Sunday, March 31, 2013

Sermon on 1 Timothy 2:13-25 by John Calvin

A Sermon by John Calvin on 1 Timothy 2:13-15, 'concerning the true calling of women, the honourableness of housewifery before God, and the purity of God's ordinance of marriage; and likewise shewing the blasphemy and horrible sins into which those fall who despise this blessed vocation.'

This sermon can also be read from TrueCovenanter's site from this link:

"For Adam was first formed, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression. Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety."~ 1 Timothy 2:13-15

A man might marvel, why GOD by the mouth of his Apostle forbiddeth women in this place the office of teaching, seeing he {224:B} bestowed this grace upon some: for we see that Debora was not only a prophetess, but also ruled the people of God. Therefore it might seem at the first blush, that there were some contradiction {225:A} here. But we must make a difference between the common order which God will have to be observed amongst men for a rule, and that which is done after a strange sort, and not usually. So then when God maketh a law, which he will have us keep to obey him, he derogateth nothing from his liberty, so that he may not upon occasion work otherwise, yea and that in strange and wondrous sort. For we may not make God subject to a law, because all laws proceed from his will. Not that we may imagine any thing in God but that [which] is right and just. For it is blasphemy to speak of an absolute power, as though it were without rule. Yet doth God’s will stand for a law, & what he establisheth amongst us, neither may nor can be prejudicious to him, but he may do what seemeth him best. And thus we see how God might use a woman to govern his people. And it is to be marked that he did it to despite men withal, as if he would by this means shame them, because there was none of them meet to be in authority and dignity.

