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Abouut Dancing

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The Methodist church was crowded last Sunday night, notwithstanding the threatening weather, to hear "The Dance Weighed in Silver Balances." Chairs were placed in the aisles and vestuble, yet many had to go away and others stood up throughout the entire service. The speaker spoke j stantially as follows: "Rejoice, O young man, in thy youth; and let thy heart cheer thee in the j days of thy youth." (Eccl. xi, 9.) This text. the entire verse and the entire Bible has nothing to say against the "Merry heart that maketh a cheerful countenance," and "doeth good like a j medicine," and the Bible approvee of all the sport that naturally and I cently flows out of a merry neart. Prof. ! Huxley tells oí the Hindoos ping the English plow - there are too i many that are doing that in our country. Many think that they have 110 time in this world for anythin,? except to make money. This spirit I repudíate. This spirit the Bible repudíalos. Man needf= to take time to play and sing and pray, as well as to dig and plcw and bargain. It is only a foolish pre.iudice that could think that mlrtta and musio and games are unaodly. Two weeks ago we weighed popular amu'.-err.exits in the rough iron balances of common sense and we all de.ïideï tliat in order to be a real recreation, an Innocent amusement, it should benefit us physically, or brighten and benefit us mentally, or do us good socially and that there must not be any grave overbalancing disadvantages. Finally we agreed that the aim of a nan's life ought not to be a frolic or a picnic and and that no so called amusement ought to interfere with our aim in life as business men or students or with our duties as sons or citizens of christians. i These were not ex-Cathedra denunciations, nor bigoted, fanatical propositfons; but reasonable and practical rules, by which to test our-reereations. To night I appeal to all men who are able to reason and to all who are rincere and honest in their desire to do right and only right, as I apply these tests to the dance. And I want to say first, as I said before, that Methodists do not object to dancing- of a certain kind. We do not object to the Bible kind of dancing: leaping for joy in religious ecstacy or in innocent exhilaration. In Bible times at the religious' festivals the maidens danced in bands and the youths in bands. The sexes always danced eepar&tely excepting in the Bacchanalian festivals of the Iieathen which the Bible emphatically disapproves. The only promiscuous dance in which the Children of Israel engaged was that in connection with the making of the golden calf. But they had many pure religious dances, and so in the early church on feast days there was a religious dance in whieh the Bishop led the chorus. The early christians believed in dances - of that kind. If your dances are like that I would not disapprove them. There is no sin in the step of a dance. Dancing is the poetry of motion, acted music and it has always been one of the tensest delights of the young. it ïnay be volI uptuously beautiful, luxuriojsly laciv ious, flendishly wild; er it may be i gleesomely innocent. There is no sin I in the step of the dance. Vhere is no sin in the musie of the polka and the waltz, as some queer people tliink. If the class leader and his wife or iL you and your brother should go through the steps of the dance, I should say nothing asainst it. I do not ask what step. If on the lawn or at the lawn party in the joy of their heart some of the young girls should whirl arcund I in the steps of the dance - what weulc I care, or any well instructed christian? I would not ask whether it was the Greek or the American or the can step. You know in África they scarcely move their feet at all, tut keep time by shrugging their shoulders and their elbows backwards and forwards. I see no harm in that. The Bushmen support themselves on sticks when they dance and keep one foot perfectly motionless. The other foot does all the dancing. There is no harm in that so far as I can see. In Yucatán they dance on stilts. That might be good exercise. The Hottentots dance on all fours, some imittitingr the antics of the baboon and others the actions of the frog and the kangaroo. Their dance is literally a hop. Now I see nothing sjriously vrrong in this and if your teacher ot gymnastics should put ynu through this course I would not disprove of it - and I am sure that your calisthenics Eind Delsarte training can give yon all the grace that you would gain tram a French dancing master. Thora is no more sin in keeping time to inusic with foot or body, any more than with head or hand, and I defy anyone io ?ton ihat sort of dancing when the ban i plays. A lady once told me that I was "breaking the discipline," because I was dancing around the parlar with the baby in my arms. That was nonsense. It is no sin to keep time to music. That lady had wholly misunderstood the philosophy of our objections to this amusement- if we have any; f.nd we have. Now, you knew at the beginning how I was going to come out. You knew that if I approve of the dance that I would not be here, a Methodist preacher. If I had any manhood I would get out of this pulpit if I wanted publicly to favor it. Rut I want you to know that I am not opposed to the dance because it is contrary to the Methodist discipline to dance. Not at all. What our general rules say on this subject is, that Methodists must not "take such diversions as cannot be used in the name of the Lord Jesus." But that is scripture language. If you talk about the narrowness of the Methodist rule you are talking against the r:arrowness of the Bible itself. If you think that rule condemns dancing. It is true that from the beginning the highest councils of our church and our most