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[259] compares with the lively talk and discursive essays of these itinerants. They call preaching dull and commonplace by comparison. And so it is; just as a corn-field or grain-field or potato-field or any other spread of acres covered with substantial food or fodder of daily life, is dull in comparison with a little garden patch of peonies, marigold, and poppies, pinks, and coxcombs. If some of these lyceum attendants could only overhear the secret banter of two or three itinerant lecturers, as to the sort of stuff which takes with the people, the homoeopathic doses of sound wisdom and the lavish mixture of light nutriment which suits the popular fancy, perhaps such hearers might not be flattered by the information. Now, it may as well be confessed that the preacher of weekly sermons cannot treat the commonplace themes of sober and homely truth so as to tickle itching ears. Altogether too much is expected of preaching; and that preaching which many like most to hear does them the least benefit.

Now, that is half truth, and a half truth often does as much harm as a whole lie. It is no doubt true that you cannot take a platform, and let successively a dozen of the ablest men in the community occupy it, without making it more attractive than the same platform occupied continuously by one able man; but it is not true that the lyceum owes its interest to the “sparkling talk and lively rattle” of its lecturers. It is not true that the pulpit may trace its weakness to the “commonplace treatment of sober and homely truth.” Let me show you this. The “Mercantile library Association” of this city for years engaged almost the same men that you do to occupy the platform of its lyceum course. That lyceum course is dead and buried; yours still lives. Not because you have gotten better men, abler men, with more “sparkling talk and lively rattle” than they have. Theodore Parker did not fill these walls because of his unmatched pulpit talent. It was because all that he thought,

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