Howard Crosby.

Moderation vs. total abstinence; or, Dr. Crosby and his reviewers online

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The National Temperance Society and Publication House,

58 Eeade Street.


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J. N. STEARNS, Pubushing Agent.

H. J. HBwiTT,Printer, 27 Rose Street, New York.



A Calm View of the Temperance Question,

By Chancellor Crosby, 5

A Review of Dr. Crosby, . By Rev. Dr. Mark Hopkins, 25

A Reply to Dr. Crosby's ** Calm View of Temperance,"

By Wendell Fhillijjs, 89

A Reply to Dr. Crosby's ** Calm View of Temperance,"

By Mrs. J. E. Foster, 59

Joseph Cook's Pulpit and Temperance,

By Theodore L. Cuyler, D.D., 89

Relations of Distilled and Fermented Liquors,

By Ezra M. Hunt, D.I)., 94

An Open Letter, . . , By Rev. Dr. A. J. Gordon, 98

The ** Calm View "—Comments of the Press, ... 100

The Voice of Science, 114

The Voice of Scripture, 119

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By chancellor CROSBY, or New York.

An Address delivered in Tremont Temple^ Jan, lo, 1881,
in the Boston Monday Lecture Course,

THE object of temperance societies is to prevent drunk-
enness. The cardinal principle in these societies is
total abstinence from all that can intoxicate. That
total abstinence, if adopted by all, will prevent drmiken-
ness no one will dispute. The object of temperance socie-
ties would be gained.

But two questions arise after contemplating these propo-
sitions: first, will this plan of total abstinence be adopted ?
and, secondly, ought it to be adopted? The first question is
prudential, the second is moral.


1. Will the plan of total abstinence from all that in-
toxicates be received by men in general? We desire
to use in all measures of reform a plan that is practica-
ble. We cannot be satisfied with mere testimony to a
theory that will be unproductive of results. Herein re-
form differs from religion. Religion demands adhesion to
a truth stamped by the conscience, even though that truth
find no other adherent. But reform lies in the domain of
the expedient. It seeks to make society better, and if it
cannot raise society to the highest level it will raise it as
high as it can. It will not prefer to let society wallow be-


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6 Moderation vs. Total Abstinence.

cause it cannot place it in an ideal Utopia. The most reli-
gious and conscientious man will be glad to see men leave
off strife and discord, even if they do not act from the high-
est motives or attain to the heights of a genuine charity.
His conscience will not be iijured by their improved condi-
tion, however much he would hke to see them still more
enlightened. It is an important point to make clear to the
mind this distinction between the conduct of reform and the
movement of personal religion, for confusion here has led to
much false action. A common argument of the radical agi-
tator is that his conscience cannot stop short of total absti-
nence in the temperance question, and on that ground he
will not have any affiliation with one who seeks to subdue
the intemperance of the land by any other method. But his
argument is a complete non sequitur. His conscience con-
cerns his own personal habits. In the matter of other peo-
ple's habits he is simply to do the best the circumstances
allow. The conscience that prescribes his personal habits
may make him long to see others like him, and may make
him work to that end, but it cannot rebuke him if that end
is not attained, but only an approximation is gained ; nay, it
should make him work for the approximation with all zeal.

Too often that which is called conscience is mere obsti-
nacy of opinion and personal pride. A large part of the
fanaticism that history records has been made in this way.
Men have gone to the stake as martyrs, or sufferers for con-
science' sake, when the heresy they professed never went
deeper than their sentiment, and might readily have been
altered by a free judgment. While this fact does not justify
their persecutors or palliate their guilt, yet it certainly de-
tracts from the merit of the martyrdom. In this matter of
arresting the progress of drunkenness we may have very
different views of the means to be used, and we may consci-
entiously adhere to our own plan of working toward the
end, but we cannot conscientiously object to the means em-
ployed by others unless they contain an immorality. Nay,
more, we mtist conscientiously wish them success.

