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Exhibition Items : Explanation of the picture 'The broad and the narrow way'

Exhibition Items

<p style='text-align: justify;'>This pamphlet explains the large poster <a target='_blank' class='externalLink' href='/view/PR-01886-00012-00019/1'>The broad and narrow way</a>. The world view illustrated here is very much a product of Protestant evangelical Christianity; human nature essentially tended to be bad, and this could be explained by the concept of original sin. As a result the path to Heaven in the picture is so difficult, so narrow and so few people are travelling on it. The poster and accompanying pamphlet were designed as the basis for a lecture which aimed to explain such ideas to the uneducated public, and therefore the concepts of Heaven and Hell are presented in a rather crude way: Heaven as a beautiful city and Hell as a place full of savage monsters.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>These images of good behaviour leading to eternal happiness in Heaven, while bad behaviour led to endless punishment in Hell, provided a powerful visual incentive to obey religious laws. The process of spiritual wrongdoing and punishment was imagined in similar terms to civic crime and punishment: God was referred to as a judge (and an infallible judge) and spiritual punishment was as certain a result of wrongdoing as civic imprisonment or execution.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>Contemporary concerns with Sabbath observance are revealed here: throughout the nineteenth century there was pressure from religious groups to keep Sunday as a day of prayer and quiet meditation. This was less a matter for personal belief and more a proposal for regulating general behaviour on a Sunday. The aim was to create a social climate in which drinking, shopping, card-playing and travelling (as well as paid work) were seen as unacceptable. The poorer classes, however, were resistant to the idea as they had only Sunday to rest and enjoy themselves and resented the idea that it should be spent in church. This author emphasised that mere attendance at religious services itself was no guarantee of salvation; on the contrary it was the absence of love and generosity that condemned someone to punishment in Hell.</p>

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