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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 74

A Christian Discourse

page 21

A Christian Discourse.

"My brethren in Christ, let us not despise the good gifts of God! All [unclear: gs] for our sakes (2 Cor, iv. 15). Corn and oil were appointed for [unclear: a] from of old, but also wine (Gen. xxvii. 28). That a gift may be abused no reason against its use, or for restricting those who can use it reasonably; ' use this world, as not abusing it," says the apostle (1 Cor. vii. Some men there are that have no understanding, yet not all are there-[unclear: to] be held in with bit and bridle. It is better, as a distinguished prelate [unclear: s] said, that England should be free than sober* : is it not written ' ye all proclaim throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof' [unclear: Lev] xxv. 10)? To some this path of general liberty will be a way of bondage; use will faint and sicken by the way. These it will be our glorious privilege Christian fellowship, by prayer and supplication—1 had almost said by being so it savour not of an extreme and morbid asceticism—to relieve and [unclear: ur] Many, no doubt—thousands, it may be, every year—will be beyond [unclear: o] powers of healing, and a life and death of guilt and misery will be their [unclear: The] prisons and poor-houses will be multiplied to receive them. Yes, but [unclear: lives] those outside will be all the fuller and fairer. The godly that are [unclear: red] out of temptations 2 Peter ii. 9) will be refined by the fires that [unclear: me] the unrighteous. It is the result of the law of perfect liberty which [unclear: tial] to the building-up of character that some shall go up, some down; [unclear: to] honour, some to dishonour Rom. ix. 21). We can only trust that the member unfortunates may grow less and less with the progress of educated-and the spread of the blessed gospel light, and that even those who fall may [unclear: rve] some purpose in the scheme of Him who will at the last separate the step from the goats, and who has told us that no drunkard shall inherit His kingdom (I Cor. vi. 10). All that is humanly possible for the relief of [unclear: se] afflicted we will do; all sacrifices—all reasonable sacrifices—we will make; but the wine which from the time of Noah has been placed among

* I have put the late Bishop of Peterborough into rather bad company here. His epigram of [unclear: referred] to legislative action only, and was not meant to relieve the individual Christian responsibility "to them that are weak" in the exercise of his own liberty. The Master of [unclear: retort] "A man is not free when he is drunk," would seem to mea sufficient answer to epigram if added "nor are his wife and children." As Abraham Lincoln humanely [unclear: the] world is in want of a good definition Of the word ' liberty.'"

There has been some highly protitable controversy as to whether Noah was really the first [unclear: as] well as the first drunkard. Several of the ancients were of opinion, says Cruden, s.v. "Wine that" if wine had been known before the flood . . . Noah would have been upon [unclear: guard], so as not to have drank of it to excess." Others maintained "that the first men were [unclear: of] of the use of wine, which is a liquor so generally useful and agreeable that it could [unclear: be] unknown even to Adam himself. And as to Noah, thty say that though he knew the [unclear: ting] quality of wine, yet he might be deceived In the strength of it, and think that the [unclear: he] drink of it was not capable of causing the drunkenness in him that he afterwards [unclear: did] It is obvious that both lines of argument are capable of very striking results if [unclear: usly]worked out

page 22 the good thiags of life, the wine which crowned the holy gaiety of the one wedding-feast and soothed the sick-bed of the blessed Timothy, [unclear: the] which maketh glad the heart of man (Ps. civ. 15), yea, and of [unclear: God] Judges ix. 13)—to deny ourselves this boon were to fly in the [unclear: f] Providence, to straiten human liberty, and to emasculate human chance In reliance upon the scriptures, let us then gladden our hearts like [unclear: the] of old, not riotously or wantonly, but in holiness and sobriety, making moderation to be known unto all men (Phil. iv. 5*)."

Can it be denied that such an appeal would be illogical, [unclear: j] moral and blasphemous ? Yet I say deliberately that in none of [unclear: J] respects does it seriously misrepresent the moderate drinker whose [unclear: bul] is the Scripture. In logic, it covers most of the ground, and it does include a single argument which I have not heard urged by [unclear: profe] Christians from platform or pulpit, in the press or in private [unclear: conva] In morality, it is certainly shocking enough, but unless the moderate [unclear: dr] can show that there is any moral distinction between perpetuating curse which you could remove and introducing one which you could [unclear: s] away, then here again he is not misrepresented. If the phraseology [unclear: of] arguments be deemed even more offensive than their substance, [unclear: the] again is that of the original, which I decided, not without hesitation imitate in order to expose the odious practice of piecing together from garbled fragments of the scripture a disguise for a gospel [unclear: of] selfishnees. So far from healing the inherent indecency of the design, sanctimonious veneer appears to me to add to it the aggravation blasphemy, and I can well imagine the stern "Get thee behind [unclear: f] Satan !" with which all such pleas would have been swept aside by [unclear: c] Christ whose name they profane.

* It is satisfactory to kneow that this is the only passage in the Bible when much-uabused word "moderation" occurs, and that in the Revised Version it [unclear: di] altogether, "forbearance" being substituted in the text and "gentleness" in the [unclear: ma] Greek word is the one which Matthew Arnold was fond of translating "sweet resonable Burke (Present Ditcontents, ad fin..), speaks of the old "Whigs as not being "of that [unclear: in] paradoxical morality to linagine that a spirit of moderation was properly shown in [unclear: pe] bearing the suffering of your Itiunda." May this species of "moderation" disappear [unclear: the] the hearts of Christians along with the disappearance of the word from their Bibles!

Tyndale in his quarto New Testament of 1525 has the following marginal note to [unclear: M] 12 :—"Where the worde of God is understocke there: hit multiplieth and makith the people [unclear: ff] where hit is not understode, theare hit decreasith and makith the people woorse [unclear: s] "pestilent gloss," as Henry VIII and his bishops termed it, exactly strikes the practice [unclear: of] speak. The people are made worse, religion is disgraced t and the devil is rejoiced by [unclear: sd] proslitution of Hol Writ.