Obrazy na stronie

in the text should be exercised and exhibited. When love to God and love to our neighbour have a real and operative existence in the heart, no command of the divine Law will be wilfully transgressed ;--no duty, social or religious, willingly omitted. Our social and relative duties, -the laws of the second table,—whatever commandment there be;- are comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. Love worketh no ill to his neighbour; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.” Again, it is said “By love serve one another: for all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” On the other hand, without this principle of “love” or charity, all our doings are nothing worth, and whosoever liveth is counted dead before God. “ For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision; but faith that worketh by love.”

It will be allowed by all, then, that this "love" towards God and towards man is of the very highest importance. Without it there can be no true piety,—no acceptableness with God, - no hope of glory. The text presents to us no party question,-no point of doubtful disputation ;-but that which belongs to the very essence of Christianity ;-that which is inseparable from all right faith and worship;—that without which religion is vain, and faith is dead, and knowledge, and works, and zeal, all profit a man nothing.


Now, my dear Brethren, it will be my object, in this discourse, to bring the Amusements of the Theatre into comparison with these two great commandments of the Law; and to examine how far they are consistent or inconsistent with “ love,”—the first and essential principle of all religion and duty, which is necessarily required in every Christian man.

Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, --this is the first and great commandment.The expression is varied, in order to shew that our love to God must be ardent,-entire,-supreme; -that it should engage all the faculties of the soul ;-to the exclusion of all sinful affections, and to the subordination of all lawful attachments. God must occupy the throne of the heart, with the full and unfeigned consent of the understanding and the will. He must be chiefest in our esteem;—the object of our highest admiration, desire, and delight.

The love of God may be considered in two points of view, according to the principles from which it should proceed;—delight in his character, and gratitude for his blessings. We should love him on account of what he is in himself, and on account of what he has done for us.

We should love God, in the first place, for his own sake;—on account of the attributes and

perfections of his nature. Now, the most prominent part of the character of God is his holiness. This pervading attribute constitutes the splendour and brightness of all his perfections. God is glorious in holiness.The holiness of God is the light of Heaven. It is this part of the divine nature which irradiates the realms of bliss; and which gladdens and glorifies the hosts of the redeemed, who stand before the throne. Their Lord is their everlasting light, and their God their glory. It is this part of the divine character which, in an especial manner, calls forth the unceasing adorations of those exalted spirits, who are the immediate attendants upon Jehovah,-his ministers that do his pleasure. They cry one to another, and say, Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of Hosts. God is “of purer eyes than to behold evil-he cannot look upon iniquity.” Sin is the abominable thing which his soul hateth. Now, the man who loves God, loves him for the holiness of his nature. This perfection of the divine character is unspeakably glorious in his esteem. He regards it with unfeigned admiration and delight. With angels and arch-angels, and all the company of heaven, he magnifies God's glorious name; and evermore praises him and gives him thanks for his great glory. And the more he sees and understands of the purity of God, the more he adores him with consenting mind, and loves him with a fervent heart.

Now, my dear Brethren, place for a moment the Amusements of the Theatre in comparison with the purity and holiness of God. Think of the nature of most dramatic compositions ;--of the polluting language of the Stage, and of the manner in which it is uttered and received. Recollect the appendages of the play-house, and the scenes which are there witnessed, and the iniquity which there abounds; and then tell me,,How must these things be regarded by a man who admires and loves the spotless purity of the divine nature, and whose very soul is won and delighted by the glory of the divine holiness; and who can say to God in the sincerity of his soul, “Thy word is

very pure, therefore thy servant loveth it." And tell me, on the other hand,—How will the man who loves and frequents the Theatre, feel towards that Being who is a jealous God; who hateth all workers of iniquity; who admits into his presence nothing that defileth; but who will turn the wicked into hell. To delight in both is a manifest impossibility. If we love the one, we must hate the other;--if we hold to the one, we must despise the other.

The man who views with sincere delight the holiness of God, will naturally and necessarily desire to be conformed to his image. This is a part of the peculiar character of every true lover of God.

“Be ye holy, as God is holy” is at once his duty and his desire. Now, take a man who really desires and thirsts after holiness; who can be satisfied with nothing but the likeness of God;-who is longing and labouring to attain a nearer resemblance to the divine pattern, both from a sense of duty and with the desire of the heart. Place such a man amidst the dissipation, and the vanities, and the impurities of a play-house. How would his righteous soul be vexed in seeing and hearing! How would he be grieved at the ungodliness and sensuality, and sin which surround him! If he could delight in such scenes, how delusive and how absurd must be the pretence of loving God, and desiring to be like him. No, my dear Brethren, if we love God, we shall hate evil. We shall have pain and grief of heart enough from the wickedness which we are compelled to witness every day. We shall as soon think of going to a pest-house for health,-or to the rack for rest; as to a play-house for pleasure. If there be any congeniality between the character of God and the dispositions and desires of our souls; then, there can be no delight in the follies and filthiness of a Theatre. “What fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness; and what communion hath light with darkness ? — And what concord hath Christ with Belial?” No, we shall “come out from among them and be separate, and touch not the unclean thing.”

But there is another branch of the love of God. We should love him not only on account of what he is in himself; but also for the great benefits which he has bestowed upon us. There is the

« PoprzedniaDalej »