« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
ses after I've been off two or three days fires by plucking somebody else from the
“I suppose, though,” remarked the DeaAnd this was the person who, alone of con, “that you don't care much to go to all he knew, was caring anything for him, church, seein' that you b'leeve all principally even if the method of her attention was one in yourself. But don't you think there's which he had come to consider as decidedly something kind o' touchin' an' manly in a antiquated! So the defaulter mused. That lot of men and women, lots of 'em smart others might be equally earnest in the same folks too, gettin' together on Sunday an' direction, as was more than likely, the young humbly expressin' their trust in a power man had not imagined; for the imagination that they never saw, an' yet b'leeve must be of a debased man, no matter how active it managin' the things they don't understand ? may be, is more likely to crawl than to soar. When I was a young man, even though I Father, mother and God he knew much was in the gall of bitterness and the bonds about, but
—the Prodigal Son, even, seems of iniquity, I used to enjoy goin' with the never to have thought of his father, rich and multitude, whether they was doin' evil or powerful, until his lower nature, his stomach, good. 'Twas generally evil, an' I didn't compelled him to do so. An ignorant, low- hang back from doin' my share, but long down old woman was the only person alive before I got into a state of grace I took a who was caring for him for reasons other good deal of comfort out of bein' with them than personal. Her husband liked him, to that served the Lord. It kinder brought me be sure, but how long would he continue to nearer to my own kind, an' made me feel as do so after the gratuitous tobacco-pouch be- if I had lots of friends, even in a church came empty ? Soole and Tanker-pshaw! where I didn't know man, woman or child. he had frequently given advice to unfor- You'd better try it just once--you'll feel all tunates himself, out of the love of giving the better for it.” advice, and dodged the recipients afterward The defaulter hung moodily upon the for fear that they might ask favors of him. great rudder-sweep; he was grateful, at least The Deacon—well, all these old church pil- that the darkness of night hid his face from lars thought to save themselves from eternal his superior officer. Suddenly business came into the Deacon's mind and banished re jest now, and there might some little coast ligion for the moment.
steamboat be comin' up through it. Keep “ 'Bout three or four mile down," said he, the boat's head well out in the stream." “there's a new cut-off. It don't ’mount to The Deacon descended to his bed, and the much as a rule, but the river's pretty high defaulter to his thoughts.
ST. MATTHEW'S AND ST. MARK'S.
St. Mark's and St. Matthew's are two conservative members of St. Peter's, they churches in an inland city, whose biogra- resolved on a separation. For six months phies may interest some of the readers of they worshiped in a hired hall. As we beSUNDAY AFTERNOON. Why should not fore stated, there was much wealth and culchurches have their biographies as well as ture in the new church. The majority of individuals? They have their characters, them lived in houses built and decorated in even to idiosyncracies and hobbies; they accordance with what their owners considdiffuse an influence about them, wholesome ered artistic truth. Many of them had been or unwholesome, precisely like an exagger- in Europe and had brought back statues, ated type of human being.
pictures, Persian carpets and bric-a-brac for These two churches were born in the their homes. Naturally when these people, same religious family, at the same time; on Sunday mornings, went out of the beauty they held the same creed, possessed about and softness and color of their own houses the same resources of property and social into the square hall of the church, with its influence and culture. They should have whitewashed walls, hemp carpeting and been as alike as twins.
wooden chairs, they were chilled and disBut they were totally unlike.
gusted. Their consciences grew uneasy. St. Mark's was an offshoot from the old What right had they to lavish money on congregation of St. Peter's. There was their own dwellings and build no house for really no reason in any difference between God? How did this hired hall pay Him the creeds or opinions of the mother church honor? Besides, the new congregations of and the seceding body for any separation. the Presbyterians and Baptists were each The real reason lay in the merits of a cer- building magnificent temples to His glory. tain Rev. Jacob Supplee, who had won the The organ in the Baptist church cost double younger portion of the congregation to be the price of the whole building in which his disciples.
a young, warm- they worshiped; and the Baptist brethren blooded man, with a talent for assault. had not half the solid wealth of which they Every Sunday he attacked some heresy or could boast. There was Dove, the Baptist heterodoxy, from the date of Kant to banker, who had put down a round ten Strauss and Darwin, with an airy dash and thousand—Dove was very shaky indeed, bravado that swept his hearers along with etc., etc. him. On Friday he “crammed” with the The matter was talked
about in private at dogmas of the infidel selected, whether first among the members ; the ladies were Gnostic, Positivist or Scientist, on Saturday all, without a dissenting voice, vehemently he demolished them in a thirty minutes' in favor of building. Then vague hints sermon, and on Sunday hurled it at them, were dropped in reference to it by Mr. Supwhile his disciples triumphed victoriously as plee in sermons. A good deal was said by one host of Pharaoh after another went those in favor of it about carnal-minded down beneath the waves of his rushing elo devotion to worldly things, (meaning picquence.
