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rich and having your name up through the country, your opinions are more likely to be respected among your admirers, than those of an author in humbler circumstances. However, I will not offend you by anticipating any failure as to your book; from your own account it is likely to astonish people and become popular. It is, therefore, with my free consent and approbation that you publish. You will certainly, to use the words of your friends, enlighten and electrify the whole British hemisphere very much if you prove wrong to be right, and injustice to be justice, with other propositions equally astounding. It requires immense ability to invert the order of things and give satisfaction at the same time.
THE AUTHOR. So remarkably obtuse, censorious and desperate is the spirit of Pharisaism, that no calm reasonings, no appeals made to it from the holy Scripture, and no words or deeds of kindness on the part of humorous Christians can mollify it, or cause it to abate one iota of its superstitious strictness and severity. It deserves, therefore, to be exposed and chastised.
May all who suffer from the denunciations of this miserable superstition be witty and wise, cheerful, but truly religious, always standing in awe of God, but not of mortal and prejudiced men ! Keeping close to the New Testament in principle, disposition and practice, using their liberty, but never abusing it, loving all men and seeking to do them good. Avoiding all needless intercourse with the censorious, and when obliged to deal with them, shewing them that civility which conventional usages dictate, but resisting their spirit as the spirit of him who sometimes appears as an angel of light. Should this spirit ever “ go out of them, the case will be different, and love and unity can be re-established. To accomplish this, however, ignorance, bigotry, sectarianism, and superstition, must all be subverted and overthrown, for all this is a mass of obstructive rubbish. It should be removed that we may lay a good foundation for intelligent, rational, cheerful and pure Christianity; when this is done we shall add to the number of true Christians, and the churches will greatly prosper. I can amply justify the satirical pungency I have employed in attacking censoriousness, and giving appropriate names to those who are addicted to it. “We are obliged,” says the Rev. Jeremiah Seed, “by a principle of self-defence, to set a mark of infamy on those who have injuriously branded the reputation of their neighbours. For he who has injured one person, either in his reputation or fortune, threatens every body, and therefore common prudence will teach us to give such a man his just character, that he may not be able to make disadvantageous impressions upon the unwary and undesigning, by giving every man else a bad one." (Seed's dis. v. 1, p. 127.)
As to respectable legislative assemblies, both civil and ecclesiastical, I venerate them ; I would not
for a thousand worlds refuse them respect while, for the most part, the excellency of their principles and the purity of their motives are apparent; but if, in some instances, any leading authorities among them make practical mistakes, seriously prejudicial to honest men, I then refer myself to the authority and teaching of Jesus Christ.
One matter of great importance is this: Every humorous Christian should acquire and retain a habit of detaching his mental peculiarities from the sober duties of life and godliness. This he may do, and will, if conscientious. Nor will he, while he maintains his piety, find any difficulty in doing it.
I remember very well that about thirty years ago, I was supping with a party of friends, including two grave ministers, at Pool, in Dorsetshire. In compliance with their request, I let off an anecdote; they listened with what people call breathless attention during the preliminaries; but when I came to the details, they began to laugh; when I reached the climax, the laughter became a roar, the two ministers fell from their seats, and were sprawling on the carpet, laughing almost tremendously. I gravely bid them to be tranquil, as we were soon to have family worship, but they could neither manage themselves nor be managed by others. They hastily bid us all good night, and ran up stairs to bed. Now, said I, “who is to blame for all this ? you would have the anecdote; you are all witnesses that I did not laugh at all. You all laughed till you shed tears ; but our grave divines have done wonders. Come
now, let us be quiet and serious; we will not begin prayer abruptly. Change the subject.” We did so; got composed ; read the scriptures, and prayed as if nothing particular had happened.
If a little mental amusement should unfit us for devotion, the fault is ours. We are pitifully deficient in self-command; we don't keep one thing sufficiently distant from another, we should make an end to diversion in due time. The interesting youths that play at cricket in the beautiful grounds of some colleges, and some collegiate schools, are wisely limited as to time in their healthful recreations. When studies should be resumed, the lovers of study among them can lay down their bats and balls as willingly as they took them up, and they apply themselves to their educational work with new vigour and advantage. So with regard to acts of worship. Mental entertainment, well managed and judiciously limited, is no hinderance to them, where common sense and self-government have the ascendancy. Weak minded and bad tempered religionists are of a different opinion.
There is one thing, however, that I am particularly anxious that all men, including the most eccentric, whether among preachers or people, should guard against, and that is an attempt to amuse people in preaching. An odd thing or two may escape the lips of a preacher and provoke a smile;
; this may do no harm, but I think it argues shockingly bad taste, to say nothing worse, when preachers