Page images
PDF
EPUB

myself,,may render such associations occasionally necessary and proper, butxa Christian joining in such society for the purposes of pleasure, when he can avoid it-is ilying in the face of bis frequent petition, and proving that it never came from his heart, • Lead us not into tenptation, but deliver us from evil.'

Fifthly. Ainusements that are of ill-report will be avoided by the Christian. There are, indeed, many amusements that are of ill-report, of which the world say, why. 'what harm is there in doing them? In themselves considered, and with due qualification, there is, perhaps, no harm, but we must consider them in their relative bearings, and if by sanctioning them we lead to greater evils, the wisest way is to abstain, for thus runs the inspired command, ‘Abstain from all APPEARANCE of evil.' This is a very strong expression, and is not half enough considered by some Christians.

Sixthly. Any amusement indulged in beyond proper bounds is censurable. The term proper which I have used may, indeed, admit of much latitude, according to the tenderness of a man's conscience, but in these things the Christian will study to maintain a conscience void of offence towards God, and towards men.'

Seventhly. Those amusements wbich unfit us for devotion cannot be cherished by a Christian. If his mind and his conscience cannot calmly go from them to his evening worship, or his bed, they ought not for a moment to be admitted, for that which unfits us for devotion, unfits us for that state, for which we ought every moment, as far as possible, to be prepared.

Thus have I glanced at the qualifications by which our amusements should be guided. By these, then, some amusements must be decidedly condemned. "On these grounds cards will not bear a scrutiny. Not that Lwould go so far as to say, that for purposes of real relaxation, two or three members of a family may not amuse themselves by this method, though I would rather find some other, and, for one objection, deem it too stupid to afford me recreation; but I speak especially of card parties, where the charm of conversation must yield to the eternal round of worn-out words --cut-deal-trumps-tricks-ace-king-queen and knave. In the name of common sense, how is it that sense can so descend to mingle with stupidity, and men to become such children! I have seen persons thus bappy at the card table, because in company they could not say bo to a goose;' and I could easily account for their ignorance, for having found that they could pass muster in society by playing a few games, they never took the least pains to cultivate their minds. Thus has the game which was invented to amuse a melancholy king, Charles VI. of France, become the fashionable ainusement of the world, who virtually own, by the practice, that they too are all melancholy while destitute of religion, and who contrive

by idleness
To fill the void of an unfurnish'd brain,

To palliate dullness, and give time a shove.' This contemptible mode of spending time has not merely been condemned by those who are thought strait sectarians, but by others, writers who cannot be suspected of Methodism. 'I cannot but suspect,' says the Rambler, 'that this odious fashion is produced by a conspiracy of the old, the ugly, and the ignorant, against the young and beautiful, the witty, and the gay, as a contrivance

[ocr errors]

6

to level all distinctions of nature, and of art, to confound the world in a chaos of folly, to take from those who could outshine them, all the advantages of mind and body, to withhold youth from its natural pleasures, deprive wit of its influence, and beauty of its charms, to fix those hearts upon money to which love bas hitherto been entitled, to sink life into a tedious aniformity, and to allow it no other hopes or fears, but that of robbing or being robbed.'-No. 15.

Johnson is my prose authority, and no one ever suspected Johnson of Methodism. Let me next quote Pye as my poet-Cow Per or MontGOMERY might not be heard, but Pye may obtain an audience:

See where around the silent vot’ries sit,
To radiant beauty blind, and deaf to wit;
Each vacant eye appears with wisdom fraught,
Each solemn blockhead looks as if he thought;
Here coward insolence insults the bold,
And selfish av’rice boasts his love of gold;
Ill temper vents her spleen without offence,
And pompous dullness triumphs over sense.'

The THEATRE must also be condemned. It really is ridiculous to see a man aping human follies and infirmities--the Zany of the mob, or worse than ridiculous, to mock misery by shamming the unfortunate, and even the mad. Were not these things authorized by fashion, the actors in them would be viewed as misanthropes who enjoyed human misery, and, indeed, few of those who delight in these scenes are to be found visiting the real haunts of woe. Fiction with them sometimes draws a tear, but reality does not. For these causes, the Christian will avoid the theatre, for it is not there that the finest feelings of nature are cultiyated, and the heart made better. The company too is an objection to the theatrical circle, for though some plead that there vice is seen in a deformity to make it hated, and virtue in a loveliness to make it admired, it is a remarkable fact, that the most vicious always delight in such scenes, and that virtue has been often injured and ruined, but rarely improved by the stage; and as for actors, if the doctrines they teach are to have so good an effect on their auditors, how is it that it has so little on themselves, so that they are almost always suspected, and are too often found deviating from the paths of virtue! The time occupied in, as well as the season chosen for thealrical pursuits, renders them unfit for the Christian. Hence, Fathers of the Church, Philosophers, and Divines, enlightened Statesmen, and genuine Patriots, have all concurred to consider the stage as dangerous and destructive.'

The ball room, properly so called, cannot, for some of the reasons assigned, be deemed a fit place for the Christian. I will not positively say, that dancing in itself considered, and if confined to the young folks in the school, or the family, is to be viewed as an evil; but its tendency to fascinate the mind, and lead to the ambition of appearing in the ball room, the indiscriminate mixture of the young of both sexes there, the indecorous dress and attitudes often mingled with those scenes, the time they occupy at night, and absorb by wasting the strength for the day, and the destruction which they frequently occasion to health by overheating the blood, and then hurrying from the hot room into the damp air of midnight-are all arguments which may be justly employed against the assembly. I will not mention the occasion of the fate of John the Baptist, which

use.

some have quoted as an argument against the ball room, because I have before observed that the abuse of a thing is no argument against its

Dice, and other desperate games at chance, are condemned by the law as immoral, and this of itself is a sufficient argument to lead the Christian to abstain from them, I therefore merely allude to them in passing.

I am not averse to recreation, and therefore if any amusement can be found not of ill report, I do not, in my conscience, view it as incompatible with the Christian character. Hence, many of the pious old divines were accustomed to play at draughts, and chess, and other similar games; and it is evident, that their hard studies required some relaxation of mind, and the change, though mental, especially in the last-named amusement, no doubt rendered them better fit to pursue those Jaborious researches, of which they have left so many samples for the benefit of posterity.

What is recreation to one is not so to another, according to a person's employment and the cast of his mind. Hence, others have engaged in angling, &c., which though some bave condemned as cruel, finds an apology in our Lord's commanding a hook to be cast into the sea.

Music and drawing are also pleasant recreations. Reading is so for the man of business, if he have a taste for it; but to those whose professions are of a mental kind, recreation must be of a different nature-either mental diversion, or bodily exercise,

Hence, the thoughts are transported to athletic games, such as cricket, tennis ball, trap ball, &c.

All these amusements must, in moderation, be beneficial to the health; and it is to be regretted

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »