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gaming, and even if a lottery were lawful in itself, the consequences thereof, are more than sufficient to determine that it is unlawful for a Christian to encourage it, in any way whatever;* for he is commanded to abstain from even the appearance of evil. But if any one should attempt to justify lotteries, while he will not allow cardplaying in his family (which also I deem unlawful) I should suppose, that he complied, in a restricted sense, with the Scripture just quoted, by abstaining only from the appearance (comparatively) while he embraced the substance of evil. But further, to determine, whether or not adventuring in lotteries be lawful, let us try it by another Scripture rule: “Whatsoever is not of faith is sin:” and on what ground or authority can we believe or trust in God, that he will give us, by those means, which, I presume, cannot be proved to be of his appointment, what he has seen fit to withhold by assuredly lawful means? Or can we ask his blessing in the adventure of property he has committed to us, and say, that our object is his glory? I am aware that many delude themselves with the excuse, that they only wish for a large prize, that they may do good with it; but allowing that we are sincere in wishing for an increase to our property, by means of a lottery, for the purpose of do-ing more good, yet, if the means are not lawful, we are
From another answer to this Query by Aspasio, we select the following lines:--"The mischiet occasioned by the lottery is incalculable, If it were only a doubtful point, Christians should avoid it; but the lot. tery is a most pernicious thing! The money got by it is “the price of blood." Thousands have been ruined by it, and numberless suicides have been the consequence. Mr. Colquhoun, in his Police of the Metropolis, states, “That many of those who are now living on the plunder of society, were reduced to their miserable situation by this cause.
not justified in adopting them: and how shall we be clear from the guilt of adventuring what we have law. fully attained, through God's providence, which, however little, if devoted to him faithfully, would be acceptable, in preference to thousands unlawfully gained? God wants not abundance of silver and gold. If he did, they are at his command; and as it respects us, “If there be first a willing mind, it is accepted according to that a man hath, and not according to that he hath not.” The promises we make to ourselves, of devoting to the service of God, or our fellow-creatures, any large accumulation of wealth that may come by way of chance is, no doubt, a stratagem of Satan, to gloss over a covetous desire, which is the root of all evil; and it would be contrary to general experience, if those who adventure what is “but lent them,” should, in the event of success, devote what they gain by such means; at least, we ought to see several strong cases corroborative thereof before we attend to the suggestion.
But if we have the price of a ticket, or a proportion thereof to share, we know how it may be disposed of to beneficial purposes with some certainty; but if we hazard it in the lottery, there are many thousand chances against the large prizes; and generally two to one that we entirely lose what was entrusted to us for better purposes, and which can never be recovered; and to those who lose, it may be said that they have not done so well as those wicked servants who preserved the talent committed to them in a napkin, or hid it in the earth; but alas! they have hazarded, they have lost it.
If what has been here advanced is sufficient to negatáve the first question, the second must of course follow it; and then the duty of ministers will be obvious: but I here beg to say, that it might be useful if ministers in general would revive the old-fashioned manner of reproving professors plainly, for this and similar conformities to the present sinful world.
I beg the
favor of you to insert the following case of conscience:
-I frequently find in Scripture that Usury is particularly condemned; and that it is represented as the character of a good man, that "he hath not give en forth upon usury, neither hath taken any increase," Ezekiel, xviii. 8, &c. I wish, therefore, to know how such passages are to be understood; and whether the taking of interest for money, as is universally practised among us, can be reconciled with the word and will of God?
In reply to the above the writer is recommended to consult the marginal references; by which he will find that it was lawful for the Jews, under the Mosiac dispensation, to lend money to strangers upon usury; but they were not allowed to do so to their brethren the Israelites; at least, if they were poor (see Exodus xxii. 25. Deut. xxiii. 20. Lev. xxv. 35, 36, 37 :) and it is evident that Ezekiel alludes to this law, chap. xxviii. 8.
Now it is generally admitted, that the Usury here mentioned, was an unreasonable charge for money lent; and it is remarkable that the Jews, to the present day, are guilty of this crime; as it is well known they will advance money for the sake of usury in hazardous cases, where others would not venture: such is their love of gain. It therefore cannot be supposed to refer to what we call lawful interest; for if it did, a man might as well let his house without rent as his money without some benefit:* besides, it is evident that, in our Lord's time, interestt was a common thing;ł or he would not have introduced it in the relation of the unprofitable servant, who was charged with injustice for not putting his lord's money into the bank, that at his return he might have received his own with usury.
I have, therefore, no doubt, that receiving interest for money lent, as by law established among us, is consistent with the word of God; and it would be a happy circumstance if, in our day, this simple mode of receiving interest was attended to, both by the community at large and the professors of Jesus Christ in particular; but what are we to think of those who exact usury and unjust gain? This is done in various ways: for instance, if a tradesman solicits payment a short time before the expiration of the credit he gives, and the debtor re. quires an unreasonable discount or allowance for the time, knowing the creditor cannot do without immediate payment, surely, this is usury in the worst sense. Many other ways might be mentioned, but this may suffice. Such characters we refer to Prov. xxiii. 8.
* See Buck's Theological Dictionary, under this article. † Or as it was then called, Usury. # Luke xix. 33. Mat. xxv. 27. * See Old Translation, Exod. xi. 2.
ON BORROWING OF THE EGYPTIANS.
How far were the Israelites justifiable in taking from the
Egyptians so many valuable articles under the pretence of borrowing them? Exod. xii. 35.
The force of this Query, seems to rest on the sense attached to the word translated borrow; which appears more properly rendered, in the old translation, ask; for although it be a part of the character of the wicked, that he borroweth and payeth not again; yet the transaction referred to in the query, was of a quite different nature. The Egyptians had for a long time oppressed the Israelites, and had doubtless been enriched by their labors, without rendering them an adequate recompense: and now at the critical juncture of their departure, the fear of them, and of that Being who had 50 wonderfully interposed for them, had so fallen on the Egyptians, that they were ready to give them whatever they required; to which, they were certainly influenced by that God who has immediate access to our spirits, and can dispose of them as he pleases. Their justification consisted in its being the command of God, who has an undoubted right to the persons and possessions of all his creatures: and we are not warranted, from the Scripture account of the matter, to suppose that any criminal view disposed the Israelites to require,* or keep what was given them.