American Clergyman, Preacher and Divine in the Reformed Church in America and the Presbyterian Church
Thomas De Witt Talmage
American Clergyman, Preacher and Divine in the Reformed Church in America and the Presbyterian Church
A lawyer is sometimes required to search titles, and the client who thinks he has good right to an estate, puts the papers in his hands, and the attorney goes into the public records and finds everything right for three or four years back; but after a time he comes to a break in the title. So he finds that the man who supposed he owned it owns not an acre of the ground which belongs to someone else. I trace the title of this world from century to century until I find the whole right vested in God. Now to whom did he give it? To his own children. All are yours.
Logic has its use and metaphysics has its use, but neither of them is of much help in the making of a creed.
A monster such as never ranged African thicket or Hindustan jungle hath traced this land, and with bloody maw hath strewn the continent with the mangled carcasses of whole generations; and there are tens of thousands of fathers and mothers who could hold up the garment of their slain boy, truthfully exclaiming, "It is my son's coat; that evil beast, Intemperance, hath devoured him.
Mother - that was the bank where we deposited all our hurts and worries.
Again, I remark, relief will come to the laboring classes through the religious rectification of the country. Labor is appreciated and rewarded just in proportion as a country is Christianized. Show me a community that is thoroughly infidel, and I will show you a community where wages are small. Show me a community that is thoroughly Christianized, and I will show you a community where wages are comparatively large. How do I account for it? The philosophy is easy. Our religion is a democratic religion. It makes the owner of the mill understand he is a brother to all the operatives in that mill. Born of the same heavenly Father, to lie down in the same dust, to be saved by the swine supreme mercy. No putting on of airs in the sepulcher or in the judgment.
Oh! if you could only hear Intemperance with drunkards' bones drumming on the top of the wine cask the Dead March of immortal souls, you would go home and kneel down and pray God that rather than your children should ever become the victims of this evil habit, you might carry them out to Greenwood and put them down in the last slumber, waiting for the flowers of spring to come over the grave-sweet prophecies of the resurrection. God hath a balm for such a Wound, but what flower of comfort ever grew on the blasted heath of a drunkard's sepulcher?
Almighty God! If it be thy will that man should suffer, whatever seemeth good in thy sight impose upon me. Let the bread of affliction be given to me to eat. Take from me the friends of my confidence. Let the cold hut of poverty be my dwelling-place and the wasting hand of disease inflict its painful torments. Let me sow in the whirlwind and reap in the storm. Let those have me in derision who are younger than I. Let the passing away of my welfare be like the fleeting of a cloud and the shouts of my enemies like the rushing of waters. When I anticipate good, let evil annoy me. When I look for light, let darkness come upon me. Do all this, but save me, merciful God! Save me from the fate of a drunkard!
On earth we sang harvest-songs as the wheat came into the barn and the barracks were filled; you know there is no such time on a farm as when they get the crops in; and so in heaven it will be a harvest-song on the part of those who on earth sowed in tears and reaped in joy. Angels shout all through the heavens, and multitudes come down the hills crying, "Harvest-home! harvest-borne!"
As long as you make drinking respectable, drinking customs will prevail, and the plowshare of death, drawn by terrible disasters, will go on turning up this whole continent, from end to end, with the long, deep, awful furrow of drunkards' graves.
One good, hearty laugh is a bombshell exploding in the right place, while spleen and discontent are a gun that kicks over the man who shoots it off.
But though your forefathers may not have been much, if any, better than yourselves, let us extol them for the fact that they started this country in the right direction. They laid the foundation for American manhood. The foundation must be more solid and firm and unyielding than any other part of the structure. On that Puritanic foundation we can safely build all nationalities. Let us remember that the coming American is to be an admixture of all foreign bloods. In about twenty-five or fifty years the model American will step forth. He will have the strong brain of the German, the polished manners of the French, the artistic taste of the Italian, the stanch heart of the English, the steadfast piety of the Scotch, the lightning wit of the Irish, and when he steps forth, bone, muscle, nerve, brain entwined with the fibers of all the nationalities, the nations will break out in the cry: "Behold the American!" Columbus discovered only the shell of this country. Agassiz came and discovered fossiliferous America. Silliman came and discovered geological America. Audubon came and discovered bird America. Longfellow came and discovered poetic America; and there are a half-dozen other Americas yet to be discovered.
Social dissipation, as witnessed in the ball-room, is the abettor of pride, the instigator of jealousy, it is the sacrificial altar of health, it is the defiler of the soul, it is the avenue of lust and it is the curse of every town in America.
