« PreviousContinue »
Scour your house to find out whether there are any of these adders coiled on your parlor center-table, or coiled amid the toilet set on the dressing-case. I adjure you before the sun goes down to explore your fainily ibraries with an inexorable scrutiny. Remember that ine bad book or bad picture may do the work for eternity. I want to arouse all your suspicions about novelettes. I want to put you on the watch against everything that may seem like surreptitious correspondence through the postoffice. I want you to understand that impure literature is one of the broadest, highest, mightiest gates of the lost.
Gate the second: The dissolute dance. You shall not divert me to the general subject of dancing. Whatever you may think of the parlor dance, or the methodic motion of the body to sounds of music in the family or the social circle, I am not now discussing that question. I want you to unite with ine this morning in recognizing the fact that there is a dissolute dance. You know of what I speak. It is seen not only in the low haunts of death, but in elegant mansions. It is the first step to eternal ruin for a great inultitude of both sexes. You know, my friends, what postures, and attitudes, and figures are suggested of the devil. They who glide into the dissolute dance glide over an inclined plane, and the dance is swifter and swifter, wilder and wilder, until with the speed of lightning they whirl off the edges of a decent life into a fiery future. This gate of hell swings across the Axminster of many a fine parlor, and across the ball-room of the summer watering-place. You have no right, my brother, my sister-you have no right to take an attitude to the sound of music which would be unbecoming in the absence of music. No Chickering grand of city parlor or fiddle of mountain picnic can consecrate that which God hath cursed.
Gate the third: Indiscreet apparel. The attire of woman for the last four or five years has been beautiful and graceful beyond anything I have known; but there are those who will always carry that which is right into the extraordinary and indiscreet. I am told that there is a fashion about to come in upon us that is shocking to all righteousness. I charge Christian women, neither by style of dress nor adjustinent of apparel, to become administrative of evil. Perhaps none else will dare to tell you, so I will tell you that there are multitudes of men who owe their eternal daination to the boldness of womanly attire. Show me the fashion-plates of any age between this and the time of Louis XVI., of France, and Henry VIII., of England, and I will tell you the type of morals or immorals of that age or that year. No exception to it. Modest apparel means a righteous people. Immodest apparel always means a contaminated and depraved society. You wonder that the city of Tyre was destroyed with such a terrible destruction. Have you ever seen the fashion-plate of the city of Tyre? I will show it to you:
“Moreover, the Lord saith, because the daughters of Zion are haughty and walk with stretched-forth necks and wanton eyes, walking and mincing as they go, and making a tinkling with their feet, in that day the Lord will take away the bravery of their tinkling ornaments about their feet, and their cauls, and their round tires like the moon, the rings and nose jewels, the changeable suits of apparel, and the mantles, and the wimples, and the crisping-pins."
That is the fashion-plate of ancient Tyre. And do you wonder that the Lord God in His indignation blotted out the city, so that fishermen to-day spread their nets where that city once stood ?
Gate the fourth: Alcoholic beverage. In our mid. night exploration we saw that all the scenes of wickedness were under the enchantment of the wine-cup. That
was what the waitresses carried on the platter. That was what glowed on the table. That was what shone in illuminated gardens. That was what flushed the cheeks of the patrons who came in. That was what staggered the step of the patrons as they went out. Oh! the winecup is the patron of impurity. The officers of the law that night told us that nearly all the men who go into the shambles of death go in intoxicated, the mental and the spiritual abolished, that the brute may triumph. Tell me that a young man drinks, and I know the whole story. If he become a captive of the wine-cup, he will become a captive of all other vices; only give him time. No one ever runs drunkenness alone. That is a carrion-crow that goes in a flock, and when you see that beak ahead, you may know the other beaks are coming. In other words, the wine-cup unbalances and dethrones one's better judgment, and leaves one the prey of all evil appetites that may choose to alight upon his soul. There is not a place of any kind of sin in the United States to-day that does not find its chief abettor in the · chalice of inebriacy. There is either a drinking-bar before, or one behind, or one above, or one underneath. The officers of the law said to me that night: “These people escape legal penalty because they are all licensed to sell liquor.” Then I said within myself, “The courts that license the sale of strong drink, license gambling. houses, license libertinism, license disease, license death, license all sufferings, all crimes, all despoliations, all disasters, all murders, all woe. It is the courts and the Legislature that are swinging wide open this grinding, creaky, stupendous gate of the lost.”
But you say, “You have described these gates of hell and shown us how they swing in to allow the entrance of the doomed. Will you not, please, before you get
through the sermon, tell us how these gates of hell may swing out to allow the escape of the penitent?" I reply, but very few escape. Of the thousand that go in nine hundred and ninety-nine perish. Suppose one of these wanderers should knock at your door, would you admit her? Suppose you knew where she came from, would you ask her to sit down at your dining table? Would you ask her to become the governess of your children? Would you introduce her among your acquaintanceships? Would you take the responsibility of pulling on the outside of the gate of hell while she pushed on the inside of that gate trying to get out? You would not, not one of a thousand of you that would dare to do it. You write beautiful poetry over her sorrows and weep over her misfortunes, but give her practical help you never will. There is not one person out of a thousand that will there is not one out of five thousand that has—come so near the heart of the Lord Jesus Christ as to dare to help one of these fallen souls. But you say, “Are there no ways by which the wanderer may escape?" Oh, yes; three or four. The one way is the sewing-girl's garret, dingy, cold, hunger-blasted. But you say, "Is there no other way for her to escape?" Oh, yes. Another way is the street that leads to the East river, at midnight, the end of the city dock, the moon shining down on the water making it look so smooth she wonders if it is deep enough. It is. No boatman near enough to hear the plunge. No watchman near enough to pick her out before she sinks the third time. No other way? Yes. By the curve of the Hudson River Railroad at the point where the engineer of the lightning express train cannot see a hundred yards ahead to the form that lies across the track. He may whistle "down brakes," but not soon enough to disappoint the one who seeks her death. But you say, “Isn't God good, and won't he forgive?" Yes; but man will not, woman will not, society will not. The church of God says it will, but it will not. Our work, then, must be prevention rather than cure. Standing here telling this story to-day, it is not so in uch in the hope that I will persuade one who has dashed down a thousand feet over the rocks to crawl up again into life and light, but it is to alarm those who are coming too near the edges, Have you ever listened to hear the lamentation that rings up from those far depths?
“Once I was pure as the snow, but I fell,
Hating the living and fearing the dead.” But you say. “What can be the practical use of this course of sermons?" I say, inuch everywhere.
everywhere. I am greatly obliged to those gentlemen of the press who have fairly reported what I have said on these occasions, and the press of this city and New York, and of the other prominent cities. I thank you for the almost universal fairness with which you have presented what I have had
Of course, among the educated and refined journalists who sit at these tables, and have been sitting here for four or five years, there will be a fool or two that does not understand his business, but that ought not to discredit the grand newspaper printing-press. I thank also, those who have by letters cheered me in this work-letters coming from all parts of the land, from Christian reformers telling me to go on in the work which I have undertaken. Never so many letters in my life have I received. Perhaps one out of the hundred