It has been said that the Brits are known to have a stiff upper lip. If so, it was particularly true in Victorian England. The renown pastor of the infamous Metropolitan Tabernacle was not one of them. He enjoyed a good time. This is a glimpse into those times, and their attitude towards having fun.
The whole Church will be indebted to Dr. Stanford for having protested against the superstition which regards wit and humor as deadly sins. He has not only set forth the propriety of simple, natural mirth, but has well-nigh shown the duty of it. We knew that our beloved friend had a sly twinkle in his eye, and said things which sparkled with a subdued and chastened fun; but we hardly believed that he would become the defender of our faith in wit, and the avenger of those fierce assaults which have been made on humor. This book ought to shut the mouths of those melancholy critics who think that everything solemn should be sad, and that anything approaching to pleasantry must be wicked. The chapter upon “What have Christians to do with Wit and Humour?” gives us the utmost delight. The argument is as irresistible as the laughter which it provokes; and both the argument and the laughter are as wholesome and as holy as anything we have ever read. We are tempted to make copious quotations, but we had rather our friends should get the book for themselves; in fact, they will have to do so, for everybody will be forced to read it. We hope these wise and genial pages will work a revolution in the ideas of thousands who now blush when they smile, and put down an honest laugh in the category of things to be repented of.—C. H. S., in review of Dr. Charles Stanford’s volume, “The Wit and Humour of Life.”
It is a sort of tradition of the fathers that it is wrong to laugh on Sundays. The eleventh commandment is, that we are to love one another; and then, according to some people, the twelfth is, “Thou shalt pull a long face on Sunday.” I must confess that I would rather hear people laugh than 1 would see them asleep in the house of God; and I would rather get the truth into them through the medium of ridicule than I would have it neglected, or leave the people to perish through lack of reception of the message. I do believe, in my heart, that there may be as much holiness in a laugh as in a cry; and that, sometimes, to laugh is the better thing of the two, for I may weep, and be murmuring, and repining, and thinking all sorts of bitter thoughts against God; while, at another time, I may laugh the laugh of sarcasm against sin, and so evince a holy earnestness in the defense of the truth. I do not know why ridicule is to be given up to Satan as a weapon to be used against us, and not to be employed by us as a weapon against him. I will venture to affirm that the Reformation owed almost as much to the sense of the ridiculous in human nature as to anything else, and that those humorous squibs and caricatures, that were issued by the friends of Luther, did more to open the eyes of Germany to the abominations of the priesthood than the more solid and ponderous arguments against Romanism. I know no reason why we should not, on suitable occasions, try the same style of reasoning. “It is a dangerous weapon,” it will be said, “and many men will cut their fingers with it.” Well, that is their own 1ookout; but I do not know why we should be so particular about their cutting their fingers if they can, at the same time, cut the throat of sin, and do serious damage to the great adversary of souls.—C. H. S., in “Lectures to my Students.”