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For the bow cannot possibly stand always bent, nor can human nature or human frailty subsist without some lawful recreation.
Every one should endeavour so to vary his employments, and so to mix them up with amusement and recreation as to obviate the inevitable consequences of monotony.
Let none decry innocent amusements. They are the means of much real good to the human family. Social merry-makings, not intrinsically sinful, are good and healthful indeed. Let the laugh and innocent joke, the song, the tale go round, for blessings follow in their wake. Many have naturally craving for excitement, which if not satisfied in the manner referred to, will lead their subjects to scenes of sensuality, from which only wretchedness can follow. The producers of innocent amusements and recreation for the people are, then, benefactors of their fellow-men.
It were unjust and ungrateful to conceive that the amusements of life are altogether forbidden by its beneficent Author. They serve on the contrary important purposes in the economy of human life, and are destined
to produce important effects both upon our happiand character. They are
the “ wells of the desert; the kind resting places in which toil may relax, in which the weary spirit may
its tone, and where the desponding mind may reassume its strength and its hopes. They are, in another view, of some importance to the dignity of individual character. In everything we call amusement there is generally some display of taste and of imagination; some elevation of the mind from mere animal indulgence or the baseness of sensual desire. Even in the scenes of relaxation, there. fore, they have a tendency to preserve the dignity of human character, and to fill up the vacant and unguarded hours of life, with occupations, innocent at least, if not virtuous. But their principal effect, perhaps, is upon the social character of man, Whenever amusement is sought, it is in the society of our brethren, and whenever it is found, it is in our sympathy with the happiness of those around us. It bespeaks the disposition of benevolence, and it creates it. When men assemble, accordingly, for the purpose of general happiness or joy, they exhibit to the thoughtful eye, one of the most pleasing appearances of their original character. They leave behind them, for a time the faults of their station, and the asperities of their temper; they forget the secret views and the selfish purposes of their ordinary life, and mingle with the crowd around them with no other view than to receive and communicate happiness. It is a spectacle which it is impossible to observe without emotion; and while the virtuous man rejoices at that oyidence which it affords of the benevolent constitution of his nature, the pious man is apt to bless the benevolence of that God, who thus makes the wilderness and the solitary place be glad, and whose wisdom renders even the hours of amuse
ment subservient to the cause of virtue. It is not, therefore, the use of the innocent amusements of life, which is dangerous, but the abuse of them ; it is not when they are occasionally, but when they are stantly pursued ; when the love of amusement degenerates into a passion, and when, from being an occasional indulgence, it becomes an habitual desire.
Recreations are sometimes necessary
both to the body and mind of a man, neither of them being able to endure a constant toil without somewhat of refreshment between; and therefore there is a very lawful use of them; but to make it so, it will be necessary to observe these cautions : First, we must take care that the kind of them be lawful, that they be such as have nothing of sin in them; we must not, to recreate ourselves, do anything which is dishonourable to God, or injurious to our neighbour ; as they do, who make profane, filthy, or backbiting discourse their recreation. Secondly, we must take care that we use it with moderation ; and to do so, we must first be sure not to spend too much time upon it, but remember that end of recreation is to fit us for business, not to be itself a business to us.
a Thirdly we must not be too vehement aud earnest in it, nor set our hearts too much upon it; for that will both ensnare us to the using too much of it, and it will divert and take off our minds from our more necessary employments, like school-boys, who after a play-time know not how to set themselves to their books again. Lastly we must not set up to ourselves any other end of recreation but that lawful one, of giving us moderate refreshment.
_“THE WHOLE DUTY OF MAN."
In amusements as in everything else, we must distinguish between the use and the abuse.
There is a certain limit to be observed
even in our amusements, that we do not abandon ourselves too much to a life of pleasure, and carried away by such a life sink into immorality. Sport and merriment are at times allowable ; but we must enjoy them as we do sleep and other kinds of repose when we have performed our weighty and important affairs.
Let not your recreations be lavish spenders of your time : bat choose such which are healthful, short, transient, recreative, and apt to refresh you; but at no hand dwell upon them, or make
them your great employment.
“ All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” Maxim. But all play and no work makes him something greatly worse.
If all the year were playing holidays,
Too much rest is rust,
Amusement, however innocent, must not be our daily work, it is only for the sake of relaxation that the Creator grants us anything of this nature. To have too
keen a relish for such things, is to run the risk of missing the great end of our being, by seeking an enjoyment which at last may become a source of repentance and remorse. I particularly advise you to be very attentive to the choice of your social amusements. Do not therefore waste your time in diversions, which you cannot enjoy without injuring your virtue, your reputation, or the well-being of your family. Let not those foolish pleasures, which may hurt your neighbour, excite his . complaints, bring tears from his eyes, separate you from the duties which society and religion impose upon you, ever find an entrance to your heart.
Recreation does not mean idleness.
Absence of occupation is not rest,
We should never do nothing. It is better to wear out than rust out. The proper rest for man is change of occupation.
Change of work is itself a relaxation. Everything palls if long indulged in, and pleasure most of all.
The fundamental principle of all recreation consisting in the rest from local exhaustion which is secured by a change of organic activity, it is clear that practical advice with regard to recreation must differ widely according to the class and even the individual, to which it is given. Thus it would be clearly absurd to recom