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´╗┐Title: A Discourse on the Evils of Dancing
Author: Mesick, John F.
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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                   A DISCOURSE ON THE EVILS OF DANCING


                        DELIVERED MARCH 8, 1846,

                        BEFORE THE CONGREGATION

                                   OF

                    THE GERMAN REFORMED SALEM CHURCH

                                   OF

                            HARRISBURG, PA.,

                 By the Pastor, the Rev. John F. Mesick,

                        PUBLISHED BY THE VESTRY.

                              HARRISBURG:

                         THEO: FENN, PRINTER.

                                 1846.


                                   HARRISBURG, March 11, A. D. 1846.
    REV. JOHN F. MESICK--_Dear Sir:_ On last Sabbath evening, 8th
    inst., you preached a sermon to our congregation on "_The Evils
    of Dancing_." As this is a custom which is in much practise even
    by those who consider themselves patterns in society, and, who
    generally comprise the youth, and say that it is an innocent
    amusement. We would esteem it as a favor if you would furnish us
    with a copy thereof for publication that it may be circulated in
    our Sabbath Schools, among the votaries of dancing, the parents
    and friends of those who have been assenting to it, in the hope
    that they may read it and learn its evil consequences, and
    abstain from its practice hereafter, and be satisfied that its
    use is not in character with the present age, whatever may have
    seemingly commended it in former days.

                               JOHN C. BUCHER,
                               GEO. P. WIESTLING,
                               GEORGE ZINN,
                               DANIEL W. GROSS,
                               ELIAS ZOLLINGER,
                               JACOB SHELL,
                               LUTHER REILEY,
                               GEORGE BEATTY,
                               RUDOLPH F. KELKER,
                               SAMUEL B. KEYSER,
                               VALENTINE EGLE,
                               GEORGE L. KUNKEL.

       *       *       *       *       *

                                         HARRISBURG, March 11, 1846.
    _To the Vestry of the German Reformed Salem Church:_
    DEAR BRETHREN: Although the Discourse preached on Sabbath
    evening last, was prepared during the preceding week as a
    regular duty, without a thought in reference to a request of
    this kind; yet as you have been pleased to express a wish to see
    it in print, in the hope of extending its usefulness, the
    manuscript is at your service.
                      With sincere esteem and affection, yours, &c.,
                                                     JOHN F. MESICK.



THE EVILS OF DANCING.

ROMANS, XII. 3.--"BE NOT CONFORMED TO THIS WORLD."


The Bible is the only rule for all who wish to be saved. The professed
Christian, not only, but every unconverted man, must bow to its
precepts, if he would gain the favor of God. There is but one way, and
but one gate of entrance into the Kingdom of Heaven, for saint and for
sinner. Whatever, therefore, shall be acknowledged to be the duty of the
covenanted follower of the Lamb, is equally the duty of every individual
who stands disconnected with the visible Church.

It is a doctrine of revelation that, both classes of persons will be
judged by the same law, and will be tried with equal impartiality and
rigor. We are taught that, what Divine justice shall demand from the
one, it will demand from the other; and that there is no respect of
persons with God. The human race, as dependent and accountable agents,
are placed on the same moral level in his sight. Each commandment of his
word is addressed to every hearer of the Gospel. And all are under
obligation to obey its injunctions, as they value the eternal welfare of
their immortal spirits.

It is on this incontrovertible principle that I shall proceed to speak
from the text: "Be not conformed to this world,"--assuming it as an
undeniable truth that, what God requires of his children, he also exacts
from the people of the world; and that whatever is inconsistent with the
reputation or character of a good church member, is no less inconsistent
with the eternal salvation of those persons who have not made a public
profession of religion.

We take our ground boldly on this portion of scripture, and assert that
the fashionable amusement of Dancing, is contrary to the _spirit_ and
_aim_ of the Gospel, and, therefore, is opposed to the revealed will of
God. Your attention is invited to two points:

FIRST--To the necessity of non-conformity to the world; and

SECONDLY--To the facts proving that Dancing is an act of conformity to
the world.

I. We begin with _the necessity of non-conformity to the world_.

The Scripture sense of the term, _world_, is that collection of
idolaters, unbelievers, and wicked men who constitute the great bulk of
the inhabitants of our globe; in short all persons who do not belong to
the Kingdom of God.

