Imatges de pÓgina

selves a code of morality as distinct from the common one as were the laws and constitution of Sparta different from those of the rest of Greece, and who, generally speaking, carried their extraordinary theory as rigidly into practice, as did the moral phenomena of Greece-the Lacedæmonians. Imagine an omnipresent and omniscient Deity, animated by the passions of wrath, jealousy, and revenge, watching, with an ever vigilant eye, the transgressions of a feeble and dejected race, whose whole life is dedicated to eternal endeavours to wash themselves clean from an original state of impurity, that they may appease the anger excited in him by a first act of disobedience; and thus restore themselves to such a condition of existence as may be supposed to fit them to stand unabashed in the presence of the awful Being whose tremendous attributes they are ever calling to mind. When the shortness of the time between the cradle and the grave is considered, as compared with eternal life-when it is considered that nearly all the propensities of our nature are classed as so many defilements-when the paroxysms of anguish are considered, too, into which the doubts and misgivings which will creep at times into all minds, must throw the creature of such a creed-we may well conceive how the Puritan would look upon the most innocent actions of our lives. If it be at the same time understood, that the great King of Heaven, at whose frown the nations tremble, be opposed in all his designs, as they relate to mortals, by the Spirit of Evil, who is ever on the watch to sink us irredeemably in sin, we may then still more readily conceive to what motives and causes any of these innocent actions will be attributed. Can we shew that the recreation of a play is calculated to raise us in the estimation of the Deity, such as they describe him; not the benevolent and merciful Father of All, as depicted in the New Testament, but the terrible Jehovah of the Jews, who scatters his enemies with a breath, whose eye glances lightning, and whose voice shakes the earth with thunder? Are we likely to appease His wrath by a game at cards? Will not a dance or a merry party, or any other of the amusements of the world, savour of the original leaven of wickedness infused into us all at our births? What sinful trifling! what thoughtless impiety! for a being who may expect every instant to be summoned into the presence of the Deity of the Puritan, to neglect, for a moment of a short life of moments, the preparation of himself for that trial which determines his fate for all futurity! Apply the doctrine a little, and it will be found how many are the things we do which cannot be shewn to be a direct preparation for eternity. How many are the occupations which relate merely to this life-how many words are spoken which are not intended to ascend to heaven-how many thoughts pass

[blocks in formation]

through the mind which are not formed to praise the Creator of all things. Conversation must be reduced to monosyllablesexpressions of courtesy may be proved impious-and the ordinary forms of salutation shewn to be pregnant with eternal perdition.

In the little book, whose title we have just copied, we shall find a very curious example of the application of the doctrines of the Puritan to the common practice of prefacing a glass of wine by a wish for the health or prosperity of friends either absent or present. The same arguments, generally speaking, would apply with equal force against saluting an acquaintance with the idle question of "How d'ye do?" or the more profane welcome of "Good morning!" If, however, this volume had merely shewn, in a plain manner, the Evil of Health Drinking, we should have dispensed with any examination of it, and our readers would have been spared our diatribe against the effects of the New Light. But the author, in addition to great sincerity and earnestness of manner, is frequently distinguished by a fervid eloquence, which deserves, in part, to be resuscitated. He is likewise remarkably distinguished for a purity and precision of style, which we should be most happy to see imitated in these days of loose and incorrect composition. The book is obscure and forgotten; our extracts will not make it sought after; it will still gather dust on the same shelf with the "Unloveliness of Love-locks," while a few pages of it will be read with interest in a Retrospective Review, a description of work that may be compared to the fires of Grand Cairo, which are indebted for their brilliancy to the fragments and broken dust of the mummies, which, as wholes, time had consigned, ages gone by, to eternal oblivion, but which are now raked up in piecemeal to serve their last office of utility.

The preface to the work is composed of "a serious address to governors and governed," and contains, in brief, the pith of the argument.

