By Daniel Steele
SALVATION FROM ARTIFICIAL APPETITES
Jesus once said, "If the Son, therefore make you free, ye shall be free indeed." This emphatic "indeed" has in it a deep significance, fathomed only by those who have led down the sounding-line of experience into the depths of this wonderful freedom. These persons attest that they are not only delivered from a sense of guilt and a fear of its penalty; not only from the dominion, but from the indwelling, of sin within their hearts. They are saved from sinning. They are freed not only from the willful violation of the known law of God, but also from the enslavement of their former tyrannical appetites. The petition in that ancient formula of worship, the "Te Deum Laudamus," is answered every day of their lives -- "Vouchsafe, O Lord, to keep us this day without sin." Millions of worshipers in liturgical Churches still offer this prayer every Lord's Day. They even go further than this. They pray that the thoughts of their hearts may be cleansed by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, "that our souls may be washed through Christ's most precious blood, and that we may evermore dwell in him, and he in us." Even beyond this they pray "that our sinful bodies may be made clean through his most precious body." The Church for ages has prayed for cleansing from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit. Her mistake has frequently been, in relying on the efficacy of the sacraments instead of the power of the Holy Spirit through faith in the name of Jesus. Yet inward and outward holiness, unmixed and pure, has been aimed at in the prayers of the Church through all the Christian ages. This is no mean argument, proving that Jesus is able to deliver from those inward proclivities toward sin inhering in our bodies, which, like traitors within the gates, are a source of constant annoyance and peril. I refer not only to what is in theology called original sin, or depravity, but also to induced tendencies to sin resulting from pernicious appetites. All the philosophers, from Aristotle to Sir William Hamilton, insist that those qualities of our nature which have been produced by habit are more invincible than those born in us. The Bible confirms it. The Ethiopian's skin and the leopard's spot symbolize, not the impossibility of eradicating natural depravity, but acquired propensities to evil in those "accustomed to do evil." But there is salvation from even these. This deliverance is personal and not generic; it includes the believer himself, and not his seed. I find no such deliverance from depravity as would exempt the offspring of two such emancipated persons from sinful tendencies, and hence, possibly, from any need of atonement. Such a state of grace is found only in the dreams of fanatics, who are always going beyond what is written. There is abundant testimony that Jesus can emancipate from the degrading and enslaving yoke of artificial appetites under which universal humanity groans.
How difficult to break the fetters of the alcoholic or narcotic appetite! Yet there are many who testify that through faith in Jesus Christ, they were in a moment set perfectly free from fleshly appetites which had enslaved them for years; that the grasp of those vile demons, opium and tobacco, after scores of years was instantly relaxed when the power of the almighty Emancipator was invoked. The instantaneous victories of King Jesus over king alcohol are too numerous and too well attested to admit of doubt. As Jesus on earth delivered from every kind of disease, so from on high he delivers from every form of sin, saving to the uttermost all who come unto God by him. Since this cleansing of the flesh seems to involve an instantaneous physical change, it comes very near to the miraculous. For this reason there is need of unimpeachable testimony to substantiate our statement. From the "Wonders of Grace," a tract by Rev. W. H. Boole, we quote the following instances: --
A. C. has been for thirty years a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church; for the greater part of this time a leader and trustee in a New York Church. His profession was always marked by correctness of deportment and generous zeal, while his cheerful manners won the esteem of all. But he had been addicted to the constant use of tobacco for forty years, until its daily use had become seemingly necessary to health, if not to life. He had made many efforts to rid himself of the doubtful practice, but always failed because of the inward gnawing which its long continued use had created, and which forced him to begin the practice again. At last, on a certain occasion, in the presence of the writer, he said, 'I have long been seeking a deeper work of grace; tobacco appears to hinder me; but I had not supposed it possible to be saved from the dreadful power of this habit until now. Never before have I trusted Jesus to save me from the appetite as well as the use of it, but now I do,' and suiting the action to the word, he threw far away from him the tobacco he held in his hand. He still lives, and for several years has reiterated this testimony: 'From that hour all desire left me, and I have ever since hated what I once so fondly loved.'
Mr. Boole testifies, "More than a score of examples equally interesting I have witnessed in one year, all occurring in the same commurrity." The author of this book has conversed with several emminently pious men who were instantaneously delivered from the narcotic appetite, one of whom had been a confirmed drunkard, and had twenty years before been delivered in a similar manner from the alcoholic appetite with no subsequent return of the unclean spirits.
But a more dreadful chain is the opium habit in the various forms of its use. In the attempt to leave it off the devotee suffers unutterable agonies. It seems as though a volcano was rending his bowels. His will power is destroyed. Few indeed, without supernatural aid, ever break this yoke. Some in the blackness of despair, have committed suicide. Multitudes increase the dose till nature at last succumbs, and the wretched victim dies with a sense of guilt burning the soul. We quote from the same authority.