_This definition_ corresponds with the declarations of Christ: "My
kingdom is not of this world;" "Ye are not of the world, even as I am
not of the world;" "If ye were of the world, the world would love his
own, but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of
the world, therefore the world hateth you."

The sentiment of the text is not the voice of a solitary passage, but is
amply sustained by other portions of the word of God. There are many
similar precepts addressed to believers: "Arise ye and depart, for this
is not your rest; because it is polluted, it shall destroy you, even
with a sore destruction;" "Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye
separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing." "Love not
the world, neither the things that are in the world; if any man love the
world, the love of the Father is not in him." "Know ye not that the
friendship of the world is enmity with God?" "Ye cannot serve God and
Mammon." "Choose ye this day whom ye will serve." "If the Lord be God,
follow him; but if Baal, follow him."

These commandments of our Heavenly Father, are not _hard sayings_ to the
soul that has been delivered from this present evil world through faith
in Jesus; for it has acquired through the work of the Spirit, a holy
resignation to every intimation of the Divine will, and supreme delight
in God as infinitely lovely, which causes every other source of pleasure
or of happiness to become tasteless and insipid. To carnal minds, we
admit, that they will sound like tyrannical edicts, because they seem to
them to take away their natural liberty; shutting them up from the
pursuit of that kind of enjoyment for which they pant, which they know
not where to find, and in search of which they wander "through earth,
its gay pleasures to trace."

But to souls renewed by Divine Grace, the yoke of Christ is easy and his
burden light. True Christians, the heirs of glory, are separated from
the world, not only by profession, not only by external badges, but what
is of higher moment, by their character and spirit. They are essentially
a peculiar people; singular in their opinions and practices, and created
unto good works. They are distinguished by a conversation in Heaven.
They move through society as pilgrims and strangers on the earth. They
keep themselves unspotted from the world, as temples of the Holy Ghost.
They seek in Heaven an inheritance which is incorruptible, undefiled,
and that fadeth not away, as heirs of God and joint heirs with Jesus
Christ. And they reflect the love and holiness of Jesus, as those who
bear the Saviour's image.

_A wide and unalterable distinction exists, therefore_, between the
servants of God and the people of the world, a distinction as
perceptible as that which divides the night from the day, and the
darkness from the light. "The one are born from above, the other from
beneath. The one are quickened by Divine grace; the other are dead in
trespasses and sins. The one are governed by the Spirit of God, and the
other are under the dominion of Satan. The one consult the glory of God,
and cheerfully resign all for Christ; the other make self the centre
around which they move."

Such irreconcilable discordance in the primary elements of their
character forbids the thought of their amalgamation. We might as
reasonably expect that oil and water would commingle and become one
fluid, as that true Christians should blend their hopes and interests
with those of the world. The natural and ardent opposition, growing out
of their respective principles and aims, renders a separation between
them inevitable, absolutely necessary, necessary at least for the
safety, comfort, consistency, and usefulness of believers.

There is no need of further exposition, to show that the injunction of
the text is deep-laid in the very constitution of things--and is the
natural result of the incompatible differences between submission to the
will of God and rebellion against his moral government. The followers of
Christ can never consent to a compromise involving these principles,
unless they are willing to sacrifice his cause. Allegiance to Heaven
demands that true Christians should never shrink in the hour of trial
from the ignominy or suffering of the cross. If they would be holy, they
must possess the courage to dare to be singular, and to meet the world's
derisive laugh on account of the tenderness of their consciences, or
their inexperience in the vanities and customs of fashionable life. They
should receive as an honor its scorn and ridicule, when heaped upon them
because they continue faithful to Christ; because they implicitly follow
the directions of his humbling doctrines before men; and because they
steadily maintain the line of separation between the church and the
world.

No man deserves the name of Christian, no man can indulge a good hope of
salvation, unless his faith in Christ is productive of non-conformity to
the world; a stand which is indispensable to his separation from a
perishing race and his incorporation into the Kingdom of Heaven.

II. In the second place we proceed _to adduce the facts proving that
Dancing is an act of conformity to the world_.

1. Even if could be shown that it is a _healthful amusement_, the
position assumed by the text, would exclude it from the recreations of
those who love and obey God, imposing on them the obligation to refrain
from it, and to resort to other means of exercise, to which no valid
objection could be made.

No apology, we are sure, can be offered for Dancing, as usually
conducted, _more weak_ than the common one, that it promotes the health
of the body. Some thing doubtless might be accomplished by it for the
attainment of this object, if it were practised in the day-time and in
the open air. But usually, in obedience to the arbitrary decree of
fashion, _the most unseasonable hour, and the most unfavorable
circumstances are chosen_.