As for example, as if he should make stones speak, were it not to pervert the order of nature? Yes surely: & yet it is a condemnation that GOD layeth upon men. It may sometimes well come to pass, either in a country or city, that there shall be such a confusion of all things, that God will {225:B} bring it so about even for despite, that there shall be neither wisdom nor equity, but the state shall be utterly turned upside down. If the world hold its peace, and every man stand amazed one at another, so that none of them dare speak, God will raise up some fool to speak. Yet is it not to be said that fools have cunning to be able to profit withal: but by this means God mocketh them which will seem to be wise, because they have their mouths shut, and be dumb when they should speak, and maketh them as blocks of wood, as void of life and heart, as if they were stones. Therefore God mocketh them, and shameth them, when he so openeth the mouth of a dumb man to reprove faults & offences which are committed, & which no man will see unto. So is it to be marked, that in those days God raised up Debora, to shew men their slothfulness when the Church was in bondage, and utterly out of hope, but yet his meaning was not to change this common order: that was a miracle, which served for that present time, & without prejudice as we have shewed. Therefore we see in few words, that GOD is in no wise contrary to himself, in that he maketh a law for us to keep, & in that he worketh extraordinarily of his own power, and doeth things which are not compassed, as commonly things use to be. As for that that {226:A} in the beginning of the Gospel he poured out the Holy Ghost upon women as well as upon men [Acts 2.17], and there were some that had the spirit of prophesy [Acts 21.9]: neither is this against that that Paul saith. For although God gave the gift of prophecy to Philip’s daughters, yet notwithstanding, they had not the office to speak in the assembly, but God used them to beautify the Gospel: and when they were in the company of women, then did they there lay out the gift that was given them: as it may come to pass in some household, that the woman shall be wiser than the man, and shall use it to the governance of the family. We see that the house of Nabal had been utterly destroyed, had it not been for the wisdom of Abigail. [1 Sam. 25.14.] And thus it may sometimes come to pass: and therefore the woman that is endued with such gifts, may well do that that is her duty in all humbleness & modesty, insomuch that if there be a want in her husband, she may supply it. Yet notwithstanding the order that God hath established, must needs be kept. And this is it we have to bear away in this text. And so let us conclude that the woman ought to be subject, and keep herself in silence, as Paul appointeth here. And yet a man might move a question: for Paul bringeth this argument to shew that women ought not to have the charge and office of teaching, because they are subject, {226:B} neither may have authority to speak. Why then it should follow by this, that none might teach, unless he were a King or prince.
Are not the pastors of the Church, subject to the magistrates? Yet so it is that God sendeth them, and giveth them this commission, to govern his people, as touching the spiritual government. The answer to this is, that a man may well in one respect be a subject, & in an other have authority: as we see how God hath separated these two things, the state of earthly governance, and the spiritual government of his Church. The Magistrates, they rule, and sit in seat of Justice, God hath given them the sword to govern his people. And because the Pastors and ministers be members of the body, they must needs be subject to the Magistrates: yet notwithstanding this diminish no part of the authority of the doctrine which they bear, but that they are in the virtue and name of God above all earthly highness, as it is said in Jeremie [1.10], I have appointed thee over kingdoms, and over all principalities. Therefore as touching the ministers of the word of God, if we consider their persons as they are men, they must needs be subject to laws, they are bound to obey the Magistrates, and do them honour and reverence, but yet let them know that the Master whom they serve, hath authority & is chief Lord over all creatures, and that they speak {227:A} in his name: and therefore that their doctrine is not subject nor to be bridled by them that would lift up themselves: but rather mark that which Paul saith in the second to the Corinthians: to wit, to cast down every high thing that would lift up itself against the majesty of our Lord Jesus Christ: and bring into captivity every thought, and keep under all disorderous appetites, which can suffer no obedience nor subjection. [2 Cor. 10.5.] And thus in divers respects may one man be a subject and also be in authority. But as for women, this reason holdeth which Paul brought before, that God hath set an order which may in no wise be broken, and must continue even to the world’s end. Seeing man is made to be the woman’s head, and the woman is a part, & as it were an accessory of man, we must follow that order, and as well great as small must submit themselves unto it. And yet let us know, that if we behave ourselves evil, and there be great confusion not only in houses, but also in the commonwealth, yea as well in the spiritual government, as in the earthly policy, let us know, I say, that God will shame us hereby, and shew us that we are not worthy, he should sit as it were in the midst of us, as only master and governor, but clean forsaketh us: as he saith by his Prophet Isaiah [3.12]: that he will cause women and little children to reign, whereby he sheweth that he will {227:B} cast off the preeminence, and & there shall be nothing but utter dissolution and overturning of all.
When matters are thus confounded, let us know that it is GOD’s just vengeance to put us to shame, because we are not worthy, to have him sit as ruler amongst us. Moreover, let every man in the mean season take heed to himself, and be as it were awakened, and let us follow that which is taught us here by Paul, to wit, that we strive not against God’s ordinance. Now let us come to that that followeth: That the woman shall be saved by bearing of children, so that, saith he, she abide in the faith, and charity, and in holy life and modesty. It is not without cause, that Paul addeth this comfort, to soften this heaviness which women might have conceived by that that he said before, to wit, that they in the person of Eve are the cause of the fall, which is so miserable, as we see in all mankind. We are cursed of GOD, we are children of wrath, the devil ruleth over us, we are in slavery to everlasting death, there is nothing but corruption in our nature: to be short, we are clean over head and ears.
And who is the cause of all this? The women: they are made faulty in this matter, and GOD pronounceth this sentence against them, to make them {228:A} despair, if they have any fear, or do anything at all apprehend the wrath of God. But as our Lord and God will have his creatures to be humbled, so will he not bring them into desperation, but will always have them to have some remedy: for after that he hath beaten them down, he lifteth them up again, as we have here an excellent example. The pride of women was well condemned by Paul, when he shewed, that if they will needs brag and boast themselves, they should look upon Eve, who was the cause of all our undoing, and brought us to God’s curse, and under the tyranny of Satan: and that only by her pride. And seeing it is so: let women hold up their noses no more: for all their presumption is sufficiently beaten down here. Yet it was to be feared (as I said) that women might despair, & be utterly cast down, as though God shut them out clean from salvation, as though he made them utterly unfit to trust in him. Therefore Paul addeth a good remedy, & meet for this purpose, and saith, that notwithstanding, the evil that came from Eve, yet God will not put women clean out of hope: he thinketh it enough to bridle them, that they lift not up themselves: but rather humble themselves: and yet he calleth them unto him, and giveth them a means to return to the state from whence they fell, that is to {228:B} say, saith he, If they know their calling. True it is that Paul setteth down one kind, which is bearing of children, but under this he comprehendeth that which he saith also precisely of the curse of the woman in that she is subject to such pains. For we know that when women have conceived, they are not without pain & trouble, we see how often they are out of taste, and they have beside many other by-things and that more is, they know what pain it is to bear children. Cometh their time to lie down? They know what the curse of GOD importeth, which we have already touched. Then must they afterward have care & trouble both night and day, to nourish their children, that the meat which they take, may be turned into milk: I speak of women which are nurses: for Paul speaketh not here of these fine dames, which will be exempt from the condition of women, but of faithful women, which do their duty, and when they are mothers know what GOD hath made them subject unto, and take it patiently. So then we see that under one kind, Paul advertiseth women in this place, how that if they submit themselves willingly and patiently to that which God hath commanded them, and their state requireth, it is an acceptable sacrifice to GOD, and the curse which was laid upon all women {229:A} in Eve’s person, is as it were taken away, for God receiveth them to his favour and love.
