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the latter should preponderate; it is not so with respect to any particular species of amusement. The amusement, whose chief praise is, that it occurs but seldom, ought manifestly to recur never.
It is from a, thorough conviction that public entertainments of this nature ought, on moral considerations, to be laid aside, that I have been led to speak thus at length on the subject. At present, they are confined to the precincts of the metropolis, and are not very frequent. But from their establishment in the capital, from the countenance of people of rank, from the splendor and the very expensiveness with which they are attended, they seem to possess the powers of attraction which may be likely to win more and more on what are called polite circles; and by degrees on those perfons who, however unable to contend in politeness with their superiors, are willing, though at the risk of final ruin, to vie with them in extravagance.
If a public entertainment be of such a nature and tendency that it ought on moral considerations to be laid aside, every person is bound, in point of moral duty, to discountenance it. A truth so plain might, without presumption, look for general acquiescence.“ But what," I hear it replied,
can be done by an individual? If I attend " the scene of amusement, I am unnoticed in “ the crowd: if I refrain, my absence is un“ known. My example is unperceived, or if “perceived, isdisregarded: it neither strength
ens, nor could invalidate, what has the fanc“tion of general practice. To think that I “ can reform the world, would be arrogance “ and folly.” This language, which on many occasions is adopted by persons who are in search of apologies for continuing to indulge themselves in a reprehensible gratification, is sometimes also the answer of diffident sincerity. The diffident and sincere may, perhaps, be led to suspect the justice of their mode of reasoning, when they refect, that there is scarcely an enormity prevailing in public or in private life, in the conduct of nations or of individuals, in the management of business or in the pursuit of pleasure, which is not palliated, vindicated, recommended, by the fame line of argument. Is our unchriftian traffic in laves the subject of discussion? The radical iniquity of the trade is confeffed: but we are told, that if we should renounce it, other nations would continue to carry it on: why then, it is faid, are we to defift? Are unwarrantable customs in commercial transactions pointed out ? The merchant admits that there is cause of blame ; but alleges, that he neither instituted nor can abolish the practice: and asks why he is to be more fcrupulous than his neighbours. Similar instances might be multiplied to almost any extent. In all cases of this nature, the language of the world is ; If you cannot prevent the commission of a criminal act, why. are you to leave to others the profit or the pleasure which will attend it? The language of Revelation is; “ Be not a partaker
“ in other men's sins. Keep thyself pure(k).” The former is the rule by which man is disposed to judge: the latter is the rule by which God will judge. You say that you cannot reform the world. Cannot form yourself? How is a prevailing bad custom of any kind to be extinguished otherwise than by being abandoned by the individuals who have upheld it? And by what means have you been exempted from the general obligation? It matters not, in this view of the question, whether thousands will follow your example, or not a single individual will be made better by it. Look to the moral benefit of others: but look first to the moral benefit of that person who has the most at stake in look first to yourself.
But the assertion that your example is inconsiderable, and will be inefficacious, deserves a more particular examination. Has
(k) 1 Tim. V. 22;
example no effect, either to establish or to
conceffion which can be desired. You are neither a queen, nor of noble birth. Your example will not have the commanding force derived from royalty, nor the attractions which accompany