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He exults to see God dishonoured, his holy name profaned,,his truth ridiculed and degraded, -his faithful servants held up to scorn and contempt;--to see vice and debauchery embodied in characters so interesting, and combined with qualities so fascinating, that they insensibly beguile the understanding, and gain the heart.-Here he witnesses his various agents employed ;-breaking down the barriers of youthful modesty, and tenderness of conscience;—perverting the principles, and kindling the passions ;--strengthening the influence of the world and the flesh;-corrupting the chaste mind, and inflaming the wanton; and when the exhibition is over,—then, the profligate and the prostitute are ready to avail themselves of the favourable occasion, which the scenes and the sentiments of this school of impurity and vice are too well calculated to afford them.
Here Satan stands upon his own ground, with every thing to aid him. He secures the commission of much actual sin, and lays the deep foundations for much future sin. Oh! could the veil which conceals invisible beings from mortal sense be withdrawn ;-could the bodily eye be strengthened to perceive “spiritual wickedness ;" —what a scene would present itself to a Theatrical audience !-Here they would behold those infernal beings, who are maliciously bent upon bringing men to destruction, ruling and rejoicing ;-trying
their “wiles," and triumphing in their success. Here would they behold their spiritual and deadly foes,-employing the fascination of the Theatre, just as the enemies of Samson employed the blandishments of Delilah, to rob him of his power of resistance, in order that they might then come upon him with surer and more fatal effect; and never were “wiles” more craftily imagined, or more skilfully adapted to their pernicious purpose.
And now, does not the consideration of the power, and craftiness, and malice of this invisible enemy, set in a clear and striking point of view the duty, and wisdom, and absolute necessity of at once and entirely renouncing the Theatre ? Here you give Satan his greatest advantage.Here you afford him one of the most favourable opportunities which he can desire, of enticing and ensnaring you.—You venture boldly upon his own ground;—into the place where his agents his servants-his subjects love to meet; and, as it were, you tempt him to tempt you. You may plead that you have been hitherto uninjured.Admitting that you may have escaped those more dangerous snares into which others have fallen just as when a pestilence has been raging, -many as máy have been its victims-numbers have nevertheless survived ;—yet, would any reasonable being argue his future security from his past escape? Must it not be infatuation and madness
so to presume upon his preservation, as wantonly and for mere sport to expose himself within the certain limits of infection ? Equally infatuated must he be, who can venture into a Theatre, feeling it to be dangerous ground,-but confiding in his former safety.
But let us now proceed to consider, in the second place, our armour; our means of defence and resistance. “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.”' Formidable as our enemies are, we may have one with us greater than all that are against us. Though in ourselves utterly unequal to the conflict, there is a strength in which we may stand;
- there is a power by which we may prevail. And to this end we have this further direction ; “ Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the Devil."
Now, my dear Brethren, as the consideration of our spiritual enemies strongly enforces the necessity of an entire renunciation of the Theatre; so, I think, the consideration of the means of our protection will further show, that the very attempt to put on the Christian armour, plainly implies the renunciation of the Theatre. As every one who rightly reflects upon his danger, will dread the Theatre ; so every one who rightly attempts to stand upon his defence, will, by inevitable consequence, avoid and forsake the Theatre.
Let us take a brief survey of the means of our defence.
The whole exhortation connected with the text is figurative; and the figure is taken from military affairs. Following his metaphor, St. Paul enu. merates the several parts of the offensive and defensive armour, worn by those Grecian and Roman troops who had to sustain the fiercest attacks, and applies them to the means by which the Christian must fortify himself against the assaults of his enemies, and come off victorious in the conflict. “Stand, therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness.” “Truth," that is, conscious integrity; “righteousness,"—that is, a universal regard to the will of God; these are to the Christian, what the military belt and breastplate were to the soldier; they strengthen him for the combat, and defend him in the assault. Whoever would be strong and vigorous for the day of conflict, and be habitually secure against fatal wounds,-must be a true man, and a conscientious man. He must be able to say with the Apostle, “For our rejoicing is this, the testimony of our conscience, that in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom but by the
grace of God we have our conversation in the world;"—this is to be “girt about with truth.” And he must be able to say also, “Herein do I exercise myself to have always a conscience void of offence toward God and toward men ;"—this is to “have on the breastplate of righteousness."
“And your feet shod with the preparation of the Gospel of Peace.” The Roman soldier would sometimes have to struggle with his foe, in situations where it would be difficult to keep firm footing. On this account, his Caliga, or military shoe, was shod with nails, or set with short spikes. Just such a firm footing against his spiritual enemy does the Christian gain, by having his mind prepared with clear and satisfactory views of the Gospel of Peace. On his first believing, he sees enough of the way of reconciliation with God, through the death and righteousness of the Redeemer, to rest his trembling hope upon it. His knowledge, however, being indistincthis confidence is easily shaken; but as he attains to a more comprehensive and complete acquaintance with the fulness and freeness of the blessings of the Gospel; and to a more fully assured understanding of what Christ has done for his people, and the abundant provision which the Gospel makes for the final salvation of the true believer; -his footing is more firm, and he is better prepared to resist the assaults of the enemy.
Above all, taking the shield of Faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.”—Especially must the Christian soldier possess that powerful principle which is “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen ;''--that unshaken dependence upon the divine veracity, which realizes the de