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shadow of a doubt, I will look at those texts which are said to be favorable to the use of wine.
Melchizedek brought bread and wine to Abraham; but what if he did? This fact does not put us under an obligation to drink liquors which are demoralizing our countrymen by thousands, and then sending them to a premature grave, and to an awful eternity, for which they are unprepared. Besides, as it is now placed beyond all doubt that there were two kinds of wine, the one, under certain circumstances, most useful and wholesome, and the other deleterious and deadly, were we not prejudiced by the love of these poisons, we should conclude that so eminent a person as Melchizedek offered to Abraham an innocuous wine; and if such an example imposed on us any duty, it could only be a duty to drink such wines as the priest of the Most High God gave to the weary Abraham. We must settle what kind of wine it was, and get some of it, before we can enforce the duty to drink it.
We have already noticed the character of the wine drunk by Noah and Lot, and can hardly suppose that any man, however vile, would recommend us to use a beverage which sunk both these patriarchs, while under its influence, below the beasts that perish. We might as well commend the cup of Circe at once, as recommend such a liquor. But for the awful love of strong liquors, which now so fatally prevails in our country, the explanation which I have given of the drunkenness of Noah and Lot would be hailed as a rational interpretation, which entirely frees each of these pious men from the least voluntary participation in the crime of intemperance.
It was predicted of Judah, Gen. xlix. 11, that he should wash his clothes in the blood of the grape, and that his eyes should be "red with wine, and his teeth white with milk." It is well known that Jacob's blessings were predictions, and were intended as instructions and cautions, as well as promises of prosperity. He foretold that "Reuben should not prevail;" that "Simeon and Levi should be scattered;" that "Issachar should be a servant or slave;" that "Dan should be a serpent ;" and that
a troop should overcome Gad." The things foretold here were not good in themselves, nor in all respects reputable to the characters of his sons; and the blessing consisted in the benefit
which might be derived from their instructive predictions. If garments stained with wine, and eyes red with wine, refer to the filthy manners and maddened looks of the drunkard, then Jacob fortells the drunkenness which in after ages degraded many of that tribe, and which mainly contributed to the downfall of the Jews, as is abundantly declared by the prophets. The fertility of Judah's vine may also have proved a snare to him: "Jeshurun waxed fat, and kicked.” If, then, the text foretells the sensual habits of this tribe, surely no one will say that such a prediction puts us under an obligation to use a liquor which brought the Jews to ruin.
If, on the other hand, as most probably was the case, Judah's washing his clothes in the blood of the grape, is a metaphorical expression, employed to intimate the copiousness of his vintage, and if "the redness of his eyes," far from being taken in a bad sense, simply intimates the pleasure which would sparkle in the eyes of Judah, as he beheld the fertility of his vine, and partook of its fruit; then the text cannot be said to contain any thing that sanctions the use of modern alcoholic drinks. We have before shown that fermented wines can never, with any propriety, be called "the blood of the grape;" but Judah's clothes were to be stained with this unfermented juice, as, indeed, the garments of all would be who engaged in the vintage, or the manufacture of wine; but then it depended upon the will of the husbandman whether or not the blood that died his garments should become an inebriating liquor; and if he allowed it to do so, it no longer remained the blood of the grape, because fermentation, of necessity, would decompose it, dismiss nearly one-half, in the form of carbonic acid, and combine the remainder into another poison.
We also full well know that alcoholic wines, by stimulating the nerves, injure the sight, and also destroy the teeth; and further, that there are few persons who drink alcohol, whose stomachs will digest milk. Alcohol may brighten the eyes for a while, but the collapse or depression that follows this unnatural excitement, destroys their native lustre. Dr. Farre says, 66 It is a law of our nature, that the circulation falls off in a greater degree than it is forced." To be the subject, as
all drinkers of intoxicating liquors are, of excitement and depression; to have sparkling eyes for an hour or two, and then dim eyes for as many more, is a state of existence which the Holy Ghost would never applaud. The intelligent eyes of Judah; his white teeth, and his capacity to digest milk, are incontestable proofs that the wine which such a person drank was not fermented. Our lovers of strong drink would do well to pause, and duly weigh the facts of science and history, before they convert the patriarchs into drunkards, exhibiting eyes inflamed and maddened with wine, and borrowing all their strength and spirit from inebriating poisons. Here, alas! again we must observe, that modern drinkers, reckless of their own health, and of the effects of their own drinking upon others, show equal recklessness towards the characters of holy men of old, and actually attempt to draw them into the awful vortex into which they have voluntarily thrown themselves.