Many an untimely death has been the dreadful penalty incurred by
exposure on such occasions; and the fearful blow has generally fallen
among the ranks of lovely woman. Follow the fragile, venturesome forms
of our delicate, modernly dressed ladies to the ball room. They pass
from their habitations, arrayed in a garb whose style and materials
would render it a fit garment to be worn only at mid-summer; covered
with a light wrapper, lest the decorations of the toilet should be
deranged, and protected from the snow or frozen pavement only by thin
soled shoes. They spend several hours together under the excitement of
lively strains of music, and of the glittering array of beauty and
fashion, in a chamber brilliant with a multitude of dazzling lights, and
crowded with guests to the destruction of the vital properties of the
atmosphere; and in physical exertions to which they have been
unaccustomed, and which open all the pores of the skin. The system is
also deranged by loading the stomach with indigestible food, and by
encroaching on the ordinary and necessary hours of repose. Then with
heated and wearied frames, in that state peculiarly exposed to the
injurious action of the cold, they suddenly exchange the warm
temperature of the assembly chamber for the chilliness of the damp night
air--the tropic of the ball room for the Siberia of the street. Alas!
what a perilous price to pay for the admiration of the fashionable
throng, or for the fleeting gratification of the hour. In that wintry
blast consumption smites his smiling victims, and fills up the weekly
calendar of his fearful ravages. In our large cities, where this insane
contempt of health and life is sanctioned by the uniform practice of the
God-forgetting multitude, this fell destroyer snatches his prey from the
ranks of fashion by scores, and scourges them more fatally than the
pestilence.

And yet individuals can be found in the midst of our community, so
devoid of wisdom and foresight as to advocate the introduction of this
pernicious amusement into our social circles. We trust that if they
cannot be reached by any higher motives, that a regard for the health
and lives which will be sacrificed to this modern idol, will induce them
to pause, and to consider well the way of their steps.

2. The position assumed by the text, would exclude Dancing from the list
of Christian diversions, even if it could be shown _that it is innocent
in itself_.

This, however, is a point which the worldling labors in vain to prove by
the most skilful use of religious sophistry.

Persons on whose judgment we rely with great confidence in matters of
this sort, have abandoned the idea which they, in common with others,
once entertained, that Dancing, if properly regulated, might be
harmless. It is their settled opinion, founded on considerable personal
experience and on observation, "that the nature of the amusement itself,
even in its least exceptionable forms and in limited exercise, is
such--that it has a tendency to inflame passion, to poison virtue, to
endanger purity, and to lead on to gross and deadly evils."

Modern dancing, as generally practised, is a gay and guilty pleasure. It
receives no warrant from the Bible. The only kind of Dances recorded in
the Sacred Scriptures, are religious Dances, forming part of the worship
of God: "with the exception of that of the vain fellows devoid of shame,
of the irreligious families described by Job, and of Herodias"--which
are no more an example for us because they are recorded in the sacred
narrative, than the treachery of Judas Iscariot, in betraying his master
with a kiss.

But then we must remember the fact that the Religious Dance was
practised only on joyful occasions; that it was performed in the day
time, in the open air, and only by one of the sexes at a time. There is
not a historical notice in the word of God, of _promiscuous dancing_
either as an act of worship or amusement.

And those persons were reckoned among the vilest of mankind who
perverted Dancing from a sacred use to mere purposes of amusement.

At the present time, as we cast our eyes over the map of the world, we
discover that dancing is still practised as an important part of
religious worship by the inhabitants of all heathen countries; by the
Indians of our own Western forests; by the superstitious natives of
Africa, and by the effeminate and luxurious Asiatics. But as employed
among the ceremonies of idolatry in Southern Asia, it has been changed
from the slow measured movements, practised by the ancient Greeks and
Romans, to a style, which one Missionary remarks, "would not be
tolerated on the boards of the lowest theatre in Europe, or in America."
Dancing girls, arrayed in the most costly ornaments of dress, and quite
equal in skill to some of the modern exhibitors of that art in the
theatres of civilized lands, are invariably connected with heathen
temples in the East Indies, as their constant attendants.