Yet notwithstanding, because there are good mothers to be found even amongst the Heathen women and Infidels, and will willingly take pains for their families, Paul thought it not enough, to set down that which may be common to women that have no fear of God & religion, but saith, That they must have faith and charity, they must live godly, and have that modesty, which was spoken of before. So then we may gather good doctrine out of this text, and profitable for all, as well men as women, to wit, that GOD meaneth not to confound us, when he layeth our sins before our faces, but only to humble us, seeing the presumption, which otherwise would be in us. Therefore God must needs pair the nails, as well of us men as women, and use violence against us, seeing it is otherwise hard to correct the pride and loftiness that is in us.
But yet notwithstanding, God doth always appease his rigour and mixeth it with some sweetness, so that he will not have us out of heart. And how doth he this? In giving us hope, in promising us, that what faults soever we have, yet will he not cast us away, as we see here a notable example. And therefore although women be of a fearful nature, so that a man might make them {229:B} die for sorrow, if he would beat them down with this, and set his feet in their necks, yet Paul giveth them no occasion to disquiet themselves and be cast down utterly: although it might be cast in their teeth, that they were the occasion of the utter undoing of all mankind, yet he layeth before them here, the goodness of God, to shew them that this shall hinder their salvation no whit at all, so that they become not obstinate and rebellious. Therefore let us mark well that Paul useth here a very proper comfort, in that he sheweth women, that salvation is laid forth before them, even in the condemnation which they suffer for their sins: and this is a great matter. For if God should punish women, and then shew them hope of salvation afar off, it were enough for them: but this is more a great deal, when they may behold the goodness of God and his grace in the punishment which they suffer and feel for their sin. For (as we have said already,) why do women bear their children with so much trouble? Why suffer they so great griefs in travail and being brought to bed? Why is it so painful a matter unto them to nurse their children? All this cometh from God’s curse. Now Paul giveth them here a looking glass on the contrary side, to wit, that in this punishment they may apprehend the grace of God. {230:A} And wherefore? For if they be patient and peaceable, and strive not against this punishment which God hath sent them for their salvation, when they suffer pain and travail, when they take pains to nurse their children, this is a sacrifice that God well accepteth, and is well pleased withal: and women must think themselves happy in this behalf, that God would not so shew forth his wrath for the offence which was committed in Eve’s person, but he would remain their father notwithstanding, and shew them a token of fatherly love. Therefore let us mark well: that it is not without cause, that Paul maketh here express mention of the travail which women have in bringing forth children, and the rest of doing their duty, to wit, of governing their household.
True it is notwithstanding, that such as are scoffers and scorners of God, will think it strange, that Paul speaking here of the salvation of women, bringeth them to this, that if when they be with child and take their grief patiently, and also the travail, & bring up their children, this is to come again into favour with God. But what? let it be sufficient for us, that the Holy Ghost who is a Judge good enough, hath so given sentence. And therefore let us not think it strange: for although men will judge vices and virtues according to their own fancy, yet it is God alone that {230:B} must value our works, and tell what they are worth.
Hath GOD condemned any thing? It is a wise matter for us to praise, it will serve to much purpose. On the other side, that that we set nothing by, God esteemeth it highly, and setteth much by it. As for example, the travail that women have in child bearing: it is true that to the world, it is a matter of no great price: but yet if they have an eye to God, that he hath made them subject to it, and that they are the traces of Eve’s sin, if in such a combat, they sigh and groan to him, he receiveth such an obedience.
To be short, we must bear away this lesson, That obedience is better than all the sacrifices in the world. [1 Sam. 15.22.] Yea and this is not only to beat back the scoffs and scorns of profane fellows and such as contemn GOD, but also to beat down the pride of Hypocrites, which forge and build I know not what dreams, as they list [desire] to exempt themselves from marriage. As amongst the Papists, to have an household, seemeth to be a polluted state of the world: and thus use that Nuns and Friars, and all the rabble of hellhounds to speak, This man is of the world, that is to say, he is married: This man is of the Church, that is to say, Spiritual. And while they use these kind of speeches they account marriage as a profane {231:A} and filthy thing.
And this is a shameful thing that a Pope, that Antichrist durst spew out this devilish blasphemy, That they which are in the flesh, can not please GOD [Rom. 8.8]: that is to say, they that are married. These are the good expounders of the Scripture, that came out of this hellish cave. But what is taught us here by God’s authority and from him? To wit, that, if Nuns and Friars boast themselves of their chastity, and to live in idleness, and call this a spiritual state, God sheweth that it is a detestable and cursed kind of life. Let us learn therefore, that if a woman be among her household, and be busied about her children, to wipe them, and comb them, and dress them: or if she be a nurse, and be up day and night, and suffer cold and heat to give them suck, if she bear it patiently, knowing that it is GOD’S good appointment, and he alloweth of it, this is a sweet smelling sacrifice to him.
Let the Nuns therefore tarry still in their convents and cloisters, and in their brothel houses of Satan: yea I put the case they were not whores as they are, yea and worse than that, vile and shameful Sodomites, committing such heinous and abominable acts, that it is horrible to think of, I put the case I say, there were none of all these villainies, yet all the chastity they {231:B} pretend is nothing before God, in comparison of that that he hath appointed, that is to say, that albeit it seem but a vile thing, and a matter of none account, for a woman to take pains about housewifery, to make clean her children when they be arrayed, to kill fleas, and other such like, although this be a thing despised, yea and such, that many will not vouchsafe to look upon it, yet are they sacrifices which GOD accepteth & receiveth, as if they were things of great price and honourable.
Therefore let women study this lesson day and night that first of all they may play the housewives: and if women were the most negligent in the world, yet is there here matter enough to awaken them, and to correct this idleness. And how? If we take pains, we serve GOD, and not men. Again, when a man seeth his wife employ herself all the day long to do her duty, let him also consider whereunto God hath called him, that he also for his part may do his duty. For a man is not born to idleness, nor a woman.
Therefore (as I said) let women cast their eyes hither, for there is occasion enough to correct their slothfulness, when they shall see that the question is of serving God. And how? When they fall to kneading (as the proverb is) and apply themselves to good use, & flee not the subjection which {232:A} God hath set them in: for this is to strive against GOD, when a man doth not follow his vocation, which is our true rule, that is to say, that that we have to do, & what God appointeth every one of us, according to the state, whereunto he is called. Therefore let women have this mark to shoot at, & say, well, although the world have no regard of me, yet must I find myself occupied here, for so God commandeth me. And thus much touching the first, how women have to take occasion to be diligent: and moreover also they have to consider, that when they do their duty and execute their office, God accepteth well of it, although men despise it.
