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object of its bounty in a gamester. To stake money in this manner, therefore, is so far from employing it in the best manner which is in the owner's power, that it is employing it in a manner indefensible, and in every respect sinful.
From these considerations it is plain, that this argument in favour of gaming cannot avail to the purpose foi which it is adduced. On the contrary, it only contributes to exhibit the sinfulness of gaming in a new light.
It often happens, and almost always in the beginning of this practice, that the gamesters are youths; and that the property which they stake belongs to their parents. This property is never entrusted to children for the purpose of gaming. They receive, and their parents communicate it for some valuable end, in which the promotion of their comfort and welfare was concerned. In receiving it, the children engaged, either expressly or implicitly, to use it for this end. In staking it, therefore, at the gaming-table, the child is guilty of a gross breach of good faith, and literally robs his parents of their property. And he,' says Solomon,' who robbeth his father, or his mother, and saith it is no sin, is the fit companion of a murderer.'*
2. The gamester ruins multitudes of his fellow men, and injures deeply multitudes more.
By this I intend, that he plunders them of their property, and reduces them to beggary. The whole history of gaming is a mere record of this ruin. It is also completely evinced by daily observation. The barkruptcies continually brought upon mankind in this manner are innumerable ; particularly upon the youug, the ignorant, the thoughtless, and the giddy. He who can coolly sit down to the ruin, or even to the serious injury of one of his fellow-men, is an arrant villain, equally destitute of common good-will, and common honesty.
3. The gamester corrupts others by his example, and thus entails upon them moral ruin.
• One sinner,' saith the wise man, destroyeth much good.' In no manner is this terrible mischief accomplished so extensively and so effectually as by an evil example. Gamesters are always wicked men, totally destitute of principle, and supk far below the common level of corruption. To this degree of turpitude every gamester reduces all those who become his companions. The ruin here accomplished is infinitely more dreadful than that mentioned under the preceding head. It is the endless ruin of the soul; the destruction of every enjoyment, and every hope. All other injuries compared with it are nothing, and less than nothing. With the guilt of accomplishing this stupendous evil the gamester is wholly chargeable, and for this guilt he will be compelled to answer at tho final day. What sober man, nay, what profligate, would not tremble at the thought of assuming this responsibility? But the gamester coolly and quietly makes himself answerable, not for the ruin of one soul, but of multitudes.
* Prov, xxviii, 24. (Hodgson.)
4. The gamester ruins his family.
The gamester voluntarily and causelessly exposes bimself to beggary. In this conduct he sets afloat, without any security, and against every rational hope, the property on which his wife and children are to be supported, and by which his children are to be educated, and settled for life. Almost every gamester is ruined by play. By this disaster, both the comforts and the hopes of his family are destroyed, their spirits are broken and lost, and all their efforts to gain character and subsistence prevented. But if any man provide not for his own, especially those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.' What then shall be said of the man who squanders in this useless and guilty manner all that himself or his ancestors have provided? To the mere last of gaming he sacrifices the property on which his family might subsist with comfort and reputation, by which they might be educated to usefulness and honour, and by which they might be settled advantageously in life. To this lust therefore he sacrifices their subsistence, their hopes, their all.
In the mean time, he performs few or none of the great duties of a parent. He does not instruct; he does not govern; he cannot reprove; he cannot pray with his children ; he cannot pray for them!
His example is only pernicious. He keeps the worst hours, frequents the worst places, attaches himself to the worst company; and thus, taking his children by the band, conducts them to the same certain means of destruction.
His character, therefore, contemptible and odious in itself, must be seen by them to be contemptible. Instead of the privilege and blessing always enjoyed in beholding a worthy, pious, and venerable father, they suffer the deplorable calamity of seeing him who stands in this affecting relation, a curse to themselves, and a nuisance to mankind.
II. I shall now consider those evils of gaming, which immediately respect themselves.
Those evils are very numerous, as well as very important. The first which I shall mention, is that
It is a waste of Time.
The only light in which gaming is commonly regarded as justifiable is that of amusement. Amusements mankind certainly need; and what they need is lawful. But gaming is not rendered lawful by this consideration.
Every lawful amusement is of such a nature as to refresh and invigorate either the body, or the mind. But gaining does neither. That it does not refresh the body is too obvious to demand either proof, or assertion. Equally certain is it, that it does not refresh nor invigorate the mind. It furnishes no valuable information ; it adds no strength to the reasoning powers. So far as it has influence at all, it wearies the intellectual faculties, and is attended with all the fatigue, but with no part of the benefit, which is experienced in severe study.
