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seek an influence to redeem, to renew and to perfect them. In like manner we may take this desire for amusement, and recognize not only its divine origin, but, when properly directed, its divine tendency. That in the soul out of which it grows is good, in whatsoever forms of evil it may be clothed.
But what forms of it are evil and how shall they be removed? The answer is not difficult if we keep in view the right aspect of the question. Anything is evil which renders the heart more callous to divine impressions, which benumbs or deadens its sense of goodness, which sunders or separates it from God. But nothing can produce this effect except it be the intention of the heart to have it do so.
No outside power ever enters the citadel of the human soul, except as the soul itself first prepares it room and then opens its gates and bids it welcome. We may storm batteries and fortresses, Gibraltars or Ehrenbreitsteins may be conquered, but no number of embattled legions can successfully assail the defences of a single soul. It is conquered only by its own chosen submission. It never yields to evil except by its own treachery. “There is nothing from without a man that entering into him can defile him ; but the things which come out of him these are they that defile the man." The real evil, the mournful, welancholy thing is not so much in the acts of a man as in the actor himself. The greatest of all wrongs is the intention to do wrong. A man may take the property of another, believing it to be his own, or he may declare a falsehood believing it to be true, and this may be attended with sad consequences to the person defrauded or deceived, but the saddest thing possible in such a case would be the intention to defraud or to deceive.
If there is, therefore, any evil in amusements, it must be found in the evil intention with which they are pursued. They are evil then and only then when they are intended to be so. Now it must be confessed that the action of the heart is very subtle here. It has wondrous skill in hiding its real motives even from its own eyes. It can cover its purposes till it wholly conceals them, or if they must appear, it can clothe them in garments which give them a guise not their own. But we can always test them and reveal them in a true light if we will. If the effect is evil the cause is evil. If any of our
actions bring evil to our souls, it must have been our intention to have them do so, whether we noticed it or not. And if there be any harm in any amusement, the harm must be in some prior tendency of the soul which has sought and found manifestation in this way.
That which is first and most important for us to potice, here as everywhere else, is therefore the state of the heart. “Unto the
pure all things are pure; but unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure.” It is not the acts of an unrenewed man which need changing so much as it is the actor himself. It is not simply a new affection which is needed but a new heart. All moral culture and improvement therefore must aim at a true renovation of soul. If the soul can only be right its actions will be right spontaneously, but so long as it is wrong its deeds will be wrong inevitably. “Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree can not bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Wherefore, by their fruits ye
shall know them."
But it may be asked here : Is not some fruit manifestly evil, and are not some amusements evidently wrong? If we should answer this affirmatively it would come round to the same point again. For, if there were no corrupt tree, there could be no evil fruit, and all wrong amusements with every other wrong thing would disappear if the evil heart were gone. The wrong is nowhere else than in the unrighteous will. Now this unrighteous will can manifest itself either in the prayer meeting or the ball room, and it will assume the one form rather than the other, whenever it can thus best gain its selfish ends.
But is every act then in itself indifferent, and are we to take no heed of anything done, while we look only to the intention of the doer? Are there not some practices against which we must set our faces like a flint? Do not some things have an appearance of evil which we are expressly commanded to avoid ? This inquiry can be most clearly answered if put in a different form. In general terms the question amounts to this : Does the action of a man have any reflex effect upon the man himself? Stamped as it is with the moral quality of the
intention, does a good or evil act work back again upon the intention which has produced it with any good or evil power? To this it must be replied that all our moral faculties are strengthened by their every exercise. A man's disposition to steal is stronger from every theft, and any wrong purpose becomes more intense by the wrong deed in which it is executed. Also the 'fires of devotion are fed by their own flames and every loving heart becomes more loving by loving. It is doubtless, therefore, well to repress some deeds and encourage others. But what deeds? Here again we are to look at the deed in the light of the intention, though perhaps in some instances we can only discover the intention by the deed itself. Anything whereby we become less susceptible to holy impressions reveals a wrong intention, however secret or subtle, and as this intention strengthens itself by its exercise, every exercise which reveals it should cease. Whether balls, theatres, cardplaying, etc., are proper amusements, will therefore at once be answered if we notice whether they are pursued with a proper intention, and if there be any doubt respecting this, it can be solved by noticing whether there is thus displayed an increasing zest, or a growing aversion to religious things.
