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Print source: Such things are: a play, in five acts. Inchbald, Mrs. View entire text.

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A PLAY. ACT I. A Parlour at Sir Luke Tremor's. ACT II. An Apartment at Sir Luke Tremor's. The inside of a Prison. Another part of the Prison. Where pleasure rolls its living flood, From sin and dross refined; Still springing from the throne of God, And fit to cheer the mind. But the fourth act of the drama is before us, and they that buy demand our attention.


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The merchant is neither a mourner nor a man of mirth; in the eyes of certain Mammonites he is attending to the one thing needful, the most substantial of all concerns. Here feast your eyes, ye hard, practical, earth-scrapers. There are his money-bags; hear how they thump on the table! He has just now been buying a large and very fine house, where he intends to spend the remainder of his days, for he is about to retire from business; the lawyer is busy making out the transfer; the sum of money is waiting to be paid, and the whole thing is as good as settled.

It is not; there is something very solid and real here, at least, something that will perfectly satisfy me. Alas for the man who can find satisfaction in earthly things!

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It will be only for a time; for when he comes to lie upon his dying-bed, he will find his buyings and his sellings poor things wherewithal to stuff a dying pillow; he will find that his gainings and his acquisitions bring but little comfort to an aching heart, and no peace to a conscience exercised with the fear of the wrath to come. But we must not miss the fifth act. See the rich man, our friend whom lately we saw married, whom we then saw in trouble, afterwards rejoicing and then prospering in business, has entered upon a green old age; he has retired, and has now come to use the world.

You will notice that in my text this is the last act of the drama. The world says he has been a wise man and has done well, for all men will praise thee when thou doest well for thyself. I tell you this is not a play. I believe it is all real and substantial, and I am not, by any talking of yours, to be made to think that it is unsubstantial and will soon be gone.

The whole matter is most palpably a mere show, but yet men give their souls to win it. Wherefore, O sons of men, are ye thus beside yourselves? It is to be married; to pass through the trials and joys of life with decency, to trade and grow rich, and at last to use the comforts of this world without abuse: a very comfortable and quiet picture, by no means the representation we should have to present before you of the profligate, the profane, the dissolute, or the debauched.

There is nothing here, but what is proper and right, and yet everything is improper and everything becomes wrong at once if these be thought to be the substantial things for which an immortal spirit is to spend its fires, and for which an undying soul is to exhaust its powers.


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The unreality of this world to a Christian, is found in the fact that time is short. This is the wand which touches the substance and makes it, before the eye of wisdom, dissolve into a shade. Time is short! When the apostle declares that they that have wives, should be as though they had none, he does not teach us to despise the marriage state, but not to seek our heaven in it, nor let it hinder our serving the Lord.

It is supposed that there are some things which a man without a wife and family can do— those things the man with a wife and family should do. It is supposed that a man without a wife can give his time to the cause of God: the man with a wife should do the same, and he will not find it difficult to do so if God hath blessed him with one who will second all his holy endeavours.

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It is supposed that a man without a wife has no care: a man with a wife should have none, for he should cast all his cares on God who careth for him. The man who has a large family, and many things to exercise his mind, should yet, through the teaching of the Holy Spirit, live as quietly and comfortably as though he had none, depending and resting by simple faith upon the providence and goodness of God. May God the Holy Ghost teach us how to walk in our households, loving ever and yet remembering that all our kindred shall pass away. Again, there is the second act— weeping.

Every Christian man must weep; but the Apostle says that our sorrows are to be regarded by us, because time is short, as though they were no sorrows at all.

Act I: Prologue

So is it in the third part. The Christian has his rejoicings, and he is not forbidden to be happy; indeed, he is commanded to rejoice; and the things of this life he may freely enjoy with the double zest of the mercy itself, and of the God who gave it to him. But still, believer, in all thy joys, remember to hold them with a loose hand.

