Directions About Sports and Recreations – Richard Baxter

Originally from here.

Five football fights between Messi and Ramos | SportzPointThis section represents the general Puritan view on the subject of sports, games, athletics, entertainment, and plays. It is taken from Richard Baxter’s A Christian Directory, which was published in 1673. You may not agree with everything he says here; and I don’t necessarily either. Although I will say that I agree with most of what he is saying. Some of his archaic English words have been modernized or paraphrased in this article to make it easier to read. I have personally developed somewhat of an anti-sports view over the course of my life (but not to the point of the Amish), because I have noticed that sports are often plagued by egotistical and competitive attitudes, which unsanctify the hearts of the athletes. While athletics are generally beneficial to physical health, I would agree with Baxter that the competitive and egotistical nature of many of them, runs against most of the principles of Christian holiness. On the one hand, “Bodily exercise profits a little bit” (1 Tim. 4:8); but on the other hand, “In everything, then, do to others as you would have them do to you. For this is the essence of the law and the prophets” (Matt. 7:12). Most of the kinds of sports available to us today, do not encourage the Golden Rule. They get people into thinking about defeating an enemy, or even hating an enemy. Baxter can help us to see why and how certain types of sports might be avoided, while others still might be physically useful, while at the same time not harmful to the soul. Some of the biggest takeaways that I’ve noticed are:

1. If non-Christians are playing any sport, then they will definitely make an ungodly use of it; and anyone engaged in the game will have to be involved in that.

2. Intense physical exercise on Sunday seems to break the Sabbath requirement to rest and worship.

3. It is obvious that athletes often tend to “defame and reproach other men” while they are stirred up into a spirit of competition. This in turn leads to “swearing, and cursing, and railing, and fighting.”

4. Many sports have a violent element to them, such as football, boxing, hockey, etc, and can only be viewed as “cruel recreations” that should be labeled “unlawful” in God’s sight, because they only encourage people to take “pleasure in the beholding of duelers, fighters, or any that abuse each other.”

5. Such sports as those mentioned above are but temptations and time wasters for Christians, who can be engaged in much healthier athletic activities and exercises, which will strengthen the body and mind, and not endanger the soul: such as walking, running, weight lifting, etc. 

6. We should be careful not to become “lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God” (1 Timothy 3:4). Too many athletes and sports enthusiasts get themselves so passionate about their games, that they neglect and hate the Bible, theology, prayer, or any talk about the Spirit of God, soteriology, and any spiritual things at all. And so Baxter concludes, and I think rightly, that “an idle time wasting sensual sporter, every one should look on with pity as a miserable wretch.”                –J.B.

§. 1. Direct. 1. If you would escape the sin and danger, which men commonly run into by unlawful sporting, under pretense of lawful recreations; you must understand what lawful recreation is, and what is its proper end and use. No wonder else if you sin, when you know not what you do?

§. 2. No doubt but some sport and recreation is lawful, even needful, and therefore a duty to some men. Lawful sport or recreation is the use of some natural thing or action, not forbidden us, for the exhilarating of the natural spirits by the mind, and due exercise of the natural parts, thereby to fit the body and mind for ordinary duty to God. It is some delightful exercise.

§. 3. 1. We do not call unpleasing labor by the name of sport or recreation; though it may be better and more necessary. 2. We call not every delight by the name of sport or recreation: for eating and drinking, may be delightful, and holy things and duties may be delightful; and yet not properly sports or recreations. But it is the mind that is chiefly delighted by sports.

§. 4. Qual. 1. All these things following are necessary to the lawfulness of a sport or recreation, and the want of any one of them will make and prove it to be unlawful. 1. The end which you really intend in using it, must be to fit you for your service to God; that is, either for your callings, or for his worship, or some work of obedience in which you may please and glorify him. 1 Corinthians 10:31: “Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” It is just to your duty, as the mowers’ sharpening of his scythe, to make it for to do his work.

§. 5. Qual. 2. Therefore the person that uses it, must be one that is heartily devoted to God, and his service, and really lives to do his work, and please and glorify him in the world: which none but the godly truly do! And therefore no carnal ungodly person, that has no such holy end, can use any recreation lawfully: because he uses it not to a due end: for the end is essential to the moral good of any action: and an evil end must necessarily make it evil. Titus 1:15: “Unto the pure all things are pure (that is, all things not forbidden); but unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure, but even their mind and conscience is defiled.”