And if men say, what is this? A woman playeth the housewife, she spinneth on her distaff, and this is all that women can do. As in deed there are a number of fools that when they speak of women’s distaffs, of seeing to their children, will make a scorn of it, and despise it. But what then? What saith the heavenly Judge? That he is well pleased with it, and accepteth of it, and putteth it in his reckoning. So then let women learn to rejoice when they do their duty, and though the world despise it, let this comfort sweeten all respect they might have that way, and say, God seeth me here, and his Angels, who are sufficient witnesses of my doings, although the world do not allow of them. And this have women to {232:B} note. But yet (as I said,) men for their parts must also learn a lesson hereby. For if women be saved when they give suck to their children with their own breasts, when they wipe them, & make them clean, when they have been troubled in bearing them: in like sort, the men when they take pains to nourish their family, when they travail, according as it is said, Thou shalt live by the sweat of thy brows [Gen. 3.19.], when men I say take pains every one in his trade and his degree, and be painful therein, and if there be troubles about their family, they bear with their wives, and encourage them, & help them as much as they can, as God hath joined them together with an inseparable knot. When they are caused to wake for their children, they have a care that way, so that they bear it patiently, and rejoice, seeing God bless their labour, these are as many sacrifices to him, as we have shewed. If this were well printed in the heart no doubt there would appear a better shew in marriage than there doth. But what? There be very few that know what this meaneth, to serve God, and that ground themselves upon that point. And that it is so, when there is a marriage made here in the company of the faithful, do they for the most part which come to pass such an obligation and so solemn, know, that God sitteth as chief amongst us, and that these promises are {233:A} made in his name? Do they know this? No no: But the most part of them come hither like calves, and like beasts: Are they before the Pulpit? They are so well instructed, that they can not tell what they say. If we speak of the husband’s office, and of the wife’s, they understand no more than beasts do: and if they hear any one word whereby they may be edified, we see that as soon as our backs be turned, there is nothing but all kind of looseness, and those that are the veryest naughty packs, those are the bravest fellows.
Therefore when holy marriage is so profaned, we may not marvel if there be so great discords as we see, and GOD withdraw himself. For when we compare that, that is written here, with the state that we see so corrupted in the world, we have to sigh so much the more, & in sighing, to gather ourselves under the obedience of our God. For if the greatest part mock at that which is shewed us here by Paul, if men be given to all dissoluteness, and women be idle, and seek nothing else but to be exempt from all labour, and all come to naught, let us take heed we be not like to such people, but let every one of us employ himself to that, wherein God hath set him on work: and if the Oxen bear the yoke, when they are accustomed to it, let us that know to what {233:B} end we are made, learn to bear the yoke which God hath laid upon us, that is to say, let every one of us follow his vocation. This is in sum that we have to mark touching this word which Paul saith: That women shall be saved by bearing of Children.
Now let us come to that which he setteth down touching faith, and charity, sanctification, and modesty: I said before, that this was to put a difference between the faithful and the heathen. For there have been found virtuous women among the heathen, yea, more virtuous (as touching the outward shew,) than we shall oftentimes see, among them which term themselves to be the Church of God. And therefore if women do their duty only as touching their housewifery, and taking pains about the house, it is not enough: for there are many (as I said) which had no religion, and yet notwithstanding, left not to have this virtue, which is praiseworthy, as touching the world. Therefore let us mark that this is not the chiefest matter, that women take such pains about their housewifery: but faith and charity must go before: and again they must be holy women, that is to say, they must be governed by the fear of God, & have such modesty as we spake of before: such a modesty I say, that they desire not any superfluity or pomp, but have this shame {234:A} which Paul spake of before. And this is the sum of that that is here set down for the conclusion. Now we have to mark that when the heathen and infidels played the good housewives, they had no regard to God, and therefore it never came in reckoning neither doth it deserve to be counted for a virtue. True it is that the world will always take it so but God maketh no account of it. And why so? we said before, that if a woman take pains about her children, either to bear them or to nurse them, and submit herself wholly to God’s will, it is a sacrifice. And wherefore? Because she humbleth her self, knowing that they are so many chastisements for sins, knowing that seeing God pronounced such a sentence, it is good reason, no man reply against it, and if this obedience be not, all the rest is but smoke. As for example, a woman that was never instructed in the faith, and never received any good doctrine, so that that she could never set her mind upon God, it is true, that she will fear this ignominy, that she be not pointed at with the finger, that she be not mocked at, for not playing the good housewife, or for giving any evil example. But because she passeth not for God, all this will become as nothing, as indeed it is not to be accounted for any virtue. So then let us mark well, that the best works we can do shall be of {236:B} no value, but God will reprove them if they proceed not from faith: for this is the root from whence good fruits come, and without that root there is nothing but a goodly shew, which hath no steadfastness in it. And thus we have to mark, that Paul addeth not here the word, Faith, in vain: to shew us what virtues soever we commend, shall not be commended of God, (as indeed they deserve no commendation) unless they be grounded on faith, and proceed from thence. And after that Paul hath spoken of faith, he sheweth the things which are always joined with faith, and are as it were unseverable, to wit, charity and holiness. How do we shew that we renounce the abominations of this world, and dedicate our selves to God? is it not by faith? what causeth us to join ourselves thus together in one, as brethren & sisters? Is it not when we know that God hath chosen us for his children? What is also the cause of that modesty, that we are not given to these follies of the world? Is it not because God hath called us to the heavenly inheritance, and sheweth us that they which cleave to this world never knew what true life and salvation meant? so then, let us mark, that both charity, and holiness, and modesty proceed from faith. And yet to make an end we must mark also in one word, that Paul meant not {233:A} here to establish merits, as if he should say that the cause of our salvation standeth in good works and women save themselves when they apply themselves to their duty. No, no: For Paul entereth not here into disputation, whether God shall be bound to men, if they do well, and whether he be bound to recompense them: there is no such matter. But he meaneth only to comfort us, yea and to encourage us when we take pains to the end that we may know, that GOD vouchsafeth to regard that that is of no value, unless he accept it of his free mercy. Therefore let us mark that Paul’s meaning was not in this place to keep a reckoning, as who should say, God were bound to us, but his meaning was only to shew us, that both men and women must faithfully employ themselves to do that that is their charge and duty, seeing that our Lord is so liberal and so gentle, as to vouchsafe to look upon that they do, and to allow of it, although they be not worthy. This is Paul’s {233:B} meaning. And it were to pervert the text, if we should establish merits by this place, & justify men by their works. Let it suffice us then to have the salvation which was purchased for us through the mercy of God, and by the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, which was shed to wash all our filthiness & take pains courageously knowing that our Lord and God doth by this means conduct us to salvation. When he leadeth us to it, it is not to be said that therefore we deserve it, but it is the means which he hath appointed. Therefore let every one of us present himself to God, & take the bit in our teeth. But yet let our conversation be peaceable in the mean season, & let us be ready to submit our selves to all good policy seeing it is for our benefit and profit, because God hath appointed it.

