Behold, his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him: but the just shall live by his faith.—Habakkuk 2.4.

[Popular Amusements, by C.P. Krauth.]
 
POPULAR AMUSEMENTS:

A DISCOURSE

DELEVERED IN THE

Evangelical Lutheran Church,

WINCHESTER, VA.,

ON THE AFTERNOON OF WHITSUNDAY, JUNE 8th, 1851,

BY

REV. CHA'S PORTERFIELD KRAUTH, A.M.

~~~~~~~~~
SECOND EDITION.
~~~~~~~~~

WINCHESTER:
PRINTED BY SENSENEY & COFFROTH.
1852.

 
CORRESPONDENCE.

LETTER TO THE REV. CHA'S PORTERFIELD KRAUTH.

WINCHESTER, VA., JUNE 18, 1851.
To Rev. CHA's PORTERFIELD KRAUTH,
Pastor of the Evangelical Lutheran Church:
DEAR SIR—The undersigned desire the publication of the very able and eloquent Sermon you delivered on the subject of Popular Amusements, Whitsunday afternoon. By granting the above request, you will much oblige your friends and fellow-citizens, and confer, we sincerely believe, a lasting benefit upon the cause of Religion and Morality.
Trusting that you will comply,
We remain, with much respect, your friends,
F. W. M. HOLLIDAY
JOHN H. CRUM
T. J. DOYLE
C. L. CRUM
WM. R. DENNY
JOHN J. GAENSLEN
H. G. STRONG
J. W. BUSHNELL
R. W. SHERRARD
DAVID J. SHERER
J. WM. HAINES
WM. McCARTNEY
ALEX. J. DENNY
F. WESTWOOD ASHBY
CHARLES BAYNE
AUG. J. SMITH
G. ROBT. MILTON
GEO. E. SENSENEY
J. CARSON WATSON
L. T. MOORE
GEO. W. WARD
EDWIN T. ASHBY
H. S. SLAGLE
C. H. McMURRAN
H. H. ANDERSON
J. PHILIP SMITH
CHAS. W. PRICE
C. W. BAKER
GEO. W. GRAVES
J. B. C. NULTON
JOS. G. BAKER
EDWIN L. BAKER
JAS. H. THOMPSON
LLOYD LOGAN
BENJ. MILLER
GEORGE W. LEGG
JAMES M. BELL
J. CHAP. RIELY
J. T. T. MILTON
G. R. COFFROTH
L. A. MILLER
JOHN G. MILLER
W. BAKER MILLER
JAS. R. BROOKING, JR.
A. J. HELPHINSTINE
J. TIPPING
L. M. LAUCK
J. R. TUCKER
T. T. FAUNTLEROY, JR.
O. M. BROWN
H. S. BAKER
H. CLAY BIRD
JOHN W. MARVIN
THO. B. CAMPBELL
J. S. CARSON
E. J. SENSENEY
J. P. RIELY
D. W. BARTON
F. R. MILTON
JO. TIDBALL
T. A. TIDBALL, JR.
C. F. KNIGHT
N. B. HARTLEY
J. PEYTON CLARK
GEO. P. BAKER
J. MANSFIELD
C. S. BAKER
M. H. RICHCREEK
F. THOMAS
JOHN W. CARTER.



CORRESPONDENCE.

REPLY OF REV. MR. KRAUTH.

WINCHESTER, VA., JUNE 19, 1851.
To Messrs. F. W. M. HOLLIDAY, JOHN H. CRUM, and others:
GENTLEMEN—In the hope the Sermon to which your letter of June 18th so kindly alludes, may tend to the promotion of that public morality in which we have so vast a stake, I commit it to your hands. The excitement of the public mind which followed a few remarks in a previous discourse which incidentally alluded to the same topics, as well as the interest which good and reflecting men have since displayed, justify me in thinking that it was, at least, a timely appeal to the sentiment of our community. It gives me peculiar pleasure to see so many of the names of our young men attached to the request, as their welfare is so closely connected with the questions discussed, and as it was for them so much of the discourse was directly designed. No less pleasure does it afford me to see the names of so many of our most valued citizens, given irrespectively of all denominational divisions, as I regard it as an expression of their belief that this is no question of sect—but one in which all good men are equally concerned.
With best wishes in your behalf,
I remain very truly and gratefully yours,
CHA'S PORTERFIEND KRAUTH.

 
POPULAR AMUSEMENTS.
 
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"The way of a fool is right in his own eyes: but he that hearkeneth unto counsel is wise. There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death. Even in laughter the heart is sorrowful; and the end of that mirth is heaviness. Concerning the works of men, by the words of thy lips I have kept me from the paths of the destroyer. Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed thereto according to thy word. Rejoice, O young man, in thy youth, and let thy heart cheer thee in the days of thy youth, and walk in the ways of thine heart, and in the sight of thine eyes, but know thou that for all these things GOD will bring thee into judgment. Fornication and all uncleanness—let it not once be named among you—neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient (i.e. proper). Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of GOD on the children of disobedience. Be ye not therefore partakers with them. Have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them. For it is a shame even to speak of those things that are done of them in secret. See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time because the days are evil.

"Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?"—DAVID, SOLOMON, PAUL, JESUS.

WHEN abstractions are attacked or truths presented in which the public feels that it has no stake, whatever may be the ability with which the onset is made or the argument urged, no interest is aroused, no excitement follows. But when momentous questions are discussed—when the unexpressed convictions which have been smouldering in many hearts, burst into flame for the first time, or after a long interval—the humblest instrument may be used by GOD to excite deep attention. This large assembly, which has come together without reference to any of the prevailing social or religious divisions, confirms the fact already made manifest, by the agitation which followed the incidental allusion {6} to some forms of popular amusement on last Sabbath, the fact of the existence of a deep feeling that the character and interests of our community are intimately connected with the decision of the questions that have been raised.

We do not stand here to attack persons. As we have done before, so do we again distinctly disavow any such intention. If individuals apply general truths to themselves, it is they, not we, who make them personal. If there be those who have come here to listen to invective, they will be disappointed. It is inconsistent with the dignity of the truth, and of the pulpit, and with the mind of CHRIST, to handle even wickedness in its own spirit. We wish to utter the truth, not only in matter, but in measure. To his own Master a man standeth or falleth. To the judgment of the truth and of GOD we commit him, and, mindful that we too are subject to the same judgment, we appear as ministers of the living GOD, sworn to set forth Christian morality and to uphold it, no matter who may be wounded or offended.

Let us approach this as we should approach all questions which bear upon our character before GOD, not lightly, but soberly, "not as fools, but as wise." If we think of ourselves as bubbles, as bubbles will we float on the stream of time—if we are yielding ourselves to indifference and living only for the present, we cannot be aroused to deny ourselves an indulgence in those fleshly lusts which war against the soul. But there is a GOD above us whose law is written on our hearts—a judgment before us to which we are swiftly passing—an eternity for which life is but a preparation—and within these frail bodies, whose very life is but a long dying, we bear accountable spirits,

"The emanation of eternal light,
Ordained midst sinking worlds our dust to fire,
And shine forever when the stars expire."
Listen and decide then as those who though transient are immortal, and pray with me to GOD that I may speak as a dying man to dying men, and that this may be done aright, that I may speak also as a living man to living men. Hear, Father, for thy Son's sake. Amen. {7}

That we may not weaken the moral impression by dividing your minds among a variety of objects, we shall confine ourselves to two topics, in forming a right opinion on which you obtain a touchstone for all the rest:

I. The first favorite amusement inconsistent with popular morals to which we shall refer, is DANCING.

When we say that it is prejudicial to morality, we are far from asserting that all who from want of caution or reflection have been entangled in this or other sinful amusements are deliberate and conscious enemies of public morals. But we do say they are culpable for not having informed themselves on the subject; and if they love the truth, they will thank those who, having pondered the matter under a sense of responsibility to GOD, desire to give the true direction to the popular mind. We will leave to those who love abstractions, to discuss what dancing is and does in itself. It is enough for our purposes to discuss what it is, always has been, and always must be, in our present social condition.

