My text, as you see, my dear readers, is not taken from the Bible. It does not, however, contradict the Scriptures, but is in harmony with some, such as "WOE UNTO HIM THAT GIVETH HIS NEIGHBOUR DRINK." Habakkuk ii.15; "WOE UNTO THEM THAT RISE UP EARLY IN THE MORNING, THAT THEY MAY FOLLOW STRONG DRINK." -- Isaiah v.11. "TAKE HEED TO YOURSELVES LEST AT ANY TIME YOUR HEARTS BE OVERCHARGED WITH SURFEITING AND DRUNKENNESS." -- Luke xxi.34. "BE NOT AMONG WINEBIBBERS." -- Proverbs xxiii.20.
THE STATEMENT OF THE TEXT IS LIKELY TO BE TRUE,
as it was spoken by an English Judge, and given as the result of long observation, and of hearing evidence given upon oath. What is more likely to be true than a declaration from the Bench? and as such it deserves the attention of every one of us. Let us then consider
(I.) -- IF THIS STATEMENT BE TRUE, THE PUBLIC-HOUSE SHOULD BE AVOIDED.
We are quite willing to allow that a certain amount of enjoyment can be obtained in these places. Once acquire the taste, and drink gives pleasure to the palate, and produces, in a very short time, a kind of joy. Men who are in business difficulties can forget their creditors. Those who have lost friends by death can forget the ties of affection. Scolding wives are left at home, and a smiling face receives the money spent, for the landlady is real good to those who have the coin. But on the other hand, are not these drinkers paying too dear for their gladness? Is it not a kind of delirium that shuts out the facts of the case? Will not the creditor call for his money? Will you not wake up to greater loneliness than ever? Will you have taken the edge off the woman's tongue by spending the money she needs for the family? Are you not buying temporary insanity at so much a glass?
Are you not running a fearful risk of becoming a criminal? I know of a little beershop where murders have been hatched, and that in a quiet rural village! Do not men go primed with drink to rob and slay? Do not wife-beaters get their inspiration at the public-house? Is not gambling fostered in the bar parlour? Do you tell me that you are not likely to become a thief, or a murderer? So others have said whom we have known, once as decent and quiet as you. Besides, if you keep out of the hands of the police, you will have to take your trial some day for robbing God, and for soul murder! In the public-house you learn to do all this.
(II.) -- IF THIS STATEMENT BE TRUE, ALL PATRIOTS SHOULD OPPOSE THE PUBLIC- HOUSE.
How can a man love his country, who supports that which is increasing taxation and demoralising his countrymen? Should we allow any nation under the sun to do us the harm one public-house will do? Is it not true that nearly all the police are needed by those who frequent the Public- house? Is it not this devil's academy that costs the nation so much more than we spend in education? Would not many of the prisons have to be pulled down if we could stop the drinking habits of our people? Answer me these questions, and tell me how you can call yourself a patriot, and yet help to keep these places going?
(III.) -- IF THIS STATEMENT BE TRUE, WE MUST CLOSE THE PUBLIC-HOUSES.
Can it be tolerated that such places should remain open? Are felons to be manufactured, and men get rich by the process? We must shut the places up, even though we ruin places like Burton-on-Trent, and compel rich brewers to sell their carriages. Nothing is so likely to pay off the National Debt as to cause publicans and brewers to enlarge the list of bankrupts. They cannot live but by the nation's loss, and sorrow. A brewer's dray, as it leaves the yard, carries with it increase to the taxation, and hunger and nakedness for little children!
While we do not lose sight of the importance of legislation, and while we push the questions of Sunday Closing, Local Option, &c., to the utmost extent, it will pay us still better to close the public-house through making the frequenter of such places see the sin of it. If there are no customers, there will be soon a closing of their doors. We call upon all Grocers, Butchers, Tailors, Cabinet Makers, and all decent tradespeople, to see, that would they have a return of prosperity, they must have the stream of cash which goes into the publican's till turned towards their doors. Money spent in manufacturing felons would look well spent on Clothes, Provisions, and Furniture. Besides churches and chapels would be crowded as the jails were emptied, and heaven would gain what hell would lose by the closing of Breweries, Distilleries, and Public-houses.
XLII. GOOD-WILL TO MEN.
That is one of the messages brought to us by Christmas time, and this is linked to "glory to God." You cannot glorify God more than by publishing good-will to one another. There is a special need for this just now. Political feeling has risen so high that friends, and even families, have been estranged. Let not another sun go down upon your wrath. Now is the time to prove that you are a Christian, by giving Jesus the pleasure of knowing that His birthday was the burial day of strife.
Which side shall be the first to move? Doubtless the noblest; the one who has most of God in him will hurry to say, "Come, now, let us reason together." We need not to say that common-place religion cannot afford to do this. Those who live on old manna cannot rise to such dignity as to be the first to seek the friendship of those who think themselves aggrieved. On the other hand, "HE THAT HUMBLETH HIMSELF SHALL BE EXALTED." Heaven has always been the first to seek reconciliation, and those who are heavenly-minded shew it by making haste to be friendly.
If you have been the injured one, you have the best chance of succeeding in healing the wound. It is God, sending a message of peace, that wins over His foes.
HE DOES NOT WAIT FOR US TO MOVE FIRST.
Who asked Him to offer His Son? If you take the first step, you will be treading in the footprints of Jesus. He has shown us how to love our enemies, and to do good to them that despitefully use us. It is true that you would have to make a sacrifice, to be the first to hold out the white flag. Yes, and you can afford to do it, if you are the one in the right. It is the man who is in the wrong who is the easiest offended, and the last to yield.
Whether we are Conservatives or Liberals, we are Englishmen, and cannot afford to be divided. Whether we want the Church to be Disestablished or not, we are Christians. Let us be friends once more, and try to think the best we can of each other. Whether our side has won or not, we are certain that Right will prevail in the long run. We can afford to wait, if we are on God's side, for He wins by losing.
THE LOSS OF HIS SON WAS HIS GREATEST GAIN.
If you can rise to this, how you will enjoy singing --
"Hark! the herald angels sing --
Is there not wondrous common sense, as well as beauty, in the saying of St. John --
"BELOVED, IF GOD SO LOVED US, WE OUGHT
One would have thought it would have been -- we ought to love Him. But then we remember further on, John says,
"HE THAT LOVETH NOT HIS BROTHER, WHOM HE
It is well sometimes to ask ourselves the question, "How will this matter look in heaven?" "What shall we think of ourselves a hundred years to come? How small all these matters of offence will seem in the light of eternity! We should not like to die without being at peace with all men. The way to secure this is to live at peace, and if there is anything between us and our brethren, let us treat one another as we wish God to treat us.
GOOD-WILL TO MEN!
"A FELLOW-FEELING MAKES US WONDROUS KIND."
This is quite true, and we wish there was more of this fellow-feeling. It is likely this will be read by some aged man or woman who has many comforts, and is assisted to bear the infirmities peculiar to old age in a way poor men and women cannot enjoy. If you are wealthy, or have enough for your wants, should you not have a fellow-feeling for those who are poor and need help?
Sometimes when visiting aged people, who were well off, a nice fire burning all the night through, and perhaps those about them who have not allowed them to be many hours without nourishment, I have said to such an one, "You have been kept alive by the fact that you can afford it. If you had been a poor man, you would be dead now."
Will you not then, if you have it in your power, give some other old man or woman, who is poor and unable to get the comforts you have in such plenty, some share of what you have; if you do not, how can you expect God to shew you mercy in that day? It will be no use to tell Him that you loved Him; He does not believe in professions of affection for Him, which are not proved by love to our fellows.