Page images
[ocr errors]

strike at the root of the Upas tree of drunkenness, as it flourishes in the church, the family, and the world; and cause it to wither, decay, and die!

Many temperance reformers, of modern times, seem to have forgotten, or lightly to have borne in mind, that something must go before law, to make it strong and conscience-binding, viz: right principle derived from Divine truth. Arbitrary laws, built on a quick-sand foundation, may be framed, and seem to prosper for a time: but by-and-by they will become powerless and contemptible; or at most, only extort a base, grudging, outward compliance, from dread of punishment, while secret breaches of them will be committed, and winked at, whenever and wherever men may find an encouraging opportunity. How can it be otherwise, if the church is to have any influence on her members, or on the world, seeing that she consecrates intoxicating liquor, and pays it the highest deference, as the symbol of her Saviour's precious, sin-atoning blood, and not alcoholic liquor simply; but (as has been proved in the most clear and convincing manner by you, in your excellent letters in the Enquirer, published so far back as 1841, and since, in other productions of your pen, and especially in your recent work on adulterations,) "liquors sold as wine, in which there is not a drop of the fruit of the vine, but a combination of poisonous drugs, fit neither for man nor beast to swallow, and a perfect disgrace to the communion table!" I apprehend that, although there are many zealous contenders for a Maine-law in America, and England is fast following her example,—yet a large proportion of them, if they were honestly to reveal their secret thoughts and desires, would confess that they cherish an inward liking for strong drink, as "a good creature of God, not to be refused if received with thanksgiving;" and that they would be sorely grieved if they imagined that they should forever be deprived of the pleasure, and solace derived from it when alone, or in the bosom of their families, in the

event of a prohibitory law being adopted; and if they had no hope that the reformed customs and habits of society, in consequence thereof, would ultimately lead to the restoration of the traffic. But no such melancholy forebodings need weigh down their spirits by day: no such gloomy visions need haunt their pillows by night. As long as the church continues to patronize alcohol at her sacred altars, happen what may in regard to legal prohibition, they can comfort themselves with the 'cheering thought that they cannot, and shall not be prevented from turning their apples into intoxicating cider; their grapes into intoxicating wine; or their grain into intoxicating ale or spirits, for domestic use; of which, they may quaff their fill, unawed by the law or its myrmidons, and callous to the warnings of Solomon, inspired by God, so to speak, that poison, like that of a serpent, lurks within the seductive cup! Will it be believed, that an eminent living divine of the Emerald Isle, at a temperance meeting in England, not long ago, broached the fantastic theory (and he seemed serious) that home-liquor-drinking is the legitimate St. Paul-remedy for intemperance; far preferable to a Maine-law, because St. Paul has said, I Cor., xi, 20, 22: 66 When ye come together therefore unto one place, this is not to eat the Lord's supper for in eating, every man taketh before other his own supper, and one is hungry, and another is drunken. What? have ye not houses to eat and drink in, or despise ye the Church of God, and shame them that have not," &c.? A flimsy foundation this, surely, upon which to build a goodly superstructure, sacred to temperance; when, according to the Rev. Dr. Bloomfield, Professor Moses Stewart, and other eminent interpreters, there is nothing in the passage to show that the apostle referred to intoxicating wine at all; but that the charges he brings against the Corinthians, were selfish neglect of the poor, on the part of their rich brethren, and carnal, irreverent observance of the Lord's supper, as if it had been an ordinary meal or of the preceding and accompanying love-feast!

But, it is not the question, whether and how far by means of fines, prisons, fetters, bolts and bars, a strictly vigilant and efficient police, and all the necessary appendages of a coercive system, or by any other mere human scheme, drunkenness, with its attendant miseries, degradations, and desolations, could be kept within narrow bounds, so as to become a less grievous evil, than at present, that I am desirous should be pondered; but the far nobler question, what ought to be done, by gospel means, to bring not only or chiefly the greatest amount of good to man, but also, and pre-eminently, the richest revenue of glory to God, in the department of anti-alcoholic temperance.

With this sublime object in view, and sincerely desirous, with God's blessing, to contribute somewhat towards its accomplishment, I feel I cannot do better than conclude this letter with the following admirable and apposite remarks from the "Philosophy of the Plan of Salvation," by an American citizen:

"There are two insuperable difficulties which would forever hinder the restoration of mankind, to truth and happiness, from being accomplished by human means.

"The first, which has been already alluded to, is that human instruction, as such, has no power to bind the conscience. Even if man were competent to discover all the truth necessary for a perfect rule of conduct, yet that truth would have no reformatory power, because men could never feel that truth as obligatory, which proceeded from merely human sources. It is an obvious principle of our nature, that the conscience will not charge guilt on the soul for disobedience, when the command proceeds from a fellow-man, who is not recognised as having the prerogative, and the right, to require submission. And besides, as men's minds are variously constituted, and of various capacities, there could be no agreement in such a case concerning the question, 'What is truth?' As well might we expect two school boys to reform each others' manners in school, without the aid of the teacher's authority, as that men can reform their fellows without the

sanction of that authority which will quicken and bind the conscience. The human conscience was made to recognise and enforce the authority of God; and unless there is belief of the Divine obligation of truth, conscience refuses to perform its office.

"But the grand difficulty is this: Truth, whether sanctioned by conscience or not, has no power, as has been shown, to produce love in the heart. The law may convict and guide the mind, but it has no power to soften or to change the affections. This was the precise thing necessary, and this necessary end the world could not accomplish. All the wisdom of all the philosophers in all ages could never cause the affections of the soul to rise to the holy, blessed God. To destroy selfish pride, and produce humility-to eradicate the evil passions, and produce in the soul, desires for the universal good, and love for the universal parent, were beyond the reach of earthly wisdom and power. The wisdom of the world, in their efforts to give truth and happiness to the human soul, was foolishness with God; and the wisdom of God-Christ crucified-was foolishness with the philosophers, in relation to the same subject; yet it was Divine philosophy-an adapted means, and the only adequate means to accomplish the necessary end. Said an apostle, in speaking on this subject: The Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumbling-block, and unto the Greeks, foolishness; but unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.'"

[ocr errors]

I am, with great respect, my dear sir,
Yours affectionately,




There is nothing more observable in the temperance movement of modern times, than the gradual manner in which fragments of truth, respecting spirituous liquors, have been discovered by successive inquirers, contrasted with the direct and explicit manner, in which the same truth in its simple unity and fulness, though under-varying phases and relations, is authoritatively revealed in the Bible, by its Divine Author. It might be no very difficult, though a most ungracious task for one, aided by the researches and discoveries of the intrepid band of temperance reformers in Europe and America, to detect occasional flaws and slips in some of their doings; and by means of the light which they have kindled, and beyond their own field of vision, it might be possible to discover a fertile region which, to them, seemed enveloped in mist. But a far more agreeable duty than that of a fault-finder invites and constrains me. I rejoice in beholding the admirable harmony which exists between the matured results of scientific investigation, conducted according to Baconian rules-by the slow, but certain method of observation and experiment; by such men as Liebig, Carpenter, Lees, Mussey and Youmans, and the plain statements of Holy Writ, respecting alcohol, the poisonous principle of wine and strong drink-(to the confusion of infidels)—adding another testimony to the cheering and sublime truth, that "the Book of Nature, and the Book of Revelation, have the same author, and whenever rightly interpreted, both declare the glory of God, and show forth his handy-work." It has been beautifully said by Sir David Brewster: "If the God of love is most appropriately worshipped in the christian temple, the God of nature may be equally honored in the temple of science. Even from its lofty minarets, the philospher may

« PreviousContinue »