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directly or indirectly to its production or dissemination among the people—I should be chargeable with cowardice or hypocrisy were I to be silent or ambiguous on this head. So deep rooted are my own convictions of duty, that were every man in this assembly my father, brother, or intimate friend, and were all engaged in this unrighteous traffic, I could not forbear to testify against them, as I now do-solemnly, firmly, decidedly—but, at the same time, urging them with the most affectionate importunity, to give the subject a candid and thorough investigation.
Let me put the case to any father in this housewhether, if he could foresee that his beloved son would, if spared, inevitably become a grovelling, habitual, reckless sot, he would not prefer, were the option allowed him, that this son should fall suddenly, while yet in all the blooming beauty and cheering promise of youthful innocence, by the dagger of the ruthless assassin? I think I can answer for him, as I would answer for myself. Now, in the present state of our society, every youth is liable to a destiny more to be deplored, more dreadfully shocking to parental affection, than even assassination itself. He may be made a sot! Banish the tempter from our society, and no father will dread such a catastrophe.
Why-suffer me to ask - do we tolerate the scores and hundreds of licensed taverns, groceries and grogshops, which everywhere meet the eye, only to allure and destroy the young and the unwary? Is one of them useful or necessary? — useful or necessary, I mean, merely as furnishing ardent spirit to the people? Do travellers need poison by way of refreshment? Is this the kind of entertainment which we provide by law for the stranger and the wayfaring man when they come within our gates? The palpable absurdity and the tremendous iniquity of this whole arrangement will, in a few years, be ranked among the delusions of witchcraft, and the inquisition, and the slave-trade. Posterity will marvel at the murderous usages which our Christian fathers, as well as this enlightened Christian generation, have so long and so blindly sanctioned.
It used to be currently remarked at the East, that every new distillery was sure to raise up around it a host of miserable drunkards; and that a very considerable proportion of those who engaged in the business of manufacturing or selling ardent spirits, sooner or later, became sots themselves. I have known men, distinguished for their sobriety, industry and apparent piety, fall a sacrifice to intemperance, in a few years, after they had eagerly sought to better their fortunes as distillers or tavern keepers. Such cases were of frequent occurrence in my native State; and many an amiable, respectable and even wealthy family have I seen in mourning and in rags from this fatal pursuit of unhallowed gain. The fact is, that “the continued habit of dealing out ardent spirits, in various forms and mixtures, leads also to frequent tasting, and tasting to drinking, and drinking to tippling, and tippling to drunkenness.” Thus, in the retributions of a righteous Providence, the destroyer of others is himself destroyed, and by his own instrumentality. He is impoverished by the very means resorted to for wealth—and by which he had impoverished his neighbours. Well might it be inscribed, in flaming capitals, on the door of every distillery and grogshop—“This is the way to poverty and death!"
How emphatical and how practically just is the denunciation of the prophet:-“Wo unto him that giveth his neighbour drink, that putteth thy bottle to him, and makest him drunken also, that thou mightest look on their nakedness.” (Hab. ii. 15.)
In addition to all these facts and considerations, I beg the Christian to ponder well the law of Christ, as inculcated in numerous texts and passages similar to the following:
6. Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” (Matt. xix. 19.)
“Whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them.” (Matt. vii. 12.)
“To him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.” (James, iv. 17.)
“If thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out.” “If thy right hand offend thee, cut it off.” (Matt. v. 29, 30.)
“For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul ?” (Mark, viii. 36, 37.)
“Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.” (1 Cor. x. 31.)
Can any man, who believes the gospel, or who feels disposed to conform to its precepts, justify himself before the tribunal of his own conscience for continuing another day in a business so destructive to his fellow-men, and so likely to bring down the vengeance of Heaven upon himself and his family? Can he pray to God for a blessing upon his traffic in ardent spirits—now, since its proper character has been fully developed and exposed ?
But the law of Christianity is binding on all men to whom it has been promulgated, whether they profess to recognize it or not.
It is honourable to several Christian sects, and to many individuals of all sects, that they have subscribed to the law of temperance without reserve, and to the utmost extent contended for by temperance associations.
And here I cannot forbear to add, that the Quakers or “Friends, in excluding ardent spirits from the list of lawful articles of commerce, have done themselves immortal honour; and in the temperance of their families, and their thrift in business, have set an example which is worthy the admiration and imitation of all the churches in our land” and in the world.
The temperance reformation, which originated in this country, and which has advanced and extended with unparalleled rapidity into every State and section of the Union; has also reached the adjacent islands and colonies, has been welcomed upon the shores of Great Britain, has penetrated into the interior of the European continent, has found friends and advocates among the native islanders of the Southern Ocean, and bids fair speedily to pervade every land and to influence every people where the light of the gospel shines. And shall we refuse to embark in this glorious cause, or deny ourselves the benefits which it so cheaply proffers ?
“A very happy illustration was given of the catholic character of temperance societies at the formation of the Ulster Temperance Society, (in Ireland, 1829,) when six clergymen, of six different religious persuasions, enrolled their names as members at the head of the list; and on the committee at present there are individuals of twelve different religious denominations."
Let us imitate this catholic example of Christian Ireland. Let the several Christian sects of Nashville, while they agree to differ, and to differ honestly in matters of doctrine, discipline and ceremonial, cordially unite against the common enemy of all religion and of all human happiness.
Let us imitate the primitive Christians, who, in the purest ages of the church, when their faith was literally tried by the fire of persecution, did not hesitate to form associations to discountenance every species of immorality, and to fortify and sustain each other in the practice of virtue and of duty; or, as Pliny writes, respecting them, to his imperial master, about fifty years after St. Paul's time, they were accustomed'' to bind themselves by an oath, not to the commission of any wickedness, but that they would never falsify their word, nor deny a pledge committed to them when called upon to re
With such an illustrious precedent for our guide, we need not dread the charge of innovation, or of attempt.
* Paley's Evid., p. 61.