The Worlds Wit and Humor: An Encyclopedia in 15 Volumes. 1906. Vols. IV: American
The Harp of a Thousand Strings
By Joshua S. Morris
A Hard-Shell Baptist Sermon
(This characteristic effusion first appeared in a New Orleans paper. The sermon is supposed to have been preached at a village on the bank of the Mississippi River, whither the volunteer parson had brought his flatboat for the purpose of trade.)
I MAY say to you, my brethring, that I am not an edicated man, an I am not one of them as beleeves that edication is necessary for a Gospel minister, for I beleeve the Lord edicates his preachers jest as He wants em to be edicated; an although I say it that oughtnt to say it, yet in the State of Indianny, whar I live, thars no man as gits bigger congregations nor what I gits.
Thar may be some here to-day, my brethring, as dont know what persuasion I am uv. Well, I must say to you, my brethring, that Im a Hard-shell Baptist. Thars some folks as dont like the Hard-shell Baptists, but Id rather have a hard shell as no shell at all. You see me here to-day, my brethring, dressed up in fine clothes; you mout think I was proud, but I am not proud, my brethring; and although Ive been a preacher of the Gospel for twenty years, an although Im capting of the flatboat that lies at your landing, Im not proud, my brethring.
I am not gwine to tell edzactly whar my tex may be found; suffice to say, its in the leds of the Bible, and youll find it somewhar between the fust chapter of the book of Generations and the last chapter of the book of Revolutions; and ef youll go and search the Scriptures, youll not only find my tex thar, but a great many other texes as will do you good to read; and my tex, when you shall find it, you shall find it to read thus:
My text, my brethring, leads me to speak of sperits. Now, thars a great many kinds of sperits in the world. In the fust place, thars the sperits as some folks call ghosts; and thars the sperits of turpentine; and thars the sperits as some folks call liquor, an Ive got as good an artikel of them kind of sperits on my flatboat as ever was fotch down the Mississippi River. But thars a great many other kinds of sperits, for the tex says, He played on a harp uv a t-h-o-u-s-and strings, sperits uv jest men made perfeck.
But I tell you the kind uv sperits is as meant in the tex is FIRE. Thats the kind uv sperits as is meant in the tex, my brethring. Now, thars a great many kinds of fire in the world. In the fust place, theres the common sort of fire you light your cigar or pipe with; and then thars foxfire and camphire, fire before youre ready, and fire and fall back, and many other kinds of firefor the tex says, He played on a harp uv a thousand strings, sperits uv jest men made perfeck.
But Ill tell you the kind of fire is as meant in the tex, my brethring: its HELL-FIRE! An thats the kind uv fire as a great many uv youll come to, ef you dont do better nor what you have been doinfor He played on a harp uv a thousand strings, sperits uv jest men made perfeck.
Now, the different sorts of fire in the world may be likened unto the different persuasions of Christians in the world. In the fust place, we have the Piscapalions, an they are a high-sailin and highfalutin set; and they may be likened unto a turkey buzzard that flies up into the air, and he goes up, and up, and up, till he looks no bigger than your finger-nail, and the fust thing you know, he cums down, and down, and down, and is a-fillin himself on the carkiss of a dead hoss by the side of the roadand He played on a harp uv a thousand strings, sperits uv jest men made perfeck.
And then thars the Methodis, and they may be likened unto the squirril runnin up into a tree, for the Methodis beleeves in gwine on from one degree of grace to another, and finally on to perfection; and the squirril goes up and up, and up and up, and he jumps from limb to limb, and branch to branch, and the fust thing you know he falls, and down he cums kerflumix; and thats like the Methodis, for they is allers fallin from grace, ah!and He played on a harp uv a thousand strings, sperits uv jest men made perfeck.
And then, my brethring, thars the Baptist, ah! and they have been likened unto a possum on a simmon tree, and thunders may roll and the earth may quake, but that possum clings thar still, ah! and you may shake one foot loose, and the others thar, and you may shake all feet loose, and he laps his tail around the limb, and clings, and he clings fureverfor He played on a harp uv a thousand strings, sperits uv jest men made perfeck.