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The services in the chapel of a certain western university are from time
to time conducted by eminent clergymen of many denominations and from
On one occasion, when one of these visiting divines asked the president
how long he should speak, that witty officer replied:
"There is no limit, Doctor, upon the time you may preach; but I may tell
you that there is a tradition here that the most souls are saved during
the first twenty-five minutes."
One Sunday morning a certain young pastor in his first charge announced
"I will take for my text the words, 'And they fed five men with five
thousand loaves of bread and two thousand fishes.'"
At this misquotation an old parishioner from his seat in the amen corner
"That's no miracle--I could do it myself."
The young preacher said nothing at the time, but the next Sunday he
announced the same text again. This time he got it right:
"And they fed five thousand men on five loaves of bread and two
He waited a moment, and then, leaning over the pulpit and looking at the
amen corner, he said:
"And could you do that, too, Mr. Smith?"
"Of course I could," Mr. Smith replied.
"And how would you do it?" said the preacher.
"With what was left over from last Sunday," said Mr. Smith.
The late Bishop Foss once visited a Philadelphia physician for some
trifling ailment. "Do you, sir," the doctor asked, in the course of his
examination, "talk in your sleep?"
"No sir," answered the bishop. "I talk in other people's. Aren't you
aware that I am a divine?"
"Yes, sir," said the irate man, "I got even with that clergyman. I
slurred him. Why, I hired one hundred people to attend his church and go
to sleep before he had preached five minutes."
A noted eastern Judge when visiting in the west went to church on
Sunday; which isn't so remarkable as the fact that he knew beforehand
that the preacher was exceedingly tedious and long winded to the last
degree. After the service the preacher met the Judge in the vestibule
and said: "Well, your Honor, how did you like the sermon?"
"Oh, most wonderfully," replied the Judge. "It was like the peace of
God; for it passed all understanding, and, like His mercy, I thought it
would have endured forever."
The preacher's evening discourse was dry and long, and the congregation
gradually melted away. The sexton tiptoed up to the pulpit and slipped a
note under one corner of the Bible. It read:
"When you are through, will you please turn off the lights, lock the
door, and put the key under the mat?"
The new minister's first sermon was very touching and created much
favorable comment among the members of the church. One morning, a few
days later, his nine-year-old son happened to be alone in the pastor's
study and with childish curiosity started to read through some papers on
the desk. They happened to be this identical sermon, but he was most
interested in the marginal notes. In one place in the margin were
written the words, "Cry a little." Further on in the discourse appeared
another marginal remark, "Cry a little more." On the next to the last
sheet the boy found his good father had penned another remark, "Cry like
A young preacher, who was staying at a clergy-house, was in the habit of
retiring to his room for an hour or more each day to practice pulpit
oratory. At such times he filled the house with sounds of fervor and
pathos, and emptied it of almost everything else. Phillips Brooks
chanced to be visiting a friend in this house one day when the budding
orator was holding forth.
"Gracious me!" exclaimed the Bishop, starting up in assumed terror,
"pray, what might that be?"
"Sit down, Bishop," his friend replied. "That's only young D----
practising what he preaches."
A distinguished theologian was invited to make an address before a
Sunday-school. The divine spoke for over an hour and his remarks were of
too deep a character for the average juvenile mind to comprehend. At the
conclusion, the superintendent, according to custom, requested some one
in the school to name an appropriate hymn to be sung.
"Sing 'Revive Us Again,'" shouted a boy in the rear of the room.
A clergyman was once sent for in the middle of the night by one of his
"Well, my good woman," said he, "so you are ill and require the
consolations of religion? What can I do for you?"
"No," replied the old lady, "I am only nervous and can't sleep!"
"But how can I help that?" said the parson.
"Oh, sir, you always put me to sleep so nicely when I go to church that
I thought if you would only preach a little for me!"
I never see my rector's eyes;
He hides their light divine;
For when he prays, he shuts his own,
And when he preaches, mine.
A stranger entered the church in the middle of the sermon and seated
himself in the back pew. After a while he began to fidget. Leaning over
to the white-haired man at his side, evidently an old member of the
congregation, he whispered:
"How long has he been preaching?"
"Thirty or forty years, I think," the old man answered.
"I'll stay then," decided the stranger. "He must be nearly done."
Once upon a time there was an Indian named Big Smoke, employed as a
missionary to his fellow Smokes.
A white man encountering Big Smoke, asked him what he did for a living.
"Umph!" said Big Smoke, "me preach."
"That so? What do you get for preaching?"
"Me get ten dollars a year."
"Well," said the white man, "that's damn poor pay."
"Umph!" said Big Smoke, "me damn poor preacher."
_See also_ Clergy.
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