By E. L. Willis, 1896
Dancing, Card Playing, Theater Going and Drink
I have delivered the within, in substance in several places and it has in many instances led votaries to the vices named to abandon them and it is upon the advice largely of several ministers of Christ that I submit the same to print.
PREFACEIn dealing with the different varieties of social and popular amusements above named, I am aware I shall not please all, but that matters not to me, and my chief aim and object in submitting this to print, is a hope that I may say something that will cause to think, some who perhaps up to this time justify themselves in the practices, or it may be are indifferent altogether. I shall endeavor not to be ridiculous. but shall deal in plain terms and shall leave the reader to determine for himself. I do not purpose to criticise the attitude others sustain toward these practices, but for one I want to be positive, so much so, that no one need guess. my position.
Is there any moral involved? If not, why spend time in discussing it; if it is good, then of course we should embrace and advocate it always and everywhere, and if it is bad we should denounce it under all circumstances. If. any or all these practices have led souls from lives of sin and shame to lives of obedience and righteousness, then encourage them in every legitimate manner; if, upon the other. hand, these practices have led men and women into lives of sin and shame, then we cannot be honest and not set the seal of our condemnation upon them.
You may possibly be disgusted at some terms I may employ, but before you cast the book aside, consider that the vices I am treating are disgusting and shocking too, and language of no uncertain sound must be employed, and my aim is to be understood.
I am bitterly opposed to this wishy-washy, namby-pamby way of dealing with such a subject in a sort of good Lord and 'good Devil way, and so I must, yes must, use such language as best expresses my thoughts. A mild hint at a vice. is an endorsement of the vice, or else slander, and I don't propose to slander nor endorse but tell the truth.
E. L. Willis.
Sugar Grove Penn., 1896
Not all votaries of dancing are lewd and sensual, but the tendency is in that direction. A young lady asked Bishop Cox: " Can I dance if I become a Christian?" He replied: "If you become a Christian you will not want to dance."
Mr. Moody says: "Get the young people interested in the Lord's work and they won't want dancing." The wicked on their death beds, don't want any dancing and card playing Christians offering them counsel.
A young lady of high social standing was converted and decided to unite with the church. She asked the pastor: "If I join the church may I dance? " He replied: “Suppose there was a big ball in town, and you should go there and find me taking the lead, what would you think?" "I should think it very much out of place." He replied: "If dancing is right and conducive to moral and physical good, why should I not enjoy it as well as you? Are there two standards? one for pastor and one for people?" She paused a moment seriously and then said: "It is plain to me now, I will
never dance again." If it is proper for Christians to dance why not have a ball room attached to the church? The really evangelical denominations, testify against the dance. Bishop Whittle, Protestant Episcopal, of Virginia, said of round dances: "While Paul said to the church at Ephesus, that it was a shame even to speak of those things done by some in secret, I should be ashamed even to speak, as the truth would require, of this thing done openly before all."
Bishop Hopkins said: "No ingenuity can make dancing consistent with the covenant of baptism." Bishop Pierce, of the M. E. Church, South, said: "I confess I have no patience with it, no toleration of it. I think it the silliest, most nonsensical amusement that rational beings, so called, ever engage in. It is heathenism in its origin, a pastime of savages; it is a part of idolatrous worship, lewd, sensual, obscene. It has been polished, I grant, but it cannot be dignified nor elevated."
Dr. Spring, of Albany, said: "Dancing has been a source of greater trouble to me in my church than all other causes of disquiet combined."
Dr. Howard Crosby said: "In regard to waltzes, polkas and such like, a Christian ought not to hesitate an instant any more than he should about thieving and lying."
