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GEORGE WHITE FIELD 573
of ignorant people, poor rabble, who are deceived by a vain young upstart babbler, by a madman, one who is running into enthusiastic notions, and endeavors to lead all his followers into his mad way of thinking. The Pharisees may wonder what I mean by talking of persecution in a Christian country; but if they had their will, they would as willingly put our feet in the stocks, shut us up in prison, and take away our lives, as they have thrust us out of their synagogues. But let not that discourage you from hearing the word of God ; for Jesus Christ can meet us as well in a field as between church walls. - If you were of the world ; if you would conform to the ways, manners, and customs of the world; if you would go to a play, or ball, or masquerade; the world would then love you, because you would be its own. But because you despise their polite entertainments, and go to hear a sermon in the field, and will not run into the same excess of riot as others, they esteem you as methodically mad, as fit only for Bedlam. If you would frequent horse-racing, assemblies, and cock-fighting, then you would be caressed and admired by our gay gentlemen; but your despising these innocent diversions (as the world calls them), makes them esteem you as a parcel of rabble, of no taste, who are going to destroy yourselves by being over-righteous. If you would join them in singing the song of the drunkard, they would think you a good companion ; but because you are for singing hymns, and praising the Lord Jesus Christ, they think you enthusiasts. Indeed, our polite gentry would like religion very well if it did but countenance an assembly, or allow them to read novels, plays and romances; if they might go a-visiting on Sundays, or to a play or ball whenever they pleased. In short, they would like to live a fashionable, polite life, to take their full swing of pleasures, and go to Heaven when they die. But, if they were to be admitted to Heaven without a purification of heart and life, they would be unhappy there . Is it becoming a minister of the Church of England to frequent those places of public entertainment which are condemned by all serious and good men 2 Is it not inconsistent with all goodness for ministers to frequent play-houses, balls, masquerades 2 Would it not better become them to visit the poor of their flock, to pray with them, and to examine how it stands with God and their souls 2 Would it not be more agreeable to the temper of the blessed Jesus to be going about doing good, than going about setting evil examples 2 How frequent is it for the poor and illiterate people to be drawn away more by example than precept 2 How frequent is it for them to say, “Sure there can be no crime in going to a play, or to an ale-house,_no crime in gaming or drinking, when a minister of our own Church does this.” This is the common talk of poor, ignorant
574 GEORGE WHITEFIELD
people, who are too willing to follow the examples of their teachers. The examples of the generality of the clergy occasion many persons, committed to their charge, to run to the devil's entertainments. Good God! are these the men who are charging others with making too great a noise about religion? INNOCENT DIVERSIONS
They talk of innocent diversions and recreations. For my part, I know of no diversion but that of doing good. If you can find any diversion which is not contrary to your baptismal vow, of renouncing the pomps and vanities of this wicked world; if you can find any diversion which tends to the glory of God; if you can find any diversion which you would be willing to be found at by the Lord Jesus Christ, I give you my free license to go to them. But if, on the contrary, they are found to keep sinners from coming to the Lord Jesus Christ ; if they are a means to harden the heart, and such as you would not willingly be found in when you come to die, then, my dear brethren, keep from them. Many of you may think I have gone too far, but I shall go a great deal farther yet. I will attack the devil in his strongest holds, and bear my testimony against our fashionable and polite entertainments. What pleasure is there in spending several hours at cards 2 Is it not misspending your precious time, which should be spent in working out your salvation with fear and trembling 2 Do play-houses, horse-racing, balls, and assemblies tend to promote the glory of God? Would you be willing to have your souls demanded of you while you were at one of these places? What good can come from a horse-race, from abusing God Almighty's creatures, and putting them to a use He never designed them for 2 The play-houses are nurseries of debauchery, and the supporters of them are encouragers and promoters of all the evil that is done there. They are the bane of the age, and will be the destruction of the frequenters of them. Is it not high time for the true ministers of Jesus Christ to lift up their voices as a trumpet, and cry aloud against the diversions of the age 2 If you have tasted of the love of God, and have felt His power upon your souls, you would no more go to a play than you would run your heads into a furnace. And what occasions these places to be so much frequented is the clergy's making no scruple to be at these polite entertainments themselves. They frequent play-houses; they go to horse-races; they go to balls and assemblies; they frequent taverns, and follow all the entertainments that the age affords; and, yet, these are the persons who should advise their hearers to refrain from them. They always go disguised, for they are afraid of being seen in their gowns and cassocks; for their consciences inform them that it is not an example fit for the ministers of the gospel to set.