intellectual men have said as Dr. Buckley in a late Advocate, "We will not attempt to prove that among the diversions to be prohibited dancing must be included, because we cánnot believe that any Methodist who is not a reproach to the name he bears can have any doubt about it." But the Methodist church is not so much stronger on this point than other evangelical churches. I have testimonias here f rom the pastoral letter put orth by the Archbishop and Bishop of the Roman Catholic church, from the General Assembjy of the Presbyterian church and from the most distinguished leaders of the Congregational, Baptist and j other evangelical churches, whtah prove that all of these solemnly believe tnat the dance of today is not an innocent amusement which can be taken in the name of the Lord Jesús. Local churches of these great denominauons may be slack in this matter, and perhaps a preacher here and there. but these g eat representative bodies speak out with no uncertain sound. Now I have been taken to one side on the street several times this week and warned that what I am going to say tonight would not increase my popularity with the young folies, or with some of the members oí this ehurch. Let me say a wori about that. In the first place I belisve in free speech and I have a perfect contempt for the overgrown Lnfant v,-ho can't listen to a man who disagrees with him without becoming his enemy. And secondly I think if there is any place in the world where there should be absolute and honesty of speech and where the face of no man is to be regarded, it is the pulpit. If there is any member of this rhurch who wants a preacher simply to ray what he likes to hear- why it isn't a preaoher that he wants. He wants ene of those men I saw the other day at the anatómica! laboratory - polovers they called them, or cadavers or some such name. That's what he wants. Simply put a phonograph inside of liim and talk into him on Saturday what he will talk out of hira on Sunday. It's a cadáver he wants, not a live man with independent reason and conscience and tongue; not a prophet of righteousness; not a preacher of Jesus Christ, who gets his message straight from the sky and utters its frankly and plainly l'ke a man and a christian. Well, all I have to say, any such person will not be suited with me until I do become a cadáver. Now for the argument. Once I beleved as many of you do that dancing was all right. I know a man can be a good true man and a christian too and still think that parlor dancing, and such like, are entirely innocent for I once feit just that way. Shall I teil you frankly wliy I now disapprove of them and why the evangelical church disapproves of them? Listen then as we appjy 1he tests. No ene will probably claim that the dance benefits one physically or mentally. True the exercise if taken at a proper time, in proper degree, in a proper way (as in school), might not be injurio 'is; but I have here the testimony of Dr. Dalton, the great physicologist, deelaring that the dance as it is carried on "is an injury instead of an advantage." Therefore if that is the reason you dance the reason is not sufficient. Dance parlors are not sanitariums, as many a poor girl as proved to her cost. Physicians declare that the dance is a Hf'ic source oí disease; how daré I or you say it is not hurtful. I lately received a letter from a young lady who asked if I wonld object to her dancing when it was prescribed by a physieian to overeóme the mental stram of study. I replied: No, I would not object- unless the prescription were given by a very young physician, or the medicine was suggested by the patiënt! I called attention, however, to the fact thut medicine is not usually taksn in public and there was no need of dancing with those who were healthy and in no need of such medicine. She mignt dance with the other girl patients or get up early in the morning and enjoy a good dance all by herself. Indeed if the prescription called for the late hours and fashionable and the excitement of a dancing party, 1 would say, "Better let up on your studies a trifle; for such medicine does r.ot usually make the studies come casier the next day." Is that not true? Do you mothers find your daughters belter empered, more obliging, more eneretic, more helpful, more iheerful for ioing to the dance? No, and the hiarity which brings a reaction of mental luggif-hness and sleepiness and üissatisaction is not a rational and therefore not an innocent amusement. But is the dance not a benefit to us ocially? Certainly not the square dances, for conversation and social inercourse ceases. What shall we say of he round dances? Certainly there is abundant opportunity to get well acquainted. No one denies that fhere is ufflciently close intercourse. I clare not say all that it is possible to say on this subject. Ah! young men, young women; you with your purity of heart and wholesome home surroundings, you (many of you) know not of the temptation to awful sin, which these dances are to many. I do, fcr I have had confessions come to me, not ene, many - from young men that stood highest in their society circles. The Catholic priest knows more, and the confessiona has revealed an abyss beneath the dancing floor. I know from personal and awful knowledge that the inodorn society dance does aftect the social nature; but not for its betterment. ín saying this I stand by the side of every great religious reformer - Knox, Calvin and Wesley and all others; of every missionary; of every great revivalist whom God has honored as a soul winner - Fundy and Mills and Chapman and Moody and Spurgeon, and all others. All of these denounce the round dances as bad in their proved tendencies to evil. Why are these dances so popular, oven with the lowest classes of society? Why cannot the same glow of excitement be produce when the young men