A local paper published in Cuba, N. Y., a
few years ago, gave the following: "The Rector's Guild, of Christ Church, have arranged for a millinery, social and dance." Another notice: "The phantom party at Palmer Opera House last evening was pleasurable, profitable and amusing, beyond all expectation. Masks were taken off shortly after ten o'clock when refreshments were served; dancing was then continued until midnight." All this sacrifice for Christ, a sacreligious travesty on the sacred name. Yet this same church forbids dancing during its Lenten season, when it is making special effort to grow in grace. Better three hundred and sixty-five days, piety for forty days, then as wicked as the Devil wants them for (325) three hundred and twenty-five, (honorable exception thank Goel.)
Bishop Whittaker, Protestant Episcopal, says: "When the church begins to offer amusements to stimulate an interest in its work and increase its membership, it will soon find that there are others in the business who can cater to that want a great deal more successfully than the church."
IT IMPERILS VIRTUE.
The larger Westminster catechism forbids dancing as one of the sins prohibited by the seventh commandment. Its tendency to licentiousness is not the least argument against it.
Dr. Bushnell calls the dance "contrived possibilities, which belong to high society only when it runs low."
Mrs. General Sherman asserts "Women of virtue should blush to have the dance named to them."
Gail Hamilton proclaims that "The thing in its very nature is unclean and cannot be washed," "the very pose of the parties suggests impurity," for to be an acceptable waltzer at least you must yield yourself entirely into the hands of. your male partner, heart brought so near heart they almost beat against each other, mixing the warm mutual breaths, darting the fine personal electricity across between the meeting fingers; flushing the face and lighting the eye with a quick language, subject often to gross misinterpretation on the part of the vile hearted, and if you do not you are noted by these ball room libertines as a stick, and other epithets such as don't amount to putty.
As well send a boy to the saloon to learn to converse elegantly, as a girl to the ballroom to acquire grace or politeness.
While the General Conference of the M. E. Church was in session at Omaha, the news found its way from some source into most of the secular journals that that great body of Christians had repudiated their rule on dancing and that Bishop Foster was the leading advocate; and Hell seemed to hold carnival until the Methodist and other religious journals gave the lie to it. How does this sound by Bishop Vincent who said: "The last place in God's earth I would send a child to learn gentility
and politeness is the dance. If I wished to destroy every vestige of gentility, I would send them to some dancing school. Noone of sense ever thinks of defending dancing, card playing, theaters, circuses or drink on their death beds, but in every case regret they did not condemn it sooner, and every intelligent member of every evangelical church knows that whenever they become absorbed in the spirit of the dance of to-day they lose all interest in the spirit of Christ. A little boy in Allegany county, N. Y., was persuaded to attend what turned out to be a dance or sort of shin-dig; but refused to dance and started for home, and when asked why he refused said, "I am a Methodist and Methodists don't dance." You see that boy was true.
Bishop Simpson was once asked: "Do you think it wrong to dance?" He replied as follows: "I was once in the Zoological Garden in London, and among other animals saw some monkeys and they were dancing and going through all manner of motions, and I must say I saw no impropriety whatever." I agree with the Bishop, but to see human beings trying to act like monkeys I must say it is very improper indeed.
A LADY'S REASONS FOR NOT DANCING.
1. Dancing would lead me into crowded rooms and houses, which are injurious to health and usefulness
2. Dancing would lead me into very close
contact with very pernicious company, and evil communications corrupt good manners.
3. Dancing would require me to use and permit freedom with the other sex of which I would be heartily ashamed and which I believe to be wrong.
4. Ministers and good people in general disapprove of dancing, and I think it is not safe to set myself against them; if a thing be even doubtful I wish to be on the safe side.
5. Dancing has a bad name, and I mean to study things that are pure and loyal and of good report.
6. Dancing is generally accompanied by drinking, and drinking produces a great deal of evil.
7. I am told that dancing is a great temptation and snare to young men, and I do not wish to have anything to do with leading them astray.
8. There are plenty of graceful exercises and cheerful amusements, which have none of the objections connected with them, that lie against dancing. - Sel.
