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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 29

Chapter VII. — The Economic Aspect

page 27

Chapter VII.

The Economic Aspect.

51.—An essential element in the formation of a noble and well-balanced character in our young men, is a due estimate of their responsibilities with regard to the use of money. Like health, money is a talent for the use of which a strict account will one day have to be given. Money is a power for good or evil; and on its right use much of our well-being and happiness depend. Not only is the money absolutely wasted that is spent on tobacco; worse than this, it is spent in the encouragement of vice and depravity. Sixteen millions of pounds sterling are spent annually in this kingdom alone, on this indulgence. The land occupied in the production of tobacco, and the labour spent upon its culture, transport, manufacture and sale, are so much withdrawn from the production of necessaries and comforts, rendering every other commodity more costly, and thus entailing needless privation and suffering upon the poor.

52.—Think of the same money spent upon better clothing, upon more abundant and better food, upon furniture, books, and pictures, presents for wife and children, and contributions to the cause of God and humanity. The money consumed in tobacco would, if rightly spent, give an untold impulse to commerce, education and religion. How many young men have thus wasted the money that would have bought them a library of the best and most entertaining authors! The time spent in smoking and dissipating associations, if devoted to useful reading, would have stored their minds with knowledge, and given an expansion to their higher nature that would have made them ornaments to society and ministers of blessing. How many a man might have bought the house he lives in if he had invested in a building society the money he has squandered in tobacco and drink!

53.—The existence of so many debauched and ruined young men from every grade of society is one of the most painful and humiliating features of our times. Young men abound whose instincts have been perverted by vicious teaching, before they could have any proper idea of the great purposes of life, and to whom this vice of smoking was the first step in the career of dissipation and folly which has caused society to cast them out as useless and beyond the possibility of reform. Others whose instincts were naturally depraved, and who required to be specially guarded from contamination, have found in smoking and its concomitant evil associations, exactly the soil and the atmosphere suited to the development of their chief weakness and their worst habits.

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54.—Smoking tends to destroy the very inclination to do good. A young man, a member of a Christian Church, when asked to contribute to foreign missions, pleaded the smallness of his means as an excuse. On being questioned, however, he was compelled to admit that he spent two shillings a week in cigars. Well may the cause of Christ languish, and the prayers and labours of His people bear little fruit, when many of those who work and pray are cherishing an idol which stupefies the senses, depraves the affections, and lessens the capacity for exertion, and at the same time drains those very resources which, if higher claims were duly regarded, would be put to far different uses. There is direct guilt involved here. The money spent by some Christians in this one pitiful indulgence would help to flood the world with Bibles and send missionaries to thousands still unblessed by the sound of the Saviour's name. The power of the truth, both at home and abroad, if proclaimed and lived out by a Church free from the slavery and the curse of narcotic sensualism, would be increased a thousandfold. It is a notorious fact that in all heathen countries the greatest hindrance to the spread of the gospel is the besotted state of the people, brought about by their addiction to narcotic and vicious indulgences.

55—The precious time wasted in smoking is also a very serious consideration. Smokers say that they lose no time by the practice: another melancholy proof of the completeness of their delusion. It has been calculated that a snuff-taker, in forty years, will have spent four years in the practice,—two years in cramming the powder up his nostrils, and two years in blowing it out again! This is nothing, however, in comparison with the time that is thrown away in smoking. One of the arguments of smokers is that it "helps to pass time," or as some of them ominously express it, "to kill time." It is quite certain that the practice induces a dreamy state of morbid contentment, which takes away the inclination for useful pursuits, and renders its votary indifferent to his highest good. Time is a talent far beyond our power to estimate. Whatever tempts us to waste it, or renders us indifferent to its flight, or lessens our inclination and power to use it for the noblest of purposes, must be an evil of no common magnitude. Such, in a most emphatic manner, is the practice of smoking tobacco

56.—Young men should take warning, and resolve by God's help never to begin a practice so unnatural, mischievous, and expensive; and which, as life advances, as habit grows stronger and the bodily powers more feeble, and less able to resist the influence, increases the urgency of its demands, in proportion as the power of resistance diminishes; until the most pitiable slavery is established, and an otherwise noble life goes out in clouds and gloom. One minister is mentioned who assured his friend that he had "wept like a child when putting a quid of tobacco in page 29 his mouth, under the sense of degradation and bondage to this filthy habit." Another had many a time dashed his pipe on the ground and declared solemnly that he would never smoke again, to yield as often after an ineffectual struggle of two or three days. The number of such cases, and their humiliation, is fearful to contemplate.