Through his method, he was able to discover that the angel garrison was attacked by an army of Maker Constructs that nearly overwhelmed them through sheer numbers before they received reinforcements from Abaddon himself. Death's interview was cut short when a small group of angels attacked him, angered by his desecration of their fellow's corpse. Death defeated them handily, and in doing so realized why he had been unable to detect them earlier and why the site was barren of battle signs. At his call, the angel that had cast the powerful illusion, Azrael , allowed it to fade.
After discussing the angels' purpose at Eden, being the protection of Eden where the Council had not bothered, Azrael brought Death to the small fortress that was the angels' camp to speak with Abaddon. The three grudgingly discussed the terms of an alliance to uncover the perpetrators of the attack. When Death discovered that Abaddon had lost his eye to a long thought lost Nephilim sword named Affliction, he immediately became worried as to what other ancient weapons they might have liberated from the dead worlds, the old battlefields of the Nephilim.
The eldest Horseman refused to elaborate on his fears to the angels and departed at once. It was to Kothysos, the site of the fiercest battle the Nephilim had fought before Eden and the world where the Nephelim had lost Affliction, that Death journeyed to next. He found that a massive force of Maker constructs were excavating the ancient battlefield, scavenging what they could of Nephilim weapons.
By the light guard and small prizes the constructs uncovered, Death surmised that whoever had made the constructs had already found what they were looking for and were merely wrapping up their operation. After dispatching a number of constructs and upon examining the pile of scavenged materials, he discovered fragments of handles, grips, and other material crafted from leathery flesh, confirming his fears that the constructs had discovered a lost Abomination.
Shortly after this discovery, Death's companion, Dust, fell into a fit and through him the Horseman received a vision of the Crowfather 's domain under attack by yet another construct army. Death went to the Crowfather's frigid domain and made his way to the Crowfather himself, using subtlety to sneak and ambush his way across the battlefield where constructs did battle with flocks of crows so large they blotted out the sky and the elements of the realm itself, gusts of blizzard and even bolts of lightning, as the Crowfather marshaled the power of his own domain.
When he found the Crowfather, the pair combined their abilities to drive the last of the constructs from the icy plains. After arguing about the Crowfather's lingering connection to Dust, they worked out a way get the knowledge they wanted from a dead construct. The Crowfather placed the soul of one of his dying crows within the construct, mingling it with the memories of the construct itself. Death then used his necromantic powers to consult the spirit, discovering that the Maker that had built the construct army was named Belisatra and his worst fears were confirmed: someone was looking for a way to awaken the Grand Abominations.
Death then returned to the Charred Council to give his report and warn them of the danger posed by the Abomination Vault with the other three Horseman present. He told the Council and the other Horsemen about the Abominations and the Abomination Vault, though he refused to reveal its location regardless of the Council's threats.
Death managed to convince the Council that his usefulness in this matter outwayed his insolence and they agreed to send the Horsemen to investigate. However, the eldest Horsemen ordered War, Fury, and Strife to stay behind. Despite their protests, they eventually agreed to abide by his wishes. Before leaving the Council's domain, Death paid a visit to the Keeper of Oblivion, the being that holds power over the portal to the realm of nonexistence known as Oblivion and a fellow servant of the Charred Council. As a friend, Death expressed his discomfort with the feelings of guilt that the resurfacing of the Abominations had brought on.
He then told the Keeper most of his history concerning the abominations, not because he was seeking council, but because he wished to unburden himself of at least some of his guilty secrets to someone that might understand. During the conversation, the Crowfather contacted Death with a memory from one of his crows concerning the construct invasion of his realm. It revealed that the invasion had been led by an unknown angel.
Death received a frosty reception from the angels in the White City, owing to a massacre War had recently perpetrated there while eliminating an angelic weapon of mass destruction on the Charred Council's orders. The Horseman was, however, able to convince the guards to let him through. On his approach to the Argent Spire, Death was approached by an angel calling himself Semyaza , who claimed to be his escort.
Soon after, Semyaza ambushed Death and pushed him off the bridge they were standing on, plummeting several layers deeper into the city. As he recovered from the impact, Semyaza impaled the Horseman with Affliction. Before Semyaza could continue his attack, War appeared and attacked the angel from above. Unwilling to fight two of the Horsemen simultaneously, Semyaza fled the field of battle.
