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will be felt to be a rule which needs to be put in practice, more than to be defended by argument.
Let us then, my dear Brethren, follow this advice. Be not led away by the example of the multitude. Suffer not yourselves to be carried down the stream of custom. Never consider it a sufficient ground of compliance or conformity with any proposal or practice, because it is common or fashionable. Yield not yourselves to human influence or authority.-Do not commit the keeping of your consciences to others.—Break such an unworthy bondage.-Think for yourselves.--Act ac
cording to your professed principles.—Steer your course by the straight and safe rule of God's will and commandments, and do not suffer the evershifting maxims and customs of a vain world to draw you aside like thwarting currents, or to drive you devious like adverse blasts, till you resemble
, a ship on the wide ocean, which, having neither rudder nor pilot, is the sport of every wind and wave,
There are multitudes of professing Christians who dread self-examination. They are not without their suspicions that the things in which they allow themselves will not bear the scrutiny of God's judgment; but they are not prepared to make the sacrifices which a serious and strict inquiry might discover to be necessary; and they prefer disturbing doubts to a more distressing certainty. This state of ignorance and indecision, however, is as unsafe as it is unwise.
hope better things of you, my dear Brethren. I trust I am addressing those who sin cerely desire to do the thing which is right;who are not determined with desperate infatuation to screen themselves under the concealment of wilful ignorance ;---who are not so besotted as to shut their eyes, and then say, I cannot see ; but who are willing to prove all things;” and to have their pursuits, and practices, and pleasures all brought to the touchstone, and tried. And if any of these will not bear the examination, and stand the test, then, I trust, my dear Brethren, you are prepared to go the whole length of the Apostle's exhortation; “hold fast that which is good-abstain from all appearance of evil."
Now, it is my intention, this morning, to apply the touchstone of truth to an Amusement which has the sanction of the world, but which I con. ceive to be, in its present state, totally irreconcileable with the acknowledged principles of a Christian. I mean the Amusements of the Theatre.
The Christian minister is set as a watchman, and if he perceive danger approaching, of whatever kind - from whatever quarter- or under whatever disguise, he has no option-necessity is laid upon him-it is at his peril if he neglect to give his people warning. I could not, then, see the re-opening of your Theatre announced, without bringing the subject before you; and in
this case, as well as in every other, I would apply the Apostle's rule, “ Prove all things.”'
Let us, then, bring this Amusement to the test. Let us try it by some of those great and leading principles which you all profess.
I will assume as granted, that there is a God; —that the soul is immortal, and will live for ever either in happiness or misery, according to the state in which it shall be found at death ;-and that the Bible has been given by divine inspiration, and is of divine authority.
Now, if you admit the truth of these principles, you must, of necessity, admit the obligation of the duties which are involved in them. If there be a God who is the moral governor of the world, then it must be obligatory upon all his rational creatures to honour and obey him. If the future condition of the immortal soul be fixed irreversibly at death, then, to escape from hell, and to make sure an entrance into heaven, must be the main business of life;—and if the Bible be an authoritative revelation of God's will to man, then, to believe and obey the truth must be equally man's wisdom and man's duty. Whatever inferior ends or subordinate objects we may lawfully seek, yet, the service which we owe to God, the salvation of the soul, and the regulation of our faith and practice by the standard of the inspired volume, must be duties
supreme in importance, and which claim
our attention before all other considerations what
The truth of the principles and the obligation of the duties which I have now stated, will not, I think, be questioned by any of my hearers. Let us then bring them to bear upon the subject of our present inquiry. If the Amusements of the Theatre dishonour God, or tend to lower our reverence for his authority, and lessen our regard to his will;—if they are directly calculated to confirm and increase man's natural unconcern respecting the salvation of his soul ;--and if they weaken and counteract the influence of the Bible, and encourage opposite principles and a contrary practice;--if all this be the direct tendency and actual effect of Theatrical Amusements, then we must come to this conclusion—that they are an
evil,” which we are not to approach, or appear to sanction; and it will follow by necessary consequence, that no Christian, acting upon his
professed principles, can, and that no professed Christian who desires to act upon his principles, will attend them.
I bring the Theatre to the touchstone of these first principles of religion—the being of a Godthe unchanging existence of the soul in future woe or bliss—and the divine inspiration and authority of the Bible,-in order that you may see its contrariety to your plainest duties and obligations, although tried on no higher grounds than
those which almost every man, who makes any pretension to the name of Christian, will readily acknowledge and allow.
To honour the holy name of God, and to do all to the Glory of God, are duties which arise out of his very nature and perfections, and which are required of every being capable of rendering them, both by reason and religion. Whatever, therefore, has a tendency to diminish that reverence and godly fear with which we should habitually regard “the high and lofty one that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy;" every thing which familiarizes our ears to the profanation of that Name at which Hell trembles, and at which the hosts of Heaven bow with the profoundest adoration, while they cover their faces with their wings; every thing which thus dishonours God, must be rejected by every consistent Christian with unfeigned abhorrence.
Now, my dear Brethren, it is too notorious to require particular reference or proof, that, on the stage, the sacred names of God are introduced on the most trifling occasions-most irreverently used, as mere expletives to round a sentence, or as emphatic words to give it greater force. They are continually in the mouth of every profligate character which is exhibited, and are pronounced with the most unbecoming levity. And when the several names of God are introduced with an affectation of solemnity, in the