BOOKS. BY T.

DE WITT TALMAGE

The printing-press is the mightiest agency for^ood or evil. A minister of the Gospel occupies an important position, but not one so responsible as that of the editor and publisher. Take the one fact that from the daily press of New York there go forth four hundred and fifty thousand copies a day, and that three of the weeklies have an aggregate circulation of one million two-hundred thousand, and then cipher, if you can, how far up, and how far down, and how far out, reach the influences of the American printing-press.

I have an idea that it is to be the chief agency for the rescue and evangelization of the world, and that the last great battle will not be fought with guns and swords, but with types and presses ; a gospelized printing-press triumphing over, and trampling under foot, and crushing out a pernicious literature.

The greatest blessing that has come to this world since Jesus Christ came, is good journalism, and the worst scourge, unclean journalism. You must apply the same law to the book and the newspaper. The newspaper is a book swifter and in more portable

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shape. Under unclean literature, under pernicious books and newspapers, tens of thousands have gone down ; the bodies of the victims in the penitentiaries, in the dens of shame, and some of the souls in the asylums for the imbecile and the insane, more of the

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BOOKS

.After C. Kiesel.]

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souls already having gone down in an avalanche of horror and despair. The London plague is nothing to it. That counted its victims by the thousands; this modern pest shovels its millions into the charnelhouse of the morally dead. The longest train of cars that ever rolled over the Erie track, or the Hudson, is not long enough, or large enough, to hold the

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beastliness and the putrefaction which has been gathered up in the bad books and newspapers of America for the last twenty years.

Now, there is no more absorbing question to-day for every man and every patriot than this question : Is there anything we can do to stem this awful torrent of pernicious literature ? Are we to make our minds the receptacle for all that bad people choose to write? Are we to stoop down, and drink out of the' trough which wickedness has filled ? Are we to mire in iniquity, or to chase will-o'-the-wisps across swamps of death, when God invites us into the blooming gardens of His love? Is there anything you can do? Yes. Is there anything that I can do to help stem this mighty torrent of pernicious literature ? Yes.

The first thing for us all to do is to keep ourselves and our families aloof from iniquitous books and newspapers. Standing as we do, chin deep in fictitious literature, the question is every day asked: Is it right to read novels ? Well, I have to say that there are good novels, honest novels, Christian novels, useful novels, novels that make the heart purer and the life better. The world can never pay its debt of obligation to Hawthorne, and Landor, and Hunt,

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and Mackenzie, and scores of others who in times past have written healthful novels. The follies of the world were never better excoriated than in the books

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of Miss Edgcworth. The memories of the past were never better embalmed than in the writings of Walter Scott. No healthier books have been written than those by Fenimore Cooper, his novels full of the breath of the seaweed and the air of the American forests. Kingsley did a grand work in his books in smiting morbidity and giving us the poetry of strong muscles and good health and fresh air. Thackeray accomplished a good work when he caricatured pretenders to gentility and high blood. The writings of Charles Dickens are an everlasting protest against injustice, and a plea for the poor.

These books, read in the right time and read in the right proportion with other books, are healthful and beneficial. But I declare to }*ou to-day that I believe three-fourths of the novels of the time are pernicious and baleful to the last extent. The whole

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land is flooded with the iniquity. Some of these bad novels come forth from respectable printing presses. Some of them are actually commended by religious journals. You find them in the desk of the school miss, you find them in the trunk of the young man on his journey, you find them in the steamboat cabin, you find them in the hotel reception room. Everywhere, everywhere, a pernicious literature. You see a light late at night in your child's room, You go in and say: "What are you doing?" ' Reading." " What are you reading?" " A book." You take the book and look at it, and you find it is a pernicious book. You say, " Where did you get it ?" " Borrowed it." Thousands of people buy pernicious literature and are generous enough to let others also be blasted.

Now, I gather to-day all the novels, good and bad ;

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all the histories, false and true ; all the romances, beautiful and hideous ; all the epilogues, commentaries, catalogues ; family, city, state, national

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libraries, and I heave them into one great pyramid, and I bring to bear upon them some grand and glorious and infallible Christian principles, so that if you ask me to-day, Is there anything we can do to stem this tide? I say, Yes, very much, every way.

