Archibald Forbes.

The Christian library: a weekly republication of popular religious ..., Volume 6 online

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As to the feelings of modem times. Is there a fami-
ly in Britain, of the least moral wortn, even amongst
the middling class of tradesmen, which would not
feel itself disgraced if any one of its members were
to embrace Xn\» profe5«ion 1 I ask, if the character
of players is not in general so loose, as to make it
matter of surprise to find one that is truly moral 1
A performer, whether male or female, that main-
tains an unspotted reputation, is considered as an
exception from the general rule. Their employ-
ment, toother with the iodoleni line of life, to which
it leads, is most contaminating to their morals. The
habit of assuming a feigned character, and exhibit-
ing unreal passions, must have a very injarious ef-
fect on their principles of integrity and truth. They
are so accustomed to represent tne arts of intrigue
and gsllantry, that it is little to be wondered at, if
they should practise them in the most unndtrained

Suuna, whose facetious powers convulsed whole
audiences with laughter, and whose companionable
qualities often "set the table in a roar," was a mi-
serable being. The following anecdote, told fVon
the best authority, will confirm this assertion: and

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I am aihiid, were we acquainted with many of his
profession, we should find that his case is hj no
means singular. " Shuter had heard Mr. White-
field, and trembled with ^)prehen8ioQ of a jadgment
to come; he had also ii^nentl^ heeutl Mr. &in»-
man, and sometimes called on lum in London. One
day, accidentally meeting him in Plymonth, after
some years of separation, he embraced him with
rapture, and inqmred if that was the place of his
residence. Mr. Kinsman replied, "yes; but I am
just returned from Xjondon, where I have preached
so often, and to such large auditories, and haye
been so mdisposed, that Dr. Fothergill advised my
immediate return to the country for change of air.^'
** And I^" said Shuter, " have been acting Sir John
FalstafTso oflen^ that 1 thought I should have died,
and the j^sicians advised me to come into the
coimtry for the benefit of the air, Ebtd fou died, it
would have been in serving the best of masters; but
had Ij it would have been in the service of the devil.
Oh, sir ! do you think I shall ever be called again 1
I certainly- was once ; and if Mr. Whitefield had let
me come to the Lord's table with him, I never
should have gone back again. But the caresses of
the great are exceedingly ensnaring. My Lord

E sent for me to-day, and I was glad I could

not go. Poor things ! they are unhappy, and they
want Shuter to make them laugh. But oh, sir, such
a life as yours .'—As soon as I leave you, I shall be
Bong Richard. This is what they call a good play,
as good as some sermons. I acknowledge there are
some striking and moral things in it ; but after it, I
shall come again with my farce of 'A dish of all
sorts,' and knock all that on the head. Fine re-
formers we !^ Poor Shuter i once more thou wilt
be an object of sport to the frivolous and the gay,
who will now laugh at thee, not for thy drollery,
but for thy seriousness; ana this story, prc^mbly,
will be urged against thee as the weakness of a no-
ble mind ; weakness let it be caUed, but in spite of
himself, man must be serious at last. And when a
player awakes to sober reflection, what agony must
seize upon his soul. Let those auditories, which the
comic performer has convulsed with laughter, wit-
ness a scene in which the actor retires and the man
appears; let them behold him in the agonies of
death, looking back with horror on a life^of guilt,
while despair is mingled with forebodings of the fu-
ture. Players have no leisure to learn to die ; and
if a serious thought wander into the mind, the pain-
ful sigh which it excites is suppressed, and, with an
awful desperation, the wretcned creature rushes
into company to be delivered from himself. A more
careless, a more unreflecting being than a player,
cannot exist ; for if an intense impression of the dig-
nity of reason, the importance or character, and fu-
ture responsibility, be once felt, he ean be a player
no longer.

To send young people therefore to the playhouse
to form their manners, is to expect they will learn
truth from liars, virtue from profligates, and mo-
desty from harlots.