But our best means of repressing wrong amusements will be in cultivating the heart. The baby will give up his rattle and toy of his own accord, when he ceases to be a baby, while no amount of persuasion could lead him to do it before. A man does not play marbles, or trundle his hoop in the street. He did this when a child, and though his growth to manhood may have been slow, yet when he became a man he put away childish things.
In like manner, frivolous amusements will be discarded by a soul no longer frivolous.
The quickest and most effective judgment respecting wrong amusements, or any wrong courses, will be gained by the mind most sensitive to right. If its true being and destiny can be kept before it, if it can be filled with thoughts of its great relationship to God and goodness, this will teach it quickly to discriminate between things right and wrong. The mind which has the prevailing consciousness of God and duty will have no trouble to distinguish between good and bad amusements.
We may properly refer here to one of the most noticeable
passages of the Bible, bearing upon this point : “Rejoice, O young man,
in thy youth, and let thy heart cheer thee in the days of thy youth, and walk in the ways of thy heart and in the sight of thine eyes, but know thou that for all these things God will bring thee into judgment.” No good reason appears for regarding the former part of this verse as a strain of irony, wherein the sacred Author sarcastically taunts us for the exercise of our original propensities. Rather does it seem to be a divine permission, or perhaps a solemn injunction, to reap the harvest of gladness which we find ready sown and ripened for us in life. There is the command, but as everywhere else, so here, there is the caution too. Rejoice, indeed, and do it heartily, but remember the account to be rendered for it all. Not that the caution makes the command only a mockery, not as though the thought of the coming judgment should destroy every relish for the present joy, but rather that the gladness of this life is to be elevated and hallowed, and set in its due proportions and relationship by the remembrance of the realities and the glories of the life to come.
And this is exactly in the line of our argument hitherto. We need the true principle of life to direct us in all the conduct of life. The thought of a coming judgment keeps us constantly watchful of our preparation for it. It need not fill us with dread, for perfect love casteth out fear, and to the true heart nothing is so welcome as a judgment according to truth.
THE ARCHÆOLOGY OF THE TRIAL AND CRUCIFIXION
OVER the greater part of the life of our Saviour there hangs a silence which in vain we seek to break. Even his public ministry, crowded as it was with events the most wonderful, and characterized by words such as man never spake, has come down to us only in fragmentary narratives. Not so imperfect, however, is the record of the last days of Christ. The story of the trial and crucifixion is told by the sacred writers with a minuteness of detail unusual in the Gospels. The scenes of that painful march from Gethsemane to Calvary are all complete. Even the season of the year is distinctly marked ; and we know not only the days of the week on which the several events occurred, but also, in some instances, the very hours of the day. Nor is this all. Many of the characters introduced into the sacred narratives are noticed in contemporary history. Besides, the social, political, and judicial customs, to which reference is made, are explained either by Roman or Jewish writ
To sketch the trial and crucifixion of our Saviour in these different lights, and from these different points of observation, is our purpose
in this article.
JESUS IN THE HOUSE OF ANNAS.
When the detachment of the Roman cohort, and the officers of the Jews who had been sent by the Sanhedrim to arrest Jesus, had returned to Jerusalem with their prisoner, they led him, as we learn from John, first to Annas. Annas, or Ananus according to Josephus, had, at an earlier period of his life, filled the office of high priest. He received his appointment, A. D. 12, from Quirinus, the imperial governor of Syria ; but eleven years after, he was deposed by Valerius Gratus, who on the accession of Nero Tiberius to the throne of the Cæsars, had been made procurator of Judæa. This interference by a Roman official was by no means acceptable to the Jews, who, however de•graded politically, were still jealous of their religious rights. It may be, therefore, that Annas, though deprived of his sacred office, continued to be regarded by the Jews themselves as the lawful high priest during the remainder of his life. Certainly he retained the title, and somewhat of the dignity, pertaining to his former station.
Into his presence, before it was yet day, Jesus was brought; Bengel says, “solum honoris causa.” Wiesler and others suppose that Annas was their Nasi, or President of the Sanhedrim, an office, which, it would seem, was not always filled by the high priest. Lightfoot infers that as "he was the older man, of greater experience and skill in the law," "they desired that