It is strange also how individual churches will sometimes make misstatements about other individual churches. It is especially so in regard to falsehoods told with reference to prosperous enterprises. As long as a church is feeble, and the singing is discordant, and the minister, through the poverty of the church, must go with threadbare coat, and here and there a worshipper sits in the end of a pew having all the seat to himself, religious sympathizers of other churches will say, “What a pity!” But, let a great day of prosperity come, and even ministers of the gospel, who ought to be rejoiced at the largeness and extent of the work, denounce, and misrepresent, and falsify,—starting the suspicion, in regard to themselves, that the reason they do not like the corn is because it is not ground in their own mill.
How long before we shall learn to be fair in our religious criticisms! The keenest jealousies on earth are church jealousies. The field of Christian work is so large that there is no need that our hoe-handles hit.
May God extirpate from the world ecclesiastical lies, commercial lies, mechanical lies, and agricultural lies, and make every man, the world over, to speak truth with his neighbor!
As on some bitter cold night, while threshing our hands about to keep our thumbs from freezing, we have looked up and seen the northern lights blazing along the sky, the windows of heaven illumined at the news of some great victory, so from beyond this bitter night of abomination a brightness strikes through from the other side.
I have thought that it would be well, in these chapters on the sins of the times, to lift before you a vision of what our cities will be when the work of good men shall have been concluded and our population redeemed. I doubt not that sometimes men have shut this book, thinking that the gigantic wrongs we depict may never be discomfited. Lest you be utterly disheartened, I will show you that we fight in a war in which we will be completely victorious. This is to be no drawn battle; for, when it is done, the result will not be disputed by a man on earth, or an angel in heaven, or a devil in hell. We shall have captured every one of the strongholds of darkness. You and I will live to see the day when gambling-hells will be changed into places of Christian merchandise, and houses of sin swept and garnished for the residence of the purest home circles.
Beethoven was deaf, and could not hear the airs he composed; but when the song of universal disenthralment arises, and white Circassian stands up by the side of black Ethiopian, and tropical groves wave to the Lebanon cedars, we shall, standing somewhere, know it and see it, and hear it. If gone from earth, we will be allowed to come out on the hills and look.
We do not talk about impossibilities. We do not propose a medicine about which we have to say that it will “kill or cure.” For this balm that oozes from the tree of heaven will inevitably cure.