W.E. Penn.

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With an Introduction by Rev. J.H. STRIBLING, D.D.

St. Louis, Mo.
Lewis E. Kline, Publisher and Bookseller.


"Buy the TRUTH and sell it not; also WISDOM and INSTRUCTION and

"There is a way that SEEMETH right unto a man, but the end thereof are
the ways of DEATH." - PROV. 14-25

This little book is respectfully and kindly dedicated to all Husbands,
Fathers and Brothers, who love their Wives, Daughters and Sisters, by



During the past seven years I have delivered the substance of the
foregoing Lecture on Dancing, as a part of my work as an Evangelist,
before not less than one hundred thousand people. I have been requested
by hundreds of FATHERS and mothers, young men and girls, HUSBANDS and
BROTHERS, and pastors of churches to publish the Lecture in the form of
a book, that its influence may be extended to fields I shall never
visit. It is in compliance with these requests that the little book is
written, with the hope that at least some good may result in begetting
and fostering a better state of morals in our day and generation, and in
checking the terrible increase of crime which is rolling over the earth
like a mighty wave of the ocean. If I shall ever hear that this little
book has had some humble part in stopping one poor soul from taking one
more step down the "BROAD ROAD," _or that it has done any good in the
world_, I shall feel well paid for all the time and trouble it has cost
me in getting it into the hands of the printer. Most of persons speaking
or writing on the subject of the dance, are "_hear-say_" witnesses, but
I profess to having been an "_eye-witness_," which I propose to prove by
all the _bad_ men, or those who have been _bad_ men, who may carefully
read this book. Their verdict will be: "HE HAS BEEN THERE."

While I believe that hundreds of thousands of fathers and mothers,
husbands and wives, brothers and sisters, and pastors, and Christians,
will bless the day this little book was written, and will offer many
earnest prayers for the author, I shall expect many Othellos to curse me
with all the bitterness of their souls, because I hope it may be said
wherever the book is read: "OTHELLO'S OCCUPATION IS GONE."



Major W.C. Penn, the author of the following treatise on the modern
dance, has requested the writer to pen a few thoughts introductory to a
theme he has presented with such pith and power to listening thousands
in his travels as an Evangelist.

Various inquiries have been made as to how Major Penn, a lawyer in a
lucrative practice, and with all the attractions of wealth and of fame
before him, and in a quiet, lovely and elegant home, with a wife who has
ever been as a guardian angel to his pathway, was led to change his
vocation to that of a wandering Evangelist, and how it is that he now
stands before the world beside Knapp, and Earle, and Moody, and other
world-renowned Evangelists of the 19th century, in leading multitudes to
Christ as a Savior?

It is answered and centered in the sublime truth: "The love of Christ
constraineth us." As the stars are dimmed and lost sight of in the
brilliancy of the rising sun, so earthly pleasures, riches and honors
fade and dwindle in the glory of the Cross. As God was pleased to use
the writer as an instrument in getting brother Penn into this work, so
it seemed proper that a few incidents and facts which led to it, as
remembered in our associations together, should be stated.

It was in Jefferson, Texas, where our brother then resided, that I first
saw him, in May, 1874, during the session of the Southern Baptist
Convention, at that place. But it was in June, the year after, at his
own home and during a series of meetings in the Baptist Church, that I
began to know more of him, as he brought up in our social interviews a
review of his life religiously - as he told of the time when, in the
ardor and vigor of youth, in Tennessee, at a meeting, he sought to defy
and brave a gospel message from the venerable brother James Hurt, by
taking a front seat; and then how his soul was convulsed and his heart
melted, as God's message wrenched the bolted door of that heart; how he
struggled with the agonies of conviction for sin, during the long, weary
hours of night; and how the joys of pardoning love through Christ came
to his soul with the brightness of the morning. As these conversations
were reviewed, he told of frequent backslidings, and how far away from
God he had been. Then he told of some things he had done in the Sunday
School and in the Church, and then at times gave his opinion as to the
best way of conducting a series of meetings and other things pertaining
to Christ's Kingdom. During these conversations the question was asked:
"Bro. Penn, are you satisfied and sure that you are in full discharge of
your duty?" After a pause he replied, as if conscience was awakened:

