Saturday, April 25, 2009
Almost, but not quite as brilliant as your lab partner Reed Richards, you turn from science to the mystic arts, combine the powers of magic and science, have a terrible accident and emerge as Doctor Doom. Arch-enemy of the fabled Fantastic Four, school mate of their leader, Richards, Victor Von Doom has got to be The most Stan Lee-esque named villain of all time.
But not satisfied with merely competing with the stretchy and really smart Mr. Fantastic, Doom has gone on to become absolute monarch of his own nation and a time traveller - forever confusing comic readers everywhere.
Doom is both one of the most fascinating and ubiquitous villains in comic history. He can be complex, even heroic at times, but then, well, he just gets all selfish again.
One important word on Victor Doom. I am a big fan of the FF movies, but ignore Doom as therein portrayed. He is the greatest weakness of the films. Sadly, Doom in the comics is one of the those characters that is SO larger than life that I do not think he can be adapted to the big screen. Despite being the FF's greatest enemy - he should have been left out of the films.
But in his comic incarnations he can be nothing short of delicious. Huge, over-the-top fun - like comics should be.
Friday, April 24, 2009
Most of us, I think, recognize the pattern and the inherent sarcasm. But it raises interesting questions. Consumerism appears to be, at least temporarily, on the wane. (I would argue gross consumerism may be, but not general consumerism, but that is an argument for a different post.) The recent religious identity survey says fewer Americans are identifying religiously.
So. You want me in your church. Here’s how to get me.
You’ve got an hour....
And then the band amps back up....
Like I said. I’m a consumer. Oh. And a sort of a Christian. If you build this, I will come.
So here is the question - if consumerism is dying, and we have a consumerism based church, does the religious identity survey reflect changes in religion or consumer habit? And if so, what does that say about the "religious" commitment of those that are no longer identifying?
There is a great deal of value in learning from other sources, but there are limits. There is a uniqueness to what the church does that cannot be fully handled in any other way.
I also wonder about the stewardship aspects of spending so many resources in pursuit of strategies that do not produce the results desired. Think about how much has been poured into building churches on this consumeristic model over the last couple of decades, only to have the "results" disappear in the whisper of an economic downturn. Is that really the best use of the time and treasure God has given us?
Friday Humor - Low Brow Edition
And while we are on the topic check out this amazing news story from yesterday. Yes, truth can be funnier than fiction.
Thursday, April 23, 2009
Nothing LIke Those Unintended Consequences
Last week in Arthurs Creek, north of Melbourne, angry residents blamed the ‘green’ policies of the area council which prevented them from properly controlling vegetation surrounding their properties. In a debate similar to what we have seen played out here in Colorado, deep undergrowth and a lack of proper forest management can cause wildfires to burn hotter and faster than what they would otherwise.There are really two factors at play here - assuming you see everything and bad modeling - they are actually related.
Short sightedness is when we interpret local phenomena on too broad a scale. Example: Many people feel that landfill waste will overrun the planet. Some landfills do get full and unsightly, but that does not make the concept of landfilling invalid. In his famous book The Skeptical Environmentalist, Bjorn Lomborg calculated that all the waste for the next several centuries, with allowance for expansion in waste production, could be landfilled in a single county in Oklahoma. Just becasue your landfill is having problems, does not mean that landfilling in general is a problem.
Bad modeling is when we think we have a system figured out and we do not. Consider weather predictions - right now, weather uses some of the most computationally complex modeling in human history and yet it is still not all that accurate. Any computer model is only as good as the data that goes into it. Often times, particularly on large systems like weather, we are dealing with limited data sets. Yes, we know the weather at the Atlanta airport really well, but out in the Georgia countryside, we know much less, and out in the middle of the Atlantic we know even less. Part of the improvement in weather forecasting in recent decades has been building a system that collects sufficient weather data in remote places.
