the pulpits of this city.
It is not my business now to complain of them; I am not here to find fault with them.
They do as well as they can; they fulfil their contract.
They exist for a different purpose.
The fault is not in the tenant of the pulpit; the fault is in that corrupt sentiment which belittles the pulpit, which supposes that it comes with “homely and sober truth,” meaning by that, that it comes with something that everybody has heard a thousand times, and is tired of hearing; that it comes with something that a man submits
to hear, but has no interest in hearing.
Of course their real and great sin is, that while conscious of this inherent slavery of their position, they still pretend to be independent in thought and speech, to speak unfettered, and, as some claim and many believe, by exclusive right, for God.
I affirm, with no bitterness of spirit, but as an American interested in the great machinery that is to create the future,--I affirm that the pulpit of this country, tenanted though it is by some of the best educated and some of the ablest men in the country, does not hold the helm of the intellectual life of America
It does not guide the thought, as it did in the early ages of New England
It has a momentous influence, but it is only through dread and awe. It has made the masses afraid to think.
It has told them that thought is infidelity, that intellectual activity is ruin; and they look up to it, thinking that stupidity is heaven, that chaining thought is agreeable to God, that suicide of the mind is doing honor to the Maker who gave us mind; and having drilled the people into that superstition, the pulpit broods over it like a nightmare; but it does not lead them.
There are clergymen who lead the thought of their time, but they do not lead it through the pulpit, they lead it through the pros, through reviews.
They throw off the