But enough intoroduction. As preparation for this visit, I listened to some recordings of him. The sermons were good and powerful. And well they might be - I recognised them as Sermons preached by John Wesley! The man had been reading Wesley's sermons to his congregation, instead of doing the leg-work himself.
So, in preparation for the service, I broke into Mr. Bryan's house at three o'clock on Sunday morning. The advertised sermon was on 1 Corinthians 12:31, and I found the marked place in the volume. Very carefully, I cut out one of the pages, before driving off, whistling a merry tune.
Fortunately, the wretch didn't bother to read the sermon through before the service. After the opening hymns and prayer, he began to preach. After some minutes he quoted George Herbert:
'Take thy meat; think it dust; then eat a bit,
And say with all, "Earth to earth I commit.'
'This,' the fraud intoned gravely, 'is too melanchoy: it does not suit with that cheerfulness which is highly proper at a Christian meal. Permit me to illustrate ... religion, but even to human nature. One would not pass so severe a censure on the sports of the field....'
Soon after this, the esteemed layabout began to realise that his discourse had jumped to another subject without his realising it. After some time, I rose and with a sigh informed the minister that I had the missing page, which I brandished and read in the hearing of all, before bidding the minister to pick it up again.
But he had fled, so I ascended the pulpit and preached extempore for six hours.