A PRESS item announces that “By invitation of their General Assembly, the United Presbyterians are to vote in their presbyteries on the question whether the use of tobacco is a sin.”
But how can the vote of the presbyteries settle the question, any more than a certain Presbyterian vote some years ago settled the question of infant damnation, of than the vote of the papal Ecumenical Council settled it that the pope is infallible? The principle of all such voting is papal and not protestant.
The Apostle Paul tells us that he discovered what was sin by means of the law. “I had not known sin, but by the law; for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet.” Romans 7:7.
And the Apostle John says also: “Sin is the transgression of the law.” 1 John 3:4.
And that law demands that an individual love the Lord with all his heart, mind, and strength, and his neighbor as himself. Is this consistent with the love of tobacco?
We think not. The smoking and chewing of tobacco  is an utterly useless indulgence, to say nothing of its harmful character, as established by medical testimony and the facts of observation: or of its filthiness, utterly inconsistent with sanctification of the flesh and spirit. And being utterly useless, the love of it, which all users of the weed acquire, is certainly altogether inconsistent with that love to God which demands that we devote all our energies and means to the service of God and our fellowmen. Every useless indulgence proclaims that the individual does not love God supremely, as the law requires.
Just what the law does require, in any case, must be brought to the consciousness of the individual by the Word of God, and the convicting power of the Spirit.
It is useless for any assembly of men to try to define sin. The law of God has settled every such question for all time. The principle of such a proceeding leads directly away from the law, and from its Author.