§. 6. Quest. But must all wicked men therefore forbear recreation?

Answ. 1. Wicked men are such as will not obey God’s law if they know it; and therefore they enquire not what they should do, with any purpose sincerely to obey. But if they would obey; that which God commands them is immediately to forsake their wickedness, and to become the servants of God, and then there will be no room for the question. 2. But if they will continue in a sinful ungodly state, it is in vain to contrive how they may sport themselves without sin. But yet we may tell them that if the sport be materially lawful, it is not the matter, that they are bound to forsake, but it is the sinful end and manner? And till this be reformed they cannot but sin.

§. 7. Qual. 3. A lawful recreation must be a means fitly chosen and used to this end: if it have no aptitude to fit us for God’s service in our ordinary callings and duty, it can be to us no lawful recreation. Though it be lawful to another that it is a real help to, it is unlawful to us.

§. 8. Qual. 4. 4. Therefore all recreations are unlawful, which are themselves preferred before our callings, or which are used by a man that lives idly, or in no calling, and hath no ordinary work to make him need them. For these are no fit means, which exclude our end, instead of furthering it.

§. 9. Qual. 5. 5. Therefore all those are unlawful sports, which are used only to delight a carnal mind, and have no higher end, than to please the sickly mind that loveth them.

§. 10. Qual. 6. 6. And therefore all those are unlawful sports, which really unfit us for the duties of our callings and the service of God: which, laying the benefit and hurt together, do hinder us as much or more than they help us! Which is the case of all voluptuous and lustful people.

§. 11. Qual. 7. 7. All sports are unlawful which take up any part of the time, which we should spend in greater works: such are all those that are unseasonable: (as on the Lord’s Day without necessity, or when we should be at prayer, or any other duty): and all those that take up more time than the end of a recreation doth necessarily require (which is too common).

§. 12. Qual. 8. 8. If a recreation be profane, as making fun of holy things, it is a mocking of God, and villainy unbeseeming any of his creatures, and laying them open to his heaviest vengeance. The children that made sport with calling the prophet bald head were slain by bears.

§. 13. Qual. 9. 9. They are unlawful sports which are used to the wrong of others: as players that defame and reproach other men: and hunters and hawkers that tread down poor men’s corn and hedges.

§. 14. Qual. 10. 10. It is sinful to make fun of other men’s sinning, or to act it ourselves so as to become partakers of it: which is too common with comedians, and other profane wits.

§. 15. Qual. 11. 11. Unclean obscene recreations are unlawful! When filthiness or wantonness is represented without a due expression of its odiousness; or with obscene words or actions. Ephesians 5:3: “But fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not once be once named among you as becometh saints, neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting.”

§. 16. Qual. 12. 12. Those sports are unlawful, which occasion the multiplying of idle words about them; and engage the players in foolish, needless, unprofitable speeches.

§. 17. Qual. 13. 13. And those sports are sinful, which plainly tend to provoke our selves or others to sin: as to lust, to swearing, and cursing, and railing, and fighting or the like.

§. 18. Qual. 14. 14. Those also are sinful, which are the exercise of covetousness, to win other men’s money of them: or that tend to stir up covetousness in those you play with.

§. 19. Qual. 15. 15. Cruel recreations also are unlawful: as taking pleasure in the beholding of duelers, fighters, or any that abuse each other, or any other creatures that needlessly torment each other.

§. 20. Qual. 16. 16. Too costly recreation also is unlawful: when you are but God’s stewards and must be accountable to him for all you have, it’s sinful to expend it needlessly on sports.

§. 21. Qual. 17. 17. Unnecessary recreations forbidden by our lawful governors are unlawful: if they were before lawful to you, yet now they are not; because your king, your pastor, your parents, your masters have power to rule and restrain you in such things; and you must obey them.

§. 22. Qual. 18. 18. Lastly, if you have the choice of diverse recreations before you, you must choose the most fitting: and if you choose one that is less fit and profitable, when a fitter might be chosen, it is your sin: though that which you choose were lawful, if you had no other.

§. 23. By all this it is easy to judge of our common stage plays, gaming, cards, dice, and diverse other such kind of sports. If they have but any one of these evil qualifications they are sinful: and when are they used without very many of them? 1. They are too commonly used by men that never intended to fit themselves for their work and duty by them: yes by men that live not at all to the pleasing and glorifying of God, and know not what it is to be obediently addicted to his service? Yes by men that live not in any constant honest labor, but make a very trade of their recreations, and use them as the chief business of the day.

