صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

according to your belief, that no drunkard or unclean person shall inherit the kingdom of God. If, indeed, I thought that I had a drunkard, or one who was likely to become a drunkard, before me, I would turn this sermon into a prayer for his immortal soul; I would beseech this congregation to baptize him with their tears and prayers; I would thunder into his ear the word which saith, "Be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess." "Let not thy heart be overcharged with drunkenness." "Let us walk honestly as in the day, not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying." "The works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings." I would make myself a suppliant to that person, and would plead with him for his immortal soul. I would argue with him till I had convinced him that he is sinning against God, against Christianity, against his neighbour, against himself; that he is turning the blessings God has given him into ruin to his soul and body; that he is sinning against sense and reason, and debasing himself far, far below the level of the brutes that perish.

But, alas, the effect of this sin, is to keep those who are guilty of it from the word of reproof, and the doctrines of the Gospel. And I feel, therefore, that my business is now, not so much with confirmed drunkards, as with sober, temperate, and respectable young men and women; that I have to put them on their guard against any step towards this disgraceful and ruinous vice. Recollect, my brethren, I entreat you all, that even the most confirmed drunkard, was once a sober man. Every drunkard once hated and abhorred this sin, as much as any of us. He or she was led by little and little, till Satan got them; until their corrupt nature, prone to every sin, yielded to the tyranny of this, and then what at first was an occasional transgression, became an habitual sin. They began by taking the little : the want was created; the vital powers, having once felt the stimulus, require it again and again, until the little becomes much. The unfortunate being, like a ball rolling down a hill, rolls faster and faster; and, unless some miracle of grace stop him, he rolls into eternity, undone for ever. The chance, therefore, is, that if you take a little, you will probably want more. The question lies between all or none: and the duty is—abstain wholly. “Touch not, taste not, handle not." Avoid places where the temptation may be met with shun evil companions. Beware lest music, and foolish songs, corrupt your imaginations. For in these gin-shops and teagardens, the inducement of music is generally provided: and thus, music and poetry, the daughters of heaven-when employed aright, the sweetest solaces and aids to devotion-become, in the hands of Satan, the stimulants of the devil to destroy souls.

But, in the third place, let me turn your attention to THE Remedy—and the only remedy which has yet been proposed-namely, TEMPERANCE SOCI ETIES. I say that the Temperance Society is the only remedy which has been yet proposed and all you who are agreed that drunkenness is an evil, will also agree that we ought to do our best in stopping its progress: that we ought to follow in a path which experience has proved successful; and that if we cannot do what we would, we at least ought to do what we can. Now if it be

a righteous thing to oppose sin ; and if it be the mark of a Christian character to oppose all sin, it cannot be wrong to oppose that sin which is the seed and moving cause of every sin whatever. Now the one simple principle upon which Temperance Societies go is this : a set of persons are persuaded that drunkenness is an evil, and a common evil: they see the cause of it to be spirituous liquors. They believe that the proper place for such liquors is the apothecary's sheif; their only proper use a medicinal use : and therefore they agree to abstain from the use of ardent spirits altogether, except for that medicinal purpose which they believe to be lawful.. And thus, by their example, they aim to discourage the undue manufacture of the article, and the undue consumption which prevails at present.

Now this, brethren, is only what I apprehend every true Christian does, without signing his name at all. But finding that by signing his name to the Temperance Declaration, his example, combined with the example of others, may do good, he is bound to do it; and I cannot imagine that those who are actuated by Christian motives, would hesitate to put their names to an engagement, which binds them to do nothing more than they are willing to do already. And as for those who are not yet actuated by Christian motives, it is well if we can get them to abstain from what may lead them wrong, by any moral motives of any kind. Now the Temperance Societies hope to do that by united effort, which could never be done by single example, or individual exertion.

I need not remind you, that “union is strength; combination is power." And we know how successfully men combine, to achieve their works of art, to enrich their purses, to accomplish their political purposes : and why should not the children of light combine, for eternal, holy purposes, as worldly men combine for the things of a moment? Would it not be a glorious sight-a sight worthy of the religion we profess—to see persons of all ranks voluntarily engaging, by mutual promise to one another, to practise one of the great Christian virtues ; and to endeavour to bring back their misguided brethren into the paths of sobriety?

Each of you possess much greater influence than you are aware of, if you will but preach by that most eloquent of preachers--a good example. Some of you may, perhaps, at this moment, be in the habit of indulging moderately in the use of ardent spirits ; now suppose that such persons, and especially those who have numerous acquaintance, numerous servants and workmen, were to give up the habit entirely, and let it be known that you do 80, and tell it out plainly why you do so—0 you know not what good might be done among your associates and your neighbours, your dependants and your friends ; you would take away an occasion of offence from many a weak brother ; you would indeed deprive yourselves of an unnecessary indulgence, but you might work a temporal and eternal good. I say you might deprive yourselves of an unnecessary in. dulgence ; for there is the medical testimony of the first men in every part of this kingdom, who declare, that spirits in any shape are decidedly injurious to men in health, even when supposed to be useful; that they predispose the body to disease, prevent the cure of disease, prey on the health, and shorten life. What, brethren, suppose that every member of this congregation were to conie forward and renouuce the use of this pernicious liquor, would no effect be produced ? Suppose that ye were all to come forward, as with the voice of one man, and set up a witness against this crying sin, and declare that you will abandon that which is never better than useless, and in almost every case pernicious. Do this, my brethren, (and I charge you, if you believe that it would do good, that ye take heed how ye do it not): do this, I say; and let it be acted up to steadily and consistently, and the voice of its testimony would be heard and would be effectual, would work its way by degrees, even into the lowest of the courts which surround this church: its voice would be heard, the harbinger of blessing, in the domestic circle, in the blessings of a peaceful, happy home, where now peace and happiness are not : nay more, its voice would be heard, not only in time, but in eternity itself. It has been truly said, that every man is a benefactor to his country who makes a single blade of grass to grow where ne blade grew before: and in the same spirit we say, that the whole community owes a debt of gratitude to every man who diminishes, by a single drop, that flood of liquid death which has inundated our land.

