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Tertullian, who flourished in the same century, is copious upon this subject." We Christians have nothing to do with the frenzies of the Race Ground, the lewdness of the Play House, or the barbarities of the Bear Garden.”—
“ Clements Alexandrinus, who lived about the year 200, affirms, that a Circus and Theatre may not im properly be called the “ Chair of Pestilence.”
De Poedag. Lib. 3. ; ; “St. Cyprian, who lived in the third century, has spoken at large upon the Stage, and after having described the diversions of the Play-House, he expostulates in this manner:
“What business has a Christian at such places as these? A Christian who has not the liberty so much as to think of an ill thing ?-Why does he entertain himself with lewd representations? Has he a mind to discharge his modesty that he may sin afterwards with the more boldness? Yes: this is the consequence. By using to see these things, he will learn to do them.Why need I mention the levities and impertinences in Comedies, or the ranting distractions of Tragedy ?The folly of them is egregious and unbecoming the gravity of Believers.”—
“Aš I have often said, these foppish, these pernicious diversions, must be avoided. We must set a guard upon our senses, and keep the centinel always upon duty. To make vice familiar to the ear is the way to recommend it. And since the mind of man has a natural bent to extravagance ; how is it likely to hold out under example and invitation ? If you push that which totters already, whither will it tumble? In earnest; we must draw off our inclinations from these vanities. A Christian has much better sights than these to look at.
St. Cyril, who lived in the fourth century, in his Catechism for the newly baptized, has these words : :
“ You have said at your baptism, I renounce thee, O Satan; I renounce all thy works and all thy pomps. The ponaps of the devil are the diversions of the theatre, and all other the like vanities; from which David begs of God to be delivered: Turn away mine eyes,
says he, that they behold not vanity. Do not then suffer • yourself to be led away by a fondness for the entertain
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ments of the Stage, to behold there the extravagancies of Plays full of wantonness and impurity.”
Mr. Talbot. “These quotations which you have made from the ancient fathers, merely express their private opinion on the expediency of not attending such scenes of amusement; but will you not admit, that as they were not endowed with the spirit of infallibility, their opinions may be submitted to the ordeal of examination, no less than your own ?”
Mr. Leweilin. “ Nay, Sir, these quotations do more than express the private opinion of the historians, from whose works they are taken; they record the fact, that the primitive Christians did not attend public places of amusement, because their moral tendency was unfavourable to the cultivation and growth of virtue."
Mr. T. “But, Sir, do not the expostulations of these writers, and the persuasive motives which they employ against an attendance at the public games, lead us to the conclusion, that some of the early Christians did attend them ?”
Mr. L. “No doubt, Sir, but some of the early Christians did attend them ; but their attendance was considered as the first step to the abandonment of their religious principles ;-as an act of inconsistency which subjected them to the censures of their brethren-an approximation to the customs of the votaries of Paganism, which, if persisted in, was visited by an exclusion from Church-fellowship! which is decisive of the opinion which the pure part of the primitive Christians held, respecting the lawfulness and tendency of theatrical amusements.”
The Author is indebted to the late Rev. Mr. Simpson for these testimonies.
The Author's distance from the press, is the apology which he ofiers to the intelligent reader, for the errors he may sometimes detect in his Numbers; and though he has not thought it necessary to correct them in an errata, as they very rarely ob. scure the sense of a passage, yet he will feel obliged, if, for innoxious, in page 4, line 5, of No. 86, he will read noxious.
He begs to acknowledge the receipt of £1. for the widow Powell.
« And can we suppose, that if that same Apostle were now on earth, he woald give his sanction to the practice of many modern Christians, who are to be seen, now at Church, and anon at the Theatre ?-now receiving the sacrament, on bended knees, and anon, kindling into rapture by the exhibitions of the stage —now giving utterance to the solemn words, “O God, the Father of heaven, have mercy upon us miserable sinners; and anon, applauding expressions and sentiments, which no lips would articulate, but the lips of impurity.”
London: PRINTED FOR FRANCIS WESTLEY, 10, STATIONERS'
COURT, AND AVE-MARIA-LANE.
ON THEATRICAL AMUSEMENTS.
"The English Comedy is like that of no other cốuntry. It is the school in which the youth of both sexes familiarize themselves with vice, which is never represented there as vice, but as mere gaiety.”
Mr. Talbot. “But, Sir, waving the opinion of the ancient fathers, will you allow me to ask one question? If the moral tendency of such amusements be unfavourable to private virtue, how is it that there are no express prohibitions against them in the writings of the apostles ?”
Mr. Lewellin. “ But, Sir, do you believe that they approved of every practice which they did not expresely condemn ?”
· Mr. Talbot. “Why, yes, Sir, and I think there is strong presumptive evidence in favour of such an opinion. Were they not employed to furnish us with a code of laws for the government of our conduct? and is not that code perfect? If, then, there be no ļaw to condemn our attendance at such places of amusement, are we not at liberty to believe that the silence of the legislature is a tacit, though not a positive, sanction ?
Mr. Lewellin. “ If, Sir, we admit the principle for which you are now contending, we shall be reduced to the necessity of admitting that every modification of evil, which is not expressly condemned by the sacred writers, is actually sanctioned by them. The absurdity of such an opinion is not more flagrant, than its tendency would prove pernicious to the welfare of society. Is the crime of gaming, or bull-baiting, or suicide, or of forgery expressly condemned by the Scriptures ? and yet, Sir, would you venture to appeal to the silence of the Scriptures as a tacit sanction of them? Some of the vices to which human nature is addicted, in every age, and in every country, are expressly condemned, while others, which spring out of local customs, and casual temptations,
are condemned only by implication. As a proof of the correctness of this assertion, little is said in the Scripture of the then prevailing corruption of polygamy: nothing against the sayage custom of exposing children ; nothing even against slavery; and nothing expressly against duelling. But is there not an implied prohibition : against polygamy in the general denunciation against adultery? Is not exposing of children condemned in that charge against the Romans that they were without natural affection. Is there not a strong censure against slavery conveyed in the command to do unto others as you would have them do unto you? and against duelling, in the general prohibition against murder, which is strongly enforced, and affectingly amplified by the solemn manner in which murder is traced back, in the sermon on the mount, to its first seed of anger ?" .
Mr. Talbot. “I admit the validity of your argument, in its application to the crimes which you have mentioned, because they are only the more refined modifications of the crimes which are expressly condemned ; but, Sir, you will permit me to say, that I do not recollect any passages in the sacred volume, which by a fair implication, really condemn theatrical amusements."
Mr. Lewellin. “ Then, Sir, by your permission, I. will quote a few. Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. Ps. i. 1. Does not this passage condemn our going into the assemblies of the ungodly? But I say unto you, that every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. Matt. xii. 36. Are there no idle--no profane words spoken on the stage? and if it be a crime to atter them, can it be less. than a crime to go and listen to them? Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. Eph. iv. 29. Do no corrupt communications proceed from the mouth of players ? and if it be a crime to advance them, can it he less than a crime to receive them? But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints; neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not conve