious to preserve from pain, and whom he is bound to cherish and to honour! Deserted by friends, ejected from situations of trust, with the loss of reputation, the waste of property, he is rapidly advancing to poverty, disease, and death.
How great is the guilt with which the drunkard is chargeable in the misimprovement of his talents, the loss of his usefulness, and the wide and lasting misery which in many cases he brings on himself and his family. Though he should not succeed in making the other members of it drunkards like himself, he squanders the property which would furnish them with comfort and respectability,—and the tendency of his example is to make his children irreligious and immoral. He withholds from them instruction, and government, and encouragement; and he himself leads the way to the chambers of hell. His career is usually terminated by self-destruction, or violent death; while his soul, has long been hardened in sin,
; and its condition rendered hopeless. Of all the melancholy examples of the woful consequences of evil habits long indulged, to be found in the history of mankind, I know not one more truly deplorable, more burdened with guilt, more hardened beyond the efficacy of means, and more apparently given up to reprobation, than the confirmed drunkard.
What are the means of avoiding, or of being delivered from this awful vice? We must be on our guard against the causes that naturally lead to it. It has been remarked that when the habit of drunkenness is formed it is of all evil habits the most difficult to be broken. In this case, entire abstinence, or entire and eternal ruin is the only alternative. The companions, the example that lead to it, and if possible, the very place on which the habit has been formed, should be forsaken.
The evil that drunkenness is producing over the world, and in our own land, is incalculable. It is impairing the health, wasting the property, and excluding from education and knowledge thousands of mankind. It is rendering idle and profligate those on whose industry and economy families are depend
ing for bread; and making those habitations that would otherwise be nurseries of virtue, the abode of contention, vice, and misery. How much it is retarding the progress and the triumphs of the gospel it is unnecessary for me to say. It seems more than any other vice subservient to the purposes of that evil Spirit, who is described as a murderer from the beginning, as a liar and the father of lies ;—and who by this, as by other artifices, prevents the light of the glo rious gospel of God from shining into the mind. The amount of evil that issues from it in a large city, is the ruin of health, the waste of life, the destruc tion of the soul, is greater than the corresponding good which the friends of religion, and the ministers of the gospel, with their combined labours and efforts, can accomplish.
Of such vast importance, and so numerous are the obligations included in the duty of obeying the divine command in holding life sacred. It is an easy and natural extension of it to apply it to the life of the soul; and to infer from it the obligation of doing all in our power to place the means by which this life is conveyed within the reach of our fellow-creatures. I we are to care for the body, can we be innocent if we neglect the health and the happiness of the immortal part, -the soul? Is it not to this that our chief attention should be continually directed, as that which is to live when the body moulders in the dust, and which is capable of happiness or of misery for ever? “ What shall it profit a man, though he should gain the whole world, and lose his own soul; or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul ?” It was to impart this eternal happiness to man, that God has instituted an economy of grace, that “ He has so loved
“ the world as to give his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life.” While he commands not to impair or to injure the life of the body, he enjoins not to disregard that better life which he bestows, and to make choice of that good part that shall never be taken from us.
We are required by the law written on the heart, not less than by the law which was written on tables of stone, to refrain from injuring the property of others. “ Thou shalt not steal,” is the authoritative command of heaven; which evidently requires the lawful procuring and furthering the wealth and outward estate of ourselves and others; and forbids whatsoever doth or may unjustly hinder our own or our neighbour's wealth, or outward estate. To take our neighbour's property, therefore, and to turn it to our own use, without his consent, is unjust and sinful.
We can much more easily trace the origin and progress of property than satisfy ourselves, at least in some cases, of the justice or expediency of the tenure by which it is held. "That one man should retain possession of what is more than adequate for the maintenance of a thousand, while there are many
around him who are scarcely able to procure a subsistence, is an order of things which at first view seems as little consonant to our reason as it is to our feelings. “You see the ninety-nine toiling and scraping together a heap of superfluities for one, and this one too, oftentimes the feeblest and the worst of the whole set,--a child, a madman, or a fool ;-getting nothing for themselves all the while, but a little of the coarsest of the provision which their own industry produces; looking quietly on, while they see the fruits of all their labours spent or spoiled; and if one of the number take or touch a particle of the hoard, the others joining against him, and hanging him for the theft.”
It surely is necessary that reasons, ample and sufficient, should be assigned to justify this seemingly harsh inequality. Such reasons do exist, and their sufficiency will presently be made to appear.
Every man, doubtless, has a right to the fruits of his own labour. To deprive him of any part of this without an equivalent is unjust. For if it were allowable to take away a share of the fruit of his industry, without an equivalent, the order and designs of hunan society would be frustrated;-men would rob from others that to which they have no good claim :-property, being wasted by the idle and the profligate, would soon disappear, and the most fertile parts of the earth would become a barren wilderness. The authority of the Supreme Legislator and Proprietor decides the question; and gives to every man the exclusive right to that which he has acquired by his ingenuity or labour.