Many a vain father and mother has consented, yes even urged their daughter (innocent now) to attend dancing, that in a very brief time thereafter were made sad and led to regret they had not been privileged to see her in her shroud, coffin and grave "before she had been disgraced; and, notwithstanding this sad truth, silly parents are willingly furnishing new
recruits for the places made vacant by victims now gone to lives of shame.
One common sewer for all filth, no matter by which road it gets there. Parents keep your daughters from taking the first steps toward ruin and they will never take the last step. The best dancers are found among abandoned women. Why? Because many of them are graduates of the dancing school. If you want proof ask the poor unfortunates themselves; and where committees of women have investigated these things, with a view of rescuing, they have heard many and many a wail go up from them: "Would to God I had never seen the inside of a dancing room."
Out of 200 fallen creatures, causes as follows:
Dancing school and ballroom .................. 163
Drink given by parents ........................ 20
Willful choice................................. 10
Poverty and abuse….............................. 7
ABSTAIN FROM ALL APPEARANCE OF EVIL,
2nd Thessalonians 5:22.
When social practices and the Bible conflict, which should we be guided by?
A WORD ON DRINKING.
Is it wisdom to educate children to drink wine so as to prepare them for society?
Is it true that only weak minded ones fall?
Is it not true that some ministers carry the sign of drinking in their reddened faces?
Do society votaries win souls? Society between
church and sin pulling downward; Jesus between man and God lifting up.
Compare the votaries of fashion, the ones who seek for nothing else than to get what they can in the way of pleasure out of this world; who seldom if ever frequent the house of God, and if they do it is for the purpose of meeting with whom they have an engagement to appoint some other scene of pleasure. I say compare such with the careful and prayerful young man or woman who are seeking to help some one to a better life, and then tell me which is the more useful of the two.
Did you ever see or know of any good emanating from the use of cards? Do you know of an instance in the world where anyone has been made mentally, morally or physically better?
Now is it not true, that all who have to do with cards are injured; true some much more than others, and is it not true that the young man or woman who refuses to engage in any of these practices, is much more highly esteemed than the one who does? And if the Christians of this town would do their duty this card playing, dancing and theater going could all be settled and settled right in a very short time, and the votaries now would then thank God that we had been firm. This cry that if rules are enforced
the young people will leave the church is all bosh.
Ex-Governor Hill wrote a letter recently criticising the action of the Police Commissioners of New York city, for their rigid enforcement of the Sabbath law concerning the sale of intoxicating drinks, carrying the idea to the reading public that the law was never intended to be enforced, but simply a mock, and members of the Legislature, voting for the same law, have written letters to the New York World expressing the same sentiment written by Gov. Hill.
Now just review the class that sustain Mr. Hill in his loose and corrupt manner in catering to the rum power of the city of New York. Contrast them with the element that sustain Mr. Roosevelt. Is it not true that only the vile sustain Mr. Hill's position and equally true that all good men and women everywhere sustain Mr. Roosevelt. Why? Because he is right, and it is only the corrupt ones in his own party that would for policy alone side against him. Now, using the same reasoning, were the rules governing the members of our several churches prohibiting dancing, card playing and the theater enacted just to be played with? Thus rendering our churches bodies of false pretenders. Would it not be much more to our credit to expunge from all our books all reference to these things, and by so doing acknowledge ourselves incapable of enforcing the rules governing
these vices. Yes, throw to the wind every vestige of discipline so far as its enforcement is concerned, and thus say to the world about, though the rules are there prohibiting these things they mean nothing.
Let me ask here, who are we sustained by? Do the fathers and mothers in Israel want us thus to treat them and allow every violation conceivable, and we say or do nothing about it, or is it only the careless and prayerless, the card playing and dancing ones?
And any pastor of any church who receives a member, they having been dismissed for any of the offenses named, he knowing the same to be true, renders himself a partaker in the wrong; and by so receiving such offending members says that he sustains the violation of all rules prohibiting the same.
