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It will be conceded, we presume, that any attempt to remove the drama, to be of any force, must be radical and thorough. The principle must be attacked. It will be a difficult matter, we apprehend, to make any assault upon the principle that shall not sweep away with it not only the theatre and the opera, but the oratorio, the concert, the Sunday-school exhibition, declamation, even rhetorical reading in the public schools, anything and everything, in short, which aims to move spectators by the impersonation, in the least degree, of a sentiment or
The minister or the church which gives sanction to any of these exhibitions does so far commit himself or itself to the principle of dramatic entertainment.
The conclusion to which we come to which, it would seem, a candid view of all the facts in the case must drive all—is, that the essential drama is indestructible; that while its accidents are removable, in itself it is, in some form, a fixed principle of public amusement after the order of nature; that all crusades for its radical overthrow are on a par with attempts to root out worship, legislation, music, everything in short that has its roots in the nature of man. With a few suggestions of a directly practical bearing we shall now close this discussion.
The drama is essentially an amusement. It does indeed convey much instruction ; it is incidentally a school of intellectual and ästhetic culture, but in its distinctive character it is an amusement. As such it will seek patronage ; and in pursuit of this, it will adapt itself to the tastes of its patrons. If good and wise people sustain it, it will present itself in a character unexceptionable to the good and wise. Mark, we do not say that it will be good and wise ; as an amusement it will, in its essential quality, be negative as respects good or evil ; it will be all that can be reasonably asked, simply unobjectionable to the good and wise. If these desert it and contemn it, throwing it wholly upon the unwise and the vicious, it will present itself in a character still unobjectionable to its patrons. It will do what the press does, what really every institution does, what, we are ashamed to say, the pulpit too often does, cater to the tastes, and adapt itself to the moral standard of its customers. So ar the argument rests upon plain business principles.
What, then, becomes the duty of the Christian public? Shall they scout the institution as immoral, and in this way make and keep it immoral ? Or shall they do what they may easily do, take it into their hands, and so make it pure and keep it pure? No one denies the fact that within the last twenty years the drama in Boston has been greatly elevated in character and influence. And why is this? Because during this period the prejudice against the play has been gradually diminishing, and a better, a more exemplary class of citizens, have given it their support. It has kept pace with the character of its audience, and a period has arrived when a manager must at least promise a pure stage. Possibly the time is not far distant when he will be compelled to keep — when the general character of his patrons will compel him to keep - the promise. Of course, we are not saying that it is any one's positive duty to visit theatres. We should as soon say it is his duty to see the fire-works, or the next regatta.
Individual taste must control the action of every one. All that is asked is, that the ban of exclusion shall be removed, that social and ecclesiastical influences shall not interfere, that public sentiment - the sentiment of the intelligent and the pure - shall not operate as a barrier to the gratification of individual preference in the matter. Let managers have reason to presume that
among their auditors are persons whom it will not be for their interest to offend; and they will not dare to obtrude anything impure upon their gaze; - rather let us say, that the management of the drama will pass into hands that will not wish to offend.
We leave the subject in the profound conviction that the drama stands upon the ineradicable basis of human nature; that it is the duty of the Christian public not to waste its energies in the futile attempt to destroy what is indestructible, but to labor for the improvement of what may be easily improved. We shall be happy to think we have contributed anything towards putting the whole question of amusements in its true light, and correcting false and injurious impression as respects any one of its many forms. In closing, we will take the occasion to express the earnest hope that the best people will take the whole matter into their own hands, and by their personal influence, direct or indirect, bring every natural form of recreation to that standard of per
fection and of exemption from evil associations, and prejudicial influence, that will make it safe to be amused — safe to seek what overworked and weary human nature imperatively craves, an occasional substitution, in the place of toil and anxiety, of the cheerful flow of animal spirits, the healthy laugh, and the free and hearty participation in amusements that temporarily relax the mind and unbend the energies, and so diffuse fresh energy, vigor, and health through the whole man-physical, moral and religious.
G. H. E.
The Doctrine of the Personality of the Devil Historically
1. Historia Diaboli, 2d Edition. Tubingen, 1780. 2. Semler, Versuch einer biblischen Dämonologie. Halle, 1785.
The rapid progress of liberal religious ideas in this country has recently, by a natural reaction, called forth many re-assertions of dogmas which were fast losing their hold upon the popular faith. These re-assertions demand, in turn, from the friends of religious progress, restatements of their reasons for rejecting doctrines which have long been accepted, and are now re-asserted, as evangelical.
