‘the thing is an evil in itself’ ‘Make your children understand that it is not safe for them or anybody else to take strong drink in what is called moderation’
—General William Booth, Salvation Army, who cares about his example to others!
1. Ought not children to be instructed in the evils attendant on the use of intoxicating liquors?
Yes. As soon as children can understand anything at all, they should be made to understand the evil consequences which follow the use of strong drinks, and the importance of abstaining from them altogether. No parent can tell how soon his children may be tempted on this subject, and to be forewarned is to be forearmed. Therefore the children should be instructed in this matter very early in life. Parents will not find any difficulty in explaining this evil in a simple fashion to their children, and they will readily and sincerely pledge their little hands and hearts before God not to use that which they see to be the wicked drink.
2. How can children be trained up most effectively in total abstinence?
(1.) Never allow them to touch or taste a drop of the accursed liquor. Multitudes have been ruined after the fashion of the drunkard, who, on his death-bed, attributed his destruction to the taste created for strong drink when, though only a child, he was allowed to drain the brandy-glasses that came from his grandfather’s table. Should ever any of your children get into this terrible predicament, which God forbid, take care that they are never able to say that they had either the opportunity or the encouragement to acquire this terrible damning appetite at your table or in your home. To this end, never let a drop of intoxicating liquor be used as a beverage in your house for any reason whatever.
(2.) Never allow your children, so far as you have the power to prevent it, to see anyone for whom they have any esteem, touch or taste strong drink. Of course this will shut your children out of much company, and keep them away, perhaps, from visiting many friends and relations; but you cannot help that. If sacrifices are to be made, you had better make these than run the risk of the peace and virtue and Salvation of those so dear to you. Keep the children’s eyes from beholding iniquity, or from being influenced in its favour by those for whom, for other reasons, they may have great respect, and who would be likely so much the more to influence them in the use of that which has proved the ruin of thousands.
(3.) Make the children understand that the thing is an evil in itself. Show them that it is manufactured by man—that God never made a drop of alcohol. To say that alcohol is a good creature of God is one of the devil’s own lies fathered on foolish and ignorant people. It is a man-manufactured article. The earth nowhere produces a drop of it. The good creatures of God have to be tortured and perverted before any of it can be obtained. There is not a drop in all creation made by God or that owes its existence to purely natural causes.
I got, myself, a clear view of the controversy when but seven years of age. A schoolfellow was a teetotaler and wore a medal. I asked the meaning of it. He explained that ale and wine made people drunk, and that when they were drunk they did foolish and wicked things, for which they were very sorry when they became sober. Of the truth of this statement I saw plenty of illustrations all about me. In my young heart I felt that drink must be very bad to make people do such things; and when pressed by my schoolfellow, I promised that I would not touch, taste, nor handle it any more. We then went together to a certain shop where was a pledge-book. I wrote my name in it, purchased a medal, and although tempted continuously, and strongly urged to break that pledge by those whom I loved, I kept it until thirteen years of age, only breaking it then when urged for my health’s sake to do so by one who had much influence over me. In conjunction with my beloved wife, I have acted in this way with my children, and from their babyhood they have been made to feel and to look upon all intoxicating liquor as the wicked drink, and for many years they knew it only by that name. Show the children the evils that attend upon its use, and their own tender and unsophisticated hearts will tell them their duty with regard to it. An ordinary child of six years of age, on being shown a drunken man or woman, or upon having some of the consequences following the use of strong drink set before him, will voluntarily and cheerfully refuse to take it.
(4.) Teach the children that health and strength and happiness are altogether independent of its use. Make this plain to them, so that neither the advice of doctors nor opinions of friends shall deceive them in the future, by leading them to think that intoxicating liquors are in any way necessary to their well-being.
(5.) Show the children that no one can take intoxicating drink without personal danger. Describe to them what beautiful and noble spirits have fallen through it, and they will detest it immediately. As facts illustrating this come under your notice in the daily papers, in your own neighbourhood, or in your own Corps, describe them to your children. By these means will their hatred for it be increased, and they will come to feel a moral pleasure in refusing it—a pleasure far greater than any gratification which the use of it could possibly bring them.
(6.) Show the children how hypocritical they will be, if, while professing to imitate Jesus Christ, they should refuse to give up the use of intoxicating drink, because of any little personal gratification they might derive therefrom. Jesus Christ sacrificed not only His own comfort, but His own life to save the world from sin and misery and Hell.
(7.) Make your children understand that it is not safe for them or anybody else to take strong drink in what is called moderation, and that even if it were, their example would be sure to induce others to take it, some of whom would be almost certain to go to excess. Explain to them that of the millions of drunkards who have found their way down to the bottom-less pit, not one of all the ghastly band ever intended to go on to drunkenness. They all began with “moderation,” and purposed to stop there. Therefore, the only way of safety for your children as regards themselves and the answer of a good conscience with respect to others, is total abstinence from the evil.
(8.) Of course all that has been said sternly forbids your allowing your children to engage in any trade, profession, or calling, which, by the sale of intoxicating drinks, makes a profit out of the miseries, vices, and crimes of men.
