صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

wicked, the Saturday evening's debauch is usually followed, if the means can any way be obtained, by an entire Sunday of drunkenness. In every city, town, and hamlet, the gin-shop or the ale-house is the common place of rendezvous on the Lord'sday. It is probable that on a Sabbath-day, the worshipers of Bacchus in Britain alone far out-number the votaries that Greece or Rome could, at any time, reckon as the devotees of that sensual deity. We meet on the Lord's-day, and pray for the myriads that are perishing on the plains of pagan India or China; but what can Heaven think of the sincerity of our aspirations, when, by the use of intoxicating drinks, we are abetting and promoting Sunday orgies and bacchanalia, at which India would blush, and China and Arabia be horrified? The crimes committed on the Sabbath through drunkenness and moderate drinking, could not be recited in a brothel without producing a blush; and the numbers that are directly or indirectly implicated in these offences, must far surpass any calculation that has hitherto been attempted. Let every Christian open his eyes to the Sabbath iniquities which, in his own vicinity, drinking promotes, and he must conclude that the offenders in the whole country could be counted by millions rather than by thousands. A million Sabbath-breakers, all made Sabbath-breakers by drinking a poison, which alike wages war on the vitals of the body, and the noblest principles of the mind! Who can look at such a scene without horror? If the Sabbath is lost, what compensation can be made to the soul? Intoxicating drinks rob wives and children of food and clothes, and every earthly comfort: but this is only a small part of the injury; they deprive them of the Sabbath, and therefore of the bliss, which is an antepast of the joys of Paradise, and of the instruction that would conduct them thither.

If the soul of one sinner is of more value than the whole material universe, then what is the value of that instruction without which the soul must perish; or of that Day, which Divine goodness has apportioned for our edification! "The Sabbath was made for man," and, among the bounties of Heaven, it stands as one of its richest boons. Myriads of immortal spirits has it reclaimed from death, solaced under affliction, supported under

toil, instructed, purified and conducted to heaven. For want of its blessings millions have perished. The inhabitants of the glory above, or the abyss below, are the the only persons that can duly appreciate the worth of the Sabbath. What, then, can be more awful than the thought that this glorious day, which Jehovah himself has "blessed and hallowed," should be lost or profaned? But to what an awful extent this is done, the police reports of all the great towns and cities in the country can testify.

"Into fourteen of the most prominent gin-shops in the Metropolis there entered in one week no less than 142,453, men, 108,593 women, and 13,391 children; the women and children united nearly equalling the men, and surpassing them in the grossness and depravity of their demeanor. The total number of men, women, and children amounted to 249,438. This vast multitude entered 14 gin-shops. What, then, must be the number that enter all the various houses in the Metropolis in which intoxicating liquors are sold? Now, it must be remembered, that a far greater number crowd into those haunts of dissipation on a Saturday evening and Sunday morning, than during any other period of the week. Were the last-mentioned multitude to be multiplied by 10, and divided by 7, you would then have upwards of 300,000 men, women, and children, in the Metropolis alone, that frequent gin or beer-shops on the Lord's-day. Doubtless many of these enter more than once, so that this would considerably reduce the number; but against this reduction you may place the persons who, at their own houses, either wholly or partially intoxicate themselves on the Sabbath; and therefore the amount of Sabbath-breakers, who are made such by tippling, is terrifically large. From the hour of eight till nine on a Sunday morning, 300 persons have been observed to enter one ginshop alone.

Some of these "whited sepulchres," as Dr. Farre terms them, are open as early as four o'clock on the Sabbath morning; so that the work of poisoning the bodies and morals of the people is carried on both early and late. Into only one of the many tea-gardens in London, 4,000 or 5,000 persons have been known to enter of a Sabbath evening; and numbers of these continued

drinking intoxicating drinks, in these haunts of vice, until midnight. Dr. Farre, in his evidence before the Sabbath Observance Committee, gave it as his opinion, that the excitement produced by stimulating liquors on the Sunday is quite as injurious to the health, as it is to the morals of the people. Were it necessary, we might turn from this great city to Bristol, Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds, &c., and from these descend to all the inferior towns and villages in Britain, Ireland, and Wales, and endeavor to calculate the crowds that throng to the temples of dissipation on the Lord's-day; but such a process of investigation is superfluous, as every one who requires information has only to inquire into the Sabbath-breaking of his own district, and then consider that every parish is equally, or perhaps more extensively, guilty; and we are sure, if he is a Christian, his heart will recoil at the result of his calculations.

