Sydney Smith, with his usual sagacity, says that the last vice of the pulpit is to be uninteresting. Now, the Interpreter’s House had this prime virtue in it, that it was all interesting. Do not our children beg of us on Sabbath nights to let them see the Interpreter’s show once more; it is so inexhaustibly and unfailingly interesting? It is only stupid men and women who ever weary of it. But, ‘profitable’ was the one and universal word with which all the pilgrims left the Interpreter’s House. ‘Rare and pleasant,’ they said, and sometimes ‘dreadful;’ but it was always ‘profitable.’ Now, how seldom do we hear our people at the church door step down into the street saying, ‘profitable’? If they said that oftener their ministers would study profit more than they do. The people say ‘able,’ or ‘not at all able’; ‘eloquent,’ or ’stammering and stumbling’; ‘excellent’ in style and manner and accent, or the opposite of all that; and their ministers, to please the people and to earn their approval, labour after these approved things. But if the people only said that the prayers and the preaching were profitable and helpful, even when they too seldom are, then our preachers would set the profit of the people far more before them both in selecting and treating and delivering their Sabbath-day subjects. A lady on one occasion said to her minister, ‘Sir, your preaching does my soul good.’ And her minister never forgot the grave and loving look with which that was said. Not only did he never forget it, but often when selecting his subject, and treating it, and delivering it, the question would rise in his heart and conscience, Will that do my friend’s soul any good? ‘Rare and profitable,’ said the pilgrim as he left the gate; and hearing that sent the Interpreter back with new spirit and new invention to fill his house of still more significant, rare, and profitable things than ever before. ’Meditate on these things,’ said Paul to Timothy his son in the gospel, ’that thy profiting may appear unto all.’ ‘Thou art a minister of the word,’ wrote the learned William Perkins beside his name on all his books, ’mind thy business.’
’A man subject to like passions as we are.’—James 5. 17.
That was a very significant room in the Interpreter’s House where our pilgrim saw Passion and Patience sitting each one in his chair. Passion was a young lad who seemed to our pilgrim to be much discontented. He was never satisfied. He would have all his good things now. His governor would have him wait for his best things till the beginning of next year; but no, he will have them all now. And then, when he had got all his good things, he soon lavished and wasted them all till he had nothing left but rags. Then said Christian to the Interpreter, ’Expound this matter more fully to me.’ So he said, ’Those two lads are figures; Passion, of the men of this world; and Patience of the men of that which is to come.’ ‘Then I perceive,’ said Christian, ’’tis not best to covet things that are now, but to wait for things to come.’ ‘You say truth,’ replied the Interpreter, ’for the things that are seen are temporal, but the things that are not seen are eternal.’