Can it then be right, even on the supposition that
ve could escape the moral contagion of the stage,
to support a set of our fellow-creatures in idleness,
and in a profession which leads to immorality, licen-
tiousness, and profligacy 1

But, my dear children, I have not only aigcunents
to bring m proof of the immoral tendency of the
stage, but I have facts. It is useless to contend
against these. I am distressed, while I write, to
think of the once promising young men who, to my
certain kuowledge, have been utterly ruined by re-
sortiug to this scene of poUutim^ amusement. I am
not allowed to disclose the details, or I could a tale
no fold that would shock every right feeling in your

It was but a few days since, that a veneraMe and
holy man, now the deacon of a Christian church,
saia to me. " Sir, the theatre had nearly brought me
to the gallows. There I foimd associates who in-
troduced me to every crime. When likely to be
prevented, by want of money, from going to meet
them at the theatre, I robbed my father, to gain a
shilling admission to the gallery."

Take warning, then, and have nothing to do with
the theatre. Avoid it as one of the avenues to the
broad road which leadeth to destraction. Rim not
with the multitude to do evil. Be not thrown off
your guard, and enticed to sin,- by being directed to
some who have never been injured by such amnas-
mentSj Would it be any inducement to you to ven
ture near a lazaretto, to be pointed to some person
who had breathed an atmosphere tainted with the
plague without receiving the infection 1 I admit
that the danger is not the same in all cases. Per-
sons whose connections, habits, characters, are form-
ed, may not receive «o much ii^jury as younger per-
sons; though the most virtuous and moral cannot,
I am sure, escape all harm ; even they must haye
their mental purity injured, and their imagination
corrupted ; tke^ must acquire a greater and greater
distaste for religion, and irreverence towards Ood ;
but to yonn^ people, and to yoiug mm espedallyi
the danger is greater than I can describe ; to them
the doors of the theatre are as the jaws of the de-
vouring lion.*



YouNo people, while at school, generally look fiyr^
ward with much desire, and longing anticipation,
to the happy time when they sha]d terminate their
scholastic pursuits, throw on the restraints of the
seminary, and enter upon the engagements which
are to prepare them for their future station in life.
They are seldom aware of the immense importance
of tlus period of their existence : and but rarely con-
sider, tkal Uisai tkif time the cka/rader tututUf oi-
sumes its pemuuuwt form.

I will suppose, my dear children, that you have
now quitted the school-room for the warehouse, the
office, or the shop ; exchanged grammars and dic-
tionaries for journals and legers; and the researches
of learning for the pursuits of business. All is new,
and all is mteresting. Youthful feelings are subsid-
ing into something like a consciousness of approach-
ing manhood ; and the comparative insignificance
of the schoolboy is giving^way to the.incipient impor-
tance of the man of business. At this very point
and period of your history, it becomes you to halt
and reflect Instead of being led on in joyous
thoughtlessness, by the new scenes that are open-
ing before and around you, and leaving your habits
and your character to be formed by accident or by
chance, I beseech you to ponder on the very criticid
circumstances in which you are now placed.

TKe period lohick elapses from fourteen to eighteen
years oftige^ is indeed ^ crisis of yowr history and
character. It is inconceivably the most eventful and
influential term of your whole mortal existence.^
Comparing the mind to substances which, under the
influence of heat, are capable of being moulded to
any form, it is at this jieriod of its history that it is

* I most earnestly recommend to all young persons
who have any doubts upon this subject, or any taste
for theatrical representations, the perusal of an ad-
miraUe treatise on this subject by Dr. Stjrles.

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in the most suitable temperatore and consistency to
yield to the plastic inflaence of external causes, and
to receiye its permanent form and character : before
Ihis^ it is too naid and yielding, and afterwards too
stiff and unbending. This, this is the very time,
when the ever variable emotions, passions, and pur-
suits of boyhood, begin to exhibit something like the
durable and settled forms of manhood.

