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tures ; and is scrupulously rigid in condemning diversions against which nothing is said in the New Testament. Each objector, however, is so far reasonable, as only to beg quarter for his own favourite diversion, and generously abandons the defence of those in which he himself has no particular pleasure.
But these objectors do not seem to understand the true genius of Christianity: they do not consider that it is the character of the Gospel to exhibit a scheme of principles, of which it is the tendency to infuse such a spirit of holiness as must be utterly incompatible, not only with customs decidedly vicious, but with the very spirit of worldly pleasure: they do not consider that Christianity is neither a table of ethics nor a system of opinions, nor a bundle of rods to punish, nor an exhibition of rewards to allure, nor a scheme of restraints to terrify, nor merely a code of laws to restrict; but it is a new principle infused into the heart by the Word and the Spirit of God; out of which principle.will inevitably grow right opinions, renewed affections, correct morals, pure desires, heavenly tempers, and holy habits, with an invariable desire of pleasing God, and a constant fear of offending him. A real Christian, whose heart is once thoroughly imbued with this principle, can no more return to the amusements of the world than a philosopher can be refreshed with the diversions of the vulgar, or a man be amused with the recreations of a child. The New Testament is not a mere statute-book : it is not a table, where every offence is detailed, and its corresponding penalty annexed : it is not so much a compilation as a spirit of laws: it does not so much prohibit every individual wrong practice, as suggest a temper, and implant a general principle with which every wrong practice is incompatible. It did not, for instance, so much attack the then reigning and corrupt fashions, which were probably like the fashions of other countries, temporary and local, as it struck at that worldliness, which is the root and stock from which all corrupt fashions proceed.
The prophet Isaiah, who addressed himself more particularly to the Israelitish women, inveighed not only against vanity, luxury, and immodesty, in general, but with great propriety censured even those precise instances of each to which the women of rank in the particular country he was addressing were especially addicted; nay, he enters into the minute detail * of their
very personal decorations, and brings specificcharges against several instances of their levity and extravagance of apparel; meaning, however, chiefly to censure the turn of character which these indicated. But the Gospel of Christ, which was to be addressed to all ages, stations, and countries, seldom contains any such detailed animadversions; for though many of the censurable modes which the prophet so severely reprobated continued probably to be still prevalent in Jerusalem in the days of our Saviour, yet how little would it have suited the universality of his mission to have confined his preaching to such local, limited, and fluctuating customs ! not but that there are many texts which actually do define the Christian conduct as well as temper, with sufficient particularity to serve as a condemnation of many practices which are pleaded for, and often to point pretty directly at them.
* Isaiah, chap. iii.
It would be well for those modish Christians who vindicate excessive vanity in dress, expense and decoration, on the principle of their being mere matters of indifference, and no where prohibited in the Gospel, to consider that such practices strongly mark the temper and spirit with which they are connected, and in that view are so little creditable to the Christian profession, as to furnish a just subject of suspicion against the piety of those who indulge in them.
Had Saint Peter, on that memorable day when he added three thousand converts to the Church by a single sermon, narrowed his subject to a remonstrance against this diversion, or that public place, or the other vain amusement, it might, indeed, have suited the case of some of the Jewish converts who were present; but such restrictions as might have been appropriate to them would probably not have applied to the cases of the Parthians and Medes, of which his audience was partly composed; or such as might have belonged to them would have been totally inapplicable to the Cretes and Arabians; or again, those which suited these would not have applied to the Elamites and Mesopotamians. By such partial and circumscribed addresses, his multifarious audience, composed of all nations and countries, would not have been, as we are told they were, “pricked to the heart.” But when he preached on the broad ground of general “repentance and remission of sins in the name of Jesus Christ,” it was no wonder that they all cried out, " What shall we do?” These collected foreigners, at their return home, must have found very different usages to be corrected in their different countries; of course a detailed restriction of the popular abuses at Jerusalem would have been of little use to strangers returning to their respective nations. The ardent apostle, therefore, acted more consistently in communicating to them the large and comprehensive spirit of the Gospel, which should at once involve all their scattered and separate duties, as well as reprove all their scattered and separate 'corruptions; for the whole always includes a part, and the greater involves the less. Christ and his disciples, instead of limiting their condemnation to the peculiar vanities reprehended by Isaiah, embraced the very soul and principle of them all, in such exhortations as the following:-“ Be ye not conformed to the world: “ If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him: 66 The fashion of this world passeth away." Our Lord and his apostles, whose future unselected audience was to be made up out of the various inhabitants of the whole world, attacked the evil heart, out of which
all those incidental, local, peculiar, and popular corruptions proceeded.
In the time of Christ and his immediate followers, the luxury and intemperance of the Romans had arisen to a pitch before unknown in the world; but as the same Gospel which its Divine Author and his disciples were then preaching to the hungry and necessitous, was afterwards to be preached to high and low, not excepting the Roman emperors themselves, the large precept, 65 Whether ye eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God," was likely to be of more general use than any separate exhortation to temperance, to thankfulness, to moderation as to quantity or expense; which last, indeed, must always be left in some degree to the judgment and circumstances of the individual.
When the apostle of the Gentiles visited the 66 saints of Cæsar's household," he could hardly fail to have heard, nor could he have heard without abhorrence, of some of the fashionable amusements in the court of Nero. He must have reflected with peculiar indignation on many things which were practised in the Circensian games, yet, instead of pruning this corrupt tree, and singling out even the inhuman gladiatorial sports for the object of his condemnation, he laid his axe to the root of all corruption, by preaching to them that Gospel of Christ of which “ he was not ashamed," and showing to them that believed, that “ it was the power of God and the wisdom of God.” Of this Gospel the great object was, to attack not one