« ПредишнаНапред »
corrupts unceasingly bis heart and his life, and is seen by all around him to be a vessel of wrath,' daily · fitting for de. struction.' All these instructions example should enforce and sanction; and on them all prayer should invoke its efficacious blessings.
3. These observations teach us how greatly such as are customarily styled moral men deceive themselves.
Multitudes of men who sustain this character censure preachers for dwelling so frequently on the doctrines of the Gospel, and for not introducing oftener its moral precepts into their sermons. These persons regard themselves as being moral in the proper sense, and wish preachers to inculcate just such morality as they themselves practise. They pay their debts, and wish other men to pay theirs, keep true accounts, sell at the market prices, make as good bargains as they can, and get as much money as they can in this manner. These are the things which they wish preachers to inculcate.
Such persons are yet to learn that the morality of the Gospel is wonderfully different from all this. It includes whatever I have said in this and the preceding Discourses concerning the law of God, whatever I shall say in the succeeding ones, and more than I have said, or can say, in both. The morality of the Gospel begins in an honest and good heart, disposed to render always and exactly to our neighbour the things that are our neighbour's, and to God the things that are God's. It knows not, it disdains, it abominates, the tricks, the fetches, the disguises, the concealments, the enhancements, the delays of payment, the depreciated payments, the base gains, and the double-minded character, always found in the coarse spun morality of this world Worldly morality aims supremely and only at being rich ; evangelical morality at doing that which is right. Every person satisfied with worldly morality who hears this sermon, will probably go away from it, displeased with what he will call its rigidness, and discontented to find that what he has been accustomed to think his own stronghold furnishes him with so little either of safety or comfort. But let him remember that, whether he is pleased or displeased, no morality short of this will answer the demands of the law of God.
THE LAW OF GOD.
THE EIGHTH COMMANDMENT.
THOU SHALT NOT STEAL.
EXODUS XX. 15.
The frauds, practised by men upon themselves, and their families ; and a variety of frauds perpetrated by mankind upon each other, have occupied the two preceding Dis
I shall now proceed to the consideration of another Fraud of this latter class; viz. Gaming.
Multitudes of persons professedly believe gaming to be innocent; and accordingly labour not a little to justify it to others. As they aim to clear it from all imputations of criminality, it will be both proper and necessary to consider the subject generally, that its advocates may perceive, that it is not only fraudulent, but sinful in many other respects.
The observations, which I sball make on this subject, will be arranged under the following heads :
1. The evils of Gaming which immediately respect others. II. Those which immediately respect ourselves. Among the evils which respect others, I observe,
1. That gaming is in all instances fraud.
By gaming here, I intend that only, by which property is won or lost ; and this property, by which party so ever acquired, I assert to be acquired invariably by fraud.
There are but two possible methods, by which we can acquire property from others honestly; viz. either by free gift; or by rendering an equivalent for what we receive. I need not say, that property won by gaming is not obtained in either of these ways. That which is acquired neither is, nor is intended to be, given : and, instead of an equivalent, the gamester renders nothing for what he has received.
God, in the decalogue, has absolutely bound us not to covet any thing which is our neighbour's.' This sin of coveting every gamester is guilty of, when he sits down to win the property of his neighbour. Of this truth he gives unanswerable evidence in many ways. To win the property in question, is the only motive for which he spends his hours at the cardtable, and the dice-box. At the same time, he sees his companion afflicted, suffering, and even ruined, by the loss of his property, without restoring, or thinking of restoring, to him any part of what he has lost.
