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Could it be shown, that the good, arising from the consumption of intoxicating liquors, in any important degree, counterbalanced the ills they produce — could it be demonstrated that they were necessary to health, strength, and happiness,
-or that the use of them had a tendency to refine mankind, and, like many other articles, which may be dispensed with, to give profitable employment to the industrious classes, there would be some excuse for maintaining the present drinking customs, of even the religious part of the community; but since the contrary of all this can easily be proved, the church must remain chargeable, with nothing short of an idolatrous attachment to those liquors, so long as she shall continue to give in exchange for them, that wealth, which might be employed in promoting the salvation of sinners, and, in securing fresh honours to her beneficent and Almighty Sovereign.
Fifthly. The too prevalent custom of keeping the wine and the spirit bottle, for the use of ministers, in her places of public worship, affords further proof, that the church is infected with this Idolatry.
Ignorance of the true nature of intoxicating drinks, has, no doubt, had something to do with establishing this custom : but, unless a desire for the unnatural excitement they produce, had
helped to maintain it, it is but doing homage to common sense, to suppose, that it would long ago have been universally discontinued.
The priests of the Jewish dispensation were expressly forbidden to drink either wine, or strong drink, when about to engage in the services of their religion ; on what principle, then, can the ministers of Christ be justified, in taking intoxicating liquors, when about to perform their high and holy duties?
It cannot be denied, that the prohibition, thus laid upon the Aaronic priests, was dictated with a perfect knowledge of the wants of the human constitution, and of the true nature, and tendency of the drinks which were prohibited. It was given, that the thoughts and feelings of those servants of the Lord, might be such as not to incapacitate them for duly performing the offices of their sacred and responsible calling. “And the Lord spake unto Aaron, saying, do not drink wine nor strong drink, thou, nor thy sons with thee, when ye go into the tabernacle of the congregation, lest ye die ; it shall be a statute for ever, throughout your generations : And that ye may put difference between holy and unholy, and between unclean and clean ; And that ye may teach the children of Israel all the statutes, which the Lord hath spoken unto them by the hand of Moses.”—Lev. x. 8-11.
Were the religion of Jesus Christ of a less spiritual character than that which was given by Moses—did the substance possess less sacredness * than the shadow, the argument, founded on the prohibition alluded to, when brought against the custom of drinking ardent spirits, and brandied wines, before entering the pulpit of a Christian sanctuary, might be supposed to be somewhat defective; but what is Christianity, but the highly finished-the absolutely perfect exhibition of all that is pure in morals, and spiritual in Divine doctrine ? Does it not then, involve the most palpable absurdity, or the grossest violation of Christian consistency, to prepare ourselves for discussing the sublime doctrines, and for enforcing the sacred precepts of the Gospel, by drinking liquors, whose tendency may be to excite the imagination, and to give activity to the sensual passions, but which have never, yet, improved the •udgment of any man, nor given life and motion to one pure and devout affection.
The individual who really needs the exciting power of strong drink, to enable him to infuse warmth and life into his ministrations, is totally unfit for his office. He may be a good man, inasmuch as his defects may consist of such constitutional infirmities, as religion does not remove ; but he is unfit to be the public and faithful rc
prover of vice and folly, and the laborious and consistent promoter of vital godliness, among "a crooked, and perverse generation.”
The practice, however, of taking intoxicating liquors, before engaging in their public work, is not so common, on the part of the ministers of religion, as that of taking them at the close of their labours ; and the latter practice, it must be admitted, is not so reprehensive, in a moral point of view, as the former ; though physically considered, it is equally injurious, if not more so.* So far
from the human body being benefited by a glass : of spirits and water, or by a glass, or two, of the brandied compounds, which now go by the names of port and sherry, immediately after it has been subject to an unusual degree of excitement, com
* Since these pages have been going through the press, the writer has seen an excellent letter, by à respectable surgeon of Nottingham, on this very question. It is contained in the Lond. Temp. Intel. for July the 21st, 1838, and is well worthy the attention of ministers.—“Reason," says the author, “ will not sanction the practice; it is unphilosophical and injurious to the body. The venerable John Wesley saw this, and Mrs. Fletcher, of Madeley, met with a smart reproof when she offered wine to one of his ministers, after preaching. “What !” said he, “ madam, do you intend to kill my preachers ?” Mrs. Fletcher, in great surprise, asked Mr. Wesley what she might give them. “ 0," said he, “ give them a piece of candied
mon sense, if freed from the domination of habit and appetite, would pronounce, that it must be entirely otherwise. When the brain is feverish, and the nerves are unnaturally stimulated, what can be more preposterous, than to give the patient a dose of alcohol ? Should such a mode of treatment not, at once, destroy life, it must necessarily retard recovery, and become a source of weakness and suffering. *
From the frequency with which Paul's advice to
* "Does a healthy labouring man need alcohol? No more than he does arsenic, corrosive sublimate, or opium. , It has been proved a thousand times, that more labour can be accomplished in a month, or a year, under the influence of simple nourishing food, and unstimulating drink, than through the aid of alcohol." - President of the Med. Soc. of the West. Dis. of New Hampshire, U. S.
“ I have often seen men stretched on a bed of fever, who, to all human appearance, might be raised up as well as not, were it not for that state of the system, which daily temperate drinking produces ; who now, in spite of all that can be done, sink down and die.”—Test of a Phys. Perm. Temp. Doc. Vol. I. p. 43.
There is a complaint very prevalent among ministers of the Gospel, called Mondayishness. Query. Is not this complaint to be attributed more to the influence of alcohol, than of the Sabbath-day exertions ? The writer, speaking from experience, believes that it is.— See a Letter to Mi. nisters, by the Rev. R. Knill. Published by Pasco.