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may appear startling to some; but it is only for such to consider the immense waste and expenditure connected with drinking, to perceive that facts most fully substantiate this estimation. And when we contemplate the misery and vice, which, in numberless instances, are connected with verty; and the comfort, morality, and happiness, which must be the consequence of having full employment for all the people, then the duty of total abstinence assumes, in the breast of every patriot, the character of a most imperative obligation.
It is now generally admitted that the education of the people is a most desirable object; and schools are erected in most parts of the country; still who is there that does not lament over the numbers of children who are kept from these charitable institutions? And if we inquire into the cause of this, we shall in many, probably in most cases, find, that the intemperance, or the moderate drinking, of the parents, is the sole cause. The father, and sometimes the mother, are addicted to drinking, and the consequence is, that the children have not clothes to wear, and, therefore, instead of being sent to school, are brought up as barbarians in a Christian country. But were total abstinence practised, then all the means requisite for the proper education of the rising generation would instantly be furnished.
Were intoxicating drinks abandoned, were the gin-shop and the ale-house closed, what numbers, that now profane the holy Sabbath, would begin to crowd the temples of the Most High! Man was made for association; and destroy his taste for intoxicating poisons, and then the tea-garden and the vulgar throng who assemble there, not for tea, but for strong liquors, will lose their attractions; and the intellectual, the rational, and inspiring truths of Christianity, and the holy and animating worship of Jehovah, would allure thousands to the sanctuary. It is found already, that when men begin totally to abstain, they almost immediately lead a new life, and reverence the worship of God. Nottingham, Liverpool, Bristol, Preston, and almost the whole of North Wales, can bear witness to the truth of what is here stated. Do away with strong drinks, and with attendance at the alehouse, and you immediately will increase the number of those who will throng to hear the gospel.
Total abstinence has already added hundreds of members to our churches, and kept hundreds of members from disgracing themselves by drinking, and yet these are only the beginnings of days of spiritual prosperity. God himself has already highly honored the society with his blessing: considering its limited means, and the opposition which God's church has brought against it, it is probable there is not another institution in the country which has been crowned with more signal success. In one small town, I lately saw it recorded, that fifty members had been added to the church, in consequence of the adoption of total abstinence. And is it not important that we should have a safeguard against the fall of our ministers and members? You say, that the grace of God will protect them; but you have tried the grace of God, and it has not kept all from falling; and why? Doubtless, because in using these liquors "you tempt the Lord God by your lusts." Nowhere is it promised that the grace of God shall abstract from the body a poison, which was presumptuously and unnecessarily drank. To persist in the daily use of inebriating drinks, and then to ask for the grace of God to keep us from falling, is "to ask and have not, because we ask amiss, that we may consume it on our lusts." I once heard a clergyman, a notorious drunkard, preach from these words: “Mark the perfect, and behold the upright, for the end of that man is peace;" and a few weeks after, this very person, as if to give his people a demonstration of the contrast between the end of the "perfect man," and that of a drunkard, hung himself! The very same parish has, since that awful event, buried a promising young clergyman, who died in the flower of his days, "as a fool dieth," killed by drinking. I know another instance of a minister of a parish, whom the clerk has supported while reading the burial service, otherwise he would, from the influence of wine and spirits, have reeled into the grave and stretched himself on the coffin. I have my eye at this moment on three highly popular and zealous dissenting ministers, who are now "dead while they live:" strong drink has slain them. Adopt total abstinence, and these scandals to religion, to the church and dissent, will cease for ever. No more will the church have to weep over its ministers, nor pastors over the hope of their flocks, cut off by these debasing liquors.
And what shall we say of the domestic comfort which must flow from total abstinence? The husband, instead of starving and ill-treating his wife and children, will love and cherish them. The wife and mother, no longer unsexed by drinking, will become the lovely being, the "help meet for man," whom Solomon has described in the 31st chapter of Proverbs :-" Her own works shall praise her." "Her children shall rise up and call her blessed, her husband also, and praise her." The offspring of such parents shall be "like olive branches round about the table." They shall be more cheering than garlands of peace, or olive yards of plenty. "Children's children shall be the crown of old men, and the glory of such children shall be their fathers." Educated in useful knowledge and the gospel of Christ, inured to abstinence from the cradle, accustomed to the worship of God, their bodies and minds uncontaminated by the diseases and passions which these demoralising liquors engender, the youth of the coming generation shall be the joy of their parents and the boast of their country; and the domestic circle, instead of being the hell, that drinking, in thousands of cases, has made it, will be the fac-simile of all that crowds into our imagination at the mention of that sweet word "Home."
