« السابقةمتابعة »
Professor Stuart, of the Andover Theological Seminary, in his Prize Essay published in 1830, in which he examined the question whether it is consistent with a profession of the Christian religion to use, as an article of luxury or of living, distilled liquors or to traffic in them, and whether it is consistent with duty for the churches of Christ to admit those as members who continue to do this, entered into a learned investigation of the Bible directions respecting the use of wine. He came to the conclusion that, for the habitual use of strong drink, ardent spirits, and mixed wines there was no warrant in the word of God; they were solemnly forbidden: but the natural wines of the East, though slightly intoxicating, were used by holy men of old, and might be by us with impunity; still he answered both inquiries in the affirmative, because he viewed the use of intoxicating liquors in any way, as a common drink or a matter of luxury, as an offence against the principles of our holy religion, against the great Head of the Church, and the best interests of our country.
Professor McLean of Princeton College, replied to Professor Stuart in the columns of the New-York Observer, and dissented wholly from his conclusions, on the ground that, in his view, the use of wine and strong drink was not unlawful, nor forbidden by the word of God. He was far, he said, from advocating the expediency of using intoxicating drinks, but he felt bound to defend the lawfulness of such use, provided it was attended with no excess-a position which Professor Stuart himself had granted in relation to the mild wines of Palestine.
The controversy between these two gentlemen, and other writers who espoused their respective views, was not a little vehement, and left the religious community divided into two parties-the one considering the use of intoxicating liquors morally wrong, and demanding exclusion from the church, and the other, viewing that use as lawful, provided there was no excess-both, indeed, professing friendship for the cause, and
considering the views of their adversaries as prejudicial to the interests of temperance.
In the summer of 1835, an article appeared in the New-York Evangelist from the pen of the Rev. George Duffield, which promised to correct a defective position in the prize essay of Professor Stuart.
Mr. Duffield supposed there were two kinds of wine spoken of in the Scriptures; one under the term " (Yayin,) the other under the term (Tirosh ;) the former, fermented, exciting, inflaming, intoxicating, and demoralizing; truly called "a mocker;" "the poison of asps, and the venom of serpents," and enumerated among the curses which should visit Israel, should they prove degenerate ;-the other, the juice of the grape, in an unfermented state, which being new or inspissated by boiling, possessed no intoxicating properties, but was a cooling and nourishing drink, either taken by itself or diluted with water. Mr. D. collated all the passages in which these two kinds of wine were spoken of, and adduced from Cato and Columella the directions how to preserve must sweet, and without boiling; and, also, brought evidence that in India, Persia, and Palestine, the unfermented juice of the grape, and sap of the palm-tree, were still used as pleasant beverages. This wine, according to Mr. Duffield, was spoken of with approbation as the wine which cheereth God and man; was the wine for which Isaac prayed for Jacob; which God allowed the priests to receive among the first-fruits from the people, and whose consumption by a foreign foe was one of the curses denounced against Israel. Mr. D. did not contend that the distinction was recognized in the Greek language, but inferred that the divine Savior drank only the latter, and that the Church should use this only, "the fruit of the vine," the "blood of the grape" at the ordinance of the Supper.
Mr. Duffield's suggestions were highly valued by some of the
distinguished friends of temperance. Professor Stuart acknowledged his indebtedness to them, and said, "I feel that there is some advance made by his labors, that we now have a broader basis than before, on which we may safely build." Others, however, denied the correctness of his criticisms, and affirmed that there was good evidence that God allowed the one kind of wine as well as the other, provided there was no excess.