"Consider, I pray you, if we know the use of time, which is our all to prepare us for an approaching eternity, and the use of plenty, the benefit and comfort of society, what the right enjoyment of friends is, and what our very bodies are ordained for; we would not throw away not a piece of a day upon such an exercise as drinking healths; no, not a moment in such a service. I can no better compare these cups, than to watering-pots that water the garden of vices, which come up so fast and thick.


Suppose we had a sovereignty over our servants, the creatures, and might do what we pleased with them, we might use them, or throw them away; yet, certainly, we must give an account of ourselves to God before his judgment-seat, and of our actions, whether good or evil. Can any man reduce healthing drinking under that notion and

formality, to the order of good actions, by which God is glorified, ourselves and others bettered? I am sure we must in our eating and drinking, as by a divine law, in a positive way glorify God."

One of the arguments against "healthing," and the only' one founded upon the common system of morality, is, that it leads to excessive drinking; it follows, of course, that divers parts of the essay are devoted to enforce the evils of drunkenness. This is the object of the following quaint passage, also from the preface.

"Upon these considerations, I do most humbly and earnestly address my supplications.

"To the men of honour and power, to them that put on scarlet by their office, and fare deliciously every day, and to them that, for the grandeur of their office, have the government of great corporations upon their shoulders, that they would refrain from, or restrain the luxuriant growth of immorality, which is fed by the waste of drink. If you would drain the channel, stop this humour of healthing, which is one of the liveliest springs of it. Some of old have well said, that majesty was begotten in wedlock between reverence and honour. It is not good for honour to be alone, when you sit in the state of your office. Let not reverence be forced to quit the room, while healths are drunk to your honour. Reverence takes it ill to be affronted by that boldness. Some countries forbad drinking wine to magistrates. But Nehemiah, who lived in great honour, and kept a noble house, had plentiful supplies of all sorts of wine.-Neh. 5. It is lawful for you to keep great houses, open tables, and to drink wines; but if you would have God to think upon you for good, make that great man your example: and in this also a greater than he, Ahasuerus, at whose feasts none did compel.-Esth. i. 8. And this being written before time in the Holy Scripture, is written for our learning: and whether drinking healths be not a moral compulsion, though not violent, is humbly submitted, and also attested, by Gasper Sanctius, upon that place: Cum principium aut amicorum salus interponitur, nemo poterit non obtemperare. [A lapide to the same sense, Aug. Serm. de Temp. hereafter quoted.] I do not, by this, tax or accuse, for I am a stranger to the great and sumptuous tables that are kept; but I do humbly beseech them that think it a necessary part of the grandeur of our metropolis, to consider how many companies, and meetings of vestrymen and others, they become examples and authorities to, and how impossible it is to restrain this extravagance (this is a very diminutive word) in the city youth, which are so commonly poisoned by these draughts, as long as they have the warrant of such examples. These have been the parting cups to many from all modesty and virtue, and 'tis notoriously known, to the great sorrow of many friends, where young men began their journey to a far country, where they are yet lost, and not found.-Luke 15."

The allegory in the following passage is lively and well

made out, and the anticipations of ridicule in the beginning are curious.

"I am not so fond of my own apprehensions and reasons, as to look for wonderful effects from them; nor so dull, as not to foresee what work some men may make of what I write: although I am sure, my antidotes and remedies are incomparably better than the moral disease of healthing, although it had never killed its thousands. I shall not marvel, if this discourse be tossed up and down in sport, or kicked up and down in anger and disdain: but I will still marvel why men, called Christians, will make void God's laws, and cast them behind their backs. I will still marvel, why men, endued with so noble and divine a faculty as reason is, and that reason so finely set in many, with a sparkling wit, that both shines and cuts, should practise that for which no good reason was ever produced or offered. And I will not only wonder, but I will lament, that men, capable of immortal glory and honour, do so debase themselves as to lay their honour in wet and dirt, to turn their throats into a sink, and their bellies into a common-sewer. Are not men fallen out with their Maker, that deface his image in themselves, and others, by intemperance? and are not satisfied with that defacement, but proceed to destroy it, by cutting off their own and others lives?