Death and War argued vehemently over the latter's disobedience to the former's orders but they were cut short by the arrival of Abaddon and his forces. After a standoff and reminding the angels of the pacts and treaties that bound them, the pair was able to continue to the Argent Spire.
At the Argent Spire, they consulted Azrael for information on Belisatra and her angelic ally. They determined that Semyaza was most likely an alias as the real Semyaza was stationed at an angel outpost far from the White City. As Death gave Azrael a curtailed account of the Abominations, omitting any mention of the Ravaiim or the precise nature of the Grand Abominations. In the meantime, Azrael's subordinates had gathered information regarding Belisatra. They discovered that she was once an apprentice to an ancient and powerful Maker named Gulbannan that was murdered some ages ago.
Furthermore, Gulbannan had been a lover of Lilith. Their next destination was the home of Lilith herself in Hell. Leaving War at the door, Death confronted Lilith alone. She alluded to some past relationship between the two, but he refused to acknowledge it. The ark of the covenant, the very focal point of the Jews' worship, was placed at the western end of the tabernacle. Thus the children of Israel would face the west, their backs to the rising sun, when they worshipped the true God.
Yet the entrance of paganism among God's people had grown to such proportions that Judah's leading men were actually turning their backs on the temple of God. This was a significant act of apostasy. Both Ezekiel and Jeremiah list the heathen practices that had been incorporated into the worship of God. Whether it was breaking the second commandment by idol worship, adoring unclean beasts, worshipping Tammuz, the mythological god of the pagans, or breaking God's holy Sabbath and worshiping the sun on the day consecrated to it, these practices all were classed by God as abominations.
It was because the Jews persisted in justifying their own course and continued in these heathen customs that God permitted the desolation of their city. Daniel himself agrees that it was the sins committed by God's people that caused their desolation. It is important to note that the abominations were done by the apostate people of God. This in turn resulted in their forfeiture of God's protection and called down His judgments and chastisement in their desolation. This scenario of the abomination of desolation in Daniel's day, involving the first Jewish temple period, prefigures the two other abominations of desolation prophesied in Daniel.
The next one we shall consider is the one that concerns the second Jewish temple period. The Second Temple Desolated After their release from Babylonian captivity and rebuilding the city and temple, the Jewish leaders erected a mountain of rules and regulations designed to protect them from repeating the sins that had led to their bondage. The fourth commandment's seventh-day Sabbath became a special object of amendment. The Jews reasoned that since it was transgression of the Sabbath that led to their captivity, they needed to define in minute detail how the Sabbath should be kept.
Over rules concerning Sabbathkeeping eventually resulted. Some of these Sabbath laws were as ridiculous as this: one could not leave an egg in the sun on the Sabbath because the sun might cook it, and cooking on the Sabbath was a violation of the fourth commandment. Of course, this only resulted in a system of pure legalism. At last the people began to believe that favor with God depended on how well they obeyed the traditions of their elders.
Ultimately the people were led full circle to disobedience again. Jesus comments that in spite of their apparent religiosity they were still breaking God's law even as their forefathers had during Isaiah's and Daniel's day. Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men Once again the people found themselves immersed in vain and rebellious worship. Even though their apostasy expressed itself in legalism instead of laxness, it was still based on the same principle upon which all pagan religions are based - that man can save himself by his own works.
Jesus, like Jeremiah of old, rebuked this religious system and called it an abomination. Jesus expressed His displeasure for their abominations on numerous occasions. Most notable were the two times He cleansed the temple. On these times He expressed His anger at the desecration of His holy place. The controversy between Jesus and the Jews steamed, boiled and spewed over religion.
The religious leaders hated Him because He didn't look like the Messiah, He didn't respect their traditions and most notably He didn't keep the Sabbath in the manner they thought it should be kept. In spite of the religious leaders' resistance, Jesus sought time and again to bring them to repentance and reformation. Often He reproved them for their erroneous ways and pointed the way to true and undefiled religion that is of great price in the sight of God. Yet they hardened their hearts and beat back the waves of God's mercy. As Jesus entered Jerusalem for the last time, His prophetic eye saw the consequences of their constant rebellion.
