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Historical Sketches of the Foreign Missions of the Seventh-day Adventists

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    A Large Temperance Meeting

    On Sunday, by request of the president of the temperance society, I spoke upon the subject of temperance. The meeting was held in the soldiers’ military gymnasium, the largest hall in the city. An American flag was placed as a canopy above the pulpit; this was an attention which I highly appreciated. There were about sixteen hundred assembled. Among them was a bishop of the State Church, with a number of the clergy; a large proportion were of the better class of society.HS 207.6

    I took up the subject from a religious stand-point, showing that the Bible is full of history bearing upon temperance, and that Christ was connected with the work of temperance, even from the beginning. It was by the indulgence of appetite that our first parents sinned and fell. Christ redeemed man's failure. In the wilderness of temptation he endured the test which man had failed to bear. While he was suffering the keenest pangs of hunger, weak and emaciated from fasting, Satan was at hand with his manifold temptations to assail the Son of God, to take advantage of his weakness and overcome him, and thus thwart the plan of salvation. But Christ was steadfast. He overcame in behalf of the race, that he might rescue them from the degradation of the fall. He showed that in his strength it is possible for us to overcome. Jesus sympathizes with the weakness of men; he came to earth that he might bring to us moral power. However strong the passion or appetite, we can gain the victory, because we may have divine strength to unite with our feeble efforts. Those who flee to Christ will have a stronghold in the day of temptation.HS 207.7

    I showed the importance of temperate habits by citing warnings and examples from Bible history. Nadab and Abihu were men in holy office; but by the use of wine their minds became so beclouded that they could not distinguish between sacred and common things. By the offering of “strange fire,” they disregarded God's command, and they were slain by his judgments. The Lord, through Moses, expressly prohibited the use of wine and strong drink by those who were to minister in holy things, that they might “put difference between holy and unholy,” and might teach “the statutes which the Lord hath spoken.” The effect of intoxicating liquors is to weaken the body, confuse the mind, and debase the morals. All who occupied positions of responsibility were to be men of strict temperance, that their minds might be clear to discriminate between right and wrong, that they might possess firmness of principle, and wisdom to administer justice and to show mercy.HS 208.1

    This direct and solemn command was to extend from generation to generation, to the close of time. In our legislative halls and courts of justice, no less than in our schools and churches, men of principle are needed; men of self-control, of keen perceptions and sound judgment. If the mind is beclouded or the principles debased by intemperance, how can the judge render a just decision? He has rendered himself incapable of weighing evidence or entering into critical investigation; he has not moral power to rise above motives of self-interest or the influence of partiality or prejudice. And because of this a human life may be sacrificed, or an innocent man robbed of his liberty or of the fair fame which is dearer than life itself. God has forbidden that those to whom he has committed sacred trusts as teachers or rulers of the people should thus unfit themselves for the duties of their high position.HS 208.2

    There is a lesson for parents in the instruction given to the wife of Manoah, and to Zacharias, the father of John the Baptist. The angel of the Lord brought the tidings that Manoah should become the father of a son who was to deliver Israel; and in reply to the anxious inquiry, “How shall we order the child, and how shall we do unto him?” the angel gave special directions for the mother: “Neither let her drink wine or strong drink, nor eat any unclean thing. All that I commanded her let her observe.” The child will be affected, for good or evil, by the habits of the mother. She must herself be controlled by principle, and must practice temperance and self-denial, if she would seek the welfare of her child.HS 208.3

    And fathers as well as mothers are included in this responsibility. Both parents transmit their own characteristics, mental and physical, their dispositions and appetites, to their children. As the result of parental intemperance, the children often lack physical strength and mental and moral power. Liquor-drinkers and tobacco-lovers hand down their own insatiable craving, their inflamed blood and irritated nerves, as a legacy to their offspring. And as the children have less power to resist temptation than had the parents, each generation falls lower than the preceding.HS 209.1

    The inquiry of every father and mother should be, “What shall we do unto the child that shall be born unto us?” Many are inclined to treat this subject lightly; but the fact that an angel of heaven was sent to those Hebrew parents, with instruction twice given in the most explicit and solemn manner, shows that God regards it as one of great importance.HS 209.2

