The Keg And The Bucket
A Temperance Talk Devoted to the Teaching of the Principles of Purity of Life.
THE LESSON—That water as a beverage stands for purity and blessing, while spirituous liquors are always an emblem of impurity and blight.
The chalk talk here outlined contains in its illustration an interesting transformation which always commands close attention. The truth it presents cannot fail to leave an impression. It may be well to vary the application of the temperance thought to suit your local conditions.
"I am going to outline for you a picture of an object which is everywhere recognized by good people as a symbol of defiance of the law, a suggestion of immorality, of poverty, depravity and death. [Draw beer keg, completing Fig. 15.] In plain words, it is a beer keg, and its close companions are the whiskey barrel, the wine cask and the demijohn! It well represents the liquor traffic as a whole—that terrible curse which holds in its grip so many men and boys, whose lives might be bright, happy and successful but for its blighting, fatal grasp.
"No right-thinking man has a good word for the business which makes good men into brutes, transforms honorable citizens into murderers, and brings many a prosperous family to rags and misery. The saloon-keeper himself has no good word for the business; he merely defends it because it makes for him a good living with little work on his part. Ofttimes he will not drink a drop himself or allow any of his employes to touch liquor. He is in the business for the money he can get out of it, not caring how much poverty and penury others get. With a low idea of his duty toward his fellow-beings, he argues that as long as men and boys will drink the deadly stuff which he sells, he as well as anyone else, has a right to profit by their weakness and degradation.
"'Oh,' says Shakespeare, 'that men should put an enemy in their mouths to steal away their brains!'
"Whenever we hear of a state of lawlessness and anarchy in a city or a nation, we can rightly conclude that the government of that city or that nation has lost control of its people. When a man becomes a drunkard and does things which he never thought of doing before, we can rightly conclude that his brain has failed to govern him and that it has been deposed by the forces of base appetite. He has lost control of himself. That is why a drinking man cannot in these days secure a good position with the large corporations, railroads, manufactories and the immense commercial institutions. The great employers of men have learned that they cannot trust men who, as Shakespeare says, have 'put an enemy into their mouths to steal away their brains.' Brains are in demand everywhere—brains and steady nerves.
"So, wherever we look, we see young men learning that the way of the saloon is the way of failure. If they can only be halted in their way and be made to look for a moment upon another symbol—a symbol of purity and true service—they might be saved from the bitter path into which they are stepping. [Revise drawing by adding the bail and the lettering, completing Fig. 16. If time will allow of the singing of a verse of 'The Old Oaken Bucket,' the innovation will prove a pleasing touch.]
"Perhaps the warnings against liquor have become commonplace to you. Perhaps you feel that you do not need to be told the story of the great curse. But if the warning comes echoing back to you in the time of temptation you will bless the hearing of it, for it may mean everything to you and your loved ones and the generations to come.
"It is the Master who said, 'And whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water only in the name of a disciple, verily, I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose his reward.' But what may one lose when he puts the drunkard's glass to the lips of a young man?
"Hear the voice of Solomon: 'The drunkard and the glutton shall come to poverty, and drowsiness shall clothe a man with rags.' 'Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging, and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise.'
"If Jesus held up to us a cup of cold water as the emblem of purity, let us never bring dishonor upon one of earth's greatest blessings.
"'Traverse the desert, and then ye can tell
What treasures exist in the cold, deep well;
Sink in despair on the red, parched earth,
And then ye may reckon what water is worth.'"
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