How often this is done, however, simply to be able to count noses.
Do you think there is a single sensible young lady in this town that would go among the worldlings and say they turned me out because I wouldn't behave? No, no, not one. There is enough for them to do in the church; and I believe if the church is firm they will fall into line.
The habitual theater goer goes simply to see and hear that which will gratify the lowest nature he possesses.
If obscenity and vulgarity condemned the theater, then at least nine-tenths of them would
be condemned. Does its influence save souls or condemn them? Average theater is a gilded place of nastiness and appeals only to low and base passions, Still in consequence of the lax discipline of our churches, and too many in churches that style themselves evangelical, will bid for them; and how often when solicting souls to unite with the church we are met with this: I guess I won't join your church, for you don't believe in dancing, card playing, etc. Any person who refuses to unite with the church because they will not tolerate these things, has a mighty low estimate of salvation and the dignity of a church.
Theaters are growing worse and worse all know, but some say you ought to go to them so as to give them tone and purity. As well think of purifying hell by going there as for Christians to purify the theater. If the theater was a fit place for Christians it would soon be deserted by the very class that now patronize and sustain it.
Look at the attractions of the theaters. See the flaming handbills, pictures that approach nakedness. Is it not lust breeding? Is it not preparing candidates for the brothel? Is it not best to be alarmed? Better fear hell than feel it? Is it not a slur on a young man to say he is a great theater goer? Is not any young man more highly respected who refuses out and out to go to these places or engage in these practices?
Where can the brains of one be that is always wanting to dance? It seems if they have any they must be in their heels.
Text. Proverbs 3-17: "Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace."
You will wonder at my taking such a text for such a subject, and no doubt wonder at the way I shall say what I say.
The world is seeking pleasure, but how? Certain kinds of pleasure are legitimate and proper, for instance beautifying of homes. I believe God is pleased to have us have good homes, and I also believe it to be our duty to make them just as pleasant as our means will consistently allow. Go into some homes, that on the outside are forbidding, but you find the good housewife has ornamented the walls with some cheap pictures, and upon the stand are some useful books, and all goes to show that aim to make that home as pleasant as they can has been had, and such a home I believe God is pleased with.
Or we go to a home where we see fine shrubbery and lawns, a mansion if you please, elegant furniture, fine barns, good horses and carriages. I believe God is pleased with these too, provided the owner has secured them honestly and legitimately and without oppressing others.
I believe God wants us to enjoy this world, and it is the duty of everyone to make home just as attractive as possible, if in doing so we
do not neglect God's house nor His cause. God first.
God is opposed to what is known as fast life. I need not comment, for all know what is meant by fast life, or high life, which is substantially the same.
God is opposed to the use made of cards, and I don't believe any non-Christian has the least confidence in the piety of any professing Christian that plays cards. For example: A professed Christian, one who has been a Sabbath School Superintendent, volunteered to make one of four to playa four handed game of euchre, the other three being non-professors, so impressed the three that they despised him; and one of them told me that up to that time he had respect for him, but now he hated him, and I don't know an exception to the rule. I have no objection to their using them for idiots to amuse themselves with.
I notice men dislike the thought of being found dead with cards in their pockets. A young man fearing shipwreck threw his cards into the water, with the remark that he didn't want to have them found on his dead body. Some justify themselves in playing progressive euchre, but if progressive euchre is not gambling what is it?
Two boys met on the street and one said to the other: "Say, Tommy, my mother won a mce fourteen dollar Bible at the progressive
euchre party last night." "Huh, that's nothing, my pa won fifty dollars in cash over to the dub room." The progressive players of to-day are the gamblers of to-morrow.
