« PreviousContinue »
Their conversation was at all times confined to one subject, their employments to one end; they delivered to others, and they received themselves, nothing but what they called “expositions of Scripture,” they joined only in a pious interchange of sentiment-pp. 179–181.
But the worst must be added, they drive a young lady mad, and she is sent to the lunatic asylum ! All this is beneath a man of sense to write, and is as stale as an old almanack; and we again assert, that the picture is shamefully distorted. We have often seen young ladies of the cast described, but never saw them gloomy-never abandoning music, or drawingnever working for others to the exclusion of themselves, unless they could well afford it, and their work was mere recreation-never visiting the needy and the sick, while unmindful of the duties of domestic economy, unless it might be that some liked it less than others, which is the case among young ladies even of the orthodox sect—and never exclusively conversing on religion, though we presume that this is not a crime, though it may not suit the taste of the gay Dr. Freeman.
In page 221, et seq. he vindicates some of the rites of the Established Church, by the practices of the Jewish dispensation. We think that the Church is not much indebted to him that he must go to Moses to find laws for a church of Christ!
An honourable lady is introduced into the narrativeis the active patroness of benevolent institutions; and it seems the doctor has a vast dislike to the ladies doing good, he therefore describes her as formerly under his guardianship, and the star of fashion; she married an honourable, and became a widow, and • lately won over by the love of popular admiration, she has lent her name and personal services to all sectaries who asked for them. Might not Christian CHARITY ascribe other and better motives to such conduct-a desire to do good, and to use the talent of influence, so as to give a good account for it.
That this grave divine should dislike so much religion is not astonishing, for he tells us theatres, balls, and card parties, and all the varieties of public pleasures, may be applied to the worst purposes; but they may also be applied to PROFIT and INSTRUCTION.' Indeed! But did not the primitive Christians hold theatres scandalous ? Are they not now deemed schools of vice; and dare parents trust their daughters there unprotected, as they would at church? Are not players themselves always looked upon with suspicion ; and a young girl on the stage as on the very confines of virtue? Has not the vice of the stage done more harm than the virtue of it has done good, both in the sacrifice of female and domestic virtue, and in the generating habits of vice and extravagance in the young men who have been its devoted pupils? Are not the most abandoned of mankind among the warmest advocates and the most frequent attendants at the theatre, and the most religious the most distant from it? The more dissipated the nation, the more disposed is it to these licentious follies, and hence while the great city of London has but a few theatres, in Paris, we may almost say, they are to be found in every street. Our author admits that “ licentiousness may undoubtedly be found there;' but then he never goes to see a play, but what has a good tendency-and he is not obliged to come away injured in his morals, if others are. In this way this worthy protector of public morals argues, forgetting that all have not his discrimination, nor his astonishing virtue, to tamper with evil without injury; that, by his example, he may lead others astray, and that he is to abstain from all uppearance of evil.' PROFIT and INSTRUCTION' are to be found at the theatre, forsooth; but what kind of profit or instruction ? Are four hours spent there good preparatives for the hour of rest? Do they prepare the mind to say, prior to departing to rest, I will both lay me down and sleep, for thou, Lord, only makest me to dwell in safety? Does it not destroy the peace and order of every well regulated family, and intrude beyond the precincts of duty ?* Then as for the ball-room, does it not wear a dark aspect when John the Baptist's head
is brought before us in the charger, and if not viewed as a frequent corrupter of virtue, in how many instances has it been the destroyer of health? It may be admitted that occasionally colds are caught at places of worship, but how different is the occasion, the one being the cause of duty, the other being called pleasure; how unseasonable the hours, how ruinous the exertion, how calculated to dissipate the mind, and how the dance unfits for domestic life and duties! Such, then, is the profit and INSTRUCTION, the ball affords.
This worthy son of the Church pleads for the card table, and says:
*I join in a round game at cards to promote cheerfulness, and prevent harmless mirth from ceasing; and I say, if others be unable to enjoy these things from the over-refined sensibility of conscience, let them pursue the bias of their own inclinations ; but because they have this distaste themselves, or affect to feel a scrupulous dread at yielding to the amusements of life, let them not hold out their fears, as the protestations of Holy Writ.'
