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that what was prohibited in one place, out of regard to a decent observance of that solemnity and gravity which our Church more than ordinarily now calls upon her devout members to exhibit, should in another be permitted : as if the cause of such attention to the season did not extend to all places alike; and as if what was thought expedient and necessary for some, might readily be dispensed with in others. The impropriety of the thing was no sooner pointed out, than the attempt was frustrated; and that laudable regulation of not suffering theatrical entertainments to be exhibited in the metropolis during the Passion-Week, was adverted to in the prohibition of every publick amusement here.
By some perhaps this may not be thought a proper subject of animadversion from the pulpit. To me it appears otherwise ; for whatever tends to infringe the solemnity of any particular occurrence in the important scheme of man's redemption; and to draw off the attention, which it very reasonably demands of those who are most deeply interested in it; and to fix their minds on objects of pleasurable amusement, no otherwise deserving the regard of Christians, than as at seasonable opportunities they may minister to innocent recreation; I say, whatever has a tendency of this kind, it requires the watchful minister of God's word, and every careful observer of times and seasons, to counteract by more than ordinary zeal, and to repel the ill effects of it by mild reproof and prudent admonition.
The Week which we have this day* commenced, has of all others been more particularly attended to in the appointment of devotional service for every day of it: it was by the Primitive Christians called the Holy Week; and that it is so considered by our Church, the several portions of Scripture which are selected for the devout and daily meditations of her members, abundantly show. And that these meditations may be continued, not only publickly but privately, a prudent relaxation of worldly business, as well as a total suspension of all public pleasures has been considered as expedient, if not necessary; that the mind may have an opportunity of furnishing itself with such pious reflections, as are suitable to the momentous transactions which occurred in that Great Week, and to the importa ance of the event, which ushered in the following
But if, instead of this temporary intermission of the cares of worldly business; if, instead of this prudent abstinence from innocent pleasures, the mind be, as much as at other seasons, absorbed in its attention to the former, and will employ the intervals which may be permitted to it, in attaching itself to, and partaking of, pleasurable amusements with an avidity, as great as at other seasons; what room can be found for a devout contemplation of the inestimable blessings which the death of Christ has ensured to us, and for the necessary exercise of that penitential sorrow and humiliation for the sins, which demanded of him so painful and ignominious a death ? ' “ The Church of England,” says the pious author of "A Companion for Festivals and Fasts*," " has made ample provision to exercise the devotion of her members, by calling them every day to meditate on our Lord's sufferings, having collected in her offices most of those portions of scripture that relate to this tragical subject; increasing their humiliation by the consideration of our Saviour's ; that with penitent hearts and firm resolutions of dying likewise unto sin, we may attend our Saviour through the several stages of his bitter Passion."
But although the Church has made this careful provision for the devotion of her members, yet it may be said, (and particularly so by those, whose daily labour will with difficulty enable them to procure a maintenance for themselves and their families) that the necessary attention to the business of their callings absolutely prevents them from joining in that daily service of the week, which seems so expedient for others, whose time is more at their own command. Nor after the labour of the day is over, can they of themselves sit down for private meditation, unless they have some kind instructor at hand to rouse and keep awake their drowsy faculties, by urging on their attention what otherwise they could not ponder in their minds, and impress on their hearts.
On the other hand, those who have the entire disposal of their own time, and have little or no occasion to employ it in. the acquirement of wealth, of which Providence has already blessed them with an ample share; and may I not add also those of the middling class of people, some of whose time perhaps is more at their own command than that of others ?
much may say, we are fully persuaded of the vast importance of the transactions of this Holy Week, and accordingly set apart some of our time for meditations thereon, both publickly, in conformity to the design of our Church; and privately, because we feel in ourselves that it is our duty so to do: but why should we be debarred of every innocent amusement ? why should our evenings be spent in solitary retirement ? and why should no publick entertainment be permitted, that we may pass away some of our time in harmless gratification ?
In answer to this, I will not argue on the innocence or sinfulness of such gratifications: I will even suppose them to be indifferent: but let it be remembered, that whatever may in some cases be lawful, is riot at all times expedient* : and that such amusements are not at this season expedient, will (I apprehend) appear to him, who shall consider the reasonableness of at least a temporary suspension of them. For when we reflect in what manner our Lord and Saviour passed this week, what he underwent for our sakes, the many insults and injuries which he Buffered, his bitter agony in the garden