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give 'satisfactory evidence of piety. He manifests neither respect for God nor love to man.
And now should such an one come to the Lord's table, without first washing his hands in tears of penitence, and abjuring the unclean thing, would he not“ eat and drink unworthily," and thus “ eat and drink damnation to himself ?" “ For this very cause,” adds the apostle, “ many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep.” And must the church be a nursery for death and hell? Must not those who persist in introducing such unworthy members, be “partakers of their sins, and receive of their plagues ?”
“ The time is come, that judgment must begin at the house of God." Let conscience, then, solemnly review our whole argument by the infinitely holy law, Is it indeed right, for members of the church to impair body and mind by sensuality ?—to defile the flesh, cloud the soul, stupify conscience, and cherish the worst pussions? Is it right to bring occasions of stumbling into the church? Is it right to encourage drunkards, and let them perish, when God hath said, “ Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself ?" Is it right to treat with contempt a great national reform ? and to hinder the progress of such a reformation ? Is it right to offend and grieve such as Christ calls“ brethren ?” and right to grieve the Holy Spirit, and prevent his blessed influence? Is it right to
consume on lust” what would fill the Lord's treasury ? and right to make religion odious to the heathen? Is it right to leave the land open to new floods of intemperance? to disregard the manifest lessons of Scripture and Providence ? and to convert food to foul poison? Is it indeed right, for the church of Christ to sanction practices fraught only with wounds, death, and perdition? Will real Christians propagate such shocking heresy ? Such, however, must be the temperance creed of those who would encourage the distiller, the vender, or the consumer of ardent spirit in his deadly course.
Let it not be suggested, that our argument bears chiefly against the excessive use of ardent spirit. For common sense and candor must admit, what has been a thousand times demonstrated, that the moderate use of the poison is the real occasion of all its woes, blasphemies, and abominations. Who was ever induced to taste by the disgusting sight of a drunkard? Or who ever became a drunkard, except by moderate indulgence in the beginning? In
deed, this habit of moderate drinking, in professors of religion, is, perhaps, tenfold worse, in its influence on society, than occasional instances of drunkenness. For these excite abhorrence, and rather alarm than betray ; while moderate indulgence sanctions the general use, and thus insidiously betrays millions to destruction. O, never, since the first temptation, did Satan gain such a victory as when he induced Christians, by their example, to sanction every where the use of intoxicating liquor. 'And never, since the triumph of Calvary, has he experienced such a defeat as God is now summoning Christians to accomplish. Let them, at once, withdraw the sanction they have given, and, by generously diffusing light on this subject, do half as much to expose, as they have done to encourage this grand device of the devil, and rivers of death will be dried up, Zion look forth in grandeur and beauty, streams of salvation be multiplied, and the sanctifying Spirit bless all nations.
The duty of professing Christians, then, in regard to distilled liquor, is very plain. If their vision be not clouded by reason of the poison, they cannot but see, that it would be pleasing to God, happy for themselves, beneficial to the world, and conducive to the highest interests of Christ's kingdom, for them to adopt with one consent the principie of TotAL ABSTINENCE, and make generous efforts for disseminating this principle.
And now, if they know their duty, will they do it? Will they do it! Can any, in the name of Christ, still pray, “ A little more of the poison ; a little more pernicious example; a little more disgrace on the church ; a little more grieving the Holy Spirit; a little more encouragement to all the abominations and woes of intemperance ?" Is this religious consistency? Is this what God must expect, when his will is known? Is this what is demanded by the exigencies of the times ? When iniquity abounds ; when infidelity, oppression, and sabbath violation, are challenging the wrath of Heaven on the land; is it a time to hesitate and compromise in regard to known duty ? If “the battle of the great day of God” is at hand, must the church be weakened by indulgence, and the enemy be made bolder and stronger by her aid? Or will her triumph be gained without warfare or selfdenial ? and the millennium find her asleep in pollution? O, ere that day come, the church must have, in all respects, a loftier character. This too, ere our land can be relieved from any of its
great sins. Is the time, then, for consistency not come? How many millions of sacred trust must the churches yet consume on sinful appetite? how many souls must they send to the abyss ? how many fresh wounds inflict on the Redeemer's cause, ere they can resolve to “ be on the Lord's side ?" Are
any for reforming in a more gradual and silent way? Possibly, meanwhile, they may silently descend to the pit! Then“ a great ransom can not deliver them,” nor a drop of water cool their tongue.” Are any too proud to confess they have countenanced this degrading sin? He only " that confesseth and forsaketh shall find mercy."