1. We pronounce dancing, then, in the first place, to be inconsistent with the intelligence and real refinement of modern society. Its most ardent advocates will admit that, for some cause or other, it has been waning. It prevails to a far less degree than it once did, and is far more difficult to keep up. Once it was universal and incessant. Now, though practiced by too many, it is confined to comparatively few; though indulged in too often, it has become comparatively rare. As the means of popular intelligence and a taste for reading have been diffused, it has had increasing, and now has insuperable difficulties in keeping its ground. A reading and intelligent population never is a dancing one. The highest refinement of all countries, and especially of our own, is separating itself more and more from the practice. The truth is, that it is essentially vulgar, having no affinity whatever with the finest culture. So much has this come to be felt, that not only has it been renounced by consistent Christians of every name, but even worldly gentility no longer espouses its cause with its former ardor; and Fashion herself {8} appears to waver and to give but an equivocal support to her former favorite. A desperate effort here and there seems to revive it for a season or two, but its movements are those of galvanic spasms, not of natural life. It is an old tradition of Fashion, indeed, that mainly serves to keep it alive in country towns. Among these there is always a deplorable subserviency to the large cities, which is, however, not always enlightened as to the real movements of those whom it tries to imitate. The aping is kept up even after it is superannuated, and the obsequiousness is manifest though it has become ridiculous to those whom it is thought to flatter. Feeble as this reason is, compared with others, it will be the strongest we can urge, to those with whom the names of duty and of GOD have less weight than the approval of the fashionable world—those who are brave enough to risk the vengeance of Him "who can destroy both soul and body in hell," but too cowardly to endure the smile of the silly and the sneer of fools.

2. We assert, moreover, that dancing is in conflict with the teachings of the BIBLE. It is true that dancing with its present peculiarities was unknown in Bible times, and therefore not an object of direct reprobation. The dancing there alluded to with approbation, had nothing in common with that to which we give the same name, except that it was a measured bodily movement. It was a solemn religious act—a part of worship, connected with the services of the sanctuary, performed with the other devotional acts, by day, not mostly by the young, never by the sexes together, and no more an amusement than prayer itself. Thus MIRIAM and the women of Israel connected it with the solemn songs of praise to GOD for the deliverance of Israel from the Egyptians. DAVID danced before the Ark of JEHOVAH; and in the time of our SAVIOUR "all the Elders, the members of the Sanhedrim, the rulers of the Synagogue, the doctors of the Schools, and other persons deemed venerable for their age and piety, danced together in the court of the temple, to the solemn sound of the temple music, every evening during the feast of tabernacles." {9}

SOLOMON indeed says, "there is a time to dance," but not only is he speaking of a different species of dancing from ours, but he is also setting forth, not what men ought to do, but the simple idea that every thing in life is changing, that one thing has one time, and another has a different one—that sorrow and joy alternate—one occupation, and one class of events succeeds another, so that all is fleeting. "To EVERY THING (good or bad) he says there is a season, and a time to EVERY PURPOSE (good or bad) under heaven—a time to be born and a time to die, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to love and a time to hate, a time of war and a time of peace." The thought on which he wishes to fix the eye is not that we are allowed to dance, but that we live in a world of changes—a truth on which the lovers of the dance have least desire to dwell. We live in a social state and under a dispensation so different from that of the Jews, that dancing as a religious rite would now not only be inappropriate but ridiculous; but if any part of mankind could build a plausible sophism upon the dancing mentioned in the Bible, it would be not dancers but the Shakers.

If we turn to the spirit of the Bible, we shall not remain long in doubt as to its decision on this amusement. It tells us to "redeem the time." What so utterly tends to waste time as the dance? It tells us ever to watch. Dancing is the recreation only of those who cannot or will not think. The Bible teaches us to love GOD with our whole soul, mind, and heart. Nothing tends more effectually to drive Him completely from the soul—to turn every thought away from Him—to stir up in the heart aversion and fear towards Him, than dancing. The Bible tells us to have the mind of CHRIST. It creates a shudder like that of blasphemy, to intimate that it was possible for HIM to have sanctioned by his example what we know as dancing. Would not the most ardent devotee of the dance consider it as utterly overthrowing any claims of CHRIST to be the Redeemer of the world, had it been on record that he had personally participated in such a scene? We are told to be followers of the saints. {10} Did they partake in or countenance amusements of this sort?

The Bible teaches us to pray: "Lead us not into temptation." Who can lay his hand upon his heart and deny that he trusts himself into manifold temptations by engaging in the dance? The Bible teaches purity. The dance can be demonstrated to lead directly to every form of licentiousness. The Bible warns us against the world, and forbids us to be conformed to it. The dance is the creature of the world and its fleshly lusts. No regenerated heart loves it. No sanctified soul could find delight in it, even were it no clear that GOD had not expressly or virtually forbidden it. There is no a chapter of the New Testament, which, if carefully read and thoroughly felt in all its heavenly tendencies, will not completely destroy all appetite for the revels of the ball-room. Even if we could allow that there was any force in the apologies offered for it, still the Bible would decide against it. We are to avoid the "very appearance of evil;" and here is something which to all Christians and reflecting men is fraught with peril. The Bible teaches us that where we are in doubt of the moral propriety of an act, GOD condemns us if we commit it. And what dancer is free from doubt, at least of the propriety of his course? But even if he were perfectly free from all scruple, still the word of GOD binds him fast—for it solemnly commands him to abstain even from things indifferent if his example wounds and tends to destroy his brother. All admit that dancing is injurious to some. If you did not need to renounce it for yourself, you would still be called on to abandon it for the welfare of others. For the good of the young, the excitable, the unbalanced, whom it may, even on your own admission, help onward to ruin, GOD calls you to abandon it, were it certainly harmless to you. He calls on you, too, to spare the hearts of His people whom it wounds so deeply. You cannot say that it is only the weak among them whom it offends; but were it so you would not be held guiltless, "for whoever shall offend one of these little ones that believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck and he were cast into the sea"—"and if {11} thy foot cause thee to offend, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life halt, than having two feet to be cast into hell, into the fire that shall never be quenched, where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched."

3. In this matter, as every where else, the word of GOD appears as the best and safest guide to the welfare both of body and soul. Dancing is injurious to both. It is the frequent cause of bodily disease. It has been, indeed, advised as exercise; but all will admit, that there are other modes calculated to promote this end, equally with dancing, even under the most favorable form or circumstances in which it is possible to conceive it. But in all its guilty connections and tendencies, the physician who advises it to the young, steps from his proper province as the healer of men's bodies to that of destroyer of their souls. It is, could it even be shown to be good exercise, like that dangerous remedy of ardent spirits, which never leads a man as rapidly toward health as it does toward drunkenness. But dancing is not good exercise. On the contrary, looking at its general results on health, it is the most insidious destroyer which can be introduced into a community. It takes a place in the very van of that host which prepares the path of the "King of Terrors." Did the young know the perils to life which accompany their festivity, the ring of the dancer's feet upon the floor would sound like the distant though quick beat of that pallid horse by which Death's fearful form of shadows is borne through the world.

