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Lectures on Proverbs Chapters 20 and 21

Lectures on Proverbs Chapters 20 and 21

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Published by glennpease
BY REV. RALPH WARDLAW, D.D.


EDITED BY HIS SON,

THE REV. J. S. WARDLAW, A.M.
BY REV. RALPH WARDLAW, D.D.


EDITED BY HIS SON,

THE REV. J. S. WARDLAW, A.M.

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Published by: glennpease on Aug 17, 2013
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LECTURES O PROVERBS CHAPTERS 20 AD 21BY REV. RALPH WARDLAW, D.D.EDITED BY HIS SO,THE REV. J. S. WARDLAW, A.M.
LECTURE LVII.Prov. xx. 1.•'Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging; and whosoever is deceived therebyis not wise."It is now nearly five years since, in illustrating the " fruitsof the Spirit" enumerated by Paul in his Epistle to theGalatians, I called your attention, in three discourses, to thesubject of temperance. It is by no means my purpose toenter into the subject at so much length at present, or toattempt anything like what might be called a full discussioneither of the claims of the total abstinence system, or of themerits, on the one side or the other, of what has now beentechnically denominated the ivine question. All that I in-tend is, as briefly and as simply as I can, to collect, upontwo or three points, the lights of Scripture ; and to do thisin such a manner as to show that even to ordinary readersof the Bible, there is no difficulty in the matter, if they willonly bring to the inquiry the principles of sound and unpre- judiced common sense.The text brings before us three things :1. Certain articles — "Wine and strong drink"2. Certain tendencies ascribed to them : — " Wine is amocker, strong drink is raging :" — and3. The folly of yielding to these tendencies, — "Whoso-
 
ever is deceived thereby is not wise."I. "We have two articles — " Wine and strong drink : " — and, since the introduction of recent discussions on the ab-stinence question, the English reader has got so familiarwith the original Hebrew terms, that it has ceased to bePROVERBS XX. 1. 289pedantry, and has become almost necessary, to use them. — The word for wine is yayin: — the word for strongdrink shekhar. In not a few of the publications onthe subject, we have page after page bedizzened with thecharacters of Hebrew and Chaldee, and Arabic, and Syriacand Greek — and with the words of these various languagesin English letters. We have, at the same time, minute andmultiform descriptions of the various processes to which, inancient times and countries, the juice of the grape was sub- jected, — of the different articles produced by these processes,and the several modes in which they were respectively used.All this possesses a certain description of interest. It isgratifying to the curiosity both of the critic and the etymolo-gist; of the naturalist, the chemist, and the man of generalinformation. But considered as bearing on the answer tothe question — What, in Scripture language, is meant by "wme"and "strong drink" — especially the former? — it does appear tome to be, to a great extent, a ivaste of learning. What is aplain man to make of his Bible, if on so seemingly simple asubject as the use and abuse of intoxicating drinks, he findshimself wrapt in a cloud of learned dust about the verymeaning of the words in which his duty and his danger arepointed out to him'? Further; how useful and desirablesoever it may be to trace terms to their etymological origin,it should not be forgotten, that even the clearest ascertain-ment of this, is very far from being a sure and satisfactoryway of determining the meaning of a word : — that dependingso much on particular associations at the time when the termis specifically applied, and varying greatly in the progress of every language. It is by usage alone, — and usage undergoingchanges far from slight at times, in the history of the lan-guage, — that the true sense of any term can be ascertained.There are different words employed, in the Old Testament,to express, under various modifications, beverages or prepara-tions from the vine. By some, seven are enumerated; by
 
others, even nine or ten. One of them is the second of thosein our text — the shekhar. Tins word, however, is moregeneral, meaning "strong drink" of any description, whether270 LECTURE LVII.the material from which it is made be the fruit of the vineor any other substance : — and respecting the import of it, asalways used for what is intoxicating, there is no dispute.Setting it, therefore, in the meanwhile, aside, there are of all the rest tico only which, on the present question, callfor any remark. They are the former of the two words inmy text — yayin, and the word tirosh.Yayin is supposed to be derived from the verb which sig-nifies to squeeze or press; an etymology natural and simple, — this being the process by which the juice, which is thematerial of the wine, is obtained from the fruit. Of tiroshdifferent etymologies are given; — the one, from the verb sig-nifying to possess or take full possession; by which its influ-ence on the man who freely uses it is conceived to be stronglyconveyed : it takes possession of him, so that he is no longerhimself or under his own control. It has been thought,indeed, that, from this etymology, tirosh may simply meanvineyards, considered as the symbol, by a part for the whole,of a man's possessions, property, or inheritance. But thiswont do. Tirosh, beyond all question, means a particulardrink. This is its ordinary import. And men do not drink their vineyards any more than they eat their lands. Ano-ther derivation of the word is from the term signifying head.And if this were the true etymology, it would seem to memuch more likely that the association by which it was sug-gested was still the influence of the liquor, — its headiness,its effect in unsettling the understanding, — than any resem-blance between the head and the berry or cluster. But,as I have said, it is not etymology, but usage that mustsettle the question. Etymology seems to favour the intoxi-cating properties of the tirosh as well as of the yayin. Inconsidering the question of usage, I begin with the latter.Yayin is the word in our text, and there can be no doubtof its intoxicating character in this occurrence of it. It is, Imay say, the word for wine in the Old Testament Scriptures.The word for the same thing, in the Greek, the Latin, theGerman, the Dutch, the English, and other European lan-

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