It will not do to make the pulpit talents of the preacher the main motive-impulse of attraction to the meeting-house on Sunday. Our New England people, especially, have been falling into an error here, and the interests of religious institutions among us are feeling the effects of it. The courses of lyceum and miscellaneous lectures, which are provided for annually in our cities and towns, enlist the services of a few gifted men of extraordinary popular talents, who seize upon fascinating subjects and treat them with a fantastic skill, and so are listened to with a lively interest by mixed and sometimes crowded audiences. These men — picked out of the whole mass of cultivated, scholarly, or eloquent writers and speakers in our communities — have a whole year for the composition of one of their lectures. They learn what is the popular taste, and they adapt themselves to it, not always trying or helping to improve it Some of their lectures are not really half so good or sensible or instructive as ordinary sermons. If you were to take them apart, you could not put them together again. Occasionally they are positively unwholesome and mischievous. But these lectures, such as they are, indicate and help to fix a standard for public discourses. People get the names of a few speakers or racy lecturers on their lips, and are apt to judge of common preaching as it
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