§. 24. 2. They are sports unfit for the ends of a lawful recreation, as will easily appear to the impartial. For it is either your bodies or your minds that have the greatest need of recreations: Either you are sedentary persons, or have a calling of bodily labor: if you are sedentary persons (as students, scribes, and diverse others) then it is your bodies that have most need of exercise and recreation, and labor is fitter for you than sport; or at least a stirring laboring sport: and in this case to sit at cards, or dice, or a stage play, is, instead of exercising your bodies, to increase the need of exercising them: It stirs not your parts; it warms not your blood; it helps not concoction, attraction, assimilation, &c. It does you much more harm than good, as to your very health. But if you are hard laborers, and need rest for your bodies and recreation for your minds; or are lame or sickly that you cannot use bodily exercise, than surely a hundred profitable exercises are at hand which are more suitable to your case. You have books of necessity to read (as the word of God:) and books of profit to your souls, and books that tend to increase your knowledge in common things; as history, geography, and all arts and sciences! And should not these be any of them more pleasant than your dice, and cards, and plays.

§. 25. 3. At least it is plain that they are not the fittest recreations for any man that intends a lawful end. If you are students, or idle gentlemen, is not walking, or riding, or shooting, or some honest bodily labor rather, that joins pleasure and profit together, a fitter kind of exercise for you? Or if you are laboring persons, and need only pleasure for your minds, should you not take pleasure in God, in Scripture, in holy conference, meditation, or good books? Or if indeed you need a relaxation from both these, have you not profitable history or geography to read? Have you not herbs, and flowers, and trees, and beasts, and birds and other creatures to behold? Have you not fields, or gardens, or meadows, or woods to walk into? Have you not your near relations to delight in; your wives, or children, or friends, or servants? May you not talk with good, and wise, and cheerful men, about things that are both pleasing and edifying to you? Hath God given you such a world of lawful pleasures, and will none of them, nor all of them serve your purposes, without unlawful ones;  or at least unfit ones (which therefore are unlawful): all these are undoubtedly lawful: but cards, and dice, and stage plays are at best, very questionable: among wise and learned men, and good men, and no small number of these, they are condemned as unlawful. And should one that fears God and loves his salvation, choose so doubtful a sport, before such an abundance of undoubtedly lawful ones. If you be so proud or rash as to reply, “Why should I give up my sport for another man’s conceits or judgment?” I will tell you that which shall shame your reply, and you if you can blush. 1. It is not some humorous odd fanatic that I bring against you, nor a single theologian, but it is the judgement of the ancient church itself: the fathers and councils condemn Christians and ministers especially, that use spectacula [spectacles], or behold stage plays and dicing. 2. Even the oldest canons of our own Church of England forbid playing with dice to the clergy, which is because they reputed it evil, or of ill report. 3. Many laws of religious princes do condemn them. 4. Abundance of the most educated holy theologians condemn them. 5. The sober-minded and educated among the Catholics condemn them. 6. And how great a number of the most spiritual ministers and people are against them, of the age and place in which you live, you are not ignorant. And is the judgment of the ancient church, and of councils, and fathers, and of the most educated Protestants and Catholics, and the most religious people, besides many ancient laws and canons, of no force with you in such a case as this? Will you hold to a thing admittedly unnecessary, against the judgment of so many that account them sinful? Are you and your play fellows more wise and learned than all these? Or is it not an extreme form of pride for such unread and shallow men, to prefer their sensual conceits, before such a concurrent stream of wiser and more ponderous judgments? Read but Dr. Io. Reignolds his Treatise Against Stage-Plays, against Albericus Gentilis, and you will see what a world of witnesses are against you. And if the judgment of Voetius, Amesius and other educated men against all lotteries be of no authority, at least it should move you that even Mr. Gataker, and other that write for the lawfulness of them in that respect (as lotteries) do yet lay down the rest of the requisites to make them lawful, which utterly condemn our common use of cards and dice, much more our gamesters: so that all the sober divines that ever I read or heard, condemn all these? And are you wiser than all of them?