Dancing is beneficial exercise! Do not physicians tell us that morning is the best time for exercise, and daylight almost essential to it?

"The breath of night's destructive to the hue
Of every flower that blows."
Night, natural or artificial, is essential to dancing. It turns day into night, and night into day. Midnight is its noontide. It toils during darkness and sleeps during light. It inverts the order of Nature's GOD, and seems to have an invincible repugnance to all His light. Not only can it not endure the light of {12} His holiness, but it cannot bear the feebler light of the sun, which, like a great eye of JEHOVAH in the heavens, would look upon it too reprovingly. Does it love the darkness rather than the light because its deeds are evil?

Exercise, we are told by the guardians of our health, should be regular. This [dancing] occurs at intervals, and is determined by no fixed principle.

Exercise should be conducted in the open air. Dancing leads to dense crowds, in heated rooms, breathing the vitiated air from many lungs, and inhaling the vapor of glaring lamps, and of bodies panting and reeking from their violent efforts.

Exercise should be moderate. Dancing is almost invariably carried to the greatest extremes. The lady who could not walk a few squares to relieve the sick or watch by the dying, or who is too indolent to take the daily exercise she needs, will, under the excitement of dancing, pass through a fatigue which the most powerful constitution could not with safety undergo. The swollen eyes, the pale face—the complete prostration, mental and bodily, which follow these scenes, show how pernicious they are to health. The fashionable woman grows prematurely old. The haggard face, and sunken eye—the stooping gait, the wariness and satiety, revealing themselves in every feature and every motion, and which all the resources of art can hide but for a little time, prove how dangerous it is to trample on the laws which GOD has written on our physical constitution, and warn us that our bodies as well as our spirits are to be presented as a living sacrifice to Him.

Could I summon before you the shadowy hosts of those who have laid down their lives, and their souls with them, at the shrine of this dangerous amusement—as they glide by, their wan and sad countenances, and thronging numbers, would appall your very souls. How many constitutions have been taxed, until worn-out nature lost the power of reacting, and the victim sunk into the grave. How many, unconscious of a latent disease of the heart, have nursed it in the ball-room, or in the violence of the dance have burst the last thin barrier of life, and died in {13} a moment. Ah, how many have found the dread realities of consumption, the hectic check and hollow cough, follow the exposure of the ball-room—have passed from the high and heartless mirth of nights of dissipation, to the wasting away in the dim, hushed room—the cold, exhausting sweats—the struggles even wilder against ever approaching suffocation—and the last tremendous convulsion, which left death in quiet possession of that form whose beauty had charmed and whose grace had attracted so many. Often has the young girl, just freed from the restraints of childhood and of school, with her inexperienced heart running over with dreams of the pleasures she has not yet tasted—hearing no warning, or unwilling to hear—often has she exhausted the vital energy of years in the course of a single winter; and the flowers and birds of spring breathed fragrance and song upon her early grave. Often the bride, joining with an eager heart in the festivities which attended her marriage, has laid the foundation of disease, which ere long summoned those with whom she had danced so gaily, to gaze upon that pale face, whose beauty had withered almost as quickly as the bridal flowers on her brow.

O ye forms from the Land of Spirits! what will ye say to those who are now as young, as gay and thoughtless as ye once were, who are wasting the precious moments of that time which fixes eternity, wasting it in the same career which brought you to a premature grave? Hark! do you not hear a sorrowful moaning, which comes back—a voice from the tomb—which says: 'GOD is a just Judge. If ye would not reach that dark land in which we have descended so untimely, tread not the path of sinful amusement which conducted us hither.'

4. But the practice of dancing furthermore injures the soul as well as the body.

It fosters a love of unhealthy stimulation. It imparts to the soul a craving for sensual enjoyments. If the dancer turns to reading to fill up hours of tedium, it is to the most unwholesome species of literature—that in which the scenes and characters he loves are reproduced in the most fascinating form. {14} Followed as dancing is by ennui [boredom] and satiety, it tempts to indulgence in the intoxicating cup—a temptation which it has already offered in the side-room during the course of the evening of festivity.

Every thing is forgotten in preparing for it and pursuing it. It tends to absorb the whole soul. To the trifling its fascinations are resistless. It draws off the mind from healthful interest in the proper duties and cares even of this life, and hardens the heart against truth and the Spirit of GOD. The wife deserts her home, the mother leaves even her pining and weeping babe, for the ball-room, and sometimes hears of its death amidst the scene of gaiety. Intoxicated by witnessing it, a sensual King promised to a heartless woman whatever she might ask, and she, taught by the wicked mother from whom she had learned to dance, asked for the head of the faithful servant of GOD. "She that liveth in pleasure is dead while she liveth." She extinguishes the holiest light of woman's bosom, loses the spirits of self-sacrifice and tenderness, and acquires the hard selfishness of fashionable dissipation:

"Blending cruelty with art—
Woman's grace, without the heart,
Hateful makes the fairest."
We charge it with exercising an influence hostile to virtue, whether you take the word in its widest or in its most limited sense. In those countries where there is most dancing, there is least virtue. In those parts of each country where there is most dancing, there is least virtue; and so closely does the line of vice follow that of the dance, that in those very localities, and among those classes (especially in our cities, where, as we see most of every other vice, so also we see most of this) where there is most dancing, there is least virtue. In our cities the dance is the known companion of the worst forms of vice—the prelude, preparation, and attendant of the vilest orgies of the dregs of the worst part of the population. When the police officer searches for the dens of infamy, the harbors of common thieves, housebreakers, pickpockets, prostitutes, and murderers, {15} he is guided to them by the sounds of the dance. What but a moral fitness between the class and the amusement can account for this?

All the tendencies of dancing are at war directly or indirectly with the duties and happiness of domestic life; and such is the character of some of its most fashionable forms, that the snowy whiteness of woman's character cannot pass through them without losing its lustre, even where it does not, as it too frequently does, receive a positive stain.

As a social amusement, the old Pagan world rejected it. Those who practised it as a profession were ranked among the infamous, and their occupation was regarded as a voluntary degradation. In the more polluted times of Paganism, it was united with those licentious rites paid to their gods, of which no pure lip dares to speak. Among the Romans it was considered in the highest degree disreputable. We have an oration of CICERO, in which he defends MURENA, the Consul elect, whom CATO endeavored to eject from his office partly on the ground that he had been guilty in indulging in this effeminate amusement. Let us hear CICERO repelling the charge: "CATO," he says, "calls MURENA a dancer. If this reproach be true, it is a weighty accusation; if false, it is an outrageous calumny. Wherefore, CATO, as your authority carries so much influence with it, you ought never to snatch a charge from the mouths of the rabble, or the slanderous language of buffoons; nor ought you rashly to call the Consul of the Roman people a dancer; but to consider how many other vices a man must needs be guilty of before that of dancing can be truly objected to him: for no one ever dances, even in solitude or in a private meeting of friends, who is not either drunk or mad. Dancing is always the last act of riotous banquets, gay places, and profuse pleasures." Such is the language which shows the advantage possessed by a Heathen, exercising his reason, over a Christian, who is debasing his to the office of apologist for his passions.

