Imagens das páginas

this fruit of the spirit, “temperance," which seems unhappily to be by comparison of such tardy growth. I shall carry with me the sympathy of every one who hears me when I say it is unquestionably a Christian's duty to look this matter in the face, and to do all that he can do to abate this degrading vice, and to promote its opposite virtue. The only difference with us will be as to the means best fitted to promote the end. We can choose then between temperance declaring itself by abstinence, and temperance exercising itself in moderation.

Let us note as to abstinence,

Firstly, we are at liberty to abstain altogether if we choose to do 80; there is nothing in the Old Testament, nor in the New, nor, happily, in our social life, which forbids us to do so, “for the earth is the Lord's and the fulness thereof." The same authority that said every creature is good, and nothing to be refused if it be received with thanksgiving, said also, “I will not be brought under the power of any, and it is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor anything whereby another is injured.” Against this, though there may be much human custom, there is certainly no law either human or Divine.

Secondly, we can do so, as a rule, without injury to our health. It is inevitable here to introduce the case of “ Timothy's stomach,' and the apostolic prescription as to a " little wine." We live in an age eminently statistical, and I wish that some eminent statistician would investigate this matter, and tell us, proximately at least, how much wine has grown out of this “ little.” I should like to know how many hogsheads, barrels, and firkins of wine, beer, and spirits have been consumed on the strength of this Pauline injunction. It strikes me that if we could get at these facts, we should say, “Behold how great a matter a little fire kindleth." But, since we cannot do this, there are still some considerations open to us all, certain profitable reflections and criticisms upon Timothy's time-honoured infirmities. He was a young man, so scrupulous in his habits that he would not take even a “ little " wine without the authority and advice of a person much older and wiser than himself. If the young men of our time would imitate him in this respect I have little doubt that there would be a great social improvement amongst us.

If I were not afraid of committing a breach of modesty, I would ask you, my young friends of this congregation, not to take even a little till I advise you to do so, and I give you my positive promise that I will not fail to tender this advice in every case which presents itself in the light of Timothy's weak stomach and often infirmities. This young man, it is clear, was habitually a water-drinker, and Paul's advice amounts to this, mix with the water a little wine; for though this is not expressly stated, we gather it from the customs of those times : it was not usual, it is said, to drink wine altogether un

mixed with water, but to mingle these at the social table, and he who took his wine undiluted was observed as we may observe a man who "prefers " spirits to anything else. If weak wine and water form the limit of our alcoholic stimulants as daily beverages it occurs to me that the occupation of our temperance societies would be gone. Even as to this, however, we should still claim our personal liberty to abstain altogether if we think it best to do so. For my own part, I am not in bondage to the letter, just as I showed you the Rechabites were not, and I take the liberty therefore of transposing this famous Scripture reverently, and without at all, as I think, altering its spirit, thus: “Take no longer wine, but take a little water, for thy stomach's sake and thine often infirmities." And I feel assured if this were generally acted upon, with whatever result in exceptional cases, that upon the whole the health of the community would be considerably improved.

Thirdly, not only is it true that a Christian may, if he choose, and can, as a rule, abstain, but there are some cases in which I submit it is clear that he should. What these cases are, each must determine for himself.

There are, I know, people who would settle this matter off-hand for us, hardly give us breathing-time to think, and who look upon the whole thing as a foregone conclusion. But, as I am preaching to yoí to-day & sermon on temperance, which, as I have said, is self-government, we will take the liberty, you and I, of thinking for ourselves, we will calmly and dispassionately work out processes and conclusions which shall be our own.

Let us suppose, then, that you have a son or, worse still, a daughter given to intemperance—suppose you have a husband or, worse still, å wife who is a drunkard-would you hesitate for a moment, in such & case, to abstain altogether, if by so doing you had reason to suppose you could reclaim, or to any extent help, such fallen ones as these? And to what extent beyond these near relationships your sympathy should reach we must leave you in the light of that Christianity which teaches the fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of men to judge. Many of these lost ones are all but incapable now of self-restraint; long habit and, in some cases, constitutional and hereditary tendencies render them helpless and impotent: if we can help them, shall we fail to do so ?

