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necessary or convenient, what is within the bounds of moderation, and what not, must in a great measure be left to the judgment of every particular christian, upon an honest and conscientious regard to these true ends of drinking, as well as eating. God hath planted in every man a natural desire of life; and eating and drinking are the only refreshments he has given to support it: but, when we speak of the refreihments which nature desires and calls for, we must carefully distinguish between the desires of nature, before a habit of intemperance, and after it. Nature, not vitiated with custom or habit, is easy and content with a reasonable and moderate refreihment; but the cravings of nature under the dominion of habit (if we may then call it nature) are unlimitedandendless: the more they are indulged, the more eager they are ; and never cease, till the senses and understanding are drowned.
They are as much a disease as thirst in a fever ; and are no more to be gratified than that is; nay (if the matter be rightly considered) much less; as that is, at most, attended only with temporal death, whereas the certain effect of this is death eternal. Therefore it is very sinful in itself, and very ungrateful and unreasonable in us, to suffer an inordinate appetite to turn those very blessings to the destruction of life, which God has graciously given us for the preservation of it. Not as if men were bound to live by weight and measure, or were presentlysinful if they go beyond the proportions which will barely support life : for the great guard and caution which God requires at our hands is not so much to keep to the nice proportions that will barely preserve life, as to keep from that which will weaken and destroy it: and between the proportions that will barely support nature, and those that will overcharge it, there is a compass and latitude, within which we may innocently enjoy the blessings of Heaven. God has provided drinks, as well as meats, in the nature of remedies, to revive and refresh the drooping spirits, and to give new life and vigour to the whole frame: but then we must remember to use them as God intended them : not so as to lay aside or supersede our natural strength and vigour, but only to assist nature, when we find her faint and drooping. We must not apply these remedies till nature calls for them ; being either in a state of hunger and
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thirst, or else tired and overcome with thought and labour : nor, when nature does call, must we apply them in larger proportions than the requires, or larger than will fairly answer her needs. And as you have read, that theend of drinking, as well as eating, is to fit and prepare us for the business of the station wherein God's providence hath placed us; it follows, that one great rule and measure in the enjoyment of those blessings is to use and apply them in such a manner, as may make them most subservient to the daily business of our calling and profeflion. And this we do, when in our ordinary course we make the seasons of drinking, as well as eating, what they ought to be, only short retreats from business, and not the business of life; when we take care in convenient time to return to the duties and offices of our calling, and to carry with us sufficient understanding and abilities to pursue it; and when what we call the unbendings of our mind, which may be fometimes necessary, are rare, and without any mixture of riotorexcess; for whatever is beyond these is an irregular and sinful use of God's creatures.
111. By attending to what has been laid you will be able to The danger judge, not only what are the proper bounds of soof intempe- briety and temperance, and when it is that you exrance, ceed those bounds; but also how great and heinous the guilt of that excess is, and its wretched abuse of the blesfings of God, not only in forgetting their proper ends, but in perverting them to ends directly contrary; in turning that to the destruction of life, which God gave for the prefervation of it; in making that the means of stupefying the spirits which he designed to raise and refresh them; in transforming ourselves into the state of brutes, by the very helps that he bestows for a more vigorous discharge of the duties and offices of a rational creature; and, finally, in making that the occasion of indisposing ourselves for the business of life, which God graciously gives to support us under it. Yet,
From the common and loathsome practice of drinking till The folle men are drunk, it is manifelt that they have adoptends of ed other ends of drinking, than those above recited drinking. and warrantable by the law of God. Therefore I Thall treat of them in order.
First, A drunkard pretends that he falls into that excess by good fellowship, or keeping another company in that Good felwicked practice. It would be well for such a one to lowjhip. consider, that he may, by such a height of complaisance, not only bring himself into a bad state of health (and what is worse, it poisons the soul of man, always deprives him of reason, distracts his brain, and makes him worse than a beast here, and endangers the loss of his soulhereafter)but, as many examples prove, he may becutoffin the midstofadrunken fit.
Secondly, Some excuse the sin under the specious pretence of preserving friendship. But give me leave to say Preferving this is a mere drunken excuse; for who in his sen- friendship. ses can think that he serves his friend by helping him to ruin his estate, his credit, his life and his soul ? besides, what is moreapt to breed quarrels, which are too often attended with blows, and wounds, and murders ? för, as Solomon faith, Wine when it is drank to excess maketh bitterness of mind, and causeth brawling and strife.
Thirdly, It is also argued by drunkards, that they only drink to chear their spirits, or to make themselves Chearing merry. Yet what is the laughter of such, but, as the spirits. Solomon remarks, madness? They part freely with their reason, health, goods, and reputation in this world, and must render a sad account for such extravagancies in the world to come.