How would it look to see Jesus and his three disciples, Peter, James and John playing cards? Yes, how would it look? If Jesus was in town would any of you think of announcing in your local papers that you were to, or had had a progressive euchre party, and that the above named were among the chosen guests? "Wouldn't you rather if Jesus was in town and attending some religious meeting, and at the close should come to you and invite himself to your home as he did to the home of Zaccheus, wouldn't you find Johnnie as quick as possible and whisper to him to run home and take that pack of cards off the centre table and that whisky bottle off the side board and hide them for Jesus was to be your guest. Wouldn't you?
But a word about billiards. I don't know of a man on earth that was ever benefitted mentally, morally or physically, but I do know many that have been injured and some ruined by the practice. And how could it be otherwise, associated as billiards usually are with drinking, and most invariably located near by some drinking place that is interested in the proceeds of the game; and further, if it is right for you and me it is right for Jesus, and now would
you think it proper for Jesus to be playing billiards under any circumstances you can conceive?
Then picture again an average play in an average theater with the usual approaching to nudeness, and this time Jesus, Peter, James and John are there, in box, and while one of the most lust breeding exhibitions of the evening is being given; and picture again your son dying, and you rushing into the presence of Jesus and full of anxiety exclaim: "Come down to my house ere my child die!" and Jesus were to say: "I can't for I must enjoy this feast." Wouldn't you feel like saying it's no place for Him. But if it is no place for Jesus, is it a proper place for anyone? Jesus has just as good a right to go to such places as you and I.
Again instead of feasting your lustful eyes on the near nudity of some other man's daughter, imagine your own daughter furnishing such an exhibition. I go into a theater, and soon I see my own daughter among the actresses, and as near nude as the law of the state will permit, do I then enjoy it? No! But I rush to the stage and cover her from lustful gaze. I tell you it makes a heap sight of difference whose ox gets gored. No actress has the least confidence in a professed Christian that attends theaters. For example, quite a celebrated actress formed the acquaintance of a professed Christian at a hotel, and in the evening while acting a very
important part in the play discovered her professed Christian among the auditors. Instantly she quit the stage with her part unfinished, and thus made a serious break. Another actress asked her why she so suddenly ceased acting her part, and urged her to resume it and save confusion. Said the actress: "No, not as long as that old hypocrite is there," pointing out the lady met at the hotel.
Have theater goers any zeal for souls?
Do society votaries seek to win souls?
Ask one of them to pray and the story is soon told; that settles it.
The excuse for attending the circus by most professed Christians is to take the little children, but I have observed that it usually takes four or five grown persons to take one little child to see the animals. Straws show the way the wind blows.
So we come now to the most important of the vices I shall speak upon. I begin with this scene. There is a swell ball in your town, handbills and invitation cards have been sown broadcast for days and weeks. The night comes and among the patrons we see Jesus, Peter, James and John, and when the first set is called they take their places and so drink in the spirit of the dance. Now dear one, what would be your opinion of Jesus and his near friends? Perhaps you say it is no place for
them. So I say, neither is it any place for you, for you are entitled to no privilege that they are denied.
But some say it cures awkwardness and makes one graceful, and is healthful. Now can thisbe proven? No, a thousand times no, for to go through the motions necessary for dancing, now back to back, now face to face is anything but graceful, and for one to turn round and round is anything hut healthful.
It can't be the music that makes it attractive for you can find sweeter music in places of unquestioned propriety.
The chief attraction is the hugging. "It is hugging set to music," and part go to hug and part go to get hugged. Take the hugging out of it and it falls like an empty bag. And just one ball where men must hng men if they hug anybody, would put an end to the whole thing.
Not only the pose of the parties, but is the attire in keeping with true modesty? To see women with arms bare and neck as much so as the law will permit; does it I ask, inspire pure thoughts or suggest much that is noble and elevating?
I am quite apt to look over albums when calling here and there. Now I go into a home
and in the course of my stay pick up the album, turn over and come to the picture of a lady in the arms of some man. "Who is this?" I ask. "O, that's me." "But the man?" "O, he," with a blush, "is a friend of my husband." Turn over next and substantially the same, but another man, and perhaps we see a dozen of them taken in one night. Now, votary, would you really want such an album in sight? If not, why not? You consented to be hugged in public and now why be af:lhamed to be seen there on your centre table?