If this principle of sympathy and co-operation on the part
of all who seek the abatement of intemperance were once

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A Calm View of the Temperance Question. 7

established, we should see effects that are now thwarted by
the divisions and mutual hostility of those who profess to
have the same end in view. One of the reasons for this con-
firmed hostility of the total- abstinence advocates against
ibe reformers who do not adopt that principle is found in
ihe power of a false usage. I refer to the word "tem-


The word has been violently wrested from its legitimate
meaning. By a persistent use of a moderate word for radi-
cal measures the great unthinking public, so far as they are
seekers for the common good, have been led to see in these
radical measures the only path of duty. They have learned
to consider all that was opposed to the party called by the
name of temperance as inimical to temperance, and so have
enormously swelled the radical ranks by their unenlightened
adhesion. The label has been affixed to the wrong goods,
and the unsuspecting purchaser has not noticed the fact.
So potent has been this deception that I undertake to say
that there are thousands of worthy citizens who have no
other idea of the word ^ ' temperance " than that it means
the total abstinence from all that can intoxicate. With such
we have to begin with first principles. We have to show
them that the Latin temperantia signifies the moral quality
of moderation or discreetness, and that the English word
"temperance," as used in all good standard English works,
means precisely the same thing. We have to show them
that the temperate zone does not mean a zone which totally
abstains from cold or heat, but a zone that is moderate in
both ; that a temperate behavior is not a behavior that
totally abstains from severity, but one that is steady and
reasonable in its course; as Cicero says (*<Fam.," 12, 27):
"Est autem ita temperatis moderatisque moribus ut summa
se Veritas' summ^ cum humanitate jungatur.'* And while
quoting Cicero I may quote his definitions of temperance as
given in his ** De Finibus "—first, " Temperantia est modera-
tio cupiditatum, ration i obediens" (2, 19, 60) j and, secondly,
'' Temperantia est quse, in rebus aut expetendis aut fugien-

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8 Moderation vs. Total Abstinence.

dis, rationem ut sequamur monet " (1, 14, 47). Now, what
a fearful prostitution of a noble word is seen in the popular
use of the word *^ temperance" to-day I And this prostitu-
tion is a work wrought within the last fifty years. From its
high position as signifying a grand moral subjection of the
whole man to the sway of reason it is degraded to the maimed
and mutilated function of representing a legaUsm that pro-
hibits man from any drink that can intoxicate. To what
base uses has it come at last ! This false use of a word has
had special influence upon that portion of the unthinking
public who rightly reverence the Scriptures. They see that
temperance is put in the list of Christian virtues ; and as
temperance now means total abstinence^ what can they do,
as loyal believers in the Scriptures, but sign the pledge, and,
furthermore, count all who do not as aliens from God's
truth "? They are as honest and as enlightened as the good
Presbyterian woman who only needed to see the words
"general assembly" in the Bible to know she was right and
everybody else wrong.

Now, the use of a false argument always reacts against
the user, and, while the ignorant and semi-ignorant multi-
tude will be deceived, the thinking classes of society will
shun a cause that rests on misrepresentation. The word
" temperance," as seized and appropriated by radical and
intemperate souls, is a false flag, and, as a false flag, will
disgust and alienate true and enlightened souls. Especially
will t bis be the case when it is found to be only one of many
false lights held out to attract the masses. Another of these
deceptions (of course I do not say these are wilful deceptions
by all that use them ; I am only speaking of their absolute
cbaracter)-=-another of these deceptions is the circulated
theory of an unfermented, unintoxicating wine. There is
not a chemist nor a classical scholar in the world who would
dare risk his reputation on the assertion that there was ever
an unfermented wine in common use, knowing ^ell that
must preserved from fermentation is called wine only by a
kind of courtesy (as the lump of unbaked dough might be
called " bread % and that this could in the nature of things
never be a common drink. Cato (* * De Re Rustic^," 120) shows

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A Calm View of the Temperance Question. 9

how by a very careful method malt could be kept for a whole
year, and other Roman writers show the same ; but who can
pretend that these writera ever looked upon such preserved
juice as wine, when their whole object is to show how it can be
kept from becoming wine ? Yet, with no other foundation
than this, the leaders of the total-abstinence cause have pub-
lished their bull afltaniDg that the good wines of antiquity
were unfermented, in utter defiance of chemistry, history,
and common sense. Because the grape-juice could, by means
of hermetically-sealed vessels under water, be kept grape-
juice, therefore the common wines of antiquity, the wine of
which writers speak when they use no qualiij^ing phrase,
must have been unfermented. This is the logic used by
these infatuated defenders of the total abstinence principle.


