DISGRACEFUL TRICK OF A SENSAHONAL PREACHER.
The Rev. J. F. Clymer, Pastor of the First M. E. Church, of Auburn, has gained something of an unenviable notoriety as a sensational preacher, but on Sunday, August 29th, he added infamy to sensationalism. He had previously made public announcement that on that day, he would speak upon the subject “ Who killed our Chief Engineer?” Auburn had not yet recovered from the shock of the sad death of brave Joe Morris, and the heart of every Fireman in the State was filled with sorrow in contemplation of the untimely end of one so young and so full of promise. The Engine Houses of Auburn were still draped in their badges of mourning ; the sombre emblems with which public and private buildings had been wrapped on the occasion of the Chief’s funeral had scarcely been removed ; the sods above his grave were not yet settled ; the mourning relatives had not recovered from the first rude shock of sudden bereavement, when this so-called follower of Christ made an opportunity to tear open afresh the wounded hearts of poor Joe’s hundreds of friends, and heap obliquy and falsehood upon the head of him who was gone, simply that he might gain for himself additional notoriety as a sensational preacher. The burden of his diatribe—it cannot be called a sermon—was to the effect that Chief Morris had always been a moderate drinker ; that on the occasion of the Convention and parade he had resolved not to drink anything ; and that this abstinence from accustomed stimulants had finally unseated his reason. Upon this fictitious ground work the irreverent preacher erected a temperance lecture, and, in answer to his own question, “Who killed our Chief Engineer ?” maintained that every person who had ever supplied him with liquor was guilty of his murder. His remarks were couched in violent and extreme language, and the large audience he addressed was thoroughly shocked and disgusted, at being compelled to listen to the misrepresentation to which poor Joe was subjected. Neither the great grief of the majority of the citizens of Auburn at the loss they had sustained in the death of Chief Morris, nor the harrowing anguish of his immediate friends, served to restrain the vile torrent this sensationalist poured forth, but public indignation subsequently was very great. The officers and men of the Fire Department, including the Commissioners, met together and adopted a series of resolutions, published in THE JOURNAL last week, denouncing as false the statements made by Mr. Clymer regarding the habits and cause of death of Chief Morris. These resolutions constituted a brave and manly defense of the deceased, and an arraignment of the preacher as a falsifier, slanderer and sensationalist that he will not be likely to forget for some time.
Chief Morris was not a total abstainer from the use of spirituous liquor, but lie was a temperate man. No man can be called temperate who has not the courage to use all of God’s gifts with wisdom and discretion. It is the abuse, not the use of these gifts that constitutes intemperance. The abuse of the gift of speech is as much an act of intemperance (as the use of too much liquor, and Mr. Clymer gave an excellent illustration of the wrong that may be done, both to the living and the dead, by his intemperate utterances. Chief Morris used liquor, but did not abuse it; he was never known to be intoxicated, or to neglect any duty in consequence of over indulgence. At the time of his death, his many virtues, and his worth as a citizen and public officer, were extolled alike by clergymen and laymen. For Mr. Clymer to step in and denounce him as an intemperate man, and to arraign the liquor sellers of Auburn as his murderers, was a blasphemous and impious act, for by so doing he arrogated to himself the attributes of Deity, and passed judgment upon the dead and the living alike. He gave the lie to his brother clergymen, who previously paid eloquent tribute to the many virtues of the deceased, and mocked at those who revered his memory. In addition to impiety and blasphemy, he added to his other offences that of outraging common decency and good taste by unnecessarily shocking the feeling of all who heard or read his remarks.
We do not desire to enter any defence of rum-drinking or rum-selling; on the contrary, we are firm believers in temperance, and wish God speed to those who advocate it. But one such harangue as that uttered by Mr. Clymer—false in its premises and false in its deductions—will do more to bring the cause of temperance into disrepute among those who heard it, than all the rumsellers in the country. It also tends to disgust people with religion—that bulwark of temperance and morality, when the pulpit is prostituted to falsehood, blasphemy and sensationalism. For the cause of religion, as for temperance, we have the highest respect, and also esteem their champions as men whose mission it is to do good to their fellow men; but for cant, charlatanism and sensationalism, as illustrated by Mr. Clymer, we entertain the most supreme contempt. He has succeeded in disgusting thousands of hearers and readers with pulpit utterances, but the memory of Chief Morris is still enshrined in the hearts of all who knew him, and the impious mouthing of a score of sensation mongers can never tarnish it,