Let us turn our attention from these regions of idolatry, and inquire
among what nations of Christendom this amusement is most popular, that
we may trace it throughout its various existing associations. At the
head of what are usually denominated civilized countries, we must place
France, Italy and Spain, where on the Sabbath it is deemed entirely
consistent with the claims of Christianity to go to the house of God in
the morning, and to a bull-fight and a dance in the public gardens in
the afternoon. And it might be an instructive commentary as to the evil
effects of this amusement on the morals of those nations, to go more
into particulars, were it not that the facts concerning the virtue,
purity and chastity of the fashionable circles of France and Italy,
disclosed by travellers, are too appalling to be repeated.

In England the chief patrons of the dance are their card-playing,
theatre-going, and horse-racing aristocracy; who are indebted to their
purse and to their title for their standing in society; who are too
indolent generally to cultivate their minds; and who are seldom capable
of gaining distinction, except by extravagance and debauchery. In these
_higher_ circles no man is deemed respectable who cannot "trip it on the
light fantastic toe." And that person is scouted as a mawkish prude or a
hypocritical fanatic, who scruples to go the whole round of these
_elegant_ amusements. Says a writer of this class: "He must be a
desperate gnat-strainer who gives and goes to dances and yet objects to
cards. The strictest Pharisee in the land, indeed, _could find no
argument against it_." This is a modest assumption which we have no time
to notice. In commenting on this quotation, it is sufficient for our
present purpose to remark that the opinions and practices of the
fashionable world, compel us to class these recreations in the same
category.

Let us now look at the _introduction_ of this fashionable amusement into
the United States. It comes from the gay saloons of Paris and of London,
and it is an imitation of the corrupt and ruinous fashions of the old
world. It is the entering wedge of luxury and licentiousness, the fatal
antagonists to the purity and simplicity of our republican institutions
and manners.

Look again at the _tutors_ of this art, to whom fond parents entrust
their beloved children, to enable them to acquire this agreeable
indulgence, and you will generally find that they are the very refuse of
foreign cities; men destitute of either stability or principle; who, on
account of their profession, are not esteemed worthy of an introduction
into the social circle of the families by whom they are employed. Every
judicious person must acknowledge that there is great danger that the
tender and susceptible minds of youth will be contaminated by such
associates. There is not a family in our land, so high or well governed,
but that its children are more or less exposed to temptation and
destruction; and we cannot, therefore, with too great jealousy or care
guard against the beginnings of evils.

Look, also, at the style and character of those modern dances, which are
most admired and most fashionable; and you will perceive at a glance
that their movements, attitudes and evolutions are repugnant to a
natural sense of propriety, and inconsistent with that unsullied purity
of mind which we consider inseparable from the individual to whom we
would yield the homage of our hearts. The soul that commands the love of
the virtuous, must be spotless as the unfallen snow. Genuine attachment
can be based only on esteem. In all honesty, therefore, we must strike
that from the list of innocent amusements, which, from its very nature,
involves such a perilous trial of moral principles; that contact with it
almost inevitably inflicts a loss of mental refinement, if not positive
pollution, by opening the doors to a licentious imagination.

There are other evils of great magnitude, which strip off the mask of
innocency from this frivolous and sinful amusement. It occasions a loss
of precious time, which God has given for nobler objects. It produces
dissipation of mind, disqualifying it for the ordinary and serious
duties of life. It wastes money, which some cannot well afford to give
away, or which might be much better employed in furnishing the means of
intellectual improvement, or in works of benevolence. It encourages
extravagance in dress; inflating the mind with intolerable vanity and
pride, and training up our sons and daughters to become reckless
spendthrifts, despising honest industry and commendable economy. It is
ordinarily connected with the use of wine and of strong drinks, casting
down unwary youth from the path of sobriety, into the depth of poverty
and drunkenness. Finally, it indisposes the soul to _religion_, exciting
folly, levity, and kindred corruptions of the human heart, and begetting
disgust for the worship and service of God.

Miss Beecher, who ranks with the most distinguished ladies of our
country, and who owes her reputation to those circumstances only, which
should command esteem under our democratic institutions, to her
intelligence, refinement, and virtue, speaks of this art in the
strongest terms of disapprobation. "In the fifteen years during which
she had the care of young ladies, she affirms she has _never known any
case_ where learning this art, and following the amusement, did not have
a _bad effect_, either on the habits, the intellect, the feelings or the
health." A testimony so respectable, ought certainly to satisfy every
mind, which is governed by truth and reason, as to the evils of Dancing.

