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the success of his companions, and malicious toward their persons. At the same time, he is prompted to murmur at his illsuccess; to curse what he calls his luck, but what is in truth a dispensation of God; and to adopt a course of profane, blasphemous, and fiend-like language. To close this wretched detail; the Gamester very often terminates his miserable career with drunkenness, and not unfrequently with self-murder. Who, that is not lost to every hope of virtue; who, that is not lost to common sense and common feeling; can be willing to thrust himself into a course of life, or into the entrance upon a course of life, which presents, at the very gate, most formidable temptations to these enormous sins 2 Who would be willing, that a father, a husband, a brother, or a son, should be guilty of these sins, or exposed to these temptations ! This question will, probably, never be answered. Will it then be said, that men are found, who love these relations better than themselves 2 It will not be said. But it must be said, because it is true, that multitudes of men resort to the Gaming-table with an infantine giddiness of mind; a hare-brained spirit of adventure; a greedy avarice ; and a treacherous confidence in their own watchfulness against temptation ; in that prudent care, which, always seen with microscopic eyes, they consider as abundantly sufficient to secure themselves from every danger. Thus, while the really prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself, these simple, self-deceived beings pass on, and are punished. From these considerations it is, if I mistake not, evident beyond debate, that Gaming is a gross fraud; that in many other points of view, it is an enormous sin; and that it is, in an alarming degree, fatal to all the real interests of man. There are, however, persons, who, because they escape some of the dangers, and avoid some of the iniquities, connected with this practice, will flatter themselves, that they are scarcely chargeable with the rest. They may not claim the character of virtue; but they will insist, that their conduct is almost, if not entirely, innocent; and will at least believe themselves, if guilty at all, to be guilty only in a very minute degree. To these persons let me seriously address the following considerations.
In the first place. Gaming is an appearance of evil.
Ahstain from all appearance of coil, is a command of the same God, who said, Thou shalt love the Lord, thy God, with all thy heart; and is, therefore, armed with the same authority. But every person of piety, and almost every sober man, pronounces Gaming to be an evil. It cannot therefore, be denied to be an appearance of evil. By the arguments, here advanced, it has been shown, unless I am deceived, to be a real, and dreadful, evil. That every man, therefore, is bound to abstain from it cannot be questioned. Secondly. Every Gamester feels it to be an evil. In all the early parts of his addiction to this course of life, he will find himself frequently employed, if he has any moral principles at all, in devising arguments, and excuses, to quiet his own conscience, and justify himself to others. This is not the conduct of a man, who feels himself innocent. No person ever sought an excuse for prayer; for honest industry; for the pious education of children; or for a faithful attendance on the public worship of God. Most persons, at the Gaming-table, are sensibly disturbed by the unexpected presence of a wise and good man. But such persons create no disturbance in the minds of those, who believe themselves to be virtuously employed. Were the Redeemer of mankind again upon earth; no person, who acknowledged his character, would be willing to be found by him at a Gaming-table. Thirdly. Gaming cannot be prayed for. Nothing can be right, or innocent, for which we cannot pray. In all pursuits, which he believes to be justifiable, every man can without difficulty ask for the blessing of God. But no man ever asked, no man ever will ask; that is, seriously and solemnly, or in other words really; for the blessing of God upon the employment of Gaming. But that, which cannot be prayed for, is sinful. Fourthly. Neither Gaming, nor the circumstances which regularly attend it, can be recited at the Day of Judgment. I call upon every Gamester solemnly to consider, whether he will be able to come before the Judge of the quick and the dead, and declare to Him with confidence, or even with hope, that he has spent life, or any part of it, in the business of Gaming. But the conduct, which cannot be rehearsed then, cannot be right now. Who can soberly approve, in this world, of that, which will condemn him in the world to come 2 There are many persons, who condemn what is called Gambling, or Gaming for money, and who yet appear to think themselves justified in Gaming for mere amusement. Let me exhort all such persons to remember, that, whatever influence this conduct may have upon themselves, it will, as an ea ample, be pernicious to others. Multitudes will know that they game, who will never know that they do not game for money. Multitudes, also, will be either unable, or uninclined, to make any serious distinction between these kinds of conduct. All these will directly plead the example as a justification of themselves, or at least as a palliation of their own guilt. This will peculiarly be the fact, where the persons concerned are persons of reputation: and, unfortunately, a considerable number of those, who employ themselves in Gaming for amusement, are of this character. The example of one such person will be pleaded by all who know it. Under the wing of one such man, a multitude of Gamblers, almost all of whom are without reputation and great numbers, low, contemptible beings, will gather; and feel themselves brooded in safety, and secured from the dreaded intrusions of public censure. Were Gambling unfurnished with reputable and fashionable examples, it would, I think, be casily exterminated from the world. Every person, possessed of a generally fair character, may therefore feel assured, that, if he games for amusement, he is one of the means, and not a small one, of keeping Gambling alive among mankind; and that he contributes, efficaciously, to the existence of all the sin, and all the misery, which it will produce at future periods. To these observations it will probably be replied, “..Must I deny myself an innocent pleasure, because my neighbour is pleased to make a bad use of my example 2° St. Paul has long since answered this question. For meat, destroy not the work of God. All things indeed are pure; but it is evil for that man, who eateth with offence. It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor any thing whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak. Rom. xiv. 20, 21. And again. I Cor. viii. 13, Wherefore,
if meat make my brother to stumble, I will eat no flesh while the world standeth; lest I make my brother to offend. However innocent Gaming for amusement may be, it cannot be more innocent than eating flesh, than doing that, which the Apostle has pronounced pure. Yet the Apostle, and God who inspired him, have declared, that whatever occasions our brother to stumble, or fall into sin, it is good not to do, however innocent it may be otherwise: and the Apostle has declared, that he would not do this, even though eating flesh, so innocent, so directly allowed by God, and so important as food for man, were the thing in question; no, not while the world standeth. Nay, he has further declared in the verse preceding that, last quoted, that, when in such cases we wound the weak conscience of our brother, we sin against Christ. All this he declares concerning eating flesh, and concerning every other innocent thing. If then our Gaming for amusement be what it cannot fail to be, a cause of inducing others to Game for money, to become Gamesters, and to fall into any or all of these sins; then in Gaming for amusement we sin against Christ by wounding the conscience of our weaker brethren, and becoming the direct means of tempting them to sin. The supposition, here made, is however false. Gaming for amusement, in such, as are either partially, or wholly, Games of chance, particularly with cards and dice, is not, and cannot be innocent. It is, almost of course, a sinful waste of time. As an amusement it is unnecessary and useless. It refreshes neither the mind, nor the body; and fails, therefore, cssentially of being a lawful amusement. Better amusements can always be substituted for it; particularly exercise, reading, and conversation; and among amusements, as well as among employments, we are bound to select the best in our power. The controversy, the hope of victory, the reluctance to be vanquished; and, universally, that continual state of suspense and anxiety, always experienced in Gaming; have, although in a less degree, substantially the same influence on the mind, and are furnished with the same temptations, which are found in Gaming for money. In addition to these things, Gaming for money is almost always the consequence of an addiction to Gaming for amusement. The expectation, that we shall be able to withstand the allurements, by which others have fallen, is a mere and ruinous presumption; the presumption of a man, wise in his own conceit ; of whom there is less hope than of a fool. The probabilities, that we shall fall where so many have fallen, are millions to one; and the contrary opinion is only a dream of lunacy. At the same time, no man can stand up in his closet, before his Maker, and thank him for the privilege of Gaming to-day, or ask his blessing, to enable him to game to-morrow.
But the influence of example is abundantly sufficient to prove the sinfulness of Gaming for amusement. Call to mind the extent, to which this evil has spread. Think what amazing multitudes have been corruptcd, distressed, and ruined, by it for this world, and that which is to come. Think how many families have been plunged by it in beggary, and overwhelmed by it in vice. Think how many persons have become liars, at the Gaining-table; how many perjured; how many drunkards; how many blasphemers; how many suicides. “ If Europe,” said Montesquieu, “ is to be ruined; it will be ruined by Gaming.” Remember, that, unless persons of reputation gamed for amusement, persons without reputation would soon cease to game for money. Then call to mind, that your example is one of the means, which produce all these evils, and continue the practice, together with its miserable consequences, in the world. Remember, that you set the snare, spread the corruption, and effectuate the ruin; that you help to fill the world with wretchedness and sin, and both allure, and lead, your fellow-men to final perdition. With these plain and solemn truths in full view, look up to God; and, if you can, declare, that there is no sin in Gaming for Amusement.