With a grief-stricken heart and tears coursing down His cheeks, He prophesied the coming doom of the city: "For the days shall come upon thee, that thine enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and compass thee round, and keep thee in on every side and shall lay thee even with the ground, and thy children within thee; and they shall not leave in thee one stone upon another; because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation" Luke After teaching in the temple for several days, Jesus left its precincts for the last time.
Again He was choked with anguish as He saw the ultimate result of His people's apostasy. He exclaimed, "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings and ye would not! Behold your house is left unto you desolate" Matthew , On both these occasions Jesus placed the guilt upon the people by stating, "they knew not the time of their visitation" and "ye would not.
This prophecy was fulfilled in 70 A. This second desolation of the temple perfectly paralleled its first destruction. On both occasions the abominations were done by the apostate people of God and the desolation was an act of judgment performed by a heathen army. This desolation of Jerusalem was prophesied by Daniel to come as a result of the people rejecting Messiah the prince. A careful study of Daniel will show this to be the case. In verse 25 Messiah is promised to Israel and the city's restoration is also predicted.
But then, ominously, all is prophesied for doom again. Verse 26 speaks of Messiah being killed by His own people and of how this act would cause their city and sanctuary to be desolated once again.
Table of Contents
As Daniel heard Gabriel relay this prophecy, it was to his mind a replay of what he had seen happen to the Jerusalem of his day. The prophecy indicated that history would repeat itself, and this is exactly what happened. The abominations that God's people committed resulted, in both B. Because Israel rejected the Messiah they lost their place as God's favored people. Jesus predicted this would take place by saying, "The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof" Matthew Israel forfeited their franchise of the gospel by their own obstinate sin.
Who would be the new nation to receive the kingdom of God and bring forth the fruits thereof? The Bible provides a clear and concise answer in the apostle Peter's letter to the Gentile converts who "In time past were not a people, but are now the people of God. In the new dispensation God bestows upon the converted Christians all the privileges and promises that had been made to the literal seed of Abraham see Galatians Now converted Christians assume the role of Israel, and the Christian church absorbs the status of the temple or sanctuary of God.
The Scriptures make this abundantly clear in such texts as Romans 2;28,29; Ephesians ; ; and 1 Peter The Final Desolation It is in the light of this New Testament principle of spiritual Israel that Daniel speaks of the abomination of desolation the third and final time. These references can be found in Daniel ; ; and Discerning students of prophetic history realize that these verses predict the formation and ascension of power by the Papacy. It is an indisputable fact of history that the Papacy brought into the Christian church the very same practices of paganism for which ancient Jerusalem was destroyed.
One has to do only a little study to see how image worship, Tammuz worship, and sun worship were introduced to Christianity during the Dark Ages. Many of these abominations are still with us in the form of statues, candles for the saints, rosary beads, Easter sunrise services and Sunday worship. Most Protestant churches accede to the apostasy by continuing the practice of abominations that have their roots firmly fixed in ancient pagan religions, which were established to destroy God's truth.
Excited nerves being soothed. White locks of the octogenarian in thin drifts across the white pillow—fresh fall of flakes on snow already fallen. Children with dimpled hands thrown put over the pillow, with every breath inhaling a new store of fun and frolic. Let the great hosts sleep! A slumberless Eye will watch them. Silent be the alarm-bells and merciful the elements!
Let one great wave of refreshing slumber roll across the heart of the great town, submerging trouble and weariness and pain. It is the third watch of the night, and time for the city to sleep. But be not deceived. There are thousands of people in the great town who will not sleep a moment to-night. Go up that dark court. Be careful, or you will fall over the prostrate form of a drunkard lying on his own worn step. Look about you, or you will feel the garroter's hug. Try to look in through that broken pane!
What do you see? But listen. What is it? No bread. No light. No fire. No cover. They lie strewn upon the floor—two whole families in one room. They shiver in the darkness. They have had no food to-day.
- Kill Shot (Wounded Heroes Book 1).
- Æ The Abomination of Desolation.
- Count It All Joy.
