Joseph Harvey (D.D.).

An appeal to Christians: on the immorality of using or vending distilled ... online

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\ . 03» THE i \




HAT 6tb» 1831. j j.




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; £A8T-HAiiFT0ir, Mat 5lb, 183r.

I DsAft Sir,— •

Parraant to a vote of the Eatt-HamptoD Teoperaoca Societj, we prettnt
I joa tbeir tbankt, for your able Address, this daj delirered before tbon, md

I respectfully request a copy of tbe same for pabUcatioa.

Your^s respectfolly.



F. G. EDGSRTOir, > CommitUe.

I iRer. Joseph Hamset,

WuT-CmrcR, IVay 1ft, I83f.


Gentlemen, —
I hare this day receir ed, tbroagb yott, Ibe leqaest of the Temperaooe So-
ciety ID East-HamptoD. It is my desire to cootrilHite all io ny power, fo
promote tbe TemperaDoe ReformatioD io our land. If tbe Address wbicb was
delirered by me, before yomr Society, will, in your jndgmeiit, promote the
caose io wbicb we feel a common interest, the manuscript is at year disposal.
With sentiments of esteem, I remain

Toar^, Ac.

Messrs. F. G. Comstocx, F. G. EtyCHntTOK, and HsifBT Stuoito, ComV.

' m^llolrfot \

Qmn^ C. Dewptor Digitized by V^OOglC



Much has been said and proved concerning the inexpediency of
using and vending distilled hquors. But is it not time to look at some
other aspects of this subject? Is it not time to inquire how these
practices stand related to sound moraUty, and whether they are con-
sistent with the principles of the Christian ReUgion?

The Cbbistian Rbuoion has its practical standard in the Mobal
Law. To this tribunal therefore, fiK>m whose decision there is no
appeal, must every question respecting the consistency of Christian
practice be referred.

And, though the sincere christian may, in fact, fail of perfect con-
formity to his professed standard, still he cannot consistently propose
to be in^perfect; nor can be excuse or justify himself in the least
deviation firom a perfect rule. A plea, or claim of indulgence in ^ \\i

this respect, fseXa forth an inconsistency with the Christian profes*
sion, fatal to every supposition of integrity. And no instance nor de-
gree of transgression can be reconciled with sincerity in the profess-
ed believer, but on the ground, that, as soon as known, it will meet
his decided disapprobation, and lead the delinquent to say, with Job,
*' I abhor nofself."

These, it is conceived, are some of the elementary maxims, * )

wbicknustguideus to a correct solution of the points now to be dis- j t

cussed. j '>j

The use of distilled liquors, as an article of luxury or livings and ' 'i

the traffic in them for that purpose, undeniably constitute an exten- . '1

sive branch of human conduct. Of course, this practice and this ; ,;)

employment must have some relation to the Moral Law, must possess • !

some moral character. Being therefore, in a moral view, right or . ; j

wrong, they must he positively consistent or inconsistent with a ^ |

profession of the Christian Religion. t ;



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Whatever difficulties, those, who are influenced by their own in*
terest rather than by moral principle, may find in determining the
question of duty ; the professed christian, whose case exclusively is
' now regarded, can hardly fail of a satisfactory result. The course
of argument for him is plain and direct. He has no occasion to go
abroad in quest of a standard of duty. His standard is ascertained,
his first principles are settled ; and all that remains to be done, is to
make an impartial application.

To the professed disciple of Christ then, is the hand of christian
friendthip presented, and he is invited to a candid examination of mo-
ral principle, in relation to the practice in question.

Chrutian hrolher^ be not reluctant, be not alarmed. The field now
to t>e explored is not infested with monsters, or demons, to frighten
you. A shower of unkind epithets is not about to be poured on your
head, nor will any attempt be made to confound you with the dust and
smoke of assertion or denunciation.

In the clear atmosphere of truth and duty, however, we find this
interesting case of conscience to be resolved. Is it right in the si§^t
of God, in the view of his law — is it consistent with christian vows
and professions, to use distilled liquors as an article of Uving, or to
make them an article of common traffic ?

With an honest desire to know the truth and to obey it, let us re-
sort to the great standard of moral rectitude and settle this point. —
And let it be understood as a preliminary stipulation, that we will
meet the result, whatever it shall be, fairly and without reserve.

If the practice in question be proved to be immoral, and therefore
unchristian ; then so be it. If truth and duty say cibstain from the
use and the traffic in view, then abstain we will, totally ^n^. immediate^
ly; and that, without cavUUng, flouting, or even like Lot's wife,
'^ castings longing, lingering look behind." Otherwise, consience will
bear witness where the4)lame properly rests, if the argument should
place any professing christian beyond the utmost reach of charity.

