Small Improprieties and Annoyances: A Quote Without Comment from Benjamin Franklin

J. A. Headington and Joseph Franklin. A Book of Gems, or Choice Selections from the Writings of Benjamin Franklin. St. Louis: John Burns, 1879, p. 409-410:

To pour the wine, or divide it into several cups, before thanks, at the Lord’s table.  We thank the Lord for the cup, and not cups.  Thanks should invariable be given for the one cup, while the wine is in the one cup.

For some one to start and push his way out through the assembly while an invitation is pending.  This is a most manifest impoliteness and disorder.

For some one that has eat about three dinners at once, to doze and nod in time of preaching, and in the midst of the exhortation, just when the preacher is trying to make an impression, to stretch his limbs, gape and crowd up to the pulpit, and get a drink to extinguish the fires burning within him.  This is ridiculous.

To see some great strapping saphead get up in the middle of a discourse, and go stamping out, thus interrupting the whole audience.  If these could see themselves as others see them, they would be very clear of showing themselves, as they frequently do.

To see a beautiful young lady sit in time of preaching, and then stand in time of invitation, with her mouth spread and a broad and supercilious grin upon her face.

To see some fellow draw his watch and snap it at the preacher, as he shuts down the case, as much as to say, “I consider it is time you would stop.” [410]

To see a lady sit and play with her infant, in time of preaching, laugh at its little pranks, and try to induce others around her also to laugh at them.

To see a lady get into a quarrel with her babe, in time pf preaching; slap it, jerk it, hold it, and this keep it squalling for about half an hour.  If the preacher can keep the thread of his discourse, in a case of that kind, he is a pretty good preacher.

To have some man standing near the preacher, in time of prayer, chewing an enormous quid of tobacco, and about once in half a minute, hear a large spoonful of the filthy spittle splash upon the floor.

A Choir: A Quote Without Comment from Benjamin Franklin

J. A. Headington and Joseph Franklin. A Book of Gems, or Choice Selections from the Writings of Benjamin Franklin. St. Louis: John Burns, 1879, p. 230:

We find some brethren call a few members of the church who sit together and lead the singing a choir.  This is no choir in the popular sense, nor is it at all objectionable, specially if the singing is so conducted that the members generally sing.  But this is not the meaning of choir.  The choir in a church is composed of artistic performers, who sing for the church; sing difficult pieces that the masses can not sing, for music and musical display, to attract, entertain and gratify the people–to charm them with music.  These are professional singers, chosen without any regard to their piety, and frequently without any regard to their moral character.  They sing to show how they can sing, amuse and entertain.

Lord’s Day Meetings: A Quote Without Comment from Benjamin Franklin

J. A. Headington and Joseph Franklin. A Book of Gems, or Choice Selections from the Writings of Benjamin Franklin. St. Louis: John Burns, 1879, p. 270:

Churches should not be compelled to hear preaching every Lord’s day, and that the dullest and dryest kind, from the same man, the same thing, over and over again; but instead of this, have a variety of good songs; sundry readings of interesting Scriptures, from different persons, each occupying from five to ten minutes, with two or three prayers at suitable intervals, and words of exhortation.  The overseer who can so conduct these matters as to interest the whole congregation, develop and bring out the most talent, and make the whole most conducive to the edification of all, is the most efficient and successful overseer, whether he can preach or not himself.  No man, overseer or not, ought to appear before the people publicly more than is acceptable to them.  Many men kill themselves off by talking too much and being too officious.




Why I Became A Preacher, James A. Harding, concluded

[see part one here]

… after their business transaction was closed. No amount of business, no success, no adversity could cause him to forget God and the souls of men. The good he did is incalculable. Blessed is the memory of “Uncle Minor.”

I had not been long at Hopkinsville, teaching, before he wanted to make appointments for me in the country churches and schoolhouses round about. With some hesitancy and dread I consented, as I have always done, to the call to preach; and I was soon pretty busy with me teaching during the week and preaching on Sunday. At the end of five years’ work at Hopkinsville I was full of malaria. I fainted in the schoolroom, and had to be taken home in a carriage. So I left Hopkinsville and went back to Winchester, Ky., to get well. I was idle for several months, but was slowly getting well when Bro. John Adams of blessed memory, came for me to go with him back into the mountains to conduct a protracted meeting. I told him I had never conducted a protracted meeting; that it would be better for him to get some one else. But he said he could not get any one else, that I had been brought up in church and Sunday-school, that I had been to Bethany College, that I ought to be killed if I could not preach and that I was to shut my mouth and get my horse and come on with him. “Besides,” he said, “you know I can exhort like five hundred, and you come and preach the best you can, and I will exhort, and we will have a grand meeting. So I went with him; I doubt if I could have gone with a truer, bolder, kinder, better man. My eyes moistened with tears, and my heart is full of sweet, tender memories as I think of him. Sweet indeed to me is the memory of brave, strong, gentle, loving John Adams. I look forward, too, in hope to the day when he and I shall walk together the golden streets of the celestial city.

I went with Bro. John to each of his four preaching places that fall. We had five baptisms at the first place, five at the second, about seventeen at the third, and about twenty-seven at the fourth. Then I felt like I was man of not a little experience in evangelistic work, and was prepared to give points to the uninitiated. For four years my field of labor, for the most part, was the mountainous region of Eastern Kentucky. The people were very poor, the church houses were built of logs, and frequently lighted with tallow candles. They were poorly educated, if at all; but many of them were strong in native good sense and wisdom. Some of my most highly esteemed friends I found in those regions, and a number of them are there still. I know well, I have had goo opportunities to learn it, that a man is a man, whether in a mountaineer’s cabin or a brownstone front; and that a moral coward is just as likely to be found clothed in broadcloth; as in blue jeans.

After my father, the men of whom I am most indebted, I believe are Alexander Campbell, Benjamin Franklin, J. W. McGarvey and David Lipscomb. I have not named them in order in which I think they have been helpful to me, but in which I came under their influence. Campbell’s Christian Baptist, Franklin’s American Christian Review, McGarvey’s commentaries, in articles for the papers, Authorship of Deuteronomy and other writings, and Lipscomb’s editorials have furnished me the best reading I have found out of the Bible. I have used, of course, more or less, many of the great commentaries of ht sectarian world, but they have been of little value to me in comparison with the benefit I have received from the brethren just mentioned.

But the most valuable gift I ever received, I believe, was a little Bible my father gave me while I was yet a small child. It had pictures in it; and very plain and simple they were; not at all to be compared to the splendidly illustrated volumes of today. But those pictures were marvelous to me. My father trained me to turn the leaves without tearing them; and he and my mother would tell me the stories the pictures illustrated. For a long time that Bible was my chief treasure, and those stories my greatest delight. I was the first born in our house, and in course of time I showed the pictures and taught the stories to the other little ones. God only knows how much of blessedness that little book brought to be and to our house. I have made it a rule to have plenty of picture-books for my little ones, and their mother has given much time to telling them the stories. The sooner God’s truths are impressed upon the mind the better. He who is full of God’s truth, who delights in it, will preach. Not in public, may be, but he will preach; and his life will be a benediction to those who come under its influence. –James A. Harding.