Making Preachers Rich

An Excerpt of a sermon BY Moses E. Lard

EDITOR’S NOTE: In 1863, Moses E. Lard, one of the “second generation” Restoration Leaders wrote a tribute at the death of Allen Wright, another preacher of that era. Lard said “the Churches always managed to keep Brother Wright poor, very poor.” From this point Lard gave a “sermon” to the readers of his Quarterly. Speaking of the brotherhood he said,

” . . . (they) tell me they do not believe in making preachers rich. Neither do I. But, brethren, I do believe in making them comfortable, in supporting them this side of want, and in affording these faithful men the means of schooling their children well.

Is this right? But why, pray, do you not believe in making preachers rich? Do you think it would hurt them? You cannot say it would; for you have never made one rich, to know. Suppose before you longer preach your doctrine with so much confidence in its truth, you test it by making at least one preacher rich.

Hitherto you have kept them all poor; let us now have at least one exception to your rule. You are satisfied that it works well both ways. Preachers are not at all satisfied that you are right in what you say, neither will they be until, by making at least one of them rich you convince them that you are so.

Do you think it would hurt you to be rich, or hurt your children to educate them well, and thereby enable them to move in genteel circles? Of course you do not. How then can you imagine that it would your preacher, or injure his children to make him rich?

You tell me it would cause him to neglect his calling. But how do you know this? You have never made one rich, to have the point tested. Would making you rich cause you to neglect your calling? Why then should you think it would cause the preacher to neglect his? The closer you stick to your calling the richer you grow. Think you not, if the preacher, too, could grow daily richer by sticking to his calling, that he would not stick to it close indeed. But the difference is, that the closer you stick to your calling the richer you grow, while the closer he sticks to his the poorer he grows. Is there not something wrong?

But tell me truly, faithful brother, do you preach this doctrine really believing it. Is it really so that you do not believe in making preachers rich, and that, too, because it would hurt them and cause them to neglect their calling? Or is not this a mere plea to shield your own purse? Beware” (Lard’s Quarterly, September. 1863, Volume One, pp. 37, 38).

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