صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

cake baked on the coals, and a cruse of water," was the provision. Here, Mr. Jordan might say, that "the iron hand of necessity" compelled the prophet to drink water, but still this iron hand was the hand of Jehovah; was the same hand that brought water out of the rock for the Israelites; and although branded by a modern critic with the name "iron," is, after all, the hand of Divine love, and is never outstretched but at the dictate of infinite mercy and goodness.

I might add to these examples, that when the Savior fed the multitudes, we never hear that he gave them wine. He fed them with the loaves and the fishes, but he evidently left them to drink water. He could have created port and sherry, could have anticipated the discovery of ardent spirit, and have mixed these wines with twenty per cent. of alcohol, if he had pleased. "The iron handed necessity" that kept him from doing it, was, not the fates to which pagan gods were subject, but simply his own pleasure, his own goodness, his own wisdom, and his own love.

I have introduced these examples of Divine procedure, because they afford a striking demonstration that Jehovah has never considered that inebriating liquors are either necessary or useful as articles of diet, and therefore when he has spread a table in the wilderness, has never put wine upon it. The Israelites were fed by his immediate bounty-so was Elijah, and so were the multitudes; but as long as they feasted at the table which he miraculously supplied, they were all confined to total abstinence. Our wine-bibbers think it very hard to be kept from wine when they visit the house of a tetotaler, but they would do well to observe that those whom God miraculously fed were always subjected to this fare. The wine produced for the marriage in Cana scarcely forms an exception, because we have shown that it was not intoxicating, and that it was produced in a small quantity, and for a time of festivity; but the question before us concerns intoxicating drinks, which we never find him creating for the multitude; and the small quantity of "innocent" wine which he produced, together with the injunction not to "look at wine," and the command to the Priests, to the Nazarites, and to Samson, and John the Baptist, fully prove that he who gave

us a body with which alcoholic drinks wage a deadly war, has, in every instance, confined those whom he has miraculously supplied with food, or whose diet he has prescribed, or who were engaged in offices especially sacred, either to water, or to drinks no stronger than water. God's command, and his divine example, therefore, enforce the principle of total abstinence.

[ocr errors]

It is worthy of observation that the words νηφάλιος, and νήφω, rendered in the New Testament by the terms “sober," "vigilant," and "watch," are allowed by all critics to come from the adverb, un, "not," and the verb, ", " to drink," and signify, "not to drink," and of course refer to abstinence from inebriating liquors. Hesychius says that νηφάλιος means μη πεπωκότες, not having drunk ;" and one of the significations given to vŋþ by Schleusner, is, "abstineo omnis potus inebriantis usu—I abstain from the use of all intoxicating drinks." It is rather remarkable that the interpretation of the lexicographer should contain the very words of the tetotal pledge. In Philo, these terms are repeatedly used, and there is scarcely an instance in which they do not express total abstinence. The existence of such a word, as expressive of vigilance and watchfulness, shows that the ancients associated the use of wine, and mental slumber and idleness together; and, in the very structure of this word, enjoined entire abstinence on those who would be vigilant, watchful, and able both to attend to their duties, and compete with their enemies.

How many who have become an easy prey to Satan and sin, might have stood, if they had attended to the primitive advice contained in the word unpare, “be vigilant," or rather, “do not drink, for your adversary goeth about as a roaring lion!" and who so likely to become a prey as those who are in the habit of using intoxicating drinks? "Wine and new wine take away the heart," says Hosea; and again, "The princes have made him (the king) sick with bottles of wine; he stretched out his hands with the scorners." Habakkuk adds, "He transgresseth also by wine; he is a proud man— -who enlargeth his desire as hell." Here we are told that wine takes away the heart, produces sickness, induces scorn, transgression, and insatiable desire; so that the wine-drinker becomes heartless, diseased, a

[ocr errors]

mocker at religion, a transgressor of God's commands, and burns with an unquenchable thirst, and the most ungovernable lusts and passions. What a picture of the effects of intoxicating drinks! Yet all this depravity of conduct might have been avoided by total abstinence; for the Holy Spirit himself, in the texts quoted, has attributed these evils solely to drinking. What force such examples give to the command, "Be sober, vndare, Do not drink!"

One of the most awful pictures of the effects of drinking is given us by Isaiah:-"Woe unto them that rise up early, that they may follow strong drink, and continue until night, till wine inflame them! And the harp, and the viol, and the tabret, and the pipe, and wine, are in their feasts: but they regard not the work of the Lord, neither consider the operation of his hands. Therefore, my people are gone into captivity because they have no knowledge: and their honorable men are famished, and the multitude are dried up with thirst: therefore hell hath enlarged herself, and opened her mouth without measure; and their glory, and their multitude, and their pomp, and he that rejoiceth, shall descend into it."—Isa. v. 11-14.

