The Signs of the Times


March 2, 1882

Daniel a Temperance Reformer

[Summary of an address given at College City, Cal., January 2, 1882]


To rightly understand the subject of temperance, we must consider it from a Bible stand-point. The first chapter of Daniel presents a most comprehensive and forcible illustration of the principles of true temperance and the blessings to be derived from their observance. Inspiration has recorded the history of Daniel and his companions as a shining example for the youth of all succeeding ages.... What men have done, men may do. Did those faithful Hebrews stand firm amid great temptation, and bear a noble testimony for God and the right? We may bear a similar testimony, even under circumstances as unfavorable. ST March 2, 1882, Art. A, par. 1

It was not their own pride or ambition which had brought Daniel and his associates into the king's court, into the companionship of those who knew and feared not the true God. Infinite wisdom had placed them where they were. It was their duty to honor God and give to the world an example of faithfulness. They considered their position with its difficulties and dangers, and then, in the fear of God, made their decision. Even at the risk of the king's displeasure, they would be true to the laws which had been divinely given to their fathers. ST March 2, 1882, Art. A, par. 2

Besides a portion of his wine, the food apportioned them “from the king's table,” would include swine's flesh and other meats pronounced unclean by the law of Moses, and which the Jews were forbidden to eat. The Hebrew captives requested the officer who had them in charge, to grant them more simple fare. The officer demurred, fearing that such rigid abstinence as the young captives proposed would unfavorably affect their personal appearance, and thus bring himself into disfavor with the king. Daniel pleaded for a ten-day's trial. This was granted, and those youth were found at the expiration of that time to present a far more healthy appearance than those who had indulged in the king's dainties. Hence the simple “pulse and water” which they at first requested was thereafter supplied to Daniel and his companions. ST March 2, 1882, Art. A, par. 3

These young men had received a right education in early life, and now, when separated from home influences and sacred associations, they honored the instructors of their childhood. They obeyed the divine law both natural and moral, and the blessing of God gave them physical strength and comeliness, and intellectual power. With their habits of self-denial were coupled earnestness of purpose, diligence, and steadfastness. They had no time to squander in thoughtless pleasure, vanity, or folly. They were not actuated by pride or unworthy ambition. They sought to acquit themselves creditably, for the honor of their down-trodden people, and for His glory whose servants they claimed to be. ST March 2, 1882, Art. A, par. 4

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 render obedience to her laws. ST March 2, 1882, Art. A, par. 5

When their ability and acquirements were tested by the king, at the close of the three years of training, none were found “like unto 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 the mental powers. Would that youth of today would emulate the example of these Hebrew children. All who will, may, like them enjoy the favor and blessing of God. ST March 2, 1882, Art. A, par. 6

Not only did these young men decline to drink the king's wine, but they refrained from the luxuries of his table. The lesson is one which we would do well to ponder. Our dangers are not from scarcity, but from abundance. We are constantly tempted to excess. 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. ST March 2, 1882, Art. A, par. 7

The youth are surrounded by allurements addressed to the appetite. In our cities, liquor saloons on almost every corner make indulgence easy and inviting. The evil does not often begin with the use of intoxicating liquors. Tea, coffee, tobacco, as well as alcoholic beverages, are different degrees in the scale of artificial stimulants. Those who, like Daniel, refuse to defile themselves, will reap the reward of their temperate habits. With their greater physical stamina and increased power of endurance, they have a bank of deposit upon which to draw in case of emergency. ST March 2, 1882, Art. A, par. 8

Right physical habits promote mental superiority. Intellectual power, physical strength, and longevity, depend upon immutable laws. There is no happen-so, no chance, about this matter. The higher powers will not interfere to preserve men from the consequence of the violation of nature's laws. There is much of sterling truth in the adage that every man is the architect of his own fortune. While parents are responsible for the stamp of character they give their offspring, as well as for the education and training of 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. Daniel and his fellows enjoyed the benefits of correct training and education in early life, but these advantages alone would not have made them what they became. The time came when they must act for themselves. Their future then depended upon their own course. They decided to be true to the lessons given them in childhood. The fear of God, which is the beginning of wisdom, was the foundation of their greatness. His Spirit strengthened every true purpose and noble resolution. ST March 2, 1882, Art. A, par. 9

The great work of temperance should begin with the child in its mother's arms. With patient care the little ones should be trained to unperverted tastes and simple habits. Fathers and mothers will have a fearful account to render at the day of final reckoning. The rich, highly seasoned, unwholesome food which the mother spreads upon her table, produces indigestion, headache, and other unpleasant sensations. The children are permitted to eat whatever they please, and at any hour of the day, thus allowing the jaded stomach no rest. Hence they are constantly in a state of nervous irritation. Then, perhaps following the example of the father, they become addicted to the use of tobacco, wine or beer, and in many cases, the path to drunkenness is short. Habits of strict temperance always have been and always must be the only safeguard for our youth. ST March 2, 1882, Art. A, par. 10

Let old and young remember that for every violation of the laws of life, nature will utter her protest. The penalty will fall upon the mental as well as the physical powers. And it does not end with the guilty trifler. The effects of his misdemeanors are seen in his offspring, and thus hereditary evils are passed down, even to the third or fourth generation. Think of this, fathers, when indulging in the soul and brain benumbing narcotic, tobacco. Where will this practice leave you? Whom will it affect besides yourself? ST March 2, 1882, Art. A, par. 11

