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A Solemn Appeal

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    IT DERANGES THE BRAIN AND NERVOUS SYSTEM

    “But its ravages on the brain and nervous system embody its most terrible consequences. To behold one physical organ after another fall a victim to this devastating passion, as house after house is consumed by the devastating flames, is indeed terrible.SOAP 213.3

    “To lose limb after limb of the body, or large portions of the heart, or lungs, or sight, or hearing, etc., is irreparable, and inexpressible by words; but to lose one after another of the mental faculties is inexpressibly greater, because these constitute the man. As Watts replied impromptu to Mrs. Rowe, when she rallied him for his personal diminutiveness -SOAP 214.1

    “‘Could I in stature reach the pole,SOAP 214.2

    Or grasp creation in my span,SOAP 214.3

    I’d still be measured by my soul;SOAP 214.4

    The MIND’s the stature of the man.’SOAP 214.5

    “Whatever enfeebles or deranges the brain and nerves, thereby impairs the very personality and entity of the man himself. Now, we have already seen that this indulgence is most exciting, exhausting, and irritating, to the brain and nervous system; that excess produces inflammation and disease; and also that nervous and cerebral disease both produces depravity, and renders its victims most miserable, where there is no other cause or occasion. Behold in this ‘wheel within a wheel’ - in the fact that this indulgence inflames the whole body, and especially the brain and nervous system - the reason why this excess causes more insanity than anything else except intemperance, which it generally accompanies. Of the 128 males in the McLeanSOAP 214.6

    Lunatic Asylum, in Charlestown, Mass., in 1838, twenty-four were brought there by a single form of this vice! The report of the Worcester Insane Hospital for 1836, rates intemperance as the most prolific cause of insanity, and this passion as the second, of which it then had twenty-six victims. In 1838, of its 199 male patients, 42, or almost one-fourth, were the victims of solitary indulgence. A superintendent of a French lunatic asylum, says it ‘is more frequently than is imagined, the cause of insanity, particularly among the rich.’ ‘No cause,’ says Dr. Woodward, ‘is more influential in producing insanity. The records of the institutions give an appalling catalogue of cases attributed to it.’SOAP 215.1

    “But, when it does not go so far as to induce complete idiocy or insanity, it so far vitiates the nervous system as to leave its subjects completely miserable - self-abuse particularly so. Facts, almost without number, completely demonstrate the physiological law that disordered nerves produce mental misery; and as this passion deranges the nervous system, we see why its subjects are nervous, fidgety, easily agitated, fearful, afflicted with terrible dreams, melancholic, depressed in spirits, and most wretched, as well as partly beside themselves. In describing its effects, Dr. Adam Clarke writes thus:SOAP 215.2

    “‘The sin of self-pollution is one of the most destructive evils ever practised by fallen man. In many respects it is several degrees worse than common whoredom, and has in its train more awful consequences. It excites the powers of nature to undue action, and produces violent secretions, which necessarily and speedily exhaust the vital principle and energy; hence the muscles become flaccid and feeble, the tone and natural action of the nerves relaxed and impeded, the understanding confused, the memory oblivious, the judgment perverted, the will indeterminate and wholly without energy to resist; the eyes appear languishing and without expression, and the countenance vacant; appetite ceases, for the stomach is incapable of performing its proper office; nutrition fails; tremors, fears, and terrors, are generated; and thus the wretched victim drags out a miserable existence, till, superannuated, even before he had time to arrive at man’s estate, with a mind often debilitated even to a state of idiotism, his worthless body tumbles into the grave, and his probation expires by acts of his own commission.SOAP 216.1

    “‘Reader, this is no caricature, nor are the colorings overcharged in this shocking picture. Worse woes than my pen can relate, I have witnessed in those addicted to this fascinating, unnatural, and most destructive of crimes. If thou hast entered into the snare, flee from the destruction, both of body and mind that awaits thee! God alone can save thee. Advice, warnings, threatenings, increasing debility of body, mental decay, checks of conscience, expostulations of judgment, and medical assistance, will all be lost on thee; God, and God alone, can save thee from an evil which has in its issue the destruction of thy body, and the final perdition of thy soul.’SOAP 216.2

    “‘Facts,’ etc., to ‘Young Men,’ narrates the history of a young man of high talents and standing, promoted to an important post of honor, which he once filled satisfactorily to his constituents, and who had amassed considerable wealth, and was engaged to be married, as follows:SOAP 217.1

    “‘But his health began to fail. His constant complaint was - “my nerves are weak” - “my hands tremble” - “my wrists ache” - “my knees are weak” - “I have bad dreams,” etc. He was advised to take outdoor exercise, ride horseback, and take strengthening remedies, with a nourishing diet. But all this did no good. The symptoms increased. He soon became dyspeptic and hypochondriac; and then followed, not only the aches and pains that were consequent upon such a state of the body, but all those ten thousand imaginary physical and mental diseases that flesh is heir to. Every remedy was used, but to no purpose. He gave up his business, broke off his engagement with his lady, sought every opportunity to hide himself from the gaze of his friends and the world, and seemed to be determined to die.SOAP 217.2

    “‘Thus he remained a most wretched devotee to the suicidal practice of self-pollution. Professional advice, and that of his friends, who knew the cause of his sickness, had no effect upon him. Sometimes, indeed, he would desist for a few days, but it seemed to be only to gather new strength, that he might pursue his ruinous career with greater energy. About two years ago, he was attacked with palsy of the whole of one side, and which continues to this day. Nocturnal emissions, priapisms, gleet, or a watery discharge from the urethra, and aches and pains, with frightful visions, horrid dreams, and idiotic manners, all now present themselves as the sad result of this disgusting, criminal, and soul-destroying habit. He is now a mere pest to his friends; and though but comparatively few persons are aware of the cause of his wretchedness, it is nevertheless true, and can be attributed to none other than the indulgence in solitary vice.SOAP 218.1