And that good would result we have abundant proof. We have proof that the blessing of God has rested on Temperance Societies, wherever they have been established. To mention one fact: in the United States of America, the yearly consumption of spirits came down from five million gallons to one million gallons in six years.

The effects in the American army and navy are equally successful. And here in England, the societies are increasing in number, increasing in extent, increasing in usefulness. The time will not allow me to state particulars: but we cannot see why what has been done in America should not be done in England. We are sure that if the subject be warmly taken up-if the trumpet of alarm be blown from the pulpit throughout the land—if the Church and people of God be awakened to their peril, to their hope, to their duty-we may look for an ample harvest of good We have already one hundred thousand members in England and Wales and we call on you to come forward to the help of the Lord against the mighty. We trust that you will enrol your names ; we entreat you that you will consider the subject, convince yourselves of its utility, and act upon the conviction. There is no other exertion of Christianity which has gone half the length in checking the progress of intemperance: you know of nothing which has been more effectual: and we beseech you not to hold back from becoming members of an institution which is manifestly blessed by the grace of Jesus Christ. And recollect that neutrality is hostility ; “ He that is not with me is against me." Recollect the noble declaration of Paul-and 0! be prepared to act in the spirit of it—“ If meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend."

It may be objected to the Temperance Societies, that they impose vows upon the consciences of men which the Gospel does not authorize. But I say, that Christianity itself is one great Temperance Society-temperance from sin, and therefore from drunkenness among the rest : and why not write it down as well as profess it? In the Temperance Declaration you merely declare the conviction of your mind : and if you are convinced and resolved in your mind, in the sight of God, it cannot be wrong to record that resolution in the sight of men. We would set before you the example of Israel of old, when, in the reiga uf


Asa, they made a covenant to seek the Lord God of their fathers with all their heart.

Again it may be objected, that we lead men to make these Temperance resolutions who afterwards break them; and thus lead them to add the guilt of a falsehood to the sin of drunkenness. There may be, and doubtless are, cases in which the Temperance members forfeit their word: but let us remember that there is nothing good which man's corrupt heart will not abuse; and that if men will turn that which should have been for their good into an occasion of fresh sin, the guilt lies at their own door. Ah, brethren, the reason why the Temperance resolution, and every other good resolution, is broken, is simply this : you make them in your own strength, and not in that strength which alone can support you in your intentions—even the grace of God. And we nothing doubt but that if we act in this spirit, He who approved and blessed the Rechabites for observing the rule laid down by their father, will

approve, and bless, and render effectual all our prayerful and faithful endeavours in this good work.

I trust that what has been said has been sufficient to show you, in the first place, the necessity of doing something; and, secondly, to induce you to take the steps we propose, both for your own sakes, and the sakes of your fellowcreatures. My Christian brethren, we most earnestly recommend this subject to your consideration, and the consideration of the respectable and well-informed inhabitants, through whose influence we may hope to work downwards by degrees. I do entreat you to pay serious attention to this subject. Think of the extent of the evil: be convinced that some exertion is necessary: and be not unwilling to undergo a little self-denial when the temporal and eternal peace, not only of your brethren, but it may be of yourselves, is at stake. Look at the example of Him, who laid aside the crown of glory, and the empire of Deity, that he might come down to the womb, the manger, the cross, the grave, for you; and learn to look, not on your own things, but on the things of others also. Let that spirit of love to the bodies and souls of men which was in Christ Jesus, dwell also in you. Seek to make others happy you will but secure your own. Explain to your children, workmen, and servants, the nature of these institutions. Be not dismayed because false opinions, bad habits, self-interest, and obstinacy, are set in array against this plan of reformation. Every good design will be opposed : I had almost said it could not be good unless it were. for the prince of this world will struggle and contend for his kingdom, even under the garb of an angel of light. And let any little self-denial, ridicule, or shame, you may meet with, stir you up to more prayer, to greater zeal, to deeper diligence in the work and cause of Christ.

And to you, my poorer brethren, I would add one closing word. Let me most earnestly recommend this society to your notice. We do not want your money-we want you: and let not any of you say, we are about to rob you of your comforts. No; we invite you to separate from the most ungodly practice the world care offer. We want to lead you away from the nightly revel, and the company of the scoffer. We plead with you the cause of your wives and chiidren, and the comforts of a happy home. We would not have your hoursta hard-earned wages go to build up those splendid. nurseries of sin, those gintemples which so disgrace our streets. No; but we would have you awake up to the dignity of men; we would have you live and die as Christians, as children of God, as heirs of immortality; we would have you reap that blessing which God has offered to all who walk in his ways and fear him: “ For thou shalt eat of the labours of thine hands : 0 well is thee, and happy shalt thon be. Thy wife shall be as the fruitful vine, upon the walls of thine house; thy children like the olive branches round about thy table. Lo, thus shall the man be blessed that feareth the Lord.”

« السابقةمتابعة »