« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »
light and darkness, the sweetnesses and bitternesses of long past generations of men, has come down to us through their media! But here, as in literature, in our day at least, the tares and the wheat are growing together. And of the disseminators of impure suggestion, both in its own examples and still more in the strange but undeniable influence it has upon the art of other countries, a certain well-known type of French art must be reckoned among the chiefest. It is the product of de-spiritualized minds, and does not see its own shame. It is of hopeless fleshliness, fleshly; it has no hope of the future to teach; its clothed figures are suggestively selfconscious; and it exhausts ingenuity in the delineation of mere physical nakedness, without even innocence, much less spirituality, to mask the uncovering. Its outward gayety, and forced, artificial sentiment do not conceal the cinder of the burnt out life. Time would fail me to point out a tithe of this evil influence; but its range is from the picture galleries of the rich down to the advertisements that reek with shameful hint in the shop windows of every street in the civilized world.
And when the child passes from the teaching and pressure of all these things into the world of personal contacts, into association with his fellows and under the influence of human institutions, and is taught their faiths by their works, how does he fare then in this matter? Does he find nothing in the standards of judgment and the conventions of society to confuse his own moral sense and blur the definitions of good and evil ?
Among many notable things in this regard I will mark two. Society judges and visits the sin of impurity in women and in men very differently. Perhaps it is because it feels its own power and knows her weakness, and has not wholly ceased to be a coward. But the unfortunate woman who sins, or is even suspected of it, repent she never so bitterly, purify she herself never so wholly in heart and life, loses caste; is socially outcast; every door and every heart is shut, and every hand is raised against her. But her companion in guilt, as a rule, and especially if he be wealthy or well placed socially, is not disqualified in any of his relations, even for marriage with a pure woman. What shall the child judge from this? That character signifies in one and does not in the other; or that the bar of God knows one law for the one and a wholly different law for the other ?
Again, how does the child, before whom lies this all-important
moral step, hear marriages judged? Is it by beauty and fitness of character and singleness of pure-hearted devotion; or by the material and social gains or losses apparently involved ? Does this child learn, from what it sees and hears, to look upon its coming mate as the lifelong companion of its own soul in all the joys and sorrows and labors and duties and burdens of this sphere; or as the other party to a bargain in which material consideration must be balanced, with a vague hope that each may chance to get more than is paid for? “Be not deceived: God is not mocked.”
And here come in the modern theories of government and law, and take entire control of marriage and divorce as purely civil matters wholly within the control of the state as a secular power, treating the whole as a matter of the making and annulling of a mere contract; treating it, perhaps, somewhat more seriously in some states than ordinary contracts, but in essence no whit differently. The only conditions involved are, on the one hand, capacity and legal consent to the contract; and on the other, its breach as a contract. Hence that astounding facility of divorce in many states, so familiar that it has ceased to be shocking. The true character of the union as the highest act of the children of God, is wholly ignored, left to individual consciences under no bond to the state, and to the churches and institutions of religion, from which all action save in a purely civil capacity is taken away. It signifies much that in the eye of the law the minister of religion performs the marriage ceremony, not as a minister of religion, but merely as a marrying officer under the law; and that divorce laws usually have reference to no body of either ecclesiastical or even divine law, or religious opinion. And this significance is greatly intensified in view of the character and growing proportion of the foreign element in our population. Much of that population goes through our towns, and passes on to make peaceful homes of industry and thrift and virtue on our interior lands—builders at least of material strength and commercial prosperity. But fast growing numbers gather in our cities and villages, where they gain increasing control of the political machinery, and thus affect our legislative assemblies and their acts. And these people have, in their own eyes at least, come from tyranny to freedom, and tyranny is, in their minds, identified more or less with the whole body of the law whose propriety they deny; and freedom is license. The anarchists, who in their press and their daily meetings openly preach their gospel of hate and
destruction, and raise a form of terror in all our towns, represent but the extreme, the final outcome, of a moral taint and intellectual error that is spread in varying degree through a great body of our non-Americanized population. Free love, abolition of marriage, separation at will of either—these be their doctrines of the foundations of society—and the children of these destroyers are in the schools of all our large towns. It goes without saying what their influence is.