But weather suffers from being reasonably well understood, and a natural phenomena. The former advantage means we pretty well know the factors that influence weather and the later means it is repeatable. But when we try and model systems that incorporate the inherently unrepeatable - like human (or animal) behavior, or where we do not have handle on all the factors - the economy, our predictive capabilities lessen significantly.
An ecological system is first of all arbitrarily defined. The boundaries on the system are fuzzy and difficult to define. But within any such system there are literally thousands of factors at play, the vast majority of which involve inherently unrepeatable phenomena since it is animal behavior.
So, back to the fires. You no longer have cute wallabies hanging out in the front yard becasue the vegetation is too thin. The ecological system that is your yard could have cute wallabies in it if the vegetation were thick enough. So you let it grow. You built a model, motivated by your short-sightedness, on an arbitrarily defined ecological system. You neglected the fire factor in your model which would have caused the wallabies to move on anyway.
And now for a spiritual lesson. The essence of being a Christian is to sacrifice your will for God's. But that is a good thing becasue only God has both sufficient data and broad-sightedness to see all the factors and build complete models.
There are no unintended consequences with Jesus.
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Wednesday, April 22, 2009
The Untold Lessons of Narnia
But all we are told in The Last Battle is this: Susan has turned her back on Narnia in favor of nylons, lipstick, and party invitations. Boys, much less the joy of sex, don’t even merit a mention. More disconcerting is her quietly alarming capacity for self-deception: We are told that she also dismisses her fifteen-odd years of memories as Queen in Narnia as the product of childish fantasy.Does that make you as sad as it does me? And you know what I am not even sad for Susan, I am sad for the so many here that have met Jesus but have never grown up. Of course, there are those that hold Jesus in a box - only let "churchy things" penetrate so far into their lives. But they are not the ones that really concern me at the moment. I am more concerned with those that, like Susan at Aslan's resurrection, have danced with the Lord of the universe and yet are caught in some sort of perpetual childhood. Some, like Susan, view the dance as a dream, but more spend their lives trying to continue the dance when Aslan has bigger plans. Of course, when the dance never returns, the disillusionment may set in.
This detail gives a more poignant shading to Susan’s downfall. As Polly Plummer, one of the senior “friends of Narnia,” puts it in The Last Battle, Susan is set to become not a real adult, but a perpetual teenager locked into “the silliest time of one’s life.” She is a child’s caricature of adulthood. “I wish she would grow up!” cries Polly.
Why do we play at faith? Like little girls at a pretend tea party, we dress up, we talk the talk, we bring the cup to our lips and tell ourselves we are drinking tea when all along the cup is empty. And yet, real tea, or in reality Christ's blood, is right there on the table.
Alderman has hope:
Spiritual childhood—which is never childish—may take years to appear. God’s grace is bestowed on us as we struggle and fumble our way through life, descending upon us in the strangest places and coming to fruition when we least expect it. And, in that circuitous, delayed redemption, Susan is most like us as we rise and stumble over our own versions of lipstick and nylons and rise again through God’s providence. Like us, she is made for something better, for she is a queen and, even more honorably, a daughter of Eve.And note where that hope lies - in repentance.
It pleased the great Emperor-over-the-Sea to let her wander in exile until the time was ripe for her return. Only he knows when that might be. Susan’s future is unknown, as are ours, save to God. In spite of her rejection, I think she might yet have carried the treasure of her time in Narnia into true adulthood. For repentance—even from the sillier, frillier sins—may have the strangest roots. [emphasis added]
And therein lies the rub. Susan never learned what Edmund and Eustace learned through such difficult circumstances - and the church needs to learn to proclaim again and again. It is indeed a tea party, but getting in means actually admitting you are dirty so you can be really cleaned before you dress up.
It's not a "turn or burn" message - it's a message of real and genuine hope.
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Tuesday, April 21, 2009
But What Was Tested?
