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THE TEMPERANCE REFORMATION.--No. II. The growing evil of intemperance, in modern times, had years since forced itself on the attention of many friends to the improvement and happiness of their race. So long back as 1816, the Rev. James Yates uttered his public protest against the demoralizing and imbruting vice, in four Sermons preached in the Unitarian Chapel, Glasgow; which were afterwards published, at the request of the Committee of the Scottish Unitarian Association. These Sermons, with the notes appended to them, contain a very valuable collection of facts in relation to the effects on human health, virtue, and happiness, produced by the use of ardent spirits. If the evil were great in this United Kingdom, it seems to have proceeded to even greater excesses in America, and at length roused the philanthropists of that country to combined efforts to check its alarming progress. In 1826, the first Temperance Association was formed in that country; and, by the close of 1829, more than a thousand Societies were 'organised, embracing fully one hundred thousand members. Stimulated to exertion by the labours and successes of their American brethren, Temperance Societies sprang up in Ireland, Scotland, and England, in 1829; and very considerable good was the result. But in a year or two it was clearly perceived by one or two individuals at Preston_Mr. Livesey, the excellent and ever-to-behonoured Editor of the Moral Reformer, amongst the first-that, whilst many of the members of these Societies were faithful as to abstinence in reference to ardent spirits, moderation was forgotten as to the use of malt liquors more especially. In consequence, in 1832 a Total Abstinence pledge was signed, and the principle meeting with the increasing approval of others, in 1834 the first Total Abstinence Society was formed at Preston. Since that period, it has been seen more and more clearly, hy those who have devoted the requisite attention to the subject, that this is the only true principle on which to found the Temperance Reformation, and to hope for the utter extirpation of the vice of drunkenness. The labours of the Rev. Theobald Matthew, of Cork, have been preeminent in this work of Christian benevolence. Prevailing on a few members of his congregation at Cork to form themselves into a Society for the advancement of this great object, he has been rendered instrumental in inducing thousands and tens of thousands to abjure the abomination. There may have been some fanatical feeling associated with the progress of that movement; superstition may bave mingled largely in the breasts of thousands who have pressed forward to take the pledge; but still, the moral consequences have been most auspicious to the growing intelligence, comfort, and virtue of the people.
But let no one think, when he hears of the number of Abstinence Societies, and of the multitudes of their members, that the evil is uprooted. Much has indeed been done, but very much still remains to be effected. If fortyone millions of gallons of alcohol be swallowed annually by the inhabitants of Great Britain and Ireland, at the money cost of fifty-five million pounds, and at the priceless cost of health, morals, salvation; if from ten thousand to fifteen thousand persons die every year in London alone, from the effects of gin-drinking; if, as one of the Coroners for Middlesex has stated, this sin obliges him to hold annually one thousand additional inquests to those he would otherwise be called upon to institute; if in London, in 1839, the number of persons charged at the various police offices with drunkenness, or with being drunk and disorderly, was 32,597—in Dublin, in 1839, for the same crimes, 30,065-in Liverpool, in 1838, 7,283—and in Glasgow, in 1839, 3,836,-most assuredly it is high time for every individual, to whom the character of his country is dear, who longs for the redemption of his fellow-creatures from vice, misery, ignorance, to be up and doing his utmost to stay the plague which rages among the people.
In Glasgow and its suburbs, there were, in 1839, 2,300 houses licensed for the sale of excisable liquors. stated by the Superintendent of Police, in papers read in the Statistical Section of the British Association, that “three-fourths of the crime in the City originate in habits of drunkenness," and that similar statements might be made in relation to London, Dublin, and Liverpool. It is an important and most gratifying fact, however, which was stated by the same authority, that whilst in
1839, 7,687 persons were brought before the Magistrates of Glasgow-in the first eleven months of 1840, this number had decreased to 2,952; a fact which Captain Miller ascribes to “ the influence exercised upon the labouring part of the people by Temperance and Total Abstinence Societies." “ Intemperance is notoriously the fruitful source of crime and irregular conduct, as well as of disease and pauperism; and there can be no doubt that the Associations for the suppression of this odious vice have done, and are well calculated to do, immense good. The well-disposed and influential part of the community cannot, therefore, render a better service to society than by promoting the cause of temperance by every means in their power."