3. But a higher consideration, why dancing should be discountenanced,
and that indeed which decides the course of duty, is, _that it is an
amusement by which the world is distinguished from the kingdom of Jesus
Christ_.

It is part and parcel of an _education for the world_. Its object is the
acquisition of a graceful carriage, an easy movement, and elegant
manners. Its aim is to prepare an individual for introduction into
society with advantage. And its design does not extend beyond the
success of his worldly prospects.

No one has ever had the hardihood to maintain that fashionable dancing
is a medium of Divine blessings to the soul; that it secures the
influences of the Holy Spirit; or that it prepares the mind for the
hallowed exercises of the closet. No one ever yet adopted the absurd
idea that it was a substitute for Faith and Repentance; that it was a
means of recommendation to God; or that it was an accomplishment for the
employments of Heaven. No one ever yet expected that a revival of
religion would commence in a ball room; or that thoughtless sinners
would be converted by going to a cotillion. These significant facts
plainly show on which side of the dividing line, between the church and
the world it is to be placed. They forbid mistake.

Dancing, so far from being a means of Grace, is a part of a counter
system of means; devised by the God-forgetting, pleasure-seeking
multitude, to exclude their Maker from their minds and from his own
world. Their chief desire is to banish all serious thoughts of their
sinfulness, guilt and danger; of their obligations and duties to their
Creator; and of death, judgment and eternity. To escape reflection they
flee to the excitements of the dance and of the revel; where art
exhausts its skill and music lavishes its power to divert and engross
the attention. Amid scenes of delusive splendor, which, to the youthful
imagination, appear as enchanting as the creations of poetic fancy, they
contrive for a brief season to lose the pang of remorse, and to snatch a
draught of feverish and unsatisfactory joy. True happiness and solid
peace are perpetual strangers in the artificial gayeties, and gaudy
splendors of fashionable circles; where too often the honied words of
flattery disguise a hollow heart; and the studied smile, and merry
laugh, are assumed to conceal the sting of envy, jealousy and chagrin.
The bright illusions by which the young are spell-bound, gradually fade
away before the light of experience. And it is no uncommon thing in
these resorts of worldly pleasure, to find the utmost gayety of manner
in unnatural union with sadness of soul, produced by the discovery of
the selfish passions, covertly working beneath the surface in all minds
present; or by the sudden and irresistible conviction of its folly as an
occupation for an immortal being. Especially on the return of the
votaries of pleasure to the solitude of their chamber, have they been
overwhelmed with remorse and the keen upbraidings of conscience.

But in all this sadness there is no religion; for it is only the sorrow
of the world. It has no higher claim to approbation than the regrets of
the wilful and deliberate murderer. It cannot atone for the wrong which
it has committed; and it does not terminate in the purpose to renounce
the sin in which it originates. Hence if any spiritual good grows out of
these melancholy emotions it is by accident.

In vain, therefore, will the advocates of Dancing attempt to escape the
dilemma in which they are involved. The practice of this amusement is
altogether a worldly matter. Its obvious tendency is to keep dying
sinners from thinking of the salvation of their souls; by pre-occupying
their time and attention with earthly delights, and by tempting them to
cast off fear and to restrain prayer. Its natural result is to incite
infatuated youth to ridicule serious Christians and faithful Ministers
of the Gospel, as fanatical, gloomy and righteous over much. It confirms
them in a spirit of levity and thoughtlessness, emboldening them to mock
at sin, to trifle with the most awful truths, and to go down gaily to
the gates of eternal death.

No other measure is needed on the part of the God of this world, than to
keep the votaries of pleasure engaged in such vain amusements, to insure
their destruction in Hell. The more alluring this tempting bait is to
their carnal taste, the more certainly will they become a prey to the
great enemy of souls. They are condemned already because they believe
not; and they need commit no other sin than to neglect the great
salvation to perish under the withering curse of the Almighty. There is
but a step between them and death. The next hour spent by them in such
frivolous enjoyments may be their last. For aught that they know the
very ground on which they revel, may cleave beneath their feet, and
entomb their immortal spirits in eternal woe. To run the giddy round of
the amusements of the fashionable world, under these hazardous
circumstances, is as great a madness as to sport with arrows,
fire-brands and death.

To each individual, therefore, I must say by Divine authority, in
reference to this particular pleasure, see to it, that you "Be not
conformed to this world." In opposing this message, you do not quarrel
with the speaker, but with God. Your Sovereign commands; and at the
judgment seat He will exact obedience at your hands.

