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exhaustible theme of contemplation; the work of Redemption, an unfailing souree of the finest feelings of gratitude: the past, the present, and the future, unite in filling up the full measure of happiness, that constitutes a foretaste of the joys of heaven. While the Power and Presence of the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, are felt and enjoyed, "the past will bring to their gladdened remembrance, the mercies and deliverances of the Lord; and the future will open to them the próspect, and satisfy them with the assurance, of being His for ever." London Epistle.
Well might the King of Israel, who knew the extent of sensual enjoyments, prefer to be a door-keeper in the house of his God, rather than to dwell in the tents of wickedness--concluding that a day in his courts was better than a thousand employed in the fading or sinful pleasures of time. Psa. Ixxxiv. 10. Those good works which proceed from this source may also be mentioned, as affording a pure and dignified enjoyment. To relieve the distresses of our fellow-creatures by acts of benevolence, and to fill up our various duties in life with propriety, will, without creating an improper dependence on works, secure to the mind a source of recollections, in comparison with which the fashionable amusements of the world sink into insignificance.
Such is the Christian's experience. Such his sublime enjoyment. He is preserved in that evenness of temper which renders his ordinary duties and avocations pleasing. It gives the ties of nature and of friendship their due strength, and sweetens all its domestic enjoyments. Preserved from the torment of unreal wants, by a proper estimate of things-and from fearful anticipations of the future, by an humble trust in the protecting care of a beneficent Providence he can enjoy the present good, and cheerfully anticipate the future. Even his afflictions are sweetened by resignation, and the con fidence “that all things work together for good.” Rom. viii. 28. Where then are the hours that are to hang heavily on the minds of true Christians! Where that melancholy that must be dispelled by mixing in the follies and vices of the thoughtless or the licentious! It is all delusion. The Recreations of the Christian are of a different kind. They are found in the subjugation of those passions and propensities that bind the soul to earth and in the renewed prevalence of the Divine Influence.
The Reading of Novels is subject to many of the objections which are advanced against the exhibitions of the theatre; and perhaps to some which do not apply to the latter amusements. Very many of them have a highly immoral tendency. And this objection is increased by the consideration of the specious and fasci. nating covering with which that tendency is concealed By this means, the young, the ardent, and those who possess a large portion of sensibility, drink deep of the moral poison, while they perhaps think they are only indulging the laudable, and even amiable feelings, with which they are endued.
Love is a prevailing theme with novel writers, and is equally so with novel readers. In heightening the incidents of the story, in order to produce that excitement of the passions without which the novel would be considered insipid, it frequently happens, that the most important principles of morality, and rules of social
order, are represented as cruel abridgments of human happiness; and too often the abhorrence of vice is lost in the sympathy excited for the vicious.
Those who have indulged largely in this kind of reading, well know that they have been enslaved by it. They know that, after having feasted on the high seasoned tales of fancy, they have very little relish for the plain, simple doctrines of Christianity, or even the sober duties of life. They know that the passions are inflamed, the restraints of religion rendered more irksome, and that the enjoyments of practical piety become less desired. Even parental tenderness and care are represented as intrusions of cruelty and power.
Were we to consider the subject with reference to economy alone, there would be sufficient grounds to abandon this species of reading. The term economy
apply to time and feeling, as well as to the expence that is thus wasted. There is no individual that acquires a strong relish for novels, who does not suffer it to occupy time that is demanded by important concerns. And as to feelings, even in those cases in which the principles of morality are not concerned, where the passions excited are considered of the amiable kind, I consider there is a very improper waste of such feelings. Those feelings, so far as they are valuable, were given us for
praca tical purposes, to be directed to real objects, and not expended on objects which have no existence but in imagination. We may be as prodigal of sympathy as of money, direct it to quite as improper objects, and render ourselves as destitute of the one as of the other, when real objects are presented to us. Thus it has been observed, that the sentimental novel reader would rise with
tears from the perusal of her favourite tale, and spurn the beggar from her door.
Considering our duties as rational and accountable creatures—the important purposes which we have to accomplish, during the short period of human life; it is a deeply interesting enquiry, how our time should be applied. When we contemplate the feelings which arise in the moments of levity and forgetfulness of God that they are inevitably succeeded by conflict and suffering, how can we coolly place ourselves within the sphere of their influence? It is one of the
solemn reflections, suggested by Divine Revelation, “that every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give an account thereof in the day of judgment.” Matt. xii. 36. The amusements of the vain, and the gratifications of the licentious, though fleeting in themselves, are yet to arise in judgment, when every one must give an account to the Author of his existence, of the application of the time and talents with which he has been entrusted.
“Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be, in all holy conversation and godliness ; looking for, and hasting unto, the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens, being on fire, shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat !" “Nevertheless," said the same apostle, “we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness. Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent, that ye may be found of Him in peace, without spot, and blameless.” 2 Pet. iii. 11-14.
The Gospel Dispensation, we think, superseded the use of Oaths. The clear and unequivocal precepts of our Lord, we believe, are binding upon Christians: “ Ye have heard that it hath been said by them of old time, Thou shalt not forswear thyself, but shalt perform unto the Lord thine oaths. But I
say unto you,
SWEAR NOT AT ALL: neither by heaven, for it is God's throne; nor by the earth, for it is His footstool ; neither by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King: neither shalt thou swear by thy head, because thou canst not make one hair white or black : but let your communication be, yea, yea; nay, nay; for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil.” Matt. v. 33–37.
The apostle James adverts to the same thing, in the impressive language; “ But above all things, my brethren, swear not, neither by heaven, neither by the earth, neither by any other oath : but let your yea be yea, and your nay, nay; lest ye fall into condemnation.” James v. 12. It is strange indeed that precepts so positive and clear, should be construed away to mean any thing that professors please.
The construction, by which it is attempted to destroy the obligation of these precepts, is too bold and too