Obrazy na stronie
PDF
ePub

to his heavenly kingdom, there to reign with him, not for a time, but for ever.

I have thus once more spoken to you very plainly upon this subject. I am more and more fully convinced of the pernicious effects and practical evils of the Theatre. This is indeed but one of those sinful amusements by which a professed Christian breaks his vows, and increases his guilt and condemnation. It is only a part of a system of worldly dissipation. But considering the principles which are taught, and the scenes which are exhibited, and the various temptations which are offered in this school of vice; it is preeminently a part of wordly dissipation which is dangerous to the soul and provoking in the sight of God. And although the abstaining from Theatrical Amusements does not, of itself, shew any person to be a true Christian ; since we may abstain from them, without being influenced by right motives and religious principles, and without having in our hearts the fear and love of God: yet the frequenting of these amusements does most unequivocally prove such persons not to be true Christians; and should death overtake them in their present state, they must not only endure the wrath of God for ever, but all that heavier wrath which will fall upon the heads of those who have gone on still in their wickedness, in direct violation of their own solemn vow, promise, and profession.

SERMON VI.

1 CORINTHIANS, X., 31, 32.

Whether therefore ye eat or drink, or whatso

ever ye do, do all to the glory of God. Give none offence, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the Church of God.

In former discourses upon the subject of Theatrical Amusements, I have not scrupled to give it as my most decided judgment, that no real Christian can or will frequent these Amusements, and, therefore, that none who do frequent them can be real Christians. In saying this, I have been thought, not only by the advocates of the Stage, but by some who are decidedly opposed it, to have uttered a harsh and uncharitable and indefensible sentiment; and I have been supposed to have said in the warmth of zeal more than I really meant.

But I would now take an opportunity of declaring, that this is a sentiment of the truth of which I have the most undoubting persuasion;

which I have most deliberately advanced; and which every succeeding investigation of the subject has more fully confirmed.

I feel convinced in my own mind, that if we could bring the frequenters of the Theatre to the test of true religion, as it is laid down in the Bible, that the result of such an examination would be, that not even a solitary individual possessing the marks of solid scriptural piety, would be found through the whole multitude, however large.

There are, indeed, persons who do most unequivocally shew themselves to be real Christians, who would hesitate to make such a declaration as this. Such hesitation, however, would not, as I believe, arise, in any instance, from any doubt of the unlawfulness of Stage Amusements to themselves ;—but by an excess of charity, which, as it appears to me, is not only unauthorised by the Bible, but dangerous in its tendency,—such persons are willing to hope that some real Christians may conscientiously do what they feel it would be sinful in themselves to do ;—what they dread as a most fearful evil; and what no inducement or persuasion could ever prevail with them to countenance or attend.

Now if, as I doubt not, such would be the feelings and determination of every one who is taught and governed by God's Holy Spirit, for himself and for those who are under his authority and control, it follows that no real Christian would ever be himself found amongst the frequenters of the Theatre, whatever hopes he might inconsistently entertain of some who do attend.

The grounds upon which I have come to such conclusions, I have endeavoured from year to year plainly to set before you. I have shewn you, conclusively as I believe, the utter contrariety of Theatrical Amusements to different principles and precepts of Holy Scripture ;-how incompatible they are with the love of God;—with purity of heart;—with the practice of prayer ;-and with our baptismal and confirmation vows, promises, and professsions. Each view of the subject has appeared to me to lead inevitably to the conclusions which I have just stated; and I doubt not, there are persons in this congregation whose convictions of the unlawfulness of Stage Amusements, and of the inconsistency of attending them, have been strengthened and established by what they have heard.—In the hope of adding to the number of those who have from conviction, and upon principle, renounced and abandoned the Theatre, I now bring this subject before you again, and intend to make another attempt to prove to you the utter incompatibility of true religion, with an attendance on Theatrical Amusements; — that these things are directly contrary, the one to the other ;-that to do the one, and possess the other --to be a real Christian and a frequenter of a play-house-is an impossible thing.

In that part of the chapter which immediately precedes the text, St. Paul discusses the question of the lawfulness of eating things offered to idols. He at once condemns as direct idolatry all communion with idolaters in their professed idol-feasts; but as the fear of eating a part of a victim sacrificed to an idol, might, if carried too far, lead to much perplexity in the necessary intercourse between Christians and idolaters, the Apostle states some cases in which meats might lawfully be eaten without scruple or inquiry ;-he then concludes with some general principles to be applied in all cases and circumstances as the rule and guide of a Christian's conduct.

It will be my endeavour, in this discourse, First, to explain the rule of duty laid down by the Apostle in the text; Secondly, to shew its inseparable connexion with the Christian character; and, Thirdly, to point out the utter incompatibility of an attendance upon Theatrical Amusements with even an intention or desire of walking according to this rule. And God grant that you may both perceive and know what things you ought to do, and also may have grace and power faithfully to fulfil the same!

First, then, I am to explain the rule of duty laid down by the Apostle in the Text; Whether therefore ye eat or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God. Give none offence, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the Church

H

« PoprzedniaDalej »