In the book of Judges, chap. ix. 13, we read the words, "Wine that cheereth the heart of God and man." This passage is often quoted as opposed to total abstinence. But intoxicating drinks produce only temporary excitement, and then leave their victim, though only a moderate drinker, to depression of spirits ; and therefore, can hardly be said, " to cheer the heart." It is often the case, that intoxicating wines produce irascibility, anger, malice, and almost every vile passion. Now all these dispositions are the very reverse of the Scriptural idea of cheer or cheerfulness. God's being "cheered," or pleased with wine, cannot mean that he drank it, but that he viewed with pleasure and approbation, the libations which the people offered as a token of worship; and further, that as a father, he was pleased with what afforded permanent strength and joy to his creatures. But to say that the Deity is delighted to view that unnatural, unmeaning, irrational, senseless, pernicious cheer, which alcoholic poisons produce, is little better than blasphemy.
God, as a God of love, cannot be cheered or pleased with that drink which wages war with the very vitals of the human frame, which poisons the mind and the morals, which is one of the greatest obstacles in the way of his gospel, inflicts a "second curse' on the church and the world, and drowns thousands in
perdition. That Lucifer is cheered or delighted at the effects of such a wine is unquestionable, for it has done more than anything else to people the abyss in which he reigns; but to say that He who shed his own blood to save men from perdition, is pleased with that which proves a greater antagonist to his gospel than any other with which it has been opposed, is to cast the deepest reflection on the benevolence of the Savior. What! A God of mercy cheered with murders, thefts, prostitution, and vice of every form! cheered with hospitals, gaols, dungeons, executions, grave-yards, and the pangs of the lost! Far be it from us to attribute so horrid a character to the gracious and merciful Ruler of the universe! Yet if he is pleased with the cause, he must also be pleased with the effect. We have already proved that alcoholic wines, taken even in small quantities, or drunk moderately, are pernicious; and this one fact affords a demonstration that they cannot be "cheering" or pleasing to the heart of Jehovah; when, therefore, in the text before us, wine is said to "cheer the heart of God," such a declaration proves that the beverage commended, was neither alcoholic, nor intoxicating. Now, as God was "cheered" with it, without drinking it, why might not man be cheered without drinking too? The word here rendered wine is " Tirosh," which, as we have shown, very generally refers to the fruit of the vine on the tree, and often to the grapes before they are ripe. These, as they grew and ripened, cheered the heart of the husbandman, by promising a full reward to his labors.
The fact that it cheered the heart of man, affords additional evidence that it was not a pernicious drink resembling modern port or sherry; nothing can be more absurd than to suppose, that whatever "cheers or rejoices the heart," must be poisoned with alcohol. The Hebrew word now, samach, rendered “cheer" in this passage, is generally used to signify "gladness or joy;" now every one knows that to a hungry man's heart, bread will impart joy; to the heart of a thirsty man, water will impart a high degree of joy; to an intellectual and social being, congenial society will communicate the choicest joy or "cheer." Hence, in Scripture," both bread and water" are said to "comfort and cheer the heart." "Eat thy bread with joy, (or nn, cheer), and
drink thy wine with a good heart," are the words of Solomon, showing that bread could "cheer' the heart, and that the man might have a good or merry heart before he began drinking. The same idea is expressed Zech. chap. ix. 17, " Ccrn shall make the young men cheerful," yet neither bread nor water is alcoholic; how preposterous then to conclude, that because the word cheer or joy is used in this verse, in connection with wine, therefore, the wine mentioned must have been intoxicating or poisonous! Such an argument rests on the assumption, that for a beverage to be "cheering," it must contain in it a stimulating poison; this is to build on a foundation of sand, with a witness!
That which gives permanent strength to the body, and thus supplies real healthful cheer to the animal spirits, must be nutritious and wholesome. "Comfort thine heart with a morsel of bread," said the father, in Judges, xix. 5. Abraham made use of the same language to the angels; showing that bread can “comfort or cheer," and yet bread is nutritious rather than stimulating. So the juice of the grape, and also unfermented wines, were nutritious. The bride in Cant. says, "Comfort me with apples," applying to fruits the same term that was used respecting bread; and this was philosophically correct, for both apples and grapes were nutritive, and could therefore impart substantial comfort or cheer to the body. But press the juice from the grape or from the apple, let it ferment and be converted into alcohol, and instead of real strength or cheer, you have a stimulating spirit, which may for a while give an unnatural impulse to the heart, but which poisons at the same time that it excites, and, if habitually used, undermines the health and produces chronic disease and weakness. If, therefore, the wine before us afforded healthful" cheer or strength to the heart of man," that fact is sufficient to prove that it was not intoxicating or poisonous.
I may here again observe, that in this text the word rendered "wine" is Tirosh, which we have before shown, generally alludes to the unfermented juice of the grape, and sometimes to the fruit of the vine in a state of immaturity; and in this parable the vine is introduced as saying, "Shall I have my Tirosh ?" but the shrewd Jotham would never have introduced the vine talking so absurdly, as to call liquor which man had impious