Would a young man of any sense choose a wife because she could dance, and was willing to be embraced by any and every libertine? Not much. He wants one that is pure, and as far from this as possible for his wife.
Would a young woman select a partner for life because he could dance? She might if she really wanted some one to support for such creatures are not worth their weight in basswood.
TIME TO DANCE.
But we are told that the Bible says "there is a time to dance." So it does! and in the same chapter it tells us there is a "time to kill," "time to hate," etc., and the dancing spoken of in Ecclesiastes has no more resemblance to the dancing of 1895 than Heaven does to Hell.
I called at a home once consisting of
husband, wife and three daughters. I had been there but a moment before the mother, knowing my views no doubt, asked me in these words:
"Mr. Willis do you see any h-a-u-m in dancing?" My answer Was: "Why don't you ask me if I see any harm in praying and visiting the sick and trying to get people to stop doing wrong? The very fact of your asking me, indicates to me that you see harm yourself, but you are not honest enough to own it," and pointing to her daughters said: "Those girls want to do right, but owing to your contemptable practice, and really compelling them to dance they have been expelled from the Y. P. S. C. E., and you ought to be ashamed." "Why, lVIr. Willis, now listen, we were all at a p-a-u-t-y the other night, papa, mamma, three d-a-u-t-o-s, and we danced from nine in eve till f-o-a-h in the m-a-u-n-i-n and then went home, said my prayer and went to bed." "Who to?" said I. "Oh, the L-a-u-d, of cose."
OPEN WITH PRAYER.
Did you ever know a dance to be opened with prayer? Now I won't object to balls if opened with prayer and closed with the benediction, and conducted in the spirit of the doxology, for it will end all right.
Peter Cartright, traveling at one time, stopped over night at a tavern. A ball was to be held at the same house. After going to bed the guests began to gather; a certain masculine girl among them learned that the preacher was
there and sent a challenge for him to come and dance with her. He accepted the challenge. He was soon on hand, and was given position first couple, first set. Music was sounded. Peter raised his hand and asked them for silence for a moment, and said he: "I always begin anything new with prayer." Then said: "Let us pray." Down on his knees he went compelling his challenger to kneel with him, and prayed as only Peter could. When done praying most all had gone out, but the few that remained were sobbing and crying to God for pardon. Thus ended the ball. So I say, if such men as Peter Cartright could direct the ball no harm would be done.
Now would it not Hound softer to have the news come to you that your daughter had breathed her last while pleading for some sorrowing soul at a religious meeting, than to learn that she had fallen dead on some floor while in the arms of some ballroom libertine?
Granting that you engage in the indecent and suggestive positions and motions without a sinful thought or feeling, do you believe your Heavenly Father could say to you: "Well done, thou good and faithful servant. Thou hast spent the night to my glory. Thou art in the world and not of it. Thou hast done nothing that could cause thy brothel' to offend, but hast set a good and Godly example. Thou art letting thy light so shine before men that they
will see your good works and glorify your Father which art in Heaven. Thou art denying thyself ana taking up thy cross daily and following me."
"I left my home in glory and lived and suffered and died, that thou mightest take thine ease, dance, play cards, attend theaters, drink and be merry and then lay down thy cross and take up thy scarce earned crown in glory to be with thy Saviour and be like Him."
Again I ask if we should come and find you at the dance locked in the embrace of another woman's husband, however innocent, do you feel that he would consider you ready? Or could you say at such a moment: "Come death thou end of fears, I am prepared to go." Instead do you not. feel if thus found, the Master would say: "Depart from me, I never knew you."
