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IN undertaking to discuss a subject so comprehensive, important, and complicated, as that which the following essay professes to embrace, the writer is fully aware that, in order to do ample justice to it, he had need possess talents of a far higher order, than he has reason to believe have been allotted to him, and a much larger amount of such information, as particularly relates to it, than he has been enabled to obtain.
He would have been happy had some master spirit of the age attempted to immortalize his genius, and to exhibit the holy ardour of his philanthropy, and christian benevolence, as well as the purity and sincerity of his patriotism, by devoting his concentrated powers to such a theme: but in the absence of such an enterprise, he is willing to be thought chargeable with a measure of presumption, rather than not make
though it be but a feeble effort, to stay the progress of what he cannot but regard as the greatest evil by which his country is afflicted.
On the part of many, he is well aware, that his labours will meet with the harshest criticism; and that by many they will be treated with the utmost contempt. To the christian he would chiefly address himself; well knowing that it is by the rightly-directed zeal, and self-denying benevolence, joined to the earnest prayers, of the followers of the Son of God, that the happiness of the world is, mainly, to be promoted. On the part of such, he has a right to expect the exercise of that candour, which will give him credit for the purity of his motives; and of that charity, which will lose sight of unimportant imperfections, while finding that his object is to promote the glory of God and the happiness of man. To discover that his views of Total Abstinence from all intoxicating liquors, are disapproved by many who are justly placed among the pious and judicious, will by no means excite his astonishment, much less move his resentment. He only asks that such of his readers, as may not hitherto have thought with him on this subject, will give it the most serious consideration, and earnestly pray that they may be directed into the truth concerning it. Many great and good men, both
in Great Britain and America, are firmly persuaded that such Total Abstinence, on the part of christians, is not only lawful in itself, but is loudly called for by the existing state of the world; as the most effectual means of removing from it the Curse of Intemperance, and of promoting the health, the comfort, and spiritual improvement of all classes of society. This fact ought to be sufficient, to prevent the subject from being treated either with cold indifference, or contemptuous flippancy. The writer himself has been a total abstainer, from all such liquors, for about a year and a half; and although his labours are far more abundant than those of many of his brethren, so great has been the improvement he has experienced in the health of his body, and in the general state of his mind, that he would have to condemn himself, as one of the most ungrateful of beings, did he not feel thankful for having been induced to act on the principle of total abstinence himself, and were he not in earnest in recommending, at least, the trial of it to others. It was not, however, with a view to the promotion of his health, that he became a member of a total abstinence society, but because he would imitate, though at a humble distance, that holy and devoted man, who while believing that things which were lawful were
not always expedient, declared, "if meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend."
There is a great reluctance among Englishmen, in general, and especially among the serious and educated classes, to adopt extreme opinions of any kind; and for this reason he fully expects to be charged, by many, with extravagance. This constitutional peculiarity is sometimes highly advantageous. It is, however, possible for it so to operate as to cause an entire suspension of the judgment; or a sort of wavering between truth and error, vice and virtue. Such states of being may, indeed, be free from any considerable danger, but they are productive of no real satisfaction; nor do they allow either mind or body to be energetically exercised in any great and urgent undertakings. But there is reason to fear that the peculiarity in question is sometimes a positive evil, causing those in whom it exists, to glide carelessly, and self-complacently along in a course of error; which is the more delusive and dangerous, from its being apparently a middle course. If a thing be wrong, however nearly it may seem to approximate to what is right, the wisest way is to renounce it at once, and altogether, lest while we are commending our prudence and moderation, we