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ly decomposed, and changed into a poison, " my Tirosh."
If the vine could speak, it would certainly renounce all relationship to such a pernicious beverage, as the brandied, adulterated, trash called modern port and sherry. It is highly probable that in the speech of Jotham the vine rather alludes to its fruit, than any description of beverage which was obtained therefrom; hence, from the approbation of God bestowed upon the "Tirosh or new wine," here mentioned, from its healthful and invigorating influence on the heart of man; from the fact that God was cheered with it, without drinking it; from the phraseology of the parable itself, and from the poisonous character of alcoholic wines, we have a demonstration that the fruit of the vine which is pleasing to God, and really "cheering" to man, is not an alcoholic poison.
In Psalm civ. 15, God is said to bring forth out of the earth "wine that maketh glad the heart of man." Here there is an evident allusion to the juice of the grape, which is produced out of the earth, and not to the poisonous liquor which impious man produces by decomposing the drink which Jehovah has formed, and, after decomposition, causes to combine and form a poiThis wine also was made by a God of love, to impart real gladness or cheer to the heart of man; but the alcoholic wine which man manufactures, gives only an artificial and unnatural stimulus to the constitution, and poisons while it stimulates. The wine which God produces out of the earth is nutritious, and therefore really supports and refreshes and gladdens the heart; but the drink which man obtains out of the fermenting vessel, is more fraught with poison than nutriment: and to suppose that the inspired voice of Scripture would characterize the unnatural, the senseless, and pernicious excitement, which such vile liquors produce, by the name of "cheer," is to insult the Holy Spirit. It should be observed, that the same word is rendered "glad" in this text, which is translated "cheer " in the verse from the Book of Judges which we last examined; that our imagination, that a wine which "cheers," must be intoxicatting, arises from the fallacy of our own vitiated taste, which suggests to us that partial or entire inebriety is essential to gladness. But to explain the words of the Psalmist, we ought to under
stand the mode of manufacturing wines in those days, and also the drinking habits of the people; the wine which most naturally agrees with the human constitution, and the character of the person to whom it is recommended. Besides, it should be remembered, that God made the wine which David tells us "cheers the heart," but God never made an alcoholic wine.
Nowhere in nature is alcohol produced by the hand of God! Alcoholic wines are the sole work of man; therefore, as the wine here recommended was the work of God, we have a demonstration that it was not poisonous, and consequently not intoxicating.
The chief wines mentioned in Scripture are those of Lebanon and Helbon, and these, Mr. Buckingham says, are the principal wines of Palestine at the present day; the former, he adds, "are boiled wines, made of grapes as large as plums.' We have before stated, that the grapes of so warm a country as Palestine were too sweet to produce a strong wine; and if the juice of these was boiled, it must have been impossible for such an inspissated sirup to ferment. Hosea says, "The scent thereof, (¬ the memorial or praise of him) shall be as the memorial or praise of the wine of Lebanon ;" showing that this boiled unfermented wine was in much repute. M. La Roque, in his Itiner. Syr. and Liban. remarks, “It would be difficult to find any other wine so exceedingly choice as that which was presented to us, and which led us to conclude that the reputation of the wines of Lebanon mentioned by the prophet, is well founded."
"The wine of Helbon," mentioned by Ezekiel, Mr. Buckingham observes, is a rich sweet wine; the name of Helbon signifies "sweet or fat;" this wine was made at Damascus, was exported, was a part of the merchandize of Tyre, and in the time of Richard III., was brought to England under the name of "wine of Tyre." Nehemiah, alluding to the sweet wines of his day, said to the people, "Eat the fat and drink the sweet." Hence it is evident, that the two wines most esteemed in the Holy Land, were boiled wines, were thick and sweet, and consequently were not alcoholic; and these wines were the liquors which the Psalmist says, "made glad the heart of man ;" not being converted into poisons by fermentation, and retaining the original saccharine matter of the grape in a state of concentration, they were
nutritious to the body, pleasant to the taste, cheering, refreshing, and strengthening to those who drank them.
It is also evident from Hosea, that these sweet wines were in high repute; hence he predicts that the "scent," or, as the margin literally expresses it, "the memorial, the remembrance, or praise of God's Israel, shall be as (the memorial of) the wine of Lebanon." No phraseology could more fully represent the estimation in which these sweet, unfermented wines were held. If the memorial of them was so fondly cherished by the people, then how cheering, how gladdening must the taste of them have been! And in this their taste for weak sweet wines, they seem to have agreed with what we have proved to have been the popular taste of the Greeks and Romans. A taste for sweet drinks is natural, the taste for alcoholic drinks is acquired, and therefore unnatural; many whose stomachs are poisoned with alcohol, loathe sweet beverages, but tetotalers have this taste gradually restored.
