Each year also we are being led by the powers of the Unseen, by chemical discovery, electricity and magnetism, to perceive how God gives His great invisible creation no rest.  The activity of the Will of God, as thus revealed in worlds we cannot see, quickens our feeling for the need of activity in the viewless world of spirit, in the unseen realm of moral force and strong invisible will.  The Power Divine, which Wordsworth said “rolls thro’ all things,” is each year, I believe, being made more manifest in the affairs of men.  The book of parable that science is each year unfolding is making men feel the reality of the forces of the invisible, the potential energy in the world of spirit. (pp. 6-7)

This is one cause of hope for those who man the walls of the City of Temperance; and another cause of rejoicing is that we are each year being led now by trade unions, now by labour organisation, now by co-operative societies, now by franchise extension, now by local government measures, to realise that each man is his brother’s keeper, that each of us has a stake in the Commonweal; that, for God and for the Nation’s well-being, we must all of us justify our citizenship by taking our turn upon the wall, and doing what we can to face a common foe. (p. 7)

And the enemy is at the gate.  What shape does he take?  He is Protean, he is hydra-headed.  His worst form to-day is want of strength of will and purpose in the hearts of men, to be masters of themselves. (p. 7)

Talk of it as we may, the national sin, whether it take the form of drink or gambling or lust, is what the Greeks called “Want of self-mastery,” what the translators of the Greek Testament call “Intemperance.”  This too in a nation that has proved by more than a thousand years of glorious history that it can on occasion by the grace of God “endure all things,” and in strength of will and stubbornness of purpose lead the world. (p. 7)….

We shall do well to watch upon the wall against this insidious foe that is slowly undermining English strength of will and force of character, and uses, as one of its deadliest weapons, the poisoned cup of death and deceitfulness we call Strong Drink. (p. 8)

Away there in Sweden there is one public house to every 834 people in towns; one to every 18,207 people in the country.  Here in Keswick we have 20 public houses for 4,000; in Gothenburg they have 18, that is, one public-house for 6,333 inhabitants.  Here in Cumberland, with its population of 227,373 and its 953 public-houses, its 115 beer-houses to sell on the premises, its 21 beer-houses off the premises, and its 40 grocers’ licences, or a place for sale of drink to every 201 of the people, we can hardly shut our eyes to the fact that the drink fiend is strong and safely entrenched against us; and when we remember that our forefathers were Vikings who, when they came to possess the land, brought over an inheritance of liquor love; and that we are living in the “rain belt,” and suffer dark days and wet clothes more than most; we know how desperate will need to be the determination of the county to shake itself free from the Drink Habit, we feel how still God needs his watchmen on the wall “to rest not day nor night.” (pp. 8-9)

It is quite clear, if one may trust police statistics, that these drink-and-death houses in Cumberland are better managed than they were; our Chief Constable vouches for this in his last report.  There were no endorsements upon licences last year.  There was a decrease of 36 in summonses against public-house keepers for breaches of the liquor law, as contrasted with the former year. (p. 9)  

But nevertheless the tide of drunkenness shews no sign of ebbing. 1 ,248 people were apprehended last year for drunkenness and riotous behaviour in the County; and, with shame be it said, there was an increase of 84 upon this dark calendar of selfishness over the former year. (p. 9)

As it is in Cumberland, so it is also elsewhere.  In Birmingham, the Queen of the Midlands, with its population nearly the double of the whole of Cumberland, the Chief Constable tells me that close upon 3,000 people were proceeded against last year; and nearly 200 cases above the number of the former year were recorded on the black list of the city’s crime. (p. 9)

Nor does it seem that the connection between drink and poverty is so clear as it was at first thought to be.  Birmingham and Cumberland have both been passing through a time of comparative poverty, but the drink bill goes up.  Brewers do not allow accounts to run, and seem as prosperous as ever; and Great Britain paid over the counter last year close on 139 million of pounds in liquor, and probably wasted another 100 million of pounds sterling in the process. (pp. 9-10)

On the other hand, notwithstanding all this deadly waste, England is to-day less poverty-stricken than she was 60 years ago.  Her total pauperism is less than half what it was then; and her paupers over 69 years of age have been reduced from 21 per cent to 13 per cent.  The fact is, there is less money needed for the necessities of life, which are so much cheaper, and there is more for this fatal indulgence. (p. 10)

Still the Drink Bill swells and, notwithstanding we have our six millions of total abstainers to man the wall of the City of Temperance, the standing army of 600,000 habitual drunkards also grows.  The 88 millions of bushels of grain that might have been bread is turned, in the brewer’s vat, the distiller’s worm, to what may become poison to body and soul.  And here we are crying out that our foreign trade is on the wane, and are spending positively more on a luxury, that means the sapping of a nation’s life, than all we get by our foreign and colonial trade, all we obtain of profit from our foreign and colonial investments. (p. 10)

Friends, we are hearing a good deal about China now.  There is an old Chinese proverb that says that when the Emperor of China, 4,000 years ago, forbade intoxicants it rained gold for three days.  If our Government forbade this to-morrow, it would rain gold in England for a whole year.  Gold not only of man’s making, but golden strength of character, pure gold stamped with the image of God.  It would rain virtue for vice, and health for disease; for money and sin it would rain godliness and true joy—showers of blessing for the Commonweal would be ours. (pp. 10-11)

“I believe,” said Hawkins, the judge, “that nine-tenths of the crime of the country is engendered inside the doors of public-houses.”  “Where the drink trade rises highest,” said Baron Dowse, “there too is the high-water mark of suicide, mortality, and crime.” (p. 11)

