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THE TEMPERANCE SOCIETY.
(Extracts from Bishop Hopkins' Lectures.) 4 THE Temperance Society has erred against the Scriptures in another point, namely, in the false prominence which it gives to this one vice above all others. They call it the master sin, the parent sin, the worst of all sins. Does this language agree with the Scriptures of truth? Surely, according to the Bible, impiety, unbelief, irreligion, idolatry,-which are only different names for the crime of rebellion against the Almighty-these are constantly held up as the great sins of mankind. All the vices of men are spoken of, in the word of God, as branches from the root of a corrupt and evil heart. There is no one immoral habit which can be truly said to be the master or the parent sin of the human family. As well might men say that any one member of the body was the parent of the others, as that any one vice is the parent of all vices. The evil heart is the parent, the vices are the offspring. And just as a wise earthly physician will never expect to heal an ulcer in one of the limbs so long as the patient labours under a diseased state of the system, but applies his remedies to the system first; just so the heavenly Physician directs his medicine to the evil heart of man, and then, when that is purified, he expects the evil habits to be reformed.
It is said, indeed, that the sin of drunkenness prevails more now, in consequence of the general use of ardent spirits, than it did in ancient times; and some men have supposed, that if the Apostles were alive in our day, they would recommend the distinct care of this peculiar vice, according to the views of the Tem
perance Society. But I answer, that it is as easy to make those assertions as it is impossible to prove them. Since the fall of man, the wisdom of God has never countenanced the establishment of a society against any one vice, by itself, or for any one virtue by itself. The only society which he ever commanded, was designed for the salvation of men from all vice, and their renovation to all virtue. And the supposition that the Apostles, if they were now living, would deviate from the principle which reigns throughout the whole revelation of God, because any single sin may be especially prominent amongst a peculiar people, is a supposition so monstrous, that it is hard to say whether its impiety or its absurdity is the most glaring.
We have, however, sundry judicial opinious, stating that intemperance is the common provocation to crime. And statistical accounts are published, shewing that the cause of all enormities against domestic peace and public order, may be traced to the same prolific fountain. But the Christian philosopher would call this a shallow and partial kind of investigation. Intemperance cannot, in the nature of things, be the sole cause of any other sin. It can only be one out of many concurring causes; and these concurring causes are secondary only, for the chief cause must always be the state of the heart. Indeed, the operation of inebriety is not to originate any evil within the bosom ; but to bring out what is there already, by paralyzing that power of self-control which might otherwise confine the existing evil to the secret thoughts, and prevent it from displaying itself in action. Hence, it is by no means true, that the most immoral people
will always be those who are the most addicted to drunkenness. The warm climates of the East Indies are filled with the most shocking immorality, and yet there is but little intoxication amongst them. Spain, Portugal, and Italy, are awfully immoral. Adulteries, assassinations, and every abominable deed of darkness, are common amongst their cities, and yet they are comparatively a sober people. Neither is it difficult to see that drunkenness cannot produce the worst and most dangerous of the other vices, because they require art, and management, and concealment; whereas the intoxicated man incapacitates himself for these, and becomes a fool and a beast. Therefore, the assassin, and the poisoner, and the adulterer, and the seducer, and the thief, and the house breaker, and the incendiary, and the professional gambler, and the counterfeiter, are usually sober men in their general habits, because if they were not, the execution of their villanies would be impossible.
It is a further peculiarity of this vice, that it never did, and never can become universal. And the reason is plain; because it is the only vice which cannot hide itself in darkness. It is the only vice which loses all discretion, and comes out, in the open day, to proclaim its disgusting idiotism, and, as it were, read lectures on sobriety to all around. But this is the very cause why it attracts more attention than other vices. Not that there is, in reality, more of it in the community; but because all that there is, is publicly known, and becomes of necessity the theme of common reprobation.
Vile and abominable, therefore, as this vice of intemperance most truly is, it does not merit the exclusive
prominence which has been given to it, beyond the rank which it occupies in the book of God. If the gentlemen who have taken the statistics of our jails and penitentiaries had directed their attention to the whole circle of the vices with as much zeal as to this single one, they would have discovered that Sabbath breaking, swearing, lewdness, gambling, lying, and all the common appendages of a dissipated life, existed in company with the sin of intemperance; and perhaps if they had taken an accurate survey of their connexions, they would have found that intemperance had been among the last, rather than the first of this list of sins, and deserved to be called not so much the parent as the child. One thing is certain, that few men can find any difficulty in remembering those days of their youth when they were under the dominion of many, and sometimes gross and shameful sins, while yet the vice of intemperance had not come near them. And if we are honest with the subject and with ourselves, we will acknowledge the truth of the Saviour's declaration, (Mark vii. 21,) "From within, out of the heart of man proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness;" the thoughts of all these evil things come from within, and defile the man; and many of the actions consequent upon the thoughts are usually committed, long before the sin of intemperance is added to the fearful catalogue.
In the system of Christ, therefore, I cannot find any justification for singling out this one vice, and making it the object of a distinct association. Most true it is, that in the solemn assurance of St. Paul,
(1 Cor. vi. 9.) "Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God." But here the drunkard has his place between the covetous and the reviler; not a whit more liable to exclusion than they. Bound, therefore, to regard vice as the word of God regards it, I do not understand the Christianity of the course which either exalts one special sin to the dignity of a distinct association, or sinks others out of sight. And perhaps the text last quoted might be recommended with especial propriety to such of our zealous brethren as cannot defend their views of the temperance question, without becoming themselves revilers of those, who presume to prefer the wisdom of God in this matter, before the wisdom of men.'
A very animated discussion took place at the Westminster Medical Society on Opium. Mr. Downing, who is, we believe, the author of a book on China, elucidated the action of opium in all those countries in which it is habitually consumed, and fully proved that all the arguments produced against the use of spirits applied with tenfold force against the use of opium. Dr. J. Johnson, in the course of the evening, said, from his own personal knowledge he was able to state, that opium eating had increased in this country to such an extent as to have become nearly equal in its proportion with tee totalism. Indeed, the subject had called forth the particular attention of the different insurance offices, who were about to hold a meeting, in consequence of their having dis covered that they had sustained considerable loss from, as well as that a new risk had been created by, the enormous increase in the consumption of opium. In future policies, of course, the risk could be provided for by the charge of an additional premium; but as such a course of chance had not been anticipated on poli cies already effected, the matter had assumed a somewhat serious aspect. Several gentlemen bore testimony to the deadly results to which the practice invariably led.'-Record.
Man's contrivances may indeed turn men from one sin to another, the grace of God alone can turn him off from sin altogether.