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stroy the reputation of his family, but will imprison him and fine him till he is a beggar, if he slander the reputation of your daughter; that will permit him to wield day after day the weapon of death over his own poor wife and hapless children, but will fasten him up with iron bars and bolts if he once thrust the knife at your bosom.
I believe our apathy on this subject a sin that the whole sober community will have to answer for in the day of retribution. God has constituted us our brother's keeper, and will ask us directly, Where is Abel thy brother ? in a tone of remonstrance that will shake a thousand worlds. I will hint at one other law that binds us to assume this guardianship of our fellow-men.
IV. I refer to the law of self-preservation. I name this last, not because the most binding, but as that law which all men are least reluctant to obey.
While we suffer the sin of inebriation to prevail, we are filling the land with paupers. Who are they that become a public charge? Why, perhaps nine times in ten, the intemperate, or their families, or their descendants to whom this vice has bequeathed penury. And who must be taxed to support them? Why the sober, civil community. From their table must go the bread to feed them, and from their forests the fuel to warm them, and from their earnings the raiment to cover them, and from their hearts the pity that relieves them in sickness, sorrow, and death. And the burden is increasing daily. Our children, if we train them soberly, may have to labour one day in seven to save from starvation the descendants of that mass of drunkards who now reel through our streets, and disturb the quiet of our evenings with their oaths and imprecations. Ah, and more yet, our supineness is multiplying
crimes and criminals. Whence the murders that so increase in our land, till they have tenfolded since our recollection ? Whence the growing insecurity to travellers, and the frequency of mail robberies? Whence that amount of theft around us, till every door must be barred and property watched with a sleepless eye? Whence the petty frauds in commerce ? Whence the multiplied litigations, till some towns are about bankrupt through their influence ? If the ninety-nine-hundredth of all this be imputed to the unnatural and monstrous use of ardent spirits, it would not come far short of the truth.
Hence the tax upon the civil community to prosecute and imprison that army of convicts which we do not assign to the halter ? May we not then try to save our property ? Must we levy a perpetual assessment upon our children's children, down to the end of time, for the support of every child whose miserable father shall please, by his vices, to place upon our charity? We have pitied the English nation while their poor tax has covered at length the whole produce of their soil; but intemperance is doing the same deed for us. And if we are not wise enough, I hope our children will be, to exclude this canker-worm from our entire territory.
In the mean time, intemperance is opening hard by our house a deep and dark gulf for our offspring. We intend to educate them respectably, and to hold them distant from the drunken and miserable community around us.
But how know we that some incident may not throw down our children into this community ? How know we that some son of ours, while in the field with a tippler, may not learn to taste the cup, and at length scorch up his vitals with the liquid fire? How know we that some daughter of ours, now sweet and lovely, may not at length come under the paw of some tiger-like inebriate; be lashed like a slave, and starved like a criminal, and thrown naked and exposed to the cold of winter by her inhuman husband? How know we that some large branch of our family may not become sunken down to proverbial meanness and degradation by this iniquity ? and our very name be used, as we know other names to be, as expressions of all that is degraded and vicious, and improvident, and mean in human nature. In view of such possibilities shall we still adhere to the plea of that first murderer, “ Am I my brother's keeper?" What concern of mine is it?
And who will say I have exaggerated. Have you not known some family that were promising to thus sink and rise no more? This subject presents the retailer of ardent spirits in a painful and distressingly interesting attitude. I address him in the next discourse.
MAN HIS BROTHER'S KEEPER. No. II.
Ezekiel üi. 20.
Is it lawful in the sight of conscience and of God, to vend ardent spirits?
EVERY man should be able to justify himself in the business he pursues, and when he cannot, by good and substantial arguments, should abandon it. It is a fearful thing to persevere in any course that conscience disapproves. There can be in such a case, neither peace with ourselves nor fellowship with God. Darkness, deep and ominous, must shroud our path till it is illuminated by the law of the Lord.
Can the vender of ardent spirits justify his employment? If he surveys the ground on which he stands, will be not become convinced that very soon it must sink under him?
Dear fellow-men, the Christian public has treated your case and character with great forbearence, because perhaps we had all been measurably in the same condemnation. You vended the poison, and too many of us suffered our money to buy it, and our families to use it. We approved of your offering it for sale, and you approved of our drinking it. Thus we fostered the sin between us, as in that noted case in Scripture applying to a somewhat different subject, “ That they may do evil with both hands earnestly, the prince asketh and the judge asketh for a reward; and the great man, he uttereth his mischievous desire; so they wrap it up.” The
împorter and the distiller, and the retailer, asked a reward, and the mistaken community of purchasers uttered their mischievous desi , and so we wrapped it up.
When at length we began to wake to the subject, we could not immediately require you, at perhaps a great pecuniary loss, to quit the trade, till we had begun to practice some self-denial, and had abandoned the use. But if we are all under the same obligation to elevate public sentiment, the dealer must not continue in the trade till there is no one to buy, and then quit from necessity, else neither God, nor man, nor his own conscience, will allow him
credit. The reformation must feel somewhere, and at some time, your influence, or we shall fear that the enterprise was effected against your wishes. If you will sell the last gill you can, and make the last man drunk that will give you opportunity, and put in your purse the last penny that you can make the trade earn you, we shall doubt whether, if God had left it to you, the world would ever have been reformed. Part of the community, and we hope, by this time, the larger part, are mourning that you have not abandoned the trade long since; the residue may possibly hope you never will. In which of these divisions is there the most prayer? I think there can be little doubt. And you are choosing to which of these very opposite communities you will belong. Every prayer offered for the upbuild ing of the church is against you, and so is every desire that the world may be peaceful, and industrious, and happy, and holy. And it would seem as if one would hate to pocket his earnings in the face of so much prayer.
You are aware that very few good men are now your customers in this article, and that the number is still diminishing. But this, it would seem, must give you ra