The MoBAL Law being our acknowledged standard, a summary
view of its acquirements will be necessary, to shew the points of its
bearing on the present subject.

The sum of this law is, *^ Thou shah love the Lord thy (rod, with
all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy ndnd, and with all
thy strength. — And thou shaU love thy neighbor as ihyse^" Maris xii.
20, 31. This needs no comment; and all that is requisite for pre-

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sent purposes, is, to observe the itnport of Ihe word, aUy in this con^^

nexioii. In regard to God, the exercise of our entire faculties of

soul and body is demanded. This fact merits our particular atten<>

iKMi* The law does not say, thou shalt love the Liord thy God, with

some of thy hearty eouiy ndnd and strengthy or with a considerable pro*

portion of them ; but with ALL. And in regard to our fellow men, j! I

the law does not say, thou shah love thy neighbor, when it will not \l ,'i

interfere with self-indulgence ; but '^ thou shall lave him as ihyselfJ*^

At a glanoe therefore we perceive, that whatever impairs or im-
pedes the exercise of our natural faculties ; whatever tends to shorten
our days ; or whatever in our example, tends to produce these ef-
fects in others, or to give them prevalence in the community, is an \
undeniable violation of the Moral Law; and, when seen in its true |. j
light, must be inconsLstent with a profession of the Christian reli-

Here dien is the first point of inquiry, now to be examined ; which,
in a view somewhat expanded, is this. Does the use of distiUed li- ^

quors, as an article of luxury or hving, tend to iiijure the bodily sys- i, 1

tern, to undermine the health, to shorten life, to impair the mind ;
and thus to prevent the vigorous and appropriate action of a moral



agent? And does the specified use of these liquors tend to produce Y

any or all of these effects in our fellow men ? ^

If truth shaU hold us fast to an affirmative answer in these premi-
ses, then who will hesitate as to the unavoidable consequence ; es- i
pecially if the providence of God has shed so much light on the
subject, as to preclude every plea of ignorance or mistake ?

On aU sides, the immorality of absolute drunkenness is admitted.
But why is drunkenness immoral ? Is it not because this vice destroys
health, shortens life, prostrates rational and moral powers, and thus
prevents the appropriate service of a rational being ? But degrees in i

the extent of immorahty, do not alter its nature. It is as reaUy \

theft to steal a penny, as a pound. If the moderate use of distilled
liquors, in common circumstances of health, tends to produce, or
does in fact produce, to some extent, the same effect upon the body
and the mind, wi^ an excessive use, must it not in some degree
partake of the same immoral character ? And must not the entire
efiect of distilled liquors, upon the human system, from first to last,
fixim the lowest point to the highest, partake of the nature and moral
qualities of intoxication ? It is not indeed intoxication to die same
extent or degree in every case ; but is it not an incipient intoxication,

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^ • - 6

having the features of that vice in* #ame degree ? And if so, must not
the whole concern poaseas the same moral characteristics ? Is it not
part of the same thing ? A moral thermometer, a^^Ued to this nh-
ject, may shew indeed important distinctions in the actual extent of
the immoral principle ; but will it not indicate the existence of that
furinciple, before it reaches the bailing pointy or even the point <i£ fe-
ver heat ? Is not the immoral principle in &ct, indicated by the very
first perceptible effect, and does not the same principle, differing on-
ly in degree, range through the whole scale of excitement ?

If this be 80, and who can d^ubt it, then the distinction between
the temperate and intemperate use of distilled liquors, in common
eircnmstances, is wholly fanciful. It is as really, dioagh not as
l^reatly, int6n]f>eraiice, to drink a dram, as to drink a gallon. The
point of inquiry therefore, does not lie betweai temperance and in.
temperance, sobriety and intoxication, in those who use these li<piors
in the mannet specified ; the <mly question, is, to what degree o£ in-
temperance does diis use extend ; and how mach^ if ai^ intoxkdtiott
ia consistent with a christian profesmon ?

The subject has been thus hypothetically stated, for the puq>ose
of shewing its bearings. But, it is behoved, that a httle attentiosi to
the evidence in the case, will change the hypcflheas into soiMfad and
sound argument. To this evidence then, let us now attend*

Our general positum is, that the influence of distilled ^^trUs itpon the
human systeniy and that the tendency of common use, as an example^ are
necessarihf ir^urious ; and therefore that this use, in all common eir-
cumstaneesy is essentially vmnordL

In the first place. As it respects the effect of distilled liqumrs upon
the human system, the truth of o\xt jpreposUion is evident from the na-
ture of those tiquors.

They consist essentially, in a volatile pungent pnaciple called Al-
cohol ; which possesses the power of exciting the nervous ^stem, hut
affords no nourishment to the body in any of its constituent parts*-^
The simple and obvious fact in the case is, that these liquors subject
the bodily system, or a certain part of it, and that a very influential
part, to action or labor, without any sufficient ycasion. And the
only ciTGumstance that makes this labor appear more desirable than
other labor is, it is attended with a pleasurable sensation.