The following words of Dr. Doyle, Roman Catholic Bishop of Kildare, in a letter to the secretary of the New Ross Temperance Society, deserve particular notice: "Rash swearing, profanation of the Lord's-day, blasphemies without number; the poverty, the nakedness, the destitution, the ruin of families; the frauds, the thefts, the robberies; the seduction of innocence, the corruption of virtue; the disobedience of children, the infidelities of servants; the discord, the disunion of those whom God hath united; these, and many others which I do not name, are the effects of drinking and drunkenness, which I deplore."

These are sentiments which, if printed in letters of blood, would convey but a very inadequate idea of the misery and suffering which they suggest. We would recommend to every Protestant a careful perusal of the letter of the Catholic Dr. Doyle, which was read to the committee of the House of Commons. If the "profanation of the Lord's day," and other crimes connected with drinking, are such as to move the heart of one who is too often accused of being destitute of sympathy, then what ought to be the feelings of Protestants, who profess to have purer feelings and a purer creed? The laws of the land are said by some to be sufficient to guard the Sabbath from being violated by drinking. But the farce that is here acted is probably without parallel. Happily the laws have lately under

gone some change; but what have been the facts of the case ? Why, the gin-shop has been thrown open at four o'clock in the morning, and the pot-house has dispensed its poisons at as early an hour; and after men, women, and children, had, by hours of debauch, deprived themselves of reason and feeling, they were then turned out of the shrines of Satan that they might go to the house of God. The cup of demons was given them first, and after they had well drunk, they were to have offered them the cup of salvation. It was the opinion of several very observant witnesses, that if the alehouse is at all to be open on the Sabbath, it would be better to keep it open also during the hours of divine worship. Persons who have been drowning their reason with spirits, who have been inspiriting themselves with gin, or rendering themselves stupid with porter or ale, are totally unfit for the worship of God. Their minds and feelings are much more in unison with the depravity and blasphemy of some filthy sty of a drunkery, than with the holy exercises of Christian devotion, or even the peaceful duties of their own domestic hearths. It is rather marvellous, that our vaunted Christian laws should grant a dispensation from its injunctions chiefly to the dispensers of poisons. The grocer, who sells wholesome food; the baker, who distributes the staff of life; and the butcher, whose shop is hung with a highly nutritious article of diet, must all, after a certain hour on the Sabbath morning, refuse to accommodate a customer; but government has taken upon itself the awful responsibility of legalizing the breach of the fourth commandment; and, as if to perfect its guilt, does this in especial favor of those who sell the liquor which dethrones the reason, hardens the heart, and corrupts the morals of the people! The merchandise of the grocer, the baker, and the butcher, would produce none of these evils. Even gluttony, unassociated with drinking (though it is a question whether it can exist apart; the stomach must be bribed by intoxicating drinks, or it would scourge the epicure with nausea, until it had cured him of his sensuality)—even gluttony, we say, would lead to few, if any, of those vices which spring from strong drinks. The human cormorant, after he has fed himself to loathing, like the boa constrictor. seeks repose; and therefore neither murderers, thieves,

nor prostitutes adopt gluttony as an auxiliary to their purposes. It is drink, intoxicating drink, that inspirits them for every vice, and enables them to sin without compunction; and our wise and prudent and Christian legislators, while prohibiting people from procuring the staff of life, encourage the gin-palace and the pot-house to dispense their poisons on the Lord's-day, and thus ruin the morals and the health of the population.

All this is said to be done to increase the comforts of the poor. But it hardly requires the understanding of a child to perceive that more bread and less gin, more meat and less beer, would vastly enlarge the happiness of the people, and do so without any danger to their morals. With what propriety, then, is the grocery locked up, and the drunkery thrown open, on the Sabbath day? We are no advocates for legislative enactments in matters of conscience; but here we have laws, which, by legalizing the sale of intoxicating drinks on the Sabbath, are actually sanctioning, abetting, and encouraging the transgression of a divine command, and, by allowing the distribution of these liquors, are prompting the people to trample upon every thing human and divine. If legislators have the right, we implore them to show by "what authority they do these things;" but if they have the right to close some shops on the Lord's-day and to open others, motives of humanity, apart from religion, might and ought to impel them to close the doors of the gin-palace and the tavern, and to open those of the grocer, the butcher, and the baker.

If they must, in pampering the vices of the people, set at naught the laws of God, then let them legalize the sale of what is wholesome, and prohibit the traffic in what is pernicious. Let them not open the drunkery on the Sabbath, and license landlords to make men, women, and children demons, and thus curse the nation with a spirit more malignant than the legion which inhabited the man who dwelt among the tombs. It should be remembered that the priests of our day are not exorcists; and if they were, we query whether God would allow their power to extend to a spirit which had been so wantonly introduced into the bodies and souls of the people.

A very little consideration will show us, that the state is not the only party implicated in the aboundings of Sabbath-breaking

« السابقةمتابعة »