Ellen G. White Writings

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The Review and Herald

May 8, 1894

The Liquor Traffic Working Counter to Christ

By Mrs. E. G. White

Jesus came to our world to dispute the authority of Satan, who claimed supremacy over the earth. He came to restore in man the defaced image of God, to impart to the repentant soul divine power by which he might be raised from corruption and degradation, and be elevated and ennobled and made fit for companionship with the angels of heaven, to take the position in the courts of God which Satan and his angels lost through their rebellion. But men have failed to co-operate with Jesus in his divine mission, and have placed themselves under the black banner of the prince of darkness, giving themselves up to be the agents through whom the powers of darkness work for the destruction of humanity. It is Satan's purpose to counteract the work of Christ, and in his counsels he lays plans by which to convert every soul into a channel of darkness. The earth is the field of battle in which the powers of light and darkness are in controversy over the human souls for whom Christ died.

When Jesus was upon earth, he announced his mission and the character of his work. He said: “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn; to appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called Trees of righteousness, The planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified.”

Thus are pictured the mission and work of Christ and his co-laborers; but how different is the work of the prince of darkness and the work of those who labor on his side of the controversy. Those who are united with the prince of darkness in degrading the souls of their fellow-men, many times cloak their iniquity under the garb of religion; but of them the Lord says: “When ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you; yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear: your hands are full of blood.” There are many who spread forth their hands in Pharisaical self-righteousness and self-importance, who yet deny the principles of the law of God in their daily actions. Let not those whose hands are full of blood think to find acceptance with God because of their forms of worship. Those who sell intoxicating liquor to their fellow-men come under this reproof. They receive the earnings of the drunkard, and give him no equivalent for his money. Instead of this, they give him that which maddens him, which makes him act the fool, and turns him into a demon of evil and cruelty. He exchanges his reason at the bar of the liquor-dealer for a glass of rum or brandy; and under its influence he may cruelly beat his wife and children, and may even kill them outright, or do so by piece-meal, through neglect, through failure to supply them with the necessities of life. Because of a lack of proper food, of sufficient clothing, because of discouragements and degradation, sickness and death come upon his family, and at last their misery is over. But angels of God have witnessed every step in the downward path, and have traced every consequence that resulted from a man's placing the bottle to his neighbor's lips. The liquor-dealer is written in the records among those whose hands are full of blood. He is condemned for keeping on hand the poisonous draught by which his neighbor is tempted to ruin, and by which homes are filled with wretchedness and degradation. The Lord holds the liquor-dealer responsible for every penny that comes to his till out of the earnings of the poor drunkard, who has lost all moral power, who has sunk his manhood in drink.

Christ came to our world and suffered reproach, mockery, and insult. He was maligned and maltreated, and at last put to the shameful death of the cross. He suffered all this that he might rescue man from moral degradation, and restore to the soul the lost image of God. But the liquor-dealer, under the prince of the power of darkness, is working in exactly opposite lines, counter to the work of Christ, and is obliterating every trace of the image which Christ would restore. Look at the drunkard. See what liquor has done for him. His eyes are bleared and bloodshot. His countenance is bloated and besotted. His gait is staggering. The sign of Satan's working is written all over him. Nature herself protests that she knows him not; for he has perverted his God-given powers, and prostituted his manhood by indulgence in drink.

If a man has a vicious beast, and he allows it freedom, knowing that it will work injury to men, women, and children, he is brought before the law to answer for his carelessness or malignity. But how much better it would be to let such a beast loose than to license men to deal out poisonous drinks, to rob men of reason and manhood. What common sense in there in licensing men to sell that which destroys men, body and soul, claiming that this infamous business brings into the treasury a revenue by which the orphan children of the drunkard can be cared for? The world knows that intoxicating liquors rob men of the brain nerve-power, and send them into society bereft of reason. The world knows that most horrible crimes have been committed under its influence, and that drunken men have been led by Satan to do as he dictated, and stain their hands in the blood of their neighbors. The law authorizes the sale of liquor, and then has to build prisons for its victims; for nine tenths of those who are taken to prison are those who have learned to drink. They are those who have spent their earnings in the saloon. What revenue from this traffic can pay for the loss of human reason, for the loss of the image of God in men, for families reduced to suffering and degradation, for children made paupers, who grow up in ignorance and vice, to perpetuate in their posterity the inherited evil tendencies of their drunken fathers? Such is the outworking of this dreadful liquor traffic, and thus it perpetuates misery and crime, until the sum cannot be told by human voice or portrayed by human pen.