This virtuous doctor of course loses no money, nor temper at cards; if, however, he goes much into company where they are, he loses what is more valuable ihan both-Time. How they promote cheerfulness, we have yet to learn, for they are the destruction of all pleasantry, the death of all conversation and witand the last refuge of noodles, who, if they have not a second thought, can yet take a hand at cards, and hide their ignorance under clubs, and spades, hearts, and diamonds, aces, kings, queens, and knaves, shuffling and dealing, trumps and tricks. To please an idiot king, cards were first invented, and such, they still please;—
* Children of a larger growth.' but are rarely resorted to by persons of intellect; and have been more than once frowned out of the company of men renowned for their knowledge and learning. Alas! the only profit, here, is what is gained out of a friend's pocket; the only INSTRUCTION how to get it; or in failure of that—what?
Let this watchman on the walls of Zion' remember, that there are such passages of Holy Writ, as,
Redeeming the time_Work while it is called day' - Set your affections on things above, and not on things of the earth'— Seek those things which are above’-and ask his conscience, if he is obeying these injunctions, in the Theatre, in the Ball Room, or at the Card Table? Let him also remember, that he will not stand or fall alone, and the blood of his victims will be required at his hand.
* From such apostles, 0, ye mitred heads, protect us!' In the chapter called 'THE SEA CAPTAIN, we have a further assault on Evangelical Religion. Though Theatres, Balls, and Cards, please this Gentleman, Evangelical Religion, displeases him in every form; hence, he caricatures the young, and the old, the churchman and dissenter, the modern, and the hypercalvinist. The former he abuses as a disguised, and the latter he seems to view as an open enemy. He has more than once, in his book, tried to represent the friends of Evangelical Religion, believing that God decreed men to be damned, which is a scandalous perversion of their creed; and here, by forced wit, and the help of some sea-terms, put into the mouth of a Naval Captain—a Fatalist, he completes his picture.
-Without entering into all the minutiæ of it, we will leave as strong a Champion of Necessity, as we have in our library, to explain his own terms, and to put an extinguisher, at once on the light, the Body and Soul Gentleman, has thrown on this subject. In answer to the question-- Is man a free agent, or is he not? he replies: 'Without all manner of doubt. he is, in a vast number and variety of cases.'—And then, he, who had probably read almost every author on Necessity, and knew Calvin's Works almost by heart, adds, Nor did I ever, in conversation, or in reading, meet with a person, or an author, who denied it,'
(Toplady on Necessity, 7th edition, 1775, p. 11.) What will the Reverend Slanderer say to this?
We must however add, that where our Clericus forgets the Evangelicals, he can sometimes favour us with something worth reading; but in most cases, it is to strike a blow at sectarianism. The chapter entitled “The UNITARIAN, and the ATHANASIAN Creed, contains some tolerable Divinity; and that the reader may slake his thirst in a refreshing stream, after tasting so many polluted springs, we shall close with a commendable passage on Sabbath Breaking. We, however, beg leave in parting, to remind the Doctor, that if he will take the trouble to observe, he will generally find that his Pleasure takers, are the Sabbath Breakers; this may help to shew the nature of that PROFIT and INSTRUCTION which they gain in his Schools of Morals and Religion;
• To what purpose is it that we inveigh against the breach of this day, and against the infringement upon it's sanctity, when we see nobles and others of the principal people of the land, themselves the infractors of it: when we see them exhibiting to their inferiors, the cold indifference and unconcern with wbich they make their innovations upon it. One would think they were lost to the finer feelings of their nature, when the records of our Courts, bear testimony, that the majority of crimes, which are punished, not unfrequently, by death, have sprung from this one cause. Were they endowed with the feelings of true Christian charity, would they not forego the most powerful allurements, which pleasure could offer, when they know that their baneful and pernicious example of neglecting the duties and observances of this day, leads on so many of their fellow. creatures to their ruin? But awful as the consideration is, they do not reflect upon the consequences of their conduct, by which they practically manifest a determination, neither to quench the splendour of the lamp, the joy of the harp, nor the conviviality of the feast, although there result from all this, such crimes, as hurry, on their fellow-men to an untimely and ignominious death.'
Let the Doctor apply the same cogent arguments to the Theatre, and he will then give it up.
JANE AND HER TEACHER, or, the Sunday School of
Ellington, 18mo, pp. 77.
This is an interesting narrative, the foundation of which is laid in a Church Sunday School, and the whole of which is designed to shew the advantage arising from Sunday Schools, and the moral and spiritual benefit likely to result from the instruction of pious teachers.