Yesterday I got a great email from Pastor Tommy Jackson. Tommy is the pastor of Rose Heights Church in Longview, TX. Tommy wanted to find out if he church was living out the current sermon series on compassion. So, he arranged for a smelly, drunk man to show up in the parking lot on a recent Sunday to see how people would react to him as they entered for worship. No one knew, though, that the person that reeked of smoke and alcohol was actually Tommy Jackson, their pastor.and then commented:
What a great, innovative idea to put into action a sermon series.This is an important issue. I nearly came to blows once with a usher that tried to shoo-away a homeless man that had walked into services because "His odor was disruptive." But this idea turned me off.
Part of it was the show-boating and grandstanding by the pastor himself. Why pretend to be a bum when so many real ones are available to do the job?
The more I think about it, the more it seems apparent this was a stunt, not a lesson. I mean, after all, it made TV. After all, Jesus said:
Matt 6:3-4 - "But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing that your alms may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will repay you.The real test of compassion is what happens when no one is looking.
What was the most compassionate act in all of history? Well, my vote would go for Christ allowing His crucifixion to be carried out. Was it on TV? Who besides His closest circle really knew what was going on? It was a media event int he sense that all crucifixions were, but Jesus Himself was a prop in the media coverage.
Stunts don't change people - televised stunts REALLY don't change people. The Holy Spirit, brought through prayer, relationship and love - that changes people.
Monday, April 20, 2009
A Lesson In Humility From A Funny Place
Sure, it would be nice if Boyle goes on to win the finals of this competition -- and even to meet the queen. But to me that's not the point. In a world that is sometimes rife with bloated résumés, stage mothers, fawning friends, self-adulation, narcissism and bedroom shelves holding too many meaningless trophies from middle school, here is a woman who took an accurate measure of her worth and put it to the test in the white-hot crucible of reality TV.Woulda thunk that? The real appeal here is the woman's genuine humility?!?!?!?!? Actually, that is exactly what I liked about it.
There's nothing wrong with pride. It's false pride that is the problem.
For now, the 47-year-old single woman has returned to Blackburn, her small village in Scotland, where I pray she can be preserved and defended from stylists, colorists, manicurists, eyebrow waxers, record producers, morning talk shows and other makeover mavens who will seek to dye her roots, define her waistline and steal her purity.
Humility is not about not being worthy, it is about know precisely your worth, and the source thereof. In our media saturated age, when it seems like self-promotion is a never ending battle just to accomplish the slightest thing publicly, this woman did it based on talent, and without a hint of self-promotion.
Susan Boyle is the biggest thing to hit the Internet since "Snakes on a Plane" and I actually think she is much, much bigger.
There is a lesson for the church in all of this. Real, genuine, widespread appeal lies not in the self-promotion and posturing of our media culture, but of being good at what we say we are good at.
Think about it.
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Sunday, April 19, 2009
Sermons and Lessons
Deut. 6:13: (the latter part of the verse) - And SHALT swear by his name.
There is a set of men in the world, who need only be known in order to be despised; men, who are a constant subject for ridicule, and justly the derision of the gay and more refined part of the human species: men who are so stupid, as to be more enamoured with the pleasure of a benevolent action, more charmed with giving joy to the helpless and miserable, with drying up the tears of the distressed, or soothing the agonies of the bursting heart, than with the lordly pride of wanton power, than in rendering the wretched more wretched, than with spurning at patient merit, or even the satisfaction of racking tenants, hoarding wealth, or all the high gratification of a debauch; more delighted with the visionary pleasure of indulging their own reflections, and the applause of a - conscience, than with the charms of a bottle, the transports afforded by the lascivious wanton, or all the high-wrought indulgences of a luxurious appetite. And, in one word, to sum up their character, more afraid of a false, or even an unnecessary oath, than of the point of a sword.
It is with these poor mean-spirited wretches, that I am now to combat, in order to shew the great advantages that attend a strict compliance with the injunction in my text, And thou shalt wear by his name. I shall not here take up your time in examining the context, or even in considering what is meant by the command in my text, which some would confine to the necessary oaths, taken in a court of judicature; but, like all sound divines, and in compliance with the custom of all good commentators and disputants, consider the passage bethren us, in that latitude, which is most adapted to answer my particular design.
