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common?' In a thousand ways unknown to the ancients the relations of modern life constitute a state of unstable equilibrium which a gill of alcohol can topple over to destruction. The train is laid. A spark can fire it. Indeed, we need not go back eighteen centuries to note the contrast we are pointing out. We need go back but one. A brilliant writer has lately said with scarcely a touch of hyperbole that “twenty-four hours of such responsibility and strain as now come upon the average American would have killed the strongest man the eighteenth century ever shone upon." Certainly alcohol has a destructive force now that it never had before.

Here it may be observed that those who advocate moderate drinking as sanctioned by the example of our Lord, allege in objection to abstinence that it is no modern invention; that it was a custom centuries ago among the Hindus and Mohammedans; that it was practised before Christ by Rechabites and Nazarites, and in his time by the Essenes, and that he did not by his example give any approval to this exceptional method of religious devotion. Certainly he did not. One object of his coming was to break up for ever the idea that the kingdom of God consists in meat and drink. But this objection does not even remotely touch the abstinence advocated in this article. The abstinence practised by all these sects was a memorial, ascetic, ceremonial, or extra-pious abstinence. Modern abstinence is nothing of the sort. It is simply a hygienic measure of good sense and benevolence. It has no more to do with religion directly than have the latest rules respecting drainage and ventilation. In this sense it is modern. It is as much a product of this century as are these other principles and rules of good health and well-being. For it is to be carefully noticed that this abstinence has had its rise as a scientific and experimental necessity of the conditions that this century has developed. It has had its immense and beneficial spread in the full light of modern science, and during precisely the period, and among just the people who are more liberal in thought, and more intolerant and contemptuous than any other people in the world's history of everything merely ceremonious, monkish, or morbidly religious. The idea that in these times absti

See pamphlets on The Insane Diathesis, and The Relations of Insanity to Modern Civilisation, by Henry P. Stearns, M.D. Hartford, 1880.

nence could live for a day as a mere ascetic observance, among the intelligent men and women of every form of belief who now adopt it, seems little short of an insult to them.

4. It is said that abstinence involves contempt of the moral teachings of the Bible; that it constitutes a departure from those teachings, and is an attempt to supersede them by mere human reason. The reply is, that the real misconstruction and disparagement of the moral principles of the Bible come from those who assume that they are rules, and not principles ; that their illustration is legislation ; that they have not that power of adaptation which fits them to the changing conditions of mankind; and that under their tuition there is no progress in the moral sense and intelligence of society which are capable of applying these principles in entirely new directions and with new measures.

No plea has been made in this article for perpetual and universal abstinence. Such abstinence may be neither possible nor desirable. Other lands and other times with different conditions from ours may not need it. We can well enough leave all that to the future, and to that science and experience which will have yet more to say on the subject. It is enough that a practical abstinence is called for here and now. But if the common sense of any age, or of any or all communities, shall clearly discern that universal abstinence is on the whole the best, does any one suppose that the ethics of the Bible forbid it any more than they forbid universal suffrage, or the universal preaching of the gospel by paid and well-furnished pastors and missionaries, or the universal admission of women to the profession of teaching, though Christ told his disciples to go forth without money or wallet, and Paul said, “I suffer not a woman to teach”? Bible ethics are not best honoured by making them mere rubrics.

5. It is objected that the principles of abstinence and its advocates are fanatical and tyrannical. Doubtless this great measure of reform, like every other, has its full share of overzealous, narrow, and uncharitable aggression. Doubtless there are those who put it on a wrong basis, who assume too much for it, and who insist upon it with unwarrantable sanctions, and sometimes with a domineering spirit. They are, how

. ever, exceptions, and they have large excuse in the almost Is Abstinence possible ?

187

infinite and seemingly incurable evil at which their efforts are aimed.

But after all, this objection goes too far, and so overthrows itself. It is the stock argument of the conservative and obstructionist. It has ever been applied to all the principles and all the men who in any way have sought to rid their fellows of great burdens. Virtue and the rules of better living in every department always have a certain aspect of extravagance and oppression. From the promoters of village improvement to the agitators for civil service reform and the establishers of Christian missions, all who seek to bring in a better thing are either ridiculed or hated, or both. The abolitionists for years suffered this accusation. The advocates of compulsory education, of compulsory vaccination, of rigid sanitary inquiry and regulation, of the best plans of charitable endeavour, have all their turn of being denounced and branded as fanatics and tyrants, as urging some chimera, or trampling on some rights. The advocates of abstinence need not be dismayed at this charge. They need only keep their canse free from all assumption, from all false foundation, and be patient.