A very distinguished “ orthodox” divine, of the more liberal school, whose practical religion is of the present, but whose theology is of the past, not long since endeavored to revive among his flock a belief in the real personal existence of a Prince of Darkness. It is our purpose to trace briefly the history of this doctrine, that we may determine whether it is of Christian origin, and therefore binding upon us as an article of faith, or whether it is the offspring of heathen
1 The present article, it will be seen, is similar in its general character, more particularly in its conclusions, to one which appeared in a late number of the Quarterly. The circumstance that the researches evinced in the present are widely different from those which led to the former, gives peculiar value to both.—(Ed. Quarterly. VOL. XVII.
superstition, and therefore to be purged from the Christian's creed.
If we turn first to the ancient oriental religions, we shall find that they all acknowledged, with greater or less clearness, the existence of one or more evil spirits, of great power, at work in the universe. The Hindoos claimed to worship one god, or rather supreme spirit, from whom proceeded the universe, endowed in all parts with a portion of divine life derived from the great source of its being. This supreme spirit, however, was not the direct creator of the universe; but from him proceeded certain emanations which, endowed with the powers of creating, preserving and detroying, were really the gods with whom men were most practically and personally concerned. Brahma was the Creator, Vishnu the Preserver, and Siva the Destroyer, the latter of whom was also the Reproducer. In his character of destroyer, Siva is represented as holding in one hand a venomous serpent, a common emblem, as we shall see, of the spirit of destruction, and fearfully expressive to the inhabitants of tropical climates in constant terror from venomous reptiles. But besides Siva, the Hindoos believed in the existence of many inferior evil spirits, often mentioned as having a great serpent for their leader. These were perpetually striving to injure mankind, and were engaged in frequent conflicts with the spirit of light. But all this warring of spirit-forces, the good against the evil and the evil against the good, would finally be brought to a happy result, so they thought, by the supreme spirit absorbing all things into himself, after which there would be a new series of emanations, new deities, and a new universe, the whole vast drama being repeated. This beginning and ending, in which all things emanated from God and returned to him, this theogony which recognizes one supreme spiritforce in the universe, in whose divine plan evil is but an instrument for good, not independent, uncreated, and essentially antagonistic to the supreme spirit-force, but created by it and ordered rather than permitted, - is in pleasing contrast to the systems of later and shallower theologies. It is true that many skrank from receiving this doctrine in its full significance, and declared that evil was permitted rather than ordered ; but this statement does not seem to accord with their clearly expressed doctrine of divine emanations, according to which the evil spirit as well as the good was an outpouring of divine influence for wise though distant ends.
The religion of the ancient Egyptians resembled that of the Hindoos in this important respect, -- it acknowled a supreme spirit-force from which all other forces were emananations, and whose various attributes were represented by subordinate created gods. Consequently Typhon, the spirit of evil and destruction, was but an emanation, and destined ultimately to be overcome by his twin brother Osiris, who represented the opposite principle of reproduction and growth.
The theogony of the Persians was similar, in its main features, to those of the Hindoos and Egyptians. Ormuzd, the Prince of Light, and Ahriman, the Prince of Darkness, were both emanations from a supreme eternal spirit. The Prince of Darkness, becoming envious of the Prince of Light, was punished by his creator with confinement for three thousand years in the realm of darkness. Meantime, new worlds and new intelligences were created. When Ahriman was released from his imprisonment, the sight of these new creations again filled him with envy, and to counteract the influence of the good spirits, which had been created during his confinement, he also created a band of evil spirits, called devs, the most powerful of which was an immense two-footed serpent. All this transpired before the creation of man. But when man had been created, with guardian spirits to watch over him, the Prince of Darkness again exerted his creative power, and every human being was attended by an evil spirit also. Ahriman, by eating a certain kind of fruit, transforms himself into a serpent, and in that form tempts man. Man eats of the forbidden fruit, and sin thereby enters into the world.
The devs, also, operating upon the bodies and minds of men, introduce among them diseases and all manner of calamities. Thus the powers of darkness succeed in gaining the supre. macy in the world, men becoming their willing subjects, and refusing to join the spirits of light in battle against them. But this state of things was not to last forever. A Redeemer would be born of a virgin, who would subdue the devs, raise the dead, and hold a final judgment. Ahriman and his devs, together with the wicked of mankind, would be plunged in a lake of fire, not for their destruction, but for