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“ . Let them praise His name in the dance.' (Psalm cxlix. 3.) Thou hast turned my mourning into dancing.' (Psalm xxx. 11.) The deliverance here commemorated was the recovery of health after sickness ; and dancing was an expression of religious gratitude and joy.
"And it came to pass, as soon as he came nigh unto the camp, that he saw the calf, and the dancing.' (Exod. xxxii. 19.) From this passage it appears, that dancing was customary in idol-worship.
' Again I will build thee, and thou shalt be built, О virgin of Israel : thou shalt again be adorned with thy tabrets, and shalt go forth in the dances of them that make merry.' (Jer. xxxi. 4.) This text predicts the return from the captivity, and the restoration of the Divine favour, as well as the consequent expressions of pious joy.
** We have piped unto you, and ye have not danced; we have mourned unto you, and ye have not lamented :' (Matt. xi. 17:)—that is, Neither the judgments nor the mercies of God make any impression upon this impenitent generation. They mourn not when His providence solicite their tears, and there is no demonstration of sacred joy when His lovingkindness ought to awaken their gratitude.
"Now his elder son was in the field : and as he came and drew nigh to the house, he heard music and dancing.' (Luke xv. 25.) The return of the prodigal was a happy event, for which the grateful father, in conformity with the custom of the Jewish church, and the exhortation of the psalmist, praised the Lord in the dance.'
“A time to weep, and a time to laugh ; a time to mourn, and a time to dance.' (Eccles, iii. 4.) Since the Jewish church only recognised dancing in so far as it was a religious custom, and an expression of praise and gratitude, it is evident that the text is simply a declaration that the providence of God disposes us sometimes to mourn, and sometimes to thanksgiving and joy.
“But when Herod's birthday was kept, the daughter of Herodias danced before them, and pleased Herod.' (Matt. xiv. 6.) In this case, dancing, contrary to its original design, was perverted to purposes of dissipation and folly. See also Job xxi. 7—15.
“From these passages we conclude as follows:"1. That dancing was a religious rite, used in the service of the true God, and also in the worship of idols.
“ 2. That it was customary only on joyful occasions ; as, for instance, national festivities and great victories.
"3. That, for the most part, only maidens danced. " 4. That this was done by daytime, commonly in the open air, in public thoroughfares, in the fields, or in groves.
" 5. That they who perverted the sacred use of dancing to purposes of worldly gratification were regarded as shameless,' and without honour.
“6. That there is no single passage in the Holy Scriptures, in which it is stated that men and women, whether for religious or for profane purposes, danced together.
“7. And, finally, there is no passage to be found in which social dancing is mentioned, except that of vain fellows' without shame ; (2 Sam. 'vi. 20 ;) or of godless families, such as Job described, (chap. xxi. 7—15,) in which dancing was a cause of demoralization and destruction; and, finally, the example of the daughter of Herodias, which led to the inconsiderate oath of Herod, and the murder of John the Baptist.”
THE ARCHBISHOP AND THE GHOST.
A POLISH STORY.
Tue wicked and foolish tales of miracles and visions, which in Popish countries constitute the staple of popular literature, (if the word literature may be so cheapened,) are only worthy to be plunged into everlasting oblivion, if considered on their own account. But there is a reason in this madness,-an astute perversion of truth, or invention of falsehood, for some special purpose, —which it may not be uninstructive to point out. The following fragment, taken from one of their own most eminent annalists, (Raynaldus, continuator of Baronius,) may illustrate the purpose, as well as the tendency, of one class of their fables.
When, notwithstanding the incessant and urgent admonitions of Pope Paul III., Sigismund Augustus, King of Poland, was not sufficiently severe in persecuting heretics, and especially the Bohemian Brethren and their converts, who had sought refuge within his dominions; and while many of the Polish nobles gave the followers of Christ protection on their estates, and almost all of them opposed the unconstitutional demands of the bishops, the appointment of a nuncio in Poland, and the entire policy of the Roman see ; legal persecution of Protestants became almost impossible
. Still there was an ignorant and profoundly superstitious populace, and it was determined to call on them to do what their superiors would not do ; and the appropriate fiction of a ghost was invented to set the new mobile in action. An old man, worn out after an exceedingly profligate life, was the chosen instrument of delusion. Peter Gamrat, Archbishop of Gnesen, and Bishop of Cracow, (at the same time primate of the kingdom, and occupant of the chief episcopal see,) had been crowned with Papal honours in compensation for his zeal in wearing out the saints of the Most High; and, having lavished much, out of immense wealth, in purchasing a reputation for charity, had considerable influence over the lowest of the people. Now comes the tale, just as Raynaldus endeavours to set it forth with the gravity of history.
