« السابقةمتابعة »
Nor snowy gems from ocean's breast-
The darkness from the tomb-
My dirge the Sabbath-bell-
Stranger ! farewell! I haste to share
My fortune bado me dwell ;
Where peals the Sabbath-bell,
Social Reforn. No. I. Christianity and Drunkenness. By WILLIAM
STEVENSON, D.D., Leith. This is the first of a series of papers to be issued under the auspices of the Scottish Association, for the Suppression of Drunkenness.
This Association was formed at a meeting held in Edinburgh last year, during the sitting of the Assembly; and from the spirit in which it was started, and its subsequent operations, we have good ground for hoping that it will grapple successfully with the monster vice of our country. It furnishes a ground for united action to all who cannot conscientiously support total abstinence societies. It indeed aims at the same great object, but it exacts no pledge of abstinence from its members. While it allows abstinence societies to pursue their own course, it feels that there is a wide enough sphere of action without trenching on their peculiar ground. There are two modes of dealing with drunkenness, as with almost every social evil. By one mode man is regarded as a creature of circumstances, and action is taken against those externalities which mould and determine his character. To this mode belong the licensing and regulation of spirit shops. The other mode is one which deals with the subjective aspect of the question, and applies moral remedies to the disease within. The Association wisely intends to adopt both methods in dealiug with drunkenness-it neither defies nor ignores external circumstances, but allows a just weight to them when balancing the question between the inner and outer sphere of man's life. Nothing is more common than to hear one party say, What use is there in shutting public houses when the craving for drink is still the same? for when there is a wish there will be a way. Remove this craving, elevate the moral tone of the lower classes, and the public houses will go down for want of custom. Another party-advocates of material reform-maintain that there is no use in attempting a moral reform while the tyranny of circumstances is strong. They will listen to nothing but the shutting of public houses, the filling of_the belly, and the building of comfortable and well-ventilated houses. The one party declare that the gospel is the only remedy; the other party put their trust in food and raiment, stone and lime, and the suppression of whisky shops. Now, there is truth in both sides, but it is overlooked that each theory, though a good half, forms but a bad whole. The two modes of action must be united before we can produce the maximum effect, or at least a satisfactory result. It is this consideration that leads us to look so hopefully upon the oporations of the Scottish Association, as its object is to address itself to both sides of humanity. A one-sided view of man's social condition has led some sanguine philanthropists to imagine, that education is all that is wanted to cure the evils of society; but statistics will not bend to such a theory. In 1848, the number of commitments for crime in Scotland was 3530, and of these only 696 were uneducated, showing that the educated were to the uneducated in the proportion of 4 to 1. Such statistics do not prove, indeed, that education is useless, or worse than useless, in checking crime, but they clearly show that the salutary influence of education may be masked or reversed by social evils, that interfere with its operations ; and undoubtedly one of the greatest countervailing evils is drunkenness. The line of action indicated by this state of things, is not merely extended education, but a simultaneous onset upon the crying vice of our countrydrunkenness.
Wo congratulate the Society on securing for the first paper of the series one so admirably qualified to strike the proper key for such a series of tracts addressed to the masses. It is abundantly apparent that the author is one who can think deeply, and.feel intensely. He has shown that tracts intended for the million may be striking and effective, without being superficial or childish, as such' effusions too frequently are. The multitude can understand, better than is generally supposed, manly appeals and logical reasoning, if we but condescend to throw off the pedantry of the schools, and address them in the natural and easy language of every day life.