Does anyone with any sense think they can go on sowing to the wind and not be compelled to reap the whirl-wind? Can anyone look the matter square in the face and then make themselves believe that none of their sins will be laid to their charge.
Some time ago a party of fifteen or so started from a point on Lake George to attend a dance. The boat went down, nine were drowned. In reading the account much stress was laid upon the loss the church would
sustain. I thought: In God's name what church? Is it not true that communities that dance, etc., most, serve God least?
We hear some say, I can't be anything or anybody unless I dance and play cards, and I don't want to be so peculiar, so different from the world and have society votaries turn up their noses to me. O, no, no, don't want to separate from this old world, this world that crucified the Lord Jesus Christ, the King of Glory. This world that is to-day engaged in tearing open afresh the five bleeding wounds received on Calvary, but go right on; yes, yes, go right on conforming to all its vices rather than stand true and have the approval of God. God says: " Be not conformed to this world, but be ye transformed by the renewing of your minds, that ye may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God." -
NOT ONLY INJURES BUT RUINS.
A young lady belonging to a church of which the Rev. D. W. C. Huntington, D. D., was pastor, saw, or pretended she saw, no harm in dancing, but had no relish for the work of the church, finally went to her pastor and acknowledged she had injured her influence. "Injured," said the Dr. indignantly, "you have ruined it, you have no more influence for good than a goose."
The police of the city of New York are
authority for this, that nine-tenths of the fallen women in the city of New York took their first step in that direction on the dance floor.
IS DANCING ETC., ETC., A RECOMMEND?
Is dancing, card playing and billiards a recommend to places of trust? Let us see. Some young lady comes to me for a recommend, I cheerfully give and I write out a recommend setting forth her qualifications and not the slightest objection, but I add she is one of the most graceful waltzers in the town. The recommend would be thrown back into her face, and she would feel disgraced by it. Or some young man asks me for a recommend. I do the same by him, setting forth his qualifications, and then I add he is the champion progressive euchre player, or that he is a fine billiard player. I can fancy him presenting that to some men I know, and I can see them look at the young fellow a moment and then ask: "Did you find your way to my office alone? If you did you find it out as quick as your legs will carry you."
Parlor dancing and select guests, if select. What are you going to do with those that are not select, deny them? Those you now shun were once select like yourself, but after passing through the select process have become hardened, and you that are now select shun them. The real difference between parlor and ball room dancing is the same as between a little
and a big rattlesnake; they both have poisonous fangs, and the votaries of either are quite sure to feel their sting.
WHO ENCOURAGES YOUNG LADIES?
Could a young man that really and genuinely loved a young lady, and she a Christian, conscientiously encourage her to attend a ball? No more than he could put a revolver to her head and send a ball crushing through her brain conscientiously. One is moral murder and the other only physical.
FORTIFY AGAINST ALL INROADS.
Several commercial travelers corning out of Chicago one day on the cars playing cards and drinking whisky. Along carne another, and with the usual greeting: "Hello old boy, take something?" "No," said he. "Heh, getting mighty pious are you?" "No," said he. "But boys I will tell you what I saw while in Chicago. I know you'll laugh, but I was in a pawn shop to-day doing some business and saw a man come in with a pair of baby shoes hardly soiled and asked the broker for ten cents.' 'I want a drink.' 'Why,' said the broker, 'your child will need them.' 'No, she won't; she's dead.' 'How long?' asked the broker. "About ten minutes.'
"Now," said he, "boys, while witnessing that sight I thought of my own little boy and said never again will I touch another drop, lest it get the advantage of me and I duplicate the act of that poor drunkard."