- America Town: Building the Outposts of Empire.
- History Decoded: The 10 Greatest Conspiracies of All Time.
- Deception, A Jake Stone Thriller (Book Two) (The Jake Stone Thrillers 2)?
You say: "Why don't they beg? You say: "Hand them over to the almshouse. Have you never heard the bitter cry of the man or of the child when told that he must go to the almshouse? So much the more to be pitied. The Christian poor—God helps them! Through their night there twinkles the round, merry star of hope, and through the cracked window-pane of their hovel they see the crystals of heaven. But the vicious are the more to be pitied. They have no hope. They are in hell now. They have put out their last light.
People excuse themselves from charity by saying they do not deserve to be helped. If I have ten prayers for the innocent, I shall have twenty for the guilty. If a ship be dashed upon the rocks, the fisherman, in his hut on the beach, will wrap the warmest flannels around those who are the most chilled and battered. The vicious poor have suffered two awful wrecks, the wreck of the body, and the wreck of the soul; a wreck for time and a wreck for eternity. Go up that alley! Open the door.
It is not locked. They have nothing to lose. No burglar would want anything that is there. There is only a broken chair set against the door. Strike a match and look around you. Beastliness and rags! A shock of hair hanging over the scarred visage. Eyes glaring upon you. Offer no insult. Be careful what you say. Your life is not worth much in such a place.
See that red mark on the wall. That is the mark of a murderer's hand. From the corner a wild face starts out of the straw and moves toward you, just as your light goes out. Strike another match. Here is a little babe. It does not laugh. It never will laugh. A sea-flower flung on an awfully barren beach: O that the Shepherd would fold that lamb! Wrap your shawl about you, for the January wind sweeps in. The face of that young woman is bruised and gashed now, but a mother once gazed upon it in ecstasy of fondness.
Awful stare of two eyes that seem looking up from the bottom of woe. Stand back. No hope has dawned on that soul for years. Hope never will dawn upon it. Utter no scorn. The match has gone out. Light it not again, for it would seem to be a mockery. Pass out! Pass on! Know that there are thousands of such abodes in our cities. An awful, gloomy, and overwhelming picture is the city in the third watch. After midnight the crime of the city does its chief work. At eight and a half o'clock in the evening the criminals of the city are at leisure.
They are mostly in the drinking saloons. It needs courage to do what they propose to do. Rum makes men reckless. They are getting their brain and hand just right. Toward midnight they go to their garrets. They gather their tools. Soon after the third watch they stalk forth, silently, looking out for the police, through the alleys to their appointed work. This is a burglar; and the door-lock will fly open at the touch of the false keys.
That is an incendiary; and before morning there will be a light on the sky, and a cry of "Fire! During all the day there are hundreds of villains to be found lounging about, a part of the time asleep, apart of the time awake; but at twelve to-night they will rouse up, and their eyes will be keen, and their minds acute, and their arms strong, and their foot fleet to fly or pursue. Many of them have been brought up to the work. They were born in a thief's garret.
Their childish plaything was a burglar's dark lantern. As long ago as they can remember, they saw, toward morning, the mother binding up the father's head, wounded by a watchman's billet. They began by picking boys' pockets, and now they can dig an underground passage to the cellar of the bank, or will blast open the door of the gold vault. So long as the children of the street are neglected there will be no lack of desperadoes. In the third watch of the night the gambling-houses are in full blast. What though the hours of the night are slipping away, and the wife sits waiting in the cheerless home!
Stir up the fires!
The Abomination of Desolation
Bring on the drinks! Put up the stakes! A whole fortune may be made before morning! Some of the firms that two years ago first put out their sign of copartnership have already foundered on the gambler's table. The money-drawer in many a mercantile house will this year mysteriously spring a leak.
Gaming is a portentous vice, and is making great efforts to become respectable. Recently a member of Congress played with a member elect, carrying off a trophy of one hundred and twenty thousand dollars. The old-fashioned way of getting a fortune is too slow! Let us toss up and see who shall have it! And so it goes, from the wheezing wretches who pitch pennies in a rum grocery, to the millionnaire gamblers in the gold-market. After midnight the eye of God will look down and see uncounted gambling-saloons plying their destruction.