One man takes his text, and endeavours, with the most elaborate eloquence, to prove, that the bible he preaches from is a work not fit to be read; that it never was designed for the instruction of such blockheads as his audience, who, by look ing into it, incur damnation. What concerns all to know, must be read by none but the priest, or whom he shall appoint. How glorious that revelation, which, in the hands of the multitude, points the way to misery, hut, in those of the church, to eternal life! It is she alone, w ho can infallibly inform us, that lose, and charity, and compassion, and tenderness, so often mentioned in that old hook, the bible, mean spite, and hatred, and inquisition, and burning faggots.
Another, with pious snuffle, and all the moving force of sighs and groans, proves, that the God of truth is the God of falsehood; and, finding his scheme contradicted, by the language of scripture, from scripture nicely distinguishes between a revealed and a secret will, both opposite, both contradictory to each other. Scripture he proves to be a lie; his opinion he proves to be true from scripture. He wisely turns out common sense, to make room for grace. He degrades reason, as being in league with the devil, and, in the pious ardour of his heart, saves himself the trouble of thinking, and cries out - I believe, because it is impossible. Ye deists rejoice in these our friends! Admit them into your societies! They, like you, can darken truth, they have assisted you in setting fragment against fragment; and, when the dazzling sunbeams shine too bright, can wisely close their eves. Let me too be permitted to rank myself on this side, and, countenanced by such great authorities, to take a text that suits my present purpose, regardless of every other passage that may be supposed to contradict it: nay, regardless of the text itself, any further than as it may serve for a plausible introduction to what I have to offer.
It is sufficient, therefore, that w e have here a command to swear by the name of God; which I shall take, in the common and vulgar sense of the word swearing, to mean, not only all manner of oaths, but whatever goes under the denomination of swearing in conversation, as oaths, curses, and imprecations.
In treating this subject I shall consider,
I. The many advantages attending the frequent use of oaths, curses, and imprecations: in which will be sufficiently proved, the falseness of that assertion, that swearing is attended with neither pleasure nor profit.
II. Answer some objections. And,
III. Make a suitable application.
I. I am to consider the many advantages arising from a frequent use of oaths, curses, and imprecations.
In the first place, this genteel accomplishment is a wonderful help to discourse; as it supplies the want of good sense, learning, and eloquence. The illiterate and stupid, by the help of oaths, become orators; and he, whose wretched intellects would not permit him to utter a coherent sentence, by this easy practice, excites the laughter, and fixes the attention, of a brilliant and joyous circle. He begins a story, he is lost in a vacuity of thought, and would instantly, to his eternal dishonour, become silent, did not a series of oaths and imprecations give him time to gather up, or rather seek the thread of his discourse: he begins again, again he is lost, but having complimented his friends, by calling for eternal damnation on them all, he has thought what to say next, and finds him¬self able to proceed with a sentence or two more. Thus he still talks on, while thought follows slowly after. Blest expedient! by the use of which, polite conversation glides on uninterrupted, while sound is happily substituted in the place of sense: by this, mankind communicate familiar noises to each other, with as little intellectual ability and labour, as a pack of well-matched hounds; so often the object of their delight and admiration! 0 how preposterously absurd then! how false, and contrary to experience, is that ridiculous assertion, that swearing is attended with neither pleasure nor profit! For what higher pleasure, what greater profit and advantage can a man enjoy, than to find, that, in spirit of nature, who has directed him to be silent, lie can hear himself talk - talk without stammering, or drawling out each heavy sentence, that lags behind to wait on thought. Ye idiots rejoice! ye coxcombs, whose costive brain ne’er dictated the flowing sentiment, be glad! Ye, whom learning never fired, in stupid ignorance lost, exult! Blest with ease and indolence, you talk, and those, like you, admire; while listening demons clap their wings, and grin applause.
