I was informed that no traveler, who knows the experiences of life, ever escaped this valley. But the King of Glory gives his children assurance of no harm if they will heed his words and step not from the path upon any pretence. He has also placed, in plain view, countless signs of warning to keep his pilgrims from yielding to temptation, as it presents itself, with or without mask; and they who pass these testing-places in triumph are counted stable in their ways.
I saw in the first part of the valley some of Satan's shrewdest agents at work. They were stationed along the Narrow Path at close intervals, and were endeavoring, by all kinds of schemes, to attract the attention of Christians as they journeyed through the valley.
From one point they threw a hook baited with wealth over to the edge of the King's Highway way. I saw an ambitious Christian, contrary to the signs of warning and all advice, eagerly grasp this bait. Then did the agents of Satan pull gently. The man seeing a clue to wealth in his hand would not let it go, and so was drawn slowly and unconsciously over into the territory of the World. He did not see the strand that drew him, for it was invisible, nor was he conscious of being thus drawn, having his mind so fixed upon the object of his earnest pursuit.
Thus do these agents ply their nefarious skill without ceasing, and so have drawn large numbers away from their original faith.
Another agent I saw near-by throwing out a hook baited with fame. An ambitious youth let go all he had and seized the baited hook with singular avidity. It inspired him with inward hope, and he became so engaged in thinking of his golden future that he followed whither the gentle drawing led him, until he also reached the questionable ground of the World. There he became still further entangled until he was utterly under the sway of the tempter.
Close by I saw an agent of the Devil fastening a book to a line and throwing it to the edge of the King's Highway. In bold letters it bore the title, "Forbidden Fruit," and under this title there was an impure picture.
Many, in passing by, who saw the book would have examined it had it not been for their modesty.
But one man, whose curiosity was stronger than his judgment, took the book and commenced perusing it. While thus engaged the invisible strands of influence drew the captive from the Narrow Way until he found a series of books and illustrations to enchain his attention, and Satan succeeded in totally winning his heart.
I saw another book thrown to the edge of the Pilgrim's Path. This was taken by a woman who opened its pages and saw its evil tendencies. Although drawn by the invisible chord, she did not step from the path, but threw the book as far to one side as she could, and proceeded on her journey happily singing:
"Yield not to temptation, For yielding is sin. Each vict'ry will help you Some other to win."
This only enraged the wily foes, and they became more determined than ever to continue their work of deception and ruin.
From one point or another I saw this dreadful work progressing. Each station used a different kind of bait, pleasing or attractive to some passing pilgrims. Here the enemy reaps a continual harvest notwithstanding all the preaching, advice, and influence brought to bear upon pilgrims to induce them to eschew all attractions not plainly found upon their own pathway.
Some, whom Satan could not attract by a bait, he would catch with snares, many of which I saw in operation, each guarded continually by trusted servants of the Evil One.
One of the subtlest of these snares consisted of a series of small, curiously shaped buildings. They stood as near to the King's Highway as Satan could place them, while glaring signs informed the pilgrims that they could here obtain knowledge upon any subject. Each building was so constructed that, at the will of a secret operator, it could be moved noiselessly from its resting place.
Many an unsuspecting traveler who craved for a solution to some mystery would step into one of these neat rooms, and meet with a most cordial reception.
I saw a man of more than usual intelligence, who had been faithful to his Master, stop and read the sign over these buildings: "Bureau of Information: All Mysteries Solved."
"Here," thought he, "in this humble place I can perhaps find some pearls of thought which more inviting waters never yielded to me." He stepped in, not noticing that he thereby stepped to one side of the way.
"Can I have a mystery solved here?" asked the visitor.
"Without doubt, sir," was the confident response of a dignified professor who was in attendance.
"Can you tell me the origin of sin?" asked the visitor.
Just then I saw the building commence to move as the professor commenced to explain the difficult question.
The professor talked so interestingly to the visitor that he held his attention until the building was moved, by the secret process, to the brow of the mountain, and over to the great building known as the "Devil's Theological School."
"Perchance, my words," said the speaker, "are insufficient to fully satisfy your mind. Go now from the rear door to the College where all such perplexing questions are made clear."
The visitor seizing, as he thought, a golden opportunity, gladly consented and, to his great surprise, found a building of magnificent proportions into which he entered.
After listening a very short time to Satan's teaching on the origin of sin, he emerged from the school with a heavy bundle of opinions on his back, and failed to find the Old Way. After wandering and stumbling about on this summit of human learning, he finally found the Broad Highway whereon he could carry his vain burden with ease.
These bureaus of information have ensnared so many learned men, including ministers and professors, that the King of Glory has here placed special signs of warning to all travelers; these have saved many men from the snare of "the fowler."
I saw three young college students about to enter one of the bureaus. There stood an aged pilgrim near by who shouted:
"Come! ye young men, out of the snare of the Devil, or ye will be taken captive by him at his will!"
The voice sounded so friendly that they hesitated long enough to discern that the building did not touch the King's Highway.
Then they remembered that they had been told long before to go by the King's Highway, and not to turn to the right hand nor to the left, nor even to step from the path, lest they should slip and fall to their hurt. So they passed on about their Father's business.
Near the edge of the King's Highway I saw another device to catch men unawares. It was invented in the Wizard City and had been successfully used by Satan for many centuries.
It was an artificial woman, dressed in modest apparel, and so constructed that the arms were uplifted and the heart plainly visible, making the curious image just unnatural enough to attract the attention of all pilgrims.
Over the head of the image these words were written: "Touch this magic heart for the charms that follow."
It was ridiculous to see how many of the young and old, in passing over this way of life, stepped from the path and tried the experiment.
One man I saw who ventured to touch the mystic heart, and ere his eyes could look into the face of the image its arms embraced him in a tightening grasp.
Away the image moved with graceful ease into Elysian bowers of sensual joy. There he remained to breathe its poisoned air and feed upon the husks of such a clime.
I also saw a man of riper years who looked curiously at another image similar to the one that had just moved away. At first he was doubtful whether to test it or not, and as he stood in consideration he raised his eyes and saw these words plainly written over the King's Highway:-To ALL DESCENDANTS OF ADAM:
Beware, O pilgrim, of this woman's heart, Lest you should from the Narrow Way depart; For if you touch a secret chord within, You're borne away to wider fields of sin.
He read this sign a few times and also heard the voice of a good friend who told him that he had seen thousands go to ruin by not heeding this warning. Nevertheless he was urged by curiosity and carnality, and being hardened by former acts of disobedience and seeing nothing but innocent pleasure before him, he yielded to his baser desires.
"O! rescue me, Mr. Law, I am in the clutches of this woman," was his beseeching cry, not long after. But I saw that no one came to his help.
There were many such places in this valley where men, both young and old, were enticed; many of whom could not have been caught by the snares of vice at other places along the Broad Highway.
I saw also, farther down the valley, that Satan used all manner of traps and nets to catch the silly and the foolish. That which attracted my attention the most was a series of stations built close to the King's Highway. At each place Satan employed a company of expert men who were trained to use a lasso. I saw certain men and women of the King's Highway who became so inflated with their own vanity and imaginations that they rose head and shoulder above their humbler comrades, thus enabling the lasso of Pride to get hold of them. Some, by heeding advice, escaped; others submitted to the drawing power and landed in the kingdoms of the World where they could worship their new god with increasing ardor.
There was also a certain young man who doted so much on his own ways that his head rose unusually high. He was, therefore, easily caught by a lasso called Conceit. Good friends came to his rescue and told him to realize at once that he was nothing, and thereby he would suddenly become so small that he would drop completely out of his trouble.
But he said that he could not believe a lie, whereat the lasso tightened still more about his neck, and he succeeded by still further struggling to remain a very brief time on the King's Highway; but being in pain, he soon yielded to the inevitable and went to worship before the shrine of his own god.
I also saw that the women of the King's Highway were an exceeding great army, mighty in battling against the foe, much to the discomfiture of Satan and his allies.
To counteract the influence of this sex Satan has plied his ingenuity ever since the beginning. In his Pharaoh fashion he has so manipulated the customs of the world that woman is trampled under foot in uncivilized lands, and in lands of light she is ostracized by sections of the Christian church and despised in the civil realm. And yet, with a faithful heart, she suffers this indignity and, looking up from underneath this weight, she offers to the powers that crush her down the holiest sacrifice that one can give.
O spirit of the age, like flowers of Heaven, Thy fragrance will not die, but live eternal; And woman shall, some holier, happier day, Attain her highest glory in the world.
Yet notwithstanding all these means wherewith Satan has made the path of woman so hard to travel, he has discovered that he can not disgrace her by any means so effectually as through the old temptation.
Consequently Satan has kept the seed of the central tree of the garden and still raises, on the broad uplands of Hell, forbidden fruit which, through engrafting processes, has come to many varieties.
This mysterious product of the tree, so suited to the natural palate of womankind, is provided abundantly on each side of the King's Highway along the whole length of the Valley of Temptation, and is offered, ostensibly, free of charge.
I watched, with chagrin and horror, the subtle influences of this fiendish work, seeing young women and those of riper experience go down alike under this intoxication of Hell.
As I looked again at the whole Valley, what sad sights of intemperance painfully greeted my eyes!