Passing down the street to-night, you may hear the wrangling of the gamblers mingling with the rattle of the dice, and the clear, sharp crack of the balls on the billiard-table. The finest rooms in the city are gambling dens. In gilded parlor, amid costly tapestry, you may behold these dens of death. These houses have walls attractive with elaborate fresco and gems of painting—no sham artist's daub, but a masterpiece.
Mantel and table glitter with vases and statuettes. Divans and lounges with deep cushions, the perfection of upholstery, invite to rest and repose. Aquaria alive with fins and strewn with tinged shells and zoophytes. Tufts of geranium, from bead baskets, suspended mid-room, drop their witching perfume. Fountains gushing up, sprinkling the air with sparkles, or gushing through the mouth of the marble lion.
Long mirrors, mounted with scrolls and wings and exquisite carvings, catching and reflecting back the magnificence. At their doors merchant-princes dismount from their carriages; official dignitaries enter; legislators, tired of making laws, here take a respite in breaking them. From all classes this crime is gathering its victims: the importer of foreign silks, and the Chatham street dealer in pocket-handkerchiefs; clerks taking a game in the store after the shutters are put up; and officers of the court whiling away the time while the jury are out.
In the woods around Baden Baden, in the morning, it is no rare thing to find the suspended bodies of suicides. No splendor of surroundings can hide the dreadful nature of this sin. In the third watch of this very night, the tears of thousands of orphans and widows will dash up in those fountains. The thunders of eternal destruction roll in the deep rumble of that ten-pin alley. And as from respectable circles young men and old are falling in line of procession, all the drums of woe begin to beat the dead march of ten thousand souls. Seven millions of dollars are annually lost in New York city at the gaming-table.
Some of your own friends may be at it. The agents of these gaming-houses around our hotels are well dressed. They meet a stranger in the city; they ask him if he would like to see the city; he says, "Yes;" they ask him if he has seen that splendid building up town, and he says "No. He looks in, and sees nothing objectionable; but let him beware, for he is on enchanted ground. Look out for the men who have such sleek hats—always sleek hats—and such a patronizing air, and who are so unaccountably interested in your welfare and entertainment.
All that they want of you is your money. A young man on Chestnut street, Philadelphia, lost in a night all his money at the gaming-table, and, before he left the table, blew his brains out; but before the maid had cleaned up the blood the players were again at the table, shuffling away. A wolf has more compassion for the lamb whose blood it licks up; a highwayman more love for the belated traveller upon whose carcass he piles the stone; the frost more feeling for the flower it kills; the fire more tenderness for the tree-branch it consumes; the storm more pity for the ship that it shivers on Long Island coast, than a gambler's heart has mercy for his victim.
Deed of darkness unfit for sunlight, or early evening hour!
THE ABOMINATIONS OF MODERN SOCIETY.
Let it come forth only when most of the city lights are out, in the third watch of the night! Again, it is after twelve o'clock that drunkenness shows its worst deformity! At eight or nine o'clock the low saloons are not so ghastly. At nine o'clock the victims are only talkative. At ten o'clock they are much flushed. At eleven o'clock their tongue is thick, and their hat occasionally falls from the head. At twelve they are nauseated and blasphemous, and not able to rise. At one they fall to the floor, asking for more drink. At two o'clock, unconscious and breathing hard. They would not fly though the house took fire.
Soaked, imbruted, dead drunk! They are strewn all over the city, in the drinking saloons,—fathers, brothers, and sons; men as good as you, naturally—perhaps better. Not so with the higher circles of intoxication. The "gentlemen" coax their fellow-reveller to bed, or start with him for home, one at each arm, holding him up; the night air is filled with his hooting and cursing. He will be helped into his own door.
He will fall into the entry. Hush it up! Let not the children of the house be awakened to hear the shame. He is one of the merchant princes. Drink makes men mad. One of its victims came home and found that his wife had died during his absence; and he went into the room where she had been prepared for the grave, and shook her from the shroud, and tossed her body out of the window. Where sin is loud and loathsome and frenzied, it is hard to keep it still.