The hands of both liquor-dealers and liquor-drinkers are full of blood; yet the word of God comes to them, “Wash ye, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil; learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow;” and he adds this gracious invitation, “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool. If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land: but if ye refuse and rebel, ye shall be devoured with the sword: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.” “How is the faithful city become a harlot! it was full of judgment; righteousness lodged in it; but now murderers. Thy silver is become dross, thy wine mixed with water [and poison]: thy princes are rebellious, and companions of thieves: every one loveth gifts, and followeth after rewards: they judge not the fatherless, neither doth the cause of the widow come unto them.” Rulers and law-makers are not ignorant of the misery and degradation, the horrible and unceasing crime that pollutes the world through the influence of the liquor-traffic. But though they are not ignorant, they do not take measures to stop the terrible traffic; but will they escape judgment? Hear what the Lord says: “The destruction of the transgressors, and of the sinners shall be together.” Those who legalize sin, and those who are dealers in whisky, and those who are defiled by it, will be destroyed together. Let not the man who indulges in drink think that he will be able to cover his defilement by casting the blame upon the liquor-dealer; for he will have to answer for his sin and for the degradation of his wife and children. “They that forsake the Lord shall be consumed.”

In Europe and America drinking-gardens are made most attractive, and musicians are hired to play on instruments, to lure in the young and the old; and all classes patronize these resorts where all kinds of intoxicating liquors are prepared to tempt the depraved appetite. But the time will certainly come when the prophecy will be fulfilled: “For they shall be ashamed of the oaks which ye have desired, and ye shall be confounded for the gardens that ye have chosen. For ye shall be as an oak whose leaf fadeth, and as a garden that hath no water. And the strong shall be as tow, and the maker of it as a spark, and they shall both burn together, and none shall quench them.”

The evil consequent upon the indulgence of depraved appetite is widespread, and the earth is corrupted under the inhabitants thereof. The earth withereth under the curse of its sin, and the very cattle are diseased. What is the trouble? Why is this? It is because the people have forsaken the law of God, and the earth is cursed under its transgression. Notwithstanding the warnings of God's word, transgression has increased since the days of Adam, and more and more heavily has the curse pressed upon the human family, on the beasts of the earth, and on the earth itself. Continual transgression of the law of God has brought its sure results. With all his hellish arts, Satan has sought to lead men into practices that would destroy and debase, and destruction is sure to him who does not repent and turn to God for his healing grace. The soul that has not the grace of God can make no efforts to resist Satan, but will co-operate naturally with the Satanic agencies, and disregard and oppose the law of God; and the sure result of such a course is that men become the willing slaves of Satan, and work with him in influencing others in the way of disobedience.

The character of true obedience to God is brought out in the instruction of the Lord to his people. He says (Isaiah 58:6-10): “Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke? Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? when thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh? Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily: and thy righteousness shall go before thee; the glory of the Lord shall be thy rearward. Then shalt thou call, and the Lord shall answer; thou shalt cry, and he shall say, Here I am. If thou take away from the midst of thee the yoke, the putting forth of the finger, and speaking vanity; and if thou draw out thy soul to the hungry, and satisfy the afflicted soul; then shall thy light rise in obscurity, and thy darkness be as the noonday: and the Lord shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in drouth, and make fat thy bones: and thou shalt be as a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not.”

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