Omniana/Volume 2/Dancing

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206. Dancing.

The Waldenses and Albigenses had some extraordinary notions concerning dancing. "A dance (said they), is the Devil's procession, and he that entreth into a dance, entreth into his possession: the Devil is the guide, the middle and the end of the dance. As many paces as a man maketh in dancing, so many paces doth he make to goe to Hell. A man sinneth in dancing divers wayes; as in his pace, for all his steps are numbred; in his touch, in his ornaments, in his hearing, sight, speech, and other vanities. And therefore we will prove, first by the Scripture, and afterwards by divers other reasons, how wicked a thing it is to dance. The first testimony that we will produce is that which wee reade in the Gospell, Mark 6. it pleased Herod so well that it cost John the Baptist his life. The second is in Exodus, 32, when Moses coming neere to the congregation saw the Calfe, hee cast the Tables from him, and brake them at the foote of the mountaine, and afterwards it cost three and twenty thousand their lives. Besides the ornaments which women weare in their dances are as crownes for many victories which the Devill hath gotten against the children of God; for the Devill hath not onely one sword in the dance, but as many as there are beautifull and well-adorned persons in the dance; for the words of a woman are a glittering sword, and therefore that place is much to be feared wherein the enemy hath so many swords, since that one onely sword of his may be feared. Againe, the Devill in this place strikes with a sharpened sword, for the women come not willingly to the dance, if they be not painted and adorned, the which painting and ornament is as a grindstone upon which the Devil sharpeneth his sword. They that decke and adorne their daughters are like those that put dry wood to the fire to the end it may burne the better, for such women kindle the fire of luxury in the hearts of men: as Sampson's foxes fired the Philistines' corne, so these women they have fire in their faces, and in their gestures and actions, their glances and wanton words, by which they consume the goods of men. Againe, the Devill in the dance useth the strongest armour that hee hath; for his most powerfull armes are women; which is made plaine unto us, in that the Devill made choice of the woman to deceive the first man; so did Balaam, that the children of Israel might bee rejected; by a woman, he made Sampson, David, and Absolon to sinne. The Devill tempteth men by women three manner of wayes, that is to say, by the touch, by the eye, by the eare; by these three meanes he tempteth foolish men to dancings, by touching their hands, beholding their beauty, hearing their songs and musicke. Againe, they that dance breake that promise and agreement which they have made with God in Baptisme, when their Godfathers promise for them, that they shall renounce the Devill and all his pompe, for dancing is the pompe of the Devill, and hee that danceth, maintaineth his pompe, and singeth his Masse. For the woman that singeth in the dance is the Prioresse of the Devill, and those that answere are the Clerks, and the beholders are the Parishioners, and the musicke are the bells, and the fidlers the ministers of the Devill. For as when hogges are strayed, if the hog heard call one, all assemble themselves together, so the Devill causeth one woman to sing in the dance, or to play on some instrument, and presently all the dancers gather together. Againe, in a dance a man breakes the Ten Commandments of God as first, Thou shalt have no other Gods but me, for in dancing a man serves that person whom he most desires to serve, and therefore, saith St. Jerom, every man's God is that hee serves and loves best. Hee sinnes against the second Commandement when hee makes an Idol of that hee loves. Against the third, in that oathes are frequent amongst dancers. Against the fourth, for by dancing, the Sabbath day is profaned. Agninst the fift, for in the dance the parents are many times dishonoured, when many bargaines are made without their counsell. Against the sixt, a man killes in dancing, for every one, that standeth to please another, he killes the soule as oft as he perswadeth unto lust. Against the seventh, for the partie that danceth, be it male or female, committeth adultery with the partie they lust after, for he that looketh on a woman and lusteth after her, hath already committed adultery in his heart. Against the eighth Commandement a man sinnes in dancing, when he withdraweth the heart of another from God. Against the ninth, when in dancing he speakes falsely against the truth. Against the tenth, when women affect the ornaments of others, and men covet the wives, daughters, and servants of their neighhours.

"Againe, a man may proove how great an evill dancing is, by the multitude of sinnes, that accompany those that dance; for they dance without measure or number, and therefore, saith St. Augustine, the miserable dancer knowes not, that as many paces as he makes in dancing, so many leapes he makes to Hell. They sinne in their ornaments after a five fold manner: first by being proud thereof. Secondly, by inflaming the hearts of those that behold them. Thirdly, when they make those ashamed that have not the like ornaments, giving them occasion to covet the like. Fourthly, by making women importunate in demanding the like ornaments of their husbands. And fiftly, when they cannot obtain them of their husbands, they seeke to get them elsewhere by sinne. They sinne by singing, and playing on instruments, for their songs bewitch the hearts of those that heare them with temporall delight, forgetting God, uttering nothing in their songs but lies and vanities. And the very motion of the body which is used in dancing, gives testimony enough of evill.

"Thus you see that dancing is the Devill's procession, and he that entreth into a dance, enters into the Devil's possession. Of dancing the Devil is the guide, the middle and the end; and hee that entreth a good and a wise man into the dance, comneth foorth a corrupt and a wicked man."

History of the Waldenses and Albigenses, with their doctrine and discipline; by Jean Paul. Perrin. tr. by Samson Lennard. Part 3, P. 63.

A great part of this Bill of Indictment against Dancing has been copied as authority against it by no less a man than William Penn! . . I smile at his arguments, . . but adhere to his opinion.