The intervening ground was a veritable bed of iniquity, for it swarmed with half-clothed inebriates who patronized the miserable and filthy hovels of lowest resort, while inebriates, in finer array, entered the apartments which were decorated and finished in all the beauty that wealth could afford, and supplied with alcoholic beverages under a fashionable bill of fare.
I could see the same Devil controlling all, and the same gutter or the same Hell receiving all who did not yield to the agencies of eternal life.
Among the many temperance organizations that operated throughout the valley I observed a band of women who threatened to overthrow the evil. They had, by long persistent effort, discovered the underground connections between the distillery and the saloons, and therefore they were endeavoring to kill the traffic at the head. This movement at first created laughter in the ranks of the foe, but the women have continued patiently and have built a thousand batteries from which they hurl projectiles of death into the camp of intemperance. Since then the agents of darkness have ceased their laughter and instead have set to building defences behind which they hope to carry on their business with impunity.
But the bands of women have entered into an eternal agreement, pledged their faith one to another, and have been calling upon Heaven for help; therefore they declare that no flag will be lowered, and no gun will be silent until the great wall around the city of their foes shall fall, either at a long blast of the horn or a continuous volley from their ramparts.
THE TOWER OF TEMPTATION.
1. The tower affords the most advantageous view of the world and a most discouraging view of the King's Highway.
2. The triumphant flight of Mrs. Discouraged from the tower's top to a place on the King's Highway called "Victory by Faith."
3. Mr. World and Miss Church-Member ride from the tower's top in Satan's new air ship.
Mr. World and Miss Church-Member continuing on the Broad Highway, entered the Valley of Temptation with all its gaiety and outward happiness. This valley is known by the pilgrims of the King's Highway as the Devil's Heaven, for here the tinsel of the world, the pomp of society, and the wealth of material grandeur are manifested in all their glory.
"An exceedingly pleasant valley," said Mr. World as they drew nearer to the scenes of activity on each side of the way.
"Beyond my anticipation, indeed. Our journey is growing more and more delightful," she joyously replied.
As they journeyed on Miss Church-Member came into agreeable fellowship with some of her former Christian associates who, by looking over into the territory of the World, coveted its ways and were snared by one or another of Satan's devices to catch the unwary. The larger portion of these new recruits were firmly convinced that they were still traveling on the road to Heaven, even though they had fully left the Narrow Way.
Miss Church-Member congratulated her comrades of earlier years on their happy choice of a wider and more pleasant path, and they accepted her invitation to spend a season together in the valley.
These new associates were welcomed most cordially by Mr. World who left nothing undone that might add to their comfort or pleasure.
The merry company passed down the valley and paused at a magnificent temperance saloon which occupied nearly the whole space between the two Highways. Into this place of attractive rooms I saw many enter from the King's Highway, much to the displeasure of their great Master.
In this infernal guise Satan seduces many an unsuspecting traveler to take one more step downward toward the lowest service of his kingdom. Mr. World courteously offered refreshments and conducted his friends into the "Ladies Parlor" where they drank alleged unfermented wines, and admired the sculpture and works of art which adorned the place. They were then offered their choice of porter, sweet cider, root beer, hot punch (special for a cold), or eggnog for a weak heart. Thus each one was enabled to find a beverage directly suited to his need or taste, for some had contracted a cold, while others were suffering with cardiac troubles.
Not far from this respectable place, and connected secretly therewith, stood a group of buildings patronized by the lower order of criminals and inebriates. These haunts bore a black reputation.
Mr. World and his joyous companions, by reason of their refined natures and good standing in the church, would not so much as look at such despicable resorts, but continued their journey until they came to a wider section of the valley where they saw numberless rescue bands at work, but especially a great army of Endeavorers presenting a formidable front.
"Whence came this company so great that it cannot be numbered?" asked Mr. World in a state of nervous agitation.
One of the new companions quickly answered: "They come from the King's Highway and are trying to capture the kingdom of this world and bring it into subjection to God. I know all about them and can testify that they are a mighty and glorious band." The regiments of this great host were marching on, each soldier equipped with the full panoply of his station. Many of the pilgrims on the Broad Highway trembled at the presence of so powerful an army. It has caused the enemy much concern how to meet and, if possible, conquer this foe. This army of Endeavorers constantly grows and, according to the claims of the enemy, the most successful plans to oppose it are not yet matured. Satan has promised his forces that he would utterly rout these daring legions as soon as some new inventions of war can be perfected.
The merry companions, not being moved with anger, endured the gigantic display of this host without chagrin.
Mr. World quieted his rising fears and urged his comrades onward past the Tobacco Station until they reached the centre of the valley where the King's Highway was the roughest, and the Broad Highway the smoothest.
Here was built the most remarkable structure of the valley. A high tower of imposing strength occupied the whole space between the two highways. Its foundations were broad and totally covered the King's Highway with a massive arch.
This was known amongst Christians as the Devil's Tower, or Tower of Temptation. It was built by Satan, and was said to afford the finest view of the world to all who would consent to take a ride upward in its electric carriage.
The location of the tower was perfectly adapted to the purpose intended. Scarcely any pilgrims en route for Heaven passed by without taking a view of the sights.
Before this mountain was built, a high mountain-cliff, on one side of the valley, was used by the agents of darkness for the same purpose.
Thereon David ascended and saw the prosperity of the wicked until envy filled his soul, and his "steps had well-nigh slipped." Had it not been that by faith he looked to a mountain far away, and understood the end of the prosperous worldly minded, he might have there fallen to his death.
Upon this mountain Satan took Christ, the Son of God, and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and the glory of them, and said unto him: "All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me."
From this tower Judas saw the wealth of the world, and there was begotten within him an inordinate craving for earthly gain which at last dragged him down to a miserable end.
As time rolled on, Satan erected this magnificent tower higher than the loftiest crag of the mountain. I saw that Mr. World and his companions were looking at the exterior finish of the tower, after which they stepped to the base and spent some time in watching the many schemes that were employed to induce disheartened Christians to take the Broad Highway after descending the tower.
They saw that one of the most successful of these schemes was a series of little offices occupied by fortune tellers of reputed ability. In one of these they saw an old woman with a mysterious face. She professed to be able, by her strange conjuring, to reveal the future of any life.
A certain Mr. Downcast, who was a church-member and had just come from the top of the tower, visited this fortune teller, and by her descriptions of his happy future on the Broad Highway he was induced to travel thereon at once.
Mr. World and his companions decided to get the benefit of the broad view which could be had from the top of the tower. They entered a car at the base and were delighted by the gentle ascent toward the clouds.
Upon reaching the top of the tower they Were approached by an obliging attendant and furnished with spy glasses of great power with which they could see more distinctly the beauty and greatness of the world, and the roughness and inconvenience of traveling the King's Highway. To each one was also given an ingenious pocket mirror in which could be seen, at any time, the inconsistencies of church-members.
I saw throngs of people circling the top of the tower, and many evil agents busily engaged in the interest of their master.
There had just come from the King's Highway a group of church-members upon whom the scenery had a doleful effect. Some were filled with melancholy, and some were sullen, while despondency sent germs of slow death into other minds.
These conditions enabled Satan to destroy more easily all hope within them of ever succeeding on a way that appeared more rugged than ever, and also made them more desirous to taste the joys of this present life which now lay before them in such a winning way.
I then saw one called Mrs. Discouraged who had never before seen so much of the world at once. She stood on the edge of the tower not far from Mr. World and his companions, and listened to one of the polite attendants who had given her also a spy glass.
Mrs. Discouraged looked down upon the natural comforts of life which were here seen to best advantage. She saw, with ease, the Broad Highway presenting a picture of happiness as far as the glass could reach.
Then did one of the smooth-tongued attendants speak to another group of pilgrims who also had just come from the King's Highway.
"Witness the glory of the Broad Highway and see how it goes down this valley ever into finer stretches of country. See on yonder distant elevations that magnificent University of the World built at an enormous cost and sacrifice for the accommodation of all travelers. Each one of you who reaches the lower end of this valley should take the Mountain Trolley and spend a season at those schools. They occupy some of the grandest buildings in the world. Focus your glasses and behold the great sight."
Continuing he said: "The path you see leading down there, in this other part of the valley, is called King's Highway, very rough indeed, as you all can see. Thereon it is hard to travel and difficult to stand still. It is so narrow that if a traveler should stand still, he is constantly harassed or pushed about by those who wish to pass on. The other highway furnishes a marked contrast, for there a person may stand still without annoyance to himself or anyone else. The way is so wide that he can even sit on an easy chair and yet not be in the way of others who wish to hasten on. The one who built this Wider Way kept in mind the convenience and comfort of travelers.
"The so-called King's Highway," still continued the attendant, "is beset with many dangers, and passes through many places similar to the one far down the valley." They all looked through their glasses and saw the Meshes of Doubt on each side of the Narrow Way.
"Those are the sorts of places," concluded the speaker, "that one must constantly pass through in the service of an imaginary king."
Mrs. Discouraged saw all these things and heard all these words. She was so disheartened that she knew not what to do.
"Have I served my God in vain?" she questioned inwardly. "Must all my testimonies fall to the earth? Surely the way of the world seems to be an easy way, and more suited to a person in trouble."
