Imágenes de páginas

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 hand, 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 Ourselves. These evils are very numerous, as well as very important. The 1. 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 Gaming 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 satigue, 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 cheersuiness, 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 neces. sary. Their minds are engrossed, but not invigorated. Their time is ardently, and anxiously, but not cheerfully, employed. They flock to the Gaming-table, just as the hernit 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 ariscs 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 the 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 waste 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 alway 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 is benefited by Gaming. The understanding is not enlarged: 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 a 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 his 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 shall 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 profound observer of human life and manners, will clothe a man with rags. Drowsiness, here, intends that course of conduct, which, in opposition to the steady energy, and vigorous efforts, of industry, aims at obtaining a subsistence by dishonest and low-minded arts. Such were the facts three thousand years ago. Such are the facts at the present hour. In the whole list of jockies and sharpers it is rare, in this, and probably in all other countries, that we find a man, possessed of even moderate property. Those, who are most successful, acquire such habits of expense, such expectations of supplying their wants by playing, at any time, and, consequently, such a contempt for economy, and even for common prudence, that they become poor, of course. The old age of a Gamester is the cold and comfortless evening of a forlorn and miserable day.

4. Gaming is the destruction of Character.

A good name, says Solomon, is better than great riches, and lowing favour, than silver and gold. A fair, unblemished reputation is one of the chief blessings of man: one of his prime enjoyments; one of his principal means of usefulness. Without it he can obtain neither influence, nor confidence; neither profitable employments, nor real friends. But no Gamester was ever respected, as such. Whatever talents, or advantages, he may otherwise have possessed, his character has been always sunk by his gaming. Look around the world, and judge for yourselves. You never knew, and therefore never will know, a Gamester, who, in this character, was regarded by his neighbours with esteem. Common sense steadily attaches disgrace to the name. So conscious of this fact are the whole class of Gamesters, that they usually take effectual pains to carry on their wretched employment in scenes of solitude and secrecy, where they are effectually hidden from the eyes of mankind. But who, that possesses common sobriety, or even sanity of mind; who, that is not a fair candidate for bedlam ; would voluntarily destroy the blessing of his own good name. The Slanderer, who blasts the reputation of another, is universally, and justly, regarded with abhorrence. What the slanderer does for another, the Gamester does for himself. The slanderer is a vile and abominable wretch. In what respect is the Gamester less vile and abominable 2 The slanderer is an assassin : the Gamester is a suicide. 5. Gaming is the direct road to many other sins. Every Gamester, with too few exceptions to deserve notice. becomes a sharper, of course. High expectations of acquiring property suddenly, distressing disappointments, great gains, and great losses instantaneously experienced, strong hopes alternated with strong fears, and holding the mind, habitually, in a state of anxious suspense, regularly prove too powerful for the honesty of every man, who has not too much virtue to be a Gamester. By what is called fair play he fails of being successful. A series of ill success tempts him to play unfairly. Ultimately, he is charged with it. He denies it; and is thus guilty of falsehood. The charge is reiterated. He swears to the truth of his denial; and is thus guilty of perjury. His oath is doubted. He becomes angry, profane, and furious; and not unfrequently engages in a quarrel, to vindicate his wounded honour. At times, the dispute is terminated by a duel. In all ordinary circumstances, his affections become sour, and his mind envious at

« AnteriorContinuar »