In Act I, when Thomas Putnam accuses John Proctor of hardly ever coming to Sabbath day services, Proctor retorts,
I have trouble enough without I come five mile to hear [Parris] preach only hellfire and bloody damnation. Take it to heart, Mr. Parris. There are many others who stay away from church these days because you hardly ever mention God any more.
Proctor defends his decision not to come to the meetinghouse on Sunday mornings because, he seems to say, life is hard enough without having to travel a significant distance only to hear a preacher who seems so negative, who inspires fear rather than hope or love, who speaks of the tortures of hell without at least tempering it with references to the pleasures of heaven.
Rebecca Nurse confirms John's point to an extent, saying, "It's somewhat true; there are many that quail to bring their children--." We can assume that she was going to finish her sentence with "to Sabbath day service" or the like before Parris interrupted her. He claims that he does not preach for the benefit of children because it is not children who are "unmindful of their obligations toward this ministry." Thus, it sounds as though Reverend Parris feels that many in his parish do not treat him or his office with the respect that they should, and so he uses Sunday service as an opportunity to remind them that hell awaits if their failure continues.