She suddenly fell on her knees, as she was wont to do in such emergencies, and, behold, I saw her, on wings of prayer, fly in triumph from the tower's top, down the valley, over the Meshes of Doubt, and land on the King's Highway in a most glorious place called Victory by Faith. She thence went on her way rejoicing.
Then did the attendant on the tower speak of her in ridicule. "The poor mortal, in her insanity, has descended to a bad level and must, of necessity, climb yonder terrible hill which, as your eyes bear testimony, is the last part of the Narrow Way visible from this tower."
"She went, however, in a miraculous way. Those wings were sure and steady, and I was pleased with the swiftness of her flight," said Mrs. Diligence who was also a pilgrim from the King's Highway.
"Without doubt," answered the attendant, "but she went with heavy labor of her wings. Had she told me that she wished to take a flight, I could have given her a finer trip in one of the aerial ships lately invented by the experts of the Wizard City. I will summon one. Look no more at Mrs. Discouraged with wings, but fix your eyes toward the east, and you will soon witness the floating car whereon thousands go out daily from this tower into pleasant places."
As he said this he gave a signal, and soon the strangely shaped airship came in sight, to the delight of all who saw it.
"It must be far better," said one of the spectators, "to travel in a car like that, than to be working your wings in the air."
"A thing of beauty." "The greatest invention of the century." "It moves as easily as a bird," were some of the various sentences that were spoken enthusiastically as the object drew nearer.
"Shall we ride in it?" quickly asked Mr. World as he turned to the little group at his side.
The new companions who so recently came from the King's Highway timorously fell back at his abrupt suggestion, but Miss Church-Member offered to accompany him.
As the aerial machine was stopping at the tower Mr. World and Miss Church-Member speedily exchanged words of farewell and prepared for the new ride.
They were soon numbered with a host of expectant passengers on board. The lines were loosened and the weird airship cut the wind like a large bird on wing, and sped away to the pleasure grounds along the Broad Highway where most of the passengers, being blinded by sin, found such delightsome fellowship that they refused thereafter to travel on any other than the Wider Way.
DARK SCHEMES OF SATAN.
1. The two companions land far down the valley on "The Midway," whence they take the Mountain Trolley and visit the underground Schools of Suicide.
2. Satan's primitive address on Literature.
The aerial car carried Mr. World and Miss Church-Member to the far end of the Valley of Temptation where they spent a delightful season in the pleasures of sense and sight.
They lingered mostly on the wide intervening space between the two paths which was known in this part of the valley as "The Midway." Here they saw a large number of pilgrims from the King's Highway who were engaging in one or another of the endless amusements which can be enjoyed without stepping altogether on the Broad Highway.
On this long Midway humanity swarmed by millions. Some, forgetful of their vows, or regardless of their honor, stepped into the lower haunts of vice, and offered sweet flowers of purity and fragrance in exchange for dry and filthy husks from the floor of the stall. But Miss Church-Member, in keeping with her moral character, did not surrender her chastity, and although she had such continual fellowship with Mr. World she yet held the respect of many other church-members; for it was quite fashionable to belong to the church and still walk in the ways of the world. Satan, under a hellish guise, offered to give, even before death, handsome rewards to any church-member who succeeds in carrying a certain amount of the world with him on his way to Heaven, and multitudes were trying the experiment. Some, in hope of winning larger prizes, were verily loaded down with the worrying weights of the world.
Looking away from this immediate vicinity of the valley, any traveler could see, far above the surrounding scenes, the "University of the World," whose front buildings crested the mountain elevations for many miles. This imposing sight had awakened the admiration of Mr. World and his friend, and had it not been for the countless attractions of the Midway they would have hurriedly pushed their way to the schools, immediately after the aerial car had carried them over the proud domes of the University and landed them in the vale.
During one of the darker periods which now and then cover the whole Midway with its shadows, the two companions caught the flashes of variously-colored lights which emanated from every part of the elevated structure, making the entire mountain appear as if a vast crown of nature were decked with dazzling diamonds rare.
Miss Church-Member was excited by this unusual show of brilliancy, and nothing on the lower level could any longer hold her attention.
"How can we best rise to that glorious summit?" she inquired with a glow of enthusiasm.
"Ah," smiled Mr. World, "surely we need not think of walking up this mountain. Have you forgotten the obliging attendant who advised us as we stood on the beautiful tower? Did he not direct us to take the Mountain Trolley?"
Without delay they sought the Midway station, entered one of the up-to-date cars, and instead of going directly to the mountain top they were surprised to find that they were being carried into the bowels of the mountain.
"Whence go we dashing through the dark?" asked the terror-stricken Miss Church-Member as she held fast to Mr. World.
But ere her escort could answer they came into an immense cavern dimly lighted. The car stopped at a station called Rest, and a voice announced in distinct tones: "Come, ye troubled or distressed, and ye who are disgraced! Here linger in this underground school and learn of the rest that is for the weary."
"What is your wish?" courteously asked Mr. World.
"I am neither in trouble nor in disgrace. Why should I tarry?"
"Only to see the lower schools before we go to the higher," was his winning answer.
They alighted and walked forth in the dismal light. They could readily discern strangely shaped buildings of a costly type. The air was stifling, and everything wore a melancholy dress; yet, withal, there was a pleasing charm about the place. Some secret touch in the doleful music, or some bright tinge to the ominous shadows, awakened a curiosity and a hope in the visitors that prevented them from leaving the cavern at once.
In a half-decided mood Mr. World and Miss Church-Member meandered through this sickly region, and had decided to leave the place when they saw this illuminated motto over a massive arch:
TO ALL WHO ARE DISGRACED! THE SHORTEST ROUTE TO REST! (ENTRANCE.)
A genial attendant informed Mr. World that visitors were welcome, but Miss Church-Member consented to enter only after some hesitancy. It was indeed a dark school, with long narrow halls where one could only see the darker side of life. Everything about the place evidenced the dark designs of Satan. The teachers in this infamous place, by a series of graded instructions, suggested to their pupils that suicide was the surest and shortest road to rest. In the darker rooms of the rear I saw, to my horror, a scene that neither Mr. World nor Miss Church-Member was permitted to see. It was the daily graduating class of this school of suicide. Each member of the class was instructed by what new method he might rend the strand of life with his own hand, in the desperate and sickening hope of finding rest "where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched."
I quickly turned from this revolting spectacle, and saw that Mr. World and Miss Church-Member had returned to the station called Rest. They boarded the first car and were soon speeding on through Dismal Tunnel. It was a welcome moment when the car emerged from the darkness into the light of day and took its winding course upward toward the microcosm of schools, which, as seen from this side of the mountain, also presented a picture of imposing magnitude.
When the car reached the University station Mr. World and his friend alighted, and at once entered one of the carriages in waiting. They were hurried away toward a group of immense structures known as the "College of the World's Literature;" and yet with all the immensity of its buildings, it was but a small part of the whole University which lay far extended over the distant mountain elevations.
As the noiseless carriage sped along I turned toward Blackana, who, in strange muteness still tarried at my side. "I command you, O Black Interpreter, to tell me of the origin and management of this College of Literature." As I spoke he turned his face in a manner that made me tremble. His sepulchral, husky voice only added to my uneasiness.
"It originated," he explained, "in simpler form, immediately after Satan commenced operations on the face of the earth. Parallel with the progress of every age it has increased to its present proportions. That which you see is but the central point of this great educational enterprise. Its unseen branches extend into every part of the world. The whole system is under the control of Satan. His most learned disciples have charge of the special departments."
"And what is the purpose of this limitless scheme?" I further queried. The whole organism of Blackana quivered with reluctance as if he would not answer. "Refuse me not," I continued, "you well know that I have underneath me the everlasting arms."
He was restless for a moment, angrily rolling his awful eyes. Suddenly his attitude changed and he thus calmly answered my question: "The purpose of all these schools is to counteract and, if possible, to destroy the influence of the teachings of Him who is called Jesus Christ. He was once visible in the flesh and declared that his kingdom was everlasting. Of him it was said that he would reign till he put all things under his feet."
Then did Blackana add with fiery emphasis: "Neither my master nor any of his allies will ever be put under his feet. Satan's words ran wild as he addressed the insulted hosts of Hell on this issue." Knowing that Blackana had a perfect memory, I commanded that he should reproduce Satan's address in my own dialect.
Like a flash of lightning he flung himself to the winds around me, thereby transforming himself into the image of Satan. It appeared as if a thousand spirits in fitful rage were dancing in mid-air.
Then his voice pealed forth the logic of Hell as Satan had spoken it centuries before: "Have ye heard, my noble comrades, how that Heaven flings insults into our teeth? Not satisfied that we grovel on these remains of empire, we are further threatened with being cast miserably under his feet. Whose feet I ask? The feet of our direst foe, whom to worship, as he desireth, means serfdom worse than ours. Is there one of you who will surrender his native dignity in such a fashion?"
Millions of voices rendered the air hideous with their cries, so accurately did Blackana reproduce it all.
"I knew your sentiments," continued he, triumph ringing in his tones. "What can we do but stand unitedly on our rustic frontier, and push the conquest on to farther realms. Then all Heaven will learn that we are made of grit too fine and true to lie beneath the feet of any foe."
