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and that it is not only one of the isms of the times, but “the most dangerous form of incipient infidelity."
Now, whether these objections to the "pledge," and to other human expedients, be weak or strong, real or apparent, partially true or utterly false, consistent or contradictorymany of them cutting like a two-edged sword none of them apply to the divine plan preceptively. Besides, as it is a glaring fact that drunkenness is one of the greatest of evils in our day, if not incomparably the greatest, is it not the interest as well as the duty of all to endeavour to arrest its progress, and destroy its influence, with all its antecedents and accompaniments, by every means possible, but particularly by the best of means; and thus, not only suppress drunkenness, but along with it the drinking customs of society, and all facilities to the same, in practice and in pursuit ? And, for these ends, how should all the professed followers of Christ act, but according to the precepts of the word; and especially such as that which we have been considering, “be not conformed to this world ?” Let this, then, be our key-note at all times ; and let us never forget that, just in proportion as our conduct in all things can stand this test, so are we true Christians.
INSUFFICIENCY OF THE “EXPEDIENCY” PRIN
CIPLE FOR THE DRINKING USAGES.
In connection with the “Old,” we may here refer to what may be called the “New” Abstainer's Society, which has more recently been instituted in order to counteract the evils of the drinking system, and which is founded not on the taking of a moral “pledge," but on the ground of Christian “expediency.”
As to the basis on which this Society rests, we may observe, that while it is true that Christian expediency is, in some circumstances, tantamount to Christian precept, and as constraining as Christian principle, it is also no less true that Christian expediency should never be resorted to when Christian precept is available. More particularly should this be the case in matters of great importance, whether moral or spiritual; and the more important these matters are, the less should expediency be spoken of, and the more should the express precepts of Scripture be appealed to. For, with expediency there is generally associated some thing like a popish dispensing power, which, while varying from a vanishing quantity to a substantial reality, leaves one, too much and too often, to act in a facile spirit; and yet not do violence to the “small voice" within.
Accordingly, without meaning to state any thing in the least offensive, so it is, we are warranted to believe, with some in this Society, which consists of respected Fathers and Brethren. For, while with many of its members the expediency principle may be said to be every thing, or as binding as precept, so that they neither take nor give any kind of intoxicating drink, unless when medicinally needed, with others, this principle is, in regard to the giving of wine, and also spirituous liquors, comparatively nothing. And yet this, we understand, is quite consistent with the “license,” or privilege, which this Society may be said to grant. For, it is well known, that practically, if not constitutionally, it allows its members, should they think it proper, to enjoy “the liberty of treating their friends” to some, if not to all, kinds of intoxicating drink, although not medicinally required, On this account, although such members as choose to avail themselves of this peculiar dispensation,
cannot be spoken of as “playing fast and loose," may they not fitly be styled as being at once “ fast and loose;" “bond and free;" or, as the phrase goes, “ free and easy;" and, of course, in this and in other cases, some freer and easier than others ?
Now, while it may at all times be justly said, in the words of Paul, “why is my liberty—my Christian liberty—judged by another man's conscience;" and also, why is another man's liberty judged by my conscience, may we not ask, was the expediency of Paul of the preceding nature ? While he thought it expedient that he should not act in a certain way, so as to discountenance idolatrous customs, did he also think it expedient that his brethren in the Lord should act in a different way in regard to these same customs—although he left them free to judge for themselves ? Was this the nature of his expediency, when, in regard to meat offered to idols, he said, “if meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh-no such flesh, at least —while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend?” Or, while he asserted his own Christian liberty in “having power to eat and to drink,” and yet acted strietly on expediency in abstaining from meat offered to idols, nd also, it may be, from wine, did he provide for others, or present to others, the means by which they might act differently from himself, either in private or public? Or, when he did not regard the not taking of certain meat and drink any want of Christian courtesy and Christian love towards his professing Christian brethren, did he, in the exigencies of these times, consider the not giving of certain kinds of meat and drink any violation of the rites of “ hospitality,” or inconsistent with Christian “ courteousness, when these things were likely to prove a stumbling-block to weak brethren, or an occasion of sin ? In other words, while he did not deny the Christian liberty of others, or attempt to coerce them, did he surrender to others the keeping of his own conscience; or, on their account, did he, in any sense, sacrifice his principle of expediency? On the contrary, did he
for himself, "all things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient; all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not ?" In regard, also, to others in these times of abounding idolatrous customs, while he said, “if any of them that believe not bid you to a feast, and ye be disposed to go, whatsoever is set before you eat, asking no question, for conscience' sake;" did he not add, “but if any man—any of the guests -say unto you," as to any thing on the table,