Redes Sociais

Charles G. Finney

(29/08/1792 - 16/8/1875)




In my recent article on the subject of innocent amusements I insisted that no amusement was innocent that was not sought or engaged in for the glory of God. That an innocent amusement must no be engaged in for the love of amusement, nor because we need amusement, but from a supreme ultimate regard to the glory of God and the interests of his kingdom. That in seeking amusement, as in the performance of every other duty, the eye must be single to the glory of God--in other words, amusements, to be innocent, must be regarded by us at the time as the best means possible to us of pleasing God and advancing the interests of his kingdom. And they must not only be so regarded by us, but musts be engaged in for the purpose, and as the best means to that end possible to us for the time being.

Now, is this rule a yoke of bondage? I do not wonder that it has created in some minds not a little disturbance. The pleasure-loving and pleasure-seeking members of the church regard the rule as impracticable, as a strait-jacket, as a bondage. But to whom is it a strait-jacket and a bondage? To whom is it impracticable? Surely it is not and cannot be to any who love God with all their heart, and their neighbor as themselves. It certainly cannot be so regarded by a real Christian, for all real Christians love God supremely. Their own interests and their own pleasure are regarded as nothing as compared with the interests and good pleasure of God. They, therefore, cannot seek amusements unless they believe themselves called of God to do so. By a law of our nature we seek to please those whom we supremely love. Also by a law of our nature we find our highest happiness in pleasing those whom we supremely love; and we supremely please ourselves when we seek not at all to please ourselves, but to please the object of our supreme affection. Therefore, Christians find their highest enjoyment and their truest pleasure in pleasing God and in seeking the good of their fellow-men; and they enjoy this service all the more because enjoyment is not what they seek, but what they inevitably experience by a law of their nature.

This is a fact of Christian consciousness. The highest and purest of all amusements is found in doing the will of God. Mere worldly amusements are cold and insipid and not worthy of naming in comparison with the enjoyment we find in doing the will of God. To one who loves God supremely it is natural to seek amusements and everything else that we do seek with supreme reference to the glory of God. Why, then, should the rule laid down in this and in my former article be regarded as too strict, as placing the standard too high, and as being a strait-jacket and a bondage? How, then, are we to understand those who plead so much for worldly amusements?

From what I have heard and read upon this subject within the last few years, I have gathered that these pleaders for amusements have thought that there was more enjoyment to be gained from these amusements than from the service of God. They remind me of a sentence that I used to have as a copy when a school-boy: "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy." They seem to assume that the service of God is work in the sense of being a task and a burden; that to labor and pray and preach, to win souls to Christ, to commune with God, and perform the duties of religion is so wearisome, not to say irksome, that we need a good many playdays; that the love of Christ is not satisfactory; that we must have frequent resort to worldly amusements to make life tolerable. Christ on one occasion said to his disciples: "Come aside and rest awhile." This is not wonderful when we consider that they were often so thronged as not to have time even to eat their ordinary meals. But it was not amusement that they sought; simply rest from their labors of love, in which labors they must have had the greatest enjoyment.

I often ask myself: "What can it mean that so many of our highly-fed and most popular preachers are pleading so much for amusements?" They seem to be leading the Church off in a direction in which she is the most in danger. It is no wonder that lay men and women are easily led in that direction, for such teaching exactly accords with the innumerable temptations to worldliness which are presented to the Church on every side. The Bible is replete with instruction upon this subject, which is the direct opposite of these pleas for worldly amusements. These teachers plead for fun, hilarity, jesting, plays, and games, and such things as worldly minds love and enjoy; but the Bible exhorts to sobriety, heavenly-mindedness, unceasing prayer, and a close and perpetual walk with God. The Bible everywhere assumes that all real enjoyment is found in this course of life, that all true peace of mind is found in communion with God and in being given up to seek his glory as the constant and supreme end of life. It exhorts us to watchfulness, and informs us that for every idle word we must give account in the Day of Judgment. It nowhere informs us that fun and hilarity are the source of rational enjoyment; it nowhere encourages us to expect to maintain a close walk with God, to have peace of mind and joy in the Holy Ghost, if we gad about to seek amusements. And is not the teaching of the Bible on this subject in exact accordance with human experience? Do we need to have the pulpit turn advocate of worldly amusements? Is not human depravity strong enough in that direction, without being stimulated by the voice of the preacher? Has the Church worked so hard for God and souls, are Christians so overdone with their exhausting efforts to pull sinners out of the fire, that they are in danger of becoming insane with religious fervor and need that the pulpit and the press should join in urging them to turn aside and seek amusements and have a little fun?

What can it mean? Why, is it not true that nearly all our dangers are on this side? Is not human nature in its present state so strongly tending in these directions that we need to be on our guard, and constantly to exhort the Church not to be led away after amusements and fun, to the destruction of their souls? But to come back to the question: To whom is it a bondage to be required to have a single eye to the good pleasure and glory of God in all that we do? Who finds it hard to do so? Christ says his yoke is easy and his burden is light. The requirement to do all for the glory of God, surely is none other than the yoke of Christ. It is his expressed will. Who finds this a hard yoke and a heavy burden? It is not hard or heavy to a willing, loving mind.

Just the thing here required is natural and inevitable to every one that truly loves God and is truly devoted to the Saviour. What is devotion to Jesus but a heart set upon rendering him a loving obedience in all things? What is Christian liberty, but the privilege of doing that which Christians most love to do--that is, in all things to fulfil the good pleasure of their blessed Lord? Turn aside from saving souls to seek amusements! As if there could be a higher and diviner pleasure than is found in laboring for the salvation of souls. It cannot be. There can be no higher enjoyment found in this world than is found in pulling souls out of the fire and bringing them to Christ. I am filled with amazement when I read and hear the appeals to the Church to seek more worldly amusements. Do we need, can we have any fuller and higher satisfaction than is found in a close, serious, loving walk with God and co-operation with him in fitting souls for Heaven?

All that I hear said to encourage the people of God in seeking amusements appears to me to proceed from a worldly, instead of a spiritual state of mind. Can it be possible that a soul in communion with God and, of course, yearning with compassion over dying men, struggling from day to day in agonizing prayer for their salvation, should entertain the thought of turning aside to seek amusement? Can a pastor in whose congregation are numbers of unsaved souls and amongst whose membership are many worldly-minded professors of religion turn aside and lead or accompany his church in a backsliding movement to gain worldly pleasure? There are always enough in every church who are easily led astray in that direction. But who are they that most readily fall in with such a movement? Who are ready to come to the front when a pic-nic, a pleasure excursion, a worldly party, or other pleasure-seeking movements are proposed? Are they, in fact, the class that always attend prayer-meetings, that are always in a revival state of mind? do they belong to the class whose faces shine from day to day with the peace of God pervading their souls? Are they the Aarons and Hurs that stay up the hands of their pastor with continual and prevailing prayer? Are they spiritual members, whose conversation is in Heaven and who mind not earthly things? Who does not know that it is the worldly members in the Church who are always ready for any movement in the direction of worldly pleasure or amusement, and that the truly spiritual, prayerful, heavenly-minded members are shy of all such movements? They are not led into them without urging, and weep in secret places when they see their pastor giving encouragement to that which is likely to be so great a stumbling-block both to the Church and to the world.

*maybe the word intended was "seek". **maybe the word intended was "consistent".


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