« FöregåendeFortsätt »
character, which is formed in the true servant of God by his Holy Spirit, is in every case entire ; it has no part wanting, though every part will fall very far short of the perfection to which it finally will attain. In our text we have only a few particulars respecting the “blessed man.” Nothing is said of his repentance, or of the renewal of his heart, or of his faith in God's promised mercy, or of his dependence on divine aid. All this however is necessarily understood in the description of the character. Without this the character described could neither be attained nor preserved. It is only when the wicked man has forsaken his way and returned unto the Lord;or to speak in language suited to our dispensation, -it is only when the sinner has been convinced of his guilt and danger, by the effectual teaching of the Holy Spirit; and his heart has been disposed to the attainment of everlasting life; and he has been enabled to turn to an all-sufficient Saviour, and to put his whole trust in him; and God has written his law within him, and imparted to his soul a temper and tendency corresponding and concurring with his holy will and word; and has put his Spirit within him, and caused him to walk in his statutes :—it is only then that the description of the blessed man, as given in the text, can be exemplified. So that, although the passage before us does not furnish a complete character ; yet these parts of it are such as can only be found in persons to whom the entire character
belongs. And the particulars here enumerated, will be sufficient to answer our present purpose; and to show you, that if you would be “ blessed," the Theatre is just the place which you should most carefully and conscientiously avoid.
“ Blessed is the man that hath not walked in the counsel of the ungodly.”
By the “ counsel of the ungodly," we are to understand, the advice of those who know not God, and who fear not God:—who do not take their principles and maxims from the Scriptures of truth; but who adopt and follow the counsels of their own evil hearts, and the maxims of a wicked and ungodly world. “ The counsel of the ungodly” is such as is contrary to the Bible ;such as tends to encourage rather than to mortify the sinful propensities of our nature; and which leads to those things which, however excused or esteemed among men, are abomination in the sight of God.
Now, my dear Brethren, it is too notorious to be doubted or denied, except by those who are too ignorant to be adequate judges, or too interested to acknowledge the truth, that in our Dramas, and especially in those which are most popular and most frequently represented, the sentiments which are inculcated, and the maxims which are taught, both by precept and example, are in direct opposition to the principles of God's Holy Word; so that, a character formed
upon the principles of the Stage, and a conduct regulated by the practices there recommended, would be just the character and conduct condemned in the Bible, and against which we are perpetually cautioned and warned. Such a man would be a friend of the world ; -would be a lover of pleasure more than a lover of God;—he would mind earthly things ;—he would think lightly of sin ;-he would follow a multitude to do evil; he would be quick to resent an insult or injury; he would regard the pursuit of worldly honour and distinction a noble ambition ;-he would love only the house of mirth ;- he would seek eagerly after the possession and enjoyment of this world's good ;—he would be earthly and sensual ;-he would forget God, neglect the salvation of his soul, and go gaily down the broad road, till his short course of vain delights should close in eternal darkness, despair, and death. This is the counsel taught on the Stage. This is “the counsel of the ungodly.” If you would be “blessed," this counsel you must forsake and avoid; you must adopt the determination of Job, “the counsel of the wicked is far from me."
Again, “Blessed is the man that standeth not in the way of sinners.” By the “way of sinners," we may understand the haunts and the habits of wicked men ;—the places where they love to meet, and the practices in which they are sure to be found. To stand in the way of sinners, is to enter into
their path ;-to frequent their known and favourite places of concourse ;-it is voluntarily to assemble and associate yourselves with them ;-to love to go where they love to go ;-to unite yourselves to their company, and to have fellowship with their wickedness. This part of my text is more fully expressed by the wise man, when he says, “Enter not into the path of the wicked, and go not into the way of evil men. Avoid it, pass not by it, turn from it, and pass away.”
Now, my dear Brethren, the Theatre has ever been the chief and chosen resort of the profligate and abandoned of both sexes. Here will be sure to be gathered together persons of infamous character and vicious life. Here they find congenial evil. Here they meet with their proper gratification. Here are rioting, and revelling, and drunkenness, and wantonness, and almost every work of wickedness, and every species of corrupt communication. The Theatre, therefore, will ever have a powerful attraction for the profligate and the vile; such persons will be amongst the most constant frequenters of a place of entertainment, so congenial with their habits, so suited to their depraved taste. If, then, you would be “blessed," the case is clear, the Theatre is forbidden ground to you; this is a place from which you must altogether separate yourselves ; it is the haunt of the wicked-it is “the way of sinners." There the society abounds which you must carefully shun.
Ah, my dear Brethren, how little do the more moral and respectable class of attendants on these amusements,-the purer part of a Theatrical audience, who sanction by their presence so much evil, for the sake of the intellectual enjoyment which the Theatre affords ;-how little do such persons consider, when the profane are cursing and swearing in their presence; and the drunkards and the lewd are rioting around them; that, without repentance, and pardon, and a thorough conversion of the heart; unless they become new creatures, and are sanctified by the faith which is in Christ Jesus ;-their own souls must at last be gathered with such sinners as these ;—that they must spend eternity in such society ;-that these vile and revolting characters must be their associates in that final receptacle of sin and uncleanness-that place of torment, where mere outward decency, mere human virtue, the refinements and embellishments of society, will form no available distinction ;-but where the wicked, and all the people that forget God, and obey not the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ, must meet together ; however wide the places which they might have respectively occupied in the scale of worldly morality and estimation. “The transgressors shall be destroyed together.” “My son, if sinners entice thee, consent thou not ; walk not thou in the way with them ; refrain thy foot from their path.”