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the weakest, probably, being far more intoxicating than the strongest among the Jews,—we find it difficult to reconcile a command not to drink wine, with the permission to use wine and sweet drink.
But let our circumstances be changed; let there be two kinds of wine in the land, as there were in Palestine and Rome; and let it be well understood that the one is innocuous, and the other highly injurious to men's minds, health, and morals, then should we have no difficulty in reconciling the prohibition from drinking wine with the permission to use it. Under such conditions, the obtusest intellect would thus reason: "A God of love, out of pure love to us his creatures, allows us to use the wine which is harmless, and prohibits us from drinking that which would be pernicious." Every advocate of total abstinence will now say, "Get me some of the nutrient 'innocent' wine of Palestine or Rome, and I will drink it; but from the inebriating trash which the Jews or Italians drugged, or the Portuguese or English ferment, or adulterate with alcohol, I totally abstain :" and in this noble resolution he acts, in accordance with the will of God, as unfolded in the physiology of our bodies, and the commands and cautions of the same benevolent Legislator, revealed to us in the holy Scriptures.
The Nazarites, or persons who separated themselves to the Lord by a vow, were enjoined to observe total abstinence. It was said, "He shall separate himself from wine and strong drink, and shall drink no vinegar of wine, nor vinegar of strong drink; neither shall he drink any liquor of grapes." We have before observed, that in warm countries, the vinous fermentation would generally be followed by the acetous and here we have not only wine and strong drink spoken of, but also" the vinegar of wine and the vinegar of shacar, or palm wine," agreeing exactly with what science and observation suggest and affirm respecting the fermentation of sweet drinks in a warm climate, or in warm weather. The prohibition of the Nazarite appears to have extended to every liquor of the grape, whether fermented or not; and the reason of this may have been, lest by any means the one should be mistaken for the other; and, being inadvertently overcharged with liquor, he might break his vow. Knowing the
sanctity of such an individual, some of the impious drunkards of the day might have attempted to deceive him; and therefore, that he might be perfectly secure, God commanded him to abstain from the fruit of the vine altogether. Philo tells us, that "forgetfulness and rashness, or folly," were two of the great evils that arose from drinking wine. How important, then, was it, that he, who was separated to God by a solemn vow, should be laid under such restrictions as were most calculated to prevent his falling away.
We see, therefore, that the total abstinence of the Nazarite was intimately connected with his being "holy unto the Lord." Now, under the Christian dispensation, which is intended, more than any other, to be a dispensation of holiness, surely believers ought especially to abstain from every thing that may endanger their piety and purity: and when we consider how many professors of religion are annually lost to the church, in consequence of the use of inebriating drinks, we cannot sufficiently estimate the advantage to Christian purity that would follow the universal adoption of total abstinence.
It was particularly commanded, that neither Samson nor his mother should "drink wine or strong drink :" and we have reason to believe that the injunction was neither arbitrary, nor intended for the instruction of that generation only. God works by means; and, in performing a miracle, rarely acts contrary to his own natural laws. Now, we are told by some medical physiologists—indeed, it was asserted by some of the medical men examined before the committee of the House of Commons-that the use of alcoholic drinks by parents is often attended with the most disastrous consequences to their children; and that the offspring of these wine, beer, or spirit-bibbers, are born in a state of disease. We also know that the use of these liquors, even in moderation, must debilitate the frames of persons of all ranks and ages.
If, then, Samson or his mother had drunk these poisons, a twofold miracle would have been necessary: first, the deleterious effect of alcohol must have been cured; and, secondly, the remarkable strength, for which he was renowned, imparted: and therefore, that the Spirit of God might have a healthy body on
which to display his power, the angel directed that the mother should drink" neither wine nor strong drink," and that the son should be "a Nazarite from the day of his birth to the day of his death," and, consequently, never use any kind of intoxicating liquor. "All Scripture, given by inspiration of God, is profitable for our instruction ;" and therefore the injunction given to the mother of Samson was intended to instruct future ages, and to point out, what science and history have since demonstrated, that debility of body would be the result of either parents or children drinking inebriating drinks, or indulging in luxury. While then, the laws of the Nazarite associated total abstinence and purity together, the remarkable strength of Samson taught that health, bodily vigor, and entire abstinence from inebriating poisons were most intimately connected. The experiment of total abstinence, in this country and in America, has most fully confirmed these truths. Thousands who were sickly and weak as long as they drank intoxicating liquors, by abandoning them, have become strong and healthy; and thousands that before, through the corrupting influence of these strong drinks, were the pests of society, have, since they have given up the piosonous bowl, become respectable and moral, and have sought that grace which has made them spiritual Nazarites. Not a few, also, who before were rendered inert and useless by the corporeal and mental poison of alcohol, since they have left off touching or tasting this pernicious bane, have been re-consecrated to God, and are now eminently active and useful Christians.