Near the town of Westbrook, Connecticut, there lived an aged woman, seventy-two years old, well known in the community as the 'old opium eater,' who had lived in the daily use of large quantities of this drug for more than twenty-two years. Her daily allowance was enough to destroy the lives of twenty persons not addicted to the habit. Whether she ever had made any previous attempts to break away from the baneful practice, we know not, but, on a certain day, the writer visited her in company with a brother minister stationed in the town. The subject of her opium eating was introduced, and a close and faithful discussion of the moral aspects of the case followed. The sin of the habit was clearly and unhesitatingly exposed, and her unsaved and perilous condition, so far advanced in years, boldly but gently pronounced. Then Christ was presented, able to save to the uttermost- to save from the guilt and the passion of her sinful indulgence. She listened with evident interest, and the Holy Spirit was without doubt breathing deep conviction into her soul. As the last objection to seeking Jesus now, trusting in him alone to do all for her, was answered, and the last prop of self righteousness removed, this aged sinner, nearly double with years and a confirmed habit of iron strength, kneeled down with us to ask Divine mercy and help. While thus engaged in prayer, 'immediately' the desire left her, and she knew in herself that she was free from that plague. The bright Divine evidence of her acceptance was not received, according to her testimony, until two weeks afterward; yet the desire for opium did not in the interval return, and she lived for two years a happy witness of the 'uttermost' power of Christ to save. Her unwavering testimony to the end was, 'I am no more troubled with any desire for opium than if I had never sinned in the use of it. Jesus saves me.'
We condense one more case from the same author: --
--- ----, the subject of this sketch, lives in Brooklyn, New York. While under treatment for a broken leg he acquired the appetite for morphine, and indulged it ten years. He breakfasted on it, dined on it, and took a dose the last thing at night. His daily allowance for several years was fully enough to kill one hundred persons. In the presence of several physicians he swallowed enough to destroy two hundred men. He was convinced of his sin, and tried to break off in vain. Once he abstained a day and a half until the effects on body and mind became alarming, and five physicians were called who prescribed morphine to prevent delirium or death. Thus indulging a year longer, he sought his sipiritual adviser. He was advised to give up morphine. He replied, 'I shall die.' 'Well, die then; better so than live in sin and die unforgiven.' He came forward for prayers in the Church, and was told to trust Jesus fully to save him from his appetite now. He trusted, and then occurred a scene never to be forgotten by those present. The glory of the Lord shone in his sanctuary; power from on high came upon this wretched soul whom Satan had bound, lo! these many years; his very face was illumined, while he poured forth his praises, exulting in his instantaneous and wonderful deliverance. It not only remains to be added that from that glad hour no desire for his former sin troubled him, no temptation to its indulgence has visited him: he is greatly improved in physical health, and he has experienced no reaction or ill effects from the sudden disuse of the pernicious drug.
At the South Framingham Camp-meeting in August, 1873, a witness, whose testimony was amply corroborated by others from his town, testified that at his conversion two years before, he was instantaneously emancipated from the appetite for rum and tobacco, to which he had been excessively and notoriously addicted. Since the minister could not prevail on this vile drunkard to attend Church, he appointed a meeting in the home of the wretched inebriate. In the sermon Christ was exalted as a savior from all the foul and enslaving appetites which degrade and destroy men. No impression seemed to be made upon the bloated, blear-eyed tenant of that hovel. But, awakening in the night, the preacher's words were applied by the Spirit to his heart. He saw his hopeless slavery, and he saw his great Deliverer. He called upon him in faith, and even before he had arisen from his bed, he was enabled to say with the poet,
"Long my imprisoned spirit lay
Fast bound in sin and nature's night;
Thine eye diffused a quickening ray;
I woke; my dungeon flamed with light;
My chains fell off, my heart was free --
I rose, went forth, and followed thee."
He declares that all desire for tobacco and alcoholic drinks was taken from him in the twinkling of an eye, and that it has not returned for an instant, even amid the fumes of these poisons.
Verily our Jesus is "mighty to save."
It will be seen that these deliverances were, in several cases, wrought in the moment of the justification of the persons concerned. The explanation is that they were distinctly apprehending this much of the evil of their nature, and were trusting Christ for deliverance from this galling yoke. If all their inherited depravity had been as clearly seen as were these acquired defilements, and their faith had laid hold of Jesus as able "to cleanse from all filthiness of the flesh and the spirit," there is reason to believe that their complete sanctification would have been accomplished when they were justified.
In this power of Christ to bind and cast out the strong man of appetite, what encouragement is afforded to the Christian world to attempt to save the countless hosts of drunkards and moderate drinkers of alcoholic beverages the estimated ten millions of Mexicans and South Americans who defile and destroy themselves with coca Juice; the hundred millions of Hindoos chewing betel; the two hundred and fifty milllons of Asiatic hasheesh eaters; the four hundred millions enslaved to opium; and the eight hundred millions who bow beneath the galling yoke of that filthy tyrant, tobacco.*
* Methodist Quarterly, l859, p. l5l.