We rarely pass through a crowd, but men—we cannot call them gentlemen, for they do not deserve the name—will puff their poisoned breath into our face. Is it honest thus to contaminate the air which others must breathe? Wherever we go is the tobacco devotee, enfeebling both mind and body in the enjoyment of his darling indulgence. Have men a right thus to deprive their Maker and the world of the service which was their due? Is such a course Christlike? There is no middle ground. If not in harmony with the divine will, it must be Satanic. ST March 2, 1882, Art. A, par. 12

The slaves of appetite are constantly spending their earnings in sensual indulgence, and thus robbing their children of food and clothing and the advantages of education. Millions of gallons of intoxicating liquors are drank annually, and thirty million dollars are spent for tobacco. It is estimated by Dr. Cole, an able writer on health, that professed Christians of the different denominations annually squander five million dollars in these indulgences. It is said that a larger sum is spent for the single article of cigars than for all the churches and common schools in the Union. ST March 2, 1882, Art. A, par. 13

Opium, tea, coffee, intoxicating liquors, and tobacco are extinguishing as fast as they well can, the spark of vitality left for the race. We are suffering for the wrong habits of our fathers, and yet how many take a course in every way worse than they. Can any be called Christians who thus willfully destroy themselves? ST March 2, 1882, Art. A, par. 14

There can never be a right state of society, until the law shall close up liquor saloons, not only on Sunday but on all other days of the week. This would render it much easier to maintain public order, and would conduce greatly to domestic happiness. And why cannot this be done? It is not too much to say that liquor saloons would be closed at once, in obedience to the dictates of reason and religion, if public officers, judges, police, sheriffs, magistrates, and others were not the patrons. These men are by their influence corrupting society, and then they concur in judging and condemning the poor souls who follow their example! ST March 2, 1882, Art. A, par. 15

Only men of strict temperance and integrity should be admitted to our legislative halls and courts of justice. Property, reputation, and even life itself is insecure when left to the judgment of men who are intemperate and immoral. How many innocent persons have been condemned to death, how many more have been robbed of all their earthly possessions, by the injustice of besotted jurors, lawyers, witnesses, and even judges! The records of crime published in our public journals show that intemperance and profligacy are increasing. While every right-minded person stands aghast at the condition of the world, is it not time to inquire, Who are giving their influence to increase this tide of evil? Who are digging the pitfalls for our youth? But every inquiry is met by the authoritative announcement that the process is sustained by law. We are expected to look on in silence, while our youth are engulfed in ruin. ST March 2, 1882, Art. A, par. 16

Notwithstanding thousands of years of experience and of progress, the same dark blot which stained the first pages of history remains to disfigure our modern civilization. Drunkenness, with all its woes, is to be found everywhere. Its victims are more numerous today than before the license laws were enacted. Legal regulation has not stayed its progress. Efforts are now made to establish institutions where the victims of intemperance may receive help to overcome their terrible appetite. This is a noble work, and yet how much wiser, how much more effective, would be the removal of the cause of all this woe! Considering only the financial aspect of this question, what folly is it to tolerate a business that is making paupers by the thousand! The laws of the land legalize the trade of making drunkards, and then at great expense provide an institution for converting them again into sober men! Is this the best solution of the question that can be furnished by our legislators? ST March 2, 1882, Art. A, par. 17

The fact is, government can provide only one effective safeguard against inebriety, and that is prohibition. This is the grandest inebriate retreat ever erected. Such a law, rigidly enforced from ocean to ocean, would produce the greatest temperance reform that the world has ever known. Take away from men all opportunity for indulgence, and the appetite for intoxicants would cease. But as long as the sale of liquor is sanctioned by law, the poor victim of appetite can receive little benefit from inebriate asylums. He will not be content to remain there always. He must again take his place in society. The appetite, though dormant, is not wholly destroyed; temptation assails him on every hand, and too often he falls an easy prey. ST March 2, 1882, Art. A, par. 18

The use of intoxicating liquor dethrones reason, and hardens the heart against every pure and holy influence. The inanimate rocks will sooner listen to the appeals of truth and justice than will that man whose sensibilities are paralyzed by intemperance. This change is not wrought at once. Those who venture to enter the forbidden path are gradually and unconsciously seduced, demoralized, corrupted, and maddened. And while Christians are asleep, this evil is constantly gaining more strength and making fresh victims. ST March 2, 1882, Art. A, par. 19

There is need now of men like Daniel to do and dare. A pure heart and a strong, fearless hand are wanted in the world today. God designed that man should be constantly improving,—daily reaching a higher point in the scale of excellence. He will help us, if we seek to help ourselves. It is the duty of every Christian to see that his example and influence are on the side of reform. Let ministers of the gospel lift up their voice like a trumpet, and show the people their transgressions, and the house of Israel their sins. The youth need to be instructed. Our hope of happiness in two worlds depends upon the right improvement of one. We should be guarded at every point against the first approach to intemperance. If we would preserve our children from evil, we must give them a right example, and then teach them to make God their fear, their wisdom, and their strength. ST March 2, 1882, Art. A, par. 20