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Christ, and is, at bottom, the principle of essential righteousness. Get the principle clearly apprehended in your minds and deeply rooted in your hearts, and the application of it to specific cases will be as instinctive as breathing, and as unerring as human action ever is.

There is wide scope for pure and refreshing amusement. No one's real liberty is abridged by love; for what love clearly forbids belongs to the realm not of liberty, but of bondage,— the bondage of selfishness. The right course is to have nothing to do with any amusements which, by the weakness of those about you, are made harmful to their best life.

These principles which, of necessity, are here stated so briefly, and which there is not space now more fully to illustrate, furnish the true and sufficient ethical test of all kinds of amusement. There is no rule, and no set of rules, by which we can determine off-hand the rightfulness or wrongfulness of any specific amusements that in themselves are not intrinsically evil. Such as are intrinsically evil are not, of course, true amusements, and lie outside of our present field of discussion. But what of games, dancing, and play-going? These and many other sorts of diversion in vogue among men cannot be, with any justice, cate


gorically pronounced right or wrong. may be innocent, or they may be noxious, according to time, circumstance, and individual conditions. Whether they are innocent or noxious in each particular case must be determined by the application of these tests, the effect on self, and the effect on others. The effect, moreover, must not be measured only by physical or mental standards, but also by a spiritual standard. We are bound to seek the best life always, both for others and for ourselves. Whatever makes against the best life must be let alone, if we would climb upward and help upward those who are about us.

There is, then, no easy, prescriptive way of settling this question of the ethical character of amusements. Many wish that there were such a way. To those it would be a relief to have the church or the pastor pronounce authoritatively with reference to this matter. It is easier to obey an explicit command than to determine one's course by the exercise of intelligence and judgment. Many times the question, is put to the Christian minister: “May I do this? May I have that?" Rightly, young children to a large degree must be subject to authority; for a child can be trained in moral habits before he can apprehend moral

principles, and the experience and judgment of parents and teachers must protect him from evils that he can neither see nor understand. Even in the case of children the authority is only temporary, and is but as a fence about a growing tree until it has attained a certain height and strength.

"Thou hast marked the slow rise of the tree, - how its stem trembled first

Till it passed the kid's lip, the stag's antler; then safely outburst

The fan-branches all round.”

But prescription in morals has narrow limits. No matter how much we may wish, in moments of weakness or perplexity, to escape the necessity of deciding moral questions for ourselves, we cannot do so. This is the permanent and essential condition of the moral life, that each must make decisions for himself. Seek advice from those whose knowledge and wisdom you trust; exercise a careful observation, for thus you will learn much that will be of highest value in forming your judgments; profit by the experience of others; and study and grasp the principles of right conduct which are set before you in the teaching and example of Jesus Christ. All this will help you; but, after all, you must make decisions, and the product of

decisions is character, and character is at once life and destiny. The choice of amusements, and the decisions by which indulgence in them is regulated, are as essential a part of your moral discipline in the world as the choice of your main work in life and the successive decisions by which you prosecute that work to its justifying end.

While, then, on the question of the wrongfulness and evil of sin, either as a diversion or as a serious engagement, there is a clear "Thus saith the Lord," as well as a clear Thus saith human experience, which is only another form of "Thus saith the Lord;" on the question of the rightness or wrongness of a specific act that in itself is morally indifferent and becomes wrong only in certain relations and under certain circumstances, there is no categorical imperative. The large principle of love to God and self and fellow-man furnishes the only, but sufficient, guide to decisions which each must make for himself. It is in making these choices that the soul grows into the strength and liberty of righteousness, or sinks into the bondage and weakness of habitual self-indulgence.

In conclusion, I offer you some words of counsel which, without supplying any facti

tious authority, without giving you crutches where you need a tonic, will, I humbly hope, aid you in making the decisions that should control your indulgence in amusements of whatever sort.

I. Do not indulge in any amusements, however lawful they may seem to you, simply because others indulge in them. Stand on your own feet; learn your own weaknesses and dangers, and never be ashamed of avoiding that which may do you needless physical harm, or which may take the fine edge off your moral perception, or lower the tone of your spiritual life. Perhaps another can do what you cannot do without great risk and even actual damage. Cultivate the moral courage to think and act for yourself, under the high duty of moral selfpreservation. If you cannot dance without going to excess, or without leaving a shadow of compunction on your conscience, or without dropping down a little in your spiritual tone, then be strong enough and brave enough to accept your limitations, and say "No" to the fascinating invitation. If you cannot go to the theatre without having the fibre of your feeling strained or coarsened, or without having an unreal coloring and an unwholesome flavor imparted to your life, then be brave

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