To every professing Christian, who has joined in the Dance, I am in duty
bound to say, without qualification or reserve, that he has broken his
covenant with God; by which he pledged himself to withdraw his
affections from the world and to renounce its pomp and vanities forever.
That act is a violation of the promise, as obligatory as an oath,
because uttered before high Heaven; to be governed by the example of
Christ, to live for the salvation of souls, and to labor for the Glory
of God. It is an infraction of the vow of self-consecration,
voluntarily, deliberately, and prayerfully assumed; under all the
circumstances which could impart sacredness to the verbal declarations
of dying men, to forsake all for Christ, and to be crucified to sin and
to the world. It would be just, it would be no more than you might
expect, that God would do unto you as you have done unto Him; that as
you have broken the contract between yourself and Him by neglecting your
engagements, that He should decline to perform those stipulations which
are dependent on its conditions, leaving you to perish in the paths of
transgression in which you have delighted to wander.

The Dancing professor of religion, not only destroys himself but does
immense injury to the souls of unconverted men. He encourages all who
live without hope and without God in the world to persevere in their
neglect of religion, and to go on securely in the entire round of
fashionable amusements. They will naturally suppose that if it is
consistent with preparation for Heaven, for him to venture so far within
the enchanted circle of worldly gratifications, that there can be no
harm in their proceeding a few steps further.

It is true, _all_ of the unconverted may not reason in this manner,
because their own consciences will testify that the misconduct of others
is not the rule of duty, but there are many who will--the young, the
ignorant, and the inexperienced, the weak in moral principle, the
vacillating in purpose, and the strongly tempted; all of whom, will be
led by the ignis fatuus light of your inconsistent and pernicious
example, away from the path of piety and peace, into the slippery and
downward course of sin, remorse, and eternal death. And at the
judgment-seat of Christ, you will appear with the blood of lost souls
on the skirts of your garments.

The Dancing professor of religion _gives offence to his brethren in the
Church_. The fact that among this number, some of the weaker members may
be found is no excuse for the deed. At the same time we think it a point
of great moment, that the most eminent and exemplary Christians, and the
most zealous and intelligent ministers of the Gospel, of all
denominations, have put on it their seal of condemnation. They maintain
that they cannot discover any sanction for this art, in the example of
the blessed Saviour or of his holy Apostles. They contend that it unfits
them for prayer and for communion with God; and that they cannot pass
from the dissipating excitement of the crowded and noisy ball-room to
the throne of grace, and do their duty there with comfort or profit.
They say that they cannot ask God's blessing on the employments of an
evening so spent; and that the next time they attempt to warn
unconverted men of the dangers to which they are exposed in the world,
that they feel rebuked by the remembrance of their own conduct to that
degree that they are afraid and ashamed to open their mouths on the
subject.

For these obvious reasons the Ecclesiastical bodies of several religious
denominations in our country, have expressed their deliberate opinion of
its inconsistency; and have recorded their protest against it by a
formal vote. And for the same reasons, the most active, self-denying and
benevolent friends of the Redeemer in every community, never give their
presence to the ball-room, and are deeply grieved with those nominal
Church-members who do.

Under these circumstances what is duty? What would Paul do? Such was his
anxiety for the salvation of others, that on this account, things
lawful, and therefore much more unlawful he would resign. The tenderness
of his concern for the spiritual welfare of others exceeded so far all
selfish considerations that he declared--"If meat make my brother to
offend, I will eat no meat while the world standeth; lest I make my
brother to offend." "It is good neither to eat flesh nor to drink wine,
nor any thing whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made
weak." This is the Bible rule. And against those who disregard it, a
fearful malediction has been uttered by the Great Head of the Church.
"Whoso shall offend one of these little ones that believe in me, it were
better for him that a mill-stone were hanged about his neck and that he
were drowned in the depth of the sea."

The dancing professor of religion, by his inconsistent example,
paralyzes the energies of the Church. He is a _false_ witness against
Christ and his cause. He does not recommend but disgraces the Christian
name.

