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no opportunity in the grave: this is a greater sorrow to every considerate mind; and I wish to God I may feel less of it for the time to come.
Another evil is the prevailing practice of excessive drinking, with all its fearful consequences; of which, as you all know, there are so many examples: and I fear the rising generation is likely to furnish more. I cannot stay now to set before you the sin, and shame, and danger of this vice: I have done this at other times: I have shewed you how it is attended with loss of time, of health, of substance; to the injury of a poor family; the hardening of the conscience; the quenching of God's grace, till the light of religion is turned into total darkness. From the havoc this sin makes in mens' minds, bodies, and estates, too much can never be said against it; and as it is a fearful thing to be à partaker in other mens' sins, when every man hás too inany of his own to answer for; therefore if there be any here present, who, from deceitful calculations of worldly interest, are tempted to encourage their neighbour to this folly and excess, and urge him on to abuse and ruin hiinself; I beseech them to consider what they are doing, and to hear that warning voice of the prophet-Voe unto him that giveth his neighbour drink ; that puitest thy bottle to him, and makest him drunken also, that thou mayest look on their nakedness that thou mayest see them stripped of their reason, when they are turned fools, and their minds are naked ; and see them also stripped of their property, after they have sat swallowing liquor, till there is not a penny left in their pockets. He that strips a man upon the highway has all the sin to himself; but he that strips a man in this way, has his neighbour's sin, as well as his own, to answer for; and it is justly to be apprehended, that the providence of God, in many instances, brings
ruin instead of riches, and disappointment instead of success, from all that sort of gain which arises from the corruption of other mens' morals. So the prophet tells us, that there is a cup of judgment which comes round at last, to give them their reward in kind, and make them voinit up what they have unjustly gotten. On which consideration I entreat all those, whose occupation exposes them to this danger, to be aware of it, and guard against it as well as they can; with this assurance, that who grows rich by other mens' ruin, takes a fire into his bosom, which may lie there smothered, for a time, like embers under the ashes, but will too surely break out at last into a flame, the effects of which will be felt, when the cause is forgotten.
Another evil, and to the great misfortune of this country, an increasing evil in many places, is that of fornication, which brings an unhappy and unpromising race of children upon a parish, who grow up half disowned and neglected, with the influence of an evil example from their parents, added to the influence of a corrupt, uncultivated nature; and who, if they live, will perhaps bring another breed of the same sort; and so on to the end of the world; to the great corruption of the youths of both sexes, and the impoverishing of those who live honestly, and are obliged to assist in the maintaining of such, as become chargeable to others from vice and idleness. Something might be done toward the lessening of this evil, if the officers of a parish would bestir themselves, as they are all bound to do in reason and conscience, and some of them by the sacred obligation of an oath. The lower class of people will certainly make light of this evil, if those who are above them do nothing to prevent it. A minister, according to his duty, represents the miserable consequences of this unlawful commerce"; how it is attended with loss of conscience, loss of character, the destruction of family happiness, the forfeiting of God's blessing, the prospect of beggary, infamy, and eternal damnation. These things he may represent; but unless adınonition is seconded with some activity, and some authority from the laws, it will not be of sufficient weight; because, when things are left to this, and reformation is forwarded by nothing but admonition, it looks as if people were not in earnest. . .
Another evil is the profanation of the Sabbath. We have too many examples of persons exercising their worldly business in defiance of sobriety and decency; of others absenting themselves from the church for years together, and attending no other place of worship; as if it were the opinion of the place, that men are at liberty to live without God in the world.
Of all these abuses which I have set before you, there is not one, for the preventing of which I am not ready to do my part: but it is the chief business of this discourse to remind you, that I can do nothing of myself, against the sense, and without the hearty concurrence of my neighbours. When the minister of a parish stands single in the exercise of discipline and the work of reformation, he can only make him- . self enemies, who will hate him without a cause, instead of amending themselves.
In an age when civil and ecclesiastical authority are both grown decrepit with old age and want of exercise, the defects of lawful government must be supplied by confederacies and associations of one party against another. This is a poor substitute for regular authority; but in some cases, it is the best the times allow us. Therefore, they who wish to preserve order, must unite against those who wish to break it. There is
nothing that appears odious in the application of such reinedies as the law affords, if the many unite against the few, who are then left without that countenance and defence which they borrow from the neglect of their superiors. The minister can do litile for his parish in this way, unless the majority are with him, and desire that he should succeed. Indeed it is universally true, that nothing can be done for those who will do nothing for themselves. It is thus in the education of youth, and the instruction of the ignorant ; none can be taught to much purpose, but they who are desirous to learn. Even God's grace works only with those who will work along with it: Yez, and our blessed Saviour himself, when upon earth, though ever ready to do good, could do none to those who were not disposed to look-for it, and ready to receive it.
I wish to see this place a pattern of regularity and sobriety, not an example of drunkenness, profaneness, and ill. manners. If ever I hear it spoken of under this latter character, I am hurt and grieved, as if I had heard some evil report against myself, or my own family. And does it not concern you, my Brethren, to feel as much for yourselves as I feel for you ? Religion, reason, and good policy, the authority of God, and the common sense of man, call upon you to do what you can against the spreading evil of bad exaın. ples and corrupt communications. Vice is an expensive thing to all that practise it, and to all that connive at it. A wicked parish will ever be an idle parish; and an idle parish (as men are to live by their industry) must be a poor parish; and the more the poor increase in any place, the fewer shoulders are left to bear the burthen; and then some who do not deserve it, and have no share in the general corruption, are broken down with the weight of it.
I am sometimes very uneasy when I revolve these things in my mind : yet under all these difficulties, I have two considerations on which to repose myself. I have lived long enough in the world to know, that however sincerely a man may wish to have every body do what is right, he must be content to see much evil which he cannot prevent, and to hear many falsehoods which he can never hope to silence. If it is his desire to resist prevailing evils, they will not be imputed to him, though he should not succeed: let those look to it, who might forward his good intentions and do not. The other consideration, with which I comfort myself, is this, and a very common one it is; that if we cannot do as much as we would, we must still be willing to do as much as we can. If some advantages are denied to us, others will always be left to us. I can instruct the children of my parish ; I can visit the sick, and comfort those who have no comforter but God and myself; I can help the poor in some of their occasional distresses; (and with God's help) I can preach the Gospel freely; and if my labours should not prosper here so much as might be wished, and my evening lectures should not be so well attended as when novelty recommended them, I must then consider my country as my parish, if it will give me leave; I must hope that what I speak here, will be better attended to somewhere else, and be doing some good, when I can-speak no longer. In the mean time I shall not be discouraged: this sermon may do more good than I can yet foresee, and may stir up some others to be like-ininded with myself. God send it may do so; the advantage will not be to me, but to us all: and as the time is approaching, when some yearly regulations are to take place, I trust you will all remember what has now been said to you. I have only to tell you farther, that