The Preacher And The Times -- By: William J. Hutchins

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 065:259 (Jul 1908)
Article: The Preacher And The Times
Author: William J. Hutchins


The Preacher And The Times

Prof. William J. Hutchins

As one studies with a preacher’s eyes the life of our times, there appears at first much to dishearten him;. Our country is spending an immense amount of money upon its ecclesiastical establishments, but the money seems to be expended for the benefit of a diminishing number of church attendants. We look back with envy to the great days of the Puritans, when people actually went to church. Stern old Judge Sew-all makes record of a certain Sunday: “Extraordinary cold storm of wind and snow, blows much more as coming home, and holds on. Bread was frozen at the Lord’s table: yet was very comfortable at meeting.” Nowadays we read long articles concerning the workingman’s hostility or indifference to the church. We are continually reminded that the churches are “bric-a-brac.” In Bibliotheca Sacra itself we read of the Rout of the Theological Seminaries, and the imagination conjures up the frightful spectacle of faculties, theologues, and halls all swiftly decomposing into one heterogeneous mass to form some lateral moraine along the margin of the slow-moving course of history. At last a man who honestly cares for the way things are going feels like the old beggar soldier who bore upon his bosom this legend: “Have pity on me. Been in five battles, wounded twice, four children: total eleven.”

But just when we have voted unanimously that the world and especially the church and preeminently the seminaries

and the ministers are going to the devil, there appear above the horizon certain facts which compel us to move a reconsideration.

We might refer to certain facts of history. We remember, for example, that in 1803 President Dwight of Yale wrote: “We have a country governed by blockheads and knaves. Can the imagination paint anything more dreadful this side of hell?” Before our day great and good men have sat, raven-like, upon the pallid bust of the mighty past, and uttered their “Nevermore.”

We confine ourselves, however, to certain facts of the present, which are not to be neglected in the preacher’s estimate of our times. And the first fact, a most hopeful fact, is discontent,—discontent with the existing status. In the industrial world, this discontent reveals itself in strikes and lockouts, in recrimination, in murders worse than those of the Kentucky feuds. Grant that the laboring man is better housed, better fed, better clothed than ever before. He is also better educated than ever before. Greater than ever before seems to him to be the “disproportion between ability and opportunity.”

The discontent in matters of religion, technica...

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