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- That Printer of Udell's - 6/49 -
could see that by the look in his eye when I asked him if he'd been drunk--poor fellow--knows his business too--just the man I've been looking for, I'll bet--Huh--wonder if the wire is down." And then as the boy returned with the basket of hot eatables, he called cheerily, "Here you are; come and fill up; no hungry man in this establishment, rush or no rush." He was answered by a clatter as half a stick full of type dropped from the trembling hand of the stranger. "Thank you," the poor fellow tried to say, as he staggered toward the kind-hearted infidel, and then, as he fell, Dick's outstretched fingers just touched Udell's feet.
It was a strange coincidence that the Rev. James Cameron should have preached his sermon on "The Church of the Future," the Sunday following the incidents which have been related in the preceding chapters. If he had only known, Rev. Cameron might have found a splendid illustration, very much to the point, in the story of Dick Falkner's coming to Boyd City and his search for employment. But the minister knew nothing of Dick or his trouble. He had no particular incident in mind; but simply desired to see a more practical working of Christianity. In other words, he wished to see Christians doing the things that Christ did, and using, in matters of the church, the same business sense which they brought to bear upon their own affairs. He thought of the poverty, squalor and wretchedness of some for whom Christ died, and of the costly luxuries of the church into whose hands the Master had given the care of these. He thought of the doors to places of sin, swinging wide before the young, while the doors of the church were often closed against them. He thought of the secret societies and orders, doing the work that the church was meant to do, and of the honest, moral men, who refused to identify themselves with the church, though professing belief in Jesus Christ; and, thinking of these things and more like them, he was forced to say that the church must change her methods; that she must talk less and do more; that she must rest her claims to the love of mankind where Christ rested his; upon the works that He did.
He saw that the church was proving false to the Christ; that her service was a service of the lips only; that her worship was form and ceremony--not of the heart--a hollow mockery. He saw that she was not touching the great problems of life; and that, while men were dying for want of spiritual bread, she was offering them only the stones of ecclesiastical pride and denominational egotism. He saw all this, and yet,--because he was a strong man--remained full of love for Christ and taught that those things were not Christianity but the lack of it; and placed the blame where it justly belonged, upon the teaching and doctrines of men, and not upon the principles of Christ; but upon the shepherds, who fattened themselves, while the starving sheep grew thin and lean; and not upon Him who came to seek and save that which was lost.
Adam Goodrich walked out of the church with his aristocratic nose elevated even beyond its usual angle. He was so offended by the plebeian tastes of his pastor that he almost failed to notice Banker Lindsley who passed him in the vestibule.
"Fine discourse--fine discourse, Mr. Goodrich."
"Uh--" grunted Adam, tossing his head.
"Just the kind of sermon we need;" went on Mr. Lindsley, who was not a church member. "Practical and fearless; I'm glad to have heard him. I shall come again;" and he hurried out of the house.
It was not often that a sermon was honored by being discussed at the Goodrich table; nor indeed, that any topic of religion was mentioned; but Adam could not contain himself after the unheard of things which his pastor had preached that morning. "It's a pity that Cameron hasn't better judgment," he declared, in a voice that showed very plainly the state of his mind. "He could easily make his church the first church in the city if he would only let well enough alone and not be all the time stirring things up. He is a good speaker, carries himself like an aristocrat, and comes from a good family; but he is forever saying things that jar the best people. He might be drawing half as much again salary if only he would work to get those people who are worth something into the church, instead of spending all his time with the common herd."
"Perhaps he thinks the common herd worth saving too," suggested Miss Amy, a beautiful girl of nineteen, with dark hair and eyes.
"What do you know about it?" replied the father. "You're getting your head full of those silly Young People's Society notions, and your friends will drop you if you don't pay more attention to your social duties. The common classes are all right of course, but they can't expect to associate with us. Cameron has his mission schools; why isn't that enough? And he makes three times as many calls on South Broadway and over by the Shops, as he does on our street."
"Perhaps he thinks, 'they that are whole have no need of a physician,'" again suggested the young lady.
"Amy," said Mrs. Goodrich, "how often have I told you that it's not the thing to be always repeating the Bible. No one does it now. Why will you make yourself so common?"