First, we will stand aloof from all books that give false pictures of human life. Life is neither a tragedy nor a farce. Men are not all either knaves or heroes. Women are neither angels nor furies. Judging, however, from much of the literature of this day, we would come to the idea that life is a fitful, fantastic, and extravagant thing, instead of a practical and useful thing. After these people have been reading late at night romances which glorify iniquity and present knavery in most attractive form, how poorly prepared are they for the work of life. That man who is an indiscriminate novel reader is unfit for the duties of the store, the shop, the factory. He will be looking for his heroine in the tin shop, in the grocery store, in the banking house, and will not find her.

Those women who are indiscriminate readers of novels are unfit for the duties of wife, mother, sister, daughter the duties of home life, the duties of a

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Christian life. There she sits at midnight, hands trembling, looking aghast, bursting into tears at midnight over the woes of some imaginary unfortunate. When the morrow comes she will sit by the hour gazing at nothing and biting her nails into the quick. The carpet that was plain enough before will be plainer now that she has walked through tessellated

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halls, and the industrious companion will be more unattractive now that she has lounged in the king's park with a polished desperado. Oh, these confirmed readers of novels! They are unfit for the duties of this life, which is a tremendous discipline, and they are unfit for the work of a world where all we gain is achieved by hard, continuous, and exhaustive work. Evil and good mixed.

We will also help to stem this tide of pernicious literature by standing aloof, we and our families, from books which have some good, but a large admixture of evil. You have read books that had in them the good and the bad. Which stuck? The

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bad ! There are minds like sieves, which let the small particles of gold fall through and keep the large cinders, while there are intellects like loadstones plunged into filings of steel and brass, that will keep the steel and repel the brass. But it is generally just the opposite. You plunge through a hedge of burrs to get one blackberry, and you will get more burrs than blackberries. I do not care how good you are, you cannot afford to read a bad book.

You say, " The influence is insignificant." Ah ! the scratch of a pin may produce the lockjaw. You out of curiosity plunge into a bad book, and you have the curiosity of a man who takes a torch into a gunpowder mill to see whether or not it will blow up.

If you want to help stem the tide of pernicious literature, you and your families must stand back from books which corrupt the imagination. I refer now not to that literature which the villain has under his coat, waiting for the school to come out, then looking up and down the street for the police, and then offering the book to your boy on his way

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home. I refer not to that, but to polished literature, which comes forth with a cute plot sounding the tocsin that arouses all the bad passions of our soul.

Years ago there came forth a French authoress under the assumed name of George Sand. She smoked cigars, she wore masculine apparel. She wrote with a style ardent, eloquent, graphic in its pictures, horrible in its suggestions, damnable in its results, and sending forth into the libraries and the homes of the world an influence which has not yet relaxed ; and I want to tell you that all the infamous stories we have got from Paris in the last five or ten years are only copies of that woman's iniquity. These books are sold by Christian booksellers. Under the nostrils of your cities there is to-day a fetid, reeking, unwashed literature enough to poison all the fountains of virtue and smite your sons and daughters as with the wings of a destroying angel, and it is high time that the ministers of religion and all reformers banded together and marshaled an army of righteousness all armed to the teeth to fight back this moral calamity.

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What do you make of the fact that fifty per cent. more than fifty per cent. of the criminals in the jails and penitentiaries of this country are under twenty-one years of age ; many of them under eighteen, many under sixteen, many under fifteen. You go along the corridors of the prisons, and you will find that nine out of ten came there from reading bad books or newspapers. The men will tell you so ; the women will tell you so. Is not that a fact worthy the consideration of those whose families are dear to them?

"Oh," you say, " I am a business man, and can't be

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looking after the literature of my household ; I can't be examining books and newspapers; they will have to look after themselves." Suppose your child was threatened with typhoid fever, would you have time to go for a doctor ? would you have time to watch the progress of the disease ? would \*ou have time to attend the funeral? In the name of God, I warn some of you that your children are threatened with

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moral and spiritual typhoid, and if the evil be unarrested there will be the funeral of the body, and the funeral of the mind, and the funeral of the soul three funerals in one day.