/n reference to ike affairs of this life; if a young
person ever become a good mechanic, or a good
tradesman, he gains the elements of his future ex-
celieuce about this period. So it is in poetr}r, paint-
ing, learning. Before this, the first decisive and
unequivocal traits of genius sometimes appear^ and
even after thLs, they are sometimes developed ; but
generally speaking, it is from the age of fourteen to
eighteen, that the marks of future eminence are put
forth. It is the vernal season of mind, and haoit,
and genius. The same remarks will apply to the
formation of character. Then the passions acquire
new vigor, and exert a mighty influence: then the
nndersianaing bep;ins to assert its indepenaence, and
to think for itself; then there is a declaration of its
liberty on the part of the mind, and a casting away
of the trammels of education; then there is a self-
confidence and a self-reliance, which have received
as yet few checks from experience; then the so-
cial impulse is felt, and the youth looks round for
companions and friends ; then the eve of parental
vigilance, and the voice of parental caution, are
generally at a distance. Then, in fact, the future
character is formed. At this time, generally
^leaking, religion is chosen or abandoned ; and the
heart is given to Qod or the world. Can any
thing be more awfully important, than these reflec-
tions, to those who are yet about this agel You are
BOW deciding for both worlds at once. Yon are now
choosing to become a Christian on earth, and a se-
raph in heaven, or a worldling here, aiid a fiend
hereafter. You are now setting out on a journey
which is to conduct you to glory, honor, immortali-
ty, and eternal life, or to the blackness of darkness
n>r ever. Yes, the starting point for the realms of
eternal day, or the regions of eternal night has ge-
nerally been found to be within the period which I
have named.

These remarks apply more strictly to yoimg men
than to persons of the opposite sex : ina.<<much, as
females generally remain at home, unier the eye,
and voice, and example of parental piety, and are
&r less exposed than bo3rs to the temptations and
tins of youth. All 3rDung men, therefore, of this
age, should pause and re&ctthus: — ^* I am now ar-
nved at that period, which must be considered as
the most eventful era of my whole existence : when
my character, both for time and eternity, will in all
jnrobobility be formed ; when I may be said to be
commencmg the career which is to terminate in
heaven or hell : as well as that path which is to lead
me to respectability and comfm, or to depression
and povernr in the present world. How critical
my age! How important that I should consider
wisely my situation, and decide aright !"

Permit me to give you a little advice, in some'
measnire suited to your circumstances.

1. Mifst sacredif observe the Sabbaihj and constant-
ly aUend the means of grace.

Let nothing induce yon to prostitute the hallowed
day to worldly pleasure. Never listen to the entice-
ments of a companion, who would tempt you, even
once to forsake the house of Qod. Abandon such
an acquaintance. He is unfit for yon, and will ruin
you. Sabbath-breaking is a sin of most hardening
tendency. When tempted to commit it, imagine you
hear the awful voice of divine prohibition, followed
with the loud deep ^roan of a holy fkther, and the
exdaniation of a pious mother, " Oh, my M>n ! my

son I do not pierce mv heart with anguish.'* Attack
yourselves to a sound, evangelical ministry, and hs-
ten not to those who subvert the very foundations of
the gospel. Avoid those preachers who oppose all
that is peculiar to Christianity.

2. Keep up aUention to the private duties of /2r-

Never let a day pass without reading the Scrip-
tures, and private prayer. While these practices
are continued, I have hope of you : they snow that
piety has still some hold upon your heart. Secure
some portion of every day, if it be but a quarter of
an hour in the morning, and in the evening, for this
most important duty, snould you not have a cham-
ber to yourselves, let not the company of others pre-
vent your keeping up this practice. It would be '
better, however, in this case to retire to your room
when you can have it to yourself.

3. Be very careful in the selection of companions.

All that I have before said on the subject of com-
pany, applies with great force to this period of jrour
life. It IS now that the mischief of evil associations
will be felt in all its devastating influence. One bad
companion at this time, when the character is a^
suming its permanent form, will give a most fiitid
direction. Your company will probably be courted;
but resist every overture which is not made by in-
dividu^s of well-known, unbending virtue.

4. Strive to excel in the business or profession to
which your life is to be devoted.

It is quite a laudable ambition fbr a man to aspire
to eminence in his secular vocation. Be not satiraed
with mediocrity in any thing that is lawful. Even
as a tradesman^ you should endeavor to be distin-
guished. It will give you weight in society, and
thus, by increasing your influence, augment the
means of your usefumess. A dolt, however pious
he may be, possesses but little weight of character.
Give your mind therefore to business. Penetrate
into all its secrets, comprehend all its principles^
study all its bearings. Care nothing about pleasure;
but find your recreation in your employment. It is
astonishing how few rise to eminence m their call-
ing, either in trade or in the professions. The sum*
mits are gained by a very small number ; the mtil-
titude grovel below. Wliy 1 Because they did not "
seek nor begin to ascend during their apprentlcei-
ship. They did not give themselves wholly to these
things during this important season. Excellence in
any department of human affairs, can be looked for.
only from diligent and early culture. Industry and
close application will keep you out of the way of
temptation. Let your mind be occupied with busi-
ness, and there will be neither leisure nor inclina-
tion for polluting amusements.

