Ellen G. White on Prohibition

Seventh-day Adventists have from the very beginning of the advent movement aligned themselves on the side of temperance, taking a strong stand against legalizing liquor.

Ellen G. White

Seventh-day Adventists have from the very beginning of the advent movement aligned themselves on the side of temperance, taking a strong stand against legalizing liquor. They have ever stood for prohibition of the sale of intoxicating drink. In 1911 Maine was passing through an intensive agitation on the prohibition question. Elder and Mrs. S. N. Haskell went to Portland, and on August 10, 1911, he wrote to Mrs. E. G. White as follows:

"There is the greatest temperance crisis on hand that has ever been experienced in any State or country, as far as I know. Speakers are here from all parts of the country to vindi­cate temperance and the prohibition, while on the other hand the whisky men are determined at the next election. which comes off on Sep­tember 11, to have the constitution so changed that the rum seller will be licensed."

In answer to this letter, Mrs. White wrote under date of September 28:

"Dear Brother and Sister Haskell:I am thankful that of your own free will you decided to engage in the work at Portland, Maine. I know that you will put heart and soul into this work, manifesting the same earnest spirit that you have shown in your work in other places. ... I shall pray that you may be given strength to continue for a time your labors for Port­land.

"If our people have allowed the enemy to come in and quench their faith and weaken their energies, I am sorry for them and for the people of Portland.

"In the years 1842 and 1843 there was a strong effort made in Portland, Maine, in be­half of the cause of temperance. This question has been again and again a living issue in Maine. I do hope that Portland will act its part in giving a loud cry for temperance. If our people can be made to realize how much is at stake, and will seek to redeem the time that has been lost, by now putting heart and soul and strength into the temperance cause, great good will be seen as the result. May the Lord save Maine from joining in the confederacy of evil for the support of the liquor traffic..

"The Lord desires to see Maine stand in free­dom from all enticement to liquor drinking, and refusing to come under the terrible influ­ences of the saloons. I was shown that should poisonous drugs be dealt out again as pure wine, and satanic influences be allowed to come in to enslave the minds and bodies of men by drink, I must do what I could to oppose the evil. I was shown that if the people of Maine should give license to liquor selling. God would be greatly dishonored. Many souls would be enticed to ruin, and satanic agencies would triumph.

"Drink is a fearful agency of hell. When once the habit of drink is formed, men are led on and on in the path of slavery and degrada­tion.

"I rejoice that it has been my privilege to bear my testimony on this subject before crowded assemblies in many countries. Many times I have spoken on this subject to large congregations at our camp meetings."—File, H-78-1911.

In the Review and Herald of February 10, 1885, Mrs. White describes a service at which she addressed the inmates of the Martha Wash­ington Home for the reformation of the intem­perate, and touches upon our relation to other groups working for temperance. She says:

"Although its friends do not believe with us on many points of doctrine, yet we will unite with them when by so doing we can aid our fellow men. God would have us individually learn to work with tact and skill in the cause of temperance and other reforms, and employ our talents wisely in benefiting and elevating humanity."

And in the Youth's Instructor, of October 27, 1908, there is this clear appeal for prohibition from Mrs. White:

"Let the danger from the liquor traffic be made plain, and a public sentiment be created that shall demand its prohibition. Let the voices of the nation demand of its lawmakers that a stop be put to this infamous traffic, that is ruining the lives of men."

Again, from an article by Mrs. White in the Review and Herald. of October 25, 1906, en­titled, "Drunkenness and Crime," the same principle is presented. We quote:

are filled with many horrible details of revolt­ing drunkenness and terrible crime, there is a tendency to become so familiar with existing conditions that we lose sight of the significance of these conditions. Violence is in the land. More intoxicating liquor is used than has ever been used heretofore. The story of the re­sultant crime is given fully in the newspapers. And yet, notwithstanding the many evidences of increasing lawlessness, men seldom stop to consider seriously the meaning of these things. Almost without exception, men boast of the en­lightenment and progress of the present age.

