Thomas A. (Thomas Asbury) Morris.

Miscellany: consisting of essays, biographical sketches and notes of travel online

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When it becomes crowded by increase of population,
instead of removing it to make way for one of mammoth
dimensions, let it stand as long as it is comfortable, and
build another the same size ; and when the second is full,
then a third, and so on. Again : it has been fully tested,
that cellars do not answer for lecture-rooms, Sabbath
school-rooms, or class-rooms, because of the dampness of
them. The basement- story should be entirely above
ground to be comfortable and useful. Side galleries
obstruct both sight and sound ; they are the usual resort


of rude boys and other comers and goers during public
service, and a fruitful source of disturbance, and may
well be dispensed with. But an end gallery over the
vestibule, to hold the Sabbath school during sermon, is a
convenience to the teachers and classes, as it affords them
comfortable seats, where they can see and hear, and to
which they have free access in a body, without disturb-
ance to any one, leaving the lower floor for the balance
of the congregation. The old style of circular pulpits,
ascended by winding, narrow stairs, and running a minis-
ter's head nearly up to the ceiling, so as to require him
to look down and the people to look up to see and hear,
were a remarkable instance of the want of judgment. It
is cause of thanksgiving that their days are numbered,
and that ministers are allowed to speak horizontally, with
room to turn round. And it is equally fortunate that the
high fronts, constructed originally for reading sermons,
which concealed the speaker's person, except his head and
neck, have passed away, allowing the minister to be seen,
and to use his hands without raising them overhead. As
to the position of the pulpit, it should always be at the
far end from the doors, not between them ; otherwise there
will be much inconvenience.

But while much has been done to render our houses of
worship comfortable, much remains to be done. Outside
steps, high enough to land the people on the floor of the
church proper, are not only expensive, if made durable,
but frequently mar the beauty of the building. A still
greater objection is, they are always inconvenient to ladies,
soiling their Sabbath dresses in passing up and down the
muddy steps; and, when there is ice or sleet, they are
dangerous. It is a much better plan to pass from the
street into the lower vestibule ; thence, by inner stairways,
which are always dry, to the upper vestibule, and into the
church proper. Church windows, in all cases, should be

so constructed that the lower sash could be raised in hot
weather, and the upper sash lowered, when necessary, to
admit fresh air in cool weather, without letting streams
of cold wind directly on to the people. The light should
be let in sufficiently for all to read by without difficulty,
and to produce a cheerful appearance, and yet it should
be well diffused and mellowed, so as to be easy to the
eye, changing the blinds as the sun turns, and avoiding
the pain occasioned by concentrated sunbeams through
one or two windows, while the shady side is all dark,
when it alone should be open. At night, in the absence
of gas-light, the house should be thoroughly illuminated
with lamp-light, relieving the minister and his hearers
from the intolerable annoyance of a sexton passing round
in time of sermon to snuff candles, which he is almost
certain to inflict just at the greatest point of interest in
the discourse. A church, to be healthy and agreeable,
should be kept clean, and well aired, relieving it, after
each service, of the contaminated atmosphere so often
inhaled and breathed, and supplying it with fresh. Beside
all this care, every church should have a ventilator in the
upper ceiling, allowing the heated and putrid air to escape
as it accumulates, which would prevent one-half of all
the stupor and drowsiness so common in our crowded
assemblies, and keep all lively and vigorous.

One of the most essential things to comfort in church,
is to have it just warm enough, and not too warm. When
people are suffering with cold, and thinking of being made
sick by it, they can not enjoy preaching or engage in
prayer or praise to much profit; and when they are nearly
suffocated with stove heat it is still worse. How often
does the minister find himself, of an evening, where the
stove heat has been kept up all day in the same dry, con-
taminated air, destitute both of physical and mental
energy, with a dull, drowsy congregation before him,


