صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

rally successful, while the words of Elihu intimate that it sometimes failed. They were driven to this custom by the character of their fruits, and the heat of the climate. The fruits were so sweet that only a weak wine could be produced by fermentation, and the heat of the country soon caused these weak wines to become sour and ropy, and therefore great efforts were made to prevent fermentation altogether. Besides, there is reason to believe, that the people relished the pure sweet juice of the grape, and therefore were anxious to preserve it as near as possible in its native purity.

In connection with the preceding words, our Lord said, “No man also having drunk old wine straightway desireth new, for he saith the old is better." This passage is said to favor the idea of fermented wines, but in what way it is difficult to see. The words might be read " no drinker” of old wine immediately desireth new," &c., and may simply allude to taste. The drinker, or he who has a taste for old wines, does not prefer new; and the same is true of the drinker of the new wine, he does not prefer what is old. We have among us different tastes: one man prefers new beer, and another prefers old, and of course the tastes of such persons are opposed to each other. But the words may be further explained. Old wines among the Romans signified weak wines, very thick wines, wines that had not fermented and would not ferment. Pliny says that the opimian wine, which was the oldest wine, was 66 as thick as honey:" it was therefore a sirup rather than what we should call wine, and was as weak as it was thick; for the same naturalist tells us that out of all their multitudes of wine," the Falernian was the only one that would burn." He adds, "Levissimum est quod celerrime inveteratur, minus infestat nervos quod vetustate dulcescit." "The lighest wine is that which becomes old the soonest, and that which sweetens by age is less injurious to the nerves." Yet these aged or feeble wines, these light and sweet wines, were much sought after; not for their strength, but for their weakness. Various arts were employed to give their wines a premature old age. They placed them in fumaria and ovens for this purpose, that they might be inspissated and sweetened by the heat and smoke. “Inveterari vina succisque castrari ;"

"Wines were rendered old or feeble and sweet, and completely deprived of all their strength by the filter." A sweet weak wine was therefore the "old wine" most sought after, so that we have no reason to conclude that because a wine was old, therefore it was a strong alcoholic drink. It is a query whether in the time of Christ such a wine would have found a single taste which it would have suited. The unfermented wine which I have made has greatly improved by age. The longer it has been kept, the richer and finer its flavor has become, and therefore has most fully illustrated the truth of this passage.

But our Lord, we are told, drank wine at the Passover, and was called " a wine-bibber," and he did not deny the charge.

In answer to the latter remark, it may be said, that he was called a glutton at the same time. Was the charge of gluttony true? Who will dare assert that was? Yet he did not deny it; and why? His enemies, and every one else, knew that it was false; and if the gluttony was false, why not the wine-bibbing? It should be observed that the word rendered "wine-bibber," simply means a "wine-drinker;" yet in this passage, a wine-drinker and a glutton are placed on a par, plainly showing that in those days it was a disgrace for a man to be an habitual drinker of wine, and consequently that water, and not wine, was the general drink of the people. To say that, because the Jews falsely accused our Lord of being an habitual wine-drinker, therefore we ought to drink alcoholic poisons, is the same as to say, that because they falsely accused him of "gluttony," therefore every Christian ought to be an epicure or gourmand!

As for the wine drunk at the Passover, we have the best proof that it was not fermented. The word ", Chomets, in Hebrew, signifies "leaven," "vinegar," and every kind of fermentation. It refers alike to the panary, the vinous, and the acetous fermentation, and where it stands for an evil doer, designated "vir corruptus," or a corrupt man, stands for the putrefactive fermentation. Now, the Jews at the Passover were commanded to have no leaven in their houses; and they, from that day to this, understood the term to refer just as much to fermented liquors as to fermented bread, and therefore at the Passover


were exceedingly careful that no fermented wines should be among them. Mr. Herschell, a converted Jew, in a work recently published, states that "the word chomets has a wider signification than that which is generally attached to leaven," by which it is rendered in the English Bible, and applies to the fermentation of corn in any form, to beer, and to all fermented liquors. While, therefore, there are four days in the Passover week on which business may be done, being, as it were, halfholidays, a distiller or brewer must suspend his business during the whole Passover. And I must do my brethren the justice to say, that they do not attempt to evade the strictness of the command, to put away all leaven," by any ingenious shift, but fulfill it to the very letter.


