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THE GATES OF HELL.
"The gates of hell shall not prevail against it."-St. Matthew xvi:18.
• It is only 10 o'clock," said the officer of the law, as we got into the carriage for the midnight exploration“it is only 10 o'clock, and it is too early to see the places that we wish to see, for the theaters have not yet let out." I said, " What do you mean by that?” “Well,” he said,
, “the places of iniquity are not in full blast until the people have time to arrive from the theaters." So we loitered on, and the officer told the driver to stop on a street where is one of the costliest and most brilliant gambling-houses in the city of New York. As we came up in front all seemed dark. The blinds were down; the door was guarded; but after a whispering of the officer with the guard at the dour, we were admitted into the hall, and thence into the parlors, around one table finding eight or ten men in mid-life, well-dressed--all the work going on in silence, save the noise of the rattling "chips” on the gaming-table in one parlor, and the revolving ball of the roulette table in the other parlor. Some of these men, we were told, had served terms in prison; some were slip-wrecked bankers and brokers and money-dealers, and some were going their first rounds of vice-but all intent upon the table, as large or small fortunes moved up and down before them. Oh! there was something awfully solemn in the silence--the intense gaze, the suppressed emotion of the players. No
one looked up. They all had money in the rapids, and
drink, some to ply the counterfeiter's pen, and so restore their fortunes, some resort to the suicide's revolver, but all going down, and that work proceeds day by day, and night by night, until it is estimated that every day in Christendom eighty million dollars pass from hand to hand through gambling practices, and every year in Christendom one hundred and twenty-three billion, one hundred million dollars change hands in that way.
“But," I said, “it is 11 o'clock, and we must be off.” We passed out into the hallway and so into the street, the burly guard slamming the door of the house after us, and we got into the carriage and rolled on toward the gates of hell. You know about the gates of heaven. You have often heard them preached about. There are three to each point of the compass. On the north, three gates; on the south, three gates; on the east, three gates; on the west, three gates; and each gate is of solid pearl. Oh! gate of heaven; may we all get into it. But who shall describe the gates of hell spoken of in my text? These gates are burnished until they sparkle and glisten in the gas-light. They are mighty, and set in sockets of deep and dreadful masonry. They are high, so that those who are in may not clamber over and get out. They are heavy, but they swing easily in to let those go in who are to be destroyed. Well, my friends, it is always safe to go where God tells you to go, and God had told me to go through these gates of hell, and explore and report, and, taking three of the high police authorities and two of the elders of my church, I went in, and I am here this morning to sketch the gates of hell. I remember, when the Franco-German war was going on, that I stood one day in Paris looking at the gates of the Tuilleries, and I was so absorbed in the sculpturing at the top of the gates—the masonry and the
bronze--that I forgot myself, and after awhile, looking down, I saw that there were officers of the law scrutinizing me, supposing, no doubt, I was a German, and looking at those gates for adverse purposes. But, my friends, we shall not stand looking at the outside of the gates of hell. Through this midnight exploration I shall tell yoni of both sides, and I shall tell you what those gates are made of. With the hammer of God's truth I shall pound on the brazen panels, and with the lantern of God's truth I shall flash a light upon the shining hinges.
Gate the first: Impure literature. Anthony Comstock seized twenty tons of bad books, plates, and letterpress, and when our Professor Cochran, of the Polytechnic Institute, poured the destructive acids on those plates, they smoked in the righteous annihilation. And yet a great deal of the bad literature of the day is not gripped of the law. It is strewn in your parlors; it is in your libraries. Some of your children read it at night after they have retired, the gas-burner swung as near as possible to their pillow. Much of this literature is under the title of scientific information. A book agent with one of these infernal books, glossed over with scientific nomenclature, went into a hotel and sold in one day a hundred copies, and sold them all to women! It is appalling that men and women who can get through their family physician all the useful information they may need, and without any contamination, should wade chin deep through such accursed literature under the plea of getting useful knowledge, and that printingpresses, hoping to be called decent, lend themselves to this infamy. Fathers and mothers, be not deceived by the title, “medical works." Nine-tenths of those books oome hot from the lost world, though they may have on
them the names of the publishing-houses of New York and Philadelphia. Then there is all the novelette literature of the day flung over the land by the million. As there are good novels that are long, so I suppose there may be good novels that are short, and so there may be a good novelette, but it is the exception. No one--mark this--no one systematically reads the average novelette of this day and keeps either integrity or virtue. The most of these novelettes are written by broken-down literary men for small compensation, on the principle that, having failed in literature elevated and pure, they hope to succeed in the tainted and the nasty. Oh! this is a wide gate of hell. Every panel is inade out of a bad book or newspaper. Every hinge is the interjoined type
a corrupt printing-press. Every bolt or lock of that gate is made out of the plate of an unclean pictorial. In other words, there are a million men and women in the United States to-day reading themselves into hell! When in your own beautiful city a prosperous family fell into ruins through the misdeeds of one of its members, the amazed mother said to the officer of the law: "Why, I never supposed there was anything wrong.
I never thought there could be anything wrong.” Then she sat weeping in silence for some time, and said: “Oh! I have got it now! I know, I now! I found in her bureau after she went away a bad book. That's what slew her.” These leprous booksellers have gathered up the catalogues of all the male and female seminaries in the United States, catalogues containing the names and the residences of all the students, and circulars of death are sent to every one, without any exception. Can you imagine anything more deachful? There is not a young person, male or female, or an old person, who has not had offered to him or her a bad book or a bad picture.