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Stirring the Conscience

The great 19th century British statesman and prime minister, William Gladstone, once said, “One thing I have against the clergy both of the country and in the towns. I think they are not severe enough on congregations. They do not sufficiently lay upon the souls and consciences of their hearers their moral obligations, and probe their hearts and bring up their whole lives and actions to the bar of conscience.

“The class of sermons which I think are most needed, are of the class which once offended Lord Melbourne. He was seen coming from church in the country in a great fume. Finding a friend, he exclaimed, ‘It is too bad I have always been a supporter of the church, and I have always upheld the clergy, but it is really too bad to have to listen to a sermon like that we have heard this morning. Why, the preacher actually insisted upon applying religion to a man’s personal life!”

Gladstone concluded,

“That is the kind of preaching I like best, the kind of preaching which men need most, but it is, also, the kind of which they get the least.”

Morning Glory, Sept./Oct., 1997, p. 34

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