A third deception in this cause is the twisting of Scrip-
ture to its advocacy. No unbiassed reader can for a moment
doubt that wine, as referred to in the WcAe passim, is an in-
toxicating drink, and that such wine was drunk by our Sa-
viour and the early Christians. To meet this fatal blow to
the total-abstinence system in the minds of those who take
the Bible as their guide, the advocates of the cause have in-
vented a theory that is magnificent in its daring. It is no
less than the division of the word " wine '' by a Solomo-
nian sword, so that the good and the bad shall each have a
piece of it. Whenever wine is spoken of severely in Scrip-
ture, then it is fermented wine ; and whenever it is spoken
of in praise, or used by our Lord and his apostles, then it is
unfermented wine. And if you ask these sages why they so
divide wine^-on what grounds they base this theory — they
bravely answer that our Saviour could not have drunk in-
toxicating wine, and God^s word never could have, praised
such, and, therefore, their theory. They start with the beg-
ging of the whole question, and then on this thin air they
build their castle.

It is not now my purpose to argue with these strange logi-
cians. I only wish to put this Scripture-twisting in the list
of deceptive methods used by the representative total-absti-

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10 Moderation vs. Total Abstinence.

nence reformers to promote their cause. I could add, in this
item, the false use of texts aud ttie suppression of parts of
texts, but I leave the matter here.

The three elements of deception entering into their cause
is, as we have seen, the use of the word temperance for a
totally different thing, the fable about unfermented wine,
and the violent wresting of the Scriptures. Now, I unhesi
tatingly affirm that a cause having such falsehoods as its
main support can never be accepted by the public. Simple-
minded people may be gained to it, but the thinking people
will be repelled. It is true that some may adhere to it, in
spite of its falsehood, for other reasons ; but the three great
untruths that are flaunted on its banners will disgust most
men who have brains and use them.

A second reason why I believe the plan of total abstinence
will not be adopted by the people is its immanliness. To
stop the use of anything because of its abuse is an expedi-
ent for the weak and diseased, an exceptional plan for excep-
tional cases ; but to assert this principle among men in gene-
ral would be to degrade the race and remove all the incen-
tives and helps to moral growth. We know in the family
how mistaken a method it is to remove everything the child
should not play with out of its reach. The wise parent
leaves the article in its accustomed place, and teaches the
child its rightful use.


The other plan only makes the child more and more de-
pendent on external checks, and prevents the growth of
self-control. The same reasoning holds good in the human
family at large. We are to develop self-control as much as
possible. A true civilization always seeks to do this. A
barbarous state of society requires man to hide everything
valuable in places unknown to others, and to go personally
armed to secure himself against attack. But a civilized
condition reveals a very different state of things. Men live
in houses full of valuables, and walk the streets unarmed
and in security. Dependence is placed upon the common
self-control, and it is acknowledged to be a far higher and

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A Calm View of the Temj)erance Question, 11

more successful principle for the conduct of human life. Of
course there is a limit to this practical trusting of mankind,
and much wisdom is needed to mark this limit correctly in
any given instance. But the general truth is evident that
true civilization is in the direction of personal self-control,
and not in that of governmental prohibition. We expect law
to prohibit crime, but we look to law only to regulate matters
that do not involve crime, but contain risk under certain
conditions. Now, the selling or drinking of wine is certainly
not a crime, and any legislation which prohibits it is open to
the charge of putting it in a wrong category and abusing
the popular conscience. A prohibition for certain times or
places may be defended without subjecting the act to this
false imputation ; but a total prohibition, the cardinal doc-
trine of the total-abstinence people, at once brands wine-
drinking with theft and violence. Things that are not
vicious in themselves, but which may be readily abused to
vicious ends, certainly need legislative regulation, and such
regulation is a help to self-control, where prohibition would
be a hindrance. Regulation is a hint to put the people on
their guard, but prohibition is completely taking away the
subject from the people^s notice. Now, the public mind re-
volts at being treated in this childlike way. It virtually
says : ^' Give us certain wise rules about this thing, but for
the sake of respectable and dignified humanity do not sweep
it away from the earth." Remember that we are not argu-
ing now on the merits of the total-abstinence theory, but only
on its feasibility. We do not say that it is a wrong principle.
We only say that people will not adopt it, and we are showing
the reasons why they will not. The community will not unrea-
sonably (as they think) be put into leading-strings and kept in
a permanent nursery — and that, too, by men who use njanifest
falsehoods as prominent arguments for their position. There
is such a thing as the public CDUscience, and people will
draw lines of distinction between things criminal and things
indifferent. They will naturally, therefore, resist any move-
ment that tends to obliterate these distinctions, and judge
of it as the action of a tyrannic opinion, and not of an ethi-
cal truth. They feel that their manhood is assailed, and if

