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Amusement: A Force in Christian Training   By: (1834-1922)

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Amusement: A Force in Christian Training

By The

Rev. Marvin R. Vincent

Pastor of the First Presbyterian Church, Troy, N.Y.

Wm. H. Young, 8 & 9 First Street

Troy, N.Y.



Preface. Religion And Amusement. The True Nonconformist. The Church And The Young Man. Thoughts For The Clergy on the Amusement Question.


These discourses are not presented as a series. With the exception of the last, which was prepared merely for publication, they were delivered at considerable intervals, and to meet certain aspects of the subject as they presented themselves. As they all develop substantially the same principles, they will probably contain some repetitions. The interest awakened by the publication of the essay before the Albany Convention, and the very general desire expressed to see the second and third of these discourses in print, have decided the author against remoulding the whole into one treatise which he at one time contemplated. He therefore sends them forth in their original shape, with earnest prayer that the great Head of the church may use them, with all their imperfections, to awaken Christian thought and friendly discussion on a subject of vital importance to the welfare of our youth.

Marvin R. Vincent.

Troy, Jan. 9th, 1867 .


An Essay, Delivered at the International Convention of Young Men's Christian Associations,

Held In Albany, June 1, 1866.

The religious thought of the age must soon face this subject more fairly than it has yet done; and seek for some more satisfactory adjustment of it. At present its status is very indefinite. The church is by no means at one concerning it. The pulpit too often evades it. Private Christians waver between the results of independent thought and of early education, undecided whether to approve or condemn; while extremists take advantage of this hesitation to lay down the sternest dogmas, and to thunder denunciations at every head that will not bow to their ipse dixit . The questions at issue are not to be dismissed with a sneer at fanaticism and over scrupulousness on the one hand, and with a protest against unwarrantable liberality on the other. The whole subject must be reëxamined with reference to fundamental gospel principles by both parties, in a spirit of Christian moderation, and with the desire of ascertaining not only what is safe , but what is right .

To prosecute thoroughly such an examination within the limits assigned me, is, of course, impossible. I can only deal with a few of the great principles underlying the case, and urge their application to a single practical question which has arisen in the experience of our own, and it may be, of other Christian associations.

The idea of development , which is perhaps the fundamental one of Christianity, has been to a very great extent swallowed up in the idea of safety . It is not an uncommon error to regard Christianity almost exclusively in a defensive aspect; the Christian merely as a safe man, protected by Divine safe guards from temptation, rescued by Divine mercy from the terrors of death and judgment. Correspondingly with this mistake, the tendency has grown to strengthen the defenses of character, rather than to foster its growth. To keep it from temptation, rather than to teach it to overcome temptation. To teach it its danger from the world, rather than its duty to the world. Consequently we have heard more about keeping unspotted from the world, than of going into all the world, and preaching the gospel to every creature. More about coming out and being separate, than of knowing the truth which shall make free. More of separating wheat from tares, than of leavening lumps... Continue reading book >>

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