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of a “propitiation" of divine wrath by the shedding of innocent blood,- that quaint, strange, and abhorrent dogma, which has so warped the Christian mind for centuries. We shall find it, better, by attentively considering the circumstances of the time, and the state of mind to which it spoke.
What we call a “martyr" death - that is, death in “ witness" of a truth; death voluntarily suffered as the sacrifice for an idea — is something very familiar to our modern notion. We know just what a martyr death is, in the case of John Huss. We know just what we mean by a “martyr people,” when we speak of the Huguenots, the Puritaps, or the Hollanders of the sixteenth century. But the contemporaries of Jesus did not know. How little they knew, we see even in the splendid eleventh chapter of Hebrews, where such truculent popular heroes as Jephthah, Gideon, Barak, and Samson come in to fill out a list that shows us not one martyr for the faith, pure and simple, unless it be the allusion to the mother of seven children in the Maccabees.
Two hundred years later, there was already a far more splendid and fast lengthening roll of Christian martyrs in the most explicit sense: take the pure memory of Blandina and Perpetua for example; and the world knew exactly what that particular phase of moral heroism meant. Something had come over the spirit of antiquity, Jewish as well as Pagan, that took away the terror of death, and made torture easy to be borne. What was it? Victory of the soul, of that sort, had been a Stoic dream. Read the Fifth Book of Cicero's Tusculan Questions, and you find, so to speak, the drama of martyrdom for the truth rehearsed beforehand. But it was only a dream. How craven seems the spirit to which Paul himself makes appeal in his Epistle to the Romans! “Scarcely for a righteous man will one die ; yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die.” The Greek (rá xa), to say nothing of the better sense, might tempt one to read, “would promptly dare to die.” Those Romans would seem to have forgotten the devotion of De
cius or the valor of the Tenth Legion in Gaul. Within ten years, under Nero's persecution, it was quite another thing. Martyrs came fast to the front then, and a martyr enthusiasm was born.
What brought about the difference? It is none too much to say that the difference was brought about by the high example of Calvary, and by those words associated with it, "Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit.” It is clear that the death of Jesus, voluntarily endured as it was, ap. pealed in a singular way to the imagination, as well as to the faith, of his time. This had much to do with the fact that he went deliberately, with open eyes, in the assurance of a great cause for which he must testify, to meet an agonizing doom which he might easily have avoided. He refused to say the one word which Pilate almost entreated him to say, that would have set him free,
Martyrs, in that sense, were not common in those days, as they afterward came to be in the inspiration of that example. On the other hand, there had been abundance of speculative and eloquent descanting on the nothingness of death and pain, and the glory of suffering for the truth. But nobody stood ready to put those fine theories into practice. There was suffering enough; but it was impatiently and angrily borne, among the Jews as well as everywhere else. There were abundant traditions of heroic lives, and even of martyr deaths, among them of old. But these great glories of the past seemed beyond the reach of a speculative, restless, complaining generation. A spell, as it were, seemed to have passed upon the higher moral faculty; and the best righteousness the age could know was “the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees."
That spell was broken by the death of Jesus. Those great words are true, then, which say that there is verily something better than life, than this earthly life! - those words which had so long been spoken vainly, as in a dream. A man can enter into that higher life, and become indeed superior to the fear of death! And so that act became, to those who could receive it, the revelation of another life
than they had known before. The cross had “abolished death, and brought life and immortality to light.” It was the one thing then needed, to break the spell of the old fear, and to strengthen ordinary men and tender women even to court and welcome, as they soon after did, any form of death or torture that should be their testimony of the truth.
J. H. ALLEN.
THE QUESTION OF THE AGE.
The Temperance Reform is a subject that has been before the world since the days of Noah, but has never assumed the commanding importance in the public mind which would justify its being called " The Question of the Age” until now.