On the demoralizing tendency of dancing, we might cite the names of sensible and great men of every shade of opinion {16} on other points. The members of the Romish Church will not be accused of too great a severity in regard of amusements; yet hear what VIVES, one of the greatest writers of that Church, says, "In the cities of Christendom we have dancing schools permitted, though they powerfully promote impurity: a thing which the Heathen themselves would by no means suffer." His most striking language, in which he details and demonstrates its evils, we dare not quote.

Hear the language of BAYLE, the most illustrious of the sceptics, whom none will charge with the slightest disposition to excess of prudery. He says: "The Reformed Churches, which forbid dancing, cannot be sufficiently praised for it. The manner of it occasioned a thousand disorders, and in the very room wherein the ball was held, it made impressions dangerous to virtue. The proverb concerning convents, 'As dangerous as the return from matins,' might have produced another, 'As dangerous as the return from a ball.'"

If such is the sentiment of those whose views are most likely to be loose, you will not be surprised to hear that the pure Churches of ancient and modern times have condemned the practice. I might cite at great length from the writings of fathers and reformers, and of men most eminent in every branch of the Christian communion. I could present the ordinances and canons of Councils and Synods. There has been no point of social morals on which good men in every age and country have been more united. They have all explicitly denounced it as unfavorable to that command of GOD, whose violation goes more directly than any other into the very heart of social life.

We charge, then, upon dancing, that it presents temptations of the strongest kind, at the period of life when the passions are not only ready, but eager to yield—when the judgment is immature, and the experience of danger not such as to excite a resistance of evil. When we remember its origin and uses, the forms into which it continually runs, the places and scenes in which it delights and flourishes most—when we think of the insufficient dress and drapery which accompany it, whose materials {17} the old poet described when he spoke of "woven air"—when we mark the quick pulse and sparkling eye—when we recall the fact that those who love it have ventured to introduce into any community, even a single degree above savages, such an indecency as waltzing—when we array before us facts overwhelming, which may not here be spoken—we must be satisfied that there is in dancing, in the only form in which its advocates think it worthwhile to contend for it, a radical impurity. It is one of the last remnants of the old barbarism by which depraved men wish to keep woman as near as possible to her former state of degradation—to arrest the progress she is so rapidly making in all enlightened countries to the true sphere of her heart and mind—to sink the human and the womanly, and to cultivate the sensual. We proclaim, and defy contradiction from any one who will make himself familiar with all the facts, that dancing is an old running sore of animalism not yet healed up on the body of society. The slimy trail of the destroyer too often follows it to leave us in doubt of their connection. Let the family which would guard its purity and its peace, forbid the entrance of that which has proved the deadliest foe to both.

But there are those who, though they do not approve of dancing in all its forms, have an idea that it may be surrounded with such safeguards as to ward off its perils—they think at least that children may be taught to dance, under an impression (how produced it is hard to tell) that there will be some great gain in their carriage and manners.

Now, suppose this were so: Is it worth the tremendous risks we have pointed out? Can you maintain the respect of your children, to say nothing of your self-respect, when, after you have paid so much and caused so much time to be devoted to acquiring a certain accomplishment, you tell your daughters that you highly disapprove of its exercise where those who love it most are to be found? You tell them that you have done all this to foster their taste for a gratification and fit them to indulge in it, which, nevertheless, in the very form in which they will be most tempted to engage in it, is so dangerous that it must be shunned by them. {18} With all your cautions, the first ball which occurs will find them eager to go and you ready to yield. You have tied your own hands. They go, and run the risk you dreaded, of being drawn into the whirlpool of dissipation. We might give many proofs of this. We know one in which the young persons of a family were taught to dance with these very restrictions. Their characters, and all the influences under which they were formed, made it as improbable as could well be imagined, that they would be drawn in. Yet they were perfectly absorbed and enchanted. The very first ball which was given afterward they attended, thought it was a strict stipulation at first that they were never to go to a ball, and to such an extent were they carried by the fascinations of dancing, that, though reared religiously, they made appointments for their favorite amusement on the Sabbath of the LORD.

When our children are taught other branches, we charge them to make all the proficiency they can, and to avail themselves as much as possible of the knowledge they acquire. But here, whilst you are having instruction given, you tremble lest it should lead to the very results which are almost inevitable. You know how much more swiftly and certainly example acts than precept, especially when the precept is flatly contradicted by the example. Yet you fire the train, and expect to be quick enough to arrest it before it produces the explosion.

Let me test the consistency of your conduct by a single question. How would you look upon it at the hour when the judgment of the things of earth and heaven is clearest—when the better emotions of the heart are strongest and most purified? If you were dying, would you, as you turned to the partner of your life to give the last directions about rearing your child, would you charge her that your child be taught to dance? Would not even a question about it seem to be mockery at that hour? Or if your child were dying, and those languishing eyes seemed to your stricken heart to be reproving every omission of your life, would you count it then among them that you had not taught her to dance—or if you had, would not the silent form {19} on which you gazed, tell you how thoughtless and wicked it is for so frail a creature as man to waste those moments which he may never recall?

How death and the dance harmonize, you may judge when you remember the emotions which filled your heart when you read that narrative which was so widely circulated, which told us of a young lady who went in the pride of beauty to the ball-room, her heart throbbing with a consciousness of loveliness and power. In the midst of the gay throng, she was struck with death while she was moving in the mazes of the dance. When her mother saw that her child was dying, the awful incongruity of the scene seemed to press more upon her heart than death itself. She begged, swiftly though life was ebbing, that her daughter might be removed from the room. "O, for GOD's sake," she cried, "if my daughter must die, let it not be here. Any place but here!" And should we, who know not when we may die—should we ever place ourselves, or help to place others, in scenes which would invest death with horrors greater than its own? Let us not be found moving and living where we would fear to die.

But these impalpable graces and mysterious benefits which are supposed to be imparted by the dancing master, are the sheerest delusions. If they exist at all, they are totally unworthy the attention of a rational mind. Why should a man incur a heavy expense in securing for his daughter what he acknowledges would add nothing to his wife? Why should he think it desirable for her to have an accomplishment which will only tend to increase her attractiveness with the most trifling of mankind, with a class with whom he would least desire that daughter to contemplate a union for life? No man of sense, who valued domestic happiness, would wish to marry a woman devoted to dancing. But when we have taught our daughters to dance, we have done much toward converting them into those fluttering things of fashion which we ourselves despise.

One familiar specimen of the sort of refinement which the propensity for dancing imparts, is the pertinacity with which {20} those who love it, urge it under circumstances, and in companies, which make the mere proposal of it a breach of good feeling. They will take advantage of a kind-hearted reluctance on the part of their entertainers to forbid any thing which their guests desire, to entrap them into a permission contrary to their principles and wounding to their consciences. They will have their dance, though it is a source of pain and grief to a majority of those present, who have come under an implied understanding that nothing shall be done calculated to compromit their Christian character, or put them into an equivocal attitude toward and before the world. But what respect for the consciences of others can we look for in those who have no regard for their own—what real refinement from those who imagine themselves superior to others, not for any quality of mind or heart, but because they can "caper nimbly" to the sound of the violin?