Forgive me, Sirs, it, fired with my subject, I lose my usual moderation; for who can help being warmed at the mention of such glorious advantages as these? Advantages, which level the conversation of the mighty, and raise the oratory of the carman and porter. Here the lowest frequently excel; the plowman, with clouted shoon, outvies his competitors, and practices the vices of the gentleman, with more success than the lord of the manor, or the splendid courtier, though adorned with star and garter. Here no abilities, no learning, are necessary, no studious hours are required to attain perfection. Tropes and figures, all the flowers of oratory, all the pedantry of the schools, are vain and useless trumpery, compared to these ornaments: they require pains and study, nor can be applied without judgment, and the toil of reading what are foolishly called, the ingenious and polite authors: but swearing is, as I have said, learning to the ignorant, eloquence to the blockhead, vivacity to the stupid, and wit to the coxcomb.
Secondly, Oaths and curses are a proof of a most heroic courage, at least in appearance, which answers the same end. For who can doubt the valour, the intrepidity of him who braves the thunder of heaven, who affronts the most formidable being in the universe, and treats with contempt, that all enlivening principle, which sustains and animates the whole creation? To what a noble elation is the heart of the coward conscious, when he thus defies the Almighty, and imprecates the fires of hell! Let the blustering bully domineer, let him roar out his curses, and threaten all who dare provoke the vengeance of his potent arm; let him terrify by a surly frown, and intimidate when, with portly gait, he vents ten thousand oaths and curses on the wretch, who impudently presumes to oppose his mighty will - who dares doubt his courage? Who can believe, that the cane, or the toe, when duly applied, have such magic power, as to make him twist and writhe himself like a serpent, till, with this exercise, his joints, and his mind, become so supple, that he can bend and cringe and ask pardon? Let the meek soldier boast his deeds of war, and, with oaths and execrations lace the self-flattering tale; who can believe that so great a hero should have an antipathy to the sight of steel? Or that he, who challenges the blasting lightning to fall on his head, would tremble, and turn pale, at the flash of a pistol? No, this must never be imagined; for can it be supposed that he has less bravery in the field than in the tavern? With these blustering expletives, then, the coward may strut and look big, and every minute give fresh proofs of au invincible courage: lie may bravely sport with that being, whose would make the heavens and earth to tremble: lie may seem to snatch the vengeance from his uplifted hand, and throw it on his foe: lie may invoke the wrath of heaven: and who can imagine that he is afraid of death, when lie is continually calling for all the horrors of hell?
Thirdly, He hereby not only gives a proof of his courage, but informs the world, that lie is entirely divested of all the foolish prejudices of education, and has unlearned
All that the nurse, and all the priest have taught.
that he has not only shook off the shackles of enthusiasm, but has banished from his mind, that reverence of the deity, which is the foundation of every system of religion. He is not suspected of being such a tool as to want instruction, since it cannot be imagined, that lie has so dull a taste as to go to church, unless, if lie be a gentleman, to ogle the ladies; if a clown, to sleep; or, if a tradesman, in complaisance to the sober old women of both sexes, who happen to be his customers: and he has this additional advantage, that lie will never he taken for a pious churchman, a presbyterian, a quaker, or a methodist. And, in reality, he is so far from being a bigot to any religious principles, that he belongs to no religious society upon earth. That he is not, nor cannot be a Christian, is evident; for, what is christianity? It is extensive benevolence, humanity, and virtue, to which he bids defiance with every curse. He cannot be a deist, because they openly profess the utmost reverence for the deity; and, fur the same reason, he can neither he a Jew, or a Mahometan, or a follower of Confucius. No, nor even an atheist; since we cannot conceive, that lie would so often call upon God, if lie was thoroughly convinced there was no such being in the universe; however, he every minute lets us see, that he does not fear him. How unlicensed is his freedom, how glorious and unconstrained! Let the wretches, who meanly bend their wills, and regulate their actions, by the sage dictates of reason and conscience; who stoop to follow the rules of religion, and call them sacred; let these bridle their tongues, let these confine themselves within the narrow limits prescribed by reason and good sense; the swearer knows better; sense, and reason, and religion, are all subservient to his will, he disdains their fetters, and rules those which rule all the world beside.