One evening, on the vigil of a feast, Archbishop Gamrat, enrobed and ready to go into the church at Cracow to attend at vespers, was waiting alone in a chamber of his palace until the moment for service should arrive. To his extreme surprise, the familiar figure of one Cicrosius (a
former boon companion of his, and an accomplice in many crimes) entered the room, and sat down beside him. Riveted to his place with terror, the old archbishop trembled at every joint, until, after a few moments, the substantial-looking visage and frame of the spectre half made him fancy that memory must have deceived him ; and, yielding to the persuasion of sense, he gathered courage and thus addressed the visiter :-“ And art thou still alive ? And where dost thou live, if indeed thou art still in this world ?” "O yes!” replied the ghost, “I am still alive, and inhabit a far happier region than thou dost.” Then Gamrat, again incredulous : “How can that be? For I know too well, alas! that thou didst quit this life a victim to excess, and loathsome with disease. Is it possible that thou art now among the blessed? I cannot believe it." “ Thou wilt soon believe it," answered he, “ if thou wilt have patience, and hear me for a little. When I was a very young man in Germany, I fell in with a fellow who, with sacrilegious lips, spake evil of the most holy Mother of God. I, impatient of such wickedness, struck him with my fist; when he, being armed, laid his hand on his sword, and challenged me to fight a duel. I drew mine quickly; we joined fight, and it was soon over. Without receiving the slightest wound, I killed the wretch; and, lest I should be brought to capital punishment for murder, betook myself to flight. After a time I scarcely thought more of the affair : but when my last hour came, and my soul was about to leave the body, the fiends of hell beset me fiercely, and I seemed to be on the brink of perdition without hope. But, just at that moment, a light broke forth around me. It was the Queen of Heaven. She came, surrounded by angelic bands; and at her approach the brutes infernal dashed out of my chamber, raging and yelling horribly. But she, with most benignant countenance, fixed on me her eyes of mercy. My soldier,' said she, defender of my honour! Shalt thou perish ? Nay!' Then, turning toward her Son, she said, 'I will hold this my soldier for a moment in the arms with which I have often embraced Thee, and do Thou shed on him a few drops of the blood Thou didst derive from me ; and I will cause tears to flow from his eyes, which shall suffice to wash away crimes.' She had no sooner spoken, than I felt a profound detestation of my past life. I was agitated with sighing; my face was wet with tears. I acknowledged that I had offended my best Father; and, at the beck of my most holy Patroness, I glowed with ardent love. This, although I felt, I could not utter, for disease had robbed me of my speech; and thus, the most chaste Virgin standing by me in my last moments, I expired. My soul left the body, and by the ministry of angels was carried into heaven. There, not by my own merits, (for I had none, or, at best, but few,) but by the Divine mercy, extended to me by my Patroness, I have gained eternal felicity, and live indeed. Thence I am now sent to thee, that I may admonish thee of thy end. Thou hast, until lately, deserved, for thy hard ingratitude for so many benefits, to be punished like the rich glutton; but thy favours to the poor, those daily meals which thou hast given to beggars, those garments where with thou hast clad the naked limbs VOL. X. - FIFTH SERIES.
of Christ,—these merits forbid Divine justice to rage against thee. Know, then, that six months hence--this respite thy indulgent Father grants thee-thou shalt die. Spend, and spare not. This is what it behoves thee now to do; for there is yet space for pardon : and, taught by my example, be not discouraged.” With these words, the ghost vanished. The bishop burst into tears; nor for that day did he go into public, but remained alone longer than usual ; and not until long afterwards did he relate to a trusty friend what had come to pass. It is added, that Gamrat, during those six months, did every thing proper for a penitent, and, having performed expiation with all the sacraments, died in this year, 1545, with excellent hope of eternal salvation !
