THE CHRISTIAN AND AMUSEMENTS
Dr. Edwa rd Judson says in Christian Work, the development of the
insinct for play is one of the most striking features of the advance of
civilization during the last quarter of a century. The working man de-
mands more leisure for recreation. Holidays are mulitplied. The public
goes mad over football, baseball, basket-ball. and boat races. People go
earlier to the country and stay later. The cities are environed by an end-
less succession of parks, beaches and summer resorts. In old times there
were only hunting and fishing. Now we take tip one by one, croquet, lawn-
tennis, golf. the kodak, the bicycle, the motor cycle, the automobile. The
world is learning how to play. This is one of the key-notes of our age.
What is the Christian attitude toward all this? Is it right for the
follower of Christ to play What view shall he take of doubtful pleasures,
as smoking and wine-drinking and card-playing and dancing and theatre-
going? Feeling his way through the intricate labyrinth of modern society,
has the Christian any clue?
While these questions cannot he answered off-hand, there are certain
clear principles that guide us like heavenly constellations:
I. The first condition of moral insight is the surrendered will, an
absolute willingness to take either one of two alternative courses that seems
to its more right. Blessed are the pure, in heart, for they shall see God.
Our self-will, like breath, makes a little film on the window pane so that
we cannot see clearlv the vision of beauty that lies beyond. If our will
be to do his will, we shall feel the presence of the firm hand that guides
us. Conscience must be obeyed, right or wrong.
2. Our own conscience must he used. We must decide for ourselves.
Each man must give answer for himself to God. We must not look around
for some stronger nature against which to lean. This is the wrong use to
which to put a minister. He is not a kind of priest to silence or intensify
your scruples. The New Testament even gives no categorical answers to
these social questions. It lays down great principles so that our moral
sense may be strengthened by grasping them and applying them to each
case. We are not to depend upon others for an answer, but to train our
own conscience by keeping it in constant use, as a hunter's eyesight grows
keen through his frequent and sustained efforts to perceive small game in
the thick woods. The priestly way of deciding such questions, one for
another, causes the moral vision of the one who seeks counsel to be im
paired through disuse and week dependence upon whose sight he thinks
is keener than his own.