Childhood has its own loveliness and grace, which none of the borrowed tricks of art can improve. It would be better to send the dancing master to the child, than the child to the master. The graces of youth and maturer life are cultivated by intercourse with polished Christian society. It is refinement of feeling that produces genuine refinement of manner. It depends not upon the turn of the foot; its seat is in the heart, its revelation is the word of unpretending kindness, the act of soul-deep courtesy. It is to the production of refinement like this, the education of our children is rightly directed. If woman knew in what her true dignity and abiding power over man consisted, she would treat as an insult, and as a dangerous suggestion, the statement that it is essential to her to learn to dance. Is it not an insult, after all that Christianity, and modern culture which has sprung from it, have done for her, is it not an insult to tell her that she needs, for her perfect development, an accomplishment which most flourishes where woman is most degraded—which every woman possess among the outcast tribes of Africa, where almost all points of affinity with humanity, except human vices, are lost, and which few women possess in the most cultivated and Christian parts of the brightest land under heaven? {21} It is dangerous to make a suggestion which keeps out of view woman's real might—dangerous to absorb in vanity and folly those powers, whose right direction is indispensable to the well-being of society. It is that nature, quick to what is highest and best, ready to imbibe good, and prompt by its delicate moral sensibility to repel impurity and evil—it is that soul so faithful to the instincts which GOD has placed in it to leaven the world, that the attempt on the part of man for six thousand years, to degrade it, has not succeeded—it is that heart, whose soft light first beamed on us from a mother's brow, and which follows man through every form of woe, faithfully watching him even through the horrors that attend and close a life of crime—that heart which having once loved never ceases to love, which, when life is ebbing, tells by its sad quick beating beneath the head pillowed above it for the last struggle, that its love is mightier than death—it is these that give woman her true power—it is these to which education is to be directed. The day must pass away, is now passing away, when female education is a systematized effort to make woman superficial, useless, and silly. In proportion as correct views on this point obtain currency, will it seem more monstrous to assert that such a being needs to be surrounded with fictitious graces, whose acquisition and use will peril all the qualities which fit her to form, to elevate and be the friend of man—monstrous to take the finished picture from the hand of GOD, and, giving it to the man who lives by the infirmity of heads and the restlessness of heels, tell him to complete it.

"To guild refined gold, to paint the lily,
To throw a perfume on the violet,
To add another hue unto the rainbow,
Is wasteful and ridiculous excess."
II. The second and closing topic connected with public morality suggested by our theme, is all EXHIBITIONS of a demoralizing kind, concerts of low and corrupting songs, stage dancing, and the performances of the theatre and circus in general. To these might be added those spewings of infidelity and lewdness, which, under the decent title of "Lectures for {22} gentlemen only," are now and then disgorged, especially upon our young men. Few persons reflect upon the extent to which this community is infested by these exhibitors, who are bounding, fluttering, and crawling among us like the frogs, locusts, and vermin which were sent upon Egypt. The readiness of access from the large cities, and the disposition shown by a part of our population to sustain them, have largely increased their number. It is not unadvisedly, but after an intimate acquaintance with two prominent cities of this Union, that we state that there is a larger ratio of our citizens who resort to these amusements than of the communities of Baltimore and Philadelphia. There is, too, another importance difference. Here respectable citizens go occasionally, and permit their families to go to amusements of a sort, to which persons of the same class in the cities do not go. The truth is, that most of the performers who pass through the country, have so little even of that comparative merit which their low calling allows, that they cannot sustain themselves in the cities. They seek the country where the appetite of pleasure hunters, having less of the food it craves, is prepared to receive with eagerness the coarse morsels which others disdain. The theatre has no just claim, under the most favorable aspect, of holding the mirror up to nature, or of being a school of virtue. It is bad at best, but among us we have it at its worst. The appetite for it in cities is like the taste of that species of birds which preys upon the dead and decaying. What shall we say, then, of that vicious hankering which receives what they reject—which plays the jackal, not the lion, but to the bird which gloats upon corruption?

Rarely do these performers attempt any thing beyond the meanest department of farce and buffoonery—not merely for want of capacity, but because the appetite to which they pander demands offal. They are

"The poorest masters of the meanest arts."
In common gratitude they feel bound to gratify the depraved taste and depraved morals which support them. Sometimes they are afraid to call their performances by their real name, and {23} well meaning persons are entrapped into a show of countenancing what they abhor.

Is any man of virtue disposed to contend that these exhibitions are not deeply hurtful to public morals—let me ask him a few questions. Why would he thrice rather see his dearest child in the grave than following any of these occupations? In what way are we to account for the fact, that even among the Pagan nations, where acting has been most encouraged, actors themselves have been regarded as infamous—that in the pure ancient Church of CHRIST no actor was admitted to baptism or Christian burial—that for hundreds of years the Common Law of England classed them with "rogues and vagabonds," and that in your own mind there is that deep moral repugnance to that very class of men you are disposed to sustain? There are but two solutions possible, and either one will establish the truth for which we contend. The first is, that the performances are immoral. This you deny. The second, then, which you are compelled to accept is, that performers are immoral; and what sort of exhibitions are we to expect from such men? And would not such men, whatever might be their calling, leave a taint upon the community? The illustrious SAMUEL JOHNSON, whose early life had made him well acquainted with the theatre, and who wrote for it, speaks of the life of the players as "that condition which makes almost every man, for whatever reason, contemptuous, insolent, petulant, selfish, and brutal."

Doubtless there is here and there one among them, whose heart revolts at his lot. The sad remembrance of prospects blighted in an unguarded hour, almost makes him despair. He has found that the life of the player is a mixture of putative joys and real miseries:

"Sad happy race! soon raised and soon depress'd,
Your days all passed in jeopardy and jest;
Poor without prudence, with afflictions vain,
Not warn'd by misery, not enriched by gain;
Whom justice, pitying, chides from place to place—
Who cheerful looks assume, and play the parts
Of happy rovers, with repining hearts." {24}
How often has his heart ached, whilst the roar of applause he could not but despise burst around him. When sick, no one pitied—when he sorrowed, no one taught him to hope. He looks forward to the time, when a life of wandering and of dissipation will have robbed him of the last little power of entertaining, when he will be shaken off as an encumbrance, when want, disease, and misery will have done their work, and far from the home of an innocent childhood, where his name is associated now only with sorrow and shame, his wasted body will be thrust by public charity into a nameless grave, and that immortal spirit, to whose prostitution he devoted his whole life, will return to GOD who gave it. But with these sad thoughts, what can he do? Can he be religious? Can he save his soul? No man believes that he can whilst he remains an actor. Suppose, then, we were not harmed—could we answer before GOD for encouraging and sustaining others in a pursuit which tends to the destruction of their morals and their souls?

In the most lenient judgment we can form of ourselves, we are encouraging idleness. In the most favorable opinion we can form of them, they are adventurers—contributing nothing to the welfare or happiness of society—speculating upon us, robbing us, and then retiring to spend their ill-gotten gains.

We cannot be surprised, then, that the prevalence of these amusements has had a marked effect for evil upon this community. No one can deny that they have encouraged habits in regard to the expenditure of money which are inconsistent with the general thrift and welfare. All our Churches, all the calls of religion, benevolence, and common charity, have not received in their support as much as has been drained off by corrupting amusements. They have tempted many to spend beyond their ability—to apply to amusement what belonged to their creditors, and to take from their families, or the purposes of benevolence, what was due them. Like the demand for any unhealthy stimulus, that of ardent spirits for instance, this passion becomes ungovernable. Men will take the bread from the mouths of their wives and children, and the clothes from their backs, rather {25} than deny themselves. The wisest of men makes a remark, which the common sagacity of mankind will confirm, when he says: "He that loveth pleasure shall be a poor man."