Thus far Raynaldus.—On this tale we may briefly note, that, whereas almsgivings, penances, and masses are the staple merits of the Church of Rome, the drops wherewith they idly endeavour to fill up the ocean of the Saviour's merit in favour of those who have not approached to take of it; and while these minute merits have to be laboriously accumulated, and still leave the conscience of the more sincere unsatisfied, and the demands of the Church unanswered ; one fatal stroke, the murder of a single heretic, is accounted more meritorious than a life of penance. This doctrine resounded from the pulpits of Poland ; and none were so obedient to the injunctions of the Pope and the bishops as the Jesuits. These chosen soldiers of the Church acted out the doctrine of meritorious violence, at least, for more than a century, in this very city of Cracow ; and, when the laws restrained them from taking life, they tore the dead out of their graves, and dragged the naked corpses through the streets. For more than a century armed bands of Jesuit-students scoured the streets, broke into the dwellings, and profaned the churches, whenever a Protestant congregation or a Protestant funeral attracted their attention. Bishops, priests, and gaolers, acted out the doctrine of meritorious murder, by starving Protestants to death in dungeons, or despatching them with poison ; defrauding the law of the reverence due to it, by inflicting death when no juridical sentence would have authorized the hangman to render them his services. These men, already rewarded for their zeal with praise and preferment in the Church, were taught to expect heaven as the certain and immediate recompense of those whose extremely wicked lives, in every respect, (meritorious assault, arson, murder, and outrages, alone excepted) must have doomed them to eternal woe. After a century of resistance, during which thirty years were spent in that sanguinary war which overspread the German empire; and after the Church had gloried in trampling on law no less than on humanity, and on the precepts of that original religion which even pagans honoured ; she obtained entire ascendency over the secular authority. An edict from the emperor was granted, enforcing the profession of Popery on every person in what were called the hereditary kingdoms, under penalty of death.
This tale of the archbishop and the ghost may appear to some too old to be repeated now; but the magnificent work from which it is extracted continues to be one of the chief repertories of Ronish lore, and its learted compilers were rewarded for their labours with rich benefices and dignities. And that murder of heretics is still accounted meritorious, the existence and activity of the Roman Inquisition offer an irrefragable proof, if there were no other.
ACROSS CENTRAL ARABIA. Ox Monday evening, the 22d of February, a crowded meeting of the Royal Geographical Society was held at Burlington-House, to listen to the narrative of a most adventurous journey by Mr. Gifford Palgrave (son of the late Sir Francis Palgrave) from Gaza, in Southern Syria, across North Central Arabia, in a nearly diagonal line, to El Khatif, on the Persian Gulf, (passing by the capital of the Wahabite Monarchy,) and thence to the little known kingdom of Oman, at the extreme eastern corner of Arabia. The paper itself contained little beyond the skeleton, as its accomplished author termed it, of what had been actually achieved; but even in this crude form it trested of scenes and countries respecting which so little is known, and that little almost uniformly erroneous, that it deserves particular notice. Disguises had to be prepared at Gaza, as so great is the jealousy of the Arabs, both nomad and stationary, of all Europeans, even including the Turks, that instances are by no means uncommon of such travellers having been put to death. Mr. Palgrave travelled as a wandering doctor ; in other words, he was viewed by many of those he encountered as a quack, who had committed some civil crime in his native Damascus, and had fled into Arabia. This character, which he took no pains to disclaim, united with a certain amount of real medical knowledge, proved of great service to him, as it not only brought him in contact with all classes of society, but attracted to his ministration for physical ailments numbers of persons who resided eight, ten, and even twelve days' journey distant ; and from these he derived valuable information as to the route he should adopt to avoid political embroilments, rising in some localities to the dignity of revolution. On leaving Gaza, the desert is at once encountered ; and the frontier of the kingdom of Djebel-Schonur, the most northerly division of Arabia, is reached at Maan. Hence they pushed eastward over another desert seven days' journey, with but one well ; in the midst of which they had nearly perished in a simoom. They had now reached the Jauf, a centre of some trade, lying in the jaws of the Wady Serhan, down which their route had lain, the road being commanded by an old fort. They next proceeded southward to Hail, the capital of Djebel-Schonur, a city of twenty thousand inhabitants, near the southern frontier of the kingdom. They had now reached the great central plateau of Arabia, and entered the renowned kingdom of the Wahabites. The title usually adopted by the monarch, at present represented by Ibn Saud, is “Sultan of the Nedjed.” At Riadh (the modern capital) the party remained seven weeks, when they found it advisable to effect their escape in secret ; and, after some little trouble and danger, reached El-Khatif. Here Mr. Palgrave's companion was detached