Here we have, at one view, an epitome of the dreadful consequences of drinking. God and his works and dispensations are disregarded, and spiritual ignorance is the result. God's worship is neglected; the people are enslaved, degraded, famished, and parched with thirst: the most honorable and respectable are brought to ruin; and, in consequence of the aboundings of disease and crime, the grave is enlarged, and "hell opens her mouth without measure." Need we stay to remark how closely the description of the prophet answers to the effects of drinking in our own country? Here, in a land of Bibles and religious ordinances, the alehouse and the gin-shop have been, on a Sabbath day, on an average, better attended than the house of God. Drunkards, and the children of drunkards, and even of many moderate drinkers, are ignorant as Hottentots, thousands of families are daily being starved, famished, and ruined, our grave-yards are enlarged, and the grave constantly kept open, and the abyss beneath is being hourly peopled with impenitent drinkers. Sixty thousand drunkards in our own country die an

nually; many die drunk, and all die prematurely in consequence of drinking. Every ten minutes, therefore, the gate of death is opened to admit some poor victim of strong drink to the bar of God to receive sentence from that Judge who has said, "The drunkard shall not inherit the kingdom of heaven.” As we do not bury by night, but only through about eight hours of the day, the grave is opened every three minutes to admit the mortal remains of some poor wretch who has been slain by strong drinks. And if to the list of drunkards we add those who are poisoned and destroyed by moderate drinking, and others who perish by murder, starvation, grief, and other evils resulting from inebriating liquors, we may safely affirm that during the common burial hours, the grave is every minute kept open in consequence of moderate and immoderate drinking.

We may, therefore, justly use the words of the prophet and say, "the grave hath enlarged herself, and hell hath opened her mouth without measure." Is it any wonder that a God of love commands us not to "look upon wine;" that he prohibited it from his Nazarites and priests; that he never gave it to his prophets, nor placed it before those whom he miraculously supplied with food, or, in other words, fed at his table? When Christ changed the water into wine, it was produced as a luxury, and not as an article of diet. In other cases, when God has miraculously fed the multitude, he, in no instance, produced wine. In the dietetic rules prescribed to the Nazarites, to the priests, to the wife of Manoah, and her son Samson, and to John the Baptist, he particularly enjoined total abstinence; and strange would it have been if, as a God of love and mercy, he had recommended a poison which enlarges the grave, and peoples the bottomless pit. The only case in which he produced wine was at a festival, and we know, from his character, that this wine was harmless. The only case in which he commended it to an individual was as a medicine, and doubtless the wine was medicinal; in other instances we find him, both by his example and command, enjoining us to abstain.

A careful examination of the Scriptures will show not merely that fermented or inebriating drinks are condemned by the word of God, but also, that unfermented wines, for many ages,

[ocr errors]

were not in general use. In by far the greater number of places in Holy Writ in which drinking is referred to, water is the beverage. The drink of Abraham appears to have been water, for when he sent Hagar and Ishmael away, he gave them " a bottle of water." The angel that appeared to Hagar when in distress, showed her a well of water. Abraham's servant, when in Syria, asked of Rebekah nothing but water. The great God, as shown already, gave the Israelites in the wilderness nothing but water. Here are upwards of a million people provisioned for forty years by the immediate superintendence of the Creator of the world; he, and he alone, ordered and regulated their diet, and yet, during all this time, he rigidly confined them to water; nor do we find that they once murmured, or asked for wine. 'They asked for flesh, for leeks, and for garlic," but never for wine. At Rephidim and other places, the whole congregation thirsted for water, and murmured for water, but not a word did they utter for "wine and strong drink;" a clear demonstration this, that wine at that time was not a common beverage; else these murmurers had never been silent about the hardship of being confined to water. Gideon's three hundred valiant soldiers were drinkers of water. Both Samson and his mother were commanded of God to drink nothing but water. King Saul had a cruse of water at his bolster in the cave. And if the monarch drank water, we may be sure that his army drank nothing better. David and his men drank water; for they had nothing but water to give the fainting Egyptian. And when Ziba brought him a bottle of wine, he put it by "for the sick." Even at the feast of the drunken Nabal, water appears to have been the chief beverage of the majority of the people. "Shall I take," said the churl, " my bread and water, and the flesh that I have killed for my shearers, and give them unto men that I know not whence they be?"

Here it is evident that, at the joyful season of sheep-shearing, nothing but water was provided for the greater part of the guests. It is true he and his favorites drank something stronger at his table; but the next morning his wine had left him so nervous, that a threat from David the water-drinker frightened him to death.

Nabal, the fool, as his name imports, may be

« السابقةمتابعة »