Whenever the laws of body and mind are properly understood, it will be allowed that every person needs some kind of recreation; and that, by seeking it, the body is strengthened, the mind is invigorated, and all our duties are more cheerfully and successfully performed.

Children, whose bodies are rapidly growing and whose nervous system is tender and excitable, need much more amusement than persons of mature age. Persons, also, who are oppressed with great responsibilities and duties, or who are taxed by great intellectual or moral excitement, need recreations which physically exercise and draw off the mind from absorbing interests. Unfortunately, such persons are those who least resort to amusements; while the idle, gay, and thoughtless seek those which are not needed, and for which useful occupation would be a most benefical substitute.

As the only legitimate object of amusement is to prepare mind and body for the proper discharge of duty, the protracting of such as interfere with regular employments, or induce excessive fatigue, or weary the mind, or invade the proper hours for repose, must be sinful.

In deciding what should be selected, and what avoided, the following are guiding principles: In the first place, no amusements which inflict needless pain should ever be allowed. All tricks which cause fright or vexation, and all sports which involve suffering to animals, should be utterly forbidden. Hunting and fishing, for mere sport, can never be justified. If a man can convince his children that he follows these -pursuits to gain food or health, and not for amusement, his example may not be very injurious. But when children see grown persons kill and frighten animals for sport, habits of cruelty, rather than feelings of tenderness and benevolence, are cultivated.

In the next place, we should seek no recreations which endanger life, or interfere with important duties. As the legitimate object of amusements is to promote health and prepare for some serious duties, selecting those which have a directly opposite tendency can not be justified. Of course, if a person feels that the previous day's diversion has shortened the hours of needful repose, or induced a lassitude of mind or body, instead of invigorating them, it is certain that an evil has been done which should never be repeated.

Another rule which has been extensively adopted in the religious world is, to avoid those amusements which experience has shown to be so exciting, and connected with so many temptations, as to be pernicious in tendency, both to the individual and to the community. It is on this ground that horse-racing and circus-riding have been excluded. Not because there is any thing positively wrong in having men and horses run and perform feats of agility, or in persons looking on for the diversion; but because experience has shown so many evils connected with these recreations, that they should be relinquished until properly regulated. So with theatres. The enacting of characters and the amusement thus afforded in themselves may be harmless, and possibly, in certain cases, might be useful; but experience has shown so many evils to result from this source, that it has been deemed wrong to patronize it till these evils are removed.

Under the same head comes dancing, in the estimation of the great majority of the religious world. Still, there are many intelligent, excellent, and conscientious persons who hold a contrary opinion. Such maintain that it is an innocent and healthful amusement, tending to promote ease of manners, cheerfulness, social affection, and health of mind and body; that evils are involved only in its excess; that, like food, study, or religious excitement, it is only wrong when not properly regulated; and that if serious and intelligent people would strive to regulate, rather than banish, this amusement, much more good would be secured, On the other side, it is objected, not that dancing is a sin, in itself considered, for it was once a part of sacred worship; not that it would be objectionable, if it were properly regulated; not that it does not tend, when used in a proper manner, to health of body and mind, to grace of manners, and to social enjoyment: all these things are conceded. But it is objected to, on the same ground as horse-racing and theatrical entertainments; that we are to look at amusements as they are, and not as they might be. Horse-races might be so managed as not to involve cruelty, gambling, drunkenness, and other vices. And so might theatres. And if serious and intelligent persons undertook to regulate them, perhaps they would be somewhat raised from the depths to which they have sunk. But with the weak sense of moral obligation existing in the mass of society, and the imperfect ideas mankind have of the proper use of amusements, and the little self-control which men or women or children practice, these will not, in fact, be thus regulated.

And dancing is believed to be liable to the same objections. As this recreation is actually conducted, it does not tend to produce health of body or mind, but directly the contrary. If young and old went out to dance together in open air, as the French peasants do, it would be a very different sort of amusement from that which often is witnessed in a room furnished with many lights and filled with guests - both destroying the healthful part of the atmosphere, where the young collect, in their tightest dresses, to protract for several hours a kind of physical exertion which is not habitual to them. During this process, the blood is made to circulate more swiftly than usual, in circumstances where it is less perfectly oxygenized than health requires; the pores of the skin are excited by heat and exercise; the stomach is loaded with indigestible articles, and the quiet needful to digestion withheld; the diversion is protracted beyond the usual hour for repose; and then, when the skin is made the most highly susceptible to damps and miasms, the company pass from a warm room to the cold night-air. It is probable that no single amusement can be pointed out combining so many injurious particulars as this, which is so often defended as a healthful one. Even if parents who train their children to dance can keep them from public balls, (which is seldom the case,) dancing, as ordinarily conducted in private parlors, in most cases is subject to nearly the same mischievous influences.