5. If your attention to business leaves any time
unoccupied, I advise yon to carry on a course of

Make companions of useftal books, and 3roa will
need no other. And as it is every man's chief
praise to excel in his own profession, let your reading
bcjar a relation to that in which you are engaged.*

6. Jff'youcanfind a pious and tntdligewt associate,
embrace the ovportwnity of innocent and pteaswable
companionship; " for as iron sharpeneth iron, so a
man sharpeneth the cotmtenance of his friend."—
With such a friend, carry on some course of intel-
lectual improvement, and both give and receive the
stimulus which fellowship affords.

Again and again, remember the tremendous im-
portance which attaches to the period to which this
chapter more particularly refers ; and believing, as
you must, that it is from fourteen to eighteen, the

* The author hopes he shall be pardoned fbr the
frequency with which he urges a taste fbr reading.
He knows the importance of the subject

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character, in relation to both worlds, is generally
formed, judge what manner of persons ye ought lo
be at that lime, if you wish to be a good tradesman,
and real Christian upon earth, or a glorified and
happy spirit in heaven.*


ON FOBLic spmrr.

Yon are bom, xfay dear children, in no common age
of the world. You have entered upon the stage of
existence, when some of the most interesting .<;ceDes
of the great drama are beinfi^ presented. There
are eras, when the moral world seems to stand still,
or to retrograde; and there are others, when it is
propelled with accelerated movements towards the
goal. Ours is of the latter kind. After the dark and
stormy, epoch, which was terminated by the glorious
revolution of 16^, the churches of Christ, blessed
with religious liberty, sunk to inglorious repose.—
Little was done, either to improve the moral condi-
tion of our own population at home, or the state of
heathen countries abroad. WhUefield and Wesley
broke in upon this slumber, when it seemed to be
most profound. From that time, the spirit of reli-
gious zeal awoke, and increasing its energies, and
multiplying its resources till our days, it now exhi-
bits a glorious array of means and instruments, from
which in the long run, might be expected the con-
Tersion of the world.

Christendom presents at this moment a sublime
and interesting spectacle in its Bible Societies, Mis-
jsionary Societies, Tract Societies, with all the other
institutions adapted to the moral wants of every
class and condition of mankind. War is not only
declared, but prosecuted with vigor, against the
powers of darkness ; the hosts of the Lord are march-
mg forth to the field of conflict : the sound of the
trumpet is heard, and the call of wafriors floats on
the gale. Spiritual patriotism is breathed into the
souls of all denominations of Christians. Instru-
ments of the hoi}; warfare are invented and distri-
buted, which suit the hands of persons of every
rank, condition, stature, and strength ; while females
are invited lo emulate the Spartan women of anti-
quity, and assist in this conflict by the side of their
lathers, husbands, and brothers.

All young people ought to enlisi themselves in
this cause. They should rise up into life, deUrmin-
edto doaUthe good they can^ and to leave the world
better than they found it. To see them reluctant to
come forward, is an indelible disgrace to them. It
is a poor, miserable kind of life to live only for our-
selves : it is, in fact, but half living. It is an oppo-
sition both to reason and revelation. He that does
nothing to bless others, starves his own soul. You
must therefore set out in life, my children, with a
resolution, by Gkni's help^to act the part of a reli-
gious philanthropist. " He that converteth a sinner
rrom the error oi his ways, shall save a soul from
death, and hide a multitude of sins." Aspire to
this honor. Think how many things you can al-
ready do. You can instruct a class of ignorant
children in a Sunday school.* You can teach

• See an excellent little work, entitled, " Character
essential to Success in Life, addressed to those who
are approaching Manhood," by the Rev. Isaac Tay-
lor, of On gar.

• It is to the great dishonor of many young people,
in affluent circumstances, that they arc retiring from
our. Sunday schools, and leavinj? the work to those
who are in humbler life. Well, we must do with-
out them ; but let them remember, that for their in-

adolts to read. You can distribute religious tracts.
You can join in the labors of Bible associations, or
the exertions of juvenile missionary societies.

