Take warning! You are no stronger than tens of thousands who have, by this practice, been overthrown. No young man in our cities can escape being tempted. Beware of the first beginnings! This road is a down-grade, and every instant increases the momentum. Launch not upon this treacherous sea. Split hulks strew the beach. Everlasting storms howl up and down, tossing the unwary crafts into the Hell-gate. I speak of what I have seen with my own eyes. I have looked off into the abyss and have seen the foaming, and the hissing, and the whirling of the horrid deep in which the mangled victims writhed, one upon another, and struggled, strangled, blasphemed, and died—the death-stare of eternal despair upon their countenances as the waters gurgled over them.
To a gambler’s death-bed there comes no hope. He will probably die alone. His former associates come not nigh his dwelling. When the hour comes, his miserable soul will go out of a miserable life into a miserable eternity. As his poor remains pass the house where he was ruined, old companions may look out a moment and say—“There goes the old carcass—dead at last,” but they will not get up from the table. Let him down now into his grave. Plant no tree to cast its shade there, for the long, deep, eternal gloom that settles there is shadow enough. Plant no “forget-me-nots” or eglantines around the spot, for flowers were not made to grow on such a blasted heath. Visit it not in the sunshine, for that would be mockery, but in the dismal night, when no stars are out, and the spirits of darkness come down horsed on the wind, then visit the grave of the gambler!
Iniquity never gives a fair fight. It springs out from ambush upon the unsuspecting. Of the tens of thousands who have fallen into bad habits, not one deliberately leaped off, but all were caught in some sly trap. You may have watched a panther or a cat about to take its prey. It crouches down, puts its mouth between its paws, and is hardly to be seen in the long grass. So iniquity always crouches down in unexpected shapes, takes aim with unerring eye, and then springs upon you with sudden and terrific leap. In secret places and in unlooked-for shapes it murders the innocent.
Men are gregarious. Cattle in herds. Fish in schools. Birds in flocks. Men in social circles. You may, by the discharge of a gun, scatter a flock of quails, or by the plunge of the anchor send apart the denizens of the sea; but they will gather themselves together again. If you, by some new power, could break the associations in which men now stand, they would again adhere. God meant it so. He has gathered all the flowers and shrubs into associations. You may plant one “forget-me-not” or “hearts-ease” alone, away off upon the hillside, but it will soon hunt up some other “forget-me-not” or “hearts-ease.” Plants love company; you will find them talking to