Fourthly, They who pretend that they drink to put away cares, plead for the greatest of all follies, because Putting asuch a practice cannot keep any considerable cares way cares. long out of their mind. Wasit ever known that anyone that was pursued by public justice, ever sought to conceal himself by getting drunk? And is it not an infinitely greater folly and madness, by surfeiting, drunkenness, and riotous living, to endeavour to stifle the checks of conscience, which pursue the sinner to thejudgment-leatof Christ, than by repente ance to seek for pardon and forgiveness? And should the cares be only of worldly concern, and such as are fit to be avoided and put away; has not God in such cases provided and invited us to castall our cares upon him; and that he will care for us? And shall we prefer drinking to God's assistance? Therefore, whoever would not be accounted to have quite cast off
all all religion and reason, must never have recourse to drunkenness in such cases ; because it at once rejects the commandment and providence of God, and loads the conscience with a new crime ; which, in sober intervals, redoubles all , such cares with greater force.
Fifthly, Idle people too frequently alledge that drinkingisa Palfing a- recreation, and serves them to pass awny time; which, way iime. if true, is a caveit against idleness, which is the pretended cause of so great a sin. But, if we survey the drunken part of mankind, it will be found to be a very idle excuse; for God's providence has fo stationed every man, that nobody need be idle but through choice; he may always be employed, for the benefit of his own or neighbour's good. And whoever is most at leisure from worldly employment should be more diligent to resist temptations, and to improve the graces and virtues which God has bestowed upon him, for the edification of his neighbour, and the good of his own soul.
Sixthly, Some so far betray their reason, as to pretend that Preventing they get drunk to avoid reproach from their drunkreproach. en companions. Certainly such people forget that drunkenness is a breach of God's commandments: and consequently to be reproached for keeping his commands is so far from being hurtful, that it brings a blefling upon them : for, as our Saviour declares, Blessed are ye when men shall revile you, and say all manner of evil against you, for my fake; therefore, says St. Peter, if ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happyare ye. On the contrary, they whochuseto obey man rather than God, by breaking the vow at their baptism to renounce the world, not only run into many evils in this life, but incur God's displeasure, and the danger of everlasting destruction. And again, is it not a degree of madness toyield to the reproaches of the foolish and worst of men, and to be deaf to the well-grounded reproaches of the wise and good? But the greatest consideration of all, to deter men from this false way of arguing, is that dreadful sentence which Christ has pronounced on all them that disobey him through
fear of the reproach of men: Whosoever therefore shall be · ashamed of me, and of my words, in this adulterous and fin- ful generation, of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed,
when he cometh in the glory of his Father, with the holy angels. Such is the deplorable end of those, who cast off their sobriety, as they think, to avoid scoffs, reproaches, and it may be injuries from men; yet it is well known that many, who endeavour to frighten others into the fin of drunkenness by such means, are of all others most ready to scornand despise those that accompany them in the fame excess of drinking, One drunkard is always the object of another's laughter.
Seventhly, there are fome sort of drunkards, who fot by themselves, and drink, as we say, for drinking-fake : Pleafure of but when a man is so far depraved in his reason, the drink. there is more hope of a fool than of him; yet they are generally unwilling toown this. Was not Esau, who sold his birthright for a mess of pottage, blame-worthy, tho’in need of refreshment? What then can be the hope of such a one, who sells his health, reason, soul,and hisGod, for such drink,which is so far from nourishing, that it only serves to destroy him?
Eighthly, The most common and plausible excuse, which men now-a-days make to palliate this sinof drunk- Bargainenness, is the necesity, they say, men are under in ing. driving bargains, or in the way of trade. It is true that such a wicked practice has been introduced by designing and crafty men, who endeavour to defraud or over-reach those with whom they traffic; and therefore it is so far from losing any of its malignity, that the very intention of taking an advantage of another, made drunk for that purpose, is a great aggravation of the crime. Besides, how can any one presume so much upon hisown head, but that he may be first intoxicated, and then be subject to the very deceit he proposed to impose upon the other? which would be driving a very bad bargain.
Another excuse, which is too common among drunkards, is the plea of custom and general practice ; Which love and from thence it is pleaded, either that such a makes a man life is harmless to the body, or at worst but a fin lieveic dana of infirmity, not sufficient to debar any one from gerous. heaven. But it may as well be urged, that there is no heaven, as that drunkenness will notexcludeus from it; for drunkenness is numbered by the apostle among those fins, which they that commit shall not inberit the kingdom of God.
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