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“finest issues” in the work of the present! Son of God, we cling to thee as the dearest possession of our hearts, and fervently trust that thou wilt raise us to be partakers of thy divine nature! Gracious and life-giving Lord, visit thy church in all thy fulness; fire her sons and daughters with thy sacred enthusiasm that they may more earnestly serve, and more worthily magnify, thy holy name. 6. Come forth out of thy royal chambers, O prince of all the Kings of the earth; put on the visible robes of thy imperial majesty, take up that unlimited sceptre which thy Almighty Father hath bequeathed thee, for now the voice of thy bride calls thee, and all creatures sigh to be renewed.”
ART. II.-- RECREATIONS AND AMUSEMENTS.
When the disciples had returned from one of their preaching tours, and reported to their Master “both what they had done, and what they had taught,” he said unto them: “Come ye yourselves apart and rest awhile ; for there were many coming and going, so that they had no leisure so much as to eat.” Christ called his disciples originally, and he calls them now, to labor in his service. His language to them is : - Go work in yard. But when they have worked, until the necessities of nature require relaxation, he then permits and requires them to rest. It is as much their duty to rest, under such circumstances, as it is to work, under others. It is as really a sin to over-work in the service of Christ, as it is to under-work. It may not be so common a sin. It may not be one into which in this lazy, trifling world, we are so likely to fall ; still, we have no more right to violate the laws of our being --which are the laws of God,-one way, than the other; and the violation of them in either way is sure to bring its penalty along with it.
In the example above cited, we have the authority of our Saviour for seasonable rest, and his teachings on this subject are in strict accordance with those of the Scriptures generally, and with those of nature. The God of nature has not only made work an indispensable condition of living comfortably in this world, but he has made abundant provision also for rest. Every morning has its evening, and every day its night, when weary mortals are constrained, by the very necessities of their nature, to seek repose. Every six days is followed by a seventh, which is appropriately called a Sabbath—a rest.
Rest may be total, as in quiet sleep; or only partial, as in gentle, agreeable relaxation or diversion. When our Saviour required his disciples to turn aside and rest awhile, he did not intend, probably, a total rest. He did not wish them to go to sleep. Certainly, He did not limit them to such a rest as this. What he intended was that they should take time, after their protracted labor, to recreate, to recruit, to invigorate and strengthen their wasted powers, and thus prepare for greater usefulness.
Recreations then, of the right kind and within propox limits, are not only permitted to us, but enjoined upon us. They are enjoined by the very necessities of our nature. They are enjoined by the authority of our Saviour. They are as really our duty as prayer, or praise, or hearing sermons, or anything else. Thus much, we think, may be safely said, in behalf of needful recreations.
May the same be said in behalf of amusements ? This will depend on the meaning to be attached to the term. Many people regard amusements and recreations as the same. They use the words interchangeably, and though we do not quite accord to this view of the case, yet, for the sake of putting amusements upon the best possible footing, we are willing to accept it in this discussion. We will consent to use the words in the same sense. We will consent to say that amusements, and recreations, of the right kind, within proper limits, and when indulged in for the right ends, are not only allowable but useful. They are not only permitted to us, but enjoined upon us.
We have said that our recreations should be of the right kind, and there is need of wisdom in forming a judgment here. All persons do not require the same recreations; what would be a relief to some would be a weariness to others. For example: the person of sedentary habits and pursuits requires physical exertion—strong muscular exercise—such as is permitted by athletic sports, or some kinds of manual labor; while the weary house-wife or husbandman requires no such thing. They must be recreated in some more quiet way. The tired student needs to have his mind diverted, as well as his body exercised. He must engage in something which shall withdraw his thoughts from the exhausting subject, and fix them upon other things. While he, whose muscles are more wearied than his head, may refresh himself with those very things which the tired student should avoid. As to the kind of our recreation, therefore, every one must be guided very much by his own particular circumstances and necessities.
And the same remark may be extended to the measure of our recreations. Some persons require more, and some less. Some kinds of labor are so agreeably diversified, that they carry their own recreation with them ; while others are so monotonous and fatiguing, that no one can bear them continuously for any great length of time.