    When the angel Gabriel appeared to Zacharias, foretelling the birth of John the Baptist, this was the message which he brought: “He shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost.” God had an important work for the promised child of Zacharias to do; a work that required active thought and vigorous action. He must have a sound physical constitution, and mental and moral strength; and it was to secure for him these necessary qualifications that his habits were to be carefully regulated, even from infancy. The first steps in intemperance are often taken in childhood and early youth; therefore most earnest efforts should be directed toward enlightening parents as to their responsibility. Those who place wine and beer upon their tables are cultivating in their children an appetite for strong drink. We urge that the principles of temperance be carried into all the details of home life; that the example of parents be a lesson of temperance; that self-denial and self-control be taught to the children and enforced upon them, so far as possible, even from babyhood.HS 209.3

    The future of society is indexed by the youth of today. In them we see the future teachers and law-makers and judges, the leaders and the people, that determine the character and destiny of the nation. How important, then, the mission of those who are to form the habits and influence the lives of the rising generation. To deal with minds is the greatest work ever committed to men. The time of parents is too valuable to be spent in the gratification of appetite or the pursuit of wealth or fashion. God has placed in their hands the precious youth, not only to be fitted for a place of usefulness in this life, but to be prepared for the heavenly courts. We should ever keep the future life in view, and so labor that when we come to the gates of paradise we may be able to say, “Here, Lord, am I, and the children whom thou hast given me.”HS 209.4

    But in the work of temperance there are duties devolving upon the young which no other can do for them. While parents are responsible for the stamp of character as well as for the education and training which they give their sons and daughters, it is still true that our position and usefulness in the world depend, to a great degree, upon our own course of action.HS 209.5

    Nowhere shall we find a more comprehensive and forcible illustration of true temperance and its attendant blessings than in the history of the youthful Daniel and his associates in the court of Babylon. When they were selected to be taught the learning and tongue of the Chaldeans, that they might “stand in the king's palace,” “the king appointed them a daily provision of the king's meat, and of the wine which he drank.” “But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king's meat, nor with the wine which he drank.” Not only did these young men decline to drink the king's wine, but they refrained from the luxuries of his table. They obeyed the divine law, both natural and moral. With their habits of self-denial were coupled earnestness of purpose, diligence, and steadfastness. And the result shows the wisdom of their course.HS 209.6

    God always honors the right. The most promising youth of every land subdued by the great conqueror, had been gathered at Babylon; yet amid them all, the Hebrew captives were without a rival. The erect form, the firm, elastic step, the fair countenance showing that the blood was uncorrupted, the undimmed senses, the untainted breath,—all were so many certificates of good habits, insignia of the nobility with which nature honors those who are obedient to her laws. And when their ability and acquirements were tested by the king at the close of the three years of training, none were found “like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah.” Their keen apprehension, their choice and exact language, their extensive and varied knowledge, testified to the unimpaired strength and vigor of their mental powers.HS 210.1

    The history of Daniel and his companions has been recorded on the pages of the inspired word for the benefit of the youth of all succeeding ages. Those who would preserve their powers unimpaired for the Service of God must observe strict temperance in the use of all his bounties, as well as total abstinence from every injurious or debasing indulgence. What men have done, men may do. Did those faithful Hebrews stand firm amid great temptation, and bear a noble testimony in favor of true temperance? The youth of today may bear a similar testimony, even under circumstances as unfavorable. Would that they would emulate the example of those Hebrew youth; for all who will, may, like them, enjoy the favor and blessing of God.HS 210.2

    There is still another aspect of the temperance question which should be carefully considered. Not only is the use of unnatural stimulants needless and pernicious, but it is also extravagant and wasteful. An immense sum is thus squandered every year. The money that is spent for tobacco would support all the missions in the world; the means worse than wasted upon strong drink would educate the youth now drifting into a life of ignorance and crime, and prepare them to do a noble work for God. There are thousands upon thousands of parents who spend their earnings in self-indulgence, robbing their children of food and clothing and the benefits of education. And multitudes of professed Christians encourage these practices by their example. What account will be rendered to God for this waste of his bounties? Money is one of the gifts intrusted to us with which to feed the hungry, to clothe the naked, to minister to the afflicted, and to send the gospel to the poor. But how is this work neglected! When the Master shall come to reckon with his servants, will he not say to many, “Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me”? All around us there is work to do for God. Our means, our time, our strength, and our influence are needed. Shall we take hold of this work, and live to glorify God and bless our fellow-men? Shall we build up the Lord's kingdom in the earth?HS 210.3

    There is need now of men like Daniel,—men who have the self-denial and the courage to be radical temperance reformers. Let every Christian see that his example and influence are on the side of reform. Let ministers of the gospel be faithful in sounding the warnings to the people. And let all remember that our happiness in two worlds depends upon the right improvement of one.HS 211.1

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