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dedwould be the bricing: Noing at yo‘Christ
“His saints are bidden to rejoice in Him evermore ; and only they whom 'the happy God' has made glad, know wbat true joy is." By this joy you doubtless mean that which the Apostle Paul calls "a fruit of the Spirit” (Gal. vi.), and which goes hand-in-hand, as a sister grace, with Faith, Hope, and Charity. What the various manifestations of this joy are need not be mentioned here: they are described almost on every page in the Sacred Record.
In your next sentence you say, “ Christians ought to play more heartily;" and then, arriving at your main point, you dilate on the excellencies of dancing. Now, as I hold Christian joy above described to be one of the brightest and most ornamental of Christian graces I should be glad to learn how, with such a premiss, you draw your deduction; in other words, what is the connection between this joy and the mere outgushing of our natural spirits in play and dancing That the natural faculty of joyousness in us is a gift of the Creator there can be no doubt; but to assert that this natural faculty always by a sort of necessity, leads us to'“ rejoice in Him evermore,” is by no means so certain. On the contrary, it could be easily proved that of all the natural gifts bestowed on men, they abuse this one most of all, and sin worst of all in their pleasures. Cases in point are daily patent to the eye of every observer, in the streets and alleys of our towns and cities. It is true indeed that “a righteous Creator” made man upright, but “ he has sought out many invent tions” wherewith to mar God's work most successfully. Hence conclude that joyousness may be where “true joy” is not—in ev as well as in good things ; that “all that is really natural” may not “ be good in itself,” and that dancing may possibly fall under this category.
I now come to your first (supposed) objection “ of religious people to dancing," that it“ is a worldly amusement, that is, that worlds people dance," &c.* That dancing is a worldly amusement there can I think, be no doubt; but that religious people object to it simple because "worldly people dance" I beg leave to deny. When we remember how many things there are in every-day life which reli gious people do in common with other people, the absurdity of the part of your objection must at once appear. If they are not like other people in their social pleasures, it is, or ought to be, because they differ from them on principle. To the remainder of your first objection I give full assent, but not from “a Judaizing spirit, which would make a difference in non-essentials between the Church and the world,” nor from “the heathenish doctrine that God is pleased to see His creatures torment themselves.”
Here permit me first of all to describe, in a few words, the persons whom I understand by your phrases, "religious people,
* Page 316.
"religious Dissenters," &c.; for upon a right apprehension of this matter the strength of my argument rests. In a nominally Christian country, where all are Christians who are christened at the parish churches, and where amongst free and Nonconforming thurches there is too much “profession without practice," it is necessary to make this distinction. Besides, it is evident from some f your remarks, that we are not at all agreed on this point. I go hen at once to the Scriptures, as exhibiting a perfect standard of Christian life and manners, even in their minor details, and soon ind the “religious people” you describe, at least in their social atherings, will not bear this test. Therefore, if, having the word * God as my standard of appeal, and an inspired apostle as my nstructor, I prove that not only “foolish talk, silly songs, and Sander," but dancing also, is unbefitting the Christian character, I shall have answered the objections," as stated in your paper.
By your term “ Christians,” &c., I understand those who are not banformed to this world, but transformed by the renewing of their mind who "present their bodies a living sacrifice, are become new meatures in Christ Jesus, old things having passed away and all hings become new." These are variously called in Scripture sous of God - people of God--saints of the most high God leep of Christ—the temples of the Holy Ghost”-hence they glorify Rod in their body and spirit, which are God's. They are to be bown amongst men, as “adorning the doctrine of God their aviour in ALL THINGS, as holding forth the Word of Life, as the ght of the world-a city set on a hill which cannot be bid ; and bally, to “be holy as He is holy," and to know the love of Christ, bich passeth knowledge, that they may be filled with ALL THE ULNESS OF GOD." We cannot suppose for one moment that here is a time allowed in which these characteristics may be laid side, and opposite ones assumed ; for the direction is that "the aus be girded about and the lights burning, and ye yourselves like nto men that wait for their lord, when he will return from the edding,” &c. Again, can we imagine it possible that these Sople, meeting together socially, should need dancing to cheer and fresh them? Would it be natural for us to expect this? Might s not expect rather that those who profess no religion would ma round upon us and ask, “With such a mighty, all-subduing, -pervading energy in the soul as you speak of, how is it that we de and hear so little of it?” The world expects Christians to be onsistent, not to mention a higher authority. But the answer to his question is, “because the standard is low at which Christians im." Like the heathen of old, they measure themselves by themelves; and thus our "holy religion” has so many unholy pro*Sors. As to religious conversation, it is almost tabooed from
the “religious" social circle, instead of its being the grand remed for ennui and dull meetings. This is to be deeply deplored an laid to heart; for, after all, it is to be feared that the lax professio of the day is not the result of false doctrine, of which we hear & much, but of heartlessness in religion. We know that error i doctrine will lead to error in practice; but the latter, in Christian has far more influence upon the world than the former. When under a professed belief in the doctrines of Christ, the world ca discover a holy, straightforward, and consistent life, religion by comes to them a reality ; it is the Bible which they read-th which they can see, and hear, and handle. But in all times th want of religion in its professors has been the canker in their mids which devours and destroys; and too often has proved to be tl hidden "accursed thing” which prostrates the hosts of the Loi before those of the Amalekites.