As Blackana continued, I was struck with shuddering terror at his awful gestures; but conscious that no harm could befall me, I continued listening to his flaming oratory.
"We must arise and seize our opportunities. Go forth, under cover of night, and sow the seed of our own growing; this will flourish in the very soil that Christ would bring to highest cultivation. The germs of our literature, rooted in human soil and growing secretly beneath the surface, shall spread throughout the world and come to fruitage in the light of every clime.
"We must build schools of literature, inspire the authors of the world with our fine creed, and thereby spread our doctrines to the myriad readers of every land and tongue. Who then, amongst our enemies, can kill the appetite when once 'tis roused to craving for the carnal? Give me the quill and the coming pen and press, and I can create thought at my bidding and turn the main streams of human endeavor into whatsoever channels I choose; and thus our river shall run full, while other streams are drying.
"With such a work how can our cause grow less or we go groveling under any foot? Impossible, my heroes! for we will live in glorious triumph to the end of time. On to your tasks, listening multitudes, and he who most successfully counteracts the so-called 'Truth' shall be a ruler in my kingdom, and shine more brightly than the radiance of all this region."
Thus was the speech suddenly ended, and I heard the unearthly reverberations of the fiendish cheering by the mighty host, while the form of Satan vanished; but from his waning shadows Blackana came forth and in death-like silence again resumed his sullen attitude at my side.
SCHOOLS OF LITERATURE. FIRST AND SECOND DIVISIONS.
1. The schools described.
2. The literature of the world tainted by the teachers of darkness.
3. Satan's rules for the winning author.
The College of Literature, in three grand divisions, occupied one of the most attractive sites of all the territory covered by the University of the World. It was owned and controlled by Satan, and was visited by the children of the human family from every portion of the earth.
Mr. World and Miss Church-Member came thither in a conveyance. They stood before the massive structure which comprised the first division of the College. Around them were the living fountains which, like pearls in billows of green, played upon the expansive lawn. While they strolled along the pebbled paths they were lost in admiration as they continued looking upon the stupendous building which towered far into the air and extended as far as the eye could reach. In breathless silence they noted first its size, then its durability, and marveled most at the splendid symmetry of the parts, each blending into a perfect whole.
"Heaven must have inspired so great and beautiful a design," was the first comment of Miss Church-Member. "Those porticos hanging in mid-air, those domes and pillars, dreamlike, stand before me more like a hundred fabled castles than aught real to sight or touch."
"Indeed the world affords rich and delightful privileges to all who will but walk in her ways," said Mr. World just as they arrived at one of the large entrances, over which these words were written:
DEPOSITORY OF THE WORLD'S LITERATURE, WELCOME TO ALL!
As Miss Church-Member viewed the weighty pillars on each side of the entrance, she exclaimed: "This is indeed a rare opportunity. Methinks I could revel, with delight, forever in fields of literature. Come, Mr. World, let us at once pass through the massive doors and learn what we can from so great a source."
Although the literary tastes of Mr. World were not strongly developed, yet he offered no objections to her request. He seemed willing to suffer any inconvenience for her sake so long as she traveled on the Broad Highway. As they were entering the building I saw that many from the church and the world were also pushing their way into the interior that they might get a glimpse of the inner halls, and visit the ones that were best suited to their fancies.
Miss Church-Member was surprised when she saw the unique arrangement of the interior. There were twenty-eight magnificent halls so constructed that they converged toward a large central office into which I saw Mr. World and his companion enter, profoundly impressed with the smallness of the single human mind.
After answering the stipulated questions, they registered under the rules and regulations and were given certificates entitling them to all the privileges which this first division of the College accorded to visitors.
In the commodious office they learned that each of the twenty-eight halls contained a distinctive line of literature, systematically arranged in numerous sub-departments; and that competent librarians superintended the literature of each hall and of each department.
Miss Church-Member ascertained also that each hall was centrally supplied with a lecture room having an immense seating capacity, and that learned professors, each in their turn, occupied the platform and constantly gave lectures which were intended to describe and illustrate the class of literature represented in their faculties.
After considerable time spent in the office, they passed through the long and wide circular lobby, reading the beautifully emblazoned inscriptions over each entrance door, but they could not immediately decide into which hall they would first enter.
At length after a pleasant loitering, Mr. World led his charming comrade into the fourth hall, over whose entrance, in plain words, this inscription appeared:
ALL THAT WAS EVER WRITTEN CONCERNING JESUS CHRIST.
They first chose to enter a sub-department where ancient scrolls, parchments, and papyri could be seen in tiresome variety. Miss Church-Member scanned most carefully some of the manuscripts which had never been published.
In other sections of the hall there were books and pamphlets of all descriptions, each one referring to Jesus Christ in a favorable or an unfavorable manner.
During these visitations the attendants extended unusual courtesies to Mr. World and his faithful friend, and also to the endless procession of visitors and students who were constantly moving through these departments. Finally the two companions proceeded to the lecture room of this hall and listened to an address entitled: "The Divinity of Christ," by one of Satan's ablest advocates a professor with ecclesiastical titles. His gestures were unique and his style altogether persuasive.
I heard his words with great displeasure, for they taught the philosophy of Hell, with Heaven on the face of it.
"I must congratulate myself," commenced he, "on having the privilege of addressing so intelligent a class of people. I only hope that I may be helpful to you in your quest of knowledge.
"The central theme of this hall is 'Jesus Christ' and I shall now proceed to speak of his so-called 'Divinity.' I cannot question that there is a supreme hand in the works of nature, but after careful research I am compelled to doubt the genuineness of the Divinity which is ascribed to Christ. True enough, his childhood was blameless, and he possessed exceptional wisdom so that many of his countrymen believed him to be more than human. In this manner the idea of his Divinity originated, and this fallacy grew as the man grew.
"He was shrewd, and possessed a great amount of magnetic force which was trained and used with remarkable skill, all of which made him pose as a god before a credulous and unsuspecting public. The ignorance and gross superstition of that age made a fit soil for the spread of Christ's doctrine and the idea that he was Divine.
"When Jesus discerned that his claims were more readily accepted by the poorer and more ignorant class of people, he lauded them in his teachings, while the learned and more respectable classes were subjected to his abuse and sarcasm.
"By his unusual tactics" overcame the prejudices of his enemies and, for a long time, escaped punishment. But finally he was arrested and convicted and, notwithstanding his so-called Divine power, he came to an inglorious end by death on a cross. His friends, unable to prevent his cursed death, quickly formed a plot to perpetuate his doctrines. They carried out their plot by stealthily robbing Christ's body from the grave and secretly burying it elsewhere, and then spreading the news that he, of his own power, came forth from the grave. To complete the fraud they also claimed, a little later, that he had ascended into Heaven. What was the purpose of all this? It was to prove that Christ was Divine and thereby to make his teachings authoritative and eternal.
"I wish to inform you that the manuscripts and parchments, in sub- department number six of this hall, all point to the fact that Jesus Christ was born like any other babe and that his father was Joseph. Dishonest, indeed, is any one who would rob Joseph of this honor. 'Honor to whom honor is due.' While Christ was a great man, he never had in him the elements of Divinity. Let millions in the world glory in their imaginary theology, yet that is no reason why scholarly research should be put to naught, or why it should be sacrificed. We are living in the morning twilight of a better day when God shall be worshiped and Jesus Christ ignored when all thought of Divinity will center at the true focus and a man will no longer receive the glory that belongs to God."
The vigorous applause which followed the remarks of this speaker fell with grating horror on my ears. "Can it be possible," thought I, "that any one can publicly teach such doctrines of Hell, and be thus applauded? Whither are so many of the church and the world drifting that they should give ear to such theology as it comes from the mouth of the Devil?"
Miss Church-Member and her escort left the lecture room and visited a few more of the sub-departments where they saw many objects of literary interest and, with the aid of experts, examined some of the old manuscripts dating back to the time of Christ. They left the hall and were next attracted by the words over the entrance of Hall No. 9 appearing thus:
LITERATURE ON LIFE.
1. Vegetable Life. 2. Animal Life. 3. Mental Life. 4. Spiritual Life.
At the suggestion of Miss Church-Member they entered, and could readily see that the attendants and lecturers of this hall were also of a very high class. One of the speakers elaborated on the theory that life is the result of spontaneous generation.
Another, in speaking on spiritual life, made special reference to the fact that Jesus Christ claimed to be the "Life," and then proceeded to refute this claim by a series of arguments which were altogether too philosophical to be understood by the two companions.
Finding no pleasure in this metaphysical atmosphere, Mr. World conducted his companion to the adjoining hall devoted to the "Literature of Fiction."
Here they spent a season delightfully, perusing works of fiction and listening to addresses, all of which advocated the views of Satan.
I heard one of the lecturers, in a discussion on "The License of Pure Fiction" make these dangerous remarks: "The highest fiction of the world is that in which human life is pictured in ideal colors, even though it be done at the expense of truth.
"There can be no harm if the reader should gain a false view of life. The very charm of such a view will act as a stimulus to a wider experience and to a higher culture.