Fourthly, and lastly, Another advantage which attends this vice of the gentleman, this noble accomplishment, is, that it sometimes raises him to dignity and honour. Under this head, indeed, I take a greater latitude and advert to a remote consequence of the practice of swearing: but, as there is such a close concatenation in all our habits, and virtue and vice are progressive in their very nature, I should not do complete justice to my subject, if I omitted the consideration of it in this particular view. When a man, therefore, by a happy association of ideas, joins to the other advantages of this vice, ideas of wealth and grandeur; when he sees no argument, that appears of any weight, to bind him down to the unthrifty rules of honesty, and his regard for his own private advantage is too strong to let him have any for the private property of his neighbour; what should hinder him, when a fair opportunity offers, from raising himself by the ruin of his neighbour, his companion, or his dearest friend? He has swore to a thousand lies in company, without any view of private advantage; what should prevent him then from taking one false oath, when the advantage is so considerable? Surely, neither conscience, nor reason, nor religion, can do this: no, that is impossible; for I, who am as infallible as any dignified priest, that ever mounted a pulpit, have asserted, that these are all subservient to his will.
Here the swearer, with an unbounded ambition, aspires to seize on wealth, and boldly to grasp at those riches, which fortune has foolishly given to a more deserving person; and this, in spite of JUSTICE and EQUITY, who are his professed enemies. Thus he rises above the multitude, and gains a last¬ing fame; not by blood and slaughter, but by cunning, deceit, and artifice; by bursting through the most solemn engagements, breaking in sunder the bonds of society, and only violating what all honest men hold sacred. Suppose, that lie fails in his attempt, and the property of the person lie has attacked remains inviolate: lie is conveyed to a castle, strong as that of a crowned head where no impertinent intruders dare appear to disturb his repose: for in the day time, he has a porter to stand at his gate; in the night his faithful attendants lock and bar his doors.
Surrounded with guards, he pays a solemn visit at the seat of JUSTICE; he has the honour of being admitted to the royal bench; lie converses with that sovereign personage herself, and for a considerable time, takes up the whole attention of her prime ministers, the lords of her court, who, assiduous to pay all due respect, wait his coming in their proper habiliments; and, though it be ever so early in the day, he is never received with the disrespectful negligence of au undress. The ceremony being over, he is reconducted by the same guards who brought him thither, and who dare not presume to leave him, till lie is safe within his palace. He now soon receives the reward of his baffled dexterity, the glorious fruit of his ambition. The day arrives, devoted to mirth and jollity; business and care are laid aside, and every labouring hand has now a holy day He walks, or rides in his triumphal car, attended by a numerous throng of gazing spectators: lie is mounted above their heads, and his neck, not his temples, adorned with a civic wreath, and his wrists with an embrasure, composed of a matter, something coarser, indeed, than that of pearls and diamonds. This is no sooner done, than gaping thousands scud forth shouts of joy, and bending low, even to the ground, pay him homage; then rising up, with loud acclamations, present their tribute, striving who most shall pay, who oftenest bend. He is covered, he is loaded, with their gifts, and sensibly touched with their bounty. The more he gains, the more unenvied here he stands, while all rejoice, and give the applause that is his due. But let his modesty be ever SO great, let his blushes he like the trickling drops of crimson, painting his bashful cheek, and prompting a willingness to retire from these honours; vet one hour, at least lie is restrained to stay, to receive the willing offerings of the multitude. Thrice happy man! had conscience, or bad reason sway’d, thou never hadst thus been blest; unknown thou mightest have lived, unknown have died.
