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The London Pulpit   By: (1820-1898)

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THE LONDON PULPIT.

BY J. EWING RITCHIE, AUTHOR OF THE “NIGHT SIDE OF LONDON.”

“Oh heavens! from the Christianity of Oliver Cromwell, wrestling in grim fight with Satan and his incarnate blackguardisms, hypocrisies, injustices, and legion of human and infernal angels, to that of eloquent Mr. Hesperus Fiddlestring, denouncing capital punishments, and inculcating the benevolences, on platforms, what a road have we travelled!”—CARLYLE’S LATTER DAY PAMPHLETS.

Second Edition. REVISED, CORRECTED, AND ENLARGED.

LONDON: WILLIAM TWEEDIE, 337, STRAND. MDCCCLVIII.

JOHN CHILDS AND SON, PRINTERS.

Dedication

TO JOHN R. ROBINSON, ESQ.

DEAR ROBINSON,

In dedicating to you this edition of a Work, the contents of which originally appeared under your editorial sanction, I avail myself of one of the few pleasures of authorship. Of the defects of this little Volume none can be more sensible than myself: you will, however, receive it as a trifling acknowledgment on my part of the generous friendship you have ever exhibited for an occasional colleague and

Yours faithfully, J. EWING RITCHIE.

FINCHLEY COMMON, Nov. 7, 1857.

THE RELIGIOUS DENOMINATIONS OF LONDON.

‘Homo sum, humani nihil a me alienum puto,’ said Terence, and the sentence has been a motto for man these many years. To the human what deep interest attaches! A splendid landscape soon palls unless it has its hero. We tire of the monotonous prairie till we learn that man, with his hopes and fears, has been there; and the barrenest country becomes dear to us if it come to us with the record of manly struggle and womanly love. This is as it should be, for

‘The proper study of mankind is man.’

In pursuance with this axiom, we have devoted some little time to the study of one section of modern men deservedly worthy of serious regard. There is no subject on which men feel more intensely than they do on the subject of religion. There are no influences more permanent or powerful in their effects on the national character than religious influences. We propose, then, to consider the pulpit power of London. There are in our midst, men devoted to a sacred calling—men who, though in the world, are not of it—who profess more than others to realise the splendours and the terrors of the world to come—to whom Deity has mysteriously made known his will. Society accepts their pretensions, for, after all, man is a religious animal, and, with Bacon, would rather believe all the fables in the Koran than that this universe were without a God. For good or bad these men have a tremendous power. The orator from the pulpit has always an advantage over the orator who merely speaks from the public platform. Glorious Queen Bess understood this, and accordingly ‘tuned her pulpit,’ as she termed it, when she sought to win over the popular mind. We deem ourselves on a level with the platform orator. He is but one of us—flesh of our flesh, and bone of our bone. The preacher is in a different category: he in his study, we in the rude bustle of the world; he communing with the Invisible and Eternal, we flushed and fevered by the passing tumult of the day; he on the mount, we in the valley, where we stifle for want of purer air, crying in our agony,

‘The world is too much with us; late or soon, Getting or spending, we lay waste our powers.’

We feel the disparity—that there ought to be an advantage on the preacher’s side—that there must be fearful blame somewhere, if his life be no better than that of other men... Continue reading book >>




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