"In our real life, as we come in daily contact with the world, we see and suffer enough. Therefore it cannot be harmful if fiction carries us into strange worlds of morality or into any mythical realm. I give you but the result of long and careful study, and I advise you to read the wildest and most exciting forms of fiction, and thereby get the healthful and exhilarating effect that comes from total mental absorption. All this will tend to the development of your nature so that you will, by contrast, better appreciate the substantial things of life."
I saw that Mr. World and Miss Church-Member next visited the hall devoted to the "Literature of the Passions." After they had entered, Miss Church-Member, at first, felt embarrassed, and her sense of modesty would not have allowed her to remain had it not been that her conscience was eased by these conditions:
1. She saw that among the moving thousands that were present in the massive hall many belonged to the higher classes of society.
2. She was also informed that not a few of the throng held good membership in various branches of the visible church.
3. She readily observed that Mr. World was so much delighted that she offered no protest, and that he seemed to take an interest in the endless program as carried out in one department or another.
In this poisonous hall Miss Church-Member stultified herself more than in any other place which she had ever before visited, and thereby added one more decisive step in her downward course. She tarried longest in one of the sub-departments where Satan's expert doctors of literature delivered their special lectures on the writings of each author as far as they related directly or indirectly to the passions.
These avowed experts carried on their fiendish work under the cover of a pleasing dignity. After their crafty manner they quoted or read the fine sentences of an author, preferably those of a sensual cast, and then placed a premium on the passionate by describing the fine style of the author and showing how true to nature was the language he employed.
Thus I saw that the leaders of this department were using the choicest and the foulest productions of the pen, gathered from the authors of all lands, languages and ages, and Miss Church-Member, by degrees almost imperceptible, voluntarily sacrificed her finer moral taste on a popular and polluted altar.
To a pure heart there was an unclean cast and a withering effect prevalent throughout all the departments of this hall, and my heart burned as I continued observing how the agents of Satan plied their subtle influences so as to popularize this cosmopolitan resort. So effectually has Satan entrenched his views that some of the strong defenders of this hall of literature are connected with the church, and types of this same teaching have found their way into some of the Christian schools of the world.
After this protracted visit Mr. World and Miss Church-Member left this hall and continued their studies in hall after hall, until more than one half of the twenty-eight halls were visited. Their next objective point was the second grand division of this College devoted to "The Elements of Success in Authorship."
My heart trembled at what my eyes saw. The great army of writers who studied in this department came from all countries of the earth. "Can it be true," thought I, "that so large a portion of our authors get at least a part of their training in the schools of the Devil?"
"O Blackana!" I sighed, "how long have these things been?"
"Since the beginning of literature," was his cold and brief reply.
"Always so large a percentage of the world's authors found at that school?"
"It has never been on the decrease," he continued. "So many have visited these halls that it has been a veritable meeting-place of almost all authors of all lands and all ages at some stage in their careers. Some who came tarried long; others, not satisfied, foolishly drifted to the schools of the King's Highway which ever carry on their work in opposition to the University of the World."
Here also, in this second grand division, the subtlest kind of teaching was prevalent. In one sub-division Mr. World and Miss Church-Member read these general laws written in bold letters where all who desired could read:
RULES FOR THE WINNING AUTHOR.
1. Give quality rather than quantity.
2. If you will not compose your best, compose nothing. The world is heavily overstocked with inferior compositions.
3. Write nothing that will cause regret on your death-bed.
4. Do not follow in the rut. Go by some path untraveled before, over land or sea, and tell the world of your new discoveries.
5. To be acceptable, in the highest sense, you must teach differently than others, even though it be at the expense of what is commonly called "truth." Novelty is the winning feature.
6. In any one composition strive first to arouse the curiosity of your intended readers; then keep the curiosity suspended and finally give it satisfaction in accordance with the aim in view.
7. You may be influenced by religion, but not by religious nonsense. If your writings win, you are a teacher of millions. So, in order to reach the public ear, you may cater to the tastes and wishes of the majority.
8. If you see some vile conditions of humanity, send out, in your writings, vials of vileness. "Like cures like." If any part of the church cries, "poison, poison!" you may justify yourself by the fact that the so-called "poison" in your productions will only neutralize the poison so prevalent in society, on the same principle that poison is administered to a sickly body in order to effect a cure.
9. You are always safest when you are true to nature, even though some sentimental people may charge you with being vulgar.
10. Words of profanity are not allowable if they are the mere expression of the author, but any foul or profane expression may be quoted. An author should not be charged with the impropriety of his characters who are merely taken from actual life.
The above ten commandments, if properly interpreted and obeyed, will surely lead to literary success.
Then Mr. World escorted his confiding friend from hall to hall of this second grand division, and at many intervals they could be seen spending a quiet season on the lawns which surrounded the entire structure.
Their tastes were now more in harmony than ever, and their friendship was fast reaching that intimacy where each one was searching for pearls in the deep ocean of the other's love.
1. Mr. World and his friend tarry at Satan's Theatres which lay in seven grades, one below the other.
2. A description of the "Century Session" held by the demons having in charge the Theatre interests of Satan.
The College of Theatres lay between the second and third divisions of the Schools of Literature. The numerous structures were built on so large a scale, and after such winning designs, that the attention of many travelers was attracted to them and thereby to the performances given within their walls.
Here could be found some of the graduates of the Schools of Literature who were constantly engaged on one or another of the stages.
All these theatrical attractions belonged to the first grade and formed a part of a great system of Theatres which lay in seven grades, one below the other, each serving its part to engross the human mind with the carnal and sensual things of life.
The performances of the first grade were practically free from the vulgar touches found, with increasing intensity, as one goes downward toward the seventh grade which lay beneath the Midway in the Valley of Temptation.
In these Satanic Theatres of the first grade respectability is maintained purposely so as to ensnare as many professing Christians as possible, for there are many in the ranks of the church who are building with nothing but wood, hay, and stubble. The scheme works so Well that the Devil is trying to form a "Stage Trust," and get all the talent of the King's Highway to unite. Thus Satan seems to encourage morality in order to carry out his deeply laid schemes of moral pollution.
I looked into the inward workings of this terrible system. I saw multitudes descending downward from the first grade, many of whom ceased not until they had passed through all the seven grades. The scenes and revelations that came to my eyes beggar all description. My heart sickened as I beheld the millions wallowing in the mire of fleshly lusts, apparently living for no higher purpose than to see the latest novelties of expressing lewdness and sensuality.
"This is brute life, indeed," I soliloquized, "for it can be easily seen that the hearts of these people are so seared and their ears so dull that they have no desire for the music of celestial choirs, or the ecstacies that rise from heart-communion with God."
I also saw that there were numberless underground connections between the lower Theatres and the Schools of Suicide, and with the varied haunts of Prostitution that infested the whole region.
This startling fact also forced its way to my attention:—the money flowing from the entire seven grades fell into one treasury, so that they who moved in the supposed moral atmosphere of the first and second grades were, nevertheless, patrons of the whole iniquitous business. At once I thought of the churches that were in sympathy, or league, with this part of the work along the Broad Highway. And I inwardly uttered these sad sentences:
"It is no more a mystery why such churches have lost their holy influence and their warmth of spiritual life, while worldliness flourishes from the pew to the pulpit."
Mr. World and Miss Church-Member spent several seasons of leisure in the Theatres of the first and second grades. Finally he invited her to accompany him to a Refined Vaudeville in the third grade Theatre district. It happened to be on the same day of the week that she had formerly been accustomed to attend prayer meeting. This fact awakened memories of bygone days, and brought feelings of sadness to her heart. Mr. World, by an artful diversity of language, arrested her mind and calmed her conscience as he playfully remarked: "This will be a good substitute for the prayer-meeting."
I saw the two enter the Vaudeville with many other church-members that mingled with the jostling crowds. These Christians left their Bibles at home, while some took as a substitute their opera glasses. They can see through these better than they can through their Bibles.
While Mr. World and Miss Church-Member tarried at the Theatres, I was permitted to see a conference of the evil spirits that had in charge the Theatre interests of Satan. The conference met at the opening of the year 1901 what was called "The Century Session."
For the time I was lost to all other surroundings, and I could hear all and see all as if I occupied the best seat. The unusual parliament seemed to be held underground, and yet one could enter directly from the surface of the earth.
The assemblage was controlled by a highly honored chief, cool and deliberate in manner. Every kind of imp imaginable could be found in the number that constituted the many committees.
I witnessed every part of the diabolical proceedings, and will here disclose a portion of these doubly sealed secrets.
After all preliminaries were brushed away, I heard seven ominous clangs, and silence reigned supreme. The chairman rose to speak. What a mingling of light and darkness! How truly Satanic his every feature and every move! How earnest his brief address, every word in the interest of Satan's blasting work.
"Give heed, oh, ye co-workers, bound under oath to give a true report! Our cause has made advances, and our work calls for the ripest service we can give. The theatre modernized is fast winning the church. All honor, ye spirits who played your parts so well! The century has just closed, but not our opportunity. Let coming years be one of mightier conquest. Down with the narrow truth and morbid righteousness, and all things else that check our onward marching!" For a moment the chairman was silent. Then, as he raised his hand, I heard a hideous clang which proved to be the signal for the report of "The-Moral-Effect-of-the-Theatre" committee. Forthwith the whole committee stood en masse before the chairman. "Our work goes on with speed," cried the leader of the gang. "In every district we are gaining ground."