This whole land is soaked with the abomination. It became so bad in Massachusetts, that the State arose in indignation; and having appointed agents for the sale of alcohol for mechanical and medicinal purposes, prohibited the general traffic under a penalty of five hundred dollars. The popular proprietors of the Revere, Tremont, and Parker Houses were arrested.
The grog-shops diminished in number from six thousand to six hundred. God grant that the time may speed on when all the cities and States shall rouse up, and put their foot upon this abomination. As you pass along the streets, night by night, you will see the awful need that something radical be done. But you do not see the worst. That will come to pass long after you are sleeping—in the third watch of the night.
At the London midnight meetings, thirteen thousand of the daughters of sin were reformed; and uncounted numbers of men, who were drunken and debauched, have been redeemed. If from our highest circles a few score of men and women would go forth among the wandering and the destitute, they might yet make the darkest alley of the town kindle with the gladness of heaven.
Do not go in your warm furs, and from your well-laden tables, thinking that pious counsel will stop the gnawing of empty stomachs or warm their stockingless feet. Take food and medicine, and raiment, as well as a prayer. When the city missionary told the destitute woman she ought to love God, she said: "Ah! I am glad to know that not one earnest prayer, not one heartfelt alms-giving, not one kind word, ever goes unblessed. Among the mountains of Switzerland there is a place where, if your voice be uttered, there will come back a score of echoes.
But utter a kind, sympathetic, and saving word in the dark places of the town, and there will come back ten thousand echoes from all the thrones of heaven. There may be some one reading this who knows by experience of the tragedies enacted in the third watch of the night. I am not the man to thrust you back with one harsh word. Take off the bandage from your soul, and put on it the salve of the Saviour's compassion.
There is rest in God for your tired soul.
Many have come back from their wanderings. I see them coming now. Cry up the news to heaven! Set all the bells a-ringing! Under the high arch spread the banquet of rejoicing. Let all the crowned heads of heaven come in and keep the jubilee. I tell you there is more joy in heaven over one man who reforms than over ninety-and-nine who never got off the track. But there is a man who will never return from his evil ways. How many acts are there in a tragedy?
Five, I believe:. ACT I. Parents and sisters weeping to have him go. Wagon passing over the hills. Farewell kiss thrown back. Ring the bell and let the curtain drop. ACT II. Bright lights. Full organ. White veil trailing through the aisle. Prayer and congratulation, and exclamations of "How well she looks! Woman waiting for staggering steps. Old garments stuck into the broken window-pane. Many marks of hardship on the face. Biting of the nails of bloodless fingers. Neglect, cruelty, disgrace.
Ring the bell, and let the curtain drop. ACT IV. Grave of child who died from lack of medicine. Grave of wife who died of a broken heart. Grave of husband and father who died of dissipation. Plenty of weeds, but no flowers. O what a blasted heath with three graves! ACT V. No light; no music; no hope! Despair coiling around the heart with unutterable anguish. Blackness of darkness forever. I cannot bear longer to look.
I close my eyes at this last act of the tragedy. It is the anniversary of Herod's birthday. The palace is lighted. The highways leading thereto are ablaze with the pomp of invited guests. Lords, captains, merchant princes, and the mightiest men of the realm are on the way to mingle in the festivities.
The tables are filled with all the luxuries that the royal purveyors can gather,—spiced wines, and fruits, and rare meats. The guests, white-robed, anointed and perfumed, take their places. The jests evoke roars of laughter. Riddles are propounded. Repartees indulged. Toasts drunk.
The brain befogged. Wit gives place to uproar and blasphemy. And yet they are not satisfied. Turn on more light. Give us more music. Sound the trumpet. Clear the floor for the dance. Bring in Salome, the graceful and accomplished princess. The doors are opened and in bounds the dancer. Stand back and give plenty of room for the gyrations. The lords are enchanted. They never saw such poetry of motion. Their souls whirl in the reel, and bound with the bounding feet. Herod forgets crown and throne,—everything but the fascinations of Salome.
The magnificence of his realm is as nothing compared with that which now whirls before him on tiptoe.
Worlds In Conflict: Mystical abominations (or maybe just goblins?)
