The Review and Herald


November 8, 1881

Temperance and the License Law


Our Creator has bestowed his bounties upon man with a liberal hand. Were all these gifts of Providence wisely and temperately employed, poverty, sickness, and distress would be well-nigh banished from the earth. But alas, we see on every hand the blessings of God changed to a curse by the wickedness of men. There is no class guilty of greater perversion and abuse of his precious gifts than are those who employ the products of the soil in the manufacture of intoxicating liquors. The nutritive grains, the healthful, delicious fruits, are converted into beverages that pervert the senses and madden the brain. As a result of the use of these poisons, thousands of families are deprived of the comforts and even the necessaries of life, acts of violence and crime are multiplied, and disease and death hurry myriads of victims to a drunkard's grave. RH November 8, 1881, par. 1

This work of destruction is carried on under the protection of the laws of the land! For a paltry sum, men are licensed to deal out to their fellow-men the potion that shall rob them of all that makes this life desirable and of all hope of the life to come. Neither the law-maker nor the liquor-seller is ignorant of the result of his work. At the hotel bar, in the beer-garden, at the saloon, the slave of appetite expends his means for that which is destructive to reason, health, and happiness. The liquor-seller fills his till with the money that should provide food and clothing for the family of the poor drunkard. RH November 8, 1881, par. 2

This is the worst kind of robbery. Yet men in high position in society and in the church lend their influence in favor of license laws! And why?—because they can obtain higher rent for their buildings by letting them to liquor-dealers? because it is desirable to secure the political support of the liquor interest? because these professed Christians are themselves secretly indulging in the alluring poison? Surely, a noble, unselfish love for humanity would not authorize men to entice their fellow-creatures to destruction. RH November 8, 1881, par. 3

The laws to license the sale of spirituous liquors have filled our towns and cities, yes, even our villages and secluded hamlets, with snares and pit-falls for the poor, weak slave of appetite. Those who seek to reform are daily surrounded with temptation. The drunkard's terrible thirst clamors for indulgence. On every side are the fountains of destruction. Alas, how often is his moral power overborne! how often are his convictions silenced! He drinks and falls. Then follow nights of debauchery, days of stupor, imbecility, and wretchedness. Thus, step by step, the work goes on, until the man who was once a good citizen, a kind husband and father, seems changed to a demon. RH November 8, 1881, par. 4

Suppose that those officials who at the beginning of 1881 granted license to liquor-dealers, could on New Year's of 1882 behold a faithful picture of the results of the traffic carried on under that license. It is spread out before them in its startling and frightful details, and they know that all is true to life. There are fathers, mothers, and children falling beneath the murderer's hand; there are the wretched victims of cold and hunger and of vile and loathsome disease, criminals immured in gloomy dungeons, victims of insanity tortured by visions of fiends and monsters. There are gray-haired parents mourning for once noble, promising sons and lovely daughters, now gone down to an untimely grave. RH November 8, 1881, par. 5

Look upon the drunkard's home. Mark the squalid poverty, the wretchedness, the unutterable woe that are reigning there. See the once happy wife fleeing before her maniac husband. Hear her plead for mercy as the cruel blows fall on her shrinking form. Where are the sacred vows made at the marriage altar? where is the love to cherish, the strength to protect her now? Alas, these have been melted like precious pearls in the fiery liquid, the cup of abominations! Look upon those half-naked children. Once they were cherished tenderly. No wintry storm, nor the cold breath of the world's contempt and scorn, was permitted to approach them. A father's care, a mother's love, made their home a paradise. Now all is changed. Day by day the cries of agony wrenched from the lips of the drunkard's wife and children go up to Heaven. And all this that the liquor-seller may add to his gains! And his hellish work is performed under the broad seal of the law! Thus society is corrupted, work-houses and prisons are crowded with paupers and criminals, and the gallows is supplied with victims. The evil ends not with the drunkard and his unhappy family. The burdens of taxation are increased, the morals of the young are imperiled, the property and even the life of every member of society is endangered. But the picture may be presented never so vividly, and yet it falls short of the reality. No human pen or pencil can fully delineate the horrors of intemperance. RH November 8, 1881, par. 6

Were the only evil arising from the sale of ardent spirits the cruelty and neglect manifested by intemperate parents toward their children, this alone should be enough to condemn and destroy the traffic. Not only does the drunkard render the life of his children miserable, but by his sinful example he leads them also into the path of crime. How can Christian men and women tolerate this evil? Should barbarous nations steal our children and abuse them as intemperate parents abuse their offspring, all Christendom would be aroused to put an end to the outrage. But in a land professedly governed by Christian principles, the suffering and sin entailed upon innocent and helpless childhood by the sale and use of intoxicating liquors are considered a necessary evil! RH November 8, 1881, par. 7