"No Sir. I am not satisfied, and have not been for years past." Then
said he: "You are the first man that ever asked me that question." Then
the writer made known some impressions about him that must have been
made by the spirit of God, for he never had just such an interest to
burden his heart previously, and that was that God had a peculiar and
wonderful work for him to do. "But," said Bro. Penn, "at my age, in my
profession and in my condition, I cannot believe it to be my duty to
preach the Gospel" - his age being at that time forty-two years. Among
other things said at this time by the writer, as he now remembers them
one was: That the Spirit of God leads and teaches us in strange ways,
often, as to what God would have us do, and that our methods of holding
meetings seemed to the writer as being deficient in some things, and
that the good of the cause required a change from the ruts and grooves
in which these meetings had been run, and that we were making our
services monotonous and chilling out spirituality by common methods of
conducting divine service, in protracted meetings. Another thought was:
That he and men like himself, as lawyers, that were given to talking and
that knew much of men and the world, if the love of Christ was burning
in their souls, might do a great work in going out and helping in such
meetings, even if they never engaged regularly in the ministry.

But it was in Tyler, Texas, at a Sunday School Institute, in July, 1875,
that a new era was to dawn on Major Penn.

It was a fixed impression in the mind of the pastor that there ought to
be a change in our manner of conducting revival services; that the time
had come to begin the work, and that Bro. Penn was the man to inaugurate
such a change. In prayer this matter was carried to the Lord for His
direction. It was a settled impression in the heart of the writer, as
pastor of the Baptist Church, that the Church and community needed a
series of meetings at this time. There were preachers present of
experience, piety and ability, and he had no doubt they would remain and
aid in such services if invited to do so. But contrary to what was a
common practice at the close of such meetings, and after imploring the
Lord to direct him, he could not, from his heart, ask any of these
preachers to stay and aid in a meeting.

While singing the last song, at the close of the service on Sunday
night, the writer approached Major Penn, who had been aiding in the
singing, and said to him: "Bro. Penn, I am going to appoint a prayer
meeting at 9 o'clock in the morning, and as your train does not leave
until 2 o'clock to-morrow evening, I shall expect to see you at the
meeting; will you come?" To which he replied. "I have some business with
the clerk of the Federal Court, and if I get through in time, I will try
and be here." A prayer meeting was announced for 9 o'clock the next
morning. At the appointed hour a fair congregation had assembled, and a
few minutes after 9 o'clock Maj. Penn came in and took a seat not far
from the door. The writer approached him and said: "I want you to
conduct this meeting." He replied: "You must excuse me, I am a lawyer,
and do not believe in mixing things in this way. You conduct the meeting
or get one of those preachers sitting there to do it, and I will help in
singing or lead in prayer, if desired." To which the writer replied: "If
all the preachers in the world were here I could not permit one of them
to conduct this meeting, and I am not physically able. You _must_ do
it." To which he answered. "Very well, I will conduct a prayer meeting."

The meeting was opened as is usual, when Brother Penn arose and read a
portion of the 20th chapter of John, and then talked about fifteen
minutes, which seemed to awaken a very deep interest throughout the
entire congregation. At the close of this talk quite a number of wives,
fathers, mothers, brothers and sisters arose one after another and in
great earnestness asked prayer for their loved ones. While singing the
last song, the writer asked Brother Penn to remain and conduct a service
at night, which he positively refused to do, saying that he must go
home. Whereupon the writer publicly entered a protest against his
leaving. Sister Penn and others of the company from Jefferson
consenting, he agreed to remain one more day. At night the house was
crowded, and great interest manifested by Christians and by many
unconverted. A prayer meeting was announced for 9 o'clock the next
morning. At this meeting the house was well filled, with a decided
increase of interest. One or two conversions-and a number of inquiries
were made.