The writer of" Tetotalism weighed in the balances and found wanting," has felt himself so sorely pressed with the example of Samson, that he has denied the inspiration of the angel(doubtless the Redeemer himself, in the form of an angel,) who directed Samson's mother to abstain, and who commanded that her son should be "a Nazarite from his birth to his death." He says, "I conjecture no one will be sufficiently bold to claim inspiration for the tetotalism of Samson." It was the Lord Jesus himself that commanded Samson's mother to practise total abstinence. His words are most emphatic: "Now, therefore, beware, I pray thee, and drink no wine nor strong drink." We certainly are bold enough to claim inspiration for these words;
and, further, that the phraseology intimates that the angel was particularly earnest in entreating the wife of Manoah to abstain. It was the same divine angel that said, "The child shall be a Nazarite to God from the womb," and therefore we are bold enough to claim inspiration for the Nazreate of Samson. And it was God himself that prescribed rules to the Nazarite, and among them commanded that he should "drink neither wine nor strong drink." We therefore must be bold enough to declare, that the inspired voice of God was the source of the total abstinence of the strongest man; and we add, that it affords no small degree of evidence of the correctness of our principles, that they are thus sanctioned by the word of God, and that our opponent should be obliged to become an infidel and deny the inspiration of God's word, before he could form an argument against our inference from this scriptural example. The same audacity that prompted this writer to deny that the words uttered by the Lord Jesus to Manoah's wife were inspired, would allow him to object to the other words of Christ, and indeed to give up the inspiration of every part of the word of God that opposed his prejudices. And for what, we may ask, is the inspiration of the words of the blessed Redeemer to be sacrificed? The only reason is, the fear that mankind will abandon a poison which has visited the earth "with a second curse!" Should the writer succeed, he may be assured that there is not a demon in the lowest abyss, but stands ready to congratulate him on the fact, that, through his labors, thousands will drink and die eternally.
That our indulgent Creator has not deemed wine essential to the sustenance of mankind, is evident from the fact, that when he himself has miraculously made provision for his people, he has not thought proper to produce wine or intoxicating drinks. For forty years long, he fed the children of Israel with manna, but we do not find that he gave them any thing intoxicating to drink. For forty years therefore he allowed the congregation of Israel to drink nothing but water; and it is worthy of remark, that the children which were brought up in these principles of total abstinence, became the most moral and valiant of the Israelites that have existed from that day to this. The writer
just quoted, who denied the inspiration of the angel's injunction to the wife of Manoah, says that "the iron hand of necessity" caused these Israelites to drink water for so long a period. It may be so, but unfortunately for the writer's argument, that hand which it brands with the name "iron," was the hand of Jehovah. It was Jehovah alone who provided them with drink, and that drink was water. And surely our opponent, who, to rid himself of the example of Samson, gives up the inspiration of a divine command, will not wax so bold as to affirm that it would have been more difficult for omnipotence to have brought them wine or strong beer to drink than it was to bring them water. The "iron handed necessity," of which he speaks, was, after all, the benevolent will and gracious pleasure of our indulgent Creator and Savior.
Omnipotent love, which could as easily have given these people wine or nectar, gave them water, and gave it them because infinite wisdom and goodness deemed this drink the most suitable for them, and the best beverage with which they could be supplied. Lest it should be intimated that they drank water as a punishment, it should be remembered that the children and young people were not the objects of divine indignation, nor were they thus punished for the sins of their fathers. Besides, the rich bounty of Jehovah in feeding them with the "bread of heaven," with "angels' food," in "spreading a table for them in the wilderness, and bringing them water from the rock," are often referred to in the Scripture, to show that these young people were especially well provisioned during these forty years.
But we have another example of God's providing for one who was especially a favorite of Heaven. The prophet Elijah was, for a considerable time, sustained by the immediate and miraculous providence of Jehovah; but we never read that wine was set before him. The ravens brought him "bread and flesh" in the morning, and bread and flesh in the evening, and he drank of the brook." Not a drop of wine was sent to the prophet; yet it would have been easy for Omnipotence to have sent additional messengers with wine to cheer the prophet in his solitude. And on another occasion, when an angel brought him food, "a