JOHN HENRY NEWMAN (1801-1890)
A BRITISH CATHOLIC ORATOR
N recent times two prominent divines of the English Episcopal I Church have been converted to the Roman Catholic faith, and been made cardinals in the Church of Rome. These were Cardinal Manning, of whom we have elsewhere spoken, and Cardinal Newman, with whom we are here concerned. Beginning his pastoral career as vicar of St. Mary's, Oxford, Newman subsequently took a very active part in what was known as “The Oxford Movement,” and himself wrote a number of the famous “Tracts for the Times.” These tracts, which were in favor of the strictest Anglican orthodoxy, ended in the conversion to the Roman faith of a number of their writers, Newman among them. He resigned from St. Mary's in 1843, and subsequently entered the Catholic Church, being made a cardinal by the Pope in 1879.
As a pulpit orator Newman ranked high, winning fame in both his forms of faith. His long series of Oxford sermons contain some of the finest ever preached from an Anglican pulpit, and his Roman Catholic sermons, though less striking for their pathos, are marked by still finer rhetoric and literary finish. Aside from his reputation as an orator, Newman was an author of fine powers, alike as a logician and in theological controversy. To his prose writings he added many poems of fine touch and finish, most notable among them being the famous hymn, “Lead, Kindly Light.”
THE EVILS OF MONEY_GETTING [From one of Newman's “Oxford Sermons' we make a brief extract in illustration of his style of oratory, and also for the salutary lesson it conveys and the effective manner in which the weakness and wickedness of money seeking, for itself alone, is presented. It was preached from the text, “Woe unto ye that are rich, for ye have received your consolation.”]
576 John HENRY NEwMAN
I say, then, that it is a part of Christian caution to see that our engagements do not become pursuits. Engagements are our portion, but pursuits are for the most part of our own choosing. We may be engaged in worldly business without pursuing worldly objects. “Not slothful in business,” yet “serving the Lord.” In this, then, consists the danger of the pursuit of gain, as by trade and the like. It is the most common and widely spread of all excitements. It is one in which everyone almost may indulge, nay, and will be praised by the world for indulging. And it lasts through life—in that differing from the amusements and pleasures of the world, which are short-lived and succeed one after another. Dissipation of mind, which these amusements create, is itself, indeed, miserable enough ; but far worse than this dissipation is the concentration of mind upon some worldly object which admits of being constantly pursued ; and such is the pursuit of gain.
Nor is it a slight aggravation of the evil that anxiety is almost sure to attend it. A life of money-getting is a life of care. From the first there is a fretful anticipation of loss in various ways to depress and unsettle the mind, nay, to haunt it, till a man finds he can think about nothing else, and is unable to give his mind to religion from the constant whirl of business in which he is involved. It is well this should be understood. You may hear men talk as if the pursuit of wealth was the business of life. They will argue that, by the law of nature, a man is bound to gain a livelihood for his family, and that he finds a reward in doing so—an innocent and honorable satisfaction—as he adds one sum to another, and counts up his gains. And, perhaps, they go on to argue that it is the very duty of man, since Adam's fall, “in the sweat of his face,” by effort and anxiety, “to eat bread.” How strange it is that they do not remember Christ's gracious promise, repealing that original curse and obviating the necessity of any real pursuit after “the meat that perisheth.” In order that we might be delivered from the bondage of corruption, He has expressly told us that the necessaries of life shall never fail His faithful follower any more than the meal and oil the widow woman of Sarepta; that while he is bound to labor for his family, he need not be engrossed by his toil; that while he is busy, his heart may be at leisure for the Lord. “Be not anxious, saying: What shall we eat, or what shall we drink, or wherewithal shall we be clothed 2 For after all these things do the Gentiles seek ; and your Heavenly father knoweth that ye have need of these things.”
I have now given the main reason why the pursuit of gain, whether in a large or a small way, is prejudicial to our spiritual interests—that it fixes the mind upon an object of this world. Yet others remain behind