tures, Persian rugs, etc., at home,) and Feeling themselves hampered by the old neglect of the service and glory of God, (meaning a new church, organ, etc.) Some “My advice then, gentlemen,” said the visiting clergymen openly expressed their architect, with a smile, “ would be to make surprise at the lack of energy in spiritual the tangible object as worthy fervor as affairs in so young and vigorous a church. possible. Take this plan," unrolling the
At last the St. Mark's people found it costly one upon the table, with an off-hand impossible to worship in their plain hall air. “Leave a margin for their generosity. without sharp compunctions, and when they It's like putting a high ideal before a man knelt on the hemp carpet felt one moment and bidding him live up to it. Besides, sir,” that their Maker was insulted by it, and the turning to Mr. Supplee, “ the sermons next wondered whether the dissenters who preached under such a dome as this, must were in the back seats were laughing at it elevate your people. Consider the effect secretly.
upon your imagination, your breadth of Of course a fire smoldering so hotly as thought. They will gather the interest of this is soon kindled into flame. A meeting their money in that way, if no other.” of the vestry was called on Monday. Sub- “No, sir,” said Mr. Supplee gravely. scription papers went round on Tuesday. “No personal considerations move me in this Without any difficulty thirty thousand dol- matter. I look upon this temple simply as an lars were raised. In the course of a week, offering to Almighty God from my people. a dozen eligible lots were offered to the Though," he added, “I should be loth to committee for sale. But a wealthy grocer deny the effect upon the religious emotions (not a communicant) relieved them of all of beauty in art. I hope you will illustrate difficulty in decision by presenting them it nobly in the present instance. Well, genwith a corner lot in one of the most fashion- tlemen, what do you say? Shall we count able quarters of the city. The gift was upon the generosity of the people or not?” received with enthusiasm. But it insensibly The master-builder interrupted the answer altered the plans of the committee and the by a suggestion that the estimate of cost for ideas of the congregation. The thirty- the finer design was very liberal,—thrown thousand-dollar house would look shabby in off hastily,—that, no doubt, by shaving in the neighborhood of the most magnificent corners, he could bring it down considerprivate dwellings in the city; or, though ably. they did not put it into words, they felt that That was decisive. The committee with the house which could be built to the glory $50,000 to build a church, began to build of God on Sixth Street would not redound one which would cost $150,000. Every man to His glory at all on Franklin Avenue. or congregation that has built a house knows The architect in offering his plans submitted the result. The edifice, when handed over first one which would “suit the location,” by the builder, had cost, in round numbers, and afterwards one in accordance with the $200,000, with one tower left unfinished price named. A most meager, paltry affair under a wooden cap. To be sure, it was it seemed. Both the committee and the considered a perfect work of art by the concongregation felt themselves roused to gen- gregation: the carved gargoyles were the erous emulation. They were convinced most hideous to be bad for money. The that this was the Lord's work. The sub- wood even in the cellar was genuine black scription papers went round again; but only walnut. The frescoing was bold in design twenty thousand dollars were added. and delicate in finish. For two or three
“But I am confident,” said Mr. Supplee months the congregation worshiped in the to the committee, “ that the church will do new temple with a delighted complacency, better than that, when warmed up to the which, if not devotion, was so close an imitawork. I will make appeals from time to tion that it deceived themselves. Every time; stir up their consciences. As the pew was crowded. The floating religious building progresses, their zeal will increase. population, which has as keen a palate for Nothing will draw forth fervor in money or novelties as had the Athenians, came to see love like a tangible object.”
the building and to hear the new organ. At
first, nothing but applause was heard; then which is justly his due. For the lack of it the visitors began to hint doubts and hesi- he was forced last winter to limit his work, tate dislike.
and thus from two to three hundred laborers “ There was no ventilation. The air was were thrown out of employment. They cast like that from a bake-oven.”
black looks at the stately pile as they go by, “ The air was good enough, but the and call it a gigantic swindle. But the acoustic properties were bad. In certain members are certain that they built it to the angles you could not hear Mr. Supplee at glory of God, and doubtless many of them all."
were sincere in that endeavor. “ The coloring was too gaudy. The build- St. Matthew's congregation has had a ing lacked shadow. It looked like a gilt much shorter and simpler history. It was bon-bon box. Why had they trusted the in the beginning, a body of men and women painting to that fellow Sprout? There was who gathered around a young minister in the great Italian ”-etc., etc.
the poorer part of the city. George Paton “ The color was very nice, but what mon- was from the country; an exceptionally grel architecture was this? It was a perfect clear-minded, downright young fellow, with pot-pourri of orders. Compare it with the a natural quick, womanish tenderness tosevere simplicity of true art in the Baptist wards all the weak and helpless of God's church," etc.
creatures. Coming from the country, he The congregation became individually was moved uncontrollably by the misery and disheartened. They forgot to join in the vice which met him at every turn on the hymns, looking about from dome to nave crowded streets. The lad, like old Robert with critical eyes.