That it is now so regarded and called by leading journalists, politicians, statesmen, not less than by reformers and philanthropists, is well worthy of note, and calls for earnest consideration. We may say, and truly, that it is in the regular and normal progress of civilization, as intemperance of every degree is degrading, and drunkenness is brutality. For hundreds of years, the battle against it has been waged by individual reformers, by preachers, by churches, by organized societies, by legislation, by penal enactments. Yet the consumption of intoxicating drinks, not including wines and imported liquors, has gone on increasing, until the annual retail liquor cost to the consumers, in these United States, had grown, for the year 1882, to the enormous amount of eight hundred thousand millions of dollars, largely in excess, as appears by the last United States census tables, of the whole national expenditures of every kind. “It costs more every year than our whole civil service, our army, our navy, our Congress, including the river and harbor and pension bills, our wasteful local gov. ernments, and the interest on all national, State, county, and local debts, besides all the schools in the country." For the entire sum raised by taxes of all kinds, national,
State, county, city, town, and school district, is stated, on authority of the census bureau, to be a little more than seven hundred thousand millions of dollars,-nearly a hundred millions less than the drink-bill, when putting the retail prices of liquors at the lowest mark. The amount actually consumed was seventeen million barrels of ale and beer, and seventy-two million gallons of distilled liquors, on which taxes were paid, to say nothing of what evaded taxation.
But the direct money cost is the least part of the evil. If usefully or harmlessly expended, the country could bear it. The ruinous effects of the drink habit are chiefly to be considered. Without blind reliance upon statistics, which may easily be made to mislead, and after the most careful investigation, on the evidence of the most competent authorities, we are compelled to admit that at least seventy-five per cent. of all yice and crime and pauperism and social disorder and domestic misery is directly chargeable to intoxicating drink. "Municipal corruption,” says the New York Tribune, “crime, poverty, ignorance, immorality, all flourish rankly because the people tolerate rum. At the bottom of nine-tenths of all the evils which modern society suffers, this cause is to be found.” “It is not confined to the lowest classes. It weakens the purpose of educated and benevolent men. It breeds allies for the powers of evil in almost every quarter. It generates a spirit of indifference as effective against reform as active friendship for intemperance. The ill effects of drink are known to all. The daily journal presents its perennial records of political abuses, of the franchise marketed, of venal ignorance swamping enlightened patriotism, of plundered treasuries, of defalcation and bankruptcy, of murders and assaults, of divorce and desertion, of profligacy, destitution, suffering and shame in my. riad forms, and behind each and all these calamities and evil deeds may be seen the drink habit as the prime cause. It is everywhere. It makes and mars in every relation of life. It pursues thousands from the cradle to the grave. It reinforces every malign influence and agency. It baffles all
efforts at better things. Yet the public do not regard it as an enemy to be fought with uncompromising and persistent hostility: they even sometimes seem to think that it is better to let it alone."
And yet, strange to say, the journal from which this long philippic against drink is taken is an advocate of the license system! After such an array of wrong-doing, it advocates the selling to "these venders of poison and manufacturers of crime and ruin," as it calls them, the privilege of carrying on “the most evil and corrupting and degrading occupation the world has ever suffered from,” — a trade which is “the fountain-head of all evil." We use its own language, because no stronger can be found.
No wonder that the writer goes on to say, although to his own seeming condemnation, that the “national conscience needs to be stirred to the absolute resistance ” of so great an evil, " that it is futile to alternate churches with saloons, leaving the weakest elements of society at the mercy of the most powerful temptations.”
We believe that at last the national conscience has been stirred, and that a new era in the Temperance Reform has begun. It is the old conflict, but waged by a different army, with greater courage, on more enduring principles, and with the certainty of complete victory, by God's blessing, before their arms are laid down.
Some ten years ago, in Hillsboro, a small town of Ohio, a prayer-meeting was held in a Presbyterian church, in which divine direction was invoked by an assembly of women, to show them the way to save their children and their homes from the curse of intemperance. At its close, a band of twenty-five or thirty women, with Mrs. Eliza J. Thompson as their leader, went to the nearest saloon to plead with its keeper to cease from his poisonous traffic. They knelt on the sanded floor, while the amused and wondering men looked on, and prayed for God's mercy on the wrong-doers and for their rescue from their ruinous work.
From one saloon to another, the band of “crusaders" passed, day after day, until the power of prayer and