Here also we have wines which will not injure the human frame, nor inflame the human mind, nor endanger human morals, and, consequently, a wine which God the Spirit could commend. In warm countries, the inhabitants can live on food less nutritious than in colder climates, and we know that saccharine substances are less nutrient than animal or farinaceous food. How benevolent then is the provision of Providence, that all hot countries should abound in these delicious, saccharine fruits! Such especially is the grape, and such its juice when preserved without fermentation, when concentrated by boiling, diluted with water, or converted into an agreeable acid, what Cato calls an "acetum pulcherrimum." In either of these forms, we have the “wine that maketh glad the heart of man." But to suppose that by converting it into a fiery poison, and thus causing it to scorch the stomach and nerves of him who was writhing under the rays a torrid sun; and to increase the thirst of him who already was dying for the want of some cooling draught, a wine would be produced which would "cheer the heart of man," is the very height of absurdity. Give to the thirsty Arab or Syrian a pint of modern port or sherry, charged with twenty or twenty-six per cent. of alcohol, and will his thirst be quenched, his natural
strength increased, or his "heart cheered ?" Will he thank you for the draught? Would not a "cup of cold water," or a bottle of unfermented wine, be ten thousand times more suitable, agreeable, and beneficial? Every one who knows anything of human physiology must answer in the affirmative. In a late publication, Mr. Hoskins says, that in Egypt there is nothing so healthful or refreshing as the waters of the Nile, and that in visiting the pyramids, in consequence of using this beverage, he bore the heat of the climate without inconvenience, while those who drank alcoholic drinks were generally suffering from disease and exhaustion.
In examining the expressions, "wine that maketh glad, or that cheereth the heart of man," we must not forget that they were spoken by the Holy Ghost. Now God the Spirit is distinguished for truth, knowledge, and benevolence. His veracity would not allow him to affirm that a fermented pernicious drink, which actually poisoned and scorched the body, and corrupted the morals, was a drink which "cheered the heart of man." And his perfect knowledge of the physiology of our frame, and his benevolent regard for the human family, would equally prevent him from commending what is baneful. But we know that all intoxicating drinks are pernicious, and therefore the wine spoken of in the text in question was not an alcoholic liquor.
Before I dismiss this subject, I may be allowed to mention the medicinal character of wines, and indeed that wine was a principal medicine in Palestine. When Ziba brought David a bottle of wine, he put it aside for " the sick and faint in the wilderness. It is also said, "give strong or sweet drink to him who is ready to perish." Here, as well as in other texts, the medicinal qualities of wine are mentioned. May not the passage, "wine that cheereth or maketh glad man's heart," include some allusion to the health and joy which the sick very frequently derived from these drinks? When Christ healed diseases, he imparted "cheer and joy" to the people. Recovery from disease is generally a time of joy. Have we never thanked God for medicines? And may not the text before us have some reference to medicinal wines? but surely no one would recommend that people in health should daily drench themselves with
medicines. It should also here be remarked, that, in Pliny's time, “the best and the most wholesome wine," the "utilissimum et saluberrimum vinum," was, on the authority of medical men themselves, that which had not fermented, and to which nothing had been added to the juice. View this text, therefore, in whatever light we may, it affords no countenance whatever, to the use of modern wines, beer, or cider.
In Deut. xiv. 26, we read, “Thou mayest bestow the money for whatever thy soul desireth, for oxen, for sheep, for wine, or strong drink," &c. Having already explained the meaning of shacar, and shown that it chiefly refers to palm wine, which was a "sweet luscious wine," and therefore as weak as it was sweet; having also proved that the wines of Palestine were sweet, boiled, and consequently free from alcohol; and having shown from Nehemiah that "sweet wines" were used at Jewish festivals; this passage can afford no evidence that total abstinence is contrary to the law of Moses; that poisonous alcoholic wines were used at the passover, or ought to be drunk in our day. Supposing that any lover of wine could show that what was here left perfectly optional to the Jewish people, is now become a rigid law binding all good Christians to drink wines, whatever may be the consequence; still, even then it could only command us to drink such wines and sweet drinks as were in use in the days of Moses. You must not only bring us the command, but produce the liquor also, or else the injunction would be null and void. But in this direction there is nothing binding upon us, nor can the least evidence be produced that the drinks mentioned were intoxicating.
The wine mentioned in 2 Chron. ii. 10, which Solomon agreed to give to Hiram, King of Tyre, has sometimes been brought forward as a reason why we ought to drink poisonous wines and brewers' beer. The argument stands thus: Solomon gave Hiram" twenty thonsand baths of wine ;" therefore Christians ought to drink port, sherry, and brewers' beer, &c. !! But unfortunately, Solomon gave Hiram twenty thousand baths of oil; just as much oil as he did wine, and therefore if we are to do all that Solomon did, we are bound to take as much oil as we do wine! Further, as this argument is based upon the hy