Nowe let vs fall downe before the face of our good GOD,
acknowledging of our faults, and pray him
that hee woulde cause
vs to feele them,

'Every Sunday is Resurrection Sunday'

Sunday, March 10, 2013

'On Promiscuous Dancing'~ by the Reformed Presbytery.

Taken from this site:

Article here:

Please visit TrueCovenanter for other great articles on various topics.
Some articles are also available in booklet form from that site!
We have a good amount of booklets in my home actually, so I would highly recommend you getting some- or at least taking a look at the site.
God bless.

"The more congenial any practice is to the depraved human mind, and the more fuel it furnishes to its favourite lusts, the greater is the difficulty of convincing men of their mistake, and of persuading them to discontinue the practice. Whatever tends to excite, and to gratify the depravity of the heart, gives it an additional influence over the whole man. By means of this it accomplishes its designs more easily. A more striking proof of this will scarcely be found, than in the practice of promiscuous dancing. The greater part of mankind, in every stage, and in every sphere, of life, are exceedingly fond of the practice. Nor is it easy to convince them that there is any impropriety or evil in it. When men are hurried on under the violent impulse of the passions, neither the voice of reason nor religion can be allowed {47} a fair hearing. The serious consideration of such things is left to morose, scrupulous, weak, and melancholy minds. Though, in such an age as the present, little success may be expected from an attempt to expose this vain, sinful, and pernicious practice, yet this ought not to supersede the Church's testimony against it.

The kind of dancing, which we have chiefly in view to expose, is that which is practiced in the promiscuous assemblies of the two sexes, is a plain indication of carnal mirth, levity, and wantonness, and has been condemned by the best Reformed Churches, as well as by the most eminent evangelical ministers, of various denominations.1

Although it has been alleged that this practice has been warranted by Scripture, yet not a single passage of {48} the sacred volume can be produced to sanction promiscuous dancing. We indeed find dancing, in some instances mentioned, as expressive of religious joy: but the religious dance recorded in the Old Testament was a part of the worship of the ancient Jewish Church, and like the instruments of music, then in use, was peculiar to that dispensation. See Exod. 15.20; 2 Sam. 6.16; Psalm 149.3; and 150.4. Therefore no argument can be drawn from this in favour of that species of it, which is here condemned.

The words of the wise man have often been adduced as a warrant for the practice. Eccl. 3.4, "A time to dance." This passage contains no warrant for any of the things that are mentioned. Its design is to show that there is a time fixed by God, at which all these things shall take place, and that man cannot alter them; to show the vanity of all sublunary things, and to induce man to pursue more elevated and durable objects. Every wicked purpose, and every sinful action of man are here included. "To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven." verse 1. It is not affirmed, That every thing that men do, and every purpose which they form, is lawful; but only that there is a time and season at which they shall do so. And it is only said that there is a time to dance, not that there is a warrant for it. It is said, in general, "That there is a time to kill," not that it is lawful. The time at which men shall lose their lives, whether by accident, by the hand of the magistrate, or by the hands of murderers. Moreover, there is nothing of promiscuous dancing here, and though the passage were understood to contain a warrant for, or approbation of dancing, it could only be that kind of it which is approved in Scripture. It is plain that dancing here is only another word for rejoicing, because it is opposed to mourning. "A time to mourn, and a time to dance." If the dancing here be warranted, then the time of it must mean the season or proper occasion of it. The season of any thing is that time in which it is proper to do it, in contradistinction to another time in which it would be {49} improper. There is one season proper for joy, and another for mourning. When the captives hanged their harps upon the willow trees, it would not have been proper for them, "To have gone forth in the dances of them that make merry." [Jer. 31.4.] But the time and season proper for doing any thing must always respect things lawful. There is no season proper to steal, murder, or bear false witness, &c. This text then cannot be dragged in to support any species of dancing but what is otherwise approved in Scripture. But that is never promiscuous dancing.

Promiscuous dancing has a powerful influence upon the passions and lusts, and leads the way to various sins. The influence of the passions is a blind, undiscerning, yet irresistible impulse. Man cannot be in a more dangerous situation, than to be wholly under their influence. The affections, passions, and desires, when spiritual, and under the influence of grace, are the seat of religion. The more powerfully these act, and influence the soul, the more vigorous will be the life and power of religion. These can never be too powerfully excited, nor can the soul ever be too much under their influence, nor can too much attention be paid to the means and motives proper to excite them. Much of the perfection of the spiritual man and of the heavenly life lies here. The object of these, thus excited, is God and his law. The desires of the soul are to God. They lead to delightful contemplation on his excellencies, and on his works, and relish with great pleasure, the words of his mouth. But the heart is naturally under the dominion of sin. Even in believers much of this remains. They find a law in their members warring against the law of their mind, and bringing them into captivity to the law of sin which is in their members. Rom. 7.23. This is nothing but the affections and passions, powerfully excited by innate corruption, opposing the spiritual exercise of the soul, and drawing it into sin. "The flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would." Gal. 5.17. {50} When the flesh assumes the ascendancy over the passions, the soul is irresistibly hurried on to what is sinful. Whatever tends to excite lust, to carnalize the affections, and to divert them from spiritual objects, ought to be carefully guarded against. When these are excited, they tend to certain objects, congenial to their nature, and calculated to gratify them. These objects are pursued in proportion to the violence of the passions, and to the want of contrary principles. The voice of reason is silenced, the remonstrances of conscience are disregarded, and the motion of religious principles, if there be any, are completely checked. The mind is now prepared to banish modesty, trample upon morality, and prostitute religion; and even for the criminal gratification of these furious lusts. Thus were the passions of Herod excited, when the daughter of Herodias danced before him. His reason was suspended, and his judgment warped. An unlimited promise is made to the wanton female, and confirmed by an oath. "And he sware unto her, Whatsoever thou shalt ask of me, I will give it thee, unto the half of my kingdom." Mark 6.23. Instructed by her abandoned and spiteful mother, she demands the head of Christ's harbinger, and obtains it. He was indeed already disposed to murder the Baptist, but feared the people. So far he acted rationally. But when passion had assumed the ascendancy over his reason, he promises—he swears, to give, he knows not what, and acts accordingly. It will be pretended by none that dancing tends to improve religious affections. And many are not ashamed to avow that they are never more under the power of unclean lust, than when engaged in this practice, and if they wished to seduce an unwary female, they know no better method, than to lead her to a dance. All the artifice possible is used, in dress, in the various attitudes of the body and its affected motions, to excite the passions. It is the influence of the passions that lead to it. And the practice furnishes fuel to inflame them still more. It has a powerful tendency to destroy that modesty in youth, especially in females, which is one of their chief {51} ornaments, and an impregnable defence to their chastity. "Women are commanded to adorn themselves with modest apparel, with shame-facedness and sobriety." 1 Tim. 2.9. Dancing strips them of this triple ornament. The dress must be vain, otherwise it is unsuitable to the occasion. Modesty must be banished. The modest blush gives way to the wanton impudent look. Sobriety gives place to a fit of voluntary madness, and a display of vanity, pride, and folly. Numerous instances of uncleanness, that have fallen under the cognizance of Church Courts, have been traced to a ball as their origin. This need not be wondered at, since every guard of chastity was removed, and means leading to the prostitution of it adopted.