It can easily be seen how the love of these exhibitions feeds the spirit of dishonesty. They unfit the mind for business, and open it to the suggestion of fraud. They cultivate the disposition of the indolent, and foster the laziness which so often forms the prelude to crime. The young man whose evenings have been passed at them, goes with a wearied mind and jaded body to the duties of the next day. He is already by the very condition in which he has placed himself, to some extent, defrauding his employers, or injuring his own prospects. They unfit the mind and heart for that which they need. The mind finds no charm in useful reading, but seeks to stimulate itself by that abandoned literature, whose ever deepening torrent is bearing so many of the young of our country to present and eternal destruction. The heart feels an aversion to religion and the duties of GOD'S house. No man becomes a Christian till this fatal spell is broken. No man ever succeeds in business who is absorbed in the pursuit of these pleasures. Who will willingly employ a young man who is devoted to them?

It is notorious how directly they tempt the young to dishonesty. We have had from men thoroughly acquainted with the business history of this and other places, statements which are startling in regard to the extent to which petty theft is carried by young persons. A large proportion of these thefts take place in order that the propensity for the various forms of theatrical amusement may be gratified. More boys commence their career of crime in this way than any other. This is a fact established by the statistics of police in our own and other lands.

They have been found powerful ministers also to drunkenness, and its concomitant vices. Not only do they act thus, by arousing a general passion for excitement, but in other ways also. The young man, wearied with long sitting in a crowded place—feeling the unpleasant reaction which follows strong stimulus—coming out late at night, when the eyes of virtuous {26} men are not upon him to check him, seeks in the wine cup to restore the tone of body and mind. Having descended into the pits of drunkenness, his is now ready for the by-path which conducts him into the snares of the gambler. He trod the outer meshes of the net at the dance, the play, or the circus—he entered its inmost part at the bar, and fell at last into the power of the wary gambler, who sat like the spider in its centre, ready to drain him of his substance; and who will help to hurry him on in that path which so often terminates in despair and suicide. I had a friend in past days, whose mind was as bright, whose heart was as generous, whose hopes were as fair as those of any young man whom I address, and who now fills the suicide's grave—of whose mournful history this brief sketch is a record. And here we would ask merchants and others who have young men under their care, are you sure that they are not forming, or have not formed, either of these fearful habits?

We charge these exhibitions, further, with tending to loose the bonds of moral purity. The scenes they bring before the eye—the images they offer to the mind—the company into which they introduce the young, and the facilities they offer for the vices to which they tempt—all must be highly dangerous. From the beginning they have been nests of impurity, and have continued to be such even where the checks were greatest. The sages of Greece and Rome denounced them. The Christian Church from its commencement used all its influence against them. Had we time we could cite passage on passage from the noblest and best writers of all ages of the Church—we could adduce the decrees of Councils, the resolutions of Synods, the canons of Conventions, against them. We could do this, irrespective of all denominational differences. We could cite the recommendation of our own Congress of 1778, in which the States are urged to suppress "theatrical entertainments, and such others as are productive of idleness, dissipation, and a general depravity of principles and manners." Infidelity itself has uttered a testimony against them. Must not that case be clear which has elicited so unanimous a judgment from men so {27} prone to differ? The history of the Drama in every age and land has shown that, wherever it might begin, there was one common condition in which it was sure to end. Whatever might be the speciousness of its first show, it ended in a struggle with public morals and common decency. Let me adduce a single testimony in regard to one of the influences of the theatre, which comes from a source which will not be suspected by the most ardent advocates of the stage.1 It is the testimony of Sir WALTER SCOTT, a man who had more aversion to Puritanism than to any thing under heaven, who himself frequented the theatre, wrote for it, and who, in close connection with the passage we are about to quote from his "Essays on the Drama," attempts to defend it. He says of the theatres of the most refined metropolis in the world, that they are "destined to company so scandalous, that persons not very nice in their taste of society, must yet exclaim against the abuse." He speaks of the "impossibility of excluding a certain description of females" from these places. "The best part of the house is openly and avowedly set off for their reception, and no part is free from their intrusion, or at least from the disgusting improprieties to which their neighborhood gives rise." "No man of delicacy would wish the female part of his family to be exposed to such scenes: no man of sense would wish to put youth of the male sex in the way of such temptation." He adds: "Unless in the case of strong attraction upon the stage, prostitutes and their admirers usually form the principal part of the audience." This is a picture drawn by a hand disposed to favor, of the actual condition of theatres of the greatest city of one of the most enlightened and Christian people in the world. Are you curious to know how Sir WALTER SCOTT evades the force of his own admissions, when he comes to the defence of theatres? We will tell you that you may see how weak is the cause for which such a man is capable of making only so miserable a defence. The substance of his plea is, that some evils might be removed—{28} though he does not pretend that they ever have been, nor express an expectation that they ever will be; and he closes by urging that if theatrical entertainments could be invested with certain good qualities, which so acute an observer of men must have known would at once destroy on the part of most of their friends all disposition to sustain them, that then it would be no worse to be present at them than to be "engaged in gossip, the pursuits of ambition, or the struggle after gain." These facts we have adduced to show the tendencies, the natural moral connections of theatrical entertainments. The particular illustrations of these evil tendencies will differ according to circumstances, but the influence will be here what it is every where else. In our beloved Virginia, there is peculiar danger in these things. Our people are eminently open hearted and unsuspicious. That frankness and freeness by which the heart speaks to the heart, mark the Virginian and make him an admired and welcome guest wherever he is known. The intercourse of the young, on which these are based, must in the nature of the case be eminently genial; founded on, implying, and demanding a generous confidence; a pure hearted trust upon the one side, on the other an incorruptible honor; a sentiment of affection chastened by reverence for that innocence whose shrine is the loveliest, whose ruins are the most melancholy spectacle in our world. From that very condition of things, however, which when pure ennobles, arises a danger. If those hearts are polluted, as they assuredly will be if these exhibitions continue to demoralize our community, the very fountains of society will be poisoned. The scars which even now are too many and too hideous to be concealed, will be multiplied. The dearest sanctities of home will be trodden under foot, and social mistrust and well founded dread and reserve will occupy every circle. Shall we continue, then, to offer a premium for perdition to the young?

That we may have a complete picture, in a small compass, of the evils produced by these exhibitions, let us recall the history and effects of a single one of them. That great event among the idle and vicious population of our towns, the coming {29} of a circus, is announced some time in advance by great lying handbills, setting forth a thousand attractions for the class they expect to reach. From this hour the excitement constantly grows. There is an increasing spirit of insubordination among the young, and impatience of restraint, an indisposition to attend to their books, or to perform any of their duties. Their minds are absorbed with the question, whether they can go.

