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a hard master. The language of the dancing professor is this: “I have deliberately and publicly chosen Christ for my portion. I have tried to draw my comforts from his word, and service, and presence; but, alas! I cannot. I find his service so hard, his yoke so heavy, that I must return to the world for comfort. My master is so severe, that I must fly to the beggarly elements of this world for comfort. I cannot be happy unless I have some pleasures from earth!” What kind of a confession is this for a professed Christian to make? And what tendency has this to lead men to feel that the "
of wisdom are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace ?”
3. The dancing professor encourages the world to go as far in amusement as they possibly dare, and claim respecta
ility. But few of the professors of religion, and the congregations with which they are surrounded, live within the reach of the theatre. Gambling is out of the question for respectable people. Horse-racing is illegal and disreputable. What amusement remains for worldly people ? Dancing is the most genteel, the most fashionable, and most bewitching. It is as far as irreligious people can or dare go. Shall Christians go with them ? Shall they go, and encourage the world to go as far in amusements as respectability and good standing in worldly society will allow them? It is going with the unconverted part of the world as far as ever they dare go; and is this safe and Christian ground? We think not.
4. The dancing professor palsies the labors of the minister of Christ. The minister of the gospel, if he be “ a good minister of Jesus Christ,” watches, and labors, and prays for himself and his people. He is in covenant with his church. His ordination vows bind him to do all he can for their spiritual good. They promise to labor, and pray, and co-operate with him.
But if there is any one thing:
that will break down the strong man, and bow the loftiest courage, and grieve the warmest heart, it is to see his church rushing into the amusements of the world. The Sabbath ministrations fall powerless, the weekly meeting is deserted, the fires on every altar languish, and the pastor grieves and weeps in discouragement. His heart sickens and breaks. He must either come out, and lighten and thunder, and thus wrestle with his church, and perhaps get thrown away, or he must silently sink into discouragement, and go away from them. Whether he go after he has protested solemnly, or feeling that protest will do no good, he most likely must go. The church of God dance him out of town. No faithful, conscientious minister can long remain the pastor of a dancing church. Is it right, and proper, and Christian for professors of religion to do so?
5. The dancing professor grieves the best part of the church. There is a certain part of the church who will not
go into this amusement. They may not be the oldest, the wealthiest, and most fashionable ; but they will be the best. They will be those who pray, who are most faithful to the prayer-meeting, to the lecture, to the Sabbath school, and to the charities. They are those who are sent for to pray with the dying. They are the most consistent and humble part of the church. ese are always sad, and grieved, and mourning over this course of conduct. Is it right to make the faces of God's best people sad?
6. The dancing professor grieves the Holy Spirit. That cannot be right in the Christian, which the Holy Spirit, coming in his enlightening and powerful influences, would destroy. The coming of the Holy Spirit, in a revival of religion, always puts a stop to dancing among professors. The greater the power of the Spirit among any people, the less disposition have professors to dance. Can that be
right, and safe, and proper for the professor, which cannot bear the presence of God's Spirit? In revivals of religion, are those professors who thus engage in this amusement, as likely to have their children converted? Look around, on a dozen families of your acquaintance, and see. Most woeful are facts which have come under my own observation on this point. I could tell a fearful story on this head.
7. The dancing professor destroys his own comfort. He may have the excitement of the motion, the music, the company, and the like, but he has no comfort as a Christian. He cannot but know that his brethren feel that he is not a consistent, praying man. He knows the world do not look upon him as anything better than a Christian by
He knows that no eminent Christian ever did so. He knows that the best Christians around him do not. He knows that the world do not consider him a Christian; that they laugh at his professions, and that, when on their death-bed, they will never send to him to pray with them. He cannot labor for the salvation of men: first, because he has not heart to it; and secondly, because he has no influence. Have you ever known a dancing professor who had any influence as a Christian? Solemnly-Is it right for a professed Christian to sell all his character, and influence, and comfort, for the pleasure of dancing through life with a God-forsaking world ?
8. The dancing professor is below the standard of the age. The church of God has begun a great work—the salvation of the earth. She is bringing her gold and silver, her sons and daughters, her heart and her prayers, to the altar of God. She is consecrating all that she has, and is, to the glory of God and the salvation of the earth. She has battles to fight with Popery, Paganism, Mohammedanism, and the powers of darkness and sin. She has no heart to fritter away, no love to let grow cold, no time to waste, no strength to expend on vanity. Christ calls for every power and faculty. Here is enough to interest, to enlarge the mind, to humanize the soul, and to lead the man and the Christian to his highest earthly condition. It is wrong to throw away and palsy the powers which a dying world needs.
WHAT IS CONVERSION ?
What is conversion ? this is a question which must be answered ; conversion is a term which much he clearly understood, before any man may presume, in apostolic language, to cry "convert yourselves.” Apostolic example may be safely followed, only when the language of the apostles is used in the same sense in which they themselves used it. Did they use the term conversion then, or the word of which we regard to convert as being the proper translation ; did they use that word to express that change which the heart of the sinner undergoes when he is made a child of God; that of which the Lord spake to Nicodemus, when he said, “ye must be born again?" They did not. It is in no case used by them to denote that being born again, which every man must be, before he can become a son of God, an heir of heaven. It is by them applied not at all to a change of heart, but to a change of conduct. It has this reference to a change of heart, that it is an evidence that a change has been effected; and it stands in this relation to the new birth, that it is the acting of that life which has been implanted. To establish this, examine a few of the passages of Scripture in which the word is used.
The primary idea expressed by the word in the original-of which 'a village preacher,' so familiar with eminent professors, and tutors of colleges, must have an intimate knowledge-is to turn towards, or return. It is so translated in our common version, when it has reference to a change of bodily position, as in Rev. i. 2, Acts xvi. 18. When used to express a change in conduct, the idea remains the same, but, in that case, the word is more usually translated, to convert. To show that this is not designed to express the change itself, produced in the sinner's heart, when first he is brought out of darkness, into the marvellous light of the Gospel of the Son of God, it will be proper to refer to some of those passages, in which the word translated to convert occurs. In Matt. xiii. 15, “ This people's heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed ; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted.” Here, at least, it is not the change of heart that is designed to be expressed ; for the opening of the eyes, the unstopping of the ears, and the understanding with the heart, are all regarded, as necessary to precede the conversion. The conversion is the result of these eyes being opened to see the true light, and those ears to hear the message of truth. And is it those who have closed their eyes lest they should see, and stopped
est they should hear, wl have themselves opened them again! Have those blind eyes, and those dull ears of themselves opened to see the light, and hear the truth which they would not see or hear! That heart was gross, lest it should understand; and has the grossness purified itself? Then is Job a very fool, when he answers the question, “ who can bring a clean thing out of an unelean ? Not one,”
In Luke xxii. 32, our Lord uses the same word in addressing Peter, “Simon, Simon, behold Satan hath desired