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study to be witty in the pulpit, and people are unwise enough to admire them for it. There are not a few considerate people in this world, who, though not professing serious godliness, have the good sense to perceive that wit, except in those rare cases where preachers can scarcely help it with all their endeavours, is not suited to the decorum of the Christian pulpit; and when preachers become popular, in consequence of their pulpit witticisms, that kind of popularity is too low and too coarse to prove
attractive to well judging hearers, and too questionable as to its quality to promise any good to the general interests of morality and true religion. Popularity, however, is but too evidently the object of some preachers; they gain it; they retain it; they live upon it; they highly enjoy it; meanwhile, the intellectual and religious dignity which should characterize pulpit exercises, is fearfully compromised. And as to the common and illiterate hearers, on account of whose edification, witty and coarse familiarities are indulged in, they are no such gainers by it as we imagine. All poor and ignorant people are not alike in their thinkings about plainness and familiarities in the pulpit, for though some may like to be tickled and excited to roars of laughter, others are deeply grieved and disgusted by such freedoms. I did, indeed, some few years ago, in my lecture on the Popularity of Christian Ministers, refer to Matthew Wilks and Rowland Hill, as popular preachers with approbation, but certainly not with the most distant hint, that other preachers should imitate them. I simply maintained that their distinctive and unavoidable peculiarities being rendered useful to certain classes of the community, should have been exempt from censure. The case, however, is widely different when other preachers, and especially young preachers, make themselves funny and jocose in the midst of sermons, otherwise of a very serious, experimental and devotional character. Reasonings in defence of fun in the pulpit may be ingenious and plausible, but can never be supported by our appeals to the Holy Scriptures, or sanctioned by any man who is wise enough to advocate pulpit decorum and the sober dignity of apostolic models in preaching.
I find it impossible to admire an amalgamation of religious phraseology with the language of comedy and farce in pulpit utterances; and when such utterances are indulged in, to acquire and retain great popularity, it becomes a question of grave moment, whether a preacher be really serving the cause of Christ, or consulting his own fame? When a man, however, by out-of-the-way methods of preaching becomes a power in the community, whatever is said either for or against him, increases his fame, and too many are apt unjustly to attribute every honest scruple, and demur to jealousy or envy. Yet surely it must be regretted that sermons, full of oddities, should become attractive to the masses of this country; for notwithstanding the occasional power and pathos attending such a mode of preaching, ministers
of this sort often fail. There is not that dependance to be placed upon them which we may safely feel towards those who are wise enough to make more careful preparation, and who, though not popular, do real service to the churches, and edify the people more solidly than rash extemporizers, and with the great advantage of not offending the taste of the most fastidious. And as to perpetuity of pulpit instruction, the studious and plodding minister is for the most part to be much preferred to him who thinks himself privileged to say just what he likes and how he likes, because he can get a great multitude to hear him. There are many ministers in this kingdom who could, if their consciences would let them, make multitudes laugh themselves well nigh into convulsions ; but to do this, would be to make a fearful experiment, and therefore while in the parlour they may occasionally cheer
their friends and tolerate a laugh, they preserve the pulpit as a place sacred to God.
It is a melancholy reflection, that some in preaching do both good and harm at the same time; and this I have known to be the case in most of those instances where popularity is in excess. Good is done when sinful men are reclaimed from their vices; harm is done where intelligent and sober-minded Christians, in spite of their utmost efforts to like everything a man says, are very much and very deeply disgusted. And this is sure to be the case where, along with qualities of a better sort, there is, in public speakers— especially if
young men--a large amount of assurance
and impudence. The age in which we live is but too favourable to flimsy talking. It was not exactly so among the ancients.
Demosthenes himself, who always spoke to the purpose, who affected no insignificant parade of words, but invariably used weighty arguments, and obtained a wonderful command over the understandings and feelings of the people, would sometimes tremble before he spoke. In critical conjunctions of the state, when proclamation was made by the public crier for any one to rise and deliver his opinion upon the present situation of affairs, empty declamation would not only have been hissed, but resented and punished by the assembly. But it is not so now.
There may indeed be discussions and questionings at elections and in parliamentary debates, but the pulpit is protected—and men may talk away, right or wrong, to their heart's content; and in some instances at least he who is the most unguarded and extravagant and rash, (if not even saucy) shall have the largest audience; and the modest, yet decidedly superior speaker, shall expend his rational and Christian eloquence upon thin congregations and halfempty seats. We “go a head” with a vengeance !
I Am fond of circuit horses, I like to talk to them; and I can amuse myself in fancying they talk to me. A good tempered horse is a man's friend, his services are valuable, and he is one of God's gifts to the human family; and fie upon such bipeds as are unkind and unmerciful to these quadrupeds. I love to pet horses, and they love to be petted. Horses when well used are, very generally, good tempered and grateful creatures. We talk about their instinct, and are apt to deny them reason; but I am well convinced, though I cannot convince others, that these noble and beautiful animals have reason, though in a very inferior degree. I am not going to philosophise upon the subject; I simply gratify myself in giving my opinion.
Bobby, the Northwich circuit horse, was reasonable enough to object to go into any other circuits, or do
any extra work in his own, except under the immediate direction of his superintendent or the second minister.
Not long after my arrival in Northwich, somebody put him by the side of another horse to draw an omnibus to a missionary meeting. He did not like this at all, and protested against it. It did not