Think of unhappy France, her sorrow and her sin, her suicides, her restless anarchy and social fret and fever, her broken faith, her forsaken altars.  Do you know that the drinking of alcohol in France has in the last ten years gone up by 15 per cent? (p. 11)

Yet there are brighter times ahead.  What Mahomet did for Islam, and Brahma for India, and Buddha and Confucius for China and Japan, slowly but most surely—yea, how much more surely—our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ will do for England, for France, and the world. (p. 11)

The agony and death that the drink poison can be to a nation’s vital force is being recognised, even in uncivilised countries.  King Khama came all the way from Southern Africa to pray our Queen that no drink shall be allowed, at English hands, to enter his country—and his prayer was granted.  Rhodes, of Rhodesia, gives his bond that the Chartered Company that takes over Matabeleland shall not permit the sale of alcohol in that vast territory.  Yea, and at home, the cry of the people to be delivered from the chains of this sin is entering into the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth, and the Spirit of our God is stirring in our Churches and Council chambers; is moving in the conscience of the people and in the hearts of our rulers to mend or end the traffic. (pp. 11-12)….

“I have set watchmen upon thy walls, O Jerusalem, which shall never hold their peace day or night.”  It is to the Temperance Societies of the land that, humanly speaking, we owe this splendid rousing of the public conscience.  The Temperance Societies are the vigilant watchmen upon the wall in this matter. (pp. 12-13)

And these Temperance Societies are leagued with great helpers—Faith in a good cause, Hope for a happier time, Charity to all who are victims of the sin of selfishness.  Not only is the Christian Church of all denominations rallying to their call, but there are gathering within the walls other mighty battalions to help them to man the walls in time of need.  The childhood of the land, as yet unpoisoned, undemoralised is with them.  England is discovering that if she is to remain great, she must keep a tender heart as well as a prayerful.  The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals are ranging round the Temperance standards.  They realise that drink is the brutaliser, drink the deadly anodyne to those fine angel-feelings that make man fit to be with God, and move the nation to its finest issues to be God’s helper upon earth.  And to-day, anyone who knows the horror of the rabbit-course, or the misery of the hell-houses where little children are being by neglect, or by savage treatment, done slowly to death (as 38,000 innocents that have been rescued during the ten years past through the organisation of one society testify) must feel that the Temperance Movement, and the Temperance Societies of all the Churches,

                  Plead like angels trumpet-tongued against
                  The deep damnation of the taking off

of this demoniac lust, the lust of drink; and are standing to-day for God’s dumb creatures and Christ’s little ones against the drink curse of our time. (pp. 13-14)But it is little use that watchmen be upon the walls unless they have some concerted plan of defence.  We have in the past ten years seen that the Temperance cause has been sadly hampered and its progress marred by disunion in the ranks of its supporters – one party crying for one panacea, another for another, and the Legislature paralysed because the friends of Temperance would not be agreed as to what legislation they would have. (p. 14)

Thank God for it, I believe we are slowly learning wisdom.  If I am not misinformed, the Bill Sir William Harcourt is to bring in, is the Church of England Temperance Bill, with certain modifications, notably the refusal to admit of compensation.  Friends, what we demand, and I trust shall demand with clearer voice each year, is not that this or that party nostrum should be tried, but rather that a great and comprehensive Imperial Measure that shall contain and combine all the main points of the Temperance programme, and that shall by elasticity allow various localities to decide what part of that programme is best for their county, their district, or their village. (p. 14)

Let the local veto be part; let Sunday closing be part; let the Gothenburg or any other company system be part; but let the measure be no longer at the mercy of the liquor merchants or liquor sellers or even of the tenets of temperance reformers; let it be “broad-based upon a people’s will”; and let the Church of Christ, by the help of God, strengthen, educate, and keep that will to the right sticking point; let the people feel that they, through their representative, through their parish, their district, their county councils, have sole control and fullest powers of local option.  Till this is done we shall but beat the wind; for till this is done we shall never disabuse men’s minds in the mass, of the old fallacy that a licence carries with it proprietary rights, and that the brewer with his tied house, or the liquor seller with his licence, if he behaves, has a kind of vested right in the deadly traffic.  Once let imperial authority or local authority demand that whatever property qualification the liquor-selling trade has is vested in itself to use or put aside, and we shall be able to begin to put the nation’s feet upon the dragon’s neck, and chain the lion that lieth in wait in his den, that lurketh in secret places, whose eyes are privily set against the righteous. (pp. 14-15)

But I remember that “Except the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain.”  In this great council of war of the poor and the oppressed against the hydra-headed demon drink, it is God and His Holy Spirit alone can give us wisdom and strength of purpose—charity for those who disagree, reason for those who are as yet unpersuadable.  In His power and His might, let us lay aside dissension and difference of opinion as to detail.  Let us for the great end, even in matters of personal choice of weapons, take up the Cross of Jesus, and deny ourselves, our own pet schemes and imaginations, and shoulder to shoulder let us keep watch and ward, take common action against the foe.  So, friends, as watchmen upon the wall of a better England, a more heavenly, with the cry of “Where there’s drink there’s danger,” let us not hold our peace day or night; let us give God no rest till he establish and till he make our Jerusalem a praise in the earth. (p. 16)

(A Temperance Sermon Preached in St John’s Church, Keswick. Wednesday, Feb. 13th, 1895)