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acted prayer and mock vow, the profaneness is only rendered the more impious and offensive, because more deliberately committed for the sake of stage-effect.
Now, can it be, that the man who sincerely and seriously believes that there is a God in heaven, who beholds what is done upon earth, who cannot be mocked, and who has said “Thou shalt not take the Name of the Lord thy God in vain ; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his Name in vain;"—can it be, that any man who receives this truth with influential faith, will be found a frequenter of the place where the divine name is habitually profaned ? No—it is a moral impossibility. Sooner far might a true loyalist who firmly and faithfully adheres to his king, and reverences his authority and obeys his laws, delight himself in sedition and treason ;-sooner far might the affectionate and dutiful son who loves and honours his parents, find entertainment in hearing his father insulted and his mother reviled. No—the profanation of the name of God would so vex the righteous soul of a true Christian, that he would need no other inducement to keep him back from unnecessarily exposing himself to the risk of listening to such impiety, than the pain and grief which it would occasion. And were there no other argument against the stage, this alone would bring conviction, and compel the consent both of his judgment and his feelings.
But further, if the soul be immortal, and will exist for evermore, in fulness of joy, or in unutterable woe, according as its condition shall be found when its brief period of probation is closed, then, unquestionably, the care and the salvation of this chief part of man must be the main business of his life. To live for eternity must be the highest wisdom of beings, to whom is proposed the aweful but the only alternative of a blissful or a miserable immortality.
But to live for eternity, and to make sure the salvation of the soul, is a work which calls for immediate care, and persevering watchfulness; “ Now is the accepted time—now is the day of salvation." Every moment is full of danger, in which we delay to flee for refuge, to lay hold of the hope set before us in Christ Jesus. To minds like ours, even the necessary business of life, and the requisite attention to present things, become snares, by insensibly obtaining an undue influence, and overcharging the heart.
Now, if this be the case, the man who is really caring for his soul, and working out his salvation with fear and trembling, will keep as far as he can from unnecessary temptations to vanity, and to forgetfulness of God and eternal things. He will not needlessly expose himself to scenes, the direct and inevitable effect of which will be to dissipate all his serious thoughts—to throw him off his guard—to encourage earthly-mindedness,—to put
snares in his way, and to call forth and strengthen those foolish and hurtful desires after the world, which drown men in destruction and perdition; which engross the heart, and cause death and destruction to come at unawares. dear Brethren, I make a confident appeal to all who have attended Theatrical Amusements, and ask, is not all this their direct tendency and actual effect?
Listen to the language and lessons of the stage—and whai are they? This life is all. Make the most of it while you may. Eat and drink, for to-morrow you die. The view of the mind is filled with this world. To attain to honour—to possess and enjoy earthly good—to succeed in some romantic scheme of pleasure and gay delight, is represented as that which deserves the attention, and will repay the pursuit. The present state is exhibited under false appearances. -The mind is turned to the attainment of imagi. nary happiness, and of impossible enjoyment. All is delusion: and the effect of such exhibitions, especially upon young and inexperienced minds, is to aid the dangerous arts of Satan, and to strengthen that fatal enchantment with which he blinds or beguiles the eyes of his victims, while he leads them on to remediless ruin.
The consideration of the worth of the soul, therefore, no less than a regard to the honour of God, will deter from these Amusements every one
who acts, or who wishes to act consistently with his acknowledged principles.
But further, if the Bible be the revelation of God's will to man, then it must be man's highest wisdom, as well as bounden duty, to hearken to his voice, and to receive and obey his word. And whoever might be sincerely desirous of following this good and right course,-should an Amuse: ment be proposed to him directly tending to counteract the spirit and tenour of what God had spoken, and to encourage opposite principles and a contrary practice, he would immediately reject and renounce the ensnaring evil.
Now, what is the great end and design for which the Bible has been given to us? Why, having converted the sinner from the error of his way-and brought him to repentance towards God, and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ,--then it teaches him to live answerably to his Christian calling, and according to his profession, following the example of his Saviour Christ, continually mortifying all evil and corrupt affections, and daily proceeding in all virtue and godliness of living
Now, if the stage be directly opposed to such a course ;-if it encourage what such a man is bound to subdue; and call forth and quicken into active exercise what he should habitually strive to extinguish and extirpate; -if it indispose him to duties and pursuits on which he should ever be
seriously intent; and chill and check all those things which should live and grow in him ;- then the case is clear-no man who has been admitted into the fellowship of Christ's religion, and who truly desires to eschew those things that are contrary to his profession, and follow all such things as are agreeable to the same, can or will consent to expose himself to an influence which is only calculated to deaden and destroy what he is striving to preserve and promote. Now, one of those parts of the Christian character which every professor of the religion of Christ should be, at all times, most anxious to maintain, is purity of mind. He should feel an unchaste thought to be loathsome as the "scall" and "scab” of the leprosy, and dread its pollution as an infecting touch. And it should be his continual care and endeavour, as much as in him lieth, to avoid every thing which tends to hinder him in the high and arduous work of “cleansing himself from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.”
Now, what must the Amusements of the stage be to such a man? Were he compelled to witness them, it would be constant pain and grief to him. In most plays, if gross and open immodesty be suppressed, yet, the language is so artfully contrived, as to be sufficiently intelligible to pollute the imagination, and excite improper ideas without producing disgust in the mind. This measured style is peculiarly mischievous, as it is frequently tolerated