The people of the world do not esteem him more highly on account of his
conformity to their peculiar practices; on the contrary they do not
believe that he is _any better_ than themselves. They have no
confidence in _such_ members of the Church; they look upon them as
hypocrites or mere professors of religion; they do not believe that they
are converted and refer to their example only by way of excuse. They may
applaud their beauty, they may admire their wit, they may emulate their
accomplishments, they may envy their wealth, they may copy their
manners, and they may imitate their style of dress--but they never speak
respectfully of their religion. Not unfrequently they make their
inconsistencies a subject of satirical remark. "See, that Church
member!" say they, "to-day he is the star of fashion, and the leader of
the midnight dance--to-morrow he occupies the chief seat in the
sanctuary, and is in appearance a most devout and humble worshipper."

Experience and the word of God, teach but one method by which the gay,
frivolous, wicked and proud world, can be won over to the service of the
Redeemer; and that is to hold up to its view the truth, through the
medium of an irreproachable example; on the one hand rebuking its
follies and sins, and on the other, showing it a more excellent way.

It cannot be denied, that the people of the world are often strongly
tempted to skepticism by the conduct of the Dancing professor of
religion. They are led to inquire--is there any _reality_ in the work of
the Holy Spirit? Here is a man that asserts that he has been born again,
but where is the evidence? What does he do more than others? With his
lips he declares that God is his portion; that religion is his chief
concern, and that Heaven is his home. But by his actions he says more
plainly than words can indicate, that his supreme happiness lies in the
world, that Christ is a hard task-master, and that his anticipations of
religious comfort have been disappointed.

It is no wonder, that unconverted men with such stumbling-blocks in
their pathway, turn a deaf ear to the Gospel. Amid the perplexity of
mind too often produced by the glaring inconsistencies apparent between
Gods truth, and Gods professed people; nothing short of the Almighty
power of the Holy Spirit, can persuade unconverted men to believe, "that
godliness is profitable for all things." On these carnal members of the
Church, must rest, therefore, the larger portion of the guilt incurred
in a congregation by grieving the Spirit of God, and by infecting the
minds of sinners with an uncontrollable degree of levity. To their
worldliness must be attributed in a great measure, the check which is
given to the progress of the glorious Gospel in converting perishing
souls from Satan unto God. And it is a question which they must settle
with their consciences, "how can they meet these charges at the bar of
the Final Judge?"

The dancing professor of religion robs the Church of the benefit of his
services. His moral influence in the community where he resides and is
known, is destroyed. Like Samson shorn of his locks, he is destitute of
strength. He has not only lost the spirit of prayer, but he has no power
at a throne of grace, "The prayer of the wicked is an abomination to
the Lord." His approaches to the Mercy Seat become lifeless and
heartless. And it is no marvel, that eventually he deserts the closet,
the social meeting for Prayer, and the House of God.

Such a professor of religion is a contrast to the prevailing spirit of
the age, which is characterized by efforts to enlarge the borders of the
Kingdom of God in the conversion of sinners. He lives devoid of
spiritual consolation himself, and by exciting prejudices against vital
piety, keeps others away from the fountain of life. He leads thoughtless
sinners down to Hell, whilst he tells them that he is conducting them to
Heaven. With one hand he pulls down the kingdom of Christ, and with the
other he builds up the kingdom of Satan. He betrays his Master with a
kiss. He grieves the souls of all the well wishers of Zion. He brings
down the displeasure of a righteous God on his holy heritage. He is far
worse than an open enemy, for he strews the path that leads to perdition
with tempting flowers, and he whispers peace in the ears of sinners who
are walking in the ways of death. He is a traitor among the soldiers of
the cross. He is an Achan in the camp of Israel.

And the same inconsistency and guilt which are chargeable on the dancing
professor of religion, rest in a great measure on those members of the
Church, who, although they do not indulge in this gay pleasure
themselves, yet grant permission to their children to attend this kind
of assemblies. The danger, whatever it is, certainly is as great for the
members of the household, as for its head. And the word of God lays down
the principle, that it is the duty of Parents, to use their authority to
prevent their offspring from following any amusement in which they think
it would be wrong to engage themselves. Fathers and Mothers, therefore,
who consent that their children shall learn and practice this art, are
sadly neglecting their parental duties, and are to no inconsiderable
extent partakers of this sin of their sons and daughters.

