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heights of a worldly scale, must perish even as we take the toy of fame from its pinnacle. “ The prince of the power of the air,” suspends his prizes for our exertions, but he cannot preserve them from universal tarnish : and we may implicitly rely, that every success which is transmitted through the world for our acceptance, will be tinged with that mildew of delusion which gradually effaces its value. ,
If the understanding secures no imperishable treasure, we need not descend from this elevation of research, to seek for lasting enjoyment in the spangled frivolities of society; the most youthful votary of pleasure will acknowledge, that its scenes though transitory are seldom serene, for the hour of mirth and admiration is also the hour of envy and anxiety ; while the aged idler might recount over her cards those nightly vexations of temper, and weariness of spirits,, which would render the narrative of time past without praise, and the expectancy of time to come without utility..
In the diffusive circles of a general introduction, I had selected these “ Outlines of Truth,” and their influence over my estimate of human life as exhibited in restless dissipation, so far
tutored my judgment, that in packing my portefeiulle for its country destination, I threw a whole alphabet of visiting cards behind the fire, with their accompaniment of invitation tickets, convinced that such trifling mementos of existence would be a disgraceful comment upon that admonitory charge “ occupy till I come.”
We make use of the phrase common mercies, when we talk of health, means of independence, and sound intellects; and what an evil and bitter thing it is to look round upon the ruined fragments of these mercies poured forth with such profuse beneficence as to make their occasional privation extraordinary; and when exhausted by our dream of folly, depressed by the poverty which follows on the heels of profusion, and condemned by judgment, to attribute this wreck of comfort, this dearth of consolation, to the levity of an assembly, the frippery of a dressmaker, or the temptation of a dangerous com
Nothing imposes so much upon the credulity of self-applause, as a prevailing notion that sin is restricted to transgressions which the laws of society have defined as opprobrious. According to this estimate all would escape its imputation, but the prisoner whom his atrocities have entangled in captivity, or the profligate whom even his associates have abandoned to disgrace. Yet the definition of human criminality which is set forth in the scriptures takes a universal, not a partial range. Guilt is not therein treated as an infectious disease which some constitutions may catch and others escape ; which judicious advice may cure and nothing but obstinate neglect in the patient can render virulent or mortal; but the word of God states sin to be an inherent propensity of fallen man, and because the soul, since its apostacy has a natural and unavoidable tendency to corruption, “ Every imagination of the thoughts of man's heart are pronounced to be evil.”—Gen. vi. 5. When this solemn fact is experimentally received and not till then (whatever be the era of our years in which such knowledge is acquired) we discern an enmity to holiness in the habits of mankind, and a hatred against God is manifested in all the pleasures, in all the occupations -nay, all the affectionate sensibilities of the natural mind are poisoned by its intrusion.
When this conviction of our degraded state begins to mollify the arid earth of our hearts, it infuses its alterative through every hardened particle ; and this property of spiritual chemistry discovers the secret of that disunion from former recreations, which are now demonstrated to be real evil, assuming the garment of innocent pastime.
The world are perplexed, and not a little offended to find persons who once joined in the same themes of admiration, voluntarily relinquish all engagements which are at variance with conscience; this conduct is either attributed to morose peculiarity of humour, a disordered imagination, or an odious pride, which would set the standard of virtue higher than a genteel level can find of needful imitation. Such erroneous conclusions as they rise out of false premises, are expected, little heeded, and less regretted : I was almost going to say they are welcomed, inasmuch as these differences establish the truth of divine assertions, which uniformly separate the fruits of the spirit of grace, from the fruits of the spirit of the world.
An awakened conscience will dictate to our reason, that the tone of conversation in a ballroom, the character of instruction in a theatre, must be in striking contrast to the heavenly themes which ought to engage a nominal lover of the Bible. How incongruous it would appear to quit the society of St. Paul, having lent an earnest ear to the recital of his conversion, and an humble assent to the truth of his doctrines, and adjourn immediately to the vanities of the toilette as a preparative to the vanities of the senses! Every one acts thus inconsistently who professes to associate by faith with divine company, and wait by grace on divine teaching, yet, who still continues to assimilate with the promoters of dissipation and give a sanction to error by bearing no witness in their own example against “ revelries and such like.”
I think a Christian is not called upon to shut up theatres, or annihilate entertainments, but he is impelled to retreat from them. These festivities being the unalienable possessions of the frivolous, let the votaries of idleness take the implements she procures them, and travel with their whole apparatus on the turnpike road of folly, they offer no further violence to sobriety, than the sight of a noisy fair passing to its licensed exhibition ; unless serious persons step beyond their own retreat, they are not