The practice will be found very unfavourable to religion. Those who have not attained to the knowledge and truth of religion will, by this practice, be set at a greater distance from it. And those, who have already attained to religion and know any thing of its power and exercise, will suffer much injury by it. Much time and exercise ought to be spent by sinners about the means of their salvation. It is a matter of deep regret, that these hours, which may be spared from lawful civil pursuits, should be wasted at a ball. Then it is, that the sinner should retire to his closet, institute a close and serious inquiry into the state and the concerns of his soul, seek to be properly affected with it, and to deal with God about it. Balls must have time, though this can be ill spared from lawful pursuits; and matters of eternal concern must be altogether excluded. The money lawfully and laboriously gained is expended purely for the purpose of dissipation and revelling. While this waste of time and of means is indulged, and concerns of infinite moment neglected, the mind is totally unhinged, distracted, and rendered incapable of any serious exercise. Religious exercise requires a composed tranquil state of mind, free from agitation and distraction. Without this, faith, love, and holy meditation are impossible. In religion, divine things lay hold of the soul, and the mind gives itself {52} wholly to them. In the prospect of a ball or of any promiscuous dance, the attention of the mind is preengaged. Preparation must be made; partners engaged, and a suitable dress, &c. prepared. Loose reins are given to the fancy. It invents and presents unto the mind a thousand vain, foolish, and imaginary things, momentary pleasures, and bewitching pernicious gratifications. These lay hold of the mind, banish the thoughts of other things, and destroy any serious impressions formerly acquired. During the phrensical revel the mind reaches the summit of its distraction, its pride, its vanity and folly. It is now like a vessel in a storm, without her rudder, driven by the impetuous tempest. The passions are now become ungovernable. Their voice alone is heard; and their dictates are obsequiously obeyed. To this, as the native cause, are to be ascribed all these wicked and disgraceful consequences that often succeed these associations. When it is over, the mind, disappointed in many of its imaginary hopes, its momentary gratifications having entirely subsided, and being a little recovered from its delirium, begins to feel remorse. The waste of time and money, the neglect of matters of the utmost importance, and the corrupting of both body and soul, rush upon the conscience, and fill it with fear and disquiet. The uneasiness now felt more than counter-balances all the carnal satisfaction formerly enjoyed. This however is but temporary. When it has subsided, the mind is fully prepared to repeat its former irregularities, and takes the first opportunity for that purpose. Where this does not take place, the mind takes a retrospect view of what is past, as it formerly anticipated it, and still seeks gratification. Other things are excluded from a place in it. Nay more, the mind is rendered totally incapable of attending to them. This state of mind is, of all others, most unfavourable to religion. It is produced by exercises the very reverse of religious ones. These beget in the soul habits and dispositions of a similar nature. Thus the soul is become listless, and indifferent about spiritual {53} things. It is rendered incapable of relishing these, or the pleasures which they afford. If an attempt is made to attend to divine things, the attention is immediately called off, by these other objects which have laid hold of the mind. If religious exercises are persisted in, the whole of them is spent in the soul's running from one thing to another in the greatest distraction. Its attention is no sooner turned to divine things than it runs off, and every new attempt to fix it proves equally abortive. There is not in the mind a simple indifference; but there is a positive aversion to religious exercises, and a positive powerful inclination to the opposite of them. This aversion will be best discovered to the person's self, when he essays any religious duty. It is then, that he attempts to divert the heart from its favourite objects, and to engage it in something else. The attachment to other pleasures is so powerful, that the mind recoils at the thought and forcibly resists the effort. This attempt puts the soul in fetters, and abridges its lawless liberty. It tries every effort to escape, and is so far successful as to destroy the real exercise of religion in the heart. If any soul will attend to, and compare its frame and exercise in religion, before he admits the thoughts of a ball into his mind, with these after he has attended the revel; he will be able to form a better idea of the injury he has sustained, and will be more fully convinced of the impropriety of his conduct, than by any thing that can be offered by another. But such a comparison is not to be expected, because the mind is totally disqualified for it. If any serious soul shall, through inadvertence or temptation, be led to join in such a practice, the loss, in spirituals, which he sustains, will render him more cautious in future, not to tread on such enchanted and forbidden ground. The Apostle draws a brief, but striking character of such a person: 1 Tim. 5.6, "She that liveth in pleasure is dead while she liveth." The body is lively, vigorous and active, in pursuing carnal pleasures, while the soul is spiritually dead, incapable either of exercising religion, or of relishing its pleasures. It is given as the character of such as belong to Christ, {54} that they crucify the flesh, with the affections and lusts. Gal. 5.24. These affections, which lead men to attend balls and other promiscuous dancings, belong either to the flesh or to the Spirit. If they belonged to the Spirit, they would be gracious religious affections. Nothing could be more favourable to religion than to be under their influence, and to indulge them. But this will not be pretended, even by the keenest patrons of the practice. If these affections were of such a kind, the mind would be most spiritual in the heat of the revel, because then the passions are most excited. But the truth is, they belong to the flesh, as the indulgence of them is most pernicious to religion. They must of course be mortified by all, who would be found interested in Christ. The indulgence of them is, "Making provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof." Rom. 13.14. It is, "To live after the flesh," which if we do, "we shall die; but if we, through the Spirit, do mortify the deeds of the body we shall live." Rom. 8.13. The practice discovers the soul to be spiritually dead; or otherwise greatly obstructs spiritual life in it. The practice must either be from Christ, or from the world. Not the former, otherwise it would tend to promote the advancement of his kingdom, in the conversion of souls, and the building up and establishment of believers. It must belong to the world; not as lawfully considered, for it would then promote the civil interests of society, whereas it has a contrary tendency. It must then belong to the world as sinful. It is fairly included in the Apostle's description of the world. 1 John 2.16, "All that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world." Hence the command, Rom. 12.2, "Be ye not conformed to this world; but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind." The indulging of these lusts and affections is inconsistent with the power and progress of religion in the soul, and every exertion ought, on that account, to be made to mortify these. That time, which is spent in these pernicious practices, ought to be employed about the means of salvation, {55} in order to obtain grace where it is not, and to strengthen the habits of spiritual life where they have been already formed. Attention to divine things must often be intermitted. Lawful civil business demands it. During such intermission the greatest care and vigilance are necessary, lest spiritual attainments be either weakened or lost. Things that necessarily have this tendency are ever to be avoided. Such is promiscuous dancing. The divine injunctions, "Be fervent in spirit—continue instant in prayer—pray always—pray without ceasing," [Rom. 12.11,12; Luke 21.36; 1 Thess. 5.17.], certainly imply that a frame for religious exercises ought ever to be preserved, and that every sinful and unnecessary thing, tending to destroy or weaken it, ought to be avoided. When the proper frame is awanting, no spiritual duty or exercise can be performed.

