Page images
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors]

lation made to himself, and say: "Thus it is written, Drink ye all of it-the unfermented fruit of the vine;'" and he might shew (as has been done in a former letter,) how frequently and emphatically this command issued from the pure lips of Him of whom it was said: 66 Never man spake like this man ;” "Who did no sin, neither was guile found in His mouth." Is it not possible that he might refer to the expulsion of "those that sold oxen, and sheep and doves, and the changers of money from the temple," by our Lord; and, in doing so, show how much greater the sin with which they were chargeable was, than that of which those men were guilty.

In meditating upon this subject, and giving reins to my imagination, I have sometimes thought that a closer analogy would have been displayed between the cruel practice of dispensing a loathsome, poisonous liquor to communicants at the Lord's supper, as the symbol of Christ's blood,―if, instead of the case being as it was enacted, and is recorded in the sacred Scriptures, when Jesus drove the defilers of the temple from its sacred precincts, that filthy creature, the sow-the type of idolatrous worship—had been immolated as a sacred victim, by the priests, upon the altar of burnt offering at Jerusalem!

I may now advert to the views of Professor Moses Stuart, and Mr. Stubbin, of Birmingham, upon this subject,-and with them, conclude this letter: "But Paul's account of the Lord's supper at Corinth, (I Cor. xi, 18-34,) clearly shows that intoxicating wine was employed,-One is hungry and another is drunken.'"

Truly it does, if our translators have hit the mark. But allowing for a moment that they have, does Paul approve of the Corinthian practice? He says expressly that he condemns it. We might rest the case here, then, without farther animadversion. But I am not persuaded that our translation does justice to the Corinthian church; very strange-passing strange it would be, if a church so gifted and so famous went to the sacra

man.

The

mental table in order to celebrate the orgies of Bacchus. simple state of the case seems to be, that the Corinthians kept a love-feast on sacramental occasions. Thither some carried plenty of provision and drink, and ate and drank to the full; while the poor in the church could not do this, and were thus put to shame by the richer class. One is hungry-this is the poor man; another, methuei, drinks to the full-this is the richer That the word may mean gets drunk, I do not deny. That it must mean so, I do deny. Its etymology shows the real meaning. Methu means sweet wine, and most naturally, therefore, unfermented wine. Methuo is a denominative verb formed from it, and means to partake of methu,—and, very naturally, in the second place, to partake freely of it. But as to being drunken, that is another question. A free partaking of the sweet wine would make no man drunk. The indecorum complained of, lay in the feasting on the one hand, and the starvation (so to speak,) on the other. Paul lays his hand upon the whole proceeding, and prohibits public love-feasts, as connected with the Lord's supper.

*

"The best explanation which the author has seen of the passage, is in an edition of the Greek Testament, with English notes, by the Rev. S. T. Bloomfield, D. D., F. A. S. He says:

To idion deipnon, denotes the supper which each one had brought, as his own contribution to the common meal. Prolambanei, has reference to the eagerness with which each one (of the richer sort, we may presume,) snatched up the food which he had brought (and that, no doubt, a plentiful portion,) and filled himself therewith, before the poorer sort could well touch it which would cause them (who had brought little or nothing,) to fare very scantily. And as this (which is to be understood of the agapai, accompanying, and at times preceding the Lord's supper,) was not a common meal, it was a viola

* Scriptural View of the Wine Question, in a Letter to the Rev. Dr. Nott, by M. Stuart, Professor in the Theological Seminary, at Andover: p. 54.

tion of propriety, as well as Christian charity, so to act; for though each brought his own supper, yet when it had been thrown to the common stock, it ceased to be his own. Thus, the plenty of some, shamed the want of others; which would occasion heart-burnings, and so defeat the end of the Lord's supper. It is remarked by the ancient commentators, that the ratio oppositi requires the word methuei to be interpreted of satiety, in both drinking and eating. We need not understand any drunkenness or gluttony; nay, the very words of the verse following-me gar oikias pinein-forbid this. The fault with which they are charged, is gross selfishness at a meal united with the eucharistical one, and formed on such principles of Christian charity and brotherly communion, as would be a proper supplement or introduction to it."*