His heart is in transport with Salome as her arms are now tossed in the air, and now placed akimbo. He sways with every motion of the enchantress. He thrills with the quick pulsations of her feet, and is bewitched with the posturing and attitudes that he never saw before, in a moment exchanged for others just as amazing. He sits in silence before the whirling, bounding, leaping, flashing wonder. And when the dance stops, and the tinkling cymbals pause, and the long, loud plaudits that shook the palace with their thunders had abated, the entranced monarch swears unto the princely performer: "Whatsoever thou shalt ask of me I will give it to thee, to the half of my kingdom.
Now there was in prison a minister by the name of John the Baptist, who had made much trouble by his honest preaching. He had denounced the sins of the king, and brought down upon himself the wrath of the females in the royal family. At the instigation of her mother, Salome takes advantage of the king's extravagant promise and demands the head of John the Baptist on a dinner-plate. There is a sound of heavy feet, and the clatter of swords outside of the palace. Swing back the door. The executioners are returning, from their awful errand. They hand a platter to Salome. What is that on the platter?
A new tankard of wine to rekindle the mirth of the lords? It is redder than wine, and costlier. It is the ghastly, bleeding head of John the Baptist! Its locks dabbled in gore. Its eyes set in the death-stare. The distress of the last agony in the features. That fascinating form, that just now swayed so gracefully in the dance, bends over the horrid burden without a shudder.
She gloats over the blood; and just as the maid of your household goes, bearing out on a tray the empty glasses of the evening's entertainment, so she carried out on a platter the dissevered head of that good man, while all the banqueters shouted, and thought it a grand joke, that, in such a brief and easy way, they had freed themselves from such a plain-spoken, troublesome minister. What could be more innocent than a birthday festival? All the kings from the time of Pharaoh had celebrated such days; and why not Herod? It was right that the palace should be lighted, and that the cymbals should clap, and that the royal guests should go to a banquet; but, before the rioting and wassail that closed the scene of that day, every pure nature revolts.
I am, by natural temperament and religious theory, utterly opposed to the position of those who are horrified at every demonstration of mirth and playfulness in social life, and who seem to think that everything, decent and immortal, depends upon the style in which people carry their feet.
On the other hand, I can see nothing but ruin, moral and physical, in the dissipations of the ball-room, which have despoiled thousands of young men and women of all that gives dignity to character, or usefulness to life. Dancing has been styled "the graceful movement of the body adjusted by art, to the measures or tune of instruments, or of the voice.
In other days there were festal dances, and funeral dances, and military dances, and "mediatorial" dances, and bacchanalian dances. Queens and lords have swayed to and fro in their gardens; and the rough men of the backwoods in this way have roused up the echo of the forest. There seems to be something in lively and coherent sounds to evoke the movement of hand and foot, whether cultured or uncultured. Men passing the street unconsciously keep step to the music of the band; and Christians in church unconsciously find themselves keeping time with their feet, while their soul is uplifted by some great harmony.
Not only is this true in cultured life, but the red men of Oregon have their scalp dances, and green-corn dances, and war dances. It is, therefore, no abstract question that you ask me—Is it right to dance? The ancient fathers, aroused by the indecent dances of those days, gave emphatic evidence against any participation in the dance. Chrysostom says:—"The feet were not given for dancing, but to walk modestly; not to leap impudently like camels. One of the dogmas of the ancient church reads: "A dance is the devil's possession; and he that entereth into a dance, entereth into his possession.
The devil is the gate to the middle and to the end of the dance. As many passes as a man makes in dancing, so many passes doth he make to hell. This wholesale and indiscriminate denunciation grew out of the utter dissoluteness of those ancient plays. So great at one time was the offence to all decency, that the Roman Senate decreed the expulsion of all dancers and dancing-masters from Rome. Yet we are not to discuss the customs of that day, but the customs of the present.
We cannot let the fathers decide the question for us. Our reason, enlightened by the Bible, shall be the standard. I am not ready to excommunicate all those who lift their feet beyond a certain height. I would not visit our youth with a rigor of criticism that would put out all their ardor of soul. I do not believe that all the inhabitants of Wales, who used to step to the sound of the rustic pibcorn, went down to ruin. I would give to all of our youth the right to romp and play. God meant it, or he would not have surcharged our natures with such exuberance.