"Upon us, to whom God has given great light, rests the solemn responsibility of calling the attention of thinking men and women to the significance of the prevalence of drunken­ness and crime with which they are so familiar. We should bring before their minds the scrip­tures that plainly portray the conditions which shall exist just prior to the second coming of Christ. Faithfully should we uplift the divine standard, and raise our voices in protest against the sanctioning of the liquor traffic by legal en­actment.

"For a time after the great earthquake along the coast of California, the authorities in San Francisco and in some of the smaller cities and towns ordered the closing of all liquor saloons. So marked were the effects of this strictly en­forced ordinance, that the attention of thinking men throughout America, and notably on the Pacific Coast, was directed to the advantages that would result from a permanent closing of all saloons. During many weeks following the earthquake in San Francisco, very little drunk­enness was seen. No intoxicating drinks were sold. The disorganized and unsettled state of affairs gave the city officials reason to expect an abnormal increase of disorder and crime, and they were greatly surprised to find the opposite true. Those from whom was expected much trouble, gave but little. This remarkable freedom from violence and crime was traceable largely to the disuse of intoxicants.

"The editors of some of the leading dailies took the position that it would be for the perma­nent betterment of society and for the upbuild­ing of the best interests of the city, were the saloons to remain closed forever. But wise counsel was swept aside, and within a few short weeks permission was given the liquor dealers to reopen their places of business, upon the payment of a considerably higher license than had formerly been paid into the city treasury.

"In the calamity that befell San Francisco, the Lord designed to wipe out the liquor sa­loons that have been the cause of so much evil, so much misery and crime; and yet the guardians of the public welfare have proved unfaithful to their trust, by legalizing the sale of liquor. Those who have been placed in posi­tions of official responsibility, and who in the recent past have become thoroughly familiar with the advantages of the closed saloon, now deliberately choose to enact laws sanctioning the carrying on of the liquor traffic. They know that in doing this, they are virtually li­censing the commission of crime; and yet their knowledge of this sure result deters them not.

"The evils that are so apparent at the present time, are the same that brought destruction to the antediluvian world. 'In the days that were before the flood' one of the prevailing sins was drunkenness. From the record in Genesis we learn that 'the earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence.' Crime reigned supreme; life itself was unsafe. Men whose reason was dethroned by intoxicat­ing drink, thought little of taking the life of a human being.

"'As tho days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.' The drunk­enness and the crime that now prevail, have been foretold by the Saviour Himself. We are living in the closing days of this earth's his­tory. It is a most solemn time. Everything betokens the soon return of our Lord. The very conditions we see in the great cities of our land; the mad acts of men whose minds have been inflamed by drugged liquor sold under sanction of human enactments; the dead and the dying whose destruction can be traced to the use of poisonous liquor,—all these evils are but a fulfillment of our Saviour's prophecy, whereby we may know that Jesus will soon ap­pear in the clouds of heaven.

"O, what a work there is before the faithful watchman who must quickly warn the people of the perils of these last days! How important it is that God's messengers shall call the atten­tion of statesmen, of editors, of thinking men everywhere, to the deep significance of the drunkenness and the violence now filling the land with desolation and death! As faithful colaborers with God, we must bear a clear, de­cided testimony on, the temperance question."

And of course all are acquainted with these familiar extracts:

"On the temperance question take your posi­tion without wavering. Be as firm as a rock. Be not partakers of other men's sins."—"Fun­damentals of Christian Education," p. 482.

"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."—"Gospel Workers," pp. 387, 388.

"Of all who claim to be numbered among the friends of temperance, Seventh-day Adventists should stand in the front ranks."—Id., p. 384.

"There is no man whose interests the liquor traffic does not imperil. There is no man who for his own safeguard should not set himself to destroy it."—"Ministry of Healing," p. 345.

*From the foregoing it will be clearly seen that Mrs. White has strongly stood for temper­ance, and urges upon the ministry and all work­ers that they use their utmost endeavors in pre­senting the evil of this terrible thing to the people, that they may understand the word of God concerning drunkenness and the sale of intoxicating liquors. Everywhere the voice of our ministers should be raised denouncing this curse, and in teaching the people the counsel of God concerning intemperance, drunkenness, and the baneful results of alcoholic beverages. —Editors.

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Ellen G. White

February 1933

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