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I have in these pages placed before the reader the sentiments of the ancients respecting wines and other liquors of that character. I have given a brief view of the various substances that have been used as inebriants; have referred to most of the nations that adopted them; and have proved both the existence of unfermented wines, and those that may have been charged with any intoxicating principle were repeatedly filtered, or carefully fumed and baked, for the sole purpose of depriving them of all strength or spirit. The philosophy of the time of Pliny, Plutarch, and Horace, taught that wines which unnerved the body, inflamed the passions, idiotized the mind, and led to crime and disease, were better avoided than drunk, because, instead of increasing, they destroyed the pleasure of conviviality and social intercourse; and, therefore, that they might drink the more, and drink without injury, they drank wines that would not intoxicate. The practices and examples of antiquity have frequently been arrayed against the doctrine of total abstinence; but a fair and candid examination of history has shown that the wines of the ancients, the drinking customs of the ancients, the taste and appetite of the ancients, and even their drunkenness, were of a character altogether different, and, in many cases, the very opposite to ours. Both Pliny and Plutarch, and others, prove that the most popular, most useful, and wholesome wine, was that which was deprived of all strength or spirit; in a word, was a wine which one who practices total abstinence would rarely hesitate to drink.
If the authority of antiquity is pleaded, we certainly have a right to demand that our opponents should first produce some of the wines of antiquity; until they do the latter, all reference to the former is worse than absurd. Perhaps there never was a subject which opposed a vitiated taste, that has been assailed with so much ignorance, prejudice and irrationality, as total abstinence. Men, without the least knowledge of the history of the vine, without a grain of scientific information respecting fermentation, and as ignorant as the bottles from which they borrow their logic of the drink and drinking customs of antiquity, come forward to prove that modern port, sherry, Burton, porter, and strong beer, are just the same sort of liquors that Pharaoh
drank and that Aaron mingled with his sacrifices. The simple reason of all this is, that, because they love these modern poisons themselves, therefore all men of all ages must of necessity have loved them, even before these liquids could have had an existence. The argument put into the form of a syllogism, stands thus::
If I, A. B., love wines higly brandied, then all men of all ages must have liked them too.
I, A. B., do love wines highly brandied! Therefore, all men of all ages were fond of wines highly brandied!! Ay, were fond of them, and actually drank them, before any brandy, or pure alcohol, or any such brandied wines, were produced or manufactured, or had any existence !!
WINES OF SCRIPTURE.
It has generally been customary for those who possess the Scriptures, but who do not understand their contents or design, to array the sacred volume against whatever may oppose their prejudices. The authority of the law was marshaled by the Jews against the Gospel of the Son of God. Scripture and the fathers of the church were quoted as a proof that Columbus was a heretic and an infidel for suggesting that there was another continent; and a clergyman actually published a sermon to show that Jenner, for endeavoring to check the ravages of the small-pox, was the beast of the Apocalypse.
In our day, the authority of the word of God is pleaded as a sanction for the use of one of the most desolating of all poisons. “I must have a new Bible,” said a good man the other day, “before I can adopt the principle of total abstinence." It therefore behooves us to inquire whether or not the book of Revelation encourages the drinking of modern spirituous liquors, wine, beer, cider, &c. A very little examination of the Scripture, in connection with what has been said already on ancient wines, will be sufficient to satisfy every candid mind. In entering on this subject, we will first examine the words or phrases which are used in the word of God to express wine or strong drinks.
1. The most common word, rendered wine in our English Bible, is yayin; it is derived from the verb л yanah, “to squeeze or press," and therefore means an expressed juice. It is a generic term for all such liquors, but never of itself can settle the point, whether or not the juice, after it has been squeezed from the grape, has been fermented. In all cases the juice must have been obtained from the fruit before it could have fermented; but it does not follow that, because it is pressed, therefore it must ferment. Fermentation followed the treading of the press
if the husbandman pleased; but if he chose he could prevent it. He might boil it down to a consistence too thick and saccharine to ferment; he might filter it and deprive it of the gluten, or yeast, essential to fermentation; he might mix it with water and vinegar, as in Cato's "family wine," and thus dilute it beyond the power of producing a strong wine; he might exclude the air by fastening up the bottles immediately, as in the new amphora mentioned by Columella, and the new bottles spoken of by our Lord, and thus prevent its working, for Chaptal says that แ 'grape-juice will not work if the oxygen of the atmosphere be excluded;" and he might, as Pliny and Columella direct, immerse it in cold water and sink its temperature below the degree essential to fermentation. He might add gypsum and other antiferments; he might from design or carelessness, leave it exposed to a heat that would cause the acetous fermentation to follow the vinous; or, by exposing it to the heat of an oven, or by boiling it, or by filtering it, toties," repeatedly, render it very innocuous, although it had fermented; yet, though subject to all these processes, the liquid would still be a "yayin," or wine, a liquor that had, in whole or in part, been obtained originally from the vine. So he might ferment it, or mix it with honey, wormwood, or squills, or opium, and still it might retain the generic name, yayin, or wine, for it was made from the expressed juice of the grape.
The juice that Pharaoh drank was yayin, or wine, for it was pressed from the grape, and the juice which made Nabal drunk was a yayin or wine, although after pressure it had been either fermented or drugged, though most probably the latter. These observations will be sufficient to show that the word yayin, or wine, does not necessarily express a fermented liquor. By itself the term can neither satisfy us as to the one or the other; on this point, the context, or some circumstantial incident, must be our guide.
Our opponents, without any examination of the different wines and different modes of manufacturing them, have jumped to the conclusion that yayin or wine always means a fermented brandied liquor with a large quantity of alcohol in it, and then have erected, as they suppose, a splendid building, though, unfortunately
for their theory, on a foundation of sand. The term Aoyos often means a word or a certain vibration of air; why not argue that it always has this signification, and therefore that the Savior of the world is a mere vibration of air? This would be just as rational as to say that yayin or wine always means a fermented drink with a large quantity of alcohol in it. Virgil says, the kinds and species of wines were innumerable, and Columella quotes the verses of the poet, and says that they were correct, and yet modern wine-bibbers tell us, in the very face of facts and history, that there is, and ever was, but one sort of wine. Some foolishly insinuate that, should we give more than one signification to the term wine, we shall unsettle the meaning of the word of God. We never knew before that allowing the context of an author to settle the meaning of the word he uses, would endanger his discourse. We always thought that he who sets context, facts, and history at defiance, and affixes to words the arbitrary interpretations of his own fancy or prejudice, is likely to do the most mischief to the book which he undertakes to expound. Those who adopt total abstinence are willing that the context, that history, and well-attested facts should settle the meaning of the word yayin, or wine; but wine-bibbers go to their bottles and palates for an interpretation. Which of these interpreters is most likely to arrive at the truth, we leave the candid and ingenuous to say, but we query whether the divination of the wine-cask or beerbarrel will, in this particular, be the best guide.
2. n, tirosh, supposed to come from the root ~~ or ~*`, "head, chief, or beginning," may refer to the head or berry of the grape, or to the first or chief juice that begins to flow from the fruit; it is, therefore, promiscuously rendered in the English version by the terms "wine," or "new wine." In Isaiah lxv. 8, it alludes to the juice in the swollen or ripe fruit before it was expressed. "When the new wine is yet in the cluster, one saith, Destroy it not, for a blessing is in it." The wine in the cluster was unfermented, and then there was a blessing in it. No one who has carefully examined the effects of inebriating wines will say that there is a blessing in them, unless a diseased stomach, a shattered frame, an injured intellect, inflamed passions, and a premature death, for which, in most cases, the unhappy victim