It is the opinion of these eminent men, and of other learned commentators, that it was a love-feast to which the Apostle referred. It does not become me to speak dogmatically upon the subject after them. The decision either way, whether for the feast referred to being all that was deemed by the Corinthians as the Lord's supper, or for its being a love-feast, preceding or following that ordinance, will not materially affect the cause of anti-alcoholic temperance. If it was a corrupted Lord's supper, and all that stood for the true one, as I am inclined to believe, (for I see not a word about a love-feast in the chapter, or in any other part of Scripture except Jude,) there is nothing to show that intoxicating wine was used at it, as manifested in the conduct of the guests or the language of the Apostle, but the reverse; and, if it was a love-feast, there is the same lack of evidence of which the Alcoholic School could avail themselves, in support of their doctrine. Perhaps the opinion, that it was a love-feast with wine, but not alcoholic wine, (and it is almost certain that wine would be used at it preparatory to, or after the Lord's supper,) would be more in favor of the reign

*Tirosh Lo Yayin: p. 154.

of total abstinence principles amongst the respectable inhabitants of Judea, than the other opinion-which seems to me the more probable.

I am, my dear brother,

Yours most affectionately,

LETTER V.

JOHN MAIR.

MY DEAR BROTHER,

[ocr errors]

By some it has been objected to Teetotalism, that it demands too much of its disciples, by others not enough. The former plead for moderation in the use of alcohol, which we have found to be a phantom; the latter opine that if men abstain from alcoholic liquors they will fall into some other course of sensual indulgence, such as the use of opium, or some other narcotic drug equally destructive of health, and ruinous of reputation, if not so productive of crime. Again, the charge has been brought against Teetotalism by that most influential paper the London Times, that "It won't do to come before a jovial drinking community with a new commandment, Thou shalt not drink wine.' This is no age for prohibitions. Mahomet understood men better. He was a Teetotaler, but his was no mere negative doctrine. He provided plenty of compensation for that one denial-sense, ambition, fancy, and even reason had their gratifications. What are the positive attractions of the Temperance cause? They have yet to be shown." We do not intend entering the lists of controversy with one or other of these objectors. The two first we would point "to the law and to the testimony," and say, "if, after diligent and prayerful search (we address ourselves to Christians) you do not find Teetotalism in the Bible, attach no great importance to it; if you do, disregard it at your peril." To the Times we would say, "You are somewhat inconsistent, for while you

appear to sneer at Teetotalism in the passage quoted above, in your paper of 11th March, 1857, you remark (as previously noticed) that" opium is in the same category as wine, or gin, or tobacco. Are our distillers enemies to their race-are the planters of Virginia and Cuba to be denounced-are France and Spain no longer to send in the produce of their vineyard because the people drink more than is good for them? If the moderate use of these is to be allowed, why should we pour invectives against those who sell the production, which is the equivalent of them (opium) to 300,000,000 of men?"* To the Times, thus speaking, we would address ourselves in the following terms: "In principle you seem to be one with us. You have your doubts about the rectitude of the moderate use of tobacco, gin and wine, as indicated by your use of the conjunction If. We have more than doubts. We are convinced that it is wrong, in man's normal state of health. You talk in a strain somewhat ironical; yet you admit that alcohol, the intoxicating principle of gin and wine, is a poison, although you do not explicitly say so, for you include it in the same category with opium, which all admit to be a poison. We call alcohol the type of a large class of poisons named emphatically and expressively brain poisons, because they are peculiarly distinguished from other poisons by exerting a deleterious influence upon the brain, and through it upon the mind of man. The Bible has given us reasons for the interdict of wine and strong drink in other words, alcoholic liquors in man's normal state of health. It is not because certain things are termed wine and strong drink that they are forbidden in the Bible, but because the things called wine and strong drink possess certain qualities rendering them hurtful, particularly endangering and tending to destroy the noble faculties which distinguish man from the lower animals, such as reason, conscience, &c. But

* The Times, in advocating Mr. Gladstone's wine bill, admitted that wine was a poisonous drink, but less so than gin.

« PreviousContinue »