A Lesson for the Times [Use of Wine]
There is but one standard of right in the world, and that is God's standard. We are all virtually under equal obligations to meet that high standard; and God holds us alike responsible to him. Society may set up artificial differences and regulations, but the fixed fact remains the same. Men require women to live up to a standard of purity almost equal with that of the angels, while they erect a standard of quite a different character for themselves.
Young men sit down to wine suppers, freely indulge their appetites for intoxicating drink and for tobacco, become reckless in their deportment, vulgar and turbulent in their conversation, and frequently seek low and debased society, excusing themselves under the plea of custom and the ways of the world. But should young ladies follow such a course of dissipation they would be utterly and forever disgraced in the eyes of the whole world.
But it is urged, "Oh, young men must sow their wild oats." This is a terrible fallacy. It should be borne in mind that "whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap." Young men who have plunged into dissipation are already reaping what they have sown. They do not have to wait for mature years to come before they realize that they must pay the penalty for every violation of moral law. Every day we see instances of young men who are debilitated in body and mind, whose morals are debased, and who are prematurely dying because they have transgressed Nature's laws, and fallen victims to the temptations which the fashions of the world hold out to them.
The law of Nature is the law of God; and the penalty of its transgression is visited alike upon men and women. It is not customary to hold fathers equally responsible with mothers for the training of their children. How many sermons are preached, and how much is written concerning the mother's responsibility; while the father is apparently relieved from all the burden. We would appeal to fathers, in the hope of arousing them to a sense of their God given responsibility in regard to their children. We would say, Guard yourselves from cherishing any pernicious habit which, by its influence, might have a direct or indirect tendency to weaken the moral susceptibilities of your children.
While the mother may be doing her whole duty in educating her children to purity of life, the father too frequently, by his own example, may be opening the door of temptation to his children. His indulgence in wine and tobacco, and other sinful practices, lessen the hideousness of sin in their eyes. In keeping with this immoral course, is the talk that many fathers indulge in before their children, to the effect that the law of God is no longer binding upon man; that it was only for the government of the Israelites; or that it was abrogated at the death of Christ. Intelligent youth are not long in comprehending that where there is no law there is no transgression. The wholesome fear of breaking the commandments of God, grows weaker and weaker in their minds, until the moral perceptions which have been carefully trained by the mother, grow to be in harmony with the father's sentiments.
If men strictly and conscientiously kept the law of God, there would be no drunkards, no tobacco inebriates, no distress, penury, and crime. Liquor saloons would be closed for want of patronage, and nine-tenths of all misery existing in the world would come to an end. Young men would walk forth with erect and noble forms, free and elastic step, clear eye, and healthy complexions.
When ministers, from their pulpits, make loyalty to the law of God disreputable; when they join with the world in making it unpopular; when these teachers of the people indulge in the social glass, and the defiling narcotic, tobacco, what depth of vice may not be expected from the youth of this generation? The newspaper records of the day, with their annals of crime, murders, and suicides, give the answer, and point out the terrible dangers of the time.
The signs exist to day which prophecy predicted would characterize the state of society just prior to the second coming of Christ. You have heard much in regard to the authority and sanctity of the law of the ten commandments. God is the author of that law, which is the foundation of his government in heaven and on earth. All enlightened nations have based their laws upon this grand foundation of all law; yet the legislators and ministers, who are recognized as the leaders and teachers of the people, live in open violation of the principles inculcated in those holy statutes.
Many ministers preach Christ from the pulpit, and then do not hesitate to benumb their senses by wine tippling, or even indulging in brandy and other liquors. The Christian standard says, "Touch not; taste not; handle not;" and the laws of our physical being repeat the solemn injunction with emphasis. It is the duty of every Christian minister to lay this truth plainly before his people, teaching it both by precept and example.
The Bible nowhere teaches the use of intoxicating wine, either as a beverage or as a symbol of the blood of Christ. We appeal to the natural reason whether the blood of Christ is better represented by the pure juice of the grape in its natural state, or after it has been converted into a fermented and intoxicating wine. We maintain that the former is the only symbol properly representing the sacred blood of Christ, and a symbol established by himself; and we urge that the latter should never be placed upon the Lord's table.
It has been declared by some that Christ favored the moderate use of fermented wine, in witness whereof they refer to his miracle of changing water into wine. But we protest that Christ never made intoxicating wine; such an act would have been contrary to all the teachings and example of his life. He was the Angel who led the children of Israel in the wilderness. He spoke the law from Sinai. He prohibited those who officiated in holy office from using wine; and his reasons for so doing are explicit; viz., that they may have clear judgment to distinguish between the common and the sacred, to do justice to the fatherless and widows, to teach his statutes and laws to Israel, and to accept no bribes. Those who abolish the law of God for the sake of getting rid of the Sabbath, do away with the most solemn restrictions against using liquor.
He who appeared to the wife of Manoah, and told her she should bear a son, and described his character for strength, and charged her to drink no wine or strong drink, for the child should be a Nazarite from his birth; He who appeared to Zacharias, and gave him directions regarding the unborn John, charging him that the child should drink no wine or strong drink, was not one who would make intoxicating wine and give it to the people upon a wedding occasion. The wine which Christ manufactured from water by a miracle of his power, was the pure juice of the grape. And the object of the Saviour, in this miracle, was to bring the perverted taste of the governor of the feast to a healthy condition, by inducing him to acknowledge that this wine was superior in quality to any he had before tasted
There are those in our day, who, in order to excuse their own sins, follow the example of the Jews, and charge Christ with being a Sabbath-breaker and wine-bibber, notwithstanding he declared that he kept his Father's commandments, and his whole life was an example of temperance and self-denial. Had he been a wine-bibber he could not have been a perfect offering, and the virtue of his blood would have been of no avail. But this charge, as well as the former, is best refuted by the character and teachings of Christ himself.
The Christian church is pronounced to be the salt of the earth, the light of the world. Can we apply this to the churches of to-day, many of whose members are using, not only the defiling narcotic, tobacco, but intoxicating wine, and spirituous liquor, and are placing the wine-cup to their neighbor's lips? The church of Christ should be a school in which the inexperienced youth should be educated to control their appetites, from a moral and religious standpoint. They should there be taught how unsafe it is to tamper with temptation, to dally with sin; that there is no such thing as being a moderate and temperate drinker; that the path of the tippler is ever downward. They should be exhorted to "look not upon the wine when it is red," which "at the last biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder."--Mrs. E. G. White, in Health Reformer .