Among servants, who form the rear of society and the van of circus-goers, the promised enjoyment is preceded, attended, and followed by disobedience, lying, and theft. When the time comes, the flood-gates of vice are thrown open, and an immense mass of depravity rolls together. Vice and deformity covered with rags, reeking with drunkenness and blasphemy, pour themselves along in numbers, whose existence we had not suspected, and whose lurking places we are hardly able to assign. It is a grand rally of vagrancy—an opportunity which is given at no other time for the community to see how many must be living on it by begging and theft. The circus is the foul pool in which the leeches of society will be found swimming. The vicious and idle have come to make their appeal to their own class—not to minister to a healthful spirit of innocent mirth, but to pander to base appetites. The wit of the ring is always low, often profane and indecent. Often has the arm of the law been called in to protect the most sacred interests of religion and morality from its ribald attacks. These flagitious men must make war upon what they know stands in the way of their gains. The most palliating estimate which can be made of the least offensive part of the spectacle they offer is, that it is ingenuity and agility without object or use—the display of powers which it demands years to acquire, and which are of no service, but tend to degrade and brutalize:

"The bootless labor of the thriftless mind."
Licentiousness thinly veiled is offered to the minds of the young. The father permits his daughter to be taken where she will hear the vilest trash, and where vulgarity and indecency will be {30} brought before her publicly, a tithe of which uttered in his own house would have caused the instant ejection of the offender. There sits his daughter, ashamed that she is there; feeling that it is no place for a Christian, but trying to keep herself in countenance by discovering professors of religion as thoughtless as herself. There, amidst the boisterous hootings and stampings of a crowd, who show that their low tastes have been suited only too well, sits a man, who, perhaps, has neglected some immediate duty of religion or of his family to be present. He has sneaked to the place. He despises himself there; and, like a man hastening from some base occupation, he will slink through alleys and by circuitous routes when it is over, to reach his home.

Who dare say that this is a place for a Christian—for a man who has professed to come forth from the world, to take the spotless Saviour as his guide, and who has appeared at His table? But if the Christian who is fortified by principle, and sworn to moral purity—if the minister of GOD cannot go there without shocking even a godless world—can those go with safety in whose principles there is nothing to resist, in whose experience there is nothing to guard them from the thronging dangers of the place? Is the circus the place for an immortal and responsible being, who may be hurried from it to the presence of his GOD? Frequent and terrible have been the accidents by which GOD has set the seal of His judgment, even here, on these violations of His law.

And what is the record left in our community? A fresh spirit of evil has broken forth; drunkenness increases; the disposition of boys to frequent the streets, which is already so alarming, is fostered. Boisterousness and insult of the grossest kind, offered without respect of persons, offered even to ladies, show themselves. In some desolate family the record may be the vacant place of an unfortunate son or daughter, lured off to follow the same course of idleness and crime.

Can it be possible that all these incitements to vice are reconcilable with public morality? Will it sufficiently counteract their effects to send to jail a poor wretch here and there {31} whose career of crime is already run? This is but picking off or covering up the crust of leprosy, whilst the disease is left untouched. Where are we to search for those influences which create in our community so large a class, who are no more properly a part of society, than the eruptions of small-pox are a proper constituent of a human body? What tempts them to idleness, and strengthens its habits? Even for these poor outcasts of humanity, I wish to plead. Shall we perpetuate generation after generation of them? Shall we encourage or by our apathy indirectly countenance these amusements which we know help to make and keep them what they are? Is there one of this class among us, with whose other vicious appetites a love of the circus and kindred amusements has not been joined? Alas, there are those now pressing forward to fill up these very ranks which disease and death so rapidly waste away. Unless a vast change comes over our community, twenty years from this, some of those who are at present young, gay, and with good prospects for life, will be like the very creatures of infamy from whom they now shrink back. They are the shadows cast before you by your own coming character, if you are giving yourself up to the same incentments to vice. Look on each of them as he passes, and shudder at the thought of what you may be. You may laugh at this solemn warning, yet it may be with you, as with many a one who has laughed before you, who has descended through every stage of vice till the last remnant of decency was trampled out, and a miserable life was closed with the burial of a dog and the wretchedness of the damned.

Let no man say that the Church takes so strong a ground against these amusements from a desire to curtail the enjoyments of the young. These guilty pleasures leave their sting in this world; but if they did not, could we peril undying souls? Could we permit the young to play on the tremendous verge of total ruin, rather than impose a little check on that torrent of sensual inclination which rushes like molten lava through their veins? Are there amusements which refine and moralize, which address and gratify a rational curiosity; collections of the wonders of {32} GOD in nature, or of the proper workings of the human mind in art; lectures on topics of popular interest, pure music, painting, poetry, and social converse, the culture of flowers and fruits, walking and riding, and healthful and innocent sports of childhood—are these things on which we would cast a doubt? Surely not. Is there not a vast variety of enjoyments of unquestioned propriety, in which the young heart may indulge safely its natural longings? We need not countenance, then, those that are dubious, far less those which are most certainly criminal and dangerous. If we admit this and that plea which is made for particular amusements of a questionable character, where, in the name of that GOD to whom we must answer, is the barrier to be drawn around the young? The great poet of human nature has truly said:

"No vice so simple, but assumes
Some mark of virtue on its outward parts."
One pleads for his "innocent game of cards" to relax the mind—another adds a small wager simply to give it interest. Both abhor the gambler, yet neither will tell us how gamblers are made. Another man pleads for the ten-pin alley, because bowling "opens the chest;" and who can imagine that there is sin in rolling a ball on a floor: the dissipation, neglect of families, and low association, are mere abuses of the thing. One man thinks there is no harm in a glass of wine—and another replies, 'surely not, nor in a glass of brandy'—but both shake their heads warningly against all drunkenness.2 Another will have young people to read all the novels that appear, to get a 'command of language' and a 'knowledge of the world,' but is perfectly in the dark as to the fruitful causes of fashionable elopements and all the associated crimes. By the time the young man has listened to all the pleas which are connected with precisely the same modes of argument, and which must stand or fall together, he has learned that the things which tend to make him only a gambler, a frequenter of haunts of vice, a drunkard, and an abandoned debauchee, are very innocent in {33} themselves. These magical words, 'in themselves,' are now the great relief of all distressed causes, and the general prelude to those gross impositions on common sense, and virtuous feeling, which, in default of sound reason, are forced to put up with any likeness to its shadow they can find. Some parents, indeed, whilst they admit all these dangers, think their children must be allowed "to see the evil for themselves." That they will see it is very certain—but whether it will be in perdition or on this side of it, is very uncertain; and whether, if they do see it, they can throw off the fatal spell that binds them—this is the terrible hazard. Even when the habit thus formed is with the dreadful energy of despair thrown off, it is like that dumb spirit, which, when cast out from the child, "rent him sore" and "left him as dead." Often it returns with renewed violence to its habitation; and oftentimes the crimes and follies of the young leave bitter results to themselves and their families, which no remorse or reformation of after years can efface. Let no man thrust his child headlong into a furnace seven times heated, that he may learn that fire will burn. We can see the character of theft without stealing, or can know what murder is without killing; and better than their votaries, we can tell what are the results of godless amusements: "for by their fruits ye shall know them."

But the voice of fear and of friendship have both whispered: 'Be cautious; this plain dealing will but stir up evil passions and make men more resolute in sin.' We know that faithfulness will for a time arouse the elements of evil. The attempt to clean a spring stirs up the impurities which otherwise might have remained comparatively hidden at the bottom. But the very muddiness shows the necessity for cleansing; and if society be a spring and not a stagnant pool, the stirring up of the feculence makes it more certain that it will be carried off by the stream of general sentiment. The anxiety of those who are thoroughly depraved to testify that the only effect of truth and virtue on them is to stimulate them to evil, does call them forth. But it is not these whom, as a general rule, we expect {34} to benefit, but those who are not already fully committed to the side of evil.

