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looks, or undervalues, one of the great practical purposes contemplated by Christ's incarnation, and which can alone be truly accomplished by his death; that it ignores the grace of God, and tramples under foot the promised help of the Holy Spirit; that it sets the preceptive part of Scripture aside, and implies that the word in this sense is not sufficient for all the sins that exist in the world; that it is but a piece of human machinery, and “teaches for doctrines the commandments of men;" that it regards the pledge of man as equivalent to the precept of God, and substitutes human for divine authority; that, altogether apart from believing in Christ, it makes the taking of the pledge, and the keeping of the pledge, a perfect antidote for drunkenness; that it even inculcates a morality above that of the Bible, or calls upon us to do what the word of God does not command; that it regards a promise made to man stronger, or more binding, than a vow made to God; that it fosters the idea that men should do more for the sake of their pledge, like Herod with his oath, than for their covenant obligations as professing Christians, for the sake of Christ, for the glory of God, or for the divine law; that it professes to do for us what neither the means of divine appointment, nor the divine blessing, nor
any thing else, can effect; that it virtually declares that no one can consistently condemn either drunkenness or drunkards, or call upon men to come to Christ, unless he is first a teetotaller; that it treats intemperance differently from the other vices, and makes the curing of it the work of man, and the rest the work of God; that it separates temperance from its fellow virtues, or unduly exalts it above the other “fruits of the Spirit;" that it leads men to speak of intemperance as if it were the only sin which is destructive to their present and future welfare, or as if they were guilty of greater sin when they break their pledge, than when they transgress a divine precept; that it leads them to trust solely in themselves, or in their own strength; that it leads them to look upon themselves as “a band of freemen," so long as they keep their pledge, and yet in numerous instances they are the bond-slaves of many sins; that it frequently generates an uncharitable and selfrighteous spirit; that it induces hypocrisy, and debauches the conscience, inasmuch as many pretend to abstain from intoxicating drink, but secretly indulge in it; that it substitutes the pledge for Church discipline, one of the «ordinances of God, and the renewing of the pledge for repentance, or the healing of backsliders ; 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
åppealed 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 inembers, 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,