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RUNKENNESS is either actual or habi
tual; just as it is one thing to be drunk, and another to be a drunkard. What we shall
the subject, must principally be understood of a habit of intemperance ; although part of the guilt and danger described may be applicable to casual excesses; and all of it, in a certain degree, forasmuch as every habit is only a repetition of single instances.
The mischief of drunkenness, from which we are to compute the guilt of it, consists in the following bad effects :
1. It betrays most constitutions either to extravagancies of anger, or sins of lewdness.
2. It disqualifies men for the duties of their ftation, both by the temporary disorder of their faculties, and at length by a constant incapacity and fupefaction.
3. It is attended with expences, which can often be ill spared. 4
It is sure to occasion uneasiness to the family of the drunkard.
5. It shortens life.
To these confequences of drunkenness must be added the peculiar danger and mischief of the example. Drunkenness is a social festive vice; apt, beyond any vice that can be mentioned, to draw in others by the example. The drinker
" collects his circle; the circle naturally spreads ; of those who are drawn within it, many become the corrupters and centres of sets and circles of their own; every one countenancing, and perhaps emulating, the rest, till a whole neighbourhood be infected from the contagion of a single example. This account is confirmed by what we often observe of drunkenness, that it is a local vice; found to prevail in certain countries, in certain districts of a country, or in particular towns, without any re:son to be given for the fafhion, but that it had been introduced by some popular esamples. With this o' fervation upon the spreading quality of drunkenness, let'us connect a remark which belongs to the several evil effects above recited. The consequences of a vice, like the symptoms of a disease, thoug'i they
be all enumerated in the description, seldom all meet in the same subject. In the instance under consideration, the age and temperature of one drunkard
have little to fear from inflammations of lust or anger; the fortune of a second may not be injured by the expence; a third may have no family to be disquieted by his irregularities; and a fourth may possess a constitution fortified against the poison of strong liquors. But if, as we always ought to do, we comprehend within the consequences of our conduct the milchief and tendency of the example, the above circumstances, however fortunate for the individual, will be found to vary the guilt of his intemperance, less, probably, than he supposes. The moralist may expoftulate with him thus : Although the waste of time and money be of finall importance to you,
be of the utmost to some one or other whom your society corrupts. Repeated, or long continued exceffes, which hurt not your health, may be fatal to your companion. Although you have neither wife, nor child, nor parent, to lainent your absence from home, or expect your return to it with terror ; other families, in which husbands and fathers have been invited to shire in your ebriety, or encouraged to imitate it, may justly lay their misery or ruin
at your door. This will hold good, whether the
and safety of the neighbourhood, in which drunken revels often end; and also those deleterious and maniacal effects, which ftrong liquors produce upon particular constitutions ; because, in general propositions concerna ing drunkenness, no consequences should be included, but what are constant enough to be generally expected.
Drunkennessis repeatedly forbidden by St.Paul: * Be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess." " Let us walk honestly as in the day, not in riotse ing and drunkenness." " Be not deceived: * neither fornicators--nor drurikards, nor re“ vilers, nor extortioners, fhall inherit the king“ dom of God.” Eph. v. 18. Rom. xiii. 13. 1 Cor. vi. 9, 10. The fame Apolle likewise condemns drunkenness, as peculiarly inconsistent with the Chriftian profellion : “ They that be ke drunken, are drunken in the night; but let
us, who are of the day, be sober.” 1. Thef. v. 7,8. We are not concerned with the argument; the words amount to a prohibition of drunkenness; and the authority is conclusive.
It is a question of some importance, how far drunkenness is an excuse for the crimes which the drunken person commits.
In the solution of this question, we will firi? suppose the drunken person to be altogether deprived of moral agency, that is to say, of all reflection and foresight. In this condition, it is evident that he is no inore capable of guilt than a madman ; although, like him, he may be extremely mischievous. The only guilt with which he is chargeable, was incurred at the time when he voluntarily brought himself into this situation, And as every man is responsible for the consequences which he foresaw, or might have foreseen, and for no other, this guilt will be in
proportion to the probability of such consequences ensuing. From which principle results the fol. lowing rule, viz. that the guilt of
action in a drunken man bears the same proportion to the guilt of the like action in a sober man, that the prolability of its being the consequence of drunkenness bears to absolute certainty. By virtue of this rule, those vices, which are the known effects