It has at least one good effect. In the Book of Revelation it is assigned as a reason for Satan's coming down in great wrath, that "he knoweth that he hath but a short time." His wrath is not only a token that his kingdom has been hurt, but is used by GOD to hurt it still more. The Devil is a great master of cunning; but in him, as in man, great anger and great cunning cannot work together. When he is in a passion his plans overleap themselves. In the keenness to secure a present object, he loses sight of the general result, and receives injury where he meant to inflict it. The eagerness with which he summons his recruits, serves at least to mark them and to render that line distinct which the interests of virtue make it so important to draw. It is a gain to public morals when its enemies are avowed. When clearly known, half their power to do mischief is gone. "When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the LORD shall lift up a standard against him."

But it has been intimated in the kindest manner, that the popularity of the minister may suffer from his explicitness. Popularity too is apt to be the minister's snare. Soothing himself with the thought of being "all things to all men," he forgets that JESUS has said: "Woe unto you when all men shall speak well of you!" and is in danger of incurring the condemnation of those who love the "praise of men more than the praise of GOD." Accursed be that popularity which is purchased at the expense of truth. What have the ministers and followers of a LORD who was crucified to do with popularity? When the question was asked the people: 'Which shall be spared?' it was soon shown that BARABBAS the robber and murder, not JESUS the spotless SAVIOUR, was popular. Popularity and popular respect are often widely different things.

I do not hesitate to say to my people, deep as is my conviction of an affection of which they have given so many proofs, strong as is the love with which I return it, so that I can say with PAUL: "Ye are in our hearts to die and live with you;" {35} yet if the day should ever come, when it is clearly understood, that the price of that affection is an abatement of my faithfulness, that I am to balance between a question of truth and of acceptableness—that day the tie must be broken—we must part. If you give me the care of your souls, I must be faithful to them; if you teach your children to look to me as their spiritual guide, I must point out every abyss of death which yawns before them.

But we have no fear. In the ultimate and calm judgment of thinking men, whose sentiments in the end generally prevail in a community, we have great confidence. I believe that I have no surer ground for the continued affection of my people, and the respect of this community, than when I honestly declare unto you the whole counsel of GOD. Especially among those for whom my cautions are mainly designed, the young members of this Church and the young persons who attend here, do I expect to find full justice. If their hearts are right, they form a "young guard" which kings might envy; and to them I turn with joyful confidence, knowing that they will be faithful to my motives, as, so help me my GOD, I will be to their souls. I love them too dearly to be treacherous to their best interests. Soon may I be called to the death-bed of some of them—perhaps first to some to whom these remarks are most distasteful. They shall not turn their dying eyes reproachfully on me, and charge me with want of fidelity to their souls. Or if they shall follow me, my last hours, and the sorrow of those that survive me, shall be sweetened by the thought, that they will confess that amid all my infirmities, I did not break with them that fearful covenant for which I must answer before the bar of GOD.

And now, before the Searcher of hearts, we make a solemn appeal to the entire community on this momentous subject. We call upon all good men to abstain from these things, and to keep others from them by their influence and example. Take and maintain the ground which public virtue demands. It were well if the law of the land totally prohibited the class of amusements on which we have just been dwelling. Meanwhile we call {36} upon the officers of the law, from the highest to the lowest, and upon all good citizens, to impose upon them every check which that law allows. Especially let every parent, who would not have the blood of his child upon his soul, watch him with prayerful vigilance as he moves amid the snares of life.

We call on guardians of the young, who have other than their own children under their care, to weigh their responsibility. You have their souls to answer for at the bar of GOD, where no shuffling or evasion will avail. Most frequently it is the unfriended, it is orphans, or those deprived by calamities worse than death of their natural protectors, who are in this relation. The world may give you little trouble about hem; no one may make it his business to ask how you are dealing with them; but GOD is watching them and you; their REDEEMER is mighty, they are precious to Him, and He will exact an account at your hands. Do, then, as you would that others should do to your children in the same situation, and unite your efforts with those of all good men, to stay the torrent of corruption which now threatens to deluge us.

We call upon the Church to take her true position in this matter. The Christian vigilance of this community is now aroused, and will we trust never be laid. The price of holiness is incessant watchfulness. Over the whole land every Christian is, in virtue of his profession, as solemnly sworn to preserve public morality, as are the officers of the law.

Unless the Churches here unite against these ungodly amusements, in the present crisis of the public mind, there will be a curse and blight upon them. If the ministry permit themselves to be intimidated, or the trumpet gives an uncertain sound, their moral influence is gone, and deserves to go. There is no controversy arising from our sectarian differences, that does not sink into insignificance, compared with these questions of public morality.3 If any Church stands back, the curse of MEROZ will descend upon it, because it "came not to the help of the LORD, to the help of the LORD against the mighty." {37}

Shall the morals of our young people continue to be polluted, and the example or even the neutrality of Christians be plead for the agencies which accomplish it? Shall they have not only the shield of the law which permits these debasing exhibitions, but the cover of the Gospel also, or of the Gospel Church? Then, having repudiated our first, most obvious, and most solemn responsibility, let us close up our affairs as a Church; let us send for missionaries of Paganism, who shall give us brutish and licentious gods, who will not curse us for immolating the young on the shrines of these guilty and polluting amusements. The religious community which is as a whole prepared to sustain them, is about matured enough for the worship of JUGGERNAUT or MOLOCH, but is not fit to be worshippers of that great and fearful GOD whose name is holy, and who claims the whole heart and whole soul of man.

And, finally, we call upon young men to pause and consider. Your characters are forming for time and eternity. Your success in business, your position in society, your real usefulness as men, and your destiny forever hang upon the habits you are now forming. Depend upon it, (it is the warning of one who feels the deepest solicitude for you—whose heart yearns, in every form, to testify its deep interest—of one still in your period of life, and with all the sympathies of a young man clinging to him—of one who is not forgetful of your temptations, nor disposed to claim any less of human infirmity than yourselves,) depend upon it that if you foster a love of sinful amusements your lives will be a failure, they will be worse than a failure—they will prove a total wreck on those breakers, where the waves of dishonor are now rolling to and fro the frightful remnants of characters stranded and lost forever. Many eyes are upon you—many hearts are throbbing for you when you think not of it. Do not let the hopes, the prayers, the tears of father and mother, of brothers and sisters, of friends and the Church, be lost. Do not disappoint the GOD who made you, and the REDEEMER who bled to save you. Do not pass to the grave, leaving no record but this: That it were better for you {38} had you never been born. Happy that community where the young men, the joy and hope of every community, stand like a wall of fire, inaccessible to evil, and repelling it from others. Join hands with me, my young brother Pilgrims for eternity, and let us form that defence.


Footnotes:

1. This portion and a few others were omitted in the delivery of the discourse.

2. The reader may refer to the booklet "Drinking with Calvin and Luther: The Reformational View of Beer and Wine" by Jim West, published in 1998, as a presentation of the historic Lutheran & Protestant view on the consumption of Alcoholic Beverages. Another useful resource may be found online at: http://www.truecovenanter.com/reformedpresbyterian/magazine/orig_cov_temperance.html—JTK.

3. While our author's unguarded language here may suggest an undue exalting of his present concern over those very important concerns that relate to many of the "sectarian differences" among professing Christians, and while we are not to join in affinity with or make leagues with backsliders from or corrupters of the Testimony of Jesus Christ in order to effect so-called moral reforms, yet we may well agree with his present purpose of calling all professing Christians to publicly testify against and actively oppose the vain and ungodly institutions of which he speaks, seeing as every communion of professing Christians, in accordance with their very profession of Christianity and morality, has reason to agree in this cause.—JTK.