Again: when our cities are purified the churches will be multiplied, purified, and strengthened. Now, denominations, and the individuals of the different sects, are often jealous of each other. Christians are not always kindly disposed toward each other; and ministers of the gospel sometimes forget the bond of brotherhood. In that day they will be sympathetic and helpful. There may be differences of opinion and sentiment, but no acerbity, no hypercriticism, and no exclusiveness. In that day all the churches will be filled with worshippers. We have not to-day, in the cities, church-room for one-fourth of our population; and yet there is a great deal more room than the people occupy. The churches do not average an attendance of five hundred people. The vast majority do not attend public worship. But in the day of which I speak there will be enough church-room to hold all the people, and the room will be occupied. In that time what rousing songs will be sung! What earnest sermons will be preached! What fervent prayers will be offered! In these days a fashionable church is a place where, after a careful toilet, a few people come in, sit down, and what time they can get their minds off their stores, or away from the new style of hat in the seat before them, listen in silence to the minister—warranted to hit no man’s sins—and to the choir, who are agreed to sing tunes that nobody knows; and, having passed away an hour in dreamy lounging, go home refreshed.
I pronounce much of what is called “church music,” in our day, a mockery and a farce. Though I have neither a cultured voice nor a cultured ear, no man shall do my singing. When the storms, and the trees, and the dragons are called on to praise the Lord, I feel that I must sing, for I know more about music than do the dragons. Nothing can take the place of artistic music. The dollar that I pay to hear Parepa or Nilsson sing is far from being wasted. But, when the hymn is read, and the angels of God stoop from their thrones to bear up on their wings the praise of the great congregation, let us not drive them away with our indifference. I have preached in churches where fabulous sums of money were paid to performers, and the harmony was exquisite as any harmony that ever went up from an Academy of Music; and yet, for all the purposes of devotion, I would prefer the hearty, out-breaking song of a backwoods Methodist camp-meeting. When these fancy starveling songs get up to the gate of heaven, how do you suppose they look, standing beside the great doxologies of the glorified? Let an operatic performance, floating upward, get many hours the start, and it shall be caught and passed by the shout of the Sailors’ Bethel, or the hosanna of the Sabbath-school children.
I know a church where there was no singing except that done by the choir, save one old Christian man; and they waited upon him by a committee, and asked him if he would not stop singing, for he disturbed the choir!