The subject of Dr. Stevenson's paper is the antagonism between Christianity and drunkenness. He first pourtrays the Christian's character, and then contrasts it with the character of the drunkard. The wretched career of the drunkard is vividly drawn in the following passage :
“ The fit of intoxication, while it lasts, releases his lower nature from every check. Whatever is selfish, and whatever is savage, in his affections, is then left to the freedom of its own wild, impetuous will, and the man, with all his distinguishing dignity and godlike capacities, becomes the helpless, unresisting plaything of fitful impulse or tempestuous passion. He that hath no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down, and without walls. In such a city no order is kept, and no watch is set. The enemy may enter without opposition. The human ruffian or the ravenous beast may prowl there at pleasure. So the drunkard purposely divests himself of all self-rule. He casts from him the defences of vigilance, of religious fear, of social restraint. He invites the blast from the wilderness, and the fire from the cloud, and the demon from the deep. He is a conjuror, who draws the magic circle around him, not that he may keep the devil out, but that he may bring a whole legion of devils in; and what power of hell shall rule him for the hour, he leaves to be determined by the lottery of chance. And thus, in a path which, at the best, is both dark and perilous, the human spirit rushes madly on without curb or care, floating on the breath of wanton folly, or careering on the storm of passion. Everything that distinguishes the Christian is gone—the gentle sadness of his habitual temperament, the deeper penetential emotions of his occasional or periodical self-searchings, the prudence in shunning temptation, and the firmness in withstanding it, which are his modes and means of Warfare. Nor these alone are banished from the soul of the drunkard. The clean hands and the pure heart-seek them wheresoerer we mayare never looked for in the haunts of dissipation. Buoyancy of devotion, the life with God, the spirit lying down in green pastures beside the still waters—these are not to be expected where drunkards meet. No, alas! no; selfishness in all its Protean forms, fantastically vain, arrogantly proud, weakly sensitive, absurdly irritable, recklessly cruel, brutally savage, atheistically profane, abominably lustful—such is what we may anticipate, and what we will be sure to find there. Indeed, this selfishness is the religion and the rule of the place-self-glorification, the most despicable of vices, and self-worship, the most degrading kind of idolatry,—for the drunkard resorts to his cup because it elevates him, in his deluded imagination, above men and angels, and “all that is called God." And then the chair of the scorner shall be set, and the coward who trembles at his own horrid thoughts in the midnight solitude, will fill it and make it eloquent with his blasphemies; and the excited revellers will issue thence to frighten the silent city with their bacchanalian mirth, or to arouse the guardians of its peace by their riotous brawls; and thus poor forlorn souls that have cast off the restraints of grace and of heaven will go, jubilant and singing, or through cursings and blows, on, on to death and darkness, by one of the broad, beaten, highways of destruction."
Dr. Stevenson can look upon the dark side of humanity with the eye of a painter, as well as feel with the heart of a philanthropist. Both powers are indeed necessary—the first to arrange the lights and shadows, so as to bring out the true moral perspective—the other to infuse life into the sad picture, so that it may speak to our hearts with a power which the 'reality eren may not possess. The following reminds us of some of the well-defined and life-like pictures of Crabbe :
** Painful as the task is, we must attempt partially, and for an instał
to withdraw the veil and look into the interior of the drunkard's home. The wife and mother is left there to an anxious solitude by him who had vowed to cherish her person and be the guardian of her peace; and there she weeps and pines away in the bitterness of unrequited affection, her heart meanwhile
** More desolate, more dreary cold Than a forsaken bird's nest filled with snow
'Mid its own bush of leafless eglantine.' Perhaps, though that be a rare case, she sinks into a sullen and moody indifference; perhaps she struggles patiently against sadness and privation, still, in her agony, true to her duty and faithful to her God; or, worst of all, exasperated and cursing, she has recourse, herself also, to the fatal oblivion of intoxication. And if, among the so-called heroical virtues that earn the canonization of Rome, there be nothing but tricks and theatrical illusions, as compared with the meek faith, the enduring, uncomplaining, ever-toiling, ever-praying, and ever-hoping love of the drunkard's Christian wife, shall
we wonder that she, whose young affections had been beguiled and cheated by one who afterwards transformed himself into a sot or a savage, should fall before the seductions of disappointment and contagion? He comes to her now, not the ardent youth, with his deceitful whispers of fondness, but a drowsed and senseless mass, or a blaspheming, violent, and dangerous monster. Night after night her heart aches under its weary burden of woes; night after night her body aches in consequence of his brutal cruelties; and she becomes, either a saintly sufferer,or another lost creature.
