صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

against the constant presence of temptation. This is the evil. How are the laws relating to it executed in this city? Let me tell you.

First, there has been great discussion of this evil, wide, earnest, patient discussion, for thirty-five years. The whole community has been stirred by the discussion of this question. Finally, after various experiments, the majority of the State decided that the method to stay this evil was to stop the open sale of intoxicating drink. They left moral suasion still to address the individual, and set themselves as a community to close the doors of temptation. Every man acquainted with his own nature or with society knows that weak virtue, walking through our streets, and meeting at every tenth door (for that is the average) the temptation to drink, must fall; that one must be a moral Hercules to stand erect. To prevent the open sale of intoxicating liquor has been the method selected by the State to help its citizens to be virtuous; in other words, the State has enacted what is called the Maine Liquor Law,—the plan of refusing all licenses to sell, to be drunk on the spot or elsewhere, and allowing only an official agent to sell for medicinal purposes and the arts. You may drink in your own parlors, you may make what indulgence you please your daily rule, the State does not touch you there; there you injure only yourself, and those you directly influence; that the State cannot reach.

But when you open your door and say to your fellow-citizens, “Come and indulge," the State has a right to ask, “In what do you invite them to indulge? Is it something that helps, or something that harms the community?"

I will try to show you, in a moment, on what

grounds the State decided that these numberless open doors harmed the community, and that the method to be adopted was to shut them up. The majority, after full argument in district school-houses, the streets, and the State-House, from pulpits, lyceum platforms, and everywhere else, decided that prohibition of the traffic was the only effective method. The law was put upon the statute-book. A reluctant minority went to the Legislature, and endeavored to repeal or amend it, alleging that this was not a good law; and they were voted down. Again they went, —were voted down. A third time they went,--and were voted down. They then appealed to the courts, and said, “This is not a constitutional law." The courts said, “It is.” If anything ever had the decided, unmistakable sanction of a majority of the people of this Commonwealth, the Maine Liquor Law has it. After a quarter of a century of discussion, it was enacted; three times assailed, it was maintained; subjected to the crucible of the court, it came out pure gold. We have a right to say that it is the matured, settled purpose of the majority of the Commonwealth; if the majority have a right to govern, that law is to govern. Is it not so? If not let the minority assail again the Gibraltar of the statute. But meanwhile it, like all other laws not immoral, is to be obeyed. I have not, therefore, to argue to-day whether the law is good or not, whether it is wise or not. That is settled. It is good and wise in the opinion of the Commonwealth. The era of public opinion is finished, that of law has commenced. This is the history of all legislation. Do not find fault with us for enacting, in due time, public opinion into a statute. Where did all statutes come from? Hun.

one man

dreds of years ago, men argued the question, “Shall

own a separate piece of land?" They argued it, and settled that he should. That became a statute. They then began to argue the question, "Shall he transmit to his children by will?" They argued that for centuries, then said, “Yes," and enacted it. Nobody now goes behind those statutes. Hundreds of years ago, our race argued the question, "Shall a man have one wife or three?" We settled that he should have but one; it is the law of the Commonwealth.

The era of discussion and opinion is over; the era of legislation has come,-the time when the minority sits down and obeys. With all great questions, covering important interests, there is a time when public opinion stereotypes itself into statutes. Land, harvests, marriage, the laws against burglary and theft, settled themselves years ago. If I raise a harvest, it is mine; that is the law of the land. There was a time when it was a question; it is not a question now. So with temperance and the Maine Liquor Law. Time was when the question whether a man had a right to sell liquor openly, licensed or not, was discussed; we have passed that point, and reached the time when the majority-in other words, the State-deerees that these shops shall be shut.

"Sermons by Henry Ward Beecher. Copyright, Harper & Brothers. Reprinted with permission. Ву HENRY WARD BEECHER.

[ocr errors]

OW in the place where he was crucified there

was a garden, and in the garden a new sepulcher, wherein was never man yet laid. There laid they Jesus.”—John xix. 41, 42.

“And there was Mary Magdalene, and the other Mary, sitting over against the sepulcher.”—Matt. xxvii. 61.

There is a sepulcher in every garden. We are all of us in this life seeking for beauty and seeking for joy, following the blind instincts of our nature, every one of which was made to point up to something higher than that which the present realizes. We are often, almost without aim, without any true guidance, seeking to plant this life so that it shall be to us what a garden is. And we seek out the fairest flowers, and will have none but the best fruits. Striving against the noxious weed, striving against the stingy soil, striving against the inequalities of the season, still these are our hope. They who build a home and surround themselves with all the sweet enjoyments of social life are but planting a garden. The scholar has his garden. The statesman, too, has a fancied Eden with fruit and flower. The humble, and those that stand high, are all of them seeking to clothe the barren experiences of this world with buds that blossom, blossoms that shall bear fruit. No man sees the sepulcher among his flowers.

It is the hope and expectation of men, the world over (and it makes no difference what their civilization is, what their culture, or what their teaching), that they shall plant their garden, and have flowers

.

without thorns, summer without a winter, a garden without a rock, a rock without a sepulcher!

It makes very little difference that we see other men's delusions. Nay, we stand upon the wall of our particular experience, as upon the walls of a garden, to moralize upon the follies of other men. And when they have their hands pierced in plucking their best fruits, when disappointments come to their plantings, we wonder that they should be so blind as to expect that this world could have joys without sorrows, or sunshine without storms. We carry instructions to them, and comfort them with the talk that this life is short and full of affliction; we speak to them of the wreaths to be worn by those who bear sorrows; and yet we go as fondly and expectantly to our dream of hope as ever.

And thus men live as they have lived, every man making his life a garden planted; every man saying, “Flowers! flowers! flowers!' and when they come, every man saying, “They shall abide; they shall blossom in an endless summer." And we go round and round the secret place, the central place—we go round and round the point where in every man's experience there is a sepulcher-and we heed it not, and will not know it.

But, in spite of all this care and painstaking, there is no garden in the world, let it be as beautiful as it may, that has not in the midst of it a sepulcher. There is no man that is sure of anything except of dying and living again. We see on every side such revelations, such changes, such surprises, such unexpected happenings and events, that it is not mere poetical moralizing to say that no man is certain of anything except death, to be succeeded by life.

« السابقةمتابعة »