Can we imagine the sons and daughters of the Lord Almight going in costume to the evening dancing party ; reverend divine and doctors of divinity leading ancient, matronly, and your ladies down the dance (it may be, breaking the night's repose and all this as promotive of Christian joy! One would be di posed rather to think that
"The Babylonish tyrant, with a nod,
Had summoned them to serve his golden god.” If Christians have no better fare than this to place before ead other when they meet together, then let them never meet all. It would be better to be shut up in one's house, or even in nunnery, than thus to wound one's own conscience, and sin again Christ. But that this is not necessary I will show in the sequel.
Under “the second objection" you remark, “it is the glory Christianity not to destroy, but to reform-not to pull down, but build up. "It is much nobler to make an old thing better than invent some new thing." This I most fully admit, and will illu trate your argument by a case in point.
There is still extant a custom which religious people had lon before dancing was known amongst them in “waltz, polka, roun dance," or in its unobjectionable form as desired by yoursel Venerable and hoary-headed as this custom is, it yet lives in strengt and vigour, Christianity in its nobleness having built up and im proved it. It is a custom, moreover, which has had, in all ages, t strive against the corruption of the times and the unholiness o religious professors ; and which is calculated, under all circumstances, to strengthen the weak and cheer the downcast. We read of it as follows:-" Then they that feared the Lord spake often one to another, and the Lord hearkened and beard : and a book of remembrance was written before Him for them that feared the Lord, hought upon His name” (Mal. iii. 16 to the end). If we to trace this custom down to New Testament times, we have to go to our inspired teacher again, and we shall find him ing the Christians of his days in these words :-“not forsaking ssembling of yourselves together as the manner of some is, xhorting one another, and so much the more as ye see the pproaching. Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns piritual songs, making melody in your hearts to the Lord. e on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the lo fulfil the lusts thereof.” And the great Master Himself he highest honour on the Christian social meeting, and conwith it one of His most glorious promises; for He says:re two or three are met together in my name, there am I in idst of them.” include, therefore, that the Christianity of the Bible gives no inance to the practices of "religious people," mentioned by ilf, dancing included. If even it could be proved that dancod dancing parties were unobjectionable, amongst the things , there are thousands of devout people who would deem them dient mainly for these reasons—the unsuitability of the iny, the dress, the hours, and many other things. Besides, riendship of the world is enmity against God ;” and “when al falls in with God, it falls out with the world.” If we o "win the world back from the devil,” we must do it by ng its customs and practices, and showing the excellence of .cheerful, consistent life. But “doing evil that good might ' would prove how false Christians are in their allegiance to jord. “Ye are of God, and the whole world lieth in the I one.” Is there not, therefore, abundant reason why ians should be on their guard as to all life-habits and pracbringing them constantly to the test of the Word ? “To the d the testimony, if they speak not according to this word, it luse there is no truth in them.”
"third objection” in your paper is similar to the second, Ore a few words from me will suffice. It is very gratifying n from you that there are “many parents," who "make no sion, who will not allow their daughters to waltz, and many ladies” who “ feel the bad taste of the usual way of dancing 1 dances.'” All I can say to this is, may their number se daily! But you say, "we shall never make religion ful in the world's eye by forinality," &c.* . Pray, when ever eligion beautiful in the eye of the world? When it was lied in all the beauty of holiness in the person of our Lord,
it was put to death by the world with the hope of getting rid it! A grand mistake, however, this! Again, you say, “we sha never get any good by trying to be better than human natur So the world was lost.” Did ever any Christian man or woma present such an argument before as this? The whole tenor Scripture is against you: "If ye live after the flesh ye shall die but if ye, through the Spirit, do mortify the deeds of the body ye shall live. The carpal mind is enmity against God; it is not sul ject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.” Now, by th carnal mind we must understand human nature unrenewed b the Spirit of God. The Son of God was made man to restore us the image of God, lost by sin, and again to make us partake of the divine nature. If we do not try “to be better than huma nature,” we shall find ourselves in bad case at the last. Neith will the world be lost by sincere atteinpts to get above the sinf alienations of our hearts from God. Eve, when tempted to ri above human nature, was in a state of holy friendship with Go and of perfect conformity to His will. Hence I prove a fallacy i your reasoning.
As to the play of children, it is always to be tolerated, ere when they “make Bedlam of a drawing-room ;” and if Christian want play, I know nothing so promotive of it as the company children.* Of course, on these occasions there will be no e couragement given to late hours, vanity in dress, neglect of famil worship, nor to anything which shall implant and quicken a tas for gay company. Will you permit me here to record a rule whic I have found very useful throughout life? Whether in work recreation, to undertake nothing in reference to wbich I cann pray, ask God's blessing, and try to keep “a conscience void offence toward God and toward men."
And now Mr. Editor,-You express considerable difficulty answering your correspondent Saltemus off-hand. Permit me ask, did not this difficulty arise from your mistaking the persons whom he points his remarks ? for while these bear chiefly on red gious people, you turn and attack the English nationality, as wantin "in gaiety to harmonize with the flowers and bright skies of spring an summer.” By-the-bye, a well-known living writer says somewher that “the grey clouds and gloomy skies of old England are thos which mainly contribute to the growth of the mental bone an sinew of her sons."
You say again, “ No doubt there is a great deal of superstition among those who try to be good people.'” You certainly do no mean by these the “sons of God—the saints of the Most Highway
for says more intento later the promoting roo
* What if children play at dancing ?-Ed. C. S.