dance together and the young women together? "Why are these so much more popular than : the old fashioned, graceful and modest dances, now almost forgottan? There is a reason and it is not a good reasrn. That man knew the reason whom Punch reports to have told his hostess that he did not dance, but he would be happy to sit out the waltz with his arm around his partner. I ara far from hinting that these dances are not enjoyed by many in j perfect mnocence so far as their intent is coricerned. I know that ladies of the purest reflnement and men of the most irreproachable charac,ter do this, but no míe can read Byron's poem on the waltz or can listen as I have done to a company of young men diseussing the last ball, without discovering that some - and some who get to the best society balis- lo enjoy these dances and know why they enjoy them, and the reason is not good. That some that you meet in the dance- and must , meet, for you cannot discrimínate - have these unchivalrous and unholy motives ought to be enough to frighten you away, if your soul is pure, just as soon as you know this. Every minister knows that I have not told half that I might teil. I have the testimonies here of perhaps a dozen of the noblest preachers and bishops cf the Episcopal chureh, who write more plairiy than I can speak before the roiscelaneous audience. These dances are the dances which voluptuous, licentious Paris taught us, and although you yourself may be too innocent to recognize that spirit of Paris which throbs within them, yet even innocently you ought not to be allowed to harm otlicïrs by your practice and influence. But you say I do not waltz, or if so it is only with my wife or bister, er most trusted friend. Certainly these select home parties cannot in justice be confounded with miscellaneous public balls; but, alas! I have known very few young people, if any, who began with the select parlor dance who did not, at least when away from home, dance .lust the same and with a company not so select. But you say I do not waltz, I confine myself to the square dances. That's just what I did after awhile - at least I tried tó do so. But I would go to places where there was no expectation of any other dances being called than the square dances and the others would be Introduced, and when you get there it is almost impossible to refuse when invited. "Why not? you dance. You are not going to be so vulgar and uncharitable as to refleet upon the company by such lUscrimination are you?" I found it impossible ïf I danced at all not to dance the round dances, which I knew were doing harm to sorae of my eompa lions. I saw finally that the dance was an institution which was looked upon with suspicion with tne very men I trusted most and would have wanted to pray with me if ever I wanted to be a christian. I heard progressive christians sneered at even by dancers beeause they danced; as if they thought that this was not appropriate for men and women of christian principie. Even before I became a christian I wanted to be as stainless in reputaüon and character as any christian could be; ranch more after my conversión did I wont my iniluence to be pure. But I did not flnd that my relish for the Bible and for the prayer was as great after the dance, nor did I meet the people there who prayed in th? rrayer meetings or were honored by the Holy Spirit as soul winners. I found that I did not need it physically, mentally or socially. I saw it made no man a more devoted husband, a more respecful lover, more honorable or ohaste, ond I I knew some who had lost in the dance their servitiveness of honor and conscience; their love of the church and of religión. I gave it up. Did I not have sound reasons for my action? Have y ou not the same? It occurred to me also, that pven, at ; the most irreproachable dancing party j that I ever attended, it would have seemed to me most incongruous and wrong for my pastor or Sunday school superintendent to take part. Yet why not? If it were right for me, it would be right for him. Hear me young gentlemen: I speak that I do know and testify that which I have seen. The dance is the greatest foe of the christian life. I have personally known many in country and city who have told me that they could not dance and live a christian. There were people in the Mills meetings who struggled to be christians and could not untll, flnally, they gave up the dance, and then God gave ihem his peace. The dance deadens the conscience and so intoxicates the Kenses that men and women will -ïratify this wild passion even though Jiey must dance over ruined souls and by open graves. Two years ago when the Moravia laid in quarantine at New York, and all America was mourning because of the scourge it had brought to our shores, the dancers on board that snip spent the evening dancing to the most intoxicating musie - though ihey knew that under their fiying feet were 22 dead and dying victims of Ihe cholera! That is no worse than to dance over the corpse of broken vows and dance on though one knows that by the ing immortal souls may be destr:yed. Listen! I know individuals in this city who for the love of the dance are periling their souls and have acknowledged this to me. Ah! Their mothers who sent them to the dancing school and thus created a taste for this intoxicating amusement little thought that it i would ultimately lead them to this acknowledged and persistent disebedience to God. "Rejoice, Oh, man in the ways of thine heart and in the sight of thine eyes; but know thou that for aM these things God will bring thee into judgment." "Happy is he who condemneth not himself in that which he alloweth." The topic of the next Sunday evfcnlng lecture will be "If we can't dance or go to the theater, what can we young people do - play pedro?"


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Ann Arbor Courier