The Signs of the Times


June 29, 1891

A Talk on Temperance



The three leading temptations by which man is beset were endured by the Son of God. He refused to yield to the enemy on the point of appetite, ambition, and the love of the world. But Satan is more successful when assailing the human heart. Through inducing men to yield to his temptations, he can get control of them. And through no class of temptations does he achieve greater success than through those addressed to the appetite. If he can control the appetite, he can control the whole man. ST June 29, 1891, par. 1

There are but two powers that control the minds of men,—the power of God and the power of Satan. Christ is man’s Creator and Redeemer; Satan is man’s enemy and destroyer. He who has given himself to God will build himself up for the glory of God, in body, soul, and spirit. He who has given himself to the control of Satan tears himself down. Many a man sells reason for a glass of liquor, and becomes a menace to his family, his neighborhood, and his country. His children hide when he comes home, and his discouraged wife fears to meet him, for he greets her with cruel blows. He spends his money for strong drink, while his wife and children suffer for the necessities of life. ST June 29, 1891, par. 2

Satan leads the victims of appetite to deeds of violence. The liquor drinker is a man of fierce and easily-excited passions, and any trivial excuse is made a cause for quarrel; and when under the influence of passion, the drunkard will not spare his best friend. How often do we hear of murder and deeds of violence, and find that their chief source is the liquor habit. ST June 29, 1891, par. 3

There are those who call themselves advocates of temperance who will yet indulge in the use of wine and cider, claiming that these stimulants are harmless, and even healthful. It is thus that many take the first step in the downward path. Intoxication is just as really produced by wine and cider as by stronger drinks, and it is the worst kind of inebriation. The passions are more perverse; the transformation of character is greater, more determined and obstinate. A few quarts of cider or wine may awaken a taste for stronger drinks, and in many cases those who have become confirmed drunkards have thus laid the foundation of the drinking habit. ST June 29, 1891, par. 4

For persons who have inherited an appetite for stimulants, it is by no means safe to have wine and cider in the house; for Satan is continually soliciting them to indulge. If they yield to his temptations, they do not know where to stop; appetite clamors for indulgence, and is gratified to their ruin. The brain is clouded; reason no longer holds the reins, but lays them on the neck of lust. Licentiousness abounds, and vices of almost every type are practiced as the result of indulging the appetite for wine and cider. It is impossible for one who loves these stimulants and accustoms himself to their use, to grow in grace. He becomes gross and sensual; the animal passions control the higher powers of the mind, and virtue is not cherished. ST June 29, 1891, par. 5

Moderate drinking is the school in which men are receiving an education for the drunkard’s career. So gradually does Satan lead away from the strongholds of temperance, so insidiously do wine and cider exert their influence upon the taste, that the highway to drunkenness is entered upon all unsuspectingly. The taste for stimulants is cultivated; the nervous system is disordered; Satan keeps the mind in a fever of unrest; and the poor victim, imagining himself perfectly secure, goes on and on, until every barrier is broken down, every principle sacrificed. The strongest resolutions are undermined, and eternal interests are too weak to keep the debased appetite under the control of reason. Some are never really drunk, but are always under the influence of mild intoxicants. They are feverish, unstable in mind, not really delirious, but as truly unbalanced; for the nobler powers of the mind are perverted. ST June 29, 1891, par. 6

Those also who use tobacco are weakening their physical and mental power. The use of tobacco has no foundation in nature. Nature rebels against the narcotic, and when the tobacco user first tries to force this unnatural habit upon the system, a hard battle is fought. The stomach, and, indeed, the whole system, revolt against the abominable practice, but the evildoer perseveres until nature gives up the struggle, and the man becomes a slave of tobacco. ST June 29, 1891, par. 7

If salvation were offered to man on terms as hard to endure, God would be looked upon as a hard master. Satan is a hard master, and requires his subjects to undergo severe tests, and to make themselves the slaves of passion and appetite; but God is consistent in all his requirements. And asks of his children that only which will work for their present and eternal happiness. ST June 29, 1891, par. 8

“Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.” This is the command of God, and yet how many, even of those who profess to be the servants of God, are the devotees of tobacco, and make it their idol. When men should be out in the pure air, with sweet breath, praising God for his benefits, they are polluting the atmosphere with the fumes of pipe or cigar. They must go through the ordeal of smoking, in order to stimulate the poor relaxed nerves as a preparation for the duties of the day; for if they did not have their smoke, they would be irritable and unable to control their thoughts. ST June 29, 1891, par. 9

As an illustration of the inability of tobacco users to command their senses when without the stimulant, I will relate an occurrence that came to my notice. An aged man who was at one time my next-door neighbor was a great user of tobacco; but one morning he had not taken his usual smoke when I went in to get a book I had lent him. Instead of getting the book I had asked for, he handed me a bridle. In vain I strove to make him understand what I wanted; I had to go away without the book. Next day I went again the made the same request, and he immediately handed me the book. Then I asked him why he had not given it to me the day before. He said: “Why, were you in yesterday? I do not remember it. Oh, I know what was the trouble, I had not had my tobacco!” This was the effect upon his mind when he was without the stimulant. His physician told him that he must cease its use or he could not live. He did give it up, but all his life after he suffered from the constant longing for the accustomed stimulant; he had to fight a continual battle. ST June 29, 1891, par. 10

When ninety years old, he was one day seen searching for something. When asked what he wanted, he replied, “I was looking for my tobacco.” He suffered without it, and yet it would have been death to him to continue its use. ST June 29, 1891, par. 11

God requires that his children shall keep themselves free from such unnatural and disastrous habits. But when men are bound in these chains, is there no way of deliverance?--Yes, the Lord Jesus has died that through the merits of his life and death men may be overcomers. He is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him. He came to earth that he might combine divine power with human effort, and by co-operation with Christ, by placing the will on the side of God, the slave may become free, an heir of God and joint heir with Christ. ST June 29, 1891, par. 12