Never so hold thy joys as if they were all in all to thee. Do thou still stand steadily to this, that, as earth cannot cast thee down to despair, so it cannot lift thee up so as to make thee forget thy God. Learn in these things to rejoice as though thou hadst them not, and let this be thy solace, that thy name is written in heaven.

So, too, in the matter of buying and possessing. It is not wrong for a Christian to trade and to trade well. I cannot see any reason why a Christian should be a fool; in fact, those who are fools in business are very often a great dishonour to the Christian religion, for a fool is very often first-cousin, if not father, to a knave. But oh! Keep before your mind the words of our sweet singer—. What empty things are all the skies, And this inferior clod! The last scene is the using of the things of this life. The creatures of God are given us to be used.

John the Baptist may be an ascetic, but the Son of Man is come eating and drinking. The Christian man knows that the mercies which God has given him are to be used, but while he uses them he must use them as though he did not use them. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound.

He trusts in God when he is penniless, and he trusts in his God just the same when he is rich; he rests on God when he can enjoy nothing, and he rests on him just the same when he can enjoy everything; he learned to build on the Bock of Ages when he had no comfort, and he builds on the Rock of Ages now, when he has every comfort! This, I take it, is where the apostle would have us brought. Send your souls longing after real and unchanging joys, for these splendid, gaudy, shifting scenes, mock the beholder and delude his hopes.

Gorgeous as the colours of the bubble, and quite as frail, farewell ye worthless things, our spirit leaves you for eternal mansions in the skies. It is very difficult to keep men in mind of the fact that they are mortal. We confess that we are mortal, but we profess by our actions that we are immortal. How short time is!

Do we not, dear friends, get more and more that impression? Why, it seems but the day before yesterday when I plucked the first early primrose of spring, while the flowers were breaking up from under the earth, and the buds were ready to burst from the sheath! It was only as yesterday that we were walking in the fields and were remarking that the corn was just beginning to be tinged with the golden hue of harvest!

Only a few Sabbaths ago I was talking to you of Ruth in the harvest-fields, and of the heavily-laden waggon that was pressed down with sheaves; and now the leaves are almost all gone; but few remain upon the trees; these frosty nights and strong winds have swept the giants of the forest till their limbs are bare, and the hoar frosts plate them with silver.

At what a rate we whirl along! Childhood seems to travel in a waggon, but manhood at express-speed. How time flies, not only by the measurement of the seasons, but by ourselves! A few days ago I trudged with my satchel on my back to school, or joined in boyish sport. How lately was it when the boy became a youth, and must be doing something, and was teaching other boys as he had been taught in his day.

It was but yesterday I came to Park Street to address some few of you, and yet how time has fled since then, till now some nine years of our ministry have passed. We heard of one the other day who had seen Wesley preach, and so we find ourselves side-by-side with the last century, and those old people have known some others in their youth who told them of the yet older time, and you find that going through the history of some ten or twelve persons you are carried back to the days of William the Conqueror, and you see our country taken by the Normans, and then you fly back to ancient British times as with a thought.

It is not here, but gone!

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It is but a little interlude in the midst of the vast eternity; a narrow neck of land jutting out into the great, dread, and unfathomable sea of everlastingness! But while time is thus short, its end is absolutely sure. The conflict is still very much there, only now it has the audience on the edges of their seats.

Everything, absolutely everything, needs to connect, and lead to something of value here. Falling action should be a resolution at work in this part of the five-act play, where things reach their conclusion. No deep points should be made, it should focus on actions. Perhaps a villain becomes a hero, or maybe the hero turns to the dark side. Maybe everyone dies, except your version of Horatio. Denouement, where you establish the tone and morals. Remember, when plays first began, they were meant to prove a point, or make the audience question their logic over something.

Next time you feel like taking a step, and writing a script, remember to start with a five act play. From author interviews to how literature meets gaming to expert insight into tools and writing processes, her dedication to helping our author community is quite inspiring.