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judgment, dreaming of the evil that may, in any possible case, arise, and tell us, "this is unlawful" and "that is unlawful?" and are we, if we presume to question your dictum, to be reviled as merely nominal Christians, and if we appeal to Scripture, to be taunted as urging the letter of a bond, and designated as Shylocks? You say you urge us to self-denial, "for Christ's sake:" and may we not question the soundness of your opinion, and seek the authority upon which the act denounced is presumed to be contrary to his injunctions? And if we should happen to come to a contrary conclusion, is it for you to pronounce us false? are we necessarily wrong? and are we required, upon our allegiance, to renounce what we consider innocent, at the first hint of every one who declares himself to be more righteous than ourselves, even if we believe him to be so? Are you inspired? If so, unfold your commission, do the miracles of the apostles, and we will obey you! You are conversant enough in Scripture, and ready enough with texts in general, yet have not brought forward one applicable to your present purpose. Those you have ventured to refer to in your note, being nothing whatever to your purpose. Why you should have omitted St. Paul's stumbling-block, I cannot imagine, unless indeed you found his explanations rather too liberal for you, and more
likely to serve us than yourself. Surely, if our opponent be not dead to every sense of candour and humility," "he cannot look his own" two pages "in the face, without a blush of shame and indignation." If you think me too severe, remember, the celebrity of your name has passed your book through seventeen editions; yet here is your abuse-it is, then, wilful and deliberate. To what lengths of evil and absurdity has this very principle of yours been carried, and carried systematically, in the Church of Rome! Monachism, anchoritism, fastings, floggings, penances-all for the love of God and Christ's sake, with all those disgusting details in the Bibliothèque Chrétienne, pour l'Edification de la jeunesse, so well exposed in the Quarterly Review. Don't tell me here, that I am arguing from the abuse against the use. I ask you where we are to stop, if we once go beyond reason and Scripture? who is to decide? We are not to use our reason, forsooth, for fear of being called Shylocks! Yet I presume somebody must, --and who is this somebody to be? Indeed, but for these nasty stories about the nuns having been sanctioned by the Catholic hierarchy, I should feel inclined to vote for the old Pope again, as our only refuge from the anarchy of universal suffrage. No
1 Vide ch. iii. § 2. p. 79.
wonder you should, after this, be anxious to refute the objection, that you make religion a gloomy service; but, in fact, you rather justify than disprove the gloom, (p. 351), in the only sense in which it is used by objectors generally. By gloomy, I should understand austere. It is not that we
should deny "calm complacency" to a perfect Christian, if such there be, of your, or any other persuasion; but what we say is, that your system would forbid all, or most, of the innocent gaieties of life, and consequently, would have an air of gloom. You tell us here, that "religion prohibits no amusement or gratification which is really innocent.” What more say we? But, Sir, how can you be sure, that from the amusement or gratification you may propose to yourself as innocent, some one else may not find out a possible evil, directly or indirectly resulting? The maxim, that " every thing pleasurable is a sin;" that the very act of being gratified is criminal, has been maintained and acted upon by thousands. You yourself do not always appear to disclaim a kindred idea to this; but if you do, how is the matter to be decided? You answer, "By its being conformable to the spirit of Christianity!" But this is not one step in advance; it is only restating the hypothesis, or, in other words, it is the very matter in dispute! We say many things are conformable, which you deny;
others say many things are, which we deny: others, again, may be found, who say many things are not, which you would allow. If we would really act up to the spirit of Christianity, we must begin by judging charitably of each other; for Christianity, as you truly say, is a religion of motives. You say, (p. 351), that whatever fatigues body or mind, is not fitted to answer the purpose of recreation; therefore, it is not allowable. This I reject as a loose maxim. You insert, indeed, the words, "Instead of refreshing them," as a sort of saving clause; but the same thing often does both: they are not so incompatible as you seem to imagine.
Your next maxim, (p. 352), though rather an odd combination of money and thought, viz. "Whatever consumes more time, money, or thought, than it is expedient (I might say necessary) to allot to mere amusement, can hardly be approved," &c. I will not deny in the abstract, as a Christian maxim; but then, this expediency or necessity should rest between the individual's own conscience and his God, and is not to be pryingly and uncharitably judged of by others. When you say, "Whatever must injure a fellow-creature, can scarcely be suitable recreation for a Christian,” (p. 352), keep to your "must," and we will allow your maxim as a general one. Although good as it appears, at first sight, it is capable of being drawn
out, like a wire, to an indefinite length: but as far as common sense will carry it, we will not object. This maxim, however, if incautiously admitted without reservation, might, in the hands of a skilful advocate, be made to prove almost every possible recreation; and the former one almost every, if not every, luxury, a sin.
You next designate our pleasures and amusements as “frivolous dissipation, and coarse gratifications of sensuality," (p. 353): and then, in a sneering tone of exquisite commiseration, exclaim, "It is no wonder that the nominal Christian (we) should reluctantly give up, one by one, the pleasures of the world, (frivolous dissipation and coarse gratifications of sensuality), because he knows not the delights with which true Christianity (your own opinion) repays those trifling sacrifices." Here's a pretty specimen of Christian humility and charitable judgment! What, you would have us supposed to be contending for frivolous dissipation and coarse gratifications of sensuality, would you, instead of for what we deny to be such? What are we here to understand by " the nominal Christian,” him who mistakes the effect for the cause1? Al . others, then, are quite free from all disposition to coarse gratifications of sensuality, are they? I am right glad to hear it!
1 Vide Ch. vii. p. 1.