"I have watched your progress with joyful pride," answered the chairman, as he smiled in hellish glee. "But I noted the sharp conflicts you had with certain reformers in the churches."
"Some of them we cannot conquer," despairingly admitted the leader.
"Grieve not over forts you cannot take, but make good use of those that have surrendered."
"They are firing our guns splendidly," quickly intercepted the leader, as he rose and read the following report:
1. "We have labored earnestly in the ranks of the church until many more of her members now believe that the moral effect of our Theatres is helpful.
2. "We have succeeded in dividing the members of many churches on this question, and have witnessed, with pleasure, the many kinds of quarrels that have resulted therefrom.
3. "We have succeeded in turning the tide of many periodicals, so that the defense of the Theatre, as a moral stimulant, is more general than ever."
As the leader closed his brief report, the chairman offered his compliments, and the host cheered with vigor.
The committee retired. The chairman again lifted his hand and two clangs were heard. This was the signal for the appearance of the "Park-Theatre" committee.
"Good tidings, or ill?" tersely asked the chairman.
"Good tidings of the first degree," cheerily replied the leader of the committee as he proceeded to read his document:
1. "We labored, with all zeal, to carry out the schemes concocted previously.
2. "We have succeeded in locating a series of free Theatres at every summer park where we could possibly induce the management to admit them.
3. "These Theatres, even though they be of a third or fourth class, are doing a great service for us by implanting a taste for other grades.
4. "By this happy medium we are winning young people and church-members by the thousand, for they can attend these Park exhibitions without being severely criticised.
5. "We are careful to give them enough immoral and sensual bait to draw them further. (Wild applause.)
6. "These innocent Park Theatres must not be abandoned, for they are a sure training school. We hereby pledge ourselves anew to go forth more earnestly to our tasks." (Furious applause over the whole assembly.)
"Have you met with any hindrances to your work?" queried the chairman of the meeting.
"Many indeed. Some Parks refuse our class of Theatres, while others are closed to every class. But our committee is determined to push ahead."
"Onward, ye comrades," urged the chairman. "Buy up the stock of every Park, if possible, and furnish recreation for the church. Do not become too bold at first in the introduction of lewd and foolish plays, or you may be fought by the popular churches."
"Hardly possible," replied the leader. "So many in the church are glad to wink at these incongruities, for they are thereby given a chance to satisfy their carnal appetites without being classed with the regular Theatre crowd."
"This is one of our happiest modern hits," chuckled the chairman, as the committee turned away, amidst the mad-like cheering,
Next I saw that the chairman raised his hand, and at once I heard three sharp clangs which were the signal for the "Church-Choir" committee. "What has the church-choir to do with the Theatre," thought I, as I saw the obedient host answering to their call.
"What tidings, good or ill?" asked the chairman in a tone of confidence.
"Progress slow, but sure," briefly answered the leader of the committee as he stepped a little nearer to the chairman to give his report.
"Ours is a difficult task. Some choirs are hedged about that we cannot so much as reach them with suggestions. Nevertheless, we have succeeded in many sections, notably in certain large cities. We report, with pride, that some churches have engaged genuine theatrical singers to render special selections during the regular Sunday services. Is it not an evidence of our success when the opera-stage singer of Saturday night furnishes the chief solo for church-goers on Sunday morning? This is winning certain people to the Theatre, for in many instances they cannot wait until the next Sunday; so they visit several theatres during the week to keep their spiritual strength renewed."
Then the demons cheered to the echo, and I listened with a sad, heavy heart.
The leader continued:
"We are also endeavoring to get the regular church-choirs to imitate the popular theatrical stars. Of course, we do not oppose the use of religious words, if we cannot induce them to sing our selections. We are aiming to create a taste for the up-to-date novelties in music, in contrast to the old dry singing in certain churches of the King's Highway." (Prolonged applause.)
As this tall, wiry demon continued to unfold his deep-laid plans, I well understood why Satan has selected the church-choir as an objective point, and has delegated so large a number of imps to do work in that special direction. I then cried within me: "Oh, that these churches would not use their choir-corners as an advertising medium for the Theatre! And that choirs, in their musical devotions, may be led by the Spirit of God rather than by the imps of Hell!"
This committee retired with special encomiums.
The chairman rose and I heard four sonorous clangs which summoned the "Ministerial" committee. At once its members, in their sedate and portly attitudes, surged down the massive aisles.
I shuddered as I saw the variety of these mean Satanic faces, portraying a depth of vileness, mingled with shrewd and scholarly insight. With great care I studied this pack of Hell-hounds, gathered from the ends of the earth, now standing in sullen mood, ready to give their report.
"What tidings, good or ill?" asked the chairman.
"The tidings are good," replied the famous leader. "By our efforts we have silenced many a voice which formerly thundered against us. To-day many more ministers are in sympathy with the modern Theatre of the higher grades, although not a few of these must hold their views in secret. Others speak apologetically, and still more come out in bold defense of what they term the 'Select Theatre.'"
"What do you consider the most hopeful line of your work?" further asked the chairman.
"Our work in the theological schools," quickly responded the leader. "Special sections of our committee have labored with stealthy vigor to capture the preacher before he reaches the pulpit. The last years of the century have witnessed phenomenal gains for our cause. By winning the theological student early to our Theatrical theories we are likely to gain his heart and sympathy in after years. Our success along these lines is the most hopeful sign of the times, and bespeaks the ushering in of more sensible conditions. (Furious applause.)
"Before retiring," continued the leader, "let me quote the utterances of a certain broad-minded clergyman: 'The clean Theatre of the twentieth century will be, and ought to be, the moral prayer-meeting for Christians, while the spiritual prayer-meeting will be held in the church as usual.'"
The whole army of devils cheered like madmen. I was so aroused that I felt that ecclesiastical lynch law should be applied to any minister whose utterances caused such jubilee among the legions of Hell.
I could not remain to hear the report of:
"The Moral Play" committee,
"The Variant Dance" committee,
"The Sacred Concert" committee and other committees whose names I could not learn.
SCHOOLS OF LITERATURE. THIRD DIVISION
1. Seven separate halls described.
2. The far-reaching schemes of Satan to pollute the Press and the Pen.
Mr. World and Miss Church-Member, after spending several hours at the Theatres, moved toward the vast groups of buildings comprising the third division of the College of Literature. The structures lay in a semi-circle facing a magnificent court, in the center of which there was a park of surpassing loveliness. On an immense arch, over the center of the park, these words were hung in shining letters:
TRUE CHRISTIANITY AND LITERATURE.
As Mr. World and his charming companion entered this great central court, they were quite overcome by the size and beauty of the three score halls, each one widening as its depth increased. Some towered one thousand feet in the air while others sent their proud domes, as it were, into the clouds.
The two companions mingled with the multitudes, engaged in the common pleasures of this open court, and watched with poetic delight the sparkling fountains, while sweet strains of music from scattered orchestras lent their charms to the soul. The shrubbery, flowers and plants, as well as the works of sculpture and pictorial art, all appeared as if angel fingers had been employed in their production and arrangement.
The season here spent by Miss Church-Member was the happiest that she had yet experienced since she had left the King's Highway. To think that she was now living in the threshold of True Christianity, in its relation to literature, was at once novel and refreshing to her mind, for she now claimed to be a more faithful Christian than ever before.
During their protracted stay at this division they visited the following halls, each one devoted to a specific purpose:
Hall No. 3. "The Bible from a Literary Standpoint."
Hall No. 8. "The Best Literature for a Sunday School Class."
Hall No. 9. "The Best Literature for Sunday school Libraries."
Hall No. 13. "The Best Literature for a True Christian to Read."
Hall No. 16. "Literature for a Christian's 'Grip' when on a Vacation."
Hall No. 27. "The Sunday Newspaper and Other Publications."
Hall No. 38. "The Best Way of Conducting a Religious Newspaper."
Mr. World spent a day with his appreciative friend under the teaching of Hall No. 3. The professors were exceptionally brilliant, and so won the confidence of their many hearers that what they said seemed to have more weight than even the Bible. They tried to demonstrate that the literary style of the Bible was far below par.
When they entered Hall No. 8 they were surprised to see how large a number of Sunday school workers and teachers were already there. The meeting that day was held largely in the form of an open parliament, and a discussion was in progress concerning the use of the Bible in the class during the study of the lesson.
"Would it not be preferable," asked an interested visitor, "to use the Bible in the class during the study of the lesson, and use the special helps only for preparation?"
"Don't think of it, don't think of it!" abruptly answered the teacher. "It would only be a step backward."
"It appears to me," continued the visitor, "that our young people ought to become more familiar in using and handling the Bible, and if it were used in connection with the study of the lesson it would surely prove to be a valuable help, even beyond what the present system affords."
"And would you throw aside all the very valuable side lights to the lesson that are being produced in such rich variety and abundance?' hurriedly asked a Sunday school teacher who was present on a furlough.