^t the foot, universally admitted, that these liquOTsaffi>rd no ali-
ment or sustenance to the body, is one of material importance in the .
|ires«irt investigation ; and developos at once the immoral character

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< "j

6{ canmMm ute in ail its staged and degrees. For this iact presents
a dear and broad distinction between these liquors and tbose articles,
whether solid or liquid) which, is moderate quantities, afibrd nourish*
ment ; but which may become injurious by excess. The latter, to
a obtain extent or point of use, affording nouristoieBt, are the ne«
oessary means of support to the body. They become hurtful, and
tfmr use becomes intemperate and immoral, only by the perverted
eibct of an excessive quantity.

Not so wi^ distilled liquors. They afford no supply or nourish*
ment, at all, to the body. In this respect, thfsy are as destitute in
small quantities as in large. Their most notoriously evil effects re-
sult firom no change, but that of increased operation. TheuseoftiMse • i
liquors in dl stages tbefefere, presents us with a regular connected
seHes of iBoiieasein dieir natiural and essential efiect.

it is easy to define Umperance^ and t«lesiper«iice, in regard to the
use fjifiodf or of mkUary drinks. Intemperance begins at the point
where the fumriMug operation ceases, and the it^^wrums aeration

': I


Birt to aMerapt such a definition m regard to dfteuse of distiBed 1i«
qoors^invdVesttsatonceinendMiTrassment. And the diffictiky arises
firom the fact, that we can find no point where the nourishing openu •*

tionof these liquors exists at alL It is therefore imposnble to tell
where k ceases, fi>r that cannot cease iHiich nerer begins or exists.
It is easy indeed, to trace djstiactio ns and degrees m the effiKts of
^stiBed liquors. We may perceire that, under their influence, one
man is socMk^ another is merrift another quarr^emne^ another s^.
g«fs, another tfewMes^ another is depoBtied in ^e dkck* But timse
afeiMly dlfibMttt ^groies of the same influence, and theirefi>i«, if we
were to define at tdl OB this sabjeot, we could only define ^leifagrtfe
<if U ii emp ermnee actuaUy existing. For this being the same in*
flli$aiee, existing in different degrees, it isall i»<€iftp^asee,ortherei8
no irUem permm ee in om^ dtgree of this influence. The principto of
itnnefality must exist in «//, or noit« of its stages.

And let not this conclnsion be evaded, under the begaiHng influence
of a pleasant sensation. Hiis, if it justify the use of these liqnors
at all) wilT justify that use to every extent. This sensation is mere,
ly the bait which cmieeals a hook. The bait vriU^oon be fi>i|$otten,
but the hooh will remain mfixed.

In the second place. The trudh of our general proposition, 'is sup-
ported by the testimony of the great body of medical men. 1 ,




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C a


They of all men, are best judges in the case ; and their oi^ited
testimony would seem to place the subject beyond a reasonable
doubt. In no other case probably, would testiuMmy so respectable
and so decisive, fail of producing entire conriction. But the medical
faculty, almost without a dissenting voice, and with the most honora-
ble frankness and disinterestedness, declare, that Uiey consider
distilled hqaors as a poison, a c<mcealed but implacable foetohealA
and life. And they declare it as the result of dieir observation, diat
these hquors, in all cases, except those which wffl. justify the use of
medicinal poisons ; are unifi>inily and decidedly injurious. -

If this is a correct opinion, and who would think of calling it in
question in any other case, then the physical and moral effect of
Uiese liquors is in all stages essentially the same. It dtifibrs only in
degree. And this efiect, in all its stages and degrees is necessarily
injurious. For surely it may be safely assumed, that poi§on is inju-
nous in its influence ; and Uiat a small quantity is as really jwiion, and
produces effects as really poisonousy as a large quantity.

The only question that can arise in the case, is merely a question
of degree ; how much is the person poisoned^ or how much po4son
may a professing christian consistently use, as an article of luamry
01 living.

And let not this opinion be invalidated, by a misapprehension of
the nature of poison. To constitute an article pcnsongns, it is not
necessary that it should produce inmiediale or violent death. If, by
its own inherent qualities, it tend to counteract the regular operations
of the human system, and thus to undermine; and finally to destroy
health aodlife, it is really pcMSonous. Real poisons do not all operate
with Uie same degree of nq>idity. Some take the citadel of life by
storm, and some by the more slow, but not less sure process of sapi
ping and mining. Neither do all real poisons adopt the same process
of destruction. Some corrode the internal membranes, some excite ir-
resistible inflammation, while others prostrate UieTital energy. But
they all arrive at the same final result, and are therefore all really poi.
sonous. That distilled liquors constitute an article _of this general
description, is the explicit testimony of medical m^i.

