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be called in question. St. Paul's strong expression, “ She that liveth in pleasure is dead

while she liveth',” will not appear overcharged, if we consider the effect of a life devoted to self-indulgence. The victim of such delusion, while in his own estimation he is enjoying life in its fullest extent, becomes utterly insensible to his concerns as a being destined to live through all eternity. He forgets that “this corruptible must put on “ incorruption, and this mortal must put on “ immortality •.” He lives only as a creature of the moment, born yesterday, and to-morrow to return to his kindred earth, there to be forgotten like the beasts that perish. Whoever reflects upon this tendency of the unbounded pursuit of pleasure to disqualify us for the great work we have to do preparatory to our departure for that state in which we are to live for ever, will see the necessity of regarding this subject, not merely as theorists, speculatively determining how far we may lawfully indulge this or that inclination, or to what possible extent we may gratify it with impunity; but practically, as frail and fallible creatures, beset with temptations and prone to yield to them ; whose duty, therefore, it is to habituate ourselves to forbearance and re

11 Tim. v. 6.

s 1 Cor. xv. 53.

straint even in our most harmless enjoyments. For, not only “ happy is he who condemneth

not himself in that thing which he allow

eth,” but “ happy” also “is the man that “ feareth alwayt;"—happy is he who would rather forego any portion of lawful gratification, than put his conscience to hazard by approaching the utmost boundary of what he deems to be his Christian liberty.

Upon maxims and rules of conduct so indisputable as these it might be thought superfluous to dilate, did we not daily witness the deplorable consequences resulting from their neglect. Even as to the kind of gratifications generally deemed admissible in society, how many absolutely sinful and prohibited pursuits are allowed and encouraged under the denomination of pleasure !

How many offences against God and man, how many direct or indirect violations of both tables of the Law are undisguisedly practised in the career of miscalled gayety! The open profanation of God's name and of his sabbath, the shedding of man's blood as a sacrifice to arbitrary notions of honour, the breach of the marriage vow, the exercise of subtle ingenuity in circumventing others, and the most malignant endeavours to despoil them of their

i Prov. xxviii. 14.

reputation ;-how many of these, comprising violations of no less than six out of the ten commandments, are admitted daily and hourly into circles of pastime and amusement, as if conventionally agreed upon among the declared votaries of pleasure, to pass current without restraint or reprehension! Thus under the very name of pleasure may sin destroy her thousands and her ten thousands, who see not the net that is spread for them, until so far entangled as to be unable to escape.

Among those also who may be more vigilant, or more scrupulous, as to the kind of pleasure they admit, how rare is the prudence that errs not in excess! When the pleasure harmless in itself, and intended to promote health and cheerfulness, refreshment and ease, benevolence and mutual affection, becomes the occasion of anxiety and bodily indisposition, of fatigue and irritation, of dissatisfaction and discord ;—when it interferes with the discharge of important duties, public or private ;—when, above all, it precludes due attention to the great work of spiritual improvement;—then may it truly be said, that “ the thing which should have been for our 6 wealth becomes the occasion of falling"." Then is verified the prophet's denunciation,

v Psalm lxix. 23.

66

“ Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and

light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, “ and sweet for bitterW.” Then pleasure itself is turned to sin; and the abuse of that liberty and of those gifts which God hath bestowed upon us for our solace and support, is rendered instrumental to our severest punishment.

But how shall the simple and well-intentioned guard themselves in these respects ?By a criterion which even the most simple may apprehend, and which the well-intentioned cannot but acknowledge to give all the latitude which Christian liberty will sanction. Honestly and carefully let us examine what influence the love and the fear of God really have upon our minds. If such be the continual occupation and the restless agitation in which the pursuit of pleasure engages us, as to preclude either time or inclination for reflecting on those momentous truths which never can be matters of indifference to a sincere Christian, nor ever entirely absent from his thoughts; we may be assured that whatever we profess, or however innocently we may imagine ourselves to be employed, we are as yet “ far from the kingdom of God.”

w Isaiah v. 20.

Still further are we from it, if we delight in gratifications which, either expressly, or by necessary inference, are prohibited in the word of God. Every such indulgence renders us chargeable with positive sin ; and though the world may scoff at our apprehensions, or endeavour to delude us by its countenance and encouragement, yet let us remember that the world can neither do away the offence nor avert its punishment. If, on the other hand, in our intercourse with society, and in our participation of its various modes and customs, its diversity of recreations and lighter pursuits, calculated rather to enliven and embellish social life than to render it substantially beneficial and improving, we so far keep clear of its corruptions as not to conform to any maxims or practices in opposition to the known rule of Christian conduct ;—if we allow no pleasure by that rule forbidden, nor suffer pleasure of any kind, forbidden or not forbidden, to get the ascendency over us ;then need we not disquiet ourselves with distressing and painful scruples; with fears grounded on our falling short of unattainable perfection; or with vain and presumptuous attempts to render ourselves more acceptable to God, by habits incompatible with our condition as men. Thus, under the control of

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