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SERM. their old companions again, not to be merry, but to weep,
and wail, and gnash their teeth together; where they shall have drink enough, but it shall be only fire and brimstone; where they shall be drunk continually, but it shall be with nothing else but the fury and vengeance of Almighty God : where, for the many hogsheads of good liquor they consumed upon earth, they shall not have so much as one drop of water to cool their inflamed tongues; where all their drunken bouts will return upon them, and afflict and torment them over again. In short, where “ the worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.” This shall be the potion of their cup to drink in the other world, who give themselves up to drunkenness in this.
Now put these things together ; how that drunkenness consumes a great part of that little time that God hath allotted you upon earth : it wastes your estates, and reduceth both yourselves and families into extreme poverty, or at least into great danger of it: it abuseth those good creatures to your own damage, which God hath given for your benefit and advantage: it impairs the health of your bodies, and breeds all manner of diseases in them: it blots out the image of God that was enstamped upon you, and makes you like to the beasts which perish : it deprives you of your reason, or at least of the right use and exercise of it: it exposeth you to all sorts of vice and wickedness that mankind is capable of committing : it maketh you unfit for all lawful and necessary employments, whether sacred or civil: and at last throws you down into the bottomless pit, there to live with the Devil and his fiends for ever. Put, I say, these things together, and then judge ye whether it be not the height of folly and madness for any man to allow himself in such a sin as this? Whether they, who have been hitherto addicted to it, had not best to leave it off, and all others to take heed of ever falling into it, as they tender their own good and welfare.
I am loth to suppose there are any here present of the first sort, who have hitherto indulged this great sin; God grant there be not: but if there be, as I fear there are, give me leave, in the Name of the Most High God, to speak a few words to you. I confess I have no great hopes of doing good upon you ; it being very rare for any who have been accustomed to this sin ever to repent of it, till it be too late; and one of the usual effects of it is to harden men against reproof, and to blind their eyes, so as that they cannot see the things belonging to their peace, before they are hid from them. And therefore I have little reason to expect that you will hearken to what I say, but rather despise and scorn it. Howsoever, I desire you to consider that I speak not in mine own name, but in His that made and redeemed you, and beseech you for His sake, as well as for your own, that you would lay aside your prejudices for awhile, judge impartially of what you have now heard, and then bethink yourselves in good earnest, whether it be not your wisdom and your interest, as well as duty, to break off this sinful custom by a speedy and sincere repentance. I am confident you cannot but acknowledge it; and therefore be advised to do it, without any more ado. You cannot but be all sensible that it is a sin, a great and mischievous sin, and therefore make no apology for it, as that drinking increaseth your acquaintance, gratifies your customers, promotes your trades, that it keeps you from being melancholy, by making you forget your troubles, or that the temper of your bodies require it, and custom hath made it so natural to you, that you cannot leave it, if you would. These are but vain excuses, and so they will appear at the last day; yea, they appear to be so already to all sober men, and to yourselves too, when sober, if ye be ever so. For how can such acquaintance be worth getting, or such customers be worth keeping, which consume your time, your estates, and health? What will it avail you to promote your trade, when by that you lose your souls? And as for melancholy, is it not better to be so than mad? And to remember your troubles, so as to prevent or remove them, rather than by forgetting to hasten and increase them? And how can you imagine that the temper of any man's body should force him to destroy his soul? Or that a man may not break an ill custom as well as take it up, if he will? I say, if he will; that is all : be but willing, and the work is done. But that ye may be sure to be so, ye must give up yourselves to fasting
SERM. and prayer: to fasting, that so you may testify your sorrow
for your former intemperance, by your future abstinence; [Rom. 8. and to prayer, that you may obtain the “ Spirit of God to
mortify the deeds of the flesh.” To which you must add your constant endeavours to avoid all your drunken companions ; your steadfast resolutions, by the grace of God, to keep yourselves for the future within the bounds of temperance and sobriety; and frequent meditations upon the dismal effects of drinking to excess. By these and suchlike means you may as easily conquer this sin, as you was ever conquered by it. But if you will not use them, I shall say no more to you, but you will one day wish you had.
But as for others, who have hitherto, by God's blessing, been kept from this sin, if you be ancient, you cannot but have found so much benefit by temperance, that ye need no arguments to persuade you to it. If ye be young, I must advise you, as ever you desire to be old, or wise, or good, or happy in this world or the next, above all things take heed of drunkenness: you live in the midst of a wicked and naughty world, where you will meet with many temptations to all sin, and particularly to this. Have a care of yourselves. If ye know of any that are given to drinking, never keep them company, lest ye be infected. If any one entice you to drink excessively, account him your mortal enemy, employed by the Devil to ruin and destroy you. If any one offer you but one cup too much, look upon it as poison; for so it is both to your souls and bodies. Wheresoever you are, whatsoever ye do, avoid all occasions of drinking to excess, lest you have cause to repent of it when it is too late, or which is worse, never repent at all.
In short, let me beseech you all to carry these words of our blessed Saviour always in your minds; “ Take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting and drunkenness, or the cares of this life, and so the day of judgment come upon you unawares.” And as you profess yourselves to be Christians, act accordingly. Keep yourselves as much as may be always in an even frame and temper, that your bodies be never over-burdened
with meat or drink, nor your minds with worldly cares ; but always live so as to be always ready to die; that whensoerer God shall call for you, you may appear with comfort before Him, and enjoy those pleasures which are at His (Ps. 16.11.] right hand for evermore, by the Merits and Mediation of our ever blessed Saviour: “ To Whom with the Father and the Holy Spirit, be all honour, praise and glory both now and for ever.”
PROFESSION USELESS WITHOUT PRACTICE.
MATTHEW, vii. 21.
Not every one that saith unto Me, Lord, Lord, shall enter
into the kingdom of Heaven: but he that doeth the will of My Father which is in Heaven.
SERM. Seeing the Son of God was pleased to come from Heaven VI. to earth, on purpose that the sons of men might go from
earth to Heaven; as ever we desire to come thither, we must be sure to take special notice of whatsoever He hath said concerning the way and means whereby we may arrive there; and, indeed, of whatsoever He hath said that any ways concerns it: for, seeing the great end of His conversing so long with men, was to shew and direct them the way to eternal bliss, questionless, whatsoever He said concerning it is of absolute necessity to be observed by us.
Now there are two things in this chapter, which our
blessed Saviour acquaints us with concerning the way to ver. 13. 14. Heaven. The first is, that it is a very narrow one, and, by
consequence, that it is very hard both to hit upon it, and to walk in it; which He therefore tells us, that we may not think it is so easy a matter to get to Heaven as the world would have it. No; he would have us know, that as Heaven is the highest happiness that we can attain to, so it is the hardest matter in the world to attain unto it; the way thither being so exceeding narrow, that no man can possibly keep himself within its bounds and limits, without extraordinary care and circumspection: the allurements of the