« AnteriorContinua »
6 Give strong
ting or so poisonous. And the use to be made of it is so distinctly pointed out, that men need not mistake and poison themselves. It was to be used as a medicine in extreme cases. drink unto him that is ready to perish.” Its common use is condemned, as awfully pernicious. Strong drink is raging; and whosoever is deceived thereby, is not wise.” They are out of the way through strong drink ; they err in vision ; they stumble in judgment.” Such passages show clearly the mind of God with respect to the nature and use of this article. And they apply with double force to the more fiery element of modern invention.
Moreover, it is said in another passage, “ Wo unto him that giveth his neighbor drink.” But does not every man who manufactures, or sells, or openly uses ardent spirit, encourage his neighbor to drink? And if he do it with the Bible in his hand, does he not contemn God's authority? And if a Christian professor thus “ giveth his neighbor drink,” either directly or indirectly, does he not contradict his profession of " love to God and love to man ?" Does he not deny God's testimony and “ make him a liar ?" Does he not aggravate his guilt by sinning against great light? And would he not aggravate it still further, should he charge the blame on God? Oh, what a blot would it be on the Bible, should one chapter or one sentence be added, encouraging the general use of intoxicating liquor ! “ If any man thus add, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book."
14. To manufacture or use ardent spirit is inconsistent with a grateful reception of the bounties of Providence. When God had formed man, and spread out before him this beautiful world, he kindly said, “ Behold I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is
upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat." God, then, it seems, intended that men should use the fruits of the earth for food. But “ they have sought out many inventions.” And one of these “ inventions” is, to take these gifts of God, and convert them into a poison, most insidious in its nature, and most destructive both to soul and body! The distiller, the vender, and the consumer of ardent spirit, encourage one another in this awful perversion of God's gifts! And is this “receiving his gifts with thanksgiving ?" Better, infinitely better, to cast them at once into the fire, or the ocean, and say unto the Almighty, 66 We have no need of these.” But the ingratitude does not stop here. When men, in abuse of the divine bounty, have made this foul poison, to justify its use they call it one of the “ creatures of God!" With as much propriety might they call gambling establishments and murderous weapons his “ creatures ;” and thus encourage their general use ! But how awful the impiety of thus ascribing the worst of man's inventions to the benevolent God ! In “ times of ignorance" many have done thus. But “the darkness is past,” “ the true light now shineth.” And should a professor of religion now inscribe on his barrel or his decanter of intoxicating liquor, GOD MADE THIS, MAY GOD SEND IT PROSPERITY—the whole church would be indignant at his blasphemy. Nay, his own conscience, a wicked world, and Satan, would blush for such impiety. Think of this ! Make the inscription if you can! But if you dare not write it before men, can you countenance the vile traffic before Him “whose eyes are as a flame of fire !”
15. For a professor of religion to persevere in making, selling, or using ardent spirit, as a common article of luxury or living, while fully knowing its effects, and possessing the light Providence has recently poured on this subject, is inconsistent with any satisfactory evidence of piety. By their fruits ye shall know them.” And what are his fruits? Why, as we have seen, he wilfully cuts short his own life, or the life of his neighbor; he wilfully impairs memory, judgment, imagination, and all the immortal faculties, merely for sensual indulgence or paltry gain ; he stupifies conscience, and cherishes all the evil passions; he prefers sordid appetite to pure spiritual enjoyment; he is the occasion of stumbling to those for whom Christ died, and of dark reproach on the Church; he neglects the only means Providence has pointed out for rescuing thousands from drunkenness and hell; he wilfully encourages their downward course ; he refuses the aid he might give to a great national reform ; he lends his whole weight against this reformation; he is the occasion of offence, grief, and discord among brethren ; he grieves the Holy Spirit and prevents his heavenly influence; he robs the Lord's treasury; he makes Christianity infamous in the eyes of the heathen; he disregards the plain spirit and precepts of the Bible; and, in fine, he perverts even the common bounties of Providence. Such are his fruits. And the man, surely, who can do all this, in meridian light, and while God is looking on, does not give satisfactory evidence of piety. He manifests neither respect for God nor love to man.
And now should such an one come to the Lord's table, without first washing his hands in tears of penitence, and abjuring the unclean thing, would he not " eat and drink unworthily," and thus “ eat and drink damnation to himself ?” “ For this very cause,” adds the apostle, “ many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep.” And must the church be a nursery for death and hell ? Must not those who persist in introducing such unworthy members, be “partakers of their sins, and receive of their plagues ?"