6. The final objection to which we shall refer is, that as a basis of reform abstinence is foolish, because it is impossible ; that men everywhere have always habitually used some kind of alcoholic liquor, or some other narcotic more deleterious, and that they always will use it, and this uniformity shows that in spite of its abuse its use is a necessity. The general answer to this objection is, (1) that a measure directed to the reform of any evil is not proved to be unwise or without value because it does not attain complete success; and (2) the failure to remove a given evil by no means shows that such evil is necessary. If the contrary of these two propositions were true, all effort for the elevation of mankind in any direction would be paralysed.

But to reply more specifically, it is not true that alcoholic liquors are universally drunk. “Whole nations, Mohammedan and Hindu, use no alcohol or substitute."1 It is sometimes affirmed that on this account these nations are effeminate and inferior, while the Northern and Teutonic, which are

· Manual of Practical Hygiene, by E. A. Parkes, M.D., p. 277.

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the dominant races, are all alcohol-drinkers, the assumption being that they are strong by reason of their alcohol; but the fact is that their strength is from other sources, while their use of alcohol is admitted to be a prime cause of their degradation.

But besides these nations large numbers of the ablest, hardest, and most effective workers and thinkers, who lead in the centres of modern civilisation and power, habitually use no alcohol; and thousands upon thousands, under the severest stress of anxious and incessant toil, declare that they are better off for being practical abstainers. These destroy the objection that alcohol is a necessity, even if they do not prove that it is an injury. Further than this, Dr. Parkes well says that the same argument which alleges that alcohol is a necessity, "might prove the necessity of tobacco, which, for this generation at any rate, is clearly only a luxury. The widespread habit of taking intoxicating liquids merely proves that they are pleasant, the prime object of their use being, as we have already shown, to benumb the faculties so as to render them oblivious of annoying impressions.

It may well seem, as Dr. Parkes says, “incredible that a large part of the human race should have fallen into an error so gigantic as that of attributing great dietetic value to an agent which is of little use in small quantities, and is hurtful in large, . . . . but the argument though strong is not conclusive; and unfortunately we know that in human affairs no extension of belief, however wide, is per se evidence of truth."

Inasmuch as alcohol, so far from being proved to be a necessity of the race, is admitted by the most dispassionate authorities to be the active cause of evils so great "that if it were unknown half the sin and a large part of the poverty and unhappiness in the world would disappear,"3 all just efforts to promote a practical abstinence from its use have a solid ground in fact and reason.

» 2

DANIEL MERRIMAN.

1 Manual of Practical Hygiene, by E. A. Parkes, M.D., p. 277.

3 Ibid. p. 270.

2 lbid.

The Newer Criticism.

189

ART. X.-Current Literature. AT last a powerful reply (1) has appeared to the “Lectures on

the Old Testament in the Jewish Church," and it is to be strongly desired that, now the vital question at issue on the chronology, veracity, authenticity, and credibility of the Old Testament can be impartially, if not dispassionately, discussed apart from ecclesiastical complications, the numerous official and amateur specialists in Hebrew and Old Testament history will follow the example so ably set by Professor Watts, who, to contribute to a pressing controversy of the day, has even left the field of his customary studies. For this reason, were there no other, we are anxious to see Mr. Robertson Smith's positions turned,—we have too high a respect for his ability to believe he has himself said his last word. As objections taken to his views from time to time have manifestly caused him to amend an error here and reject a theory there, nay, even to choose a path deliberately where he had previously betrayed considerable uncertainty as to which of several roads to take; so we cannot help thinking that the reasoned replies of opponents will have large influence in moulding and shaping his final opinions. Every candid inquirer, of whatever tendency, must hail such a work as this, because clearness is so much more beneficial than uncertainty, and unmistakeable statement than vague expressions, with which we cannot say whether we agree.

With the skill of a practical controversialist, Professor Watts selects his line of reply, and adheres thereto strictly, neither looking to the right hand nor the left. He does not concern himself to explain how the newer criticism has reached its conclusions ; he does not find it necessary to use scholarly appendices or digressions to impress with his learning; the history of the genesis and development of thought, whether in the minds of the leaders of the critical school, or in that of its great Scotch advocate, he rigidly eschews;

he scarcely refers, to say nothing of expounding or analysing, to the minute reconstruction of the sacred books

(1) The Newer Criticism and the Analogy of the Faith : a Reply to Lectures by W. Robertson Smith, M.A., on the Old Testament in the Jewish Church. By Robert Watts, D.D., Professor of Systematic Theology in the General Assembly's College, Belfast. Edinburgh : T. and T. Clark.

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