But after we got home we saw the wickedness of being in such dread. As the Lord got us out of that predicament, we resolved never again to be cornered in one similar. Forthwith the thralldom was broken, we hope never again to be felt. How demeaning that a man with a message from the Lord Almighty should be dependent upon paper-mills and gasometers! Paper is a non-conductor of gospel electricity. If a man have a five-thousand-dollar bill of goods to sell a customer, he does not go up to the purchaser and say, “I have some remarks to make to you about these goods, but just wait till I get out my manuscript.” Before he got through reading the argument the customer would be in the next door, making purchases from another house.
What cowardice! Because a few critical hearers sit with lead-pencils out to mark down the inaccuracies of extemporaneousness, shall the pulpit cower? If these critics do not repent, they will go to hell, and take their lead-pencils with them. While the great congregation are ready to take the bread hot out of the oven shall the minister be crippled in his work because the village doctor or lawyer sits carping before him? To please a few learned ninnies a thousand ministers sit writing sermons on Saturday night till near the break of day, their heads hot, their feet cold, and their nerves a-twitch. Sermons born on Saturday night are apt to have the rickets. Instead of cramping our chests over writing-desks, and being the slaves of the pen, let us attend to our physical health, that we may have more pulpit independence.
It would be a grand thing if every minister felt strong enough in body to thrash any man in his audience improperly behaving, but always kept back from such assault by the fact that it would be wrong to do so. There is a good deal of heart and head in our theology, but not enough liver and backbone. We need a more stalwart Christian character, more roast beef rare, and less calf’s-foot jelly. This will make the pulpit more bold and the pew more manly.
Which thoughts came to us this week as we visited again the village church aforesaid, and preached out of the same old Bible in which, years ago, we laid the ten-minute manuscript, and we looked upon the same lights that once behaved so badly. But we found it had been snowing since the time we lived there, and heads that then were black are white now, and some of the eyes which looked up to us that memorable night when the gasometer failed us, thirteen years ago, are closed now, and for them all earthly lights have gone out for ever.
Shells from the beach.