Anecdotage of Glasgow
Max O'Rell at a Glasgow church and on
racy Frenchman who lectures and writes under the nom
de plume of Max ORell, in his Friend Macdonald, states:
"Religion is still sterner in
Scotland than in England. It is arid, like the soil of the country;
angular, like the bodies of the inhabitants; thorny, like the national
emblem of Scotland.
"One Sunday I went to a church in
Glasgow. The preacher chose for his text the passage from St. Matthews
Gospel, commencing with No man can serve two masters, and ending, Ye
cannot serve God and Mammon.
About three thousand worshippers,
careworn and devoured by the thirst for lucre, listened unmoved to the
diatribes of the worthy pastor, and were preparing, by a day of rest, for
the headlong race after wealth that they were going to resume on the
"What a never-ending theme is the
contempt for riches! What sermons in the desert, preached by bishops with
princely pay, or poor curates who treat fortune as Master Reynard treated
certain grapes that hung out of reach.
"I was never more edified than on
that Sunday in Glasgow, especially when the assembly struck up
"O Paradise! O Paradise!
Tis weary waiting here;
I long to be where Jesus is,
To feel, to see him near,
"O Paradise! O Paradise!
I greatly long to see
The special place my. dearest Lord,
in love prepares for me!
"Ah! my dear Caledonians, thought
I, seeing them in such a hurry, it is better to suffer, even in Glasgow,
than to die!
"Mieux vaut souffrir que mourir
Cest la devise des hommes.
"By-the-bye, dear reader, how do you like the
expression special place? Do I exaggerate when I tell you the
Scotch expect to find places specially reserved for them in Heaven? If the
Englishman has knocked down to himself the kingdom of Heaven, which he
looks upon as a British possession, the Scotchman has discerned to himself
all the best places therein."
With reference to a similar sermon
heard by him elsewhere,the locus is of no particular importance, as it
would apply equally well to almost any part of Scotland,Max ORell writes
: "I had been to morning service with a Scotchman, and there again had
heard a sermon on the worthlessness of riches. The minister had preached
from the text, And again I say unto you: it is easier for a camel to go
through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom
innocence, or, rather, in my ignorance, I had always seen in these words
of our Lord a condemnation of richesa condemnation without appeal, and
looked upon the man who sought to be rich, and did not scatter his wealth,
as persons who willingly forfeited all chance of entering Heaven.
"On leaving the church, my companion
and I began to talk of the sermon. The Scotch discuss a sermon on their
way home from church, as we French people discuss the merits of a new play
that we have just seen at the theatre. As we went along, I communicated my
views to my friend. He turned on me a glance full of compassion.
It is easy to see, my dear sir, he
said, that you have been brought up in a religion that does not encourage
discussion, The result is that you swallow without resistance theories
which would wake our children start with indignation. If Christs
phrase could be interpreted in your fashion, it would be neither more nor
less than an absurdity. He meant to say that it was more difficult for a
rich man than a poor one to be saved, but not that it was impossible.
"But, I began, it is impossible
for a camel to go through the eye of a needle.
"Here my companions smile became
more sarcastic. I foresaw that his explanation was going to stagger me,
and so it did.
"You seem to be in earnest," said
he; let me enlighten you. There existed at Jerusalem, in our Saviours
time, a gateway called the Needles Eye. Although one of the
principal entrances to the city, this gateway was so narrow that a camel
could only get through it with difficulty (particularly if laden). So
Christ meant to say
"Enough, I cried, my ignorance is
terrible, I never felt it as much as at this moment.
"You see, he added in a rather
bantering tone, in Scotch churches there is no incensebut there is
Nothing mystic in the religion of
the Scotch. The Old and New Testaments are submitted to the finest
sifting. Every passage is explained. They are served up as an intellectual
food. Here people do not see because they believe; they believe because
they see. Faith is based upon reason.
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