simply owing to the state of atmosphere in the house !
During the service, he is covered with a clammy sweat,
and when he steps out into the fresh air, he feels as if a
bucket of cold water was poured upon his head, and run-
ning all over him. No marvel that he should have bron-
chial disease, or something worse. Such exposures destroy
the health of many excellent ministers, and even the lives
of some, thus cutting them off in the midst of their use-
fulness. "How may this great evil be remedied?" is a
question worthy of serious consideration. Perhaps the
following suo-o-estions mio-ht be of some use. Let sextons
be told, what very few of them seem to know, that there
is a difference between a moderate day and a very cold
one in this changeable climate, and that less fuel is requi-
site on the former than the latter. Let it be explained to
them, and repeated till they understand it, that there is
really such a principle as animal heat in the human sys-
tem ; and, consequently, if a church be made comfortably
warm, as it always should be before the congregation
assemble, and then filled with living men and women,
and the doors shut, it will certainly remain warm till they
disperse, without adding any more fuel. There can be no
mistake in this matter. If the sexton can not find a
lodgment for these simple facts in his cranium, so as to
regulate the temperature of the house, hang up a large
thermometer in it, and tell him when the mercury rises
above a certain mark, to lower the heat, and when it sinks
below a certain other mark, to raise the heat. No matter
about his comprehending the principle, if he can only
learn the use of the instrument. Finally : let the trustees
provide the proper number of stoves, and put them up in
the right place. Medium-sized churches, containing say
eight hundred people, require two stoves, which should be
placed near the doors; the further from the pulpit the
better, if they be only in the house. Heated air rises.


If the stoves be near the pulpit, the heat strikes the
speaker in his elevated position so forcibly as to embarrass
and afflict him. Recently, I preached in a church con-
taining four stoves, two of them near the altar, one on
each side. It was a mild and beautiful Sabbath, preceded
by several rainy, disagreeable ones. The sexton antici-
pated what was realized, a full house, and, therefore, filled
all the stoves with fuel about the time the people began to
assemble. By the time I got fairly under way preaching,
the fire took effect in earnest, and turned my face near its
own color; for the blood rushed to the brain, and I felt
like falling; so that I had to desist from preaching, and
commenced begging for less fire and more air. The doors
were thrown wide open, and let sluices of fresh air on to
the congregation, greatly to the relief of some ; but a few
invalids took fright, and, lest they should catch cold, left
for home, and we saw no more of them. I sat down till
the house became cool enough to close the doors, and the
people composed, and then resumed the discourse. Per-
haps a thousand people were incommoded, and the sermon
interrupted by that piece of indiscretion, which, however,
was nothing but might occur frequently, where the sex-
ton supposes that he must build the largest fire when the
weather is finest and the house fullest, and the least fire
when the day is stormy and few attend — the rule by which
most sextons practically operate in their line of business.
In regard to this subject we need a reformation, and must
have it, or the interests of public worship will suffer

The object of preaching is to persuade men, women, and
hildren to be good, that they may be happy. To accom-


plish this object, every preacher should aim to instruct
and impress his hearers by a proper use of divine truth*
To assist our preachers in the performance of these duties,
sundry directions are given in the Discipline, recommend-
ing some things as proper, and pointing out others as
improper. Among the latter is that of "speaking too
loud." But in ascertaining what is too loud, reference
must be had to many things ; such as, our experience as
speakers, our observation as hearers, the collected sense
of enlightened Christian assemblies, and the natural pecu-
liarities of the persons speaking. By attention to these
several particulars, we may arrive at conclusions suffi-
ciently correct. Experience will teach us what neither
books nor men can satisfactorily explain ; that is, how to
use our strength to the best advantage. By observing
both good and bad speaking in others, we will be assisted in
correcting our own faults. The opinion of an enlightened
community will aid us in deciding on the relative advan-
tages and disadvantages of the different methods of speak-
ing. And strict attention to natural peculiarities will ena-
ble us to judge charitably of our brethren. To require all
men to speak alike is as unreasonable as it is unprofitable.
Some men naturally speak loud without any painful exer-
tion. These have a decided advantage over others, provi-
ded the gift be well cultivated ; but unless they are careful
they will become so boisterous as to be unpleasant. Oth-
ers speak low, and can not do otherwise, without speaking
unnaturally, which is far worse ; hence, it follows, what is
too low for one may be too high for another.