Cause and home, as of every other social ill, so of this—there stands, distinct and mighty, that great open school of self-indulgence, the saloon, with its pupils of every grade, from the initiate young man greedy of pleasure and toying with danger, secure in the conceit of his own self-control, to the miserable worn-out wretch shivering in horror over the darkness of the pit. It perverts every sense, brutalizes every appetite, destroys every moral sensibility, and sets the body on fire. Its beastly victims think and speak of beastliness, and the incredulous sneer at manly virtue; and devilish glee over woman's ruin are of the highest wit and choicest humor of the bar-room.
In view of this whole matter, considering its character and the intrinsic nature of its remedy, let us ask what is the attitude of Christian people toward, and their action in regard to it ?
With here and there exceptions, the answer must be that their attitude is that of avoidance, and their action is to stand still, shutting their eyes. The attitude is instinctive. The subject is so intricate and delicate, so difficult to touch, so easily handled mistakenly, it is so easy to do harm rather than good, so hard to know just the good needed in any case, and there is so much of a false shame as well, that the whole thing is shirked, and children rarely hear a word of what is to them the most important personal matter of this life, from those who are responsible for their entrance upon and training for it. Rarely, at home, at school, in Sunday-school or church, do they receive that which would neutralize or at least minimize the evil knowledge they will receive from evil sources, and the temptations they must encounter.
But we have no choice. There is but one remedy. We can fight impurity only by teaching purity. We can guard our child against dishonor only by teaching him how to possess himself in honor. We can prevent evil knowledge only by forestalling it with pure knowledge. We can save him from temptation of the devil through his manhood, only by teaching him that it is his as a child of God; that so he is in the likeness of the creative power of God; that the family which is founded in the dual image of God is the earthly image of the kingdom of heaven.
The true order among Christians in this matter requires that the church teach the parents what they need to know, and that the parents teach the children. But there is a vast field outside this range where such work is needed, both for the saving of those who are outside, and for the more perfect defense of those within. And for this I know nothing better to suggest than the organization of the White Cross League, which originated in the Church of Eng. land, and is meeting with remarkable success. It requires very little machinery, and is easily used within guilds, church and school societies, and any religious or other associations of young men. Its pledge is as follows: "],........
PROMISE BY THE HELP OF GOD 1.-To treat all women with respect, and endeavor to protect them from wrong
and degradation, 2.–To endeavor to put down all indecent language and coarse jests. 3.-To maintain the law of purity as equally binding upon men and women. 4.-To endeavor to spread these principles among my companions, and to try
and help my younger brothers. 5.-To use every possible means to fulfill the command, •KEEP THYSELF
This is comprehensive, and it places the subject where it belongs, a matter lying in the spiritual life and character of the man.
If I have spoken truly, though not the half, in this matter—and I have spoken nothing which is not open to all who will see—it is time that we lay to our hand. For, standing here in Christian conference, at the period when Christians throughout the world commemorate the time of this mortal life in which our Lord Jesus Christ came to visit us in great humility, and are musing with expectant hearts on that approaching day when he shall come again in his glorious majesty to judge both the quick and the dead, we must remember that as with the great Baptizer in that first advent tide, so it is with us, who are the body of Christ on earth, broken and divided though we present him, in this later day we also are set “ to prepare a people for the coming of the Lord.”
J. CAREY THOMAS, M. D., OF BALTIMORE.
MR. PRESIDENT AND MEMBERS OF THE CONVENTION : I wish to emphasize the importance of giving expression to the sentiment of men in favor of “personal purity" on the part of men. This sentiment exists; but few are aware how little it is known. Good men are often reticent on this subject. Men of loose habits are outspoken. The White Cross movement, with its pledge and its literature, has made possible such expression. A few earnest men in any church or community, or Young Men's Christian Associations, banded together, and pledged to be outspoken in favor of pure life, pure talk and true manliness toward women, will do much to help young men perplexed by the absence of such experience, on the part of those older and more experienced than themselves, and half inclined to believe those who deny the possibility of pure lives on the part of men. In small places particularly, public sentiment amongst men might and ought to be made to be on the side of purity, and thus many young men saved from defilement.
This work is eminently a work of prevention, an ounce of which is better than a pound of cure ; a moral sanitation, letting in the sunlight and pure air. How much this is needed, all who study the question know. Care should be taken that it be done in the manly, hopeful, Christian spirit of the White Cross League. A tract such as “True Manliness,” or “Buried Seed," or the pledge offered, will often open the way. One example of the good they sow may be given.
A workingman in a large piano factory joined a White Cross league. He worked at a bench with a number of men. Every day the party was subjected to hearing the recital of stories of impurity and low jests. He had long been troubled by this, but now he felt he must do something. He procured some copies of