§. 26. 4. Besides this, your consciences know that you are so far from them using to fit you for your callings, that you either live idly out of a calling, or else you prefer them before your callings: you have no mind of your work, because your mind is so much upon your play, you have no mind of your home or family, but are weary of your business; because your sports withdraw your hearts: and you are so far from using them to prepare you for any holy duty, that they utterly unfit you, and corrupt your hearts with such a kind of sensual delight, as makes them more backward to all that is good; insomuch that many of you, even grow so desperate as to hate and scorn it. This is the benefit that it brings to you.

§. 27. 5. And you cannot but know what a time wasting sin it is: suppose the game were never so lawful! Is it lawful to lay out so many hours upon it? as if you had neither souls, nor bodies, nor families, nor estates, nor God, nor death, nor Heaven to mind?

§. 28. 6. And how much profaneness, or abuse of others is in many of your stage plays? How much wantonness and amorous folly, and representing sin in a manner to entice men to it, rather than to make it odious, making fun of sin; with a great deal more such evil. And your cards and dice are the exercise usually of covetousness, the occasion of a great deal of idle talk, and foolish babble about every dice that is cast, and every card; and often times the occasion of cursing, and swearing, and railing, and hatred of those that win your money, and oft it hath occasioned fighting, and murder itself. And even your huntings are commonly recreations that are so costly; as that the charge that keeps a pack of hounds, would keep a poor man’s family that is now in want: besides the time that this also consumes. So that the case is clear, that our gamesters and licentious sportful gallants, are a sort of people that have blinded their minds and seared their consciences, and despise the laws and presence of God, and forget death and judgement, and live as if there were no life to come, neglecting their miserable souls, and having no delight in the Word or holy worship of God, nor the forethoughts of eternal joys, and therefore seek for their pleasure in such foolish sports, and spend those precious hours in these vanities, which, God knows, they had need to spend most diligently, in repenting of their sins, and cleansing their souls, and preparing for another world.

§. 29. If yet any impenitent gambler or idle time waster shall reply, “I will not believe that my cards, or dice, or plays are unlawful. I use them only to relax me for my job. What! would you have all men live like hermits or monks without all pleasure?” I answer you but by this reasonable request: will you set yourselves as dying men in the presence of God, and the light of eternity, and provide a true answer to these few questions; even such an answer as your consciences dare stand to at the bar of God?

§. 30. Quest. 1. Don’t you think in your conscience that your maker, and redeemer, and his work and service, and thy family and calling, and the forethoughts of Heaven, are not fitter matters to delight a sober mind, than cards or stage plays? And what can it be but a vain and sinful mind that should make these toys so pleasant to you, and the thoughts of God and Heaven so unpleasant?

§. 31. Quest. 2. Does not your conscience tell you, that it is not to fit you for your calling or God’s service, that you use these sports, but only to delight a carnal fantasy? Does not conscience tell you, that it is more the pleasure than the benefit of it to your soul or body, that draws you to it? Do you work so hard, or study so hard all the day besides, as to need so much recreation to refresh you?

§. 32. Quest. 3. Does not your conscience tell you, that if your sensual fantasy were but cured, it would be a more profitable recreation to your body or mind, to use some sober exercise for your body, which is confined to its proper limits of time; or to turn to a variety of labor, or studies, than to sit about these idle games?

§. 33. Quest. 4. Do you think that either Christ or his apostles used stage plays, cards or dice: or ever had such a frame of mind as to be addicted to them? Or was not David as wise as you, that took up his pleasure in the Word of God, and his melodious praise?

§. 34. Quest. 5. Does not your conscience tell you, that your delight is more in your plays and games than it is on God? And that these sports do no way increase your delight in God at all, but more unfit and undispose you? And yet every blessed man’s delight is in the law of the Lord, and in it he meditates day and night (Psalm 1:2). And do you do so?

§. 35. Quest. 6. Do you bestow as much time in praying and reading the Word of God, and meditating on it, as you do in your sports and recreations? No, do you not shuffle this over, and put God off with a few hypocritical heartless words, that you may be at your sports, or something which you love better?

§. 36. Quest. 7. Doesn’t your conscience tell you, that this precious time might be much better spent, in the works that God has appointed you to do? And that your sinful soul has need enough to spend it in far greater matters? Does it become one that has sinned so long, and is so unassured of pardon and salvation, and near another world, and so unready for it, to sit at cards or be hearing a stage play, when he should be making ready, and getting assurance of his peace with God.

§. 37. Quest. 8. Would you be found at cards, or plays when death comes to you? If it were this day, had you not rather be found about some holy, or some profitable labor?

