an argument on any topic drawn from the opinions of such a pulpit, shows the real place it fills in our great national school.
“Go home,” I once heard a deacon, sixty years old, sitting as judge in a criminal court, say to a clergyman of his own denomination who offered a suggestion as to the amount of punishment proper for a convict,--“Go home and write your sermons; we'll take care of the world.”
Such a sneer our city pulpits have earned.
As Cardinal Wolsey
wrote to the Pope
, three centuries ago, “This printing
will give rise to sects; and besides other dangers, the common people at last may come to believe that there is not so much use for a clergy!”
They have come to believe so. They do believe rightly that there's no use in a clergy who echo their hearers' prejudices, mile-stones indicating exactly how far the old stage-coach has travelled; who eschew live questions: that is, truth of importance to the passing hour, lest taking sides on them should injure their influence on dead ones,--that is, topics which felt the hot blood of two hundred years ago, but now are as well settled as gravitation and the cause of the tides; priests who affect to believe that their hearers, masters of literature, cannot safely bear the whole truth their gigantic minds have discovered, to whom a stormy and unscrupulous life could pay the compliment that the pew had always been to him a place of repose.
But this is not what our pulpit should be in New England
I do not believe in a civilization which is to be a vassal to the industrial energy of society.
I do not believe that our nature and race have fallen so low that wealth really will canker the whole of it. A pulpit representing moral energy, announcing its purpose to deal with each question as it arises, to trust the popular conscience, and say, “If God gave you that, take it; it is no responsibility of mine;” such a pulpit will put wealth