This point however, is so material to a correct view of the subject,
and so deeply affects its moral relations especially ; that no apology
will be deemed necessary, for introducing some additional evidence of
the poisonous character of distilled liquors.

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And in support of this truth, the appeal is made to natvbe heiir

The natural organs of the body possess the instinctive power of
discriminating between food and poison. The former, in a statu of
health, always meets a welcome ; while the latter, as uniformly ex*
cites disturbance and remittance.

Let nature then say, in what light she regards, and how she is im«
pelled to treat distilled liquors ? Introduce them to the stomach, and
what is the consequence ? That organ, as if conscious of the pre-
sence of an enemy, rouses all its energy to pudi off the intruder. — ; -*
And if the quantity be too great to be disposed of in a milder way-, , f
the door is at once opened, and the enemy turned out without ceremO'^ \ i
nyy the way he came. " |

Introduce these liquors the lungs, and that organ, true to the in- . ^j

terests of the system, at once sets about discharging the eyil ; and j

thus, by impregnating the breath, betrays the secrets of tiplers. \ a

Let these liquors pass to the brain, and instantly that organ, with ! .

all its family of nerVes, is in commotion. Exertion is made even to *

1^^^ and divzinese, to expel the foe. And what cannot be thus eject-
ed, is left as unfit for any use. Thus, we are informed by respecta-
ble authority, that dissection, after the death of a person caused by ^ ^
gin, discovered a quantity of limpid gin in the cavity of the brain. —
Was it there, because the ** Grolden bowl," was designed for a gin «
cask, or was it not rather, because nature knew of no use for the ar- ^

The same instinctive sense of injury, is manifested by every or- ^'k

gan of the body which comes in contact with these liquors. They j

-are every where received with unequivocal signs of alarm and resist-
ance. The very action which they produce, is but the effort of na.*
ture to free itself from oppression. And where this resistance will ^ . |

not avail, nature resigns her functions and lies down, like an ox in the ' jf

furrow, or an ass couchii^^ between two burdens. j. ,i|

How comes it to pass, if these liquors are useful, that nature should ^\

thus mistake her own interests ; or that her teacher, the God of na- \^ ^ji

ture, should have given her a lesson so erroneous ? i |

No, there is no nustake ; it is in vain to deny what nature thus de- I i'^

monstrates. Say what we will about these liquors, nature puts her .

label upon them in broad capitals, and that label is POISON. I

Instead therefore of being an article of Uving^ distilled liquors are

an article of dying. For it is no more to be doubted, that this process i, .;

5 I !'

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of exhaustion goUig on, the system will &il, than that the glass will 6c
emptied of its faUing sands, though they may fall one by one.

Will it be alleged that distilled liquors, though they do not afibrd
nourishment, may be necessary in the process of digestion,_and thus
contribute to the general interests of the 8yslem ?

One fact stands immoveably in the way of such a suppositioil, and
that is : God has provided no such assistance as disHUed Uquors^ in
\\ any department of nature. This being trv*e> it is but reaaoaaMe ta

b conclude, that he did not deem such assistance neeessary# Th#

I![ whole work of God in creation, which at its eom^etioB was pro*

t ; nounced very good^ does not furnish one drop of distUled Uqpior.

In the stores, which God has provided for human sustenance otr
»• comfort, he has mingled the elements of food and driiik in such

proportions, as neither to injure nor oAnd*
li But distilled liquors, as is well knaini, are obtained by violeaee

upon nature ; by forcing one of her latent piineiples from its proper
combination. Now if this kneoeMary to huaiBn comfort or subsist*
ence, was not the woA of creation, as it c<Mne from the hand of
God, inconqilete ? How could he proftouaoe it verygood^ when aa
yet, there was no distilled licpior to aid digestion? How couM
Adam have a perfect paradise^ and not one drop of distiUed liquor
to aid his digestion t How is it, that this so good, so necessary on
article, should never have been known in the world till long after the

Is not the allegation, in fact, an impeachment of the wisdom of
God ? For if the bodily system needs more than he has provided,
then his work is very defective.

What would you say of the mechanic^ who sboidd send you a-
clock without a pendiUum; or one, so defective in iis moving
power, that you are oUiged to standby, to turn the wkeds wkh your
hand, or pull upon the weights?

What would say of the wisdmn of your neighbor, who should load
his team so heavily, that they could not nwve on a level road» without
the assuitaDce of a lever ?

And what do you in fiict say of the wisdom of God, when yovt

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Online LibraryJoseph Harvey (D.D.)An appeal to Christians: on the immorality of using or vending distilled ... → online text (page 1 of 4)