Do any still say, we carry the matter too far?-reqniring total abstinence! Do unto others, as ye would they should do to you, in the eternal law. But suppose your own child, your brother, your sister, the wife of your bosom, were in imminent peril from the example or temptation of others, would you be pleased with this? No. Well, the example of moderate drinkers and the temptations of retailers, you admit, have ruined, and must continue to ruin, vast multitudes. Can you then justify such by the golden rule"—the eternal law? Ah, let the burning tide actually desolate your own family; and then answer.
Is it said by some, that should they give up the traffic in ardent spirit the sacrifice must be very great, and perhaps occasion serious embarrassment? This is indeed hard; but is it not harder to sin against God, and the church, and the whole community ? Calculate for eternity, as well as time. For “God shall bring every work into judgment;" and " what is a man profited if he thus gain the whole world ?”
Is it said, there is no express Scripture warrant for the Church to decline receiving any one who habitually sells or drinks ardent spirit? Neither is there for excluding the gambler. But the Bible is addressed to men of conscience and common sense, who are to be governed by its general spirit ; and in no other way can the churches make suitable acknowledgment of the wounds and the deep damnations they have inflicted through intoxicating liquor, but by recording their decided testimony against it. In no other way can they manifest to the world a becoming sense of its odiousness ; and thus “ let their light shine before men.” But let the churches do this, with deep and general humiliatiou before God, and prayer
for the divine forgiveness and blessing, and though some few may
gnaw their tongues for pain, and blaspheme the God of heaven, and repent not of their deeds,” yet there would be “joy in heaven" over great multitudes repenting; and soon would it be echoed with thanksgiving from every land, “ Ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people, that ye should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light."
In hastening this blest consummation, all have yet a part to act. Do you exult in the consciousness of being wholly freed from the unclean thing? Then think of the millions still contaminated; and reflect, “ Such were some of you, but ye are washed”-ye are rescued from the pollution. God “ hath made you to differ.” Now then his injunction is, “ When thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.” Strengthen those few who are pouring out their breath or spending their treasure in this cause. Every man can do this to some extent, and every Christian surely must feel constrained by gratitude to God, as well as love to men, freely to extend the means of reformation. And in so doing, there is no loss, but infinite gain. For “whosoever shall give to drink, unto one of these little ones, a cup of cold water only, in the name of a disciple, verily I say unto you, he shall in nowise lose his reward."
Finally, Christian Brethren, “ be sober, be vigilant, be of one mind;” for “your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about.” I tremble lest possibly through apathy, or discord, or indiscretion, or treason in the church, “Satan should yet get an advantage,” and turn our fair morning into a heavier night of darkness, and tempest, and war. But wo to that man, who, at this crisis of the reformation, shall knowingly encourage the exciting cause of such evils. And heaviest wo to him who shall avail himself o. a standing in the church for this purpose. I hear for such a loud remonstrance from millions yet unborn ; and a louder still from the throne of eternal Judgment: and if they heed not the warning, I see for them the wine of the wrath of Almighty God poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation.”
But “ though we thus speak,” we hope and expect better things from the decided followers of the Lamb of every name ;-" things which make for peace; things wherewith one may edify another ; and things which accompany salvation” to a dying world.
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