Many things sinful, and prejudicial to men, attend the practice of promiscuous dancings, either as concomitants, or as consequences. The waste of precious time has been already mentioned. This is considerable, both in preparing for, and during, the ball, &c. Considerable sums of money are expended. As dancing is now accounted a part of a polite education, many parents spare neither time nor expense, to have their children instructed in the art, whilst in many instances they can neither read the Scriptures, nor repeat the Shorter Catechism. Children are thus educated, not for the service of God, but of Satan. The time thus wasted is equally precious as any other part of time, and might be employed in a manner more advantageous to ourselves and to others. The money so expended is equally valuable with what we apply to other purposes. Neither our time nor our money are our own absolutely; nor is it lawful for us to do with them as we please. They are the gift of God. He allows us the use, but not the abuse of them. He has fixed the purposes, to which we are to apply them. When persons thus devote their time and money to vanity, folly, and madness, they ought seriously to consider whether God will approve of their conduct, and what account they will give him when he shall demand it. Often, families may be seen clothed in rags, and, in {56} times of scarcity and dearth, half starved, while their children must be sent to the dancing school, and completely fitted out for a ball. In many instances, children, who are more advanced in life, expend their substance on such practices, while their parents are supported, in part at least, by the Church and the public. Were this waste of time and money duly redeemed, the situation of many might be much more comfortable, and the necessities of the poor more amply relieved. If dancing be viewed as a part of a polite education, we may be certain, that it does not belong to the school of Christ. It is not to be found among his institutions. It makes no part of the work assigned to his ministers. It has no relation to the affairs of his kingdom. And in place of contributing to its success, it impedes it. It must belong to another department. Men are taught neither religion nor morality by it. In its very nature and tendency, it is equally unfavourable to both. From its peculiar connection with the lusts of the flesh, it is much better calculated to fit persons for being proper subjects of Satan's kingdom.—Dancings are often connected with drinking, and lead to quarreling and fighting. Dancing and drinking seem to be twin-sisters. They are both lusts of the flesh. They both possess something of a bewitching nature. Men are charmed by both. Whether men be under the power of liquor, or of the lust of dancing, they are equally under a suspense of the proper exercise of their reason. In both cases the effect is produced by the power of unmortified lust. Hence it is that these are often found in company. It rarely happens that dances are altogether disconnected from drinking. By both the passions are powerfully excited, and reason almost completely silenced. Pride, self-importance, and jealousy begin to appear. Strife and animosity ensue. The consequences are often serious. It will be urged, that all this might take place, and often does, where there is no dancing. True. Nevertheless, in this case it is the occasion of it. Were persons to attend their lawful business, or the study of religion, at home, there would be no such association, and {57} so no such consequences. And though these consequences do not follow in every instance, yet it is sufficient that the practice natively tends to produce them, as it excites those passions which lead to them. As the consequences of such a practice, some have lost their health, others their chastity and character, and others their lives.—There is a particular practice of this sin not to be omitted in this Testimony against it, viz. Charity Drinkings, as they are vulgarly denominated. As these are practiced only in some parts of the country, it may not be unnecessary to give an account of them. There is some little difference in the manner of conducting them, so immaterial as not to deserve notice here. The thing is done for the benefit of some poor person. An entertainment of meat and drink is provided by that person, sometimes to a considerable extent. A day is fixed, and an invitation is given to the neighbourhood to attend. A very large promiscuous company of both sexes often assemble. These all contribute so much money for their entertainment. This is given partly to defray the expense of the entertainment, and partly to relieve the necessities of the poor person who provided it. The party very frequently eat, at least drink to excess. A promiscuous revel of dancing always accompanies. The scene often terminates with beastly intoxication, fighting, and abominable lewdness. Instead of answering the pretended design of it, the poor person often does not receive what will defray the expense of the entertainment. It were indeed to be wished that this were always the consequence, as no mean would more effectually abolish the practice. That the poor ought to be provided for, there can be no doubt. God has left them as a charge upon others, to whose hand he has laid more plentifully. This ought to be done by lawful means, and from Christian principles. The poor who adopt this method of relieving their wants are the occasion of all the excess, irregularity, abuse, and wickedness, gone into on such occasions. Such a mode of obtaining support can never be blessed to them. The motives which induce people to attend are not principles {58} of charity, and regard to the poor. They have an opportunity of gratifying their lusts. All is conducted, however, under the pretense of charity. This heightens the wickedness exceedingly. A religious duty—relieving the poor, is the ostensible reason for this assemblage of people. Under this mask they hesitate not to run any length in excess and sin. An occasion of this kind is truly a revel. Were charity the motive, it would more effectually relieve the poor to give them the sum of money without any revel of eating and drinking, dancing, &c. But this would not furnish fuel for their lusts, consequently would not take place. The person providing such entertainment, takes the advantage of men's lusts and the dissipation of the time; throws a temptation in their way, and leads them into wickedness. The things which tend most to inflame the passions must be had, drink and dancing. These prepare them for other irregularities.