"You agree with Cameron perfectly, mother," put in Frank, the only son; "he said this morning that no one used their Bibles now-a-days."
"It's not necessary to be always throwing your religion at people's heads," answered the father, "and as for Cameron's new-fangled notion about the church being more helpful to those who need help, he'll find out that it won't work. We are the ones who pay his salary, and if he can't preach the things we want to hear, he'll find himself going hungry, or forced to dig along with those he is so worried about. I don't find anything in the Bible that tells me to associate with every low-down person in the city, and I guess I'm as good a Christian as anyone in the church."
"Brother Cameron said that helping people and associating with them were two different things," said Amy.
"Well, it means the same, anyway, in the eyes of the world," retorted the father.
"Fancy," said Frank, "my going down the street with that tramp who called at the office last week. According to Cameron, you ought to have invited him home and asked him to stay with us until he found a job, I suppose. Amy would have liked to meet him, and to make his visit with us pleasant. He was not bad-looking, barring his clothes and a few whiskers."
"Who was that, Mr. Goodrich?" inquired the wife.
"Oh, an impudent fellow that Frank let into the office the other day; he claimed that he was a printer and wanted work; said that he was thrown out of employment by the Kansas City strike; anyone could see that he was a fraud through and through, just Cameron's kind. If I had my way I would give him work that he wouldn't want. Such people are getting altogether too numerous, and there will be no room for a respectable man if this thing keeps up. I don't know what we'll come to if we have many such sermons as that this morning; they want the earth now."
"They'd get Heaven too if Cameron had his way," put in Frank again. "Won't it be fine when the church becomes a home for every wandering Willie who happens along?"
"Did not Christ intend His church to be a home for the homeless?" asked the sister.
"Amy," interrupted Mrs. Goodrich, "you are getting too many of those fanciful notions; you will learn in time that the church is meant to go to on Sundays, and that people who know what is demanded of them by the best society, leave socials, aids, missions, and such things to the lower classes."
"Yes," answered Frank, as he arose to leave the table--"and don't go looking up that bum printer to teach him the way of the Lord."
The reader must not think that the Goodrichs were unworthy members of the church; their names were all on the roll of membership, and Frank and Amy were also active members of the Young People's Societies. Beside this, Adam contributed liberally (in his own eyes at least) to the support of the gospel; and gave, now and then, goodly sums set opposite his name on subscription lists, for various charitable purposes; although he was very careful, withal, that his gifts to God never crippled his business interests, and managed, in religious matters, to make a little go a long way.
The pastor of the Jerusalem Church, having been called to attend a funeral, was not present at the meeting of the Boyd City Ministerial Association, following his sermon, and the field was left open for his brethren, who assembled in the lecture room of the Zion Church on Monday morning. After the Association had been called to order by the president, the reports of the work given by the various pastors had been heard, and some unfinished business transacted, good old Father Beason arose, and, in his calm, impassioned manner, addressed the Chair.
"Brethren," he said, "I don't know how you all feel about it, but I would like to know what the Association thinks about Brother Cameron's sermon yesterday. Now, I don't want to be misunderstood, Brethren; I haven't a particle of fault to find with Brother Cameron. I love him as a man; I admire him as a preacher; and I believe that whatever he has said he meant for the best. But, Brother Cameron is a young man yet, and I have heard a good deal of talk about the things he said Sabbath morning; and I would just like to know what you Brethren think about it. Have any of you heard anything?" Six reverend heads nodded that they had, and the speaker continued:
"Well, I thought probably you would hear something, and with no harm meant toward our Brother, I would like to have you express yourselves. I have been in the ministry nearly forty years now, and I have never heard such things as people say he said. And, Brethren, I'm awfully afraid that there is a good deal of truth in it all--a good deal of truth in it all;" and slowly shaking his head the old man took his seat.
The Rev. Jeremiah Wilks was on his feet instantly, and, speaking in a somewhat loud and nervous manner, said: "Mr. Chairman, I was coming down town early this morning, after some thread and ribbons and things for my wife, and Sister Thurston, who runs that little store on Third Street--you know she's a member of my church, you know--and always gives me things lots cheaper than I can get them anywhere else, because she's a member of my church, you know--she says to me that Brother
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