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upper room-men were called from the plough and the fisher's boat; but God sent them, and blessed them; and if we place ourselves in his hands, he will employ us as instruments for accomplishing his purposes. That this result may be consummated in regard to drinking customs, and that our youth may be preserved, and that our friends may be more fitted for their work—that more labourers may be sent into the harvest--that drunkenness may cease, and the will of God be done on earth as it is done in heaven, is the heartfelt desire of the Committee of the Band of Hope Union.
THE GREATNESS OF OUR WORK.
By the Rev. A. HANNAY.
1. Our work is great in its political aspect. It concerns the purity and strength of our national life ; it is a high service of patriotism. No nation whose sons are debased by vice, can be permanently great. This is the verdict of reason. Rectitude, purity, self-control, love, are seen to be necessary to the greatness of the individual ; and the same force must be held necessary to the perpetuation of a great nationality. It is the lesson of history. Great nations have sprung up; they have aggrandised themselves; they have seized with sudden and rapacious clutch all the elements of supposed strength which lay within their reach ; they have wielded a vast power, and shone with an exceeding glory for a time; and yet, after a brief season of pomp, their bright crown has been cast to the dust; men of learning and leisure have written the story of their decline and fall, and curious pilgrims from new-born nations have mused and made sketches amid the ruins of their collapsed civilization. Nineveh, Babylon, Rome, Islam, Spain ;-these were once names to conjure with, and what are they now? Affecting memorials of spent strength and fallen greatness. The reason ? Is natural life subject to the same law of mortality as individual life ? No; there is no natural death of nations, Nations die by the rebound of their own unrighteous deeds. They die when their sons cease to be courageous and brave; when self-denial gives place to luxury; when the family retreat is desecrated by vice, and when public virtue is trampled upon in the base competitions of self-seeking, or the brutal indulgences of lust. Nations have their mortal diseases in the forms of superstition, slavery, the spirit of conquest, ignorance, luxury, and vice. Some nations have succumbed under one of these diseases, and some under another, or under a complication of the others. Our own beloved fatherland is threatened. We have a great history,—there is none greater. We have been great in war, great in our manifold industry, great in the enterprises of commerce and science, great in the manliness with which we have welcomed liberal ideas, and adapted our institutions to them, great in generous sympathy with freedom all the world
over, and great in a certain grave, intelligent, and earnest religiousness. At present we are great in wealth, intelligence, internal political coherence, and outward political influence'; and those among ourselves who cast the horoscope of Britain and the Anglo-Saxons, paint a yet greater future. God grant the fulfilment of their prediction! But I am not without my fears. Not to refer to other causes which threaten national decadence, the leprosy of vice is too rife within our borders, to allow of absolute confidence with regard to the future. The
emasculating virus of luxury is in the veins of the nation, and that specific form of it with which we are leagued to do battle - drunkeness to wit-is so prevalent, as to be, to observing foreigners, one of the most conspicuous features of our national character. At present we are weak as a nation, compared with what we would be if sobriety were a universal virtue among us. Drunkenness holds some of our finest minds in thrall. Commerce, literature, art, science, religion,--all would receive an impulse, if these minds were emancipated. Whole classes of the people, instead of adding to the national strength, become burdens upon the other classes, and those rescources and energies of the nation, which might be devoted to the consolidation of its parts and to the building of it up in strength and beauty, are needed to hold vice in check, and to repair the waste of its morbid action in the body politic. And of the future we can only judge by the present. The next age will be what this age makes it. The harvest which our sons will gather will be from the seed which
If this national drunkenness continues, we shall have within our borders, generation after generation, an ever-widening area of social misery, physical decrepitude, intellectual feebleness, and moral sterility. Nor can this process long go on without laying Britain's glory in the dust. She will be outrun in the race of nations. Lusty competitors will first overtake, and then distance her. Corruption will sap her noble institutions, and her Titanic strength will become as the weakness of a man in dotage. Then will it fall to history once more to read the lesson to the ages, that no nation can persist in wrong-doing, and continue to be great. Britain, she will add, had all the elements of greatness, and she had great opportunities, but she allowed drunkeness to prey upon her vitals, and so she died.