§. 38. Quest. 9. Will it be more comfort to you when you are dying, to think of the time which you spent in cards, and plays, and vanity, or that which thou spent in serving God, and preparing for eternity?

§. 39. Quest. 10. Do you dare to pray to God to bless your cards, and dice, and plays to the good of your soul or body? Wouldn’t your conscience tell you, that this were but a mocking of God, as praying for that which you do not intend, and which your pleasures are unfit for? And yet no recreation is lawful, which you may not thus lawfully pray for a blessing on.

§. 40. Quest. 11. If you were sure yourselves that you sin not in your games, or sports, are you sure that your companions do not? That they have no lust or vanity of mind at stage plays, no covetousness, or sinful pleasure or passion at cards, or dice? If you say, “We are not bound to keep all other men from sin,” I answer, “You are bound to do your best towards it:” and you are bound not to contribute willingly to their sin: And you are bound to forbear a thing indifferent, though not a duty, to avoid the scandalizing or tempting of another. If Paul would never eat flesh while he lived rather than make a weak person offend, should not your sports be subject to just as much charity? He says, “It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor any thing whereby thy weak brother stumbles, or is offended, or made weak?” Object. Then we must give over our meat, and drink, and clothes, and all: Answ. It follows not that we must forsake our duty, to prevent another man’s sin, because we must forsake our pleasure in things indifferent: If you knew what sin is, and what it is to save or lose one’s soul, you would not make a sport of other mens’ sin, nor so easily contribute to their damnation, and think your sensual pleasure to be a good excuse. Romans 15:1-3: “In such cases, we that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak (that is, to be compassionate to them as we do children in their weakness) and not to please ourselves (to their hurt.) Let every one of us please his neighbor, for his good to edification (that is, prefer the edifying of another’s soul, before the pleasure of your bodies).” For even Christ pleased not himself—If Christ lost his life to save men from sin, will not you lose your sport for it?

§. 41. Quest 12. What kind of men are they that are most addicted to your games and plays? and what kind of men are they that avoid them, and are against them? Are there not more fornicators, drunkards, swearers, cursers, coveters of other men’s money, and profane neglecters of God and their souls, among gamblers and players, than among them that are against them? Judge by the fruits.

§. 42. And what I say to idle gamblers, is proportionably to be said to voluptuous youths; that run after wakes, and May games, and dances, and revellings, and are carried by the love of sports and pleasure, from the love of God, and the care of their salvation, and the love of holiness, and the love of their callings; and into idleness, riotousness and disobedience to their superiors: for the cure of this voluptuousness (besides what is said Chap. 4. Part 9.) Consider:

§. 43. 1. Do you not know that you have higher delights to mind? And are these toys becoming a noble soul, that has holy and heavenly matters to delight in?

§. 44. 2. Do you not feel what a plague the very pleasure is to your affections? How it bewitches you, and befools you, and makes you out of love with holiness, and unfit for anything that’s good?

§. 45. 3. Do you know the worth of those precious hours which you play away? Have you no more to do with them? Look inwards to your soul, and forward to eternity, and think of yourself better.

§. 46. 4. Is it sport that you need the most? Don’t you need more of Christ, and grace, and pardon, and preparation for death and judgment, and assurance of salvation? Why then are not these your business?

§. 47. 5. Have you not a God to obey and serve? And doesn’t he always see you? And will He not judge you? Alas, you know not how soon. Though you be now merry in your youth, and your heart cheer you, and you walk in the ways of your heart, and the sight of your eyes, yet know that for all these things God will bring you into judgment.

§. 48. 6. Observe in Scripture what God judges of your ways. Titus 3:3: “We ourselves were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving diverse lusts and pleasures.” 2 Timothy 2:22: “Flee youthful lusts but follow after righteousness, faith, charity, and peace with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart.” Read 1 Peter 4:1-4; 2 Peter 3:3. 1 Timothy 3:4: “Lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God.”

§. 49. 7. You are but preparing for your future sorrow, either by repentance or destruction: And the greater is your pleasure now, the greater will be your sorrow and shame in the review.

Having spoken this much for the cure of sinful sports, I proceed to direct the more sober in their recreations.

§. 50. Direct. 2. When you understand the true nature and use of recreations, labor to be acquainted just how much, and what sort of recreation is needful to yourselves in particular. In which you must have respect 1. To your bodily strength, 2. To your minds, 3. To your labors. And when you have resolved on, what and how much is needful and fit, to help you in your duty, allow it its proper time and place, as you do your meals, and see that you don’t let it encroach upon your duty.