“ And the drunkard's children,-under circumstances of what frightful aggravation does their native depravity begin to develop its strength On the most favourable supposition, they obtain the bonefits of an education which is religious, so far as religion can be communicated at school; and, in the mean time, they are perpetually exposed to the contaminating and counteracting influence of example at home. Familiarity with the worst language, the fiercest passions, and the most degrading habits, is a wretched provision for meeting the duties and temptations of life withal; yet this is the inheritance which most drunkards entail upon their offspring-an inheritance of which it is impossible to decline the succession, and which infallibly blunts the religious sensibilities even where it may happily fail to induce a servile imitation. But far oftener the children of dissolute parents are left to grow up without instruction of any kind, except that which the vices prevailing around them obtrude on the facile or eager acceptance of their naturally corrupt dispositions. The means which ought to provide for their various wants, bodily and mental, are most righteously drained off by industry and trustworthy character to other quarters, remote from the abodes of intemperance; or, after having been laboriously earned, they are lavishly spent for the gratification of an all-absorbing lust. It is from such abodes that those young creatures come forth, who may be seen lurking like foxes in street corners and closes by day, and in the dim twilight prowling like scavenger-birds before the police cart ; mostly furnished with a bag or piece of abominable canvass, containing, or at least betokening many things.; and all distinguished by looks of worst omen, truly wolfish eyes, at once scared and rapacious. Viewing them as responsible beings, rags, filth, hunger, and the lean shrivelled features of premature age, are as nothing in the estimate which every Christian must form of their hapless lot. Still, they live and grow up, ignorant as savages of all that is pure or of saving import, adepts in all the cunuing and all the accomplished baseness of a perverted civilization. Their moral condition is pointedly the opposite of that which Paul prescribed to his Roman converts—- I would have you wise unto that which is good, and simple concerning evil. Such as they are, wisdom and simplicity both are there ; but they are both in
precisely the wrong places. And the fable of the jackal is verified in the drunkard's children, who must often be his providers as well as their own. Driven forth when the world awakes to shift for themselves,—their only morning meal consisting in curses and blows, and their only morning lesson in the lie that promises to be most serviceable for the day,--they move stealthily about, searching every obscure corner for something that may be pilfered or devoured ; or they go whining lamentably from door to door, telling over and over again the same tale of domestic distress, for which all that can be said is, that the reality, though after another fashion, is far worse and more tragical than the fabulous report. Though they had gone out empty, in every sense of the word, they are expected to return full ; and if they do not-; but who shall depict the atrocities of which the drunkard is capable in the madness of his disappointment? That they soon learn to regard the honest part of mankind as their inveterate enemies ; that police, and magistrates, and courts of justice become the ghouls, and vampires, and giant's castles of their deluded fancy; that conscience is confounded, and that moral distinctions are lost to their clouded apprehensions,—these are matters, of course, the natural result of circumstances 80 utterly deplorable. And yet, than even this, there is a lower depth of degradation still
. At length the police-office and the jail cease to be formidable to such as they are ; or, if, with their vagrant habits, restraint be irksome by day, the pallet of a prison-cell in a wintry night is a bed of down for those whose best dormitory had been a filthy corner, with or with: out its bundle of odious rags; whose evening fretfulness had been subdued by stripes, instead of being soothed with caresses; whose young eyelids bad habitually drooped amid revolting oaths, instead of whispered and loring prayers; and who had shivered through the dark hours, only to resume with the day-light their hateful trade of mendicancy, theft, and lies.”
We trust the great ability of Dr. Stevenson's paper will secure for it a wide circulation. We can hardly conceive anything better calculated to interest the well-disposed in the temperance morement, and to arrest the drunkard in his downward career of vice. Popery, the Enemy of God and Man, and the Alliance of Popery and
Antichristian Liberalism foredoomed of God. Two Discourses. By
the Rev. JAMES COCHRANE, A.M. Cuper-Fife: John Gibson. Mr. Cochrane, to whom our theological literature is so much indebted, has here presented us with another little work admirably suited to the times. The sermons were delivered at evening meetings of his own congregation, and they are now published at the general request of those who heard them. We are glad that he has consented to give them to the publie, as few men are better qualified, from a profound study of the subject, to do justice to the all-engrossing position of Popery at the present day. He is an ardent student of prophecy, and seeing, in contemporary events, the fulfilment of God's word, he infuses into his subject an unction of earTiestness, and invests it with a solemnity which the mere political aspect of Popery could not communicate. In the first discourse, he draws the portraiture of Popery, dividing his subject into herds-Dogmas, Discipline, and domination. This division has a better recommendation than its alliterative elegance. In the hands of the author it brings out the distinctive features of Popery in a very vivid and striking manner. The close of the discourse is occupied with the duty incumbent on Protestants in the present crisis. We extract the following passage, in which he insists on union among Protestants. We must, however, first remark, that far too much weight is asually assigned to the taunts of Popery, in reference to the disunion among Protestants. No doubt this is a weak point in Protestan. tism, but it is well to see precisely where the weakness lies. The weakness consists not in the existence of sects, but in the sectarianism of sects,