At the close of this meeting the writer said to Brother Penn, "You
cannot leave this meeting, it will never do, there never has been such
an interest in this town since I have been here." To which he replied "I
am bound to go home, I have no partner and no one to attend to my
business." The writer then arose, and in the name of the Lord Jesus
Christ entered another solemn protest against his leaving, saying: "I
believe before God that it is Bro. Penn's solemn duty to remain here and
carry on this meeting, and it is my firm conviction that if he leaves he
will commit the great sin of his life, and I call upon every member of
this church and of this congregation, who will join me in this protest,
to stand up." The entire congregation were standing in a moment. He then
said to the writer privately: "I tell you I am bound to go home; I
promised my wife yesterday that I would be certain to go home with her
to-day, and I know that she is bound to go home." The writer said: "Bro.
Penn, you are mistaken; Sister Penn would not have you leave this
meeting to go home with her. She will go with the young people." He then
went to where his wife was sitting and said to her: "I promised you
yesterday that I would go home with you to-day, and I am going to do
it." Sister Penn looked up in his face with tearful eyes and trembling
lips, and said, as only a true, noble hearted Christian woman could have
said: "I can go home with the young people, I do not think you ought to
go." This seems to have been the last hair that broke the camel's back.
We have seen many striking photographs of the Major as taken by artists
in his travels, and in various attitudes, but a picture delineating his
features on this occasion would be preferable to all others.

As he rose to respond to the protest of the pastor, Church and
congregation, with his head thrown back, his eyes dilated, his lips
quivering, his voice stammering and tears coursing their way down his
cheeks, he tried to give expression to his astonishment and the deep
emotion of his heart; he seemed to realize that it was _God's call_, and
that he could not resist it.

It was circulated through the town that a _lawyer_, and not a
_preacher_, was to conduct services at the Baptist Church. Some thought
it a strange freak in the pastor to suggest, and in the Church to
approve such a thing. Various opinions were freely expressed as to the
leader in these services. Then it was spoken in low tones of voice among
some good people, in substance, after this fashion: "Did you ever hear
of such a thing? Here are preachers all over the country that we know,
good men, who can preach the gospel, and here they've called in a
_lawyer to carry on the meeting_. Lord have mercy on us, what are we
coming to any how?"

At every street corner and place of business, in the saloons, offices
and homes throughout Tyler, Maj. Penn and the services were discussed,
while his Satanic Majesty and his allies were busy in trying to cripple
and crush the good effects. A mighty and irresistable attraction drew
crowds to the house of God.

At times it was apparent that the leader was embarrassed; now and then
fretted and and chafed; then at a loss what to say or do; and more than
once was he tempted to say he would leave the meeting; and that he had
not remained there to be slandered and persecuted. But he was reminded
that the best of men had thus suffered, that God had furnaces through
which we must pass, to burn up the dross, and that in the midst of this
state of things the Church was being revived, wanderers brought back,
souls awakened and converted from day to day, and that he had the
sympathy, prayers and co-operation of many pious, devoted hearts. Again
the new leader, after wrestling in prayer for grace and direction, took
courage and was renewed by the spirit of God to go on in pulling down
the strong-holds of iniquity. But Satan was not yet overcome, he made
another powerful assault upon him.

When the meeting had been in progress about ten days, abuse,
misrepresentation, lying, together with the basest and most contemptible
slanders, were hurled at him with unmeasured severity. It was a new
ordeal, and he was tempted stronger than ever to lay off his armor and
leave the meeting. He decided to go home, and so stated to the pastor,
saying: "You have already kept me here longer than any man on earth
could have done, and now I am determined to go." "Well," said the
pastor, "I am sorry to hear it, and believe you will commit a great
wrong, and will incur the displeasure of Almighty God in leaving here at
this time, and still further, I beg you to bear in mind this truth, that
duty never points in two ways. If it is your duty to be in Jefferson
practicing law, then it is not your duty to remain here and carry on
this meeting. God only can guide you aright." This conversation occurred
in the afternoon. At night the Major was in his place, and said to the
large congregation: "My friends, I have heard to-day of so many
slanderous reports about me that I determined to go home, but
remembering that so persecuted they the prophets, which were before me,
and that they persecuted my Master even unto death, I have only to say:
'Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do?' I shall go on
with the meeting, 'looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of my
faith,' to sustain, protect and guide me in all things." It was,
perhaps, the drinking of this cup of persecution that passed our brother
across the Rubicon, that burned all the bridges behind him and caused
him to bow in humble submission to the will of Almighty God.