Did he not covet this property, the most vulgar bumanity would induce him to relieve distresses, the relief of which would demand only the sacrifice of what he did not wish to retain. Instead of this, however, we always find him speak of bis winnings, when valuable, with self-gratulation aud triumph, and plainly considering them as acquisitions of no small importance to his own happiness. The gamester, therefore, sinfully covets the property of his neighbour. The design to obtain it without rendering an equivalent, is in its nature fraudulent, and will be admitted into bis mind by no honest man. But this design every gamester cherishes; and in the indulgence and execution of it spends the principal part of his life. His life is therefore an almost uninterrupted course of fraud. To render this career complete, the gamester spends a great part of his time in contrivances and labours to get, and in actually getting, the property of others for nothing. This is the very crime of the cheat, the swindler, and the thief. If the thief when he stole, the cheat when he bargained, and the swindler when he borrowed his neighbour's property, voluntarily left an equivalent, how obvious is it, that his crime, though I acknowledge he might even then be in some degree criminal, would hardly be mentioned, and scarcely regarded as an immorality. The main turpitude in every one of these cases is plainly the desiring and the taking of our neighbour's property without an equivalent. But this turpitude is entirely chargeable to the gamester.
It may, however, be said, that all the other persons mentioned take the property in question covertly ; while the gamester takes it openly, and therefore, fairly. So, I answer,
, does the robber.
It will be further said, that these persons take the property without the consent of the owner; whereas the gamester wins it only with his consent. As I suppose this to be the strong. hold of all who advocate the lawfulness of gaming, it will be proper to consider it with some attention.
In the first place then, this consent is never given in the manner professedly alleged by those who defend the practice.
No man ever sat down to a game, with an entire consent that his antagonist should win his property. I speak of those cases only in which the property staked is considered as of some serious importance. Every person who is a party in a game of this nature, intends to win the property of his antagonist, and not to lose his own. His own he stakes only because the stake is absolutely necessary to enable him to win that of his antagonist. Thus, instead of consenting to lose his own property, each of the parties intends merely to obtain that of his neighbour for nothing. This is the only real design of both; and this design is as unjust, and as fraudulent, as any which respects property can be. That such is the only real design, the loser proves, in the clearest manner, by deeply lamenting his loss; and the winner, in a manner little less clear, by exulting in bis gain.
Secondly: Each of the parties expects only to win, either by superior skill, or superior good fortune.
No man ever heard of a gamester, who sat down to play with a decided expectation of losing.
Thirdly: No man has a right to yield his property to another on this condition.
The property of every man is given to him by his Creator, as to a steward, to be employed only in useful purposes. In such purposes he is indispensably bound to employ it. Every other mode of employing it is inexcusable. This doctrine I presume the gamester himself will not seriously question. The man must be lost to decency and to common sense, who can for a moment believe that his Creator has given any blessing to mankind for any purposes except those which are useful; or that himself, and every one of his fellow men, are not unconditionally required by God to promote useful purposes with all the means in their power; and with their property, equally with other means, at all times. But it will not be pretended that staking property on the issue of a game, is an employment of that property to any purpose which God will pronounce to be useful. In his sight, therefore, no man can lawfully employ his property in this manner. Of course both parties in thus staking their money are guilty of sin ; while each also invites and seduces the other to sin.
Fourtbly: Every man is plainly bound to devote his property to that purpose which, all things considered, appears to be the best of those which are within his reach.
By this I do not mean that which is best in the abstract, but best for him, in the sphere of action allotted to him by his Maker. In other words, every man is bound to do with his property, as well as his other talents, the most good in his power. I am well aware that this subject cannot be mathe. matically estimated; that in many cases the mind of a wise and good man may be at a loss to determine, and that the determination must be left to personal discretion. But, in the present case, there can be neither difficulty, nor doubt. No man will pretend that losing his money to a Gamester is disposing of it in such a mavner as to promote the best purpose in his power. If he needs it himself, it will be more useful to him to keep it still in his possession. If he does not need it, it will be incomparably better to give it to those who do. To impart it thus to a gamester, always a vicious man, often a profligate, and always a squanderer, a man known to employ his money for sinful purposes only, can never be useful, nor even vindicable, in any sense. The proof of this is complete. No man ever thought of making a gamester, as such, an object of alms-giving. To other prodigals, to idlers, and even to drunkards, alms at times are given. But the most enlarged charity never dreamed of finding a proper VOL. IV.