And they shall teach my people the difference between the holy and profane, and cause them to discern between the unclean and the clean…
I. You can judge of the moral character of any amusement BY ITS HEALTHFUL RESULT, OR BY ITS BALEFUL REACTION. In proportion as a ship is swift, it wants a strong helmsman; in proportion as a horse is gay, it wants a stout driver; and people of exuberant nature will do well to look at the reaction of all their amusements. If an amusement sends you home at night nervous, so that you cannot sleep, and you rise up in the morning, not because you are slept out, but because your duty drags you from your slumbers, you have been where you ought not to have been. If any amusement sends you home longing for a life of romance and thrilling adventure, love that takes poison and shoots itself, moonlight adventures and hairbreadth escapes, you may depend upon it that you are the sacrificed victim of unsanctified pleasure. Our recreations are intended to build us up; and if they pull us down as to our moral or as to our physical strength, you may come to the conclusion that they are in the class spoken of by my text as obnoxious.
II. Those amusements are wrong WHICH LEAD YOU INTO EXPENDITURE BEYOND YOUR MEANS. The table has been robbed to pay the club. The champagne has cheated the children's wardrobe. Excursions that in a day make a tour around a whole month's wages; ladies whose lifetime business it is to "go shopping"; bets on horses and a box at the theatre have their counterparts in uneducated children, bankruptcies that shock the money market and appall the Church, and that send drunkenness staggering across the richly figured carpet of the mansion, and dashing into the mirror, and drowning out the carol of music with the whooping of bloated sons come home to break their old mother's heart. When men go into amusements that they cannot afford, they first borrow what they cannot earn, and then they steal what they cannot borrow. First, they go into embarrassment, and then into lying, and then into theft; and when a man gets as far on as that, he does not stop short of the penitentiary. There is not a prison in the land where there are not victims of unsanctified amusements.
III. Those are unchristian amusements WHICH BECOME THE CHIEF BUSINESS OF A MAN'S LIFE. Your sports are merely means to an end. They are alleviations and helps. The arm of toil is the only arm strong enough to bring up the bucket out of the deep well of pleasure. Amusement is only the bower where business and philanthropy rest while on their way to stirring achievements. Amusements are merely the vines that grow about the anvil of toil, and the blossoming of the hammers. Alas for the man who spends his life in laboriously doing nothing, his days in hunting up lounging places and loungers, his nights in seeking out some gas-lighted foolery! The amusements of life are merely the orchestra playing while the great tragedy of life plunges through its five acts — infancy, childhood, manhood, old age, and death. Then exit the last chance for mercy. Enter the overwhelming realities of an eternal world!
IV. Those amusements are wrong WHICH LEAD INTO BAD COMPANY. If you belong to an organisation where you have to associate with the intemperate, with the unclean, with the abandoned, however well they may be dressed, in the name of God quit it. They will despoil your nature. They will undermine your moral character. They will drop you when you are destroyed. They will give not one cent to support your children when you are dead. They will weep not one tear at your burial. They will chuckle over your damnation.
V. ANY AMUSEMENT THAT GIVES YOU A DISTASTE FOR DOMESTIC LIFE IS BAD. How many bright domestic circles have been broken up by sinful pleasuring! The father went off, the mother went off, the child went off. There are today the fragments before me of a great many blasted households. Oh, if you have wandered away, I would like to charm you back by the sound of that one word "home." Do you not know that you have but little more time to give to domestic welfare? Do you not see, father, that your children are soon to get out into the world, and all the influence for good you are to have over them you are to have now? Death will break in on your conjugal relations, and alas, if you have to stand over the grave of one who perished from your neglect!
(T. De Witt Talmage.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And they shall teach my people the difference between the holy and profane, and cause them to discern between the unclean and the clean.