In estimating the needed amount of recreation, the great object and end of it is to be kept constantly in view. This is not to kill time, as it is sometimes said. Time is too precious to need killing in any way. Neither is personal gratification to be regarded as the chief end. We are rather to aim at continued health, recuperated strength and vigor, and a preparation for increased usefulness. Recreation may be lawfully pursued until this,—which is its appropriate object,-is gained ; i. e., if it is likely ever to be gained in this way ;-and no further. Pursued farther than this, the recreation or amusement changes its character. It becomes unnecessary, unlawful, selfish, dangerous.
And how many of the votaries of pleasure are blinded and deceived precisely here! They plead for amusements as things which are necessary to their health and usefulness, and profess to pursue them with this object in view, while at the same time they know, or may know, that such is not their object, and that this result is uot attained. Ask that young man, who was
almost the whole of the last night at the ball or the biliard room, or at some other place of amusement, and who got up late this morning, with parched lips, and a fluttering pulse, or an aching head, whether he went there for the purpose of recruiting and restoring exhausted nature, and whether such has been the effect of his debauch upon him. He will tell you, if he is honest, that the powers of nature, so far from being recruited, have been wasted ; and that he had good reason to expect before hand that it would be so. He went to his amusements, not to be recruited and strengthened, but to be pleased. He went for the enjoyment of it,—from motives of personal gratification.
And the young lady who danced till four o'clock this morning, will, if she is honest, confess the same. Her amusement, she knows, did not recruit nature, but exhausted it. It did her no real good, physically or morally; nor did she expect beforehand that it would. But she went to be pleased. She went from motives of personal gratification. She is entitled to be called, therefore, a lover of pleasure, more than a lover of God.
Among the additional regulations to which our amusements or recreations should be subject, we mention the following:
1. They must be such, both as to their nature and circumstances, as not to violate any plain and positive command of God. This is very obvious. The law of God requires that we love our neighbor, and seek his good. If, then, under pretence of recreation, we contrive to injure our neighbor in any way, or expose him to personal inconvenience or suffering, we are longer excusable, but criminal. The law of God requires that we use all suitable means to preserve our own life, health, and reputation. If, then, we indulge in recreations which go to expose life, or health, or reputation ; if we engage in hazardous experiments, or are out at unseasonable hours, or frequent the company
of evil men; our recreations are no longer innocent and salutary, but injurious. The law of God also requires that we remember the Sabbath day, and keep it holy; and this cuts
off at a stroke all Sabbath recreations,—except such as are found in the delightful duties and services of religion.
2. Our recreations must not be such as to interfere with more important duties. Recreation, within proper limits, we have said already, is a duty; still it is not one of our more indispensable duties. Certainly it is not so, in all circumstances, and at all times. What I mean to say, therefore, is, that we are so to order our recreations, both as to their nature, their amount, ard the times in which to indulge them, as not to interfere with duties of more importance. If we find, at any time, that our recreations are encroaching upon the more necessary duties of life, or tend to make these duties irksome; or if we find that they interfere with our religious duties—the devotions of the family, the closet, or the social circle, giving us a disrelish for such duties, or crowding them out of place; if such is the result of our recreations, we may know that they have passed the prescribed limit somewhere. The great object and end of recreatiom is, to make our duties more pleasant, not less so,—to prepare us to engage in them with a greater zest, and to better account, and not the more to trifle with them, and neglect them. Hence, when we find that our recreations are having this latter effect upon us, we may know that they are out of place and proportion somewhere, and that they require to be examined and regulated anew.
3. Our recreations, as a general thing, ought not to involve any very considerable expense. Most of the popular, fashionable amusements are very expensive. It has been estimated that, in our large cities, they cost more than all the schools and seminaries of learning, and all the religious institutions. Now this, surely, is a disgraceful record. It is pushing the matter of amusements incomparably too far. In these times, when there are so many ways in which property can be turned to good account, not only for the relief of poverty and suffering, but for advancing the interests of Christ's kingdom in the world, no considerate person, and certainly no Christian, can think of running to the same excess with the fashionable and pleasure-loving around him. He will not think of spending large sums for