The theatre is an evil place
Augustine was an
ardent lover of "the stage" (and then he became a
Mission of Amusement - Outstanding sermon by Archibald Brown
Christian and the Theatre
amusements - J. R. Miller
not by Gospel--then by entertainment - Archibald Brown
"I will set before my eyes
no vile thing." Psalm 101:3
Augustine: "Stage-plays are the
subverters of goodness
and honesty; the destroyers of all modesty and chastity."
Bernard: "All true soldiers of Jesus Christ abominate and
reject all stage-plays, as vanities and
Seneca: "Nothing is so destructive of godly manners
or morals--as attendance on the stage."
Gregory Nazianzen: "Play-houses are the
shops of all filthiness and impurity."
play-house is the devil's chapel, a
nursery of licentiousness and vice; a recreation which
ought not to be allowed among a civilized, much less
a Christian people."
The American Congress, October 12th, 1778: "Whereas,
true religion and good morals are the only solid foundation
of public liberty and happiness: Resolved, that it be, and
is hereby earnestly recommended to the several States--
to take the most effectual means for the
theatrical entertainments, horse-racing, gaming, and such
other diversions, as are productive of idleness, dissipation,
and a general depravity of principles and manners."
William S. Plumer:
"The theatre is an evil place.
In this vortex of vice--
the first step is to the theater,
the next to the bar,
the next to lewd company,
the next to the brothel,
the next to disease,
the next to death,
and the last to HELL."
William S. Plumer, The Ten
an ardent lover of "the stage"
The case of Saint
Augustine, the greatest of the Christian fathers, is
sufficiently interesting to be included in the category of
remarkable conversions. He was born in the year 354, his
father being a pagan at the time of his son’s birth, while
his mother, Monica, was a model of Christian unselfishness
and devotion, a worthy mother of an illustrious son. Being
naturally inclined to pleasure and love of the world,
Augustine in youth resisted the importunities of his mother
to embrace the Christian faith, and following the example of
his father, drank deep of earthly pleasures.
He was an ardent lover of the stage,
and in a day when, as a writer in the Encyclopoedia
Brittanica tells us, “one of the most
significant signs of a man having become a Christian was his
habitual absence from the theater. No one was more
emphatic on this point afterwards than Augustine himself,
and as the result of his own experience, he seems to have
doubted whether, apart from the gross immoralities of the
pagan stage, the indulgence in fictitious joys and woes is a
- From C. H. Spurgeon's, The Sword and
The Christian and the
If attending on the
theater is a sinful waste of time; if it tends to dissipate
the mind, and to render it indisposed for all sober, useful,
or spiritual employments; if hardly any man living would
dare to retire, and, upon his knees, ask the blessing of God
upon it before he went, or implore the sanctified use of it
after he returned; if theatrical exhibitions are often--very
often--indecent and profane, and always demoralizing in
their tendency; and if their patrons, by every attendance
upon them, encourage and support sin as a trade; then, I
ask, can a disciple of Jesus Christ, who professes to be
governed by the Spirit, and to imitate the example of his
Divine Master; who is commanded to "live soberly,
righteously, and godly in this present evil world;" who is
warned to have "no fellowship with the unfruitful works of
darkness, but rather to reprove them;" who is required to
"crucify the flesh, with the affections and lusts;" and
"whether he eats or drinks, or whatever he does, to do all
to the glory of God;" can a disciple of Christ, I say, who
is commanded to "shun the company of the profane," to "avoid
the very appearance of evil," and to pray, "Lead us not into
temptation"--can HE be found in such a
place without sin; without polluting his conscience,
tarnishing his profession, and offending his God?
- American Tract Society, 1820's
Amusement must never become an end in life. It
must always be a means, a help on the way--just as sleep is,
just as rest is. An hour's amusement, should be to you, just
what a night's sleeping is. It should make you stronger,
clearer-headed, braver, calmer-souled, more hopeful, more
earnest, more enthusiastic--inspiring you for godly living.
Anything which leaves a taint of impurity upon the life, or
starts a thought of impurity in the mind, anything which
degrades or debases the soul--is an unfit and unworthy amusement
for a Christian. Christian amusements must be such, as do not
harm spiritual life; they must be means of grace.
"Therefore, whether you eat or
drink, or whatever you do--do everything for God's glory!" 1
J. R. Miller, In Green Pastures, 1890
If not by
Gospel--then by entertainment
Jesus pitied sinners, pleaded with them, sighed over
them, warned them, and wept over them; but
He never sought to amuse them!
When many of His disciples turned away, because of the
searching nature of His preaching--I do not find there
was any attempt to bring them back, by resorting to
something more pleasant to the flesh. I do not hear Him
saying, "We must keep up the gatherings at any cost! So
run after the people, Peter, and tell them we will have
a different style of service tomorrow! Something very
short and attractive, with little, if any, preaching.
Today was a service for God --but tomorrow we will have
a pleasant evening for the people! Tell them they will
be sure to enjoy it, and have a pleasant time. Be quick,
Peter! We must get the people somehow;
if not by Gospel--then by
entertainment!"No, this was not how He argued.
Gazing in sorrow on those who would not hear the
Word--He simply turns to the twelve, and asks, "Will you
go away also?"
- Archibald Brown, The Devil's Mission of
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