If you want to help stem this tide, keep aloof, you and your families, from all books that are apologetic for crime.

Some of the most fascinating book-binding in our time is thrown around sin. Vice is horrible anyhow. It is born in shame, and it dies howling in the darkness. It whips one through this life with a scourge of scorpions, and after that God's thunders of wrath pursue it over boundless deserts. If you want to paint carnality, do not represent it as looking out irom embroidered curtains, or from the window of a royal seraglio. Paint it as writhing in the horrors of a city hospital.

Cursed are the books which make impurity decent, and crime honorable, and hypocrisy noble. Ye authors who write them, ye publishers who print them, ye booksellers who distribute them, shall be cut to pieces, if not by an aroused public sentiment, then by Almighty God, who will sweep you to the lowest pit

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of perdition, ye murderers of souls. You may escape in this world ; in the next the heel of calamity will grind you, and you will be fastened to the rock, and

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vultures of despair will claw at your soul, and those whom you have destroyed will come and torment you, pouring hotter coals into your suffering, eternally rejoicing at the outcry of your pain and the howling of your damnation. '' God shall wound the hairy scalp of him that goeth on in his trespasses."

There she sits at midnight, bending over the evil romance. The tears are started. The color dashes to the cheek, and then it fades. The hands tremble as though a guardian angel were trying to shake the deadly book from her grasp. Then there is a rush of hot tears. The perspiration on her brow is the spray dashed up from the river of death. She laughs with a laugh that dies at its own sound. Soon in a madhouse she will mistake the ringlets for crawling serpents, and thrust her white hand through the bars of the incarceration, and then beat her head and push it

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as though she would push the scalp from the skull, crying, " My brain, my brain !" Oh, stand off from such infernal literature ! Why go sounding among the reefs and among the warning buoys when there is such a vast ocean of good literature, good books and good newspapers? an ocean on which you may voyage, all sail set.

I must, in this connection, call to your mind the iniquitous pictorials of our time. For good pictures I have great admiration. An artist, with one flash, will do that which an author can accomplish in four hundred pages. Fine paintings are the aristocracy of art. Engravings are the democracy of art. A good picture on one side of a pictorial will sometimes do just as much good as a book of four or five hundred pages. Multiply these pictures. Put them in your household. If there are any sick, put them

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upon the couch. Put these pictorials on your walls. Gather them in portfolios and albums. God speed the good pictures on their errands of knowledge and

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mercy. It is a mighty agency for God and the truth, a good picture.

But you know our cities are to-day cursed with evil pictorials. These death-warrants are on every street. A young man purchases perhaps one copy, and he purchases with it his eternal discomfiture. That one bad picture poisons one soul, that soul poisons fifty souls, the fifty despoil a hundred, the hundred a thousand, the thousand a million, and the million other millions, until it will take the measuring line of eternity to tell the height, and the depth, and the ghastliness of the great undoing. A young man buys one copy, and he unrolls it amid roaring companions ; but long after that paper is gone the evil will be seen in the blasted imaginations of those who looked at it. Every night the Queen of Death holds a banquet, and these evil pictorials are the printed invitations to the guests.

Alas ! that the fair brow of American art should be blotched with that plague spot. Oh, young man, buy none of that moral strychnine, do not pick up a nest of coiled adders for your pocket. Your heart will be more pure than your eye. A man is never better than the picture he 'loves to look at. Show

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me what style of pictures a man buys and I will tell you his character. Out of a thousand times I will not make one failure in judgment. When Satan fails to get a man to read a bad book, he sometimes captures him by getting him to look at a bad picture. When Satan goes a-fishing, he does not care whether it is a long line or a short line, if he only hauls in his victim.

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Oh, if in answer to this stupendous question of the day, a question which so many answer in the negative because they are in despairful mood, " Is there anything to be done to stem this awful tide of pernicious literature ? " if I have shown you that there is something for us to do, I shall have done a work that I will not be ashamed of in that day which shall try every man's work, of what sort it is. Oh, remember that one column of good reading may save a soul, that one column of bad reading may destroy a soul.

