David Bruce: 250 Anecdotes About Religion, Volume 2 — Scripture, Sermons

Scripture

• Retired teacher Laytham Fitch remembers a time when a schoolboy asked him if animals went to Heaven. Mr. Fitch didn’t know the answer, but the schoolboy felt strongly that animals do go to Heaven. When asked why he believed that, the schoolboy quoted Scripture: “Jesus said, ‘Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.’”

• A woman mailed a package containing a Bible to her son at college. When the postal employee asked if the package contained anything breakable, she replied, “Only the Ten Commandments.”

Sermons

• William Douglas was a Presbyterian preacher. Ordained on May 6, 1898, he spent time preaching to people in Minnesota, California, and Washington. While in Dot, Washington, he was prepared to give a sermon, but only one person, a cowboy, was in attendance. He offered not to give the sermon, but the cowboy said, “Well, if I had 40 horses to feed and went out looking for them with a load of hay and could find only one horse, I don’t think I’d let that one horse go hungry.” Rev. Douglas then gave the sermon, which lasted over one hour. At the end of the sermon, Rev. Douglas shook hands with the cowboy and asked what he had thought of the sermon. The cowboy replied, “Well, if I had 40 horses to feed and went out looking for them with a load of hay and could find only one horse, I don’t think I’d give the whole load to that one horse.”

• A traveling preacher in pioneer days was about to mount the pulpit in a new town when the town’s leading citizens warned him not to preach against the liquor trade, since a businessman in the liquor trade — a man who contributed liberally to the church — was going to be present. Next they warned the preacher not to preach against adultery, as an adulterer — who contributed liberally to the church — was going to be present. Then they warned the preacher not to preach against cursing, as a man who used swear words — and who contributed liberally to the church — was going to be present. The preacher asked, “Well, what can I preach against?” The town’s leading citizens advised, “Preach against the Jews — they haven’t got a friend in this town.”

• Village idiots, before jokes about them became politically incorrect, were often characters in stories, where they more than held their own against their supposedly more intelligent neighbors. In “Reminiscences of Scottish Life and Character,” Dean Ramsey writes of Jamie Fraser, a village idiot in the parish of Lunan, in Forfarshire. Mr. Fraser stayed awake during a sermon, although many people around him fell asleep. The minister noticed this and chastised the congregation, saying, “You see, even Jamie Fraser, the idiot, doesn’t fall asleep, as so many of you are doing.” Mr. Fraser had pride, and he disliked being called an idiot, so he told the minister, “Aye, but if I hadn’t been an idiot, I might have been sleeping, too.”

• Many candidates applied for the position of rabbi at a synagogue, and one candidate announced that he was ready to demonstrate his fitness for the position by preaching a sermon on any topic the congregation chose. On the day of the demonstration, this candidate was handed a blank piece of paper. Turning to the congregation, he said, “Friends, this blank piece of paper was supposed to contain my subject. However, I look at the first side and see nothing. I look at the second side and see nothing. This reminds me that God created the world out of nothing. I shall therefore preach on the subject of divine creativeness.”

• George Whitefield preached almost to the end of his life. He died on Sept. 30, 1770, after having preached an open-air sermon the day before. A friend told him that he should be in bed instead of preaching, but Mr. Whitefield looked toward the heavens and prayed, “Lord Jesus, I am weary in thy work, but not of thy work.

• The Rev. Tatham was a fellow of Lincoln College, Oxford. He also was known for preaching very long sermons. At the end of one of his three-hour sermons, only one other person was left in the church. During the sermon, this person had died.

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Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved

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