It is an act of cold blooded cruelty to the souls of those whom they
ought to love most tenderly. And we would ask, how can they approach the
Mercy Seat for prayer in faith, with the petition on their lips, "lead
us not into temptation,"--whilst they have thrown the tender lambs of
their little flock into the very jaws of the lion? They certainly are
not so destitute of sensibility or understanding, that they would tempt
their poor confiding little ones to dance, amid the rocking of an
earthquake, or the roaring of a thunder storm, or whilst standing on the
edge of a slippery precipice. How then can they with any claim to the
feelings of common humanity, cast their children into the vortex of
worldly pleasures, where they are momentarily exposed to the infinitely
greater evil of having body and soul dashed to pieces on the rocks of
eternal damnation?

In view of such considerations, every Christian parent ought to come to
the unalterable determination of bringing up his family with the
understanding that they are neither to know nor practice this
fashionable amusement.

The just application of the principles introduced into this discourse,
destroys this worldly pleasure root and branch. Their true
interpretation is the language of total abstinence,--"touch not, taste
not, handle not." They allow no compromise with this social evil. And in
cases which admit of doubt, and where it is hard to draw the line,
because the impropriety is not so manifest, they utter their interdict.
It is wrong, therefore, for Christian families, among themselves or with
a few friends, to practice dancing as an amusement. It is their duty to
refrain from it, if for no other reason, because it is one of the
distinctive badges of the ungodly world; and because they are bound to
make the line of demarcation between the Church and the world plain and
visible. In opposition, to this sacred obligation, it is a poor excuse
to alledge that it is only a family affair. The family circle needs to
be enlarged, only by the addition of a few guests, to impart to the
parlor much of the appearance of a ball-room. Safety, consistency and
usefulness, demand that every follower of Christ should renounce it
altogether.

To see the true nature and character of this amusement we must view it
in the light of Eternity. Let us contrast the merriment and folly of one
of these gay and trifling assemblages, with the pure, earnest and solemn
worship of the glorious intelligences gathered around the throne of the
infinite God. How evanescent are their joys in contrast with the eternal
blessedness of that bright circle of seraphic intelligences! How
different is their estimate of sin, from that which is formed by the
Holy Sovereign of the universe! They jest and laugh whilst trampling
under foot his righteous laws; but He frowns on each transgression with
a look of awful displeasure, and is "angry with the wicked every day."

Again, what an extreme of condition under God's moral government, does
the gaiety and levity of that giddy company present to the weeping, and
wailing, and gnashing of teeth, of the damned in Hell!--many of whom, in
their life time indulged in the same guilty pleasures; and with whom,
the principal actors of this scene might in one instant be associated
forever, by a single word of an offended and neglected God.

Or who would not be shocked in turning from the contemplation of the sad
spectacle of the crucifixion; the body of Jesus mangled, rent, covered
with a gore of blood, his dying groans sounding in the ear!--to the
levity and laughter of the ball-room, crowded by those whose sins have
nailed him to the accursed tree and opened all his wounds anew.

But look forward a few years, or months only it may be; and how diverse
will be circumstances of thoughtless trifles! They cannot live forever.
Together with us, they are treading the path to the tomb, and there is
one coming to meet them whose presence is a terror to all transgressors.
Yet into its darkness they must descend, and before that Infinite Being
they must shortly stand.

From the noise, splendor, and mirth of the ball-room, they must pass to
the silence, gloom and grief, of the chamber of death. The giddy, vain,
perhaps, scoffing circle of revellers, must be exchanged for the
anxious, sorrowful, weeping company of relatives and friends. The showy
finery of the ball dress, must be replaced by the winding sheet and the
grave cloths. That form which under the tutoring hand of art, moved with
such grace, through all the evolutions of the dance, must lie icy cold
in the embrace of death.

Then they will have done with earthly things. No music with its dulcet
notes will wake the echoes of the dreary caverns of the dead; no jovial
companions will relieve the dullness of the grave; no dance will fill
the void of slow revolving ages. The worm will feed on them sweetly
there, and their souls will receive according to the deeds done in the
body.

When this event arrives the votaries of pleasure will turn pale with
terror. They will beg for life. The absorbing inquiry will be "What must
I do to be saved?"

But then, oh! how horrible the thought--it may be too late. Unconverted
sinner flee these scenes of guilty pleasures as the Gates of Perdition.
Prepare without delay to meet thy God. Let the golden moments of life's
short day, be consecrated to Prayer, to Repentance, and to Faith in
Jesus. Then, too, mayest thou ascend at death, to that bright and better
world, where the Saints forever reign, and where from before the light
of God's countenance, sin, darkness and sorrow, flee away, and where the
soul is filled with a joy unspeakable and full of glory.





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