Obrazy na stronie






The Lawfulness of the Stage considered.

I. Cor. X. 31.



St. Paul, the Apostle of the Gentiles, in the

course of his ministry and travels, had planted a church at Corinth, a maritime city of great riches; and, as riches, without a very deep sense of the fear of God, inevitably lead to luxury and vice, the city of Corinth was infamous to a proverb.

About three years after St. Paul left Corinth, some important questions were proposed to him by his converts in that place, and he wrote an Epistle in reply, in order to correct several abuses which had prevailed. Amongst other things, it had been asked, how far it was lawful for christians to partake of “ things sacrificed to idols.” (viii, 1–4.) The Apostle, on this


subject, reminds them, that, although all christians might be supposed to “know, that an idol is nothing,” yet it might prove a matter of offence to weak brethren, should they partake of these sacrifices in their temples; which, on that account, he would have them avoid; and he lays down some rules (ch. x. 19, &c.) as to the particular cases, in which things sacrificed to idols might, or might not, be lawfully caten; concluding with this great and general direction, “ whether ye eat or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God;" a direction equally binding upon all christians to the end of time.

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By persons of a worldly and merely sensual disposition, it will no doubt be asked, how the common actions of eating and drinking, and various others, which, in them, are unconnected with any ideas of piety, can possibly tend to promote “the glory of God:” and he who makes use of the expression, will, no doubt, be condemned as an enthusiast, and as making use of a cant language, to which no definite ideas can be annexed. To these it

To these it may be replied, that, although this language may have been abused by enthusiasts, yet it is not therefore to be rejected by those, whose piety is sober and sincere. No: it is scripture-language, and scripture-doctrine, and bound to make it the rule of our practice; and,



though hypocrites and enthusiasts should continue to abuse the language of scripture, yet must the truly pious still make the scriptures the source of their ideas, and the rule of their language and their actions :

Tho'all things foul would wear the brows of grace, ,
Yet grace must still look so:*

and it will not require many words to make it appear, that, if we take our food and drink, as the gifts of an all-gracious and all-bountiful God, with a view to keep our bodies and minds in that state of health and vigour, which shall best enable us to discharge our respective duties in this world, returning hearty thanks for his favours, and begging his blessing upon them to that end, the “glory of God” is effectually promoted.

Thus, likewise, in the article of dress, if it be used for the purposes of decent covering, of defence from the cold and from the heat,-if we do not, in superfluous ornaments, waste that, which might have been spared for those who have no garment to cover them,—and if we do not suffer it to administer to vanity, we may discharge this seemingly trifling act in such a manner as to promote “ the glory of God.”

* Macbeth,' Act iv. scene 3.

Again, in the amusements of life, if there be nothing in them derogatory to the honour of God, nothing contrary to the duties we owe to mankind, and to the duties we owe to the ani. mals placed under our care for our use,ếif they be not of too expensive a nature, nor occupy too much of our time, but be merely taken as a relaxation from labour, to enable both the body and the mind to return to their duties with renewed vigour,--and, lastly, if they can be made subservient to assist us in moral and religious improvement, then may they be said to administer “to the glory of God.”

There is one amusement, which hath been very prevalent in the world, particularly in civilized countries, for many


years, and which hath been the cause of much difference of opinion as to its uses and lawfulness. · While that, and the place wherein it is performed, have been called by some,-“ A School of Virtue,"-"A warm incentive to virtue, and powerful preservative against vice,”—and “ . a perpetual source of the most noble and useful entertainment;"_by others it hath been branded as " the School of Impiety,”—“the porch of hell,"_" the house of the devil,"--and the sink of corruption and debauchery.”* My hearers

* Prologue to the Tragedy of King Charles the 1st.--Biographia Dramatica, vol. 1. p. vii.--Styles on the Stage, p. 19, quotation.Spectator, No. 93.-Witherspoon on the Stage, p. 105.-Law on do. p.383, 384. See Note A at the end

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