The word of God plainly declares, “Woe unto him that giveth his neighbor drink, that puttest thy bottle to him, and makest him drunken.” Would that all who support the liquor traffic could realize that if, understanding its evils, they continue to uphold it, the curse of God is upon them, that retributive justice will one day overtake them, and they will see and feel the results of their sinful course. RH November 8, 1881, par. 8

There is a cause for the moral paralysis upon society. Our laws sustain an evil which is sapping their very foundations. Many deplore the wrongs which they know exist, but consider themselves free from all responsibility in the matter. This cannot be. Every individual exerts an influence in society. In our favored land, every voter has some voice in determining what laws shall control the nation. Should not that influence and that vote be cast on the side of temperance and virtue? RH November 8, 1881, par. 9

Many men are voted into office whose minds are deprived of their full vigor by indulgence in spirituous liquors, or constantly beclouded by the use of the narcotic tobacco. How often have the decisions made by courts of justice fastened suspicion upon those whose characters were untainted, wrenched hard-earned means from the rightful owners, or perchance immured innocent men in prison cells. And all this because the mental and moral powers of judge, jurors, or witnesses, mayhap of all, were impaired by the use of narcotics or stimulants. Who can feel secure when so many whose duty it is to enact or execute the laws, pervert judgment under the influence of these poisons? The peace of happy families, reputation, property, liberty, and even life itself, are at the mercy of intemperate men in our legislative halls and our courts of justice. RH November 8, 1881, par. 10

By giving themselves up to the indulgence of appetite, many who were once upright, once beneficent, lose their integrity and their love for their fellow-men, and unite with the dishonest and profligate, espouse their cause, and share their guilt. How many sacrifice reason, conscience, and the fear of God, to the love for strong drink. How many forfeit their prerogative as citizens of a republic,—bribed with a glass of whisky to cast their vote for some villainous candidate. As a class, the intemperate will not hesitate to employ deception, bribery, and even violence against those who refuse unbounded license to perverted appetite. RH November 8, 1881, par. 11

Satan exults as he sees the slaves of evil habit daily crowding under his black banner, going down to misery, death, and hell. We may call upon the friends of the temperance cause to rally to the conflict and seek to press back the tide of evil that is demoralizing the world; but of what avail are all our efforts while liquor-selling is sustained by law? Must the curse of intemperance forever rest like a blight upon our land? Must it every year sweep like a devouring fire over thousands of happy homes? We talk of the results, tremble at the results, and wonder what we can do with the terrible results, while too often we tolerate and even sanction the cause. The advocates of temperance fail to do their whole duty unless they exert their influence by precept and example—by voice and pen and vote—in favor of prohibition and total abstinence. We need not expect that God will work a miracle to bring about this reform, and thus remove the necessity for our exertion. We ourselves must grapple with this giant foe, our motto no compromise and no cessation of our efforts till the victory is gained. RH November 8, 1881, par. 12

Our law-makers have endeavored to restrict the evils of intemperance by licensing the sale of intoxicating liquors. The result of their efforts is before us. It is evident to every intelligent observer that inebriety with its train of crime and misery is steadily increasing. The victims of alcohol are more numerous today than at any former period. The politicians’ plan of licensing “for the public good” has proved itself a curse. RH November 8, 1881, par. 13

What can be done to press back the inflowing tide of evil? Let laws be enacted and rigidly enforced prohibiting the sale and the use of ardent spirits as a beverage. Let every effort be made to encourage the inebriate's return to temperance and virtue. But even more than this is needed to banish the curse of inebriety from our land. Let the appetite for intoxicating liquors be removed, and their use and sale is at an end. This work must to a great degree devolve upon parents. Let them, by observing strict temperance themselves, give the right stamp of character to their children, and then educate and train these children, in the fear of God, to habits of self-denial and self-control. Youth who have been thus trained will have moral stamina to resist temptation, and to control appetite and passion. They will stand unmoved by the folly and dissipation that are corrupting society. RH November 8, 1881, par. 14

The prosperity of a nation is dependent upon the virtue and intelligence of its citizens. To secure these blessings, habits of strict temperance are indispensable. The history of ancient kingdoms is replete with lessons of warning for us. Luxury, self-indulgence, and dissipation prepared the way for their downfall. It remains to be seen whether our own republic will be admonished by their example and avoid their fate. RH November 8, 1881, par. 15