With the abandonment of these liquors, their deleterious effects on the health and minds of the members of the church, of ministers and missionaries, shall cease. Private Christians shall be more active, ministers more strong, intellectual, and zealous; and the missionary, reared in the school of total abstinence, shall be proof against the attacks of the various climates in which he may be called to preach the Gospel. Neither the miasmata of Africa, the frosts of Siberia, nor the suns of India, for many a year shall smite his hardy frame; and thus the progress of the Gospel shall receive a mighty acceleration, and rarely shall suffer from those checks which disease and death at present so often occasion.
It is impossible to say what effect the adoption of this principle would have upon the funds of our various benevolent and religious institutions; but no one will doubt that a very considerable portion of what, at present, is wasted on these poisons would be consecrated to the cause of humanity and religion. To
say that in a very little time all these contributions would be doubled, is far from being an exaggerated anticipation. One lesson the spendthrift has learnt in the school of intemperance, and that is, that he can afford to be very liberal. The sums devoted to the shrine of Bacchus afford examples of voluntary contribution, compared with which, the most munificent liberality of the church must sink into insignificance. In what age, we may ask, have the followers of Messiah contributed the value of one hundred millions to the cause of God? The drinkers of strong drink, on becoming total abstinence men, often remember what they once could afford to waste, and therefrom learn what they now can afford to give.
But to conclude. Should the principle of total abstinence prosper, and it is too firmly based on science and religion to allow to fail,―should this principle succeed, the prospect before us is one of the most cheering imaginable. Every house, with the greatest probability, would soon become, in the strict sense of the word, a "home." The bleeding hearts of wives would be healed, hungry children would be fed, and both them and their parents would be seen clothed in their right mind. Our manufacturers would receive an impulse from home consumption that would make us independent of foreign resources. Our national health would be improved, because we should then be delivered from one of the direst pests that ever smote the human family; and we should be what, considering our scientific and physiological knowledge, we ought to be, one of the healthiest people upon the face of the earth. Our various schools and other institutions for the intellectual and moral improvement of the people, would then reward the highest expectations of their conductors and supporters. The house of God would be well attended, and the church would no longer have to weep over her ministers, members, and hopeful converts, betrayed, fallen, and slain by these poisonous drinks. All the institutions that have for their object the salvation of the world, would then be nobly and liberally supported. The Bible Society, which is God's store house to supply a starving world with the bread of life; and the Missionary Society, which is God's angel to carry the bread of heaven to the nations, would receive every needful resource and facility for so glorious a work.
Delivered from the debilitating and poisonous effects of alcoholic drinks, the firm and strong constitutions of our countrymen would be able to endure the hardships of every climate, and the sun of the missionary, or wife of the missionary, would rarely go down before it was noon;" nor would the drinking habits of our countrymen again disgust the sober and abstinent pagans of other lands, and produce in the breasts of heathens a prejudice against the religion, which, in their estimation, came from an island of drunkards. From what is wasted in inebriating poisons, a considerable portion would be consecrated to the service of God, and thus an impetus would be given to our religious institutions, far beyond our present anticipations. The life, talent, moral feeling, and energy, which these drinks have almost blasted and destroyed, would be rescued from ruin, and devoted to the country, to science, and to religion.
Let total abstinence be adopted, and then the golden age of prophecy and of the millenium would be seen commencing its era of health, peace, prosperity, and piety, throughout the world. To aid in bringing in that day, every angel in heaven is already winged for flight; every promise and prophecy of revelation, pregnant with blessings for our ruined world, travail in birth; the Son of God, clothed in his priestly vestments of intercession, is now pleading near the altar of incense; or, girt with omnipotence, is just about to ascend his chariot of salvation; and all that is wanting to move with rapidity and effect this evangelical apparatus, is the co-operation of earth. Let that be granted, and then "the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together, as the mouth of the Lord hath spoken."