“ The time is come, that judgment must begin at the house of God.” Let conscience, then, solemnly review our whole argument by the infinitely holy law. Is it indeed right, for members of the church to impair body and mind by sensuality ?—to defile the flesh, cloud the soul, stupify conscience, and cherish the worst pissions? Is it right to bring occasions of stumbling into the church ? Is it right to encourage drunkards, and let them perish, when God hath said, “ Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself ?” Is it right to treat with contempt a great national reform ? and to hinder the progress of such a reformation ? Is it right to offend and grieve such as Christ calls “ brethren ?” and right to grieve the Holy Spirit, and prevent his blessed influence ? Is it right to
consume on lust” what would fill the Lord's treasury ? and right to make religion odious to the heathen? Is it right to leave the land open to new floods of intemperance ? to disregard the manifest lessons of Scripture and Providence ? and to convert food to foul poison? Is it indeed right, for the church of Christ to sanction practices fraught only with wounds, death, and perdition? Will real Christians propagate such shocking heresy? Such, however, must be the temperance creed of those who would encourage the distiller, the vender, or the consumer of ardent spirit in his deadly
Let it not be suggested, that our argument bears chiefly against the excessive use of ardent spirit. For common sense and candor must admit, what has been a thousand times demonstrated, that the moderate use of the poison is the real occasion of all its woes, blasphemies, and abominations. Who was ever induced to taste by the disgusting sight of a drunkard? Or who ever became a drunkard, except by moderate indulgence in the beginning? Indeed, this habit of moderate drinking, in professors of religion, is, perhaps, tenfold worse, in its influence on society, thaa occasional instances of drunkenness. For these excite abhorrence, and rather alarm than betray; while moderate indulgence sanctions the general use, and thus insidiously betrays millions to destruction. O, never, since the first temptation, did Satan gain such a victory as when he induced Christians, by their example, to sanction every where the use of intoxicating liquor. And never, since the triumph of Calvary, has he experienced such a defeat as God is now summoning Christians to accomplish. Let them, at once, withdraw the sanction they have given, and, by generously diffusing light on this subject, do half as much to expose, as they have done to encourage this grand device of the devil, and rivers of death will be dried up, Zion look forth in grandeur and beauty, streams of salvation be multiplied, and the sanctifying Spirit bless all nations.
The duty of professing Christians, then, in regard to distilled liquor, is very plain. If their vision be not clouded by reason of the poison, they cannot but see, that it would be pleasing to God, happy for themselves, beneficial to the world, and conducive to the highest interests of Christ's kingdom, for them to adopt with one consent the principie of TOTAL ABSTINENCE, and make generous efforts for disseminating this principle.
And now, if they know their duty, will they do it? Will they do it! Can any, in the name of Christ, still pray,
“ A little more of the poison ; a little more pernicious example; a little more disgrace on the church ; a little more grieving the Holy Spirit; a little more encouragement to all the abominations and woes of intemperance ?" Is this religious consistency? Is this what God must expect, when his will is known? Is this what is demanded by the exigencies of the times? When iniquity abounds ; wlien infidelity, oppression, and sabbath violation, are challenging the wrath of Heaven on the land; is it a time to hesitate and compromise in regard to known duty ? If “the battle of the great day of God” is at hand, must the church be weakened by indulgence, and the enemy be made bolder and stronger by her aid? Or will her triumph be gained without warfare or selfdenial ? and the millennium find her asleep in pollution ? O, ere that day come, the church must have, in all respects, a loftier character. This too, ere our land can be relieved from any of its
Is the time, then, for consistency not come? How many millions of sacred trust must the churches yet consume on sinful appetite ? how many souls must they send to the abyss ? how many
fresh wounds inflict on the Redeemer's cause, ere they can resolve to “ be on the Lord's side ?"
Are any for reforming in a more gradual and silent way? Possibly, meanwhile, they may silently descend to the pit! Then “ great ransom can not deliver them,” nor a drop of water “cool their tongue.” Are any too proud to confess they have countenanced this degrading sin? He only “that confesseth and forsaketh shall find mercy."
Do any still say, we carry the matter too far ?-reqniring total abstinence! Do unto others, as ye would they should do to you, is the eternal law. But suppose your own child, your brother, your sister, the wife of your bosom, were in imminent peril from the example or temptation of others,—would you be pleased with this ? No. Well, the example of moderate drinkers and the temptations of retailers, you admit, have ruined, and must continue to ruin, vast multitudes. Can you then justify such by the “ golden rule"—the eternal law? Ah, let the burning tide actually desolate your own family; and then answer.
Is it said by some, that should they give up the traffic in ardent spirit the sacrifice must be very great, and perhaps occasion serious embarrassment? This is indeed hard; but is it not harder to sin against God, and the church, and the whole community ? Calculate for eternity, as well as time. For “God shall bring every work into judgment ;” and “ what is a man profited if he thus gain the whole world ?"
Is it said, there is no express Scripture warrant for the Church to decline receiving any one who habitually sells or drinks ardent spirit? Neither is there for excluding the gambler. But the Bible is addressed to men of conscience and common sense, who are to be governed by its general spirit; and in no other way can the churches make suitable acknowledgment of the wounds and the deep damnations they have inflicted through intoxicating liquor, but by recording their decided testimony against it. In no other way can they manifest to the world a becoming sense of its odiousness ; and thus “ let their light shine before men.” But let the churches do this, with deep and general humiliation before God, and prayer