Benjamin Franklin said that the reading of Cotton Mather's " Essay to Do Good " moulded his entire

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life. The assassin of Lord Russell said he entered crime through an evil romance. John Angell James, than whom England never produced a better man, or the Church of God honors a more consistent Christian, declared in his old days that he had never got over once having for fifteen minutes read a bad book. Ah ! the power of a bad book. And then the power of a good book.

Years ago a clergyman passing along through the West, stopped at a hotel, and saw a woman copying from a book. He found the book was Doddridge's " Rise and Progress." This woman had been pleased with the book which she had borrowed, and was copying a passage that impressed her very much. The clergyman happened to have a copy of Doddridge's " Rise and Progress" in his valise, and gave it to her. Thirty years passed along, and that clergyman came to the same hotel, and was inquiring about the family that had lived there thirty years before, and was pointed to a house near by. He went there, and said to the woman, " Do you remember seeing me before?" She said, " I don't remember ever to

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have seen you before." " Don't you remember thirty years ago a man giving you a copy of Doddridge's "Rise and Progress'?" " Oh, yes, I remember that; that saved my soul. That book I loaned to my neighbors, and they read it, and they all came into the kingdom, and we had a great revival. Do you see the spire of a church out yonder? That church was built as a consequence of that book." Oh, the power of a good book! Oh, the power of a bad book !

I had one book in my library of which I have never thought with any comfort. It was an infidel book, which I bought for the purpose of finding out the arguments against Christianity. A gentleman in my library one day said, "Can I borrow that book ?" I said, " Certainly." That book came back with some passages marked as having especially impressed him, and when I heard that he had gone down in a shipwreck off Cape Hatteras, I asked myself the question, " I wonder if anything he saw in that book which he borrowed 'from me, could have affected his eternal destiny ?"

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Oh, go home to-day and examine your libraries, and after you have got through your libraries, examine the stand where the pictorials and newspapers are, and if you find anything there that can not stand the test of the judgment day, do not give it to others that would despoil them ; do not sell it that would be getting the price of blood ; but kindle a fire on your kitchen hearth or in your back-yard, and put the poison in and keep stirring the blaze until everything has gone to ashes, from preface to appendix.

And crowd your minds with good books, and there

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will be no room for the bad. When Thomas Chalmers was riding beside a stage-driver and the horses were going beautifully, the stage-driver drew his long lash and struck the ear of the leader. It seemed to Thomas Chalmers a great cruelty, and he said, " Why did you strike that horse ; he is going splendidly?" "Ah!" said the stage-driver, "do you see that frightful object along the road ? I never in the

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world would have got that horse along there if I hadn't given him something else to think of ! " Thomas Chalmers went home and wrote his immortal sermon, " The Expulsive Power of a New Affection."

And while you have looked after yourselves and looked after your families, I want you to join this great army enlisted against pernicious literature. We are going to triumph. I feel to the tips of my fingers and in the depths of my soul the assurance that righteousness is going to triumph over all iniquity. If God be with us, who, who can be against us? Lady Hester Stanhope was the daughter of the third Earl Stanhope, and when her relatives were all dead she went to the far East and took possession of a deserted convent. Then she threw up fortresses amid the mountains of Lebanon, and invited to her castle all the poor and the wretched and the forsaken and the forgotten. Her house, her castle, was a rest for all the weary.

She was a devoted Christian woman, and expected that the Lord Jesus Christ would come again in person and reign in this world, and she was so entranced with the thought that Christ would come again that it was too much for her brain. She had in her magnifi-

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cent stables two horses, which she kept all the time groomed and bridled and saddled and caparisoned, so

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that when the Lord should come He might take one horse, and she the other, and they could speed away to Jerusalem, the city of the Great King-. Of course it was a fanaticism and a delusion, but there was great beauty even in the dream.

Oh, my friends, we need no earthly palfreys groomed and bridled and saddled and caparisoned for our Lord, when He comes to put down iniquity. The horse is already in the Heavenly equerry, and the imperial rider is about to mount. "And I saw, and behold a white horse : and He thai sat on him had a bow, and a crown was given unto Him: and He went forth conquering and to conquer." Horsemen of Heaven, mount! Cavalrymen of God, ride on ! Charge, charge ! until they shall be hurled back, the black horse of famine, the red horse of carnage,

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the pale horse of death. Jesus, forever !

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