These investigations, and a prize essay from the pen of the Rev. Calvin Chapin, D. D., on the Use of Alcoholic Wines at the Lord's Table, produced a strong sensation throughout the country in relation to that ordinance. From the pulpit and the press, Mr. Delavan, Chairman of the Executive Committee of the New York State Temperance Society, with the conductors of the Temperance Intelligencer, were charged with attempts to destroy the sacrament by the substitution of water for wine in the cup. Mr. Delavan and his friends utterly disclaimed any such intention, affirming that their sole object was to ascertain whether alcoholic wines, ever dangerous to the reformed man, might not with safety be dispensed with, and the unfermented juice of the grape be substituted in their place. Their opponents considered this, however, as a mere subterfuge, believing that the unfermented juice of the grape could never be procured in this nor other countries, except in the vintage season. So excited was the public mind, that it was thought most judicious to let the subject rest until more light should be shed upon it from on high;-in confidence, however, that the time would come when all the Church on earth, even down through the long ages of millenium, in which there would be nothing to hurt or destroy in all God's holy mountain, would be fully supplied with the fruit of the vine without any admixture of that subtle poison which had peopled death and hell.
In Great Britain, the subject of total abstinence from all intoxicating drinks, as a beverage, has been called to encounter all
the obstacles which were thrown in its path in America. Indeed, its contrariety to the word of God has been even more strongly contended, and it was perceived that some giant mind must devote all its energies to the removal of this obstacle, or yield the conflict and allow that it was right for the Church to continue in the use of intoxicating drinks, provided she did not go to excess. The offer of one hundred sovereigns by the New British and Foreign Temperance Society for the best essay on intoxicating drinks, induced Ralph Barnes Grindrod, Esq. and the Rev. B. Parsons, of Stroud, Gloucestershire, among others, to devote their time and attention to the subject. The former produced the essay, Bacchus," which gained the premium. The latter presented the following work, "Anti-Bacchus," which gained the vote of the Rev. J. Hinton, one of the adjudicators. Though agreeing in its main principles with Bacchus, yet it was so sufficiently different as to warrant a publication.
To meet the particular objection to total abstinence, that it is at variance with the word of God, Mr. Parsons engaged in a most laborious research into the character of Ancient Wines, to ascertain if those whose use was permitted or commended in Scripture were of an intoxicating character. He says,—
"I examined every text of Scripture in which wine is mentioned; I inquired very minutely into the laws of fermentation; into the character of the grapes, and the wines, and the drinking usages of antiquity: the result of these inquiries was, that I came to the firm conclusion that few, if any, of the wines of antiquity, were alcoholic. I examined Homer, Aristotle, Polybius, Horace, Virgil, Pliny, Columella, Cato, Palladius, Varro, PhiloJudæus, Juvenal, Plutarch and others; I read each in the original language, and therefore have not been misled by any interpreter and in every instance, I have carefully examined the context, that I might not give an unfair representation to any of my authorities."
The result of all his inquiries he states in the following language. "From a careful examination of the word of God we find, that in no single instance can it be proved that it has mentioned intoxicating drinks with approbation, and consequently those who use alcoholic poisons are left without the least sanction from that unerring guide. Far from commending such drinks as inebriate, it tells us that they bite like 'a serpent and sting like an adder.' Total abstinence, therefore, is in exact accordance with the letter and spirit of the Word of God."
To the fidelity and judiciousness of Mr. Parsons in his quotations, and to the importance of his achievements, Mr. James Stubbin, of Birmingham, a gentleman who has made the whole subject his study for years, bears the following testimony.
66 I have myself glanced through the writings of Columella, Cato, Varro, Palladius De Rustica, and Pliny's 14th book, as well as parts of others, and find the views of Mr. Parsons confirmed. It is delightful to see the judgment he has exercised in their use. His success has been greater than I anticipated. He proves that of 195 kinds of wine used by the Romans in Pliny's time, only one was alcoholic; that amongst the Jews in Judea there was a real difficulty from chimical and natural causes in the making and preserving any wines, except the unfermented; and, furthermore, that the Jews, after all, must have been for the most part water-drinkers, using wine only on special occasions of festivals, &c. All this and much more is proved by him in chapters 5-7, with such conclusive evidence that it is impossible to deny it. Although I always considered that this would be proved some time or other, I have hitherto always declined giving any decided opinion on the wine question. Now I feel (and it is a real satisfaction to feel,) that it presents no difficulties whatever. The case is to me now very clear, that alcoholic liquors are never spoken of with approbation in any part of the Bible, and that Jesus Christ never made, or gave, or