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derive much benefit from attentively listening to those who have trod a dangerous path and performed a difficult journey. Some years ago, when the Vegetarian movement had not commenced, our own mind was often perplexed by the conflicting statements and views of various writers; and we wish to offer a few hints to those who may be disposed to examine this important subject.
There is one preliminary remark that seems requisite. There are rules which should be observed in the investigation of all sorts of questions, whilst there are others that apply only to a few. We shall first notice the latter. To the inquirer into the merits of the Vegetarian system we say-(1) Don't begin by asking "What saith the Scriptures ?" We believe that the books generally termed the "Sacred Scriptures," contain an authoritative record of God's will to man. They unfold to man's view sublime and glorious truths, which unaided reason could never have discovered. Everything necessary for man's spiritual renovation is there given in various forms and in a truly attractive manner. At the same time it should be remembered that the Bible is not intended to teach us any of the sciences. These are subjects which are left to be developed by man's research and study. The necessity for this investigation is part of that discipline to which man is now subjected; and it is a glorious thing for human progress that the design and scope of Divine Revelation are better understood than formerly.
God has made known his will in two ways:-Through the medium of his works, and by means of his written word. He is the author of both, and there can be no real contradiction betwixt the two. Owing to the limited nature of man's faculties, there may be an apparent opposition betwixt the declarations of Scripture and the conclusions of science. There are, so to speak, two volumes placed before us for our study and guidance, and we are liable to mistake in the interpretation of both. Further inquiries and study may enable us to harmonise what at first appeared to be irreconcilable. Had this simple principle been properly understood, many scientific discoverers would have escaped that persecution to which they were subjected. We condemn those who imprisoned Galileo for asserting the motion of the earth; and yet how often, since his day, has the Bible been represented as against those who had made some important discovery, or had contended for some important principle !
It is true that the Vegetarian question has a scriptural aspect and bearing; and we would earnestly recommend all who wish to study this part of the subject to read "The Philosophy of Sacred History," by the late Sylvester Graham. We are not prepared to endorse all the author's views, but no one can attentively read the book without perceiving that the Scriptures furnish important testimony in favour of abstinence from the flesh of animals. Still, we maintain that we ought not, in the first instance, to resort to the written word in considering what ought to be man's diet.
We have already observed that the Bible is not intended to teach us any of the sciences. Now, as the Vegetarian question has a scientific aspect, it is necessary to consider what are the conclusions fairly deducible from an examination of man's structure. On this subject there is a vast amount of misapprehension. We cannot enter upon its discussion now, and can only say that we totally dissent from those who consider man as omnivorous, by which is meant that he was originally intended to be a partaker of flesh. An examination of the teeth, stomach, &c., of man clearly shows that he was intended to subsist upon fruits, roots, and different kinds of grain. Comparative anatomy confirms this view. This question is also connected with chemistry and physiology. The former shows that everything necessary
for the growth and nourishment of the human body may be obtained from the productions of the field and the garden; and the latter shows that there is an adaptation betwixt these productions, when duly prepared, and the structure and functions of the human frame. When properly viewed, the whole subject is replete with interest, and calculated to increase our admiration of the skill and wisdom displayed in man's beautiful organisation.
The rule now sought to be enforced is one that is applicable to the investigation of other questions. It is sad and humiliating to think how often good but mistaken men have pitted the Bible against the temperance reformation, the emancipation of the enslaved, &c. It is because of our deep admiration and love of the blessed Book, that we shrink from the practice of placing it in opposition to movements which aim to persuade men to adopt a purer diet, and that seek the annihilation of intemperance and slavery.
(2). The second rule we need only briefly notice. In considering the Scriptural aspect of this question, remember that there is a distinction to be made betwixt a command and a permission. In the New Testament there is no prohibition of flesh of any kind, unless it be of things strangled; nor, on the other hand, is there any command to use it. It is thus left to man to adopt such a diet as may be most conducive to his health and vigour. The body is to be kept in subjection; and it is our duty so to regulate our diet and course of life as that we shall be in the fittest state for the service and work of God.
