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Officers of the Society for the present year.
Rev. David Higgins, of Bath, President.
Deac. Timothy Buel, Bloomfield, Vice President.
Rev. Hezekiah N. Woodruff, Auburn.
COMMITTEE OF MISSIONS.
Rev. Messrs. David Higgins, James H. Hotchkin, Oliver Ayer, Henry Axtell, Hezekiah N. Woodruff, & Levi Parsons.
On the 16th ult. the Rev. John B. Whittlesey, was ordained to the work of the Gospel Ministry, over the presbyterian church and society in the village of Herkimer. The introductory prayer by Rev. Henry Dwight, of Utica; Sermon by Rev. Dr. Backus, President of Hamilton College; the Consecrating Prayer by Rev. Samuel F. Snowden, of New-Hartford; Charge by Rev. Jesse Townsend, of Madison; Right hand of fellowship, by Rev. Samuel T. Mills, of Litchfield, Charge to the Congregation, by Rev. Mr. Wetmore, concluding Prayer, by Rev. John Smith, of Cooperstown.
When it was objected on the floor of the Senate of Massachusetts, to the act for incorporating "the Missionary Society," that it was affording the means of exporting religion, whereas there was none to spare from among ourselves; it was pleasantly and truly replied, that religion was a commodity, of which the more we exported, THE
MORE WE HAD REMAINING.
Dum vivimus vivamus.-Whilst we live let us live.
"Live while you live;" the Epicure would say,
ON THE GRADUAL AND INSIDIOUS PROGRESS OF INTEMPERANCE.
NO person ever became a drunkard, or a tippler, all at once. The descent to infamy and to hell, upon the fiery stream of intoxicating liquors, though often rapid, is not perpendicular. In almost every case, the progress, at first, is slow and imperceptible. Probably, not one hard drinker in a hundred entertained the least apprehension of danger, when he began to fall; and not one in fifty can, upon looking back specify the day, or the month, when he took the first step, in the downward road of intemperance. It requires time to pervert the natural taste; to silence the remonstrances of conscience, to overcome the sense of shame; to extinguish the best effections of the heart; and, with the eyes open, to plunge voluntarily into all the miseries of infamy, poverty, disease, death, and perdition.
It is by degrees, that an inordinate thirst for ardent spirits is created. The poison diffuses itself through the system unseen and unsuspected. While the unconscious victim cries peace and safety, sudden destruction is coming upon him. Every day adds a new and stronger link to the chain, that is soon to bind him beyond the hope of deliverance. At every step his path becomes more steep and critical. Like a benighted wanderer on the glaciers of Switzerland, he walks upon the brink of destruction, and knows it not. Or, rather, he is like a man in a delirium, who should stand and laugh and sing on some loose impending crag of the highest Alps, at the very moment when he is about plunging into the abyss beneath.
This might serve for a hasty outline; but it may be use ful, though it should be painful, to pursue the subject further. Let us then endeavor, in a few cases, to trace the insidious progress of intemperance, step by step, from the first excess, to downright and habitual intoxication.
We will begin with one of those invalids, who are gradually and insensibly seduced by strong drink, under the imposing name of medicine. He resorts to the bottle of bitters at
first, not because he craves liquor, but to remove some ache, or to gain a temporary relief from debility. He drinks very sparingly once a day, and is sure that it does him good. Soon he finds, that the little, which he has been accustomed to take, does not produce the desired effect, and therefore increases the dose. While under its stimulating operation he feels better, but when that ceases, he sinks lower than evLong before the stated hour returns, he is driven, by a kind of unaccountable impulse, to the bottle, by the use of which he once more gains a momentary relief.
In the mean time, he feels, or thinks he feels, a variety of strange spasms and shooting pains, which nothing but his beloved medicine can remove. Under this impression, he after a while uses it so frequently and so freely, that its inebriating effects become apparent to his friends. They are alarmed, and very tenderly suggest to him the expediency of substituting some other medicine. He is confident that nothing will answer the purpose so well, and thinks himself fully authorized, nay bound, to reject their friendly advice. The habit of drinking now increases upon him every day.— He is often disguised, and his friends think it high time to remonstrate with him in a more decided tone. He pretends to be astonished, that they should entertain such unkind suspicions; assures them that these suspicions are wholly groundless; that he drinks no more than his health absolutely requires, and wonders how they can be so cruel, as to think of depriving a poor sick man of the only medicine, which gives him any relief. Thus he contrives to blind his own eyes, and to resist every motive that can be urged to save him from ruin. While he flatters himself that his health is improving his bands are made strong. He wastes all the little strength that he had, and goes prematurely down to the grave, a confirmed drunkard. Or, if he recovers in spite of strong drink it is only to drag out a few months or years of shame and guilt; to be a burden to his friends and a curse to the community. Such, in a thousand cases, is the gradual and insidious progress of intemperance, begun and carried on by using ardent spirits as a medicine.