It will be of some service to read and study the various
rules of rhetoric, especially in correcting improprieties;
but whoever adheres implicitly to them, will be a dull
speaker all his life — a mere imitator of school oratory. A
few years' experience and observation are worth the whole
of them, to anv man of o-ood taste and sound discretion.


A.s far as public speaking- can be controlled by rules at
.all, those rules should be agreed on with reference to the
convenience of the speaker as well as the hearer. The
rule which requires the speaker to commence just so that
the farthest person in the assembly can hear distinctly,
can be enforced only when there is a correspondence be-
tween the size of the congregation and the strength of the
speaker's voice. If the assembly be large and the voice
of the speaker feeble, he can not practice on this rule,
without commencing on a key too high for him to sustain ;
and the certain consequence will be a failure throughout.
It would be better for the remote hearer to lose a score
of words at the commencement, than for both speaker
and hearers to be pained all the way through. Even in a
large assembly, the speaker should commence at the mid-
dle of his voice, at that key on which he speaks most
naturally and easily. As no one can sing with facility
and pleasure when the tune is too high or too low, neither
can any man speak with ease and energy unless he start
with the right pitch of voice.

From these reflections we may arrive at the following

To "speak too loud," is to speak louder than is neces-
sary, to be heard by all present. For instance, if a man
be preaching or praying in a private room, or a small,
close chapel, where the voice is easily heard, to extend it
to the utmost is not only useless, but highly injurious,
producing such a roar and confusion of sounds as to de-
stroy the sense of the words and bewilder the hearers.
Such a method of preaching, even if it could be performed
with convenience to the speaker, is only tolerable to the
hearers in open space, say under a grove at camp meet-
ing. In a close house it is extremely unpleasant; and if
to a noisy be added a hurried method, it is scarcely to be



A man speaks too loud whenever he assumes a tone
beyond his natural strength, be that much or little. He
that speaks with painful exertion to himself, never fails to
produce painful sensations in his audience. Speaking in
an easy, natural tone, with suitable earnestness, on a
religious subject, will often melt and move a whole as-
sembly ; while the same words, delivered with unnatural
screaming., by the same minister, to the same hearers,
will only produce hardness and disgust. This fact is
known to all who have attended strictly to these things,
and may be known to any that will be at the trouble to
examine for themselves.

What, then, is the use of hallooing? It affords no
proof that the preacher has more skill ; that he is more
prayerful, or even that he is more zealous than others,
who let their moderation be known to all men ; for noise
is no more essential to true Christian zeal, than fine style
is to humble, sincere prayer. Again: hallooing is not
essential to a minister's success, but often injures it; souls
are not converted by physical force, nor is the Church
built up by empty sound ; but men are saved through faith
in Christ, regenerated by the Holy Spirit, and edified by
a faithful exhibition of Gospel truth. When preaching
the Gospel, it is necessary to speak loud enough to be well
heard under all ordinary circumstances, and to give force
to the sentiment delivered ; all beyond this is not only
superfluous, but subversive of good teaching and devo-
tional feeling. If the preacher would elevate the feelings
of his audience, he must restrain his own w T ithin proper
bounds. He may enter the pulpit with feelings excited
by his own reflection on the message to be delivered ; but
those of the people are undisturbed ; their attention must
be fixed, and their judgment convinced, before their sen-
sibilities can be reached. This done, heart responds to
heart, sympathy intermingles with sympathy,, as the drops


of water run together, and the warm-hearted preacher
carries his congregation with him wherever the practical
bearings of the subject direct his course. This conquest,
however, is not the effect of noise, but of simple truth,
attended by the Divine blessing. In this state of excite-
ment the preacher may extend his voice as much as it will
bear, without throwing any damper on the feelings of the
people, because they now feel noisy themselves; but
whenever he gets beyond the strength of his voice, and
loses the control of himself, he will no longer maintain the
control of the people. Any minister who will make a fair
trial, may satisfy himself, in a short time, that he can dis-
pense with his screaming without any diminution of zeal,
faith, comfort, or usefulness, besides promoting his own
health and good standing among all the judicious of bis

The evils of speaking too loud are numerous, and ap-
parent to all well-informed people. Allow me here to
name a few of them for the benefit of all concerned.