"Nay, nay," earnestly spoke the visitor, "let the press go on, but let not its fruit be substituted for the bread of life. Fruit is good, delicious and healthful, but we need the staff of life. Let the real actual Bible be handled and used in the teaching of the lesson. Then whatever else is wise to use as an auxiliary help may be brought into service. That is my platform, pure and simple."
The leader of the meeting was agitated. He impatiently rose to his feet before the last words had fallen from the visitor's lips.
"Let us use reason," he said, with a light vein of sarcasm in his voice. "Is it not true that the average child sees enough of the Bible in his home and in the public schools, and that he greatly relishes a change when he comes to the Sunday school?"
"That's only too true," spoke up the worldly element who were there in large numbers.
"Let me assure you," continued the speaker as he was warming to his theme under false fires of devilish sophistry, "in the day when the Bible was used in the Sunday school classes, spiritual ignorance abounded more than now."
"Why not be satisfied with rapid advancement, instead of inviting retrogression in knowledge, and a double decimation in Sunday school attendance, by compelling scholars to go searching through a book as uninteresting and unfathomable to them as the Bible?"
"One great hindrance to Sunday school work is its pious and sanctimonious tendency. If the schools of the twentieth century are to be successful, we must have less of that Bible stiffness in them, and still more of an open sociability."
The worldly element and some of the Sunday school teachers were now cheering heartily. But the speaker continued:
"Instead of going to an extreme that means death to the Sunday school by advocating that an army of cold Bibles should go walking into the service, I should rather advocate a change in the other direction, for I am even opposed to the tons of cheap literature filled with cloudy opinions that are now being scattered throughout our schools. We need lesson helps that are interspersed with incidents of adventure, and startling stories that have fire and life in them. Let some publisher take the hint.
"Then the boy or girl whose daily reading may consist of that style of writing will find the Sunday school more congenial to his nature, and he will go there with a bound. In that manner you are certain to win the boy's heart, after which you can, with tact, send the spiritual truth deeper into his soul. From such a scholar keep the Bible as far away as possible It is not even necessary to lay stress on the fact that the lesson text is, taken from the Bible.
"If the teacher can succeed in holding his respect for the Sunday school, then, in after years, when he is more matured and is better able to reason, you may bring the Bible itself more directly to his attention, and you will secure better results than are prevalent to-day in the Sunday school world."
The audience cheered lustily. In this cheering Mr. World and his companion joined. The visitor, who was deeply grieved at the warm reception of such destructive doctrines, arose to speak, but the intolerant cried out: "Away with him! We want no more bigotry and one-hundred-years-behind-the time speeches!" At the suggestion of the chairman he was hurried from the room to appear before a commission on lunacy.
The speech had its desired effect. The great majority of the audience were convinced that the Bible was not a "drawing card," and that it should not be introduced into the class study if it could possibly be avoided. A few pledged that they would do all in their power to effect a revolution in the present system of lesson helps.
Mr. World and Miss Church-Member left this hall and entered Hall No. 9. It was a rare privilege for them to walk through the largest Sunday school library in the world, where many committees were at work selecting books for their respective Sunday schools.
Satan had so ingeniously managed the composition of these books, and so artfully arranged them on the endless shelves, that one could scarcely discern the good parts of a book from the bad, or determine in which section of the hall the largest percentage of good books could be found. In this way committees almost invariably picked up considerable chaff with the wheat.
I looked at Blackana and sighed: "Oh! Blackana, how long will these things be? If only a conflagration would reduce the contents of that hall to ashes!"
"Ah! mortal," he coldly replied, "these things will never be destroyed, for the building is fire proof. Surely the Sunday school should get as much of its library as possible from a source so well protected."
"For what fiendish reason?" I asked as I was moved with indignation.
"Nothing fiendish about it. Satan can furnish books at less cost, and thereby be of material financial help to the Sunday school. Furthermore, he is able to furnish a larger variety and a more inviting class of books, with more spicy fiction, and less of that deadness so generally characteristic of the books coming from the hand of a narrow-minded Christian."
"Silence, thou agent of the Devil! Thou art again dealing in falsehood. When thou speakest to me, speak truthfully or hold thy tongue in quietness."
He rolled his eyes at me, but spoke no more.
In the early hours of the following day I saw the same two companions enter Hall No. 13 devoted to "The Best Literature for a True Christian to Read." They moved leisurely from table to table scanning and reading the books and booklets which, in great variety, lay before them.
Weariness urged them to a seat in the lecture department where they were entertained by a scholarly address on "Choice Literature for a Christian."
"It must not be forgotten." said the speaker in one part of his address, "that the mind can be ruined by lack of vigorous exercise. In the physical body the stomach would become weak and sickly were it not compelled, quite frequently, to digest strong foods or a great variety of them. So also the mind, in order to reach its true development, needs a wide variety of thought-food. Not alone that of a sickly-sentimental or sanctimonious kind which in its place is all right, but such a variety as will best stimulate the mind in a well-rounded, liberal education. In particular, a good Christian should peruse such literature as will inform him thoroughly concerning the enemies of Christianity. He should not spurn, but rather study infidelity, skepticism and every other hostile movement, so that he may be able the better to appreciate his own position. The Bible is not so much a book for reading, as a book of reference, and therefore a Christian's loyalty to Christ must not be measured by his reading and studying the Bible, but by his success in locating the enemies of the cross and studying their designs, looking over their encampments, and estimating the strength of their weapons. If he becomes thus acquainted with the foe, he is in better position to order an advance, or to effect a treaty whereby much strife may be avoided."
Hall No. 16 was next visited. It offered to its patrons a happy time. Here the work of the artist was in pleasing evidence. On beautiful walls were pictured retreats of all kinds. The games and sports, in endless variety, which make merry the park, field and glen, were the subjects of some of the paintings.
These were the titles of some of the larger wall paintings:
"A restful day under the oak."
"The campers at the midday meal."
"An hour of idle reading." "Around the camp-fire at night."
"At rest beside the bounding brook."
"Along the beach at bathing time."
"The cottage by the sea."
Nothing was said about the paintings on the wall; they were merely suggestive of the refreshment that came after toil.
The lecturer of this hall was a jolly man, an athlete of fine proportions, whose splendid appearance attracted the attention of the throng of listeners.
"We are not here to discuss the good or evil which comes from various kinds of recreation, but to tell you, from experience, what kind of reading to take with you when you go on a vacation, or a pleasure trip. As you are seeking rest for the body so let your religious books have a rest. Leave them all at home, except the Bible, and prayer book,—you might take them along to be used in case of sickness or accident. Then put in your 'grip' some humorous books, such as will make you merry. Besides these place therein some other very light reading, such as will rest the mind from the more serious things of life.
"As a father delighteth to see his children roam and romp in glee over the meadows after the time of faithful toil, so the Heavenly Father delighteth to see his true children lay aside the seriousness of prayer and Bible study, and go forth in joyful rest to the seashore, or to the quiet glen in the fastnesses of the woods. If you follow these directions, you will get the cream of pleasure and profit, and return to your secular or religious work with renewed vigor."
I saw many ministers, of the gospel in the audience, but not all seconded the words of the speaker. Mr. World and his confiding companion were surprised after entering Hall No. 27 to find on exhibition a copy of all the periodical publications of the world. This was a large hall and had sub-divisions, each devoted to a distinct class of literature. One department contained all non-sectarian religious publications; another the sectarian; still a third was devoted to daily newspapers, partisan and non-partisan; yet another contained all trade journals; another all the scientific periodicals, and thus the plan was continued throughout.
This was the busiest place of all, for some of the periodicals had their offices in this hall, while others had representatives there, so that countless thousands thronged the sub-departments daily. Each sub-department had its own corps of lecturers.
Many editors, before entering into active service, take the entire series of courses offered by this hall, and are thus taught to prevaricate, abbreviate, and exaggerate, or do ought else to attain the end in view.
I saw Mr. World and Miss Church-Member pass by one sub-department after another. They were not pleased with the excitement that prevailed. They had intended however to pause at the department devoted especially to the Sunday newspaper question, and tarried at the door long enough merely to catch these few words from one of the speakers:
"I am a member of the church myself, and bear an honorable name therein; but I am unwilling to be classed with a set of bigots who would rob us of our personal liberties and, if possible, place all kinds of restrictive measures about our inalienable rights. I stand for liberty first of all, and tyranny never. Why should one dictate to me what I shall read on Sunday? I look at my Bible more than one hundred times a year, and read a Sunday newspaper only fifty-two times. It was a happy change that started the regular press of the country to yield seven issues a week, and thereby send forth additional rays of enlightenment to a people who are in sad need of all that they can get to increase their intelligence.
"According to my opinion there are so many practices that are worse than reading a Sunday newspaper that Satan must surely be annoyed to see a man engaged in such a harmless pursuit. Happy, indeed, would we all be if the—-"
The two companions passed on and heard no more, until they left this hall and paid a brief visit to Hall No. 38 devoted to "The Best Way of Conducting a Religious Newspaper."
There were very few editors present, but the debate amongst them was vigorous and, at times, very contentious, much to the interest and enjoyment of the spectators.
The question being discussed was: "How Can We Best Increase the Circulation of the Church Paper?"
