The Signs of the Times


April 20, 1882

The Primal Cause of Intemperance


Only one lease of life is granted us here; and the inquiry with every one should be, How can I invest my life that it may yield the greatest profit? Life is valuable only as we improve it for the benefit of our fellow-creatures and the glory of God. Careful cultivation of the abilities with which the Creator has endowed us, will qualify us for elevated usefulness here, and a higher life in the world to come. ST April 20, 1882, par. 1

That time is spent to good account which is directed to the establishment and preservation of sound physical and mental health. We cannot afford to dwarf or cripple a single function of the mind or body, by overwork or abuse of any part of the living machinery. As surely as we do this, we must suffer the consequences. Our first duty to God and our fellow-beings, is that of self-development. Every faculty with which the Creator has endowed us should be cultivated to the highest degree of perfection, that we may be able to do the greatest amount of good of which we are capable. In order to purify and refine our characters, we need the grace given us of Christ that will enable us to see and correct our deficiencies, and improve that which is excellent. This work, wrought for ourselves in the strength and name of Jesus, will be of more benefit to our fellow-creatures than any sermon we might preach them. The example of a well-balanced, well-ordered life, is of inestimable value. ST April 20, 1882, par. 2

Intemperance is at the foundation of the larger share of the ills of life. It annually destroys tens of thousands. We do not speak of intemperance as limited only to the use of intoxicating liquors; it has a broader meaning, including the hurtful indulgence of any appetite or passion. There are today thousands suffering the torture of physical pain, or writhing under a sense of mental and moral degradation, and wishing again and again that they had never been born. God did not design this condition of things; but it was brought about through the gross violation of Nature's laws. If the appetites and passions were under the control of sanctified reason, society would present a widely different aspect. Many things that are usually made articles of diet, are unfit for food; the taste for them is not natural, but has been cultivated. Stimulating food creates a desire for still stronger stimulants. ST April 20, 1882, par. 3

Indigestible food throws the entire system out of order, and unnatural cravings and inordinate appetites, are the results. “Touch not, taste not, handle not,” is a motto that should be carried farther than the mere use of spirituous liquors. True temperance teaches us to abstain entirely from that which is injurious, and to use judiciously only such articles of food as are healthful and nutritious. ST April 20, 1882, par. 4

The first steps in intemperance are usually taken in early youth. Stimulating food is given to the child, which excites unnatural cravings of the stomach. These false appetites are pandered to as they develop. The taste continually becomes more perverted; stronger stimulants are craved and are indulged in, till soon the slave of appetite throws aside all restraint. The evil commenced early in life, and could have been prevented by the parents. We witness strenuous efforts in our country to put down intemperance; but it is found a hard matter to overpower and chain the strong, full-grown lion. ST April 20, 1882, par. 5

In half the efforts that are put forth to stay this giant evil were directed toward enlightening parents as to their responsibility in forming the habits and characters of their children, a thousand-fold more good might result, than from the present course of combatting only the full-grown evil. The unnatural appetite for spirituous liquors is created at home, in many cases at the very tables of those who are most zealous to lead out in the temperance campaigns. We bid all workers in the good cause, God speed; but we invite them to look deeper into the causes of the evil they war against, and labor more thoroughly and consistently in the work of reform. ST April 20, 1882, par. 6

Parents should so conduct themselves that their lives will be a daily lesson of self-control and forbearance to their household. The father and mother should unite in disciplining their children. They should feel themselves under solemn obligation to God to train up their offspring in such a way as to secure to them, as far as possible, good physical health and well-developed characters. Upon the mother, however, will come the heavier burden, especially in the first few years of her children's lives. It is her duty to control and direct the developing minds of her tender charge, as well as to watch over their health. The father should aid her with his sympathy and counsel, and share her burdens so far as possible. ST April 20, 1882, par. 7

Parents should not lightly regard the work of training their children. They should employ much time in careful study of the laws which regulate our being. They should make it their first object to learn the proper manner of dealing with their children, that they may secure to them sound minds in sound bodies. Too many parents are controlled by custom, instead of sound reason and the claims of God. Many who profess to be followers of Christ are sadly neglectful of home duties. They do not perceive the sacred importance of the trust which God has placed in their hands, so to mold the characters of their children, that they will have moral stamina to resist the many temptations that ensnare the feet of youth. ST April 20, 1882, par. 8

We urge that the principles of temperance be carried into all the details of home-life; that the example of parents should be a lesson of temperance; that self-denial and self-control should be taught to the children, and enforced upon them, so far as consistent, from babyhood. And first it is important that the little ones be taught that they eat to live, not live to eat; that appetite must be held in abeyance to the will; and that the will must be governed by calm, intelligent reason. Much parental anxiety and grief might be saved if children were taught from the cradle that their wills are not to be made law, nor their whims to be continually indulged. It is not so difficult as is generally supposed to teach the little child to stifle its outbursts of temper, and subdue its fits of passion. ST April 20, 1882, par. 9

Few parents begin early enough to teach their children obedience. The child is usually allowed to get two or three years the start of its parents, who forbear to discipline it, thinking it is too young to learn to obey. But all this time self is growing strong in the little being, and every day makes it a harder task for the parent to gain control of the child. At a very early age children can comprehend what is plainly and simply told them; and, by kind and judicious management, can be taught to obey. ST April 20, 1882, par. 10

The mother should not allow her child to gain an advantage over her in a single instance; and, in order to maintain this authority, it is not necessary to resort to harsh measures; a firm, steady hand, and a kindness which convinces the child of your love, will accomplish the purpose. But let selfishness, anger, and self-will, have their course for the first three years of a child's life, and it will be hard to bring it to submit to whole-some discipline. Its disposition becomes soured; it delights in having its own way; parental control is distasteful. These evil tendencies grow with the child's growth, until, in manhood, supreme selfishness and a lack of self-control place him at the mercy of the evils that run riot in our land. ST April 20, 1882, par. 11