An Appeal to the Young Men of the Age
The Rev. THEODORE F. CUYLER, New Jersey, on behalf of the Committee to prepare an Address to Young Men, reported as follows:
Five and twenty years ago, the men to whom this appeal is addressed were in their cradles, or were lisping their first lessons at a mother's knee. But during the next quarter of this century the moral destiny of the world depends upon them. The strong hands of the veterans are, one by one, palsied by the touch of age. The voices that have rung out for God and truth are slowly passing into the harmonies of a better world. Upon your shoulders the ark of reform is henceforth to rest--in your hands the torch of human progress is to be borne onward.
Among the sacred trusts bequeathed to your charge is the Temperance Reformation. It owns an existence no longer than yours. Thirty years ago, this movement was restricted to a few earnest spirits, who, farther up the mount of progress than their fellows, had caught the rays of the early dawn before it had gilded the plains below. The first national organization against alcohol was established in 1826. Since then, the history of the Temperance reform has been a history of healthy progress--the steady movement from the unknown, out into the known and the well-established. The first
[p. 24]local society, with its primitive pledge against the use of ardent spirits alone--the subsequent adoption of the total abstinence principle-- the Washingtonian movement--the formation of beneficial orders like the Sons of Temperance--the creation of political "Alliances" --and the enactment of laws for the entire prohibition of the deadly traffic, are but the successive stages of a mighty revolution, each related to the other, and each looking to a common end. An abstract principle once confined to a few sagacious minds, has since walked into the halls of legislation, and in five sovereign states it now sits upon the bench of justice, crowned with the majesty of LAW.
The God of Love has stood by the history of this reform from its cradle, and has guided it onward through its most critical periods. To the young men of our time it is committed, both as a trial, and as a trust. What is it that God and humanity demand of us? What is the great question for our practical solution? Unless we greatly err, that question simply is--Shall we, by Jehovah's help, destroy the traffic in intoxicating poisons, or shall they destroy us? Shall we lay alcohol in his grave, or permit him to lay a myriad of our comrades in their own? Shall we consent to have the most brilliant intellects among us still longer extinguished? Shall we permit the fair bride of to-day to become the desolate widow of to-morrow? Shall we stand idly by, and see the noblest of our brotherhood go down to darkness and the worm? Shall we suffer this monster wrong to fling its hideous shadow athwart the rays that fall from Calvary itself? Or shall we, hand to hand, join in the death-grapple with the hydra? The destiny of millions hangs upon our answer.
The determination of this question demands great plainness of speech, as well as earnestness in action. Let us learn to speak right out. The press that is silent on this topic, deserves a place in the cellars of Herculaneum. The legislator who has mot studied the code of "prohibition," is unworthy of the seat he encumbers. The orator is to point his shafts, the voter is to aim his ballots, and the philanthropist is to direct his prayerful efforts straight towards this, as the grand moral question of the age.
In this warfare for humanity we "have need of patience." Wilberforce toiled through one whole generation before the British Parliament declared the slave-trade to be a piracy. Opinions grow slowly. Let us put our trust in truth rather than in majorities. The "prohibitory law" movement was not long ago in a minority of one; but the Lord of Hosts stood with that man, and together
[p. 25]they were an overmatch for all that were against them. Galileo, with his telescope, and Columbus, with his compass, each stood up against the world, but they both, at last, brought over the whole world to their positions. May it not be also that before this century closes, the law of Maine may become the law of Christendom? We have learned from the past not to be intimidated by the opposition of numbers. Popular sentiment breaks forth to-day, like a mountain torrent, and swells into sudden inundations, but to-morrow the channel is dry as summer dust. Truth, on the other hand, is like the unsounded ocean, where deep calleth unto deep at the voice of Jehovah. "And if the night of ignorance or prejudice comes down to veil it for a time, it is still there, beating on with the same victorious pulse, and waiting for the day."
Comrades in this glorious warfare! We are compassed about with a great cloud of witnesses. Humanity beckons us onward. We tread upon the dust of heroes as we advance. White-robed Love, floating in mid-air before us, leads us to the conflict. The shouts of the ransomed are in our tents, and the voice of praise makes music amid our banners.
Let us press forward with our age. Let us weave a burnished link in the history of our century. Let us lie down to our rest nearer the goal of human perfection. Let us find in our toils an ever-exciting stimulus--an ever fresh delight So shall our later annals "be written in the characters of a millennial glory. So shall our posterity be cheered by that sun which shall shine with a sevenfold lustre, as the light of seven days."
Though we were but two or three,
Sure of triumph we should be.
We our promised land shall see,
Though the way seem long.
Every tearless word we speak
Makes Sin's stronghold's bend and creak.
Wickedness is always weak,
But truth is young and strong.
T. L. CUYLER, Committee.
ROBERT M. FOUST, Committee.