Now, although we have no precise directions as to our diet, there is one important principle laid down in the New Testament. We are told that "Whatsoever we do, whether we eat or drink, we are to do all to the glory of God." The question then is, not what is in accordance with custom or popular opinion, but what will promote "the glory of God." We judge no one. but say, "Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind." We are satisfied that abstinence from flesh, and an enlightened Vegetarian diet will tend to lessen the amount of disease and premature death, and consequently to promote human happiness and increase the average duration of human life. If this view be correct, as history and experience show, can there be any doubt as to which will most tend to promote the glory of God?
All will admit that if the flesh of animals as food is not necessary, there is one consideration that ought not to be overlooked. The mixed diet system involves a large amount of cruelty to animals, which would be saved by the adoption of the Vegetarian mode of living.
(3). Do not, in the first instance, look at difficulties. After a Vegetarian lecture, the inquiry has often been made, what is to be done for leather, if we should all become Vegetarians? We would ask such an inquirer, do you eat meat that there may be a supply of leather? We trow not. If, however, you are greatly concerned about this matter, we should like to quell your fears. If men's habits were temperate and economical, we could afford to keep a large number of animals for the sake of their wool and hides. Again, whatever changes may take place will be gradual; and we may rest assured that when there is a great need there will soon be a supply in some shape or other. There are substitutes now in use for some purposes, and they are every year being applied to fresh uses. By skill and ingenuity other substitutes may yet be found. Do not, then, perplex the mind by looking at supposed difficulties. Examine the evidence in favour of Vegetarianism, and, if you find that it is clear and satisfactory, act upon your convictions, and you will before long find the advantage of the change.
(4). The last hint we shall now give is one which applies to the study of many other subjects. If you wish to obtain a thorough acquaintance with the subject, look at both sides. Some, however, have not time for extensive reading, and to such we say, read the best treatise you can obtain. In the able work by Mr. John Smith, entitled "Fruits and Farinacea, the Proper Food for Man," we have a sound, judicious, and enlightened exposition of Vegetarianism. It contains an array of facts and arguments which are entitled to the grave consideration of all classes, but especially of those who belong to the medical profession. Their position is one of great responsibility, and were their eyes once opened to the mischief arising from the present dietetic habits of society, they might do much to promote the spread of a movement which is calculated to benefit and bless man. The use of alcoholic liquors and the consumption of the flesh of animals as food are, in our view, obstacles to human progress. Having such a conviction, we cannot but press the consideration of this subject upon every humane and benevolent mind.
THE SCIENTIFIC BASIS OF VEGETARIANISM.
BY DR. TRALL, OF NEW YORK.
A SUBJECT SO radical in relation to prevailing opinions, so subversive of established interests and occupations, and so revolutionary with regard to the habits, customs, education, and appetences of society, cannot be expected to be seriously agitated without encountering much opposition; nor can it be expected to become immediately popular.
The greatest truths that were ever known were, when first announced, the most unpopular subjects ever heard of. In the world's reckless pursuit of immediate gain; in its insane greed for gold; and in its insatiate eagerness for quicker and more intensified pleasures, but few will be persuaded to listen to arguments, much less to adopt habits of life, which put a restraint on morbid instincts, and impose, for a time, stern self-discipline and severe self-denial.
I estimate Vegetarianism as a reformatory measure whose importance can hardly be exaggerated. I do not, indeed, regard the adoption of an exclusively vegetable diet as the end or final consummation of any great and beneficial change in the character and condition of society; for a Vegetarian diet may be very unphysiological, and hence very unwholesome. But I regard it as one great and necessary step in the right direction-as the beginning of the true dietetic reform.
While people are besotted with the low and grovelling sensualism of gross appetites, their thoughts, their feelings, their sentiments, and emotions will hardly rise above the level of mere animal existence. They will not see, with the clearer vision of a purer spirit, the higher purposes and real destinies of human life; nor fully comprehend man's relations to his Creator above and to all created things below; nor will they realise how closely they are, or may be,
To angels on their better side."