When this sinful practice is considered, and the consequences of it duly weighed, it must appear exceedingly improper, and sinful for serious disposed persons, or testimony bearers to be present where it is practiced, though they do not actually take part in it. Dancing is often connected with what is in itself lawful, as marriages, &c. These occasions ought not to be countenanced, when such irregularities are connected with them. This would be a decided testimony against the practice. Some think there is no evil in being present, while they join not in the practice. But doubtless they expose themselves to temptation: and many have been imposed on and led into the sin, and by means of it to abandon their profession. One may receive injury by being present where sin is practiced, though they join not actually in it. It does not appear that Herod danced along with Salome. She danced in the circle, while he looked on. He was foolishly affected, and acted rashly. It will ever be found safe to avoid temptation, and to abstain from all appearance of evil. [1 Thess. 5.22.]

It is pled that dancing is an innocent and harmless recreation. Recreation in some cases may be necessary {59} both to relieve the mind of the studious, and to exercise and invigorate the bodies of the sedentary. The greater part of those who go into the practice have no need of it on either of these accounts. Besides it is well known that dancing affords no amusement, but by a mixture of the sexes. As an ancient Divine says, "Take away the promiscuousness of dancing, and itself will cease." This shews, that there is nothing in it as a recreation, considered in itself; but as promiscuous with women.

But something must be urged for the practice while it prevails. It may deserve notice, that wherever reformation in religion obtained, the practice has been condemned; and when religion has declined, and profanity, immorality, and licentiousness abounded, dancing has prevailed. The more enlightened heathens themselves had no favourable opinion of it. The great Roman Orator, Cicero, calls it, The last of vices, because it follows former bad actions.

We therefore earnestly warn those that are parents not to send their children to dancing schools, these seminaries of wickedness, to acquire this part of what is called polite education. O consider, how contrary this is to the solemn obligations that you came under for them at baptism, to bring them up in the fear, nurture, and admonition of the Lord; and beware, lest, by such education, you form their minds and dispositions for promoting the interest of Satan's kingdom. Attend to the divine injunction, "flee youthful lusts," [2 Tim. 2.22,] and this will preserve you from putting your children in the very way of exciting and indulging these. Be not so cruel, as to permit their attendance on those places, which tend to rob them of their modesty, which God has given them as a defence against many temptations; but rather use your utmost influence, by precept and example, to keep them from the paths in which destroyers go. [Psalm 17.4. (1650).]

We have represented to you, dear brethren, the dangerous tendency of promiscuous vain dancing. We entreat your deep and serious consideration thereof. Let not the prevalence of the practice, nor your own attachment to it, induce you to pass over the matter slightly. {60} Consider the nature of true religion, and the manner of its progress in the soul: consider also the innate depravity of the human heart, in its opposition to genuine holiness. Whatever has a tendency to add fuel to the sinful lusts, and to draw forth the latent seeds of corruption, ought to be carefully avoided by the Christian. Among these things we have classed promiscuous dancing: and none who are properly acquainted with the internal workings of sin and lust in the soul will deny it. The votaries of this exercise may well be denominated lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God. [2 Tim. 3.4.] No real Christian can say, that he ever reaped any advantage from it, and we are confident, that many have sustained much injury from it. We beseech you, take a serious view of the precious time, that you have wasted in it; of the dangers to which you have exposed yourselves by it; and of the inconsistency of it, with a life of faith; and especially consider, how unsuitable it is to times like the present, when the aspects of providence are truly alarming, and the vengeance of heaven impending over us. See Ezekiel 21.10. Such provocations of sons and daughters may add to the bitter ingredients in that cup of Jehovah's righteous judgments, which he is threatening to pour down upon our guilty heads."