« PreviousContinue »
were immediately to be heard and granted in Heaven—and that his tongue might be eternally struck dumb, rather than be the daily instrument of bringing perdition on his Soul and Body together. How unspeakably better were it to have no tongue at all, unless it could be bridled and exercised in the divine employment for which a tongue was given to Man, namely—“The speaking of Truth, and tuning itself to Praises and Thanksgivings to the Creator, for all his Goodness to his Creatures, in this world; and preparing itself to bear its part, in those Hallelujahs and Songs of Praise, which every wise and sober man, would wish to be his everlasting Employment, in Concert with Angels and glorified Saints, in the world to come.”*
The last Vice, which I shall need to dwell upon on this occasion, and indeed the most destructive, as leading to the greatest part of the other vices enumerated above, is
The Intemperate Use of Spiritous Liquors; the sottish habit of drawing constantly, from the Cup of Perdition, bewitching draughts, poisonous to Soul and Body.
In a Soldier, this habit is peculiarly destructive to the exercise of that noble train of usefulness and honour, belonging to his profession; that career of glory, which lies before him. It is, as suggested before, an absolute breach of the contract that subsists between him and his country; because it is wasting those Wages in Intemperance, ruinous to
For more on this head, see the first Sermon from this text.
health and strength; which are given him by his King and Country, to keep the body healthful and vigorous for the duty of his office, in Peace as well as War. It is a crime sometimes as atrocious as Desertion itself; for a man might as well desert his post, as to be found on it, in a condition, which unmans him, and renders him incapable of the duties belonging to it.
I do not include here, those occasional excesses which men of gay and social spirits (enemies to all habitual intemperance) may sometimes be innocently and unguardedly led into; (though these ought to be avoided with a strict and watchful care;) but I mean that beastly, sottish, unsocial, and habitual intoxica. tion, both in private and public, which, from small beginnings, steal upon a man, by imperceptible degrees; till at length, his very vital powers and stomach are so corroded, that he becomes at last unsatisfied with the warmest and strongest draughts, and his stomach is constantly craving, and constantly in want.
If there is one thing that has contributed more than another, to enfeeble our Warriors of modern times; if now their unbraced and weak nerves do not enable them to draw the Bow, or wield the Spear, with the robust vigour of more ancient days; if now our Span of life is shorter, and we are born with diseases, and propagate them to our posterity; if we labour under debilities and degeneracy of constitution, from Father to Son-I will be bold to ascribe all this decay of honour and strength, and of native vigour, to that Cursed Cup of Perdition, those maddening draughts of Spiritous Liquors, so cheaply procured, for more than a Century past, from our island colonies. It is too fatally evident that it is from this cause, especially among the common classes of people, who ought to be the glory and strength of every nation, “ that we find the vigour of our Young Men abating, their numbers decreasing, our ripened Manhood a premature victim to Disease and Death, and our Old Age, if peradventure we reach Old Age, only the weak Drivelings of a second Childhood.”
And as to our reason and understanding, what need I mention that derangement of all our mental faculties, that barbarian madness, which we feel when under the dominion of those poisonous draughts? Do they not prove, beyond doubt, that they impair the native powers of the Mind, as well as pull down Reason from its throne, dissipate every ray of the Divinity within us, and sink us into a state of existence lower than that of the Brute Beasts? But greater evils, if possible, still remain to be mentioned, as flowing out of this Cup of Perdition. During the unlucky moments of intoxication, the Soldier's turn of duty calls him to some actual service; but, by his incapacity, he disgraces the fair Field of Honour, and loses the great Road of Glory, and his Chance of Preferment! and alas! worse than this, in his mad and stupified state, he plunges himself into some great and Capital crime.
A quarrel arises, and by his hand, one of his Fellow Mortals is hurried into Eternity-unprepared to meet his Judge-his Sins unrepented of; and all his affairs, respecting this world, as well as the next, wholly unsettled, desperate and hopeless,
The victim of his inebriated madness was the Father of a Family, happy in a tender Wife, and dutiful affectionate Children! The former now deprived of her whole comfort and stay in life, perhaps, soon ends her days and afflictions in the deepest agonies of Grief and Despair; while the poor Orphan Children, robbed of all their hopes, of parental aid for obtaining a settlement in the world, (now Fatherless and Motherless) are doomed to beg their Bread, and wander, wretched vagabonds, over the face of the earth.
Oh! thou miserable man, author of this mischief, whether Soldier or Citizen, how piercing and agonizing must be your reflections, in your sober mo
ments, (if you ever have any) upon this dreadful act * of violence; especially if you consider farther, that the
victim of your madness was (perhaps) your Bosom Friend, your
former intimate companion," one with whom you took sweet counsel, and even walked unto the House of God, in company with him,” although,
" alas! in the sad moment of this last act, you could not distinguish a friend from a foe!
Gracious heaven! can you who have committed such an act, ever enjoy one quiet moment more upon earth? Must not the mangled Ghost of your murdered Friend—the wandering forlorn spectres of his bereaved destitute Orphans, haunt your troubled conscience, by night and by day? But I forbear adding more to this dreadful picture, on the present occasion. Enough has been said to convince Civilized Men of the pernicious effects of the immoderate use of Spiritous Liquors—this Cup of Perdition-nay to convince even Savages themselves; and, as some proof
of this, I will conclude with a short supplementary Sermon, or Speech of a CREEK INDIAN, on the same subject, which contains all that I could wish further to offer thereon.
How I came to the possession of it, and published it in London among some other writings of my own fifty years ago; what right I had then to publish it, and afterwards to conclude this Sermon with it, in 1768, before the XVIIIth, or Royal Regiment of Ireland, will appear from the following introduction to a republication of it, in the Columbian Magazine fo June 1790, p. 367, &c. running as follows, viz.
AGAINST THE IMMODERATE USE OF SPIRITOUS LIQUORS,
DELIVERED BY A CREEK INDIAN, IN A NATIONAL COUNCIL, ON THE BREAKING OUT OF A WAR, ABOUT 'THE YEAR 1748.
THIS excellent Speech exposes the abominable vice of drunkenness, in a masterly manner; and must be highly gratifying to every reader, who can feel and relish the beauties of composition. We hesitate not to pronounce it, one of the most completely finished and highly animated performances, that have ever appeared in the English language. It will be found, on a critical examination, to contain all the parts or members of the most perfect Oration. In loftiness of expression, boldness of figures, and pomp of imagery, it is, if we are not mistaken, far