Here, however, I must suggest a caution or two.
Females, who are employed in the labor of collect-
ing gratuitous contributions to public societies of
any kind, should be very watchful against th*; least
infringement on that delicacy and modesty of charac-
ter which is the chief ornament of their sex. Their
exertions. 1 know are the life's blood of some causes;
be it so: but let their benevolence flow like the vital
fluid through the veins— unseen, unheard. I be-
lieve, that, in general^ the strictest rules of modesty
have been observed by the female collectors of our
Missionary Societies ; but I have heard of instances
very much to the contrary. Happily, such casps
are'rare. I think it quite questionable whether very
young females, whose characters are scarcely form-
ed, should be thus employed.

It is more necessary still to caution young men
against acquiring, by their activity, a boCi^ forward,
dlrusive, and dictatorial temper. If zeal should
render them conceited, vain, and meddling, it would
be a heavy deduction from its clear amount of use-
fulness. There is some little danger, lest Satan,
perceiving it to be impossible to repress the ardor
of youth, should attempt to corrupt it.

Observing these cautions, you cannot be too ar-
dent in the cause of religion, and the interests of
the human race. Those who are likely to occupy
the middling classes of society, who are the sons
and daughters of persons In coxnparatively afflueot
circumstances, and are likely, by the blessing of
Gk>d, to occupy the same rank themselves, should
feel most specially bound to consecrate their ener-
gies to the public welfare, inasmuch as they possess
far more means of usefulness than others,' and are
likely to have greater influence in society. But
even the poorest can do something. There is no
one who is destitute of all the means of doing good.
In France, during tl^ reign of the late Emperor,
the conscription law extended to persons of all
ranks in society ; and, in the same regiment, the
sons of the rich and of the poor contended, side by
side, for the glory of their country ; nor did the
former think themselves degraded by such an asso-
ciation ; they felt that to fight under the imperial
and victorious eagle, was an honor sufficient to an-
nihilate every oiner consideration. How much
more justly will this apply to persons who are mar-
shalled under the banner of tne cross !

It is of the utmost importance that young people
should bej^n life with a considerable portion of pub-
lic spirit in their character; since it is rarely found
that this virtue, if planted late, attains to any con-
siderable magnitude, beauty, or fruitfulness. The
seeds of benevolence should be sown, together "With
those of piety, in the first spring of our youth;
then may we expect a rich autumnal crop. The
first lesson which a child should learn, from hi$
parents is, how to be blessed ; and the second, how to
he a blessing.

You have been taught this, my children, from the
very dawn of reason ; now then practise it. Live
for some purpose in the world. Act your part well.
Fill up the measure of your duty to others. Con-
dtict yourself so as that you shall be missed with
sorrow when you are gone. Multitudes of our spe-
cies are living in such a selfish manner, that they
are not likely to be remembered a moment after
their disappearance. They leave behind them
scarcely any traces of their existence, but are for-
gotten almost as though they had never been. 'They

dolence, or pride, or whatever else be the cause of
their secession, tney must give an account at the
bar of Christ.

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art, while they live, like one pebble lying unobserv-
ed amongst millions on the shore, and when they
die, they are like that same p>ebble thrown into the
sea, wluch just raffles the surface, sinks, and is for-
gotten, without being missed from the beach. They
are neither regretted by the rich, wanted by the
poor, nor celebrated by the learned. Who has been
the better for their life 1 Who are the worse for
their death ! Whose tears have they dried up, whose
wants supplied, whose miseries have they healed 7
Who would unbar the gate of iife, to readmit
them to existence ; or what face would CTeet them
back again to our world with a smile 1 Wretched,
unproductive mode of existence ! Selfishness is its
own curse — it is a starvelling vice. The man that
does no good, gets none. He is like the heath in
the desert, neither yielding fruit, nor seeing when
good.cometh; a stuntea, dwarfish, miserable shrub.
We are sent into the world to do good^ and to be
destitute of public spirit, is to forget one half

Online LibraryArchibald ForbesThe Christian library: a weekly republication of popular religious ..., Volume 6 → online text (page 58 of 121)