The speaker becomes embarrassed b} T his own vehe-
mence, which carries him beyond the feelings of his con-

His countenance being distorted by painful effort, ren-
ders his appearance disagreeable.

The sweet, musical tones of his voice, which would
exert a favorable influence on his hearers, are exchanged
for ravings that secure his own confusion and the dis-


appointment of his audience, who are pained for the
preacher, when they would be impressed with his subject
if rightly managed.

By an imprudent waste of strength in the forepart of
the discourse, the speaker is left without any where he
needs it most; that is, in the application.

The preacher's lungs are tortured, his nervous system
shattered, his spirits, after undue excitement, become


depressed, his general health impaired, his life shortened,
his usefulness cut off, and he dies a martyr to his own

In the autumn of 1824 brother H. was appointed as
junior preacher with me on Red River circuit, in Middle
Tennessee. He was a young man of great promise to the
Church, in almost every respect, except the unfortunate
habit of screaming in his pulpit and other public exer-
cises. In a short time he complained of a pain in his
breast. He was faithfully admonished by myself and
others to let his moderation be known to all men, or he
would shorten his days and destroy his usefulness. He,
however, pleaded that reformation in his case was impracti-
cable, and continued to preach, exhort, and pray at the
top of his voice with as much effort as a drowning man
would halloo for help. The consequence was, his lungs
became diseased, so that he broke down that conference
year, and shortly after died, and, as I was informed,
lamenting his intemperate exertions. Some may wear
longer than others, but all habitual screamers, sooner or
later, destroy their health and prospect of usefulness.
The maxim, that a minister is immortal till his work is
done, admits of one exception at least; that is, he may
kill himself under a mistaken idea that his success de-
pends on loud speaking.

It is the duty of parents to nourish their children with
food convenient for them. In all practicable cases, they
should first have what the Creator designed, the whole-
some fluid of their mother's breast; and subsequently
what agrees with them best — not candy, preserves, or rich


cake, which only injure their health and vitiate their
taste — but plain, simple aliment, such as bread, milk,
and fruits, and digestible meats, dealt out at regular,
stated times, and in reasonable quantities.

Parents should clothe their children comfortably. Very
many injure the health of their infants, by keeping them
too warmly clad, and too much excluded from the air, not
observing that the animal heat in children is much greater
than in older persons. This evil should be guarded
against, as a slight injury, inflicted on the constitution in
infancy, may be lasting as life. Another error, quite too
common among parents, is, dressing their children in gay
and costly style, with red shoes, shining buttons, fringes
and ruffles, tassels and feathers, as if they were young
officers in the navy or army. This is all wrong, being
not only a waste of money, but injurious to the children,
by pampering the natural pride of their hearts, and giving
them false notions of their personal importance. Their
clothing should be cheap and plain, but neat and com-
fortable, according to climate and season. They should
be made to fit easy, and be kept whole and clean; for rags
are disgraceful, and filth is loathsome. Some apologize for
not keeping their children clean on the ground that dirt is
healthy; but this is a mistake. The reason why the chil-
dren of the poor are usually more healthy than those of
the rich, is not that they are more dirty, but because they
live on simple diet, and have plenty of exercise, without
which no one can enjoy perfect health. Children should
be kept just as clean, both in their person and apparel, as
is consistent with plenty of exercise in the open air daily,
and no more ; for to confine them to their chairs and
chambers by the week, lest they should get their aprons
soiled, is to ruin their health for the sake of appearance.