II. I come now in the second place, to answer some objections: but as these, after what has been said, must appear extremely trifling, I shall be as concise as possible, and hasten to a conclusion. It is said,
In the first place, That the swearer acts in direct opposition to all the rules of right reason.
But how can this be called an objection against swearing? What have we to do with right reason? - We leave it to the dull wretches, the men of reflection: and yet there are some of these, who attempt to mimic us: but if they act inconsistently with their own abilities, let them hook to that. Au upright man is a downright fool, if he swears at all. Let those who can talk without it, extol their wonderous talents; they have no need of this polite vice to recommend them to the world. The squeamish wretch, who is afraid of a lie, has no need to swear to what he says, for he is certain that his word will be readily taken. But away with these yea and nay wretches, men born to be pointed at; the sheepish, the sober fools, who, regard less of the boundless liberty we enjoy, talk of rectitude of manners, religion, and conscience.
Secondly, and hastily, it is objected, that it is one of the most senseless, unnatural, rude, and unmannerly vices, that ever was invented.
This, it must be confessed, is paying a fine compliment to, at least, half the polite world. How can that be rude and un¬mannerly, which gives such a grace to conversation? ‘Tis true, we express ourselves strongly, and use none of those languid, sneaking, epithets in our discourse, which your modest men, your men of humanity make use of but as we talk without meaning, nobody can say that we mean ill. And, indeed, it is a very injurious expression, to say that this is unnatural, when so many of us have the honour of being universally deemed to be little better than naturals.
And now, Sirs, I have proved, so effectually, the great advantages, attending the practice of this genteel and fashionable vice, that there needs but one word by way of application.
Consider, 0 consider, how inestimable are the advantages I have mentioned! If there is any one here desirous of obtaining these, and yet is troubled, and intimidated, with the impertinence of a restless conscience, flying in his face, and threatening to haunt him, hike a ghost, let him but follow my advice, and conscience will fall asleep. Would he steel his heart against compunction, let him advance by degrees; if he is afraid of an oath, let him conic as near it as he can, let him cry, egad, damnation, and o’dram ye; let him thus chip and carve a few common-place expressions, to fit them to his conscience, and the business will be done. This, practice will render familiar, and the coward, who first trembled, at the thought of hell, will soon have the courage to call for damnation.
And now, ye who have long indulged this vice, who have arrived at perfection in this great accomplishment, and by this means, have gained that applause, which mature would have denied you, which reason refused, and conscience condemned: you, I say, who, by the assistance of this vice, have distinguished yourselves, either as the orator, the pimp, or the bully: you who, with more distinguished glory have graced the lofty pillory; and you who, under specious oath is of speedy marriage, have violated virgin innocence, and rewarded the maid, that loved you, with eternal infamy; consider these noble advantages, applaud, congratulate yourselves, and rejoice: you have hot stopped at the most flagrant impieties; you have challenged, and defied, the blasting power of heaven to do its worst, and with a disinterestedness, peculiar to yourselves, have generously sold the reversion of eternal, inexhaustible happiness, merely for the pleasure of affronting that great beneficent being, who has prepared it fur you, your indulgent creator, and almighty friend. How nobly ungrateful! how unselfish your conduct! Boast your bravery, and consider the wisdom of the exchange: for how blind must you be to every self-interested view, how deaf to the calls of self-love, while infinite unbounded felicity has no charms, when standing in competition with the delight of affronting a benefactor, with the pleasure of a curse, and the satisfaction of hearing your own impertinence! STUPIDITY, IGNORANCE, and FOLLY, are on your side: act therefore, like men, who profess to be their friends; and like the true enemies to REASON, RELIGION, VIRTUE, and COMMON SENSE. You have seen your practice justified with advantages, which you have never before thought of: if these have any weight, if these have any charms, let them have all their influence. To sum up all, let every man act consistently with his real character, and, by his indulgence of this practice, or his forbearance, let his abilities, or his fol¬lies, stand confessed.