This, then, sirs, is our great work. We would cast beyond our borders the evil which already enfeebles, and which threatens to destroy us. The very attempt is great; it is in the spirit of patriotism. We make no claim to have our names placed on the roll of patriots. Too well do we know that patriotism of the type which appears among moral reformers--the patriotism which seeks to promote the moral strength of a nation, as the cause of all other kinds of strength, is as yet but little understood. The great warrior, the fluent, eloquent demagogue, is still the idol of the people. The moral reformer is more likely, beyond a certain select circle, to be sneered at as a puritan, then hailed as a benefactor. But the verdicts of the present are not without appeal. There is a time coming, even on this
side the Great Assize, when in this matter as in many others, the last shall be first, and the first last. Meanwhile we can do our work, sustained by the conciousness of the patriotism which inspires our efforts ; and I do verily believe that in this temperance movement of ours, there are means of making reputations for patriotism for men of firm will, deep convictions, vigorous mind, and self-denying effort; men, who, not thinking of making a reputation, will work in a real, honest, manly way for the - redemption of their country from drunkenness; there are means, I believe, of making for such men reputations for patriotism, which will shine as bright as any, and brighter than most, in the future of our country.
2. But our work is great in what it proposes to do for individuals. Most conspicuous among the objects of our solicitude but for whom our organizations and efforts would never have been thought of—is the drunkard. I hold it to be a great work to make a drunkard a sober man. It is not merely that you bring the hue of health to his cheek, and the energy and gravity of manliness to his gait, and peace, plenty, and cheerfulness to his home. These are all great works. He who accomplishes any one of these is entitled to apply to himself Nehemiah's language. But there is a greater work than any of these. The drunkard is the slave of appetite. There is utter derangement and disorder in the sphere of his moral life. His will is enfeebled by indulgence. He is not free to act according to his own convictions of what is right and good. Think you that that bloated and staggering thing, at which fools laugh, has no aspirations after a manlier life? Think you he feels not his degradation? Ah! in many a dark, horrible hour he curses the imperious lust which holds him in bondage. In many an hour, which some gleam of hope has gilded, he rises out of the slush in which he has been wallowing, and resolves to bid defiance to his enslaver. But this virtuous purpose exhausts his resolution, and he falls back weak and subject as before. He is a slave. The menial appetite, rules in the kingdom of his moral life. Now, to take that abject and pitiable thing, and make a free, strong man of it, is not that a great work? And that, sirs, is our work. Many a man now walks among his fellows with an air of modest strength, conscious still of the cravings of appetite, nor indisposed to give them legitimate indulgence--for appetite is, after all, as truly a divine endowment as conscience-but moderating them by the firm hand of moral reason—a free man now ruler in the kingdom of
his own life—who can say to his appetites, as to servants, “Go," and they go, “Come," and they come. We approached that man in his degradation ; we found him heartless and hopeless. Others had been there before us. They had attempted to shame, or command, or bribe, or bind him to effort after self-recovery, and they had left him themselves disgusted, and the poor object of their disgust, despairing. But our sympathy touched his heart; our hope with regard to him, bred hope in his heart with regard to himself; our fellowship with him in the abstinence we recommended to him, gave him strength in the hour of his fiery trial; and now he stands erect, free, and the helper of others! We have sometimes been tauntingly asked—and that, too, to our surprise, by temperance reformers of a certain class—what our movement has effected ? We point to trophies like this, and there are many such ; and we venture ask our questioners, What other scheme of temperance reform can point to such trophies--men redeemed from moral slavery to self-control? The same question substantially is sometimes put in the interests of the gospel. And those who put it, add-you have made certain who were drunkards to be sober men, but that is all. Well! be it so. It is more than all other schemes, the agencies of the Church included, did for the same persons. It is with no good grace that those who have failed to make the drunkard even sober, taunt us with having done no more for him than to make him sober. But I cannot admit that we have done no more for the drunkard than to make him a sober man. We have taught him self-control; we have brought back the light, and life, and energies of hope, into a despairing heart; we have taught a crouching creature, who had learned to despise himself, to feel that his is a great nature still, and to stand up with a strong pulse of self-respect throbbing in him; we have brought him to believe in the reality of virtue and human sympathy; we have given him a glimpse and a taste of joys, deeper, purer, fuller, than those of vice or sepse. It was a great work to make him a sober man, but this is a greater work, and it is a work for which the temperance movement is very dear to me. We sometimes hear, we often hear, of reformed drunkards going to the church, and becoming, under the preaching of the gospel, partakers of the regenerate life; and these two things are mentioned as isolated facts. First, they became total abstainers, and, secondly, they became Christians. But they are not isolated facts; they are two stages in one great spiritual change. I verily believe that God is in our day working largely for the