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ing so momentous a point precludes the necessity of traditional arguments. A lover of divine truth will be glad however to learn that christians in the middle of the third century did believe, without contradiction, that men were born in fin and under the wrath of God through Adam's transgresfion, conceiving theniselves as one with him, and involved with him in the consequences of his offence. Modern felf-conceit may say to this what it pleases; but thus thought ancient christians in general, and the very best christians too, with whom was the spirit of Christ in a powerful degree. The just consequence of such facts is not always attended to by those who are concerned in it. “ Yes, but reason should be attended to." So I say; but what is right reason ? To submit to the testimony of the Divine Word. This alone is sufficient and is above all, if men will not abide by this, it is not unreasonable to tell them, that their strained interpretations of scripture are confuted by the sense of the primitive church, who had every opportunity of knowing the truth ; that to deduce scripture doctrines from what we should fancy to be reasonable, is not rea. son, but pride; thac an argument drawn from settling the question, "What did the ancient christians think of these things ?" deferves some attention; but that an argument drawn from our own fancies, what we think ought to be in fcripture, deserves none at all. It may be called the language of philosophy; nothing is more confused than the use of that term in our days; but it is not the language of one disposed to bear the word of God and to do it.

A private case, which must have happened.in time of peace, and therefore may properly be referred to this time, will deserve, for the light

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which it throws on primitive christian mariners, to be distinctly recorded.

Cyprian to Eucratius his brother. Health. Your love and esteem have induced you, dearest brother, to consult me as to what I think of the case of a player among you; who still continues in the same infamous art, and as a teacher of boys, not to be instructed but to be ruined by him, instructs others in that which he himself hath miserably learnt. You ask whether he should be allowed the continuance of christian communion ? I think it very inconsistent with the majesty of God, and the rules of his gospel, that the modesty and ho. nour of the church should be defiled by so base and infamous a contagion. In the law men are prohibited to wear female attire, and are pronounced accursed; how much more criminal must it be not only to put on women's garments, but also to express lascivious, obscene, and effeminate gestures in a way of instructing others!

And let no man excuse himself as having left the theatre, while yet he undertakes to qualify others for the work. You cannot say that he has ceased from a business, who provides substitutes in his room, and instead of one only, furnishes the play house with a number; teaching them con trary to the Divine ordinance, how the male may be reduced into a female and the sex 'be changed by art; and how Saran may be gratified by the defilement of the Divine workmanship. If the man makes poverty his excuse, his necessities may be relieved in the same manner as those of others, who are maintained by the alms of the church, provided he be content with frugal, but innocent food, and do not fancy that we are to hire him by a falary to cease from sin, since it is not our intereft, but his own, that is concerned in this affair,

But

But let his gains from the service of the playhouse be ever so large, what sort of gain is that, which tears men from a participation in the banquet of Abraham, Ifaac, and Jacob, and leads them miserably and ruinoully fattened in this world to the punishments of eternal famine and thirst? Therefore, as much as you can, recover him from this depravity and infamy to the way of innocence and to the hope of life, that he

may be content with a parfimonious, but salutary maintenance from the church. But if your church be insufficient to maintain its poor *, he may transfer himself to us, and here receive what is necessary for food and raiment, and no longer teach pernicious things out of the church, but learn himself falutary things in the church. Dearest son, I wish you conftant prosperity I.”

The decision of Cyprian is doubtless that, which piety and good sense would unite to dictate in the ease. A player was ever an infamous character at Rome, and was looked on as incapable of filling any of the offices of state. The Romans, at the fame time that they shewed in this point their political, evinced the depravity of their moral fense. A set of men were still maintained for the public amusement, whom yet they knew muft of necesfity be diffolute and dangerous members of society. If this was the judgment of sober pagans, it is not to be wondered at that the purity of chriftianity would not even suffer such characters to be admitted into the bofom of the church at all. To say that there are noble sentiments to be found in some dramas answers not the purpose of those, who would vindicate the entertainments of the stage The support of them requires a system in its own nature corrupt, and which must gratify

the

Eucratius was the bishop of a place called Thenæ, lying in the military road to Carthage.

# 61 Ep. Pam.

the voluptuous and the libidinous, or it can have no durable existence. Hence in every age com plaints have been made of the corruptions of the itage, and ideas have been thrown out of its great utility, provided it were kept under proper regulations. But who is to regulate it? Were it purged of its viciousness, and made altogether meet for christian eyes and ears, it would cease to be attended at all. While the world is as it is, it must be an engine of corruption. Instruction is looked on in a subordinate light by the gravest advocates for it; pleasure is its capital end, and that pleasure, if a fet of men are to subsift by it, will ever be, as it always has been, while mankind are what they are, impure in its nature in a great degree, and a school of impurity.

It required no deep penetration in the first christians to see this, and to reject the stage entirely. A christian renouncing the pomps and vanity of this wicked world, and yet frequenting the playhouse, was with them a solecism. The out-pouring of the Holy Spirit, which now for three centuries we are reviewing, never admitted these amusements at all. A professor of the drama, we fee, could not be allowed confiftently to profess christianity.

It is one of the main designs of this history to shew practically what true christians were, both in principles and manners. The case before us shews chem very clearly in this article belonging to the latter. What would Cyprian have said, to see large assemblies of christians so called, devoted to thele impurities, and supporting them with all their might, and deriving from them their highest delights? He would at the same time observe the same persons, as might be expected, perfect, Strangers to the joy of the Holy Ghost. This is

consistent

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) consistent crough, only he might wonder why such persons ttill kept up the name of christians. If he examined their Atage-entertainments, and compared them with those that were in vogue in his day, he would have seen the fame confusion of sexes, the fame encouragement of uncharte desires, and the same sensuality, with the same cortemptuous ridicule of christianity, if indeed in his time the gospel was burlesqued on a stage, as it has been in ours. In some points the ancient drama might be worse than ours; yet in others ir might be more decent. But as on the whole the fpirit and tendency was the same, he would have been astonished that such men could still call themselves christians, that actors and actresses could amass fortunes in a christian country, in which many pastors could fcarce find subsistence, and that theologians of great erudition should obtain applause by writing comments on dramatic poets, and by openly enlisting in the service of the stage. Prob Dolor!

There was one Fortunatian, Bishop of Assuræ, who had lapsed in the time of persecution, and without any marks of repentance still assumed to himself the episcopal character, and insisted on his being received as such by the clergy and people. This case gave occasion to an epistle of Cyprian to the church*, in which he as strenuously opposes the ambitious claims of the bishop as in like cir. cumstances he had formerly done those of the laity, and he repears the advice to the lapsed he had before given, cautioning the people against the reception of him in that character. Behold now the strenuous afferter of the rights of faithful bishops openly exposing the pretensions of unworthy ones, and instructing the people to guard

themselves Epif. 64.

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