But give to man this vantage-ground; free him wholly from the lusts of the fleshpots; let him be purified entirely from the taste of blood; teach him that he was never intended to be the universal scavenger; that his stomach was never constituted to be the common sepulchre for the dead carcasses of animals; let him understand that, in his primal dignity and God-like attributes, he was made to be the lord, not the ravager, of creation; that the high office assigned him is that of protector, not destroyer, of all that his Maker has pronounced "very good;" that he was ordained to rule over, not prey upon, the creatures below him; and that his mission is to subdue and cultivate the earth, not to breed the meaner creatures for the sake of devouring them ;-then will his body and his brain, his mind and his soul-all the powers of his material and spiritual nature-take the onward and the upward, the higher and the better direction.
As a reform, therefore, Vegetarianism may be said to underlie many other reforms which have made vastly more noise in the world, the Temperance cause particularly. Without the co-operation of this, they can never achieve but partial and temporary success. Talk about politics, commerce, navies, armies, annexations and secessions, unions and constitutions! What are all these compared with the institution of victuals and drink?
They have, indeed, something-perhaps much-to do with public prosperity; but individual conditions have everything to do with it, for the character of the nation, and of the nation's institutions, depends on the character of the individuals who compose the nation and make the institutions.
Philanthropists, statesmen, politicians, are always busy in discussing multitudinous, and in some respects very conflicting, schemes of reform, improvement, and progress; and they keep the nation perpetually agitated about banks and tariffs, parties, platforms, squatter sovereignties, extensions, non-interventions, fusions, and confusions, each of which may, perhaps, be of some importance to somebody, but all together sink into insignificance, as affecting the permanent prosperity of our country or the weal and woe of the human race, when compared with this matter of eating and drinking. Douglas, Breckinridge, Bell, Lincoln, are all important personages no doubt, and each very useful in his way; but none of their orators have thus far, during the pendency of the Presidential campaign, broached any subject so vitally important to the voters as that of beef versus bread, hog v. hominy, mutton v. squash, oysters v peaches, chickens v. whortleberries.
“A sound mind in a sound body" is the best possible platform, not only for all political, but for all human purposes.
Food supplies the elements of our tissues. We are literally made of what we eat. Our mental manifestations are dependent on the quality of our bodily structures. According to our dietary will be the condition of "the house we live in,"-this bodily tenement of the immortal spirit, which we are commanded by its Author to keep pure, holy, and undefiled.
I know it is customary with some clergymen, while magnifying the spiritual laws of the Supreme Being, wholly to ignore his physical laws. But I cannot see why one law of the Deity should not be as dear to him as another. All laws in the universe are laws of nature; and nature's laws are God's laws; and I cannot understand why He should look with any less complacency on the transgression of a law which we call physical, because it relates to the body, than he does on the violation of a law which we term moral, because it relates to the soul Certain it is that penalty and punishment equally follow the infraction of any law of the universe. And history, which is said to be "philosophy teaching by example," informs us that all the nations of the earth have gone up or down, have risen or fallen, as they ate and drank.
Mr. Everett, in his recent eloquent reply to Earl Grey in defence of our free institutions, and in refutation of the argument of the noble earl lately delivered in the British Parliament, to the effect that our system of republican government is practically a failure, very pertinently alluded to our vigorous development, our rapid increase in population, our vast area of territory, our accumulated wealth, our unrivalled schools, our numerous churches, our unexampled resources, and our surprising achievements in science, literature, agriculture, and the mechanical arts. All very well. But Mr. Everett might have added that Rome was great, and rich, and powerful, and populous, and intelligent, the patron of arts and science, just before her fall. Greece was once great, powerful, glorious; but where is she now? Many nations have no sooner become wealthy, and powerful, and refined, than they have become debauched with riotous living. Sensualism and dissipation have followed; effeminacy of body and mind, with supreme selfishness, has succeeded; and degradation has been the final result: the people, under such circumstances, naturally and inevitably dividing into two classes-demagogues and despots on the one hand, and serfs and subjects on the other.
