[from] "PREACHING TO THE TIMES."
THE Puritan Record has an article with this caption, from which we make the following extract. The original article we have not seen, but only so much of it; and this in the Boston Telegraph:
"It is said that if they (the clergy) will keep their hold of the people, they must follow the people's modes of thinking and feeling—must leave the trite themes of the Gospel, and find subjects of discourse, more than they do, among passing events—must observe the currents of the popular mind touching the agitating questions of the day, and not scruple to discourse upon whatever absorbs public attention; whether it be matters of social reform, politics, war, accidents by flood and field, commercial pressures, new developments in literature, 'Uncle Tom's Cabin,' 'Barnum's Autobiography,' or 'Jenny Lind's Imitations of the Angels.' it seems to be though that the simple truths of the Gospel will not answer for this enlightened age. We must study the tastes of the times, and leave the old ways of sermonizing followed by Baxter, Whitefield, Davies and Griffin, and make our preaching more dramatic, poetic, or sentimental. As the Lyceum lecture, the political stump oration, and the drama, attract so many, we must note what it is in these things which is so attractive, and adopt it. It is a pity, it is sometimes said, to let the devil appropriate to himself all that is popular and effective. As the Uncle Tom's Cabin literature has struck the fancy of the million with such power, it must be just the thing to give attraction to the pulpit. As story telling takes with the children, we should put in a liberal sprinkling of that. As the age boasts of its arts and sciences, the pulpit must advance with the age in all these matters, and deal largely in the profound and unintelligible. If these conceptions could be embodied in the work of all preachers, many would seem to expect that the millennium would come in with a rush."
If this is what is fairly meant by persons who suggest a greater breadth of pulpit discourse, no sober-minded person can fail to perceive its folly. But is it fair? Did any one in his senses ever demand such pulpit ministrations, excepting always that man who praised his minister "because he never meddled wither with politics of religion!" The whole representation is a piece of comical exaggeration we presume,—a scribbling caricature, made in an indolent hour, for the solemn smile of rigorous men. It is a sly imitation of Punch on the part of the Recorder; and it promises so well, that we are not sure but that the editor of the Recorder has mistaken the direction of his genius in hitherto attempting the sober and the truthful. Be that as it may, no person that we ever heard of has advocated any such reform in the topics of the pulpit.