Drunkenness! Does it not jingle the burglar's key? Does it not whet the assassin's knife? Does it not cock the highwayman's pistol? Does it not wave the incendiary's torch? Does it not send the physician reeling into the sickroom; and the minister with his tongue thick into the pulpit? id not an exquisite poet, from the very top of his fame, fall a gibbering sot, into the gutter, on his way to be married to one of the fairest daughters of New England, and at the very hour the bride was decking herself for the altar; and did he not die of delirium tremens, almost unattended, in a hospital? Tamerlane asked for one hundred and sixty thousand skulls with which to build a pyramid to his own honor. He got the skulls, and built the pyramid. But if the bones of all those who have fallen as a prey to dissipation could be piled up, it would make a vaster pyramid.
Take not into your ear that scum of hell that people call tittle-tattle. Whosoever willingly listens to a slander is equally guilty with the one who tells it, and an old writer says they ought both to be hanged; the one by the tongue and the other by the ear. Do not smile upon such a spaniel, lest like a pleased dog, he puts his dirty paw upon you.
How well I remember that old Thanksgiving dinner! Father at one end, mother at the other end, the children between wondering if father will ever get done carving the turkey. O, that proud, strutting hero of the barnyard, upside down, his plumes gone and minus his gobble! Stuffed with that which he can never digest. The day before, at school, we had learned that Greece was south of Turkey, but on the table we found that turkey was bounded by grease. The brown surface waited for the knife to plunge astride the breast-bone, and with knife sharpened on the jambs of the fire-place, lay bare the folds of white meat. Give to the disposed to be sentimental, the heart. Give to the one disposed to music, the drumstick. Give to the one disposed to theological discussion, the "parson's nose." Then the pies! For the most part a lost art. What mince pies! in which you had all confidence fashioned from all rich ingredients, instead of miscellaneous leavings which are only short of glorified hash! Not mince pies with profound mysteries of origin! But mother made them, sweetened them, flavored them, and laid the lower crust and the upper crust, with here and there a puncture by the fork to let you look through the light and flaky surface into the substance beneath.
The Bible is a warm letter of affection from a parent to a child; and yet there are many who see chiefly the severer passages. As there may be fifty or sixty nights of gentle dews in one summer, that will not cause as much remark as one hailstorm of half an hour, so there are those who are more struck by those passages of the Bible that announce the indignation of God than by those that announce His affection.
I like the Bible folded between lids of cloth, or calfskin, or morocco, but I like it better when, in the shape of a man, it goes out into the world?a Bible illustrated.
The distance between capital and labor is not a great gulf over which is swung a Niagara suspension bridge; it is only a step, and the laborers here will cross over and become capitalists and the capitalists will cross over and become laborers. Would to God they would shake hands while they are crossing, these from one side, and those from the other side.
I move for a creed for all our denominations made out of Scripture quotations, pure and simple. That would be impregnable against infidelity and Appolyonic assault. That would be beyond human criticism. Let us make it simpler and plainer for people to get into the Kingdom of God.
The mob that hounded Christ from Jerusalem to "the place of a skull" has never been dispersed, but is augmenting yet, as many of the learned men of the world and great men of the world come out from their studies and their laboratories and their palaces, and cry, "Away with this man! Away with him!" The most bitter hostility which many of the learned men of this day exercise in any direction they exercise against Jesus Christ the Son of God, the Saviour of the world.
I wish that I could marshall all the young to an appreciation of the fact that you have an earnest work in life and your amusements and recreations are only to help you along in that work.
The pen is the lever that moves the world.
If a man is right, all the bombardment of the world for five, ten, twenty, forty years will only strengthen him in his position. So that all you have to do is to keep yourself right. Never mind the world. Let it say what it will. It can do you no damage. But as soon as it is whispered "he drinks," and it can be proved, he begins to go down. What clerk can get a position with such a reputation? What store wants him? What Church of God wants him for a member? What dying man wants him for an executor? "He drinks!"
The rum fiend would like to go and hang up a skeleton in your beautiful house so that, when you opened the front door to go in, you would see it in the hall; and, when you sat at your table you would see it hanging from the wall; and, when you opened your bedroom you would find it stretched upon your pillow; and, waking at night, you would feel its cold hand passing over your face and pinching at your heart. There is no home so beautiful but it may be devastated by the awful curse.
If the bones of all those who have fallen as a prey to intemperance could be piled up it would make a vast pyramid. Who will gird himself for the journey and try with me to scale this mountain of the dead--going up miles high on human carcasses to find still other peaks far above, mountain above mountain, white with the bones of drunkards.