    “‘Other cases might be referred to, if I had time, of a less revolting nature; for when the indulgence is only occasional, of course the effects are not so alarming. But even then the effects are bad - for there cannot be a single indulgence in this way, without producing injury to a certain extent.’SOAP 218.2

    “Of another, it narrates thus:SOAP 219.1

    “‘A few years ago, I had under my care and instruction a most promising youth. His talents were of the highest order, and he bade fair to take a prominent stand among the first scholars of our country. He entered college, and was considered one of the first scholars of his class. It was soon perceived that his constitution was breaking down. Medicine did him but little good. Soon after he graduated, he became melancholy, and finally was deranged; and his friends were under the necessity of conveying him to a hospital. It was not until this event that the cause of his complaint was ascertained. It was evident that he had been in the constant habit of criminally indulging himself in secret. In a few months, he partially recovered, and visited his friends. He has,however, been sent to the hospital again. He is a most melancholy object, for in his lucid moments he is demented, a mere wreck of that superior genius which he once was. When I meet him in the street, I find that idiotic, lascivious smile, which is common in those cases where the individual has been in the constant habit of beastly indulgence.SOAP 219.2

    “‘A young man was under my care from one of the southern cities. He was an object of pity; he had become so accustomed to his vicious indulgence, that he has been known even at the dinner table to practice it. He was extremely irritable, and would often be taken in a fit (spasms), which would continue for hours. His physician did not understand his case, nor was I sensible, at the time, that his bad habits had produced his partial insanity. He would often disclose some of his practices to his associates, when he was insane, which he would much regret when he had recovered his reason. I have understood that, since his return to his friends, he has but partially recovered. He is demented, and is unfit for the common avocations of life.SOAP 220.1

    “‘Another young man, who was under my care not long since, is obliged to leave his studies, and is just going into a decline; and self-pollution is the cause. I have conversed with him, and he is sensible of his error, but I fear too late.’SOAP 220.2

    “A letter to Mrs. Gove, narrating its writer’s experience, describes its effects on the mind as follows:SOAP 220.3

    “‘At about twelve years of age, my health began to fail; I became dyspeptic and nervous. I often awoke in the morning bathed in tears; and the most indescribable and horrible sinking of spirits was my portion during the forenoon. If I committed any little mistake or fault, the recollection of it would haunt me for days, and make me superlatively wretched. I became pale as death, weak, feeble, and emaciated. I had severe palpitation of the heart, pain in the side, and many symptoms of consumption. I had also, much of the time, distressing pain in the head. I had much dizziness, and my sight would often become entirely obscured, especially when I stooped and rose quickly.’SOAP 220.4

    “‘It renders them,’ says an English author, ‘stupid, dull, and melancholy, and destroys all their vivacity, cheerfulness, and health; it brings on consumptions, weakness, barrenness, and all that dreadful train of nervous complaints, which make them timid, whimsical, and ridiculous.’SOAP 221.1

    “Another patient writes thus:SOAP 221.2

    “‘My enthusiasm is sensibly diminished; my perceptions are very dull; the fire of imagination much less vivid; every passing event appears to me like a dream; I have less power of conception, and less presence of mind. In a word, I feel as if I am wasting away, although my sleep, appetite, and countenance, are good.’SOAP 221.3

    “‘The empire which this odious practice gains over the senses,’ says Tissot, ‘is beyond expression. No sooner does this uncleanness get possession of the heart, than it pursues its votaries everywhere, and governs them at all times and in all places. Upon the most serious occasions, and in the solemn acts of religion, they find themselves transported with lustful conceptions and desires, which take up all their thoughts.’SOAP 221.4

    “Dr. Woodward gives the following from a letter written by a patient:SOAP 222.1

    “‘Having endured so long under this blighting, withering curse, my constitution, naturally very strong, is broken down, and my mind, as well as body, completely enervated. I am haunted day and night with lascivious thoughts and dreams; suspicious of my friends, and disgusted with myself. My memory has lost its power—unable to fix my attention—my mind is filled with terrible forebodings—fear of insanity, and at times it has cost me a continual effort to retain my reason. It is with difficulty that I walk, or stand, or even sit, erect. An inclination to lie down and sleep, which desire I am sensible I have indulged too much—my sleep never refreshes me—I rise in the morning weak and weary, to drag out another miserable day. Oh! how often have I wished for death, or rather oblivion, or anything to terminate my woes. I have of late been much annoyed with constant little twitchings or spasms in various parts of my body, and frequently my face. Would to God I had known what I now know when first tempted to this health, life, and soul-destroying vice. I feel that I cannot hold out much longer.’SOAP 222.2

    “Behold, in the following auto-biography of a patient, the mental anguish and derangement this practice engenders. After saying that he commenced the practice at about fourteen years of age, and had kept it up at intervals for many years, he writes:SOAP 223.1

    “‘During the whole of this time, I have suffered the most intense and unmitigated misery. Although blessed by nature with an excellent constitution, and with a kindly, cheerful disposition, I have become dyspeptic, gloomy, and unsociable. I am wretchedly timid and irresolute, my mind very weak, and filled with imaginary terrors. In fine, I have suffered so much in body and mind, and seeing no prospect of being restored to health and usefulness, that I am sunk in despair, and am daily contemplating SUICIDE. It is the anguish my death would cause my mother and sister, whom I devotedly love, and for whom I would wish to live, and whom I would wish to maintain, that mainly prevents.’SOAP 223.2

    “But why detail more? These are the constitutional effects of this sin. Behold the MIND a wreck - the SOUL undone!SOAP 223.3

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