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when wholly free from its infatuating power, would be the last to sanction the least approach to unmeaning or licentious levity-who that has seen our gravest Senators, and Judges, and Ma gistrates, and even the Teachers and Professors of the purest faith-the ministers and disciples of the Holy Jesus,* sitting around the festal board,
* "There is a drinking of healths-by this means forcing, tempting, or occasioning, drinking in others; this is one of the highest provocations to drunkenness. What can be the use of drinking healths? It was a notable saying of a great man, solicited to drink the king's health, 'By your leave, I will pray for the king's health, and drink for my own.' This practice will probably be found to have arisen from heathen idolaters, who used Libamen Jovi, Baccho, &c. : it is certain there is no vestige of it in Christianity, nor any reason for it."-Durham on the Ten Commandments.
Such are the sentiments of a great authority, in the Church of Scotland, respecting the irrational, and dangerous custom of health drinking; and yet the ministers of every Christian denomination have been as forward as others, to give their sanction, not only to this custom, but to the equally absurd and injurious practice, of giving toasts, in bumpers of brandied wine, at public dinners.
"It would be difficult," says Mr. Dunlop, "to discover the real connexion that exists between wishing prosperity to a cause, or an individual, and simultaneously swallowing wine; but it is not difficult to perceive, that an eloquent speech, or pathetic appeal, is, in fact, vilified and degraded, by adding a glass of punch to its conclusion."
and quaffing the deceitful cup, has not observed its tendency to disorder the intellect—to obscure the mind's perceptions of truth, and righteousness, and to call into active play those animal feelings, which, when urged to great excess, lead to the most gross and outrageous criminality. The oaths and curses of the blasphemer, and the infidel, may not have been uttered-no songs, inspired by offensive sensuality, may have escaped the lips-no brutal violence may have been exhibited; but the loud and senseless laugh has been heard the most flippant and unprofitable converse, and perhaps the unchaste insinuation. In some cases, the most unmanly, and almost frantic, gestures have been witnessed. All rational decorum, and christian circumspection have been banished from the scene; and while the actors themselves have appeared devoid of both real self-respect, and of all true and honourable regard for each other, it has been difficult to behold them, but with feelings of pity, if not contempt!
"A good name," says the Wise Man, "is rather to be chosen than great riches, and loving favour rather than silver and gold;" and so thought one of the greatest poets, that ever struck the British lyre
"Who steals my purse steals trash, -'tis something
'Twas mine, 'tis his, and has been slave to thousands. But he that filches from me my good name,
Robs me of that which not enriches him,
But, alas! that treasure, which outweighs all wealth, is, daily, and hourly, offered upon the altar of intemperance, by countless thousands, in exchange for the momentary gratification, resulting from the service of the God of their idolatry. THE DEVOTEES OF STRONG DRINK MAKE ENORMOUS SACRIFICES OF PROPERTY.
It is not doubted, that the history of both ancient, and modern heathenism, can furnish instances, in which the devotees of some favourite idol have displayed their attachment, by the most prodigal expenditure on its behalf; but it may be fairly questioned, whether the most heathenish people that ever existed, were accustomed to present, continually, such an amount of silver and of gold, to the objects of their religious veneration, as the inhabitants of Great Britain and Ireland are accustomed to devote to the gods of their idolatry. The principal cities of ancient Greece, and Rome, and Egypt, were distinguished by a few costly, and imposing idolatrous temples; and
these had their gold and silver shrines, and their treasuries, whose riches were great, because they were the accumulations of ages; but it would be difficult to prove, that the aggregate value of all the most noted of those temples, was equal to the cost of the gin-palaces, the taverns, the breweries, and distilleries of London. The mere fittings and decorations of one of those gin-palaces has been known to cost ten thousand pounds; and, as it has been already observed, they are to be found at the corners of almost every street; thus loudly proclaiming, that in doing honour to the god of our idolatry, we are as prodigal of our riches, as of our health and reputation. In England and Wales we have one hundred thousand places devoted to the sale of intoxicating drinks; to say nothing of the numerous and capacious edifices in which they are manufactured. All these places may be regarded as consecrated to our national idolatry; and in most of them is a retinue of officers, who are clothed and fed, and, in many cases, amazingly enriched, by the voluntary offerings of its deluded votaries.*
*"On one occasion, two men were seen to come out of the George-yard, Whitechapel; after talking together at the corner of the gateway, one of them pulled off his shirt, went into a pawnbroker's, and pawned it, and then went into the gin-shop with his companion, and spent the
'My yoke," said Christ, "is easy, and my burden is light;" and so, indeed, it would seem, when we compare the offerings presented to his treasury, by his disciples, for the maintenance of his honour, and for the support, and extension of his kingdom, with the sacrifices which are made, by the lovers of strong drink, in order to perpetuate its dark, and foul, and destructive dominion.
One, or two millions sterling, a year, may be justly stated, to be the very utmost, which is, voluntarily, consecrated to a religion, which diffuses health, and peace, and purity, and enjoyment, wherever its influence extends; while fifty millions per annum, are cast into that treasury, by which drunkenness is upheld; and while many are the millions more, which are set apart, by the
money. On another day, there were two men talking together, in the same neighbourhood, and in that instance, one man pulled off his shirt, sold it to the other, and then both went into the gin-shop, and spent the money."Parliamentary Report on Drunkenness, p. 4.
"At one time," remarked an old drunkard to a christian, who was conversing with him on the evil of drinking, "I earned 31. per week, and used that house," pointing to a public-house opposite, "for thirty years, and spent, on an average, a pound a week, and now," he added, "I want a penny."