"'Tis ever so thy faithful love
Does all thy children's graces prove;
'Tis thus our pride and self must fall
That Jesus may be all in all."

As the meeting continued, and as the scores and hundreds came together
"at the sound of the church-going bell," from day to day the leader
seemed to develop in power from God to move, melt and sway the hearts of
the listening crowds, as he sung and prayed and talked "of Jesus and his
dying love." After more than five weeks' continuance, the services
closed. Scores were converted, many valuable additions were made to the
Church, Christians were renewed and developed in piety of heart and
life, and the leavening and saving power of the Gospel was extended
through the town and surrounding country.

This meeting was the beginning and earnest of the blessings and success
that has attended Bro. Penn's labors for more than nine years past,
while in his life we see that,

"Defects thro' nature's best productions run.
The saints have spots, and spots are in the sun,
And that he, with all of Adam's race,
Are only 'sinners' saved by grace."

Yet we rejoice and praise God for what has been manifested in his growth
and development in his work mentally and spiritually, for the life,
power and efficiency infused into our churches by his ministrations - for
his rebukes, exposures and denunciations of sin, in and out of the
Church; for holding up Christ at all times, as the only hope of lost
sinners; for tearing away the mask of a heartless formality in the
profession and practice of religion; for the thousands of all classes
and ages in the forests and prairies of Texas, where he has pitched his
great gospel tent, and in the cities of Galveston, Houston, San Antonio,
Dallas, Ft. Worth, Mobile, Memphis, Louisville, St. Louis, and in the
cities of California, in scores of crowded places of worship; in smaller
towns and in the country, who have been brought to Christ as lost
sinners through his instrumentality; and that at all times and through
his whole ministry he has declared "the whole counsel of God," and made
no compromises with error and heresy.

As to the disquisition of Maj. Penn, which frowns on the modern dance,
we ask for it a careful reading and an honest and practical application
of its facts, arguments and illustration, as the prize, practical essay
of the age on this subject, so far as is known. That it is clear,
pointed and overwhelming in its exposures of the evils and crimes, the
corruptions and abominations of the modern dance is confirmed by
experience and observation.

Let every lover of the dance, every friend of morals and of religion,
and each professing Christian, read and circulate this production among
all classes of men and women.

And may the blessings of God attend it's circulation, as it may be
scattered into thousands of homes, and an increasing blessing attend its
author and his labors.


Rockdale, Texas. October 14, 1884.

"There is No Harm in Dancing."

"Every good tree bringeth forth good fruit, but a corrupt tree
bringeth forth evil fruit." - Matt. 7, 17.

If "THERE IS NO HARM IN DANCING," it must be a good tree, and if it is a
good tree, we shall be certain to find that it bears good fruit, and if
we find the fruit hanging on its boughs to be sound and wholesome food
for the _physical, mental_ and _spiritual_ man, we should strive to have
these trees planted in all our homes, our churches, Sabbath-schools,
school-houses, colleges, seminaries, or other institutions of learning.
But if we find the fruit injurious, to either the physical, mental or
spiritual, to such a degree that its injurious effects are not overcome
and destroyed by the benefits conferred upon us by the other two, it
should be condemned by every friend of humanity.

