The lithograph shown below is taken from what I gather was a Scottish publication (based on some of the text on the reverse side). The original painting is by an artist named John Stirling. Another of his works, also on a religious theme, is shown below. After studying this lithograph a bit, I’m intrigued to find out more about Mr. Stirling.
The caption beneath the artwork reads:
“SCOTTISH PRESBYTERIANS IN A COUNTRY PARISH CHURCH.—THE SERMON.—PAINTED BY JOHN STIRLING.—FROM THE EXHIBITION OF THE ROYAL ACADEMY.
It would seem that the painting is intended to be humorous. Behind the sleepy and distracted congregation, a plaque hangs on the wall. It reads:
The Rev. John Stirling.
[illegible text—possibly “Trinity Presbyterian Church”]
Of this Parish.
Was Stirling both an artist and a pastor? Even if he wasn’t a pastor in reality, with his name on the plaque, he seems here to at least imagine himself as the previous pastor of this little congregation. And if he was also a pastor, then all the more the sly prophetic joke that his successor couldn’t possibly be the preacher he was, and so will be unable to hold the congregation’s attention.
Another Stirling artwork, located on the web, is the painting shown below. In the description provided on that web page, the painting has erroneously been given the title of the above artwork. So for the moment we’ll call this one simply, “The Sermon.” The information provided gives it a date of 1859. It may be my own eye, but in this painting, the pastor looks remarkably similar to the one and only fellow in the above work who appears to be paying attention.
Either of these would be nice to have as reproductions. Maybe Andrew Moody of Reformation Art might take it up as a project?
Words to Live By:
While the artwork above may have been meant to be humorous, it also serves as a reminder of how we ought properly to approach the worship of our Lord and God, with all due reverence and attention, with our hearts prepared to give all glory and praise to the Redeemer of our souls.