But it will still be said we have, notwithstanding all this, liberty of choice: we can, if we please, follow the example of the Rechabites and of John the Baptist, or that of Christ and His disciples. This I not only concede but assert ; we have liberty in this matter, a liberty which I shall not fail to exercise for myself if I choose to do 80. Still even here, treating now of temperance as seen in moderation as to our drinking customs, there are some considerations which I would press upon you.

It seems to me that we may with profitable resalt revise and

correct our practice here. There are some things, I fear, all too common with Christian men, unchristian and unseemly: the cluþ is a snare; the bar, or coffee-room of the hotel, a delusion; the publichouse a pitiful mockery to a good man's reputation. There is of course a legitimate and proper use at proper times of houses of refreshment for those whose homes during business hours are not of easy access, and against this wo have nothing to say. What I have in view is something very different from this, viz., the frequent and unnecessary use of the tavern.

When I see a man emerging stealthily from the public-house, looking furtively this way and that along the street and wiping his mouth with his hand, or observe when he is travelling that he rushes incontinently from the train to the refreshment-room, no matter how often the opportunity occurs, I take it for a sign-a very bad one, and such as bodes no good to himself

, to his family, or to the Church of which he is a member. I lay it especially upon the understanding and the consciences of young men that they avoid the disreputable habit of lounging away their evenings at the bar, or around the tables where drink is supplied, for these habits are degrading at once to the physical, the intellectual, and the moral nature.

Leaving this, let us consider whether, in our social life, in our homes, and at our own tables, there may not be something to amend. Let us, for the sake of argument, look at wine or any similar beverage simply as a luxury. Say that it is altogether in itself innocuous, lay aside for a moment all its evil and ruinous associations; and is it not then, especially to those of us whose means are limited, an expensive luxury, which might be discarded, and the amount thus saved bestowed on religious and charitable purposes, to which, at present, some of us contribute very sparingly. I take it that the amount expended by this congregation, without any reference to excess, in intoxicating drinks is, in the course of the year, very considerable.

If our statistical man were to come in here, he would presently show us that it far exceeds all our contributions to charitable purposes, which, however, according to the general standard, I ought in fairness to say are not to be despised. I urge, however, upon every one of you, to get up his own statistics for comparison in this matter; and I propose that we should make an experiment for time, at least. Let us give up this one particular luxury, and resolve scrupulously to give the difference in our annual expenditure to the , charities of the town. Should we carry this out, the reports as to our Hospital Sunday, our Female Home, our Seamen's Home, and other kindred institutions, would, I am persuaded, promptly and cheerfully set forth the gracious result.

There is another question besides that of individual duty which naturally arises here. What course should the legislature take as to this evil, which is our national reproach, and which we all so

much deplore. For myself, I follow Mr. Bright in thinking that we must not expect very much from Government interference, but must rely rather upon educational and moral forces brought to bear upon the people. Whatever is elevating and refining, whatever cultivates the taste, even in recreation and amusement, is antagonistic to this sensual and degrading vice; while of course the more direct influences of religion will strongly war against it. I cannot avow myself, as yet, a convert to the Permissive Bill. I am told, on the most reliable authority, by those who have very recently made personal observation in the States, that the Maine Liquor Law is a failure there ; that while it answers to some extent in the rural districts, it utterly breaks down in the towns—Portland, to wit; and that the systematic evasion of the law is painfully demoralising. Still, there is room for the Government to work; and especially should municipal authorities put forth all their strength. It is gratifying to know that here in Newport the number of fully licensed houses is considerably less than it was twenty years ago, notwithstanding the very great increase in the population.