Let us now trace its footsteps and its ravages, for a mo. ment, along the path of honor and office. Here alas! we shall find many a column, broken and defaced, which once stood strong and towered high, the pride and ornament of the state. Here, also, may we behold the useless fragment of a multitude of inferior pillars, which, while they stood, helped to ́support the public edifice. None of these, let it be remembered, were overthrown by a single shock. Their foundations were
gradually and silently washed away, till they tottered, and at last fell to rise no more. How this catastrophe is produced, it is not difficult to explain. In doing public business men have the temptation to drink almost always before them. Our habits are such, that to avoid being singular, those who would gladly decline, think they must, at least take a little. Here the rivulet, in many cases, takes its rise. Drinking a little once, prepares the way for drinking a little, or rather a good deal more. Liquor is always plenty and is often free. This last circumstance it cannot be doubted, induces some to drink more, than they would feel themselves able to buy.Being once fairly initiated, they find it difficult to refrain. Having had the decanter of brandy always at hand, when abroad, discharging their public duties, it is natural to wish for it at home. And when matters have proceeded thus far, the danger of confirmed intemperance becomes great, and the most distressing apprehensions of friends, are too often speedily realized.
Thus, one indulgence, which, perhaps, was merely complimentary, prompts to a second; that to a third; and so on, till the melancholy fate of the victim is sealed. In the mean time, public confidence is gradually withdrawn. The whisper of suspicion gives place to the irresistible proofs of ocular demonstration. "He is not the man he once was," is repeated, by one and another, with a significant look and strong emphasis. To his utter astonishment he finds his character gone before he suspected that it was even tarnished. This discovery accelerates his fall. He throws off those restraints which a regard to his character had imposed, becomes a confirmed sot, is an object of pity and derision while he lives, and goes unlamented down to the grave.
Still further to illustrate the gradual and fatal progress of intemperance, let us seek in the bosom of some happy and respectable family, for an amiable and promising youth on whom the fondest hopes of his parents rest. We will suppose (what alas! too often happens,) that through their indiscreet use of strong drink in the family, he contracted, even in childhood too high a relish for the cordial and the sling. Or we will suppose, that his feet first began imperceptibly to slide, at a raising, a ball. a military parade, or, on a fourth of July. Having once begun to drink spirits, he repeats and increases the draught from time to time, without the least suspicion of danger, and is pleased with the exhilarating effects. This exhilaration is naturally followed by languor and he soon learns, when his spirits are depressed, to raise them by the stimulus of ardent spirits.
Yielding to the importunity of merry and insinuating companions, he goes now and then to the tavern, or grog shop.— The glass is filled, passes briskly around, and he is urged to partake of its contents. If he declines, or drinks sparingly, he is ridiculed as a lad of no spirit. Again the glass is replenished; again and again he is over-persuaded to put it to his mouth. Nor after others have treated him so generously, is it possible for him to get off with honor, till he has called in his glass, and pledged the noisy circle. He goes away heartily ashamed of himself, and resolves never to be found in such company again. But he is again solicited and yields. He is observed to drink more willingly and freely than before, and is greeted with applause. This flatters his vanity, but cannot altogether quiet his conscience. He returns home late. The suspicions of his parents are excited. They inquire where he has been ; and, after some attempts at equivocation he is constrained to tell. They tenderly admonish him and he promises never to offend in this way again. A new temptation, however presents itself, and he is overcome. All this time, he abhors the character of a drunkard; never suspecting, that he is becoming one himself. But the dreadful truth begins to appear. His eyes and his face betray him. He grows idle and quarrelsome; answers his parents roughly; and learns to swear and gamble over the bottle, as often as he can find opportunity.
He is, perhaps, secretly carried home intoxicated, from his midnight revels, once or twice. The scene is too much for his doting father and mother. Their hearts are ready to burst with anguish. Half despairing and half distracted, they weep and pray till he comes to himself, and then, in the most earnest and moving terms, set before him the fatal consequences of persevering in his present course. His brothers and sisters entreat him, with many tears, not to destroy himself, and not to rend the heartstrings of those who most tenderly love him. He is deeply affected; promises amendment, and forms strong resolutions, which, alas! prove like the morning cloud and the early dew.
At length his intemperance becomes a subject of public conversation. Many have seen him in a state of partial or complete intoxication. Then it is, that to save his character, if possible, a little longer, his friends invent for him, a variety of excuses; such as that he drank upon an empty stomach; he was very much out of health; he was overcome with cold; or he is subject to fits and fainting. Vain effort to conceal the truth! He has fits, indeed, but they are fits of drunkenness, which become every month more fre