« AnteriorContinuar »
These reasons will never be answered. It will always be true, that there are important ends to be accomplished by every man during the whole period, through which his life would extend, did he not lay violent hands on himself. These ends are constituted, and set before him, by God Himself. In refusing to accomplish them, the Suicide violates the highest obligations, under which he is, or can be placed. He is, according to the supposition, in affliction. This affliction both reason and Revelation declare to be sent by his Creator. It is sent for the very purpose of amending his character; awakening in him patience and submission; faith and fortitude ; enabling him to feel his dependence; softening his heart with tenderness towards his fellowcreatures ; exciting in him a spirit of universal obedience; and, thus, preparing him for endless life. I need not say, that these designs, on the part of God, are pre-eminently benevolent; nor that in refusing to accomplish them, nor that in sinning against God, in this manner, he supremely wrongs his own soul.
Human life is plainly intended by the Creator to be a mere course of duty and obedience. This is the direct appointment of the Creator. To wish to frustrate, or reverse, this appointment, much more to attempt the frustration, or reversion, of it by overt acts, is sinful of course. How sinful, then, must be this violent attempt to oppose the Divine Will!
But the Suicide cuts himself off from every opportunity, from the very possibility, of repenting of these multiplied crimes. Hurried into eternity by his own hand, he appears before the bar of God, with all his guilt upon his head. Should it be said, that he may secure himself an opportunity of repentance by a gradual death ; I answer; that neither the temper of mind with which he destroys his life, nor the views which God cannot but entertain of this violent act of rebellion, furnish him with any hope, that he will become penitent.
3. The Scriptures expressly forbid us voluntarily to sink under any affliction.
My son despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, neither faint when thou art rebuked of him.
Christ has said to all his disciples, In the world ye shall have tribulation. But He has most benevolently subjoined, In me ye shall have peace : that is, peace, awakened in the midst of your afflictions, or flowing from them, as a regular consequence of your submission and sanctification. Accordingly, St. Paul declares, that, Although no affliction is for the present joyous, but all are grievous ; yet nerertheless they afterwards yield the peaceable fruits of righteousness.
In these passages we are required, unconditionally, to sustain our afflictions with submission, patience, and fortitude. This command we cannot disobey, even in thought, without sin; much less in so violent an act of opposition. Suicide is the result, not only of a total want of submission, but of direct and violent hostility against the will of God. It is a declaration, that we will not endure the chastening of God; and that the afflictions, with which He is pleased to visit us, are intolerable; and that they are, therefore, unreasonable, and unrighteous specimens of oppression in His Administrations. No charge can be more obviously blasphemous, than this; more unsuited to the Character of the Creator; or more unbecoming the mouth of a creature.
4. The Suicide is always bound to prolong his life, by personal Duties, which are indispensable.
He is bound to secure his own salvation. He is bound to provide for his family. If he performs not these so long as they need them, and so long as it is in his power, he denies the faith, and is worse than an infidel. He is bound to train up his children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. He is bound to promote the happiness and salvation of those around him; and, generally, of his fellow-men. Universally, whatever is his situation, he may, if he lives, do good to himself, and to mankind: and this good he is bound to do, so long as God is pleased to spare bis life. When he destroys himself; he is guilty of gross rebellion against God in refusing to perform these duties.
5. The Scriptures never exhibit Suicide as the conduct of any, but very
wicked men. Job, David, Elijah, Jeremiah, Daniel, and his three Companions ; Christ, and the Apostles; underwent afflictions, incomparably more severe than those, for which the Suicide destroys his life. Yet neither of these thought it proper voluntarily to terminate his own life. Daniel and his Companions, Christ and his Apostles, were, in most instances, however, destined to a violent and scandalous death : one of the very cases which Mr. Hume has selected, to show the lawfulness of Suicide. This they perfectly well knew ; but not one of them appears to have thought of preventing the pain and disgrace by laying violent hands on himself. This case is plainly an extreme one. None can be more so. Yet the perfect piety of Christ, and the exemplary piety of these virtuous men, instead of dictating this desperate course of conduct to them, taught them, severally, to wait with humble resignation for the Will of God, and patiently to receive their destiny from his hand. The example of these persons will be followed by every virtuous man.
Saul, an open rebel against his Maker, and the intentional murderer of David and Jonathan ; Ahithophel, a traitor to his lawful sovereign; and Judas, a traitor to his Redeemer; were Suicides. This conduct in them was the result of their dispositions; the product of such principles, as controlled these abandoned men.
It is, therefore, rationally argued, that Suicide, in the view of the Divine Mind, is the moral consequence of the worst principles ouly. On the contrary, it is equally clear, that Virtue in the Evangelical sense is totally incompatible with the perpetration of this act; and absolutely forbids the voluntary destruction of our own lives. He, who meditates the voluntary termination of his own life, ought solemnly to remember, that he is indulging a spirit, which is directly opposed to that of Christ, and strongly assimilated to that of Saul, Ahit hophel, and Judas. SERMON CXVIII.
EPHESIANS v. 18.
And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess.
In the preceding discourses I have considered several methods, in which life is destroyed, in opposition to the Sixth Command of the Decalogue. In this discourse I shall make some observations concerning another of these methods ; viz. DRUNKENNESS.
Drunkenness is nearly allied to Suicide. It is equally certain means of shortening life. The principal difference, so far as the termination of life is concerned, lies in the mode. What is appropriately called Suicide is a sudden, or immediate, termination of life. Drunkenness brings it gradually to an end. The destruction, in both cases, is equally certain ; and not materially different in the degree of turpitude. In many instances, indeed,
, this catastrophe is brought to pass at least as suddenly by Drunkenness, as by Suicide. There is, also, another difference between these crimes. The Suicide intends directly to destroy his life, and makes this his prime purpose. The Drunkard thinks of nothing less. The prime object in his view is the gratification of his relish for strong drink, united with that bewildered elevation of spirits, which he feels in the hour of intoxication.
In the text we are expressly, and universally, forbidden to Bommit this sin. The penalty, incurred by the commission, is as expressly declared in 1 Cor. vi. 10: where it is said, that Drunkards shall not inherit the Kingdom of God. This threatening we are not indeed to consider as absolute, any more than others, expressed in a similar manner. Undoubtedly, no person, who enters eternity in the character of a drunkard will inherit the kingdom of God. But I know of no reason to conclude, that he, who, though once a drunkard, has become a penitent, will not be accepted.
This interesting subject I design to consider at large under the following heads.
1. The Nature;
1. I shall make a few observations concerning the Nature of this sin.
Drunkenness is that singular state of man, in which he loses, either partially, or wholly, the use of his bodily and mental powers, under the operation of spirituous drink, opium, or other means of intoxication.
Drunkenness is either occasional, or habitual.
Occasional Drunkenness exists only in irregular, separate, solitary, or even single instances; and is produced sometimes by design, and sometimes by accident.
Habitual Drunkenness is a frequent, and usually a regular, intoxication; occasioned by that increased and peculiar love of strong drink, which is generated by Occasional Drunkenness.
Habitual Drunkenness will be the principal subject of this discourse. It will only be necessary to remark concerning Occasional Drunkenness, that all the observations, almost, concerning Habitual Drunkenness will be applicable to it, although in an inferior degree ; and that, wherever the subject shall appear to demand any serious discriminations, I shall endeavour to make them in the progress of the discussion.
II. The Causes of this Sin, by which I intend not the immediate, and properly efficient, causes; such as those already men