None the less should the magistrates now deal, with a firm strong hand, with certain houses where dancing and singing saloons put forth allurements and fascinations to our youth, and are, in many respects, so disreputable and disorderly as to be a disgrace to any civilised community; and if the magistrates want public opinion to back them up in this direction, I hope that public opinion will speedily and unmistakably be expressed.

In conclusion, let us all unite heartily in the suppression of this detestable vice.

We are all, as Christian men, of one mind as to the goal we would reach; if we hold different opinions as to the best roads whereby to reach it; if we cannot walk together always, let us do 80 as far as we can, and then frankly separate, each going his own way without condemning the other. The fruit of the Spirit is peace and meekness as well as temperance; and therefore let the apostolic rule hold good amongst us: “Let not him that eateth despise him that eateth not; and let not him that eateth not judge him that eateth.” And if these fruits of the Spirit, love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance, be in you and abound, they make you that ye shall be neither barren nor unfruitful in the work of the Lord.

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ENTERING INTO THE CLOSET. ANNIE, don't you believe in position on her arm, she answered, secret prayer?

aunt Miranda * Certainly I do." asked, rather sharply.

There was a pause, then aunt Annie knew

o talk"

was Miranda began again, hurriedly, coming. As she changed baby's as if bracing herself to get a die


agreeable duty quickly done, “ I've away the next minute. Work and been here three weeks, and know interruptions follow each other where you've been and what closely now - a - days. But if I you've been doing 'most every weave all these thoughts into a hour of the day; and I'm pretty prayer then and there, they are sure you haven't once gone into not only made more sacred, but your closet, and shut your door, my heart is warmed afresh, and and prayed in secret.”

my tired hands strengthened for Annie couldn't resist a good the next thing." naturedly keen rejoinder.

It cost Annie an effort to go on, “ It wouldn't have been a secret, but perhaps it was her duty to lay would it, auntie, if you had known bare her private life, that sunt just when I went, and how long I Miranda might not be harbouring stayed ?

misunderstandings and suspicions. Xunt Miranda saw the point. “When you and Frank are sitShe knew she had ventured on ting here reading or talking at delicate ground, and she moved baby's bedtime, it's easy to put a uneasily in her chair. After a whole heartful into the few words moment's silence, she was sur- that I send up as I kiss her and prised to hear her niece say, in tuck in the blankets. And in the humble confession, “You are morning while Frank is starting right. I don't think I have the fire, and I gather her in my entered into my closet' once arms for one more comfortable since you came.” Then as she little nap, I can't help sending up bent, and laid a kiss lightly on another heartful. I'm sure of baby's forehead, she added more those times, but I can't be sure softly, "But I can't count the of the closet time." times that I've prayed in secret.” Before aunt Miranda was ready Aunt Miranda looked surprised. to speak again, Annie added,

"I don't mean after everybody " Perhaps I am all wrong not to has gone to bed, or before anyone have regular seasons for going is up in the morning,” Annie away by myself, no matter what stopped abruptly. Aunt Miranda interruptions or

demands may encouraged her to go on by re- claim attention at the same time. marking stiffly and incredulously, If the interruptions would only be “Then I don't see when you do a little regular it would help. do it."

When I was at school we always When Annie was sure she could had a certain time each morning speak gently, she asked, “Can't and evening for private devotions. one pray anywhere and at any For a long time after leaving school time, just as a need comes up ?" I kept up the half-hours.' I can't

“Perhaps some folks can,” was tell how or when I slipped out of the reply.

the habit; I regret that I ever did. Annie went on, still gently, I don't try to justify myself, auntie. “When I sit rocking baby to I only want you to know that I sleep, many thoughts of her don't entirely neglect prayer. I present and future crowd my couldn't,” she added, tremulously, mind. And closely linked to as a sudden recollection of wife and them are thoughts of papa and motherhood swept over her. Willie, and of myself. If I re “When do you confess sin and solve to go to my closet as soon seek forgiveness with tears ?” as I have put her down, and lay pursued aunt Miranda, nothing all these things in order before daunted. God, quite likely I am called “Just this morning, when I was

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