After a few exchanges of opinions, the chairman of the meeting advocated, with grave dignity, that all religious newspapers should be more conformed to the tastes and the level of a hungry world. "There is too great a contrast," said he, "between the mental condition of the laymen and the high, cold tone of the average religious paper. Let the editor of a church paper do as did his Master Jesus Christ,—come down to the level of the world, where he can reach the heart and the ear of the common people of whom the masses are composed. No paper should be so holy that it cannot adapt itself to the development of the natural as well as the spiritual part of man."
These remarks were warmly applauded.
Next an editor of a religious paper arose, and spoke with decision:
"I want to be as liberal and broad-minded as God would have me be. I came to this hall with doubtful steps. I cannot say that I have profited thereby. My mind is at variance with the chairman of this meeting. He says: 'All religious papers should be more conformed to the tastes of the hungry world.' Let me ask, with all honesty, what is the taste of the hungry world? Is it not a terribly perverted taste, a hungering for the black sins of death? I contend that it is the work of a good paper to be a beacon light, even though it shines from a lofty light-house. It may thereby shine out farther and wider. Away with the doctrine of devils that would pervert the truth and send with merciless fling——"
At this juncture the speaker was seized by an officer who came running in at the ringing of a bell and arrested the editor on the charge of "disturbing the peace," which, the chairman declared, was due to a diseased state of his mind.
Miss Church-Member was freightened from the hall by this episode, and was followed by her less fearful companion.
THE DEVIL'S TEMPERANCE COLLEGE.
1. Mr. World and his companion visit this immense college, with many wings, all devoted to teaching every phase of the temperance question in accordance with Satan's views.
2. A view of the millions who attend this college.
Automobiles are used by the agents of Satan to convey students and visitors from one college to another of the great University of the World.
I saw Miss Church-Member and her cherished escort leave the College of Literature in one of these up-to-date carriages.
"Shall we tarry at the athletic field?" asked Mr. World as they came to a famous sporting ground.
"Let us rather hasten to the Temperance College," she suggested. But her manner indicated that she did not wish to urge him away from the place of his heart's desire.
"Altogether at your pleasure," he smiled, as he sank back into the comfortable cushions of the conveyance.
They soon reached the desired locality, saw the moving millions from all portions of the earth, and heard the ceaseless babble of their voices harmonizing with the work of this college which was known among the pilgrims of the King's Highway as The Devil's Temperance College. It covered many acres of ground, and consisted of many immense buildings, around which clustered many smaller structures serving for auxiliary purposes.
When Mr. World and Miss Church-Member walked about the college grounds, and saw more closely the magnitude and beauty of the edifices, they were so overawed that their tongues offered no comment.
They mingled a while with the merry multitude, and then at one corner of the group entered the gigantic building devoted to the subject of Temperance and the Bible. They hoped thereby to get the consensus of opinion on one of the complex questions of the day.
At the bureau of information the two companions were directed to the Public Hall of Debate, which was reached by the aid of one of the numerous electric elevators. The Great Hall had an auditorium of one hundred feet in height and a seating capacity fully capable of accommodating the visiting multitudes. The acoustics were so perfect that one, at the farther end of the room, could easily hear the speaker on the stage. When Mr. World and his friend had entered the hall they were surprised to learn that many of the auditors were members of the more radical churches along the King's Highway.
The corps of high titled professors who occupied the stage spoke at intervals, or answered questions which were propounded by persons in the audience.
Over the stage I saw in illuminated letters: TEMPERANCE AND THE BIBLE.
An aged man was speaking when the two comrades took seats near the center of the room.
"We are not here," explained the venerable man, "to prove that the Bible is either false or true. We leave that question for other schools to decide. It is our province to show what the Bible teaches on this important theme. Temperance is a word so misused and so abused that it becomes people of sound judgment to go to the rock bottom of the question as viewed in the light of Scripture."
Then, adjusting his green spectacles, the speaker opened the Bible and offered to explain, or to have explained, any part of it that bore on the subject of "Temperance from a Bible Standpoint."
A breathless silence followed until a moderate-drinking church-member arose with Bible in hand. "Did Christians, during the life of Christ, drink wine?" he asked, in a self-righteous manner.
The speaker called upon Mr. Wine Expert who quickly stepped forward from his chair on the stage.
"There can be no doubt," he affirmed, "but that they drank wine freely. They knew enough in that day not to discard a good thing."
Hundreds of people sprang to their feet, but Mr. Venerable ordered that one should speak at a time and that they all should be seated and first listen to the questioner.
"Was that wine the same, in kind, that Noah drank, as related in Gen. 9:21?"
"And the same that is used to-day in the commercial world?"
"It is the same as the good wine that is used to-day. There are many modern adulterations."
The questioner took his seat. A man from London then obtained the floor. He also held a Bible as he spoke.
"I am a temperance worker in one of the districts of London, and would like to know whether you conclude by your former assertion concerning the early Christians that the Bible does not speak against wine drinking?"
"Not in a single place. How could it do so consistently?" answered the Devil's expert.
"Will you please turn to Prov. 20:1. 'Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise.' How do you harmonize this passage with what you have just asserted?" The man from London sat down.
"Quite an easy task for one who has given honest study to the question," said Mr. Wine Expert. "Wine is a mocker. Just as wisdom mocks at the calamity of those who reject it in Prov. 1:26. So, wine, personified in a similar manner, mocks at the folly of those who refuse it. (Applause.) Strong drink is raging. Just as in Jonah 1:15, the sea was raging in protest against Jonah because he refused to preach the truth to the people. So in this passage, 'strong drink is raging,' because so many church-members and ministers refuse to preach the real truth to the people on the subject of strong drink. (Prolonged applause.) If there were as much said against me falsely, as has been spoken against strong drink, I would not only rage, but would go raging and foaming over this stage in protest. (Tremendous applause and shouting from the people of the world.) I tell you more, my friends, strong drink will keep on raging as long as old Voices and 'The New Voice' of cranks and idiots are heard to squeak out their childish nonsense to an enlightened people." (Furious applause and demonstrations.)
"The last part of the passage is easily to be understood," continued the speaker. "'Whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise.' How could a person be wise who allows himself to be deceived and hoodwinked concerning as good a thing as wine or strong drink?"
"Nobody, we need not fear," cried out a brewer from one side of the room.
"There is however a host," continued Mr. Wine Expert, "who are woefully deceived, and who are endeavoring to force their deceptions upon the state."
"And I am one of them," shouted a tall man from Kansas, U. S. A., as he violently jumped to his feet, and remained standing.
"I would suggest," calmly interrupted the venerable leader, "that our special photographer take a snap shot of this man. We are always glad to keep a record of such monstrosities. He looks like a fair specimen of a deceived man. (Laughter.) He is lean and bony, and if any one of you never before saw such a man, take a full view of him now. Suppose you," he said, as he continued pointing at the Kansas man, "slowly make a full revolution on your feet so that each one can here see all sides of you,—if you have more than one side." (Great applause amongst the people of the world.)
The man from Kansas stood still till the voice of the insulting outcry died away.
"I can stand abuse; I can stand irony and sarcasm; but I thank God that where I live I need no longer endure the insults of the Rum Devil. (Suppressed applause.) If Mr. Venerable thinks I am the only man present who comes under his classification of 'deceived persons,' I will demonstrate to him his folly, for there are many thousands here who have not yet bowed the knee to Baal."
"Out of order!" "Put him out!" "Away with him!" came from the audience.
"If there is a person here opposed to the Rum Traffic, let him rise," fearlessly continued the tall man.
Up sprang a W. C. T. U. leader; then another person; then a hundred from Maine; yea, a thousand more until over seven thousand, from all parts of the world, stood on their feet.
"Remain standing, I ask you! Let not one of you act the coward! There are others here today, who came in, as I did, to visit. Stand up! Show your colors! If you remain seated you will be classed with the enemy. The time to honor your cause is at hand. I ask you seventy thousand church-members present to choose this day whom you will serve."
Mr. Venerable, who was an experienced man in these uprisings, whispered to an excited saloon-keeper: "Let them proceed. A house divided against itself can not stand."
"I demand order," shouted a high-license advocate who owned a brewery, but the agitated fellow was soon calmed by these personal words from the venerable chairman: "Let these people go. They will soon get into factional contention and thereby break the point of their steel more effectually than we could do it."
"Remain standing, ye noble band of men and women!" shouted the Kansas man with increasing earnestness. "You, who are too cowardly or indifferent to rise from your seats, are throwing your influence this day on the side of the enemy, thereby casting a reflection on the church of our Lord Jesus Christ, and—"
This was more than a certain minister could bear. So, before the Kansas man had finished his last sentence, he sprang excitedly to his feet and shook his fist defiantly: "I want it distinctly understood that I am just as good as the man from Kansas, and just as much of a temperance man, but I don't believe in this way of showing my colors. I would not be standing now had I not been insulted more by that crank of one idea, standing there, than by Mr. Wine Expert who so contemptibly perverted Scripture."
Mr. Wine Expert sprang to the edge of the stage to defend his position, but Mr. Venerable was instantly at his side. "Come, come, don't spoil that fight; suffer rather than have them combine against you," were the quiet words of logic that brought him to his seat without uttering a word.
Then up jumped a few prominent church-members to express their indignation at the adverse criticism of the Kansas man.