§. 51. Direct. 3. Ordinarily join profit and pleasure together that you lose no time. I know not one person of an hundred, or of many hundred, that needs any games at all: there are such variety of better exercises at hand to occupy them: and it is a sin to idle away any time, which we can better improve! I confess my own nature was as much addicted to playfulness as most: and my judgment allows me so much recreation as is needful to my health and labor (and no more): but for all that I find no need of any game to occupy me? When my mind needs recreation, I have variety of recreating books, and friends, and business to do that: and when my body needs it, the hardest Labor that I can bear is my best recreation: walking is instead of games and sports: as profitable to my body, and more to my mind: If I am alone, I may improve that time in meditation: If with others, I may improve it in profitable cheerful conference. I condemn not all sports or games in others, but I find none of them all to be best for myself: And when I observe how far the temper and life of Christ and his best servants was from such recreations, I avoid them with the more suspicion. And I see but few but distaste it in ministers (even shooting, bowling, and such more healthful games (to say nothing of chess and such other, as fit not the end of a recreation): Therefore there is somewhat in it that nature it self hath some suspicion of. That student that needs chess or cards to please his mind, I doubt has a carnal empty mind: If God and all his books, and all his friends, cannot suffice for this, there is some disease in it that should rather be cured than pleased. And for the body, it is another kind of exercise that profits it.

§. 52. Direct. 4. Watch against inordinate sensual delight, even in the most lawful sport: Excess of pleasure in any such vanity, does very much corrupt and befool the mind: It puts it out of relish with spiritual things; and turns it from God and Heaven and duty.

§. 53. Direct. 5. To this end keep a watch upon your thoughts and fantasies, that they run not after sports and pleasures. Else you will be like children that are thinking of their sport, and longing to be at it, when they should be at their books or business.

§. 54. Direct. 6. Avoid the company of partiers, gamblers and such time wasters. Come not among them, lest you be ensnared: Accompany yourselves with those that delight themselves in God, 2 Timothy 2:22.

§. 55. Direct. 7. Remember death and judgement, and the necessities of your souls. Usually these sports seem but foolishness to serious men: And they say of this mirth, as Solomon, it is madness: And it is great and serious subjects which makes serious men. Death and the world to come, when they are soberly thought on, do put the mind quite out of relish, with foolish pleasures.

§. 56. Direct. 8. Be painful in your honest callings. Laziness breeds a love of sports: when you must please your slothful flesh with ease, then it must be further pleased with vanities.

§. 57. Direct. 9. Delight in your relations and family duties and mercies. If you love the company and conversations with your parents, or children, or wives, or kindred as you ought, you will find more pleasure in talking with them about holy things or honest business, than in foolish sports. But adulterers that love not their wives, and unnatural parents and children that love not one another, and ungodly masters of families, that love not their duty, are put to seek their sport abroad.

§. 58. Direct. 10. See to the sanctifying of all your recreations: when you have chosen such as are truly suited to your need; and go not to them before you need, nor use them not beyond your need; see also that you lift up your hearts secretly to God, for his blessing on them; and mix them all along as far as you can with holy things; as with holy thoughts or holy speeches. As for music, which is a lawful pleasure, I have known some think it profane to use it privately or publicly with a Psalm, that scrupled not using it in common entertainment: When as all our entertainment should be as much sanctified as is possible: All should be done to the glory of God: And we have much more in Scripture for the holy use of music (public and private), than for any other use of it whatever. And it is the excellency of melody and music, that they are recreations which may be more aptly and profitably sanctified by application to holy uses, than any other. And I should think them little worth at all, if I might not use them for the holy exhilarating or elevating of my soul, or affecting it towards God, or exciting it to duty.

§. 59. Direct. 11. The sickly and the melancholy (who are usually least inclined to sports) have much more need of recreation than others, and therefore may allow it a much larger time than those that are in health and strength. Because they take it but as medicine to recover them to health, so to return again when they are recovered.

§. 60. Direct. 12. Be much more severe in regulating yourselves in your recreations, than in censuring others for using some sports which you mislike. For you know not perhaps their case, and reasons, and temptations: But an idle time wasting sensual sporter, every one should look on with pity as a miserable wretch.

UPDATE: 5/15/23

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