I know an instance of a person in trade who had several casks of spirits sent him, which arrived during the Passover. Had they come a few days sooner, they would have been lodged in some place apart from his house until the feast was over; but during its continuance, he did not think it right to meddle with them, and therefore had the spirit poured into the street. It is said, that not long since, a Jew on the continent, staved in several casks of wine that were on his premises, and which he had not been able to dispose of previous to the Passover. At the present day, the Jews are especially careful in preparing their wine for the Passover, and make it by pouring water upon dried grapes or raisins, much in the same manner that Columella prescribes for making the wine which the Romans called "Passum," and which Polybius says, females were allowed to drink, because it would not intoxicate, and was used to quench thirst. It may be said, if the Jews had any unfermented wines among them, they might have used them without having any fermented liquor on their premises, or violating the divine command, to put all leaven or ferment out of their houses." True. But then it must be observed, that the fear, lest any of their wines should have undergone any kind of fermentation, the vinous, acetous, or putrefactive, induced them to manufacture a new drink from the " passa uva,” or dried grape, which they were assured could not be subject to any kind of fermentation.


It is, therefore, certain, that our blessed Lord did not use fer

mented alcoholic liquor at the first sacrament. It is in allusion to the wine made from raisins, and which was much inferior to the pure juice of the grape, that our Lord says, "I will no more drink of the fruit of the vine, until I drink it new in my heavenly father's kingdom." As though he had said, Now we drink "passum,” wine made by pouring water upon dried grapes; then we shall drink virgin wine, the blood of the grapes of paradise, the nectar of heaven. The spiritual import of this sentence exactly accords with the beautiful contrast suggested by a reference to these different wines. Hence those Christians who use unfermented wine at the Lord's table, have the countenance of history, and the example of the blessed Redeemer in support of their practice, and certainly partake of drink much more resembling ancient wines than port, sherry, or tent, or any other liquor polluted with alcohol.


Speaking of the word “chomets,” “leaven,” we have observed. that it is sometimes rendered by the term "vinegar." In Ruth, Boaz is said to have told the damsel "to dip her morsel in the vinegar," or chomets, showing that this sort of liquid was used by the reapers in the harvest field of Boaz. The Roman soldiers gave our Lord vinegar to drink, proving that acidulous liquors were then in use in Palestine. We have also seen that Cato's family wine was vin-aigre," a species of sour wine; and we learn from other sources that vinegar, or sour wine, was the wine drunk by the Roman soldiers. Dr. Shaw tells us that palm wine becomes tart; we know also that sour milk is a favorite drink in many warm countries. In our own country, cider and other fermented drinks soon become subject to acetous fermentation in warm weather. In these facts we have a proof, that in Palestine, in which country fermented wine could not have been so strong as cider, the acetous fermentation must almost immediately have followed the vinous, and therefore, if their wines were not filtered, cooled, and put into new bottles, or boiled and inspissated so as to concentrate the sugar, fermentation among them must generally have produced vinegar; and accordingly we find that sour wine was one of their common drinks. And, in the fact of the vinous fermentation in warm climates so soon passing into the acetous, we have a wise provision of our gracious Creator.

Alcoholic drinks are particularly injurious in hot countries. In them, the constitution of man is subject to sufficient exhaustion from the heat of the climate; and if to this you add a fiery poison, his frame must soon sink under the double excitement and waste to which it will be subject; but, if instead of using a beverage charged with liquid fire, an acidulous and cooling drink be taken, in such a liquor you have a principle which must greatly counteract the heat to which the body is externally exposed. Hence we find that many of the most juicy fruits of warm countries have in them a portion of acid, and the vinous fermentation is almost immediately followed by the acetous; and not only are these sour wines and juices cooling to the frame, but there is something in their very nature which prevents persons from drinking more than their system demandsand thus, not merely disease, but drunkenness and its consequent vices, are prevented.

In offering these remarks on the wines of Scripture, I have no where attempted to deny that inebriating liquors existed in Palestine. All I contend for, is, that there were wines which did not intoxicate, and that these latter are the only ones which a God of love and mercy could recommend. He has created us with a constitution with which alcohol wages the bitterest war. God has not given us a body that can long resist its attacks, and it would therefore be presumptuous to assert that he has ever approved of a liquor which must prey upon its vitals. He in a thousand ways shows the value that he sets upon human life, and the means he employs for its preservation; and most contradictory to his general benevolent proceedings would it be, if he had commanded us to use a beverage which must injure all the functions of our bodies, and at the same time enfeeble our minds and deprave our morals.

I have shown, from a variety of well-founded arguments, drawn from science, history, and criticism, that ancient intoxicating wines were rather drugged and medicated wines than alcoholic; but at the same time, that these pernicious liquors were not the most popular among a people who delighted to * drink largely without injury to their reason, and therefore that nothing but the greatest ignorance of antiquity can lead to the

« السابقةمتابعة »