W. RICHARDSON. Committee.
The Rev. GEORGE DUFFIELD, Jr., of Penneylvania, on behalf of the committee on the peculiar difficulties in the way of progress, presented the following report and resolutions.
The Committee to whom was assigned the third item of the report on subjects, viz.:
"Peculiar Difficulties that lie in the way of Progress,"
Would respectfully report as follows:
THE history of the Temperance cause, thus far, has been one of progress. The thorough discussion of the pledge against ardent spirit prepared the way for that of total abstinence from all that can intoxicate. This second pledge was the precursor of the Washingtonian movement, which has since subsided into so many efficient organizations. In proportion as these organizations have increased in strength and numbers, their power has been brought to bear upon the license question. And this question, after passing through a great variety of phases, has at length attained its full and perfect development in the MAINE LAW.
The history of the cause of Temperance, has also been that of progress in the face of difficulties. We may lay it down as a principle, long since and abundantly established in human experience, that the world, so long as it retains its present constitution, never will advance itself. It must be advanced by strenuous and unremitting efforts, or it will either remain where it is, or grow worse and worse until the end. The natural tendency of things is downward; and against this tendency, temperance, like that religion of which it forms an essential part, always has, now has, and ever will have, to contend.
The cause has had to contend with human depravity, in the specific form of intemperance, further invested with the power of habit. The force of example, too, has greatly impeded its progress. So has the serious disagreement that from time to time has arisen among its friends, as to the best principles on which it ought to be conducted. Above all, it has ever found in its way the cupidity of man. That love of money which is the root of all evil, is the very tap-root of the traffic which we are now endeavoring to destroy.
But while these are obstacles to the cause of Temperance in general, there are also some difficulties, as the report seems to intimate, in the way of the progress of the Maine Law in particular.
1. The first is ignorance of the nature of the law. The only
[p. 27]idea that thousands of our fellow-citizens still have of this law, is that of a sumptuary law, and one that invades and violates the sanctity of home. This is the representation given of it by its enemies, and the friends of the law must be as vigilant as its enemies, or the public sentiment will be founded in error.
2. The second obstacle, and one that in many parts of our own country is almost omnipotent, is prejudice. Instead of being allowed like any other cause, to stand simply on its own merits, the Maine Law is identified with a thousand other things, with which it has necessarily no connection whatever.
3. A third obstacle is the conduct of unscrupulous politicians in reference to it. To-day they use it to carry out personal and party purposes. To-morrow they either, for the same, ignore it, or are equally violent in their opposition. Changes in public sentiment, thus produced, are disastrous in the extreme.
4. A fourth obstacle is the apparent impossibility of executing the Law. Multitudes of those who would be its advocates, if this difficulty were removed, have yet to learn, that experience teaches us, that laws which operate on things, are more cheerfully obeyed, and far more easily enforced, than those which come in direct collision with persons. The law of prohibition avoids this personal collision, coining in direct contact with the thing sold, not the seller.
5. A very serious objection, and one that seems to give some countenance to the proceeding, is the partial enforcement of the law in some of the States in which it has been passed. It is all important, that the friends of the law should be able to distinguish between the friction incidental to the machinery, and the machinery itself; and especially that the information be widely disseminated, that will enable them thus to distinguish.
6. Still another difficulty is the doctrine that has been inculcated of late, that to shut up the grog-shop, will make more drinking at home. To say the least this has yet to be proved.
In accordance with these sentiments, your Committee beg leave to offer the following resolutions:
1. Resolved, That the cause of Temperance in its original and legitimate relations, is equally above sect, as it is above party, and that it is no other than the great cause of Humanity itself.
2. Resolved, That it is alike according to the dictates of common sense, and the experience of the world at large, that the platform of this cause should be confined to as few and simple principles as possible.
3. Resolved, That it is injurious to any cause when it is made to subserve ulterior and subordinate purposes,--party or personal.
4. Resolved, That they are traitors to the cause of humanity, who endeavor to subvert one cause, in order to advance what they consider to be another.
5. Resolved, That this Convention, as they would not put the shadow back ten degrees upon the dial, and jeopard important elections in different parts of the land, feel now called upon to take a last and desperate stand, and by a strong and determined arm, lift once more this glorious cause, high and far above associations that are as uncalled for, as they are ruinous.
6. Resolved, That the cause of Temperance is a question entirely separate and apart from the questions of "WOMAN'S RIGHTS," "ABOLITION," "LAND REFORM," or any other, and that it must stand or fall upon its own merits.
GEORGE DUFFIELD, Jr., Penn. Committee.
R S. CHAMPION, N. Y. Committee.
C. B. LINES, Conn. Committee.
After some discussion, the report and resolutions were adopted.
Rev. RUFUS W. CLARKE, of Massachusetts, on behalf of the Committee to prepare an address to all Christian governments, reported as follows: