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sentiments of the crime of drunkenness, and its absolute inconsistency with the Christian profession.
With respect to the preservatives against this vice, the first thing to be remarked is, that there is no trusting to our natural aversion to excessive drinking. Most people have this aversion at first. Therefore, a man being drawn in notwithstanding, proves that that is no security to be depended upon.
If, then, from our business, in which we are exposed to much company
invitations to excess, or from any other cause, that we find our aversion abating, and a liking or a desire after thisindulgence beginning, I know of no better advice that can be given, than to tie ourselves down by rules, and resolutely and constantly to abide by them.
All such rules are absurd when they are unnecessary; but they are not unnecessary when we are exposed to such danger by the consequences of falling into such a habit, so utterly destructive of all that is good, and of such incalculable mischief; and from which there is so little hope, if there be any indeed, of ever recovering.
The next great caution I would recommend is to beware of indulgences of the kind when alone, at home, and in our own families. So long as we confine our intemperance to occasions of feasting or of company, that can be repeated no oftener than the occasions return, which is not constantly. Whenever we cease to wait for occasions, and have found the
way of betaking ourselves to this gratification by
ourselves, there is less, there is nothing, to hinder or interrupt a settled habit of intemperance fastening upon us.
As I have observed already, the most plausible excuse to ourselves for indulgence is fatigue: thousands have been drawn in by this excuse. It is always, therefore, prudent to place the danger full before our eyes—to reflect how easily and how gently refreshment leads to intemperance, indulgence to excess. We shall consult our safety and happiness by forbidding to ourselves such indulgence the moment we perceive that there is danger of its gaining ground upon us, and laying, however slowly, the foundation for every other vice.
LICENTIOUSNESS AND DEBAUCHERY.
EPHES. 5, 6.
Let no man deceive you with vain words, for because
of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience.
THESE are awful words. They assert most satisfactorily, that there are certain things, which, let men say or think what they will, are sure of bringing down the wrath of God upon those who commit them. They further intimate, that, although this be certainly true, and will be found to be so, yet many mistake, fatally mistake the matter-hold flattering opinions upon the subject which will prove to be false ; thereby overlooking or remaining ignorant of their own danger, and of the end to which they will come; that there are deceivers and deceived; they who are labouring to deceive others, and they who are very willing to be deceived. For when the apostle uses these words of warning, “ let no man deceive you," he knew that such deceptions were abroad, were common, were employed, were listened to, succeeded and prevailed over the minds and consciences of many. Then he apprizes them of the danger, of the necessity of preparing and fortifying themselves against such delusions. He bids them (for this is the meaning and force of his admonition) he bids them look neither to the right hand nor to the left; to listen neither to what one man said, nor to what another man said ; neither to this specious persuasion, nor to that plausible argument, but to keep close to this one momentous, this never to be forgotten consideration, that these, however varnished, however coloured over, however extenuated or diminished, however excused or defended, will in the event feel the wrath of God.
“ Because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon
the children of disobedience.” Because, you will ask, of what things ? That undoubtedly is the first question to be considered. What were the things which St. Paul had particularly in his mind when he wrote the words of the text; I say particularly, for that he had some particular view, or some particular class and kind of view in his contemplation, cannot be well disputed. Now the context, the words which go before, must show us what he meant by these things, because they were things which he had already mentioned. The term these things, implies that; it is a term of reference. But what he had been speaking of before, to which the text relates, was as follows: “ Fornication and all uncleanness, or covetousness, neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting which is not convenient ; for this ye know, that no whoremonger nor unclean person, nor covetous man who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in say that
the kingdom of Christ and of God.” And then he goes on : " Let no man deceive you with vain words, for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon
the children of disobedience.” Now I the class of crimes which the apostle had particularly, and I think had solely in view, were crimes of licentiousness and debauchery. I include all crimes arising from the unlawful and licentious indulgence of men's passions. The terms made use of by St. Paul, are “fornications, uncleanness, filthiness, foolish talking, jesting which is not convenient." Those terms all very evidently relate to one and the same subject, and that subject is what I mentioned. The only thing which can create a doubt whether it was that class of vices alone, which St. Paul intended, is the word covetousness. Covetousness is put among the other articles enumerated : “ all uncleanness or covetousness.” Now it appears very manifest that the word covetousness in this place, does not mean covetousness in the sense in which we usually understand it, as it relates to property or to riches, but that it means inordinate desires of another kind; or the intemperate and unlawful indulgence and letting loose men's passions in the article of licentiousness and debauchery. The phrase, I own, is peculiar-I mean, not only different from the common acceptation of the word at present, but different also from the use of the original word in that language, and in the writings of that time ; yet I think it can be made out by proofs, that this and not the other, is the sense of the word