If a mother join hands with her children, and while the eldest strikes the keys, fill all the house with the sound of agile feet, I see no harm. If a few friends, gathered in happy circle, conclude to cross and recross the room to the sound of the piano well played, I see no harm. I for a long while tried to see in it a harm, but I never could, and I probably never will. I would to God men kept young for a greater length of time. Never since my school-boy days have I loved so well as now the hilarities of life. What if we have felt heavy burdens, and suffered a multitude of hard knocks, is it any reason why we should stand in the path of those who, unstung by life's misfortunes, are exhilarated and full of glee?
God bless the young! They will have to live many a day if they want to hear me say one word to dampen their ardor or clip their wings, or to throw a cloud upon their life by telling them that it is hard, and dark, and doleful.
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It is no such thing. You will meet with many a trial; but, speaking from my own experience, let me tell you that you will be treated a great deal better than you deserve. Let us not grudge to the young their joy. As we go further on in life, let us go with the remembrance that we have had our gleeful days.
When old age frosts our locks, and stiffens our limbs, let us not block up the way, but say, "We had our good times: now let others have theirs. How glad will I be to let them have everything,—my house, my books, my place in society, my heritage! By the time we get old we will have had our way long enough. Then let our children come on and we'll have it their way. For thirty, forty, or fifty years, we have been drinking from the cup of life; and we ought not to complain if called to pass the cup along and let others take a drink.
But, while we have a right to the enjoyments of life, we never will countenance sinful indulgences. I here set forth a group of what might be called the dissipations of the ball-room. They swing an awful scythe of death. Are we to stand idly by, and let the work go on, lest in the rebuke we tread upon the long trail of some popular vanity? The whirlpool of the ball-room drags down the life, the beauty, and the moral worth of the city. In this whirlwind of imported silks goes out the life of many of our best families. Bodies and souls innumerable are annually consumed in this conflagration of ribbons.
This style of dissipation is the abettor of pride, the instigator of jealousy, the sacrificial altar of health, the defiler of the soul, the avenue of lust, and the curse of the town. The tread of this wild, intoxicating, heated midnight dance jars all the moral hearthstones of the city. The physical ruin is evident. What will become of those who work all day and dance all night? A few years will turn them out nervous, exhausted imbeciles. Those who have given up their midnights to spiced wines, and hot suppers, and ride home through winter's cold, unwrapped from the elements, will at last be recorded suicides.
There is but a short step from the ball-room to the grave-yard. There are consumptions and fierce neuralgias close on the track. Amid that glittering maze of ball-room splendors, diseases stand right and left, and balance and chain. A sepulchral breath floats up amid the perfume, and the froth of death's lip bubbles up in the champagne.
Many of our brightest homes are being sacrificed. There are families that have actually quit keeping house, and gone to boarding, that they may give themselves more exclusively to the higher duties of the ball-room. Mothers and daughters, fathers and sons, finding their highest enjoyment in the dance, bid farewell to books, to quiet culture, to all the amenities of home.
The father will, after a while, go down into lower dissipations. The son will be tossed about in society, a nonentity. The daughter will elope with a French dancing-master. The mother, still trying to stay in the glitter, and by every art attempting to keep the color in her cheek, and the wrinkles off her brow, attempting, without any success, all the arts of the belle,—an old flirt, a poor, miserable butterfly without any wings.
If anything on the earth is beautiful to my eye, it is an aged woman; her hair floating back over the wrinkled brow, not frosted, but white with the blossoms of the tree of life; her voice tender with past memories, and her face a benediction. The children pull at grandmother's dress as she passes through the room, and almost pull her down in her weakness; yet she has nothing but a cake, or a candy, or a kind word for the little darlings.
When she goes away from us there is a shadow on the table, a shadow on the hearth, and a shadow in the dwelling. But if anything on earth is distressful to look at, it is an old woman ashamed of being old. What with paint and false hair, she is too much for my gravity. I laugh, even in church, when I see her coming. One of the worst looking birds I know of is a peacock after it has lost its feathers.
I would not give one lock of my mother's gray hair for fifty thousand such caricatures of old age.