Induced by considerations similar to these, as well as by regard to the health, improvement, virtue, happiness of their fellow-creatures—to say nothing of economy, and the increased means of social usefulness consequent on the saving, which follows the abandonment of such unnecessary and hurtful expense,-at a meeting of Members of the Christian Unitarian Congregation, Glasgow, (called by notice from the pulpit on the preceding Sunday,) held on Tuesday evening, March 9, it was unanimously resolved to establish a Society in aid of the Temperance Reformation; meetings to be held once a-fortnight in the Chapel, for prayer and praise, and the reading of publications illustrative of the principles the Society desires to advance; of which Mr. Harris was appointed the President.
To the Editor of the Christian Pioneer. SIR, -A pamphlet has lately been published, entitled “ Correspondence between the Lord Bishop of Norwich and the Secretary and Committee of the Norfolk and Norwich Protestant Association,” with an Appendix, containing an altercation between a Roman Catholic priest and a Protestant clergyman, which gave rise to the correspondence.
To begin with the Appendix. The Rev. W. Kerr, vicar of Woodbastick and Pansworth, and clerical secretary to the Norfolk & Norwich Protestant Association, appears to have delivered, at different times, violent speeches against the Catholic religion in Norwich. The Rev. J. Abbot issued a notice last October, that he would give a series of lectures in his own chapel, and a full refutation and exposure of Mr. Kerr's infuriated bigotry and fanaticism. The Protestant challenged the Catholic to a public discussion, which the latter declined; and consequently the controversy has been carried on by means of papers addressed to the people of Norwich, and has been published in the Appendix to the pamphlet.
The end of the controversy seems to be forgotten. Declamation and recrimination take the place of argument, and the attack and defence of the Catholic religion are lost in the personal invective in which each minister indulges. Page after page is filled with mutual accusations of “ attachment to their gold and silver gods,” of “ blasphemy” and “hypocrisy," of " calumny” and “cowardice," of " falsehood and apostacy,” of “idolatry” and “infidelity." Each thinks the other “deserving of a fool's cap and bells," and alternately stigmatises his opponent's writings as a “ farrago of nonsense,” “rig-marole ribaldry," "gasconading balderdash,” “ vapouring rhodomontade," and “sophistry.”
On a less important subject, one might laugh at this, as the quarrel of two school-boys, who, attempting to argue on a subject of which they know nothing, vent their bad temper in bandying hard names.
But it is a melancholy reflection, that, in the middle of the nineteenth century, in one of the most enlightened cities of our civilised kingdom, such conduct should be witnessed with no public demonstration of disgust, and that a committee of well-educated men should not only sanction, but commend the proceedings of the Protestant minister. What a triumph it affords to those who employ every abuse of Christianity as an argument against its truth?
The most remarkable feature of the controversy, is the notice taken of it by Bishop Stanley, who, in a letter addressed to the Rev. W. Kerr (dated Dec. 3, 1840), states that he feels called upon, by his professional situation, to protest against papers and speeches from those who are ordained ministers of a Gospel of Peace, which must not only excite the bitterest animosity between man and man, by calling forth misrepresentation and exaggeration, as shown in the placards of both parties, but must increase the evil of Roman Catholic errors, and diminish, if not altogether neutralise any chance Providence may place within their reach of destroying and rooting them out.
Mr. Kerr justifies bis zeal by the text, “ I came not to send peace, but a sword,” and begs the Bishop to point out some particular charges against him. He replies, that he feels it his duty, to give an opinion of the general tone of the papers; and that if Mr. Kerr cannot himself perceive in them, any language inconsistent with the character of a Christian minister and a gentleman, he shall have little chance of convincing him of it. Many more letters of the same kind pass on the subject ;—but one opponent is not enough for the Bishop; while he can confer benefices and grant livings, he may command implicit obedience; but when, forsooth, he dares to recommend charity and forbearance, such an iniquitous proceeding must be boldly resisted, and letters of remonstrance are sent by the Chairman of the Association in the name of the Committee!
In these, he is taunted with having supported the present Ministry, which has sacrificed ten Bishopricks at the shrine of Popish agitation; with having advocated the present system of Irish education; and, when it was proved that the Catholics had adopted for their conference-book Dens's Theology, with having stood forth as the advocate and apologist of the Romish Bishops, thus showing himself friendly to the Catholic religion.
In the course of the correspondence, the vicar, in defending his own conduct, proves it to be warranted by the Homilies, which ought to be considered of equal value with the Thirty-nine Articles by clergymen of the Church of England. He shows that the strongest language used by him is exceeded in the Homilies, where God's wrath and utter indignation, and the everlasting damnation of body and soul, are threatened to the Catholics.
The Bishop remarks, that the Homilies were written for the times in which they were first published, and that they are not all suited to the present day. Now, unfortunately the Bishop is a patron of the Homily Society;