Give my love to the sexton, and tell him never to chase a dog in religious service. Better let it alone, though it should, like my friend’s poll-parrot, during prayer time, break out with the song, “I would not live alway!” But the fidgety sexton is ever on the chase; his boots are apt to be noisy and say as he goes up the aisle, “Creakety-crack! Here I come. Creakety-crack!” Why should he come in to call the doctor out of his pew when the case is not urgent? Cannot the patient wait twenty minutes, or is this the cheap way the doctor has of advertising? Dr. Camomile had but three cases in three months, and, strange coincidence, they all came to him at half-past eleven o’clock Sunday morning, while he was in church. If windows are to be lowered, or blinds closed, or register to be shut off, let it be before the sermon.
He does not lead the stranger to the pew, but goes a little way on the aisle, and points, saying, “Out yonder!” You leave the photograph of your back in the dust of the seat you occupy; the air is in an atmospheric hash of what was left over last Sunday. Lack of oxygen will dull the best sermon, and clip the wings of gladdest song, and stupefy an audience. People go out from the poisoned air of our churches to die of pneumonia. What a sin, when there is so much fresh air, to let people perish for lack of it! The churches are the worst ventilated buildings on the continent. No amount of grace can make stale air sacred. “The prince of the power of the air” wants nothing but poisoned air for the churches. After audiences have assembled, and their cheeks are flushed, and their respiration has become painful, it is too late to change it. Open a window or door now, and you ventilate only the top of that man’s bald head, and the back of the neck of that delicate woman, and you send off hundreds of people coughing and sneezing. One reason why the Sabbaths are so wide apart is that every church building may have six days of atmospheric purification. The best man’s breath once ejected is not worth keeping. Our congregations are dying of asphyxia. In the name of all the best interests of the church, I indict one-half the sextons.
He is the minister’s blessing, the church’s joy, a harbinger of the millennium. People come to church to have him help them up the aisle. He wears slippers. He stands or sits at the end of the church during an impressive discourse, and feels that, though he did not furnish the ideas, he at least furnished the wind necessary in preaching it. He has a quick nostril to detect unconsecrated odors, and puts the man who eats garlic on the back seat in the corner. He does not regulate the heat by a broken thermometer, minus the mercury. He has the window blinds arranged just right—the light not too glaring so as to show the freckles, nor