It neither sweetens nor enlivens the temper. On the contrary, it is a grave, dull, spiritless employment, at which almost all persons lose their cheerfulness, and impair their native sweetness of disposition; in which the temper is soured'; and in which gloom and moroseness, and frequently envy and malice, are not only created, but strengthened into immoveable habits. Gamesters, I know, herd together. But it is without good-will, or social feelings, and merely because gaming makes it necessary. Their minds are ingrossed, but not invigorated. Their time is ardently and anxiously, but not cheerfully, employed. They flock to the gaming table, just as the hermit and the thief return to their respective employments; because habit has made these employments necessary to them; although the hermit, if he would make the experiment, would be happier in society, and the thief, as an honest man.
All the real pleasure found in gaming, except that which arises from the love of sin, is found in the acquisition of money, or the pride of victory, and the superior skill, or the fortunate chance, from which it is derived. All these are base and sordid sources of pleasure. Gaming, then, is not an useful, and of course not a justifiable amusement.
In the mean while, all the time employed in it is wasted and lost. This loss is immense. No man can answer for it to his Maker; no man can repair the injury which is done to himself. It cannot be too often said, nor too strongly realized, that time is the most valuable of all things ; since on tho proper employment of it depends every blessing which we are capable of receiving. He who wastes it, as every gamester does, is guilty of a prodigality which cannot be estimated. All men are bound by the most solemn obligations to redeem their time;' that is, to make the most profitable use of every day. But gaming is profitable for nothing. For if it is useless as an amusement, it is absolutely useless.
2. Gaming is a wanton wasle of our faculties and privileges.
Every faculty and every privilege was given to us, only that we might promote the glory of God, and the real good of ourselves and our fellow-men. From labouring always to these ends there is no exemption and no excuse. Whether ye eat, or drink,' saith St. Paul, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.'—'To him who, by a patient continuance in well-doing, seeks for glory, honour, and immortality,' and to him only is promised' eternal life. Our faculties are our understanding, our affections, and our energy. Our privileges are the means of education, knowledge, virtue, usefulness, and enjoyment. But none of our faculties are benefited by gaming. The understanding is not enlargened, the affections are not improved, the energy is not invigorated; while all these privileges are at the same time abused, and thrown away. How great a waste of what mighty blessings is here! How entire a frustration of the end of our being! With a due improvement of his faculties and privileges, every man may become wise and virtuous. How incalculable is the difference between such a man, and a gamester!
A glorious privilege, the result of all those which have been mentioned, is that of doing our duty. But gaming is in itself, and in its consequences, an entire omission of all duty. With industry and economy the whole life of the gamester is
at war. His prime employment cherishes unceasingly gross appetites, and gross passions; and forces him to be a stranger to self-government. Into the heart of a man engrossed by schemes of acquiring the property of his neighbour, by the throwing of dice, and the shuffling of cards, it is impossible that benevolence should enter. In acts of beneficence, hands which have so long been made the instruments of covetousness and plunder can never be employed.
No gamester was ever a man of piety, so long as he was a gamester.
Of no gamester can it be said, “ Behold, he prayeth ;' The very first step towards the assumption of this character must be deep repentance for his gross and guilty life, accompanied by an entire self-abhorrence, and followed by a vigorous reformation.
3. Gaming is a wanton and wicked waste of property.
The end for which our property was given, is the same to which our faculties and privileges are destined. To this end, to some purpose really acceptable to God, and really useful to ourselves and others, it can always be applied. There never was a situation in which, there never was a man by whom, all his property could not be devoted to some useful purpose within his reach. But squandering money at the gaming-table is of no use either to the loser, or to the winner. If the loser has common sense, he can take no pleasure in his losses. If the winner has common honesty, he can take no pleasure in bis gains. Beside the suffering involved in his immediate losses, the loser forms a pernicious habit of undervaluing property ; and cuts himself off both from doing and enjoying that good which the property lost might have procured. Nor is the winner more happily affected. From winning often, especially when in straitened circumstances, he soon acquires full confidence that he sball win whenever it is necessary. Hence he expends what he has gained on objects of no value. “ Male parta, male dilabuntur,” is probably a maxim in every nation; and is verified by all human experience.
With habits of this nature, we cannot wonder that gamesters, such, I mean, as devote themselves to this employment, universally become beggars. •Wealth,' says Solomon, gotten by vanity, is diminished:' that is, wealth acquired by vain and dishonest courses of life. Drowsiness,' says the same