Thus have perished all the renowned nations of old. Thus are now going to decay-receding back to barbarism-many nations which have been great, and wealthy, and powerful.
No, it is not wealth, nor power, nor population, nor intelligence, nor all together, that can insure enduring prosperity to a people or a nation. No, no. It is healthHEALTH alone.
"Make men good and they will be happy," says the proverb. "Make men happy and they will be good," is equally true. But make them healthy, and they will be both good and happy. Was Christ ever sick?
And health abides in individual conditions. And it implies integrity and harmony in everything that concerns this wonderfully and fearfully made machinery of the living organism, and in the constitution of the whole man-being.
The people of a state or a nation may be many or few, rich or poor, of large or small territorial possessions; but they will endure and prosper so long as they maintain health and its consequences-strength and vital stamina in personal conditions. And what has more to do with these conditions than eating and drinking? But leaving foreign nations to themselves, how is it with us? What is the prospect of permanent prosperity in our country, which an eloquent senator has well pronounced "the most glorious country that the sun has ever shone upon ?"
Is there anything at work, like a canker-worm in the bud of the gigantic oak, eating out the vital stamina of our people, sapping the very foundations of life, and thus undermining our social and political fabric? Indeed there is. There are many such things.
Turkey, not long since a powerful nation, is now dying of narcotic poisons. The swarming millions of China are becoming rapidly demoralised and deteriorated with opium. And who so blind that he cannot see that the four yet great and powerful nations of the earth-England, France, Russia, and the United States-are taking a serpent to their bosoms, yea, many serpents, which are bound ere long to have their best heart's blood, unless they in some way, and that speedily, rid themselves of them? It is enough to name that triune demon-alcohol, opium, and tobacco. These physiological fiends are just as sure to sink all of these mighty empires to barbarism, sooner or later, provided the people generally persist in their use, as effect is sure to follow cause; so surely as there is law in the universe; so surely as God reigns.
In our own country the tobacco plague is, more than any other single cause, working the ruin of the race. It is deadening the vitality of our people at a fearful rate. It is besotting the old, corrupting the middle-aged, and blighting the young. It is transforming the very breath of man into a source of disease and depravity. "God breathed into man the breath of life, and man became a living soul." Man takes tobacco into his mouth, and fills the whole air with the seeds of death. The tobaccousing habit is causing man—the highest and noblest work of the Infinite God-to smoke out contagion from his nostrils; to expectorate miasm from his lungs; to perspire poison from his skin, and to exhale pestilence at every pore, wherever he goes or stays. It is making him a living pest, whose very touch or smell is contamination. It is making the atmosphere of all our cities rank with the vapours of death. It is attainting all the air of the country, and slowly, insidiously, yet surely and effectually, as the vampire abstracts the vital current from the sleeping victim, it paralyses the moral sense, and perverts the intellect, so that the besotted devotee has often no desire to reform, and even no realising sense of his filthiness; no shame for his depravity, and no sorrow for his degradation.
And the most melancholy and alarming feature of this matter is found in the fact that this habit of tobacco-using is spreading. It is rapidly increasing among all classes, not even excepting the females of our country-our ladies and young women-and especially among the young men.
And, worse than all, the press is against us. Statesmen applaud tobacco-raising as a great and desirable branch of national industry. Our agricultural papers commend and foster tobacco-culture as they do grain, or cotton, or fruit-culture. Scarcely a newspaper in all the land exerts its influence except to encourage tobacco-using. It is but a few months since a dozen pages of that high-toned New England magazine-the Atlantic Monthly-were devoted to an elaborate, ingenious, deceptive, and sophistical argument in favour of the habits of chewing and smoking tobacco; and it is but a few weeks since the New York Tribune-that pre-eminently reformatory paper-published an article in which the practice of smoking tobacco in Central Park was not only justified and commended, but those who objected to it were held up to ridicule! Such lamentable defections on the part of those periodicals from which we had a right to expect better things-where we had a right to expect, if not assistance in staying this rapidly gathering tide of desolation, at least neu