The bodies of men are small vessels, richly laden with a great treasure, an immortal soul, and many rich gifts and talents; they are put out in a sea of mercies, and favoured with a prosperous wind, and commanded to keep a straight course to the heavenly Canaan. But, to our great grief, and amazement, we see some, and hear of others very often, split, and sunk into the bottomless deep of eternity, and several disabled, and lie by to be careened. The account of these unvaluable losses is this in short: the owners and possessors of these vessels would not learn the spiritual art of this navigation; and whereas others, that safely arrive, do carefully observe the card and compass, obey commands, take the wind and season, prepare for storms and encounters, watch and pray; these extravagants observe no card, keep no compass, neglect the wind, cast off their commander, drink down their pilot into a deep and dead sleep, make frequent visits and invitations, treat and drink high and often. The plague of sin and vice did spread among them; they grew diseased; some loved their friends to death; and others quarrelled, fought, and killed their companions. When we see and hear such miscarriages as these, such doleful tidings and reports of destruction upon destruction, shall we not advise, warn, and importune those who have yet escaped the wreck, and those who have not yet put out to sea, to take heed that they perish not by the same means?"

The writer, with more justice than ordinary, and quite as much spirit, rails against those who shew their regard for their friends by compelling them to drink.

"Is not a health now become a signal of battle, in which many

[ocr errors]

lose their precious lives basely and inhumanly; others their senses, their clothes, their modesty; and they who escape with their lives, lose themselves for the time? Is not this the belt that makes the union of many in sin and wickedness too great and streight? And is not this the sword that makes the rupture and disunion almost incurable? Is not this sometimes the symbol, and the colours, the colours of a party? and sometimes the defiance, and the challenge? Is it not upon this, as upon a prophane sacrament, that men in effect vow and swear a confederacy, or an enmity? Is it not unsafe running into this dilemma? If you drink, you are gone; if you refuse, you are in danger of being sped. I am sure this cup is not the cup of blessing, it is not the cup of the Lord. It puts many a soul out of all preparation for death; but now who dares come within the lists, but he that is near his end, one way or other, be he never so unprepared for it? The old form, which became a proverb, Aut bibe, aut abi, Do as we do, or begone,' was safe and civil, in comparison with the forms of our young masters, who swear you shall drink, or swear they will run you through, they will see through you, they will pin you to the wall, or fasten you to the ground. These can sacrifice to your health, and send you to hell; damn themselves, and you too. It is dangerous to drink, and it is deadly to refuse. O the patience of God, and the provocations of this kind of murderers! Do they not believe, that if they are so bold with Death, Death will make much more bold with them? Is it a glory to them, that they have the ability to do so great a mischief? Was it to Alexander's honour to kill Clytus, that had saved his life, in a drunken frenzy? What! they would be Alexanders also! who, by being drunk, lost the glory which he had gotten when he was sober, and merited the title of madman, as well as Great, for his being a successful murderer or executioner. The still and private sot, that bibs by himself, that lives and dies almost every day; that lives a sot and dies an infidel; that presumes indeed there will be a resurrection out of his sleep, but so lives, as if there would be no judgment, nor resurrection from the dead to it; even this quiet bibber is a virtuous and sober man, compared with these growing Alexanders.

Surely, it is high time to make some enquiry into this disease which kills so fast, and to make what discovery we can. And, though we cannot reform, let us not, by a stupid or timorous silence, seem to allow, but rather reprove the enormity, discover the sin and danger which is not discerned, and justify the refusal of drinking healths. It is a ceremony deeply stained, and polluted with gross debauchery, and, at best, but an empty formality, and, in some, it is a common and crying sin. And if blood cry for vengeance, and a sudden premature destruction, by drinking men into diseases and the grave, be a secret murder, it concerns all that do, or do not, believe a judgment to come, to abstain from it; and all that can, to reform and forbid it. And if but some one or few shall receive any satisfaction and benefit by it, he that endeavoureth it shall never repent his pains, though he may be sure to be paid off by some with contempt and derision.

« AnteriorContinua »