Barrow, thought he heard a voice bidding Besides, now that the church was built, him go out and compel these people to there was no enthusiasm in raising money come in. Many young men hear such a for it. Subscriptions stopped, sewing cir- voice in the beginning of their ministry, cles, fairs, charade parties flagged in zeal. but in the routine of church management, When the time came to pay the semi-annual the dulling noises of their common-place interest on the mortgage, it was a dead lives, it dies out and is almost forgotten. weight which they could scarcely lift. When How many clergymen leave their regular the time came for the second payment, the “ beat” of church duties to visit a gaol, load was well-nigh intolerable. In the next a pawnbroker's neighborhood, a gin shop, year, and indeed, all succeeding years, the to “compel them to come in ?” But Paton, combined efforts of the congregation have now that he is a bent, gray-headed man, been needed to meet this obligation. They hears the voice as terrible and urgent as in declare this spring that they stagger under his early youth, commanding him to go
into it. They give little or no money elsewhere, these highways and byways. At first, he simply because this building, like Aaron's literally brought his congregation, one by serpent, devours all other charities. Domes- one, to hear the message which he was bidtic or foreign missions receive but scant den to deliver ; hiring a hall, and filling it support from St. Mark's; their fund for with the poor, the halt and the blind, whom the poor is reduced to a meager pittance. he found on week days. Rumors of the Mr. Supplee has almost ceased to try to wonderful force of his appeals began to cirrouse them to works of benevolence or culate among the wealthier classes of the mercy.”
town. Many came to hear him from curios“My people,” he says to other ministers, ity and remained because they were warmed “are taxed as far as their strength will bear, and fed. Those who were thus warmed and to be just. They cannot afford to be gener- fed, however, were, as a rule, simple-manous."
nered, earnest men and women like Paton Meanwhile, the contractor who holds the himself. They were roused and touched as mortgage has threatened again and again never before in their lives, by his appeals to to foreclose. The man needs the money them to help each other, to help the poor about them, the red men, the black men, the districts, where there was no church nor prisoners in their county gaol, the heathen school. Chinamen by the river.
Judge Simms met him coming out of “Must we carry all this load ?” they said. church. “I will head the subscription to “Are we our brothers' keepers ? This Pa- send a missionary there. The rose-window ton claims kindred with all the world.” can wait until January.”
They laughed and grumbled, but they But in January, there was the story of the went next Sunday to his little hall. They county gaols in the state to hear, of insane began as they listened to him to waken, to girls strapped to the floor or chained in cells, perceive long, wide outlooks from their nar- and the Judge's subscription did not go to row lives, unopened before. They began to stained glass, but paid for their admission find that there were stretches of life, work, to an asylum. sympathies, outside of their family cares, In the spring there was a freshet which their shops, their hobby of dress, art, books destroyed the houses of half the mill-hands or society; life and work and sympathy living down by the river, and St. Matthew's which took hold of God.
church fed and clothed hundreds. Presently they came to him, one by one, In the spring there was a great city burned each saying in his own way, “What can I to the ground, and thousands of poor do?”
wretches were turned out homeless; in the George Paton always found something autumn came the story of famine in another for them to do. After a year or two, the country. St. Matthew's was always ready hall becoming crowded, they bought a lot with its helps, the Judge always ready with near their working-ground and built a large his subscription. church, solid and plain but inexpensive. The rose window is not yet ordered. “I There was not an inharmonious line; not a wanted to put it there,” the Judge said in tawdry tinge of color about it; but not a his last illness. “It was a favorite fancy of dollar was spent on luxurious appointments. mine. I thought the Lord would be glad to The congregation as a whole was as wealthy see His temple glorious. But there were as that of St. Mark's, although the majority always so many of the hungry to feed and of the members were poor. These members the naked to clothe! I intended to devise paid for the church, and set aside an endow- money for it in my will, but I have endowed ment fund to sustain its current expenses instead beds in our Children's Hospital and from year to year.
Orphan's Home. I think the sight of the “Now we have that burden off our minds," little children there, well cared-for, happy, Mr. Paton said to his flock; “you have here learning to be Christian men and women, a church free to all, with money set aside to will be fairer in His eyes than any pretty warm, light, and keep it in repair. What- mixture of colored glass.” ever money you have to give hereafter will The Judge had the reputation among St. go straight to the work of preaching the Gos- Mark's people of being “a good, well-meanpel or feeding the hungry.”
ing man, but with no capability of high A certain Judge Simms, in the church, emotional feeling, or the devotion which had a secret desire to see a rose window in grows out of the cultivation of æsthetic the church, similar to that in St. Mark's, or sensibilities.” a little finer if possible.
The Judge heard this opinion and looked “I will pay for it,” he said to Mr. Paton. bewildered. “I enjoy beautiful things about me. God “Maybe so," he said. “But I did what I has made the flowers bloom and the birds could.” sing. He meant us to cultivate the beauti- He is gone now where the opinion of St. ful on earth to His glory.”
Mark's or St. Matthew's will have little “ Yes," said Mr. Paton.
weight. The next Sunday he set before his people St. Matthew's church is old, and is undethe condition of two or three miserable coal niably very plain compared to others pos