Every tree should be cut down, and every dealer regarded as an enemy to
his race. Some trees are very tall and _graceful_, and dressed in
beautiful foliage, but the fruit is deadly poison. Some trees are not
comely to look upon, but the fruit very good and wholesome. So it is not
the tree, but the fruit, to which we must look. Some fruit may be very
bad but not dangerous to society, because of the very small quantity on
the market, and because it is not good to the _taste_, but little, if
any, of it is used. But this is not the case with dancing, for there is
a large quantity of it on hand all the time, and a great deal of it is
used, because it is _palatable_ to the _natural_ taste of men and women.
The demand is always far greater than the supply.

This fruit being so very popular, of such great demand, we must conclude
that, as it is bound to be either good or bad, it must be _very_ good,
or _very_ bad. Now, reader, before we proceed to examine this fruit,
please do the author and yourself the justice to sign your name to the
following vow:

"I do _solemnly vow_ that I will carefully read the following pages as
nearly as possible free from all _prejudice_ and _partiality, with a
desire to know the truth_, and that I will a true verdict render,
according to the honest conviction of my own mind and heart.

"(Here sign name.)________________"

When and where are the trees of dancing to be found? They grow in the
night and generally perish with the darkness when the morning light

"This is the condemnation that light is come into the world, and
men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were
evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light; neither
cometh to the light lest his deeds should be reproved." - John

The trees are to be found in many private residences, dancing schools,
dancing academies, seminaries and colleges, where our girls are
educated; in public halls, in side shows, in some of our _so-called_
churches, in beer shops, beer gardens, variety theatres, music halls and
houses of ill-fame. In the five last-mentioned these trees grow much
taller, larger and more luxuriant than anywhere else, because it is
supposed by _naturalists_ that they are more indigenous to this kind of
soil. In these places those are the favorite trees, the trees admired
above all others, because of the fruit they bear. Why the virtuous and
the vulgar are so fond of the same fruit, I shall not try to explain. I
must leave this knotty, ugly problem to be solved by _wiser_ and more
experienced heads than mine. I asked the proprietors and proprietresses
of these last-mentioned places where they procured the sprouts from
which all these great trees had grown; these trees that have grown so
tall and strong, and the bark so thick, that they do not vanish with the
darkness when the morning light appears, but grow and flourish in the
brightest day, _even better on_ SUNDAYS _than any other time_.

They all, without a dissenting voice, made answer and said: "_The seeds_
were planted in the decent, respectable parlors, generally among the
polished and refined people of the towns and cities - were watered and
cultivated by the fathers and mothers, and then transplanted into the
dancing schools, church festivals, and then they are removed to the
public halls, and here they are kept until the bark on _some_ of them
becomes hard enough to be carried to the beer gardens, masquerades,
variety theaters, music halls and other towns and cities in Sodom and

Without the fascination for dancing, which is _germinated_ and
_cultivated_ in the private parlors among the _nice, respectable,
refined_ people, many of the largest towns and cities of Sodom and
Gomorrah would soon be depopulated. We next come to enquire who it is
that attends dancing parties, balls, hops, etc., and when they usually
break up. But one answer can be given, viz.: young men and young women,
together with young married people, with an occasional _sear and yellow
leaf repainted_.

With a very few exceptions, dancing parties, balls and hops are made up
of young men and girls of every grade of society, from the poorest to
the wealthiest in the community. Now it must be admitted that there is
as great a desire in the hearts of the poor young men, and as great a
desire in the hearts of the girls of poor parentage to make a favorable
impression in society, as there possibly could be with the wealthier
classes. As a rule, it may be said that not more than one in twenty of
all who participate in dancing parties have a sufficient "cash balance"
to gratify their pride in the purchase of the supposed necessary outfits
in clothing, jewelry, etc., without any misgivings as to the future
comforts and necessaries of life.

When we consider the large number of young men, young husbands and
fathers and mothers who are not able, in justice to themselves and those
looking to and relying upon them for a support, to keep pace with the
rich in their extravagance, and that all must come together on the same
floor, in the same room and pass in review before the merciless critics
always to be found in the ball room, and find that the weakest and most

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Online LibraryW.E. PennThere is No Harm in Dancing → online text (page 1 of 3)