I go to a ball; to be sure I am grey headed, but somewhat active and quite well dressed, breath scented, watch the movement of things. I see a very pretty young woman. I find that she is accompanied by her husband. I scrape an acquaintance with him, and soon I ask of him the privilege of dancing with his wife. "Certainly, Mr. Willis, certainly." And in due time I am introduced and engage her to dance. The dance is a waltz and so I put my arm around her and away we go, and round and round we go to the admiration of the young husband and his friends; with now and then a word of comment perhaps like this: "Don't he just do that thing up nice? I declare I didn't think that old fellow could dance like that." And in fact I ingratiate myself into the affections of not only wife but husband as well. Now that is one side, but the next day I go to that home, husband gone, and I do just what he licensed and approved the night before, and the husband comes upon the scene; and the first thing I know I don't know anything, for my brains have been pierced with a bullet. I deserve it for I have no business hugging other men's wives or daughters in public or private. The place for my hands is at home.
LAST ACCOUNT OF BIBLE DANCING.
King Herod gave a birthday party and together with his guests got drunk. Toward
the close a young woman, daughter of the woman he was living with, came before him and danced. It captivated the drunken King, so now he is anxious to reward her. So he told her to make any request she might and it should be given her. She told her mother what he had promised. The mother saw an opportunity to get revenge on John the Baptist, for he had charged her with living in adultery (and truly too.) So she told her daughter to ask the head of John the Baptist in a charger (platter.) The daughter did so. Executioners are sent to the prison, and a good man's head is chopped off and brought to her all covered with' his clotted blood; eyes rolled up in their sockets; muscles twitching, in a platter. And she takes it, carries it to her mother and said: "Mamma here it is."
Now then in view of this last act, if you seek to justify yourselves in dancing by the Bible, then you can justify yourselves in the commission of any crime known in the calendar And if you insist upon you may dance and dance till you have danced yourself down ,to the pit. But don't.
I can give only a moment to the subject of drink, while much can be said against this curse of curses.
After indulging in the vices I have named and striven for satisfaction, and always been disappointed; no lasting gratification, but a
constant longing for something else, the last resort in many instances is the cup. And, oh, to think of the deep, dark, chasm down to which drink leads is awful. The means poor victims will employ to gratify their cultivated appetites.
Let me give you one or two examples. A corpse is personal property, and may be bought and sold, and can be seized for debt in some of the States, (for some classes of debts.)
A father whose beautiful daughter died and was buried in the State of Michigan, after her her burial, did with his own hands dig up her body and sold the same to a medical college, and all because his love for drink, for he spent the most of the money he received for such.
In one of the western counties of this State, N. Y., (I will not give name on account of respect to members of family) while the family were getting ready for services at the house of a sweet young lady that had been taken, the father seizing a wreath that had been contribbuted by the class-mates, and took it to a nearby saloon and pawned it for drink. Now while it is true that drink is the most disastrous of all vices, it is just as true that dancing, card playing and theater going are tributaries that lead to and end in drunkards, and cannot be divorced from it any more than can the Hudson River continue to flow without the tributaries in the Adirondacks and other parts of the State. So don't sacrifice health, home and credit for a
home in Hell among the damned, but stop now that you can.
Let me just emphasize the pleasantness and peace; in a word, assure you that there is an escape. You can know, thank God; for yourself, that your sins are forgiven; that, notwithstanding you may have plunged into the depths of sin and degradation, you may see yourself in the horrible pit and in the miry clay, yet blessed be God, if you will repent of and forsake your sins, Jesus Christ will raise you up and care for you here, and if you are faithful give you a home among the saved down here and the sanctified and blessed beyond.
O, the graces which are yours to enjoy, if you but embrace them.
It is truly delightsome when we find we have done wrong to have some one to whom we can go and confess and receive pardon, some one we can trust; some one to whom we can pour out troubles as a little child to its loving mother, remembering there is no danger of being treated unkindly, but who will reward you in every act of mercy you perform. He will give peace of mind, peace in our families, peace in our social circles, and a peace that will abide; real peace that will enable us to enter the ocean of God's boundless love and end only in the fulness of time at His right hand.
[From E. L. Willis, "Social Amusements," a tract (1896) from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary Archives, via E-Text documents. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]
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