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12 Moderation vs. Total Abstinence.

this assault is allowed in this form they may be exposed to
other assaults ia still more odious forms. Of course it is
easy ff»r the radical reformers to say that this opposition is
interested, and is only the struggle of evil against those that
woul I fetter it ; but there are too many good, conscientious,
and thoughtful men who feel all this that I have said for this
allegation to be maintained. We cannot consent to go back
to mediflBval nonage, and have our day's allowance doled out
to us by a few who arrogate to themselves the paternal
management of the world. We cannot permit the system
of sumptuary laws to take the place of an enlightened com-
mon sense. We cannot forego our reason on the plea that
the world is in danger. Nay, we must all the more assert
our reason against a false expediency that in curing, or at-
tempting to cure, one evil would create a hundred. The fact
that there is a great danger is the very fact that should
guard us from pursuing any false way. Great dangers must
be met by great prudence, not by headlong impulse. It
looks brave to shout and fall pell-mell upon the enemy; but
it is wiser to set our batteries in sure places, and to order
line and reserves in the interests of a permanent victory.
Too many of our reforms are pushed without regard to the
character of the means, the end being insisted on as justify-
ing all means. The temperance reform has been an eminent
example of this heedlessness.


And here I put the third reason why I believe the plan of
total abstinence will not be adopted by the people— because
of its spirit of intimidation. Of course this is not inherent to
the cause, but it has been the invariable accompaniment of
it during its forty years' curriculum. And we now have to
deal practically with historic facts, and not with mere ab-
stract theories. Whatever may have been the cause, whe-
ther it be the weakness of the case or the unfortunate choice
of leaders and defenders, the total-abstinence propaganda
has been an overbearing and tyrannical power. It has used
a violence of language that can admit of no excuse. It has
condemned every one, however faithful in all moral and re-

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A Calm View of the Temperance Question, 13

ligious duties, who has refused to enter its ranks. It has
confounded all ideas of right and wrong, calumniously de-
claring the man who drinks wine moderately is as bad as,
nay, worse than, the drunkard; asserting that all drinks,
whether vinous, malt, or distilled, are alike poisonous; vili-
fying those who teach any other doctrine by calling them
traitors to the truth— Judas Iscariots betraying the Master
—and exercising where it could a fearful proscription in
driving good men from the pulpits of the land because they
would not and could not conscientiously pronounce their
shibboleth. The principal printed organs of this propaganda
have been full of these fierce onslaughts upon the character
of respectable men, and the harsh and cruel judgments
spoken of have been carried out with the spirit of the Inqui-
sition. The political world has lately invented a word for
this way of settling a disputed question. They have called
it " bulldozing.-' It makes peace by creating a desert. It
produces unanimity by shutting the mouths of the other
side. The world is apt to think that such conduct indicates
a cause that cannot be sustained by reason, and the reaction
is likely to be excessive. It is exactly that reaction which
is now making the cause of rum and ruin more successful
than ever. Men, in their revolt from tyranny, rush into
licentious extremes j and however honest the tyranny may
have been, or however true the cause it supported, it has
only itself to blame for the harm it does. A man may put
his hand on the safety-valve and exclaim : '* See how I have
stopped the noisy escape of the steam," and certainly every-
thing looks calm and peaceful ; but a few minutes afterward,
when the steam has had time to gather its strength, our
hero will have a different cry. A little success here and
there by the total-abstinence crusade may impress many
with the idea that this is the true way to make men tempe-
rate. A partial success in Maine has been proclaimed as
proving the question against the painful failures everywhere
else, but no careful observer will either approve the speci-
men or take it as a proof against our general position.
Maine is but a small part of our country, and has no great
seething population made up from every nation on earth.

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14 Moderation vs. Total Abstinence,

It has a highly-educated people, who can bear an experi-
ment in morals with something of a philosophic spirit. A
lew strong-minded and high-minded people can become as-
cetics, but the great world cannot, and we must legislate
for the great world. Even Maine cannot permanently keep
its Maine Law.

There is a general notion in the public mind that the pre-
sent condition of Maine in regard to the liquor question is
that of a temporary repression ; and whether that notion be
right or wrong, it belongs to tbat public opinion which has
to be regarded in all prudential planning. Tbe general
thought of the community concerning this repression is that

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Online LibraryHoward CrosbyModeration vs. total abstinence; or, Dr. Crosby and his reviewers → online text (page 1 of 12)