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left us that we should tread in his steps; and you will find not a difference only, but a direct opposition, and that in every particular in which a comparison can be made : the spirit which is manifested,—the maxims and motives which are acted upon,-the objects which are proposed, will all be found wholly irreconcileable with the mind that was in Christ Jesus, and with the course of his holy life.
My dear Brethren, in thus bringing to the test of acknowledged principles the Amusements of the Stage, I have not forgotten that they only profess to be amusements; and could they maintain their claim to the character of harmless recreation, you would not have heard from me one condemnatory word.
But if-as I think it must have plainly appeared--the Amusements of the Theatre dishonour God,-confirm the careless sinner in the error of his way, -run counter to the very spirit and tenour of the inspired rule of faith and practice; then, the conclusion is inevitable, the case is clear;-such amusements are incompatible with the first principles of religion-directly contrary to the Christian character. No man, therefore, who truly bears that character, will be found an attendanton such amusements; and every man who truly desires to bear that character, will avoid such amusements, as tending only to hinder the attainment of the object on which his soul is bent.
I have thus addressed myself to you, my dear brethren, as a minister of religion speaking to persons professing godliness. I have therefore argued against the Theatre only on religious principles. Were it necessary, it would be easy to shew that it is your duty and interest to abstain from these amusements on other considerations. Rousseau, the well-known deistical philosopher of Geneva, has proved the danger of Theatres merely on political principles, and pointed out their injurious influence upon the morals and happiness of a country. I will quote one sentence only from his book; and although it is a question put by an unbeliever in Christianity, there are, I fear, many who call themselves Christians, in whom it ought to raise the blush of conscious shame and self-condemnation—“Where" he asks, “would be found the mother so imprudent as to take her daughter to this dangerous school ?" There were no such mothers it should seem in his day. There are such in ours. Oh! are there any such here ?
And now, my dear brethren, permit me in one concluding word to urge the exhortation of the Apostle. Theatrical Amusements are plainly contrary to the principles of true religionplainly contrary to the principles which you hold. Hold your principles still, and hold them fast; but do not hold them in unrighteous
Abstain from all appearance of evil. Renounce this and every other sin and inconsistency. Turn away from such dangerous pleasures. Follow out your principles. Fulfil your character. Be Christians in heart and life. Be afraid of coming into the condemnation of those who call Christ Lord, but do not the things which he says, and who shall be driven from his presence with that sentence-Depart from me I know you not. Turn truly to the all-sufficient and allgracious and appointed and only Saviour, for that mercy to pardon and that grace to help which he is so ready to bestow. Fear God; follow Christ; walk in the truth; and thus prove that you are Christians indeed. Use your authority with your children and servants, and your influence with your acquaintance and friends. Warn them against these dangerous amusements, as you have opportunity. But whatever others may do, make it plain that your determination is taken,--that your choice is made,—that you and your house will serve the Lord.
The Bible is the Book of God, and therefore the Book of unerring truth. It cannot misre. present either in falsehood or in flattery. It places every thing in its just light, and calls every thing by its right name. Here we shall find the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. On the contrary, the heart of man is both deceived and deceiving. Out of it proceed a perverted judgment and lying lips; and hence arise the ungodliness,—the falsehood, and the flattery of the world.
Now, my dear Brethren, things standing thus; the Bible being written in all the simplicity and sincerity of truth, and the world being full of error and deceit;--it must be expected that when the practices of the world and the precepts of the Bible are brought into comparison, there will be found, not variance merely, but absolute incompatibility, and direct opposition. If we have never made the comparison, we must be prepared for some surprising discoveries of the utter contrariety between the world and the Bible ; nor should we think it strange if it should turn out upon examination, that many of the things which we ourselves have tolerated, or approved, or practised, or perhaps highly esteemed, are, after all, abominations in the sight of God.
Now, my dear Brethren, while we are considering this declaration of the wise King of Israel, "Fools make a mock at sin;"'-if it shall be found to be contrary to any of your opinions, or to condemn any of your practices, or to disturb you in any of your pleasures;--then, bear in mind that the text is not the less likely to be true on these accounts ;—that all this is what might naturally be expected ;--that the human heart is deceitful above all things, and is continually leading us astray both in our opinions and practices ;--and that the judgment of God is, and must be in all cases, according to truth.
In considering this subject, let us inquire, first; what is meant by “sin;" secondly-what it is “to make a mock at sin;" thirdly—why those persons are said to be "Fools” who do this. Having thus considered the several parts of the text, let us then apply it to the subject of Theatrical Representations and Amusements; and may God, the Holy Spirit, carry conviction to your hearts.