Another duty of parents is, to protect their small chil-
dren from danger. Whatever comes into the hand of a



child is immediately transferred to his mouth ; therefore*,
nothing should be left within his reach which will poison
or strangle him ; nor should he be left unguarded, where
there is danger of falling, or being trodden under foot, or
burnt, or scalded, because many, by these means, are
destroyed, and perhaps some through the carelessness of
those in charge of them. When large enough to run,
they should not be allowed to wander alone into the
streets or highways, lest they be run over by horses and
carriages; nor should small children ever be allowed to
go alone to rivers, lakes, or mill-ponds, lest they be
drowned ; or to a barn-raising, boat-launching, or the like,
for fear of being crushed to death.

It is also the duty of parents to take care of their chil-
dren in sickness. This implies timely prescription and
proper remedies duly administered, to the exclusion of all
doubtful experiments, whether of quackery or ignorance ;
also watching with diligence, and nursing with care, which
are often of more importance than medicine. There are
but few things, if any, in all the catalogue of parental
duties which draw so heavily upon the sympathies and
the constitution of parents, as taking care of their afflicted
offspring ; and yet no duty is performed with such interest
and perseverance, because parental affection takes no
account of sacrifice when the life of a beloved son or
daughter is in peril. If health be restored, the parents
are compensated for all their toil and care; and, should
death ensue, the effort to save, though ineffectual, is not

Another duty, which parents are very generally anxious
to perform, is, providing for the wants of their children in
future. Beside making provision for their present com-
fort, it is desirable for children to have a small capital
with which to commence the permanent business of life,
and a moderate outfit when they get married and assume


the responsibility of housekeepers. This, in many in-
stances, they may be put in a way to earn for themselves
by the time it is needed ; but when that can not be done,
then it is right and proper they should be aided and
encouraged in the commencement. But more than a
moderate sum to help in the outset is useless. And as to
giving them large fortunes, it is a real injury, and in most
instances a ruinous misfortune ; because it leads to extrav-
agant calculations and outlays of money, carelessness in
business, or perhaps to dispense with all business, and
resort to traveling and pleasure, till they become bank-
rupts, and are doomed to misery for life. Let this be
remembered by those who are laying up largely for their
children, while they are indulged in idleness and prodi-
gality ; for such a course, though intended as kindness, is
cruelty to them. And, beside all this, no man can hoard
up great estates for his children, to the neglect of the
claims of charity and religion, without endangering his
own salvation: ''Woe unto you that are rich! for ye
have received your consolation."

One of the most important duties of parents is, to
govern their children. Family government was the first
ever instituted for the well-being of human society, and it
is still the most important, because the whole race of man
is divided into families ; so that, if each family be gov-
erned, all will be brought under domestic rule and order,
and thereby prepared for civil and ecclesiastical govern-
ment. Indeed, so far as children are concerned, and all
are children at first, there is none but domestic govern-
ment; and if they be not learned to render obedience to
their parents in childhood, it will be difficult for them, in
after life, to become obedient subjects of any government.
By a wise arrangement of our Creator, it is made the duty
of parents to rule and children to obey; and a mutual
performance of these duties constitutes a well-ordered


family, while the neglect of them leads to disorder and
misery. Young children should be controlled by kindness
and persuasion, if practicable ; but when such considera-
tions fail, resort should be had to force, discreetly exer-
cised. We are not in favor of using the rod frequently,
freely, or for small offenses ; nor is it necessary to secure
proper obedience; indeed, they who whip most usually
govern least, because they thereby lose the affection of
the child, and with it all controlling influence, except the
fear of punishment. But, by some means, the child must
be learned at first, and never allowed to forget the lesson,
that he must obey his parents in all things. And let it be
remembered, any attempt to enforce obedience which fails
of the object in view, is worse than no effort at all. The
point must be gained; and when subjection is once secured
it is easily maintained.

So soon as children are capable of understanding the
ground of their responsibility, moral considerations should
be brought to bear upon them. Much can be done in

Online LibraryThomas A. (Thomas Asbury) MorrisMiscellany: consisting of essays, biographical sketches and notes of travel → online text (page 2 of 30)