No Alcohol, No Exceptions by Catherine Booth
Another great evil which I have seen even in families where there has in the main been much good training, is the yielding in an emergency on points of principle for the sake of expediency. Take an illustration. Here is a family who are trained in the principles of abstinence from intoxicating drinks, as all Christian families undoubtedly ought to be. These parents have wisely taught their children that strong drink is an evil and bitter thing, and that all traffic and countenance of it brings a curse; but on a certain day, a letter comes announcing that General So-and-so, or Captain Somebody is coming to pay a visit to his cousin, on his return from India. Of course there is much excitement and expectation among the junior members of the family, and a becoming anxiety on the part of the parents, worthily to entertain their guest, but a difficulty presents itself. The General is not an abstainer, he has always been accustomed to his wine and spirits. ‘What shall we do,’ says the mother, ‘he will think it inhospitable and mean to deny him his favourite beverage’? ‘Well, yes,’ says the father, ‘I don’t see how we can do it in this instance; you see he is an old man, and would not appreciate our views or our motives. I fear we shall have to order a little wine for him. I don’t like to bring it in sight of the children, but we must explain the circumstances to them, and we will hope no harm will come of it.’ These parents sacrifice principle to expediency, and admit the mocker to their family circle. Can they be surprised if one of their sons turns out a drunkard? ‘Ah!’ said a broken-hearted father once to my husband— ‘I trained my boy in abstinence principles, but I did not keep him out of the society of those who thought there was no harm in moderate drinking, and now he is an outcast and an alien whom I cannot allow to cross my threshold—he has killed his mother, and will bring down my grey hairs with sorrow to the grave.’ “Have no fellowship with the unfruitful works—or instruments of darkness—evil.” “Wine is a mocker.” WINE ITSELF, not the abuse of it. Here is the secret why so many thousands of the fair and promising fall by it. Christian parents, fear it as you would the bite of a serpent, and as you value the souls of your children keep it out of their very sight.
Catherine Booth, 1879, Papers on Practical Religion, Ch. 1: ‘The Training of Children – An Address to Parents’, S.W. Partridge and Co., London, Victorian Women Writers Project. © 1996 The Trustees of Indiana University. Indiana University makes a claim of copyright only to original contributions made by the Victorian Women Writers Project participants and other members of the university community. Indiana University makes no claim of copyright to the original text. Permission is granted to download, transmit or otherwise reproduce, distribute or display the contributions to this work claimed by Indiana University for non-profit educational purposes, provided that this header is included in its entirety.
The Evil of Smoking by General William Booth
1. Is it necessary to warn the children against the common habit of using tobacco?
We think that in view of the widespread prevalence of smoking, especially amongst boys, parents ought to make children understand the enormous evils of this practice. Of course, in Salvationists’ families this may seem unnecessary, seeing that by precept and example the habit will be condemned and avoided by everybody about them. But even here it may be necessary to make children thoroughly conversant with the evil character of the usage. Among other things make your children understand that—
(1.) Eminent medical men say that smoking injures the brain and consequently the entire nervous system. It also affects the lungs, the stomach, and the digestive organs generally, and often injures the eyes very seriously. The earlier the age at which this practice is acquired the more injurious will be its effects.
(2.) The use of tobacco means a shameful waste of money which might be so much better employed.
(3.) Smoking is an unnatural habit. All who have ever practised it know how nature revolts at the commencement of the use of tobacco in any form, whether that of smoking, snuff-taking, or chewing; and has to be compelled at the expense of considerable suffering to allow it.
(4.) Smoking is an unclean practice. It corrupts the breath, poisons the atmosphere, and makes its votary a nuisance in a small way to everybody about him who is not likewise given up to the same selfish indulgence.
General William Booth, 1888, The Training of Children: How to Make the Children into Saints and Soldiers of Jesus Christ, 2nd edn, Ch. 28: ‘Tobacco’.
The Soul-Ruining Drinks by Catherine Booth
LUKE xiii. 23-25.-‘Then said one unto Him, Lord, are there few that be saved,? And He said unto them, Strive to enter in at the strait gate; for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able, when once the master of the house is risen up, and hath shut to the door.’
… With others the hindrance is indulgence in strong drink. The Spirit of God has shown them the soul-ruining character of these drinks, and that their use is incompatible with their serving Him; but they hesitate, and argue, and try to make themselves believe that this is too small a matter to keep them out of the Kingdom of God. I knew a gentleman who was kept out of peace and joy for fifteen years through indulging in a couple of glasses of wine per day. He felt that he ought to wash his hands of the evil thing, but he refused to do it. He did not ‘strive’; he shrank from the self-denial, and so lost the joy of Salvation And, Oh! how many knowingly sell their souls for drink! These say to us sometimes, ‘You don’t know the dreadful power of this appetite; it is too strong for me.’ We might answer, ‘Why did you create it? but seeing that you have done so, now your only chance of Salvation is in a determined and desperate leap right out of its clutches at once; if you parley, you are undone.’ You say, ‘But I shall suffer so.’ Very likely; even Salvation does not prevent people reaping the physical consequences of their sins, but you must embrace the suffering. Strive, man, strive! Eternal life is at stake.
The suffering will only ‘endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.’ Supposing you had to suffer and wrestle with this appetite all your life, what would that be compared to an eternity of peace and joy? Is it not better to enter into life halt or maimed, if need be, than having two hands or two feet to be cast into everlasting fire? But the suffering in your case will only be short, a month or two of ‘striving’ with the physical appetite, and you will be a free man for the rest of your life. Will you be such a COWARD as to lose your all, for want of this bit of wrestling? If God is willing to pardon the past, and to help and strengthen you for the strife, will you sit down and say, ‘I can’t?’ God forbid. Arise and take hold of His strength. Who knows but He may deliver you even from the physical craving? He will if you will trust Him to do it, and you shall ‘walk, and leap, and praise God.’ We have hundreds of men in The Salvation Army who have been the veriest slaves of drink for years, living and working only to get drink, who testify that, at a certain hour of a certain day, God did work this mighty miracle in them, and that from that hour they have neither craved nor missed the deadly draught. Will you strive with your appetite so far as to bring it to Jesus to be cast out? The Lord help you!
Catherine Booth, 1883, Save Thyself.