On the Vice of Intemperance

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OCTOBER 21
On the Vice of Intemperance

Consider first
, that another capital enemy of the soul is the vice of intemperance; that is, of immoderation or excess in eating or drinking, which is a mortal sin, as often as it exposes a person to the danger of a considerable prejudice, either in his soul or body, health or reason; or when it shortens his days, as it frequently happens, like a slow poison, though the effects of it are not immediately perceived: and in general, when, for the sake of the pleasure in eating or drinking, a person does not scruple to transgress the commandments of God or the church: or otherwise set his affections so much upon gratifying his sensual appetite, as to make this the study and business of his life; like those of whom the apostle says, Phil. iii., 'that they make a god of their belly;' and of whom he pronounces with tears, that ''they are enemies of the cross of Christ, and that their end is destruction.' O how true it is that the vice of intemperance is absolutely irreconcilable with the spirit of Christianity, and with that penitential and mortified life which is enjoined by the gospel as the narrow way that leads to everlasting life. O, it is an enemy indeed to the cross of Christ.

Consider 2ndly,
the innumerable evils of every kind that are the daily consequences of sins of intemperance. How they change men into brutes; rob them of their reason;; destroy their health; bring upon them a variety of diseases; shorten their lives; consume their substance; disturb the peace of their families; withdraw from their wives and children their necessary subsistence; give scandal and bad example to their neighbours; foment their passions and lusts; enslave them to their sensual inclinations; make them unfit for prayer and other spiritual exercises, and quite dull and insensible to the things of God: in a word, how they shut the gate against the grace of God and all that is good, and open it to all that is evil. The consequence of which is, that these sins, when indulged and once come to a habit, are most difficult of all to be cured; and too often, not to say generally, follow men to their graves, and plunge their impenitent souls into those flames, where, with the rich glutton, (Luke xvi.,) they shall hunger and thirst for all eternity, and never obtain the least refreshment.

Consider 3rdly,
in what manner the Holy Ghost declares himself against the vice of intemperance in the word of God. 'Who hath woe?' saith Solomon, Prov. xxiii. 29, 30, 'Whose father hath woe? Who hath contentions? Who falls into pits? Who hath wounds without cause, & c. Surely they that pass their time in wine, and study to drink off their cups.' Ecclus. xix. 2, 'Wine and women make wise men fall away, & c.' Isaias v. 22, 'Woe to you that are mighty to drink wine and stout men at drunkenness'. St. Luke xxi. 34, 'Take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting and drunkenness, and that day come upon you suddenly.' Rom. xiii. 12, 13, 'Let us cast off the works of darkness,' & c. 'Walk honestly as in the day, not in rioting and drunkenness', & c. I Cor. vi. 9, 10, 'Be not deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor drunkards, & c., shall possess the kingdom of God.' Gal. v. 19 & c., 'The words of the flesh are manifest, which are fornication, uncleanness, drunkenness, revellings, and such like; of the which I foretell you, as I have foretold to you, that they who do such things shall not obtain the kingdom of God.' O see, ye gluttons and drunkards, enemies of the cross of Christ, where your portion is like to be, since you have no share in the kingdom of God.

Conclude
to meditate well upon these scripture truths, and these dreadful woes pronounced against intemperance; and never be so foolish and mad as to see thy birthright in God's eternal kingdom, with all the ravishing joys of his heavenly banquet, for so mean, so unworthy, so hasty a thing as the gratifying for a moment thy sensual appetite.
 
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