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of our own minds, the credit of the christian profession, our interest and usefulness in the world, we shall study to owe no man any thing.
GAMBLING is the other direct method by which we injure the property of others. This cherishes, and calls into exercise, the desire to acquire what others possess, and thus leads to the violation of the law of God. There are but two possible methods, as it has been remarked, by which we can acquire property from ethers honestly ;-either by free gift; or by rendering an equivalent for what we receive. In gambling it is obtained in neither of these ways. The gambler may lay his account with losing a certain sum, but not with freely giving it away ; and the only equivalent which he obtains is the chance, as it is called, of depriving another, contrary to his intention, of a part of his property.
There is sometimes an attempt made to defend this practice on the score of amusement. It is besides, alleged, that every man's property is his own, and that if he chooses to gratify himself, by hazarding it in whole or in part, he has a right to do so. The thief, the swindler, the robber take the money of others without their consent; whereas, the gambler wins it with the consent of the owner.
To this it may be replied, that no amusement is
lawful which is immoral in its nature and tendency. Every man doubtless has an exclusive right to the use of his property; but every man also is a steward, and
; is accountable to the Lord and Proprietor of all for the way in which he employs it. As it is manifestly the design of God that the gifts which he bestows should be expended in useful and beneficent purposes--in diffusing happiness, -and in accomplishing the greatest good of which, from the means we possess, we are capable ;-we are not at liberty to appropriate them to other ends, or foolishly to waste them. Good men may sometimes be mistaken, and lose property in the pursuit of ends which they deem 'useful or beneficent, but which afterwards appear to have occasioned an idle and profitless waste ;- but they cannot deliberately dispose of it for unworthy purposes, and far less for encouraging vice. It is, indeed, charity in many cases to give alms to the guilty,—to those who have reduced themselves to wretchedness by their crimes ;—but who would ever lay his account with losing his money, from the desire that the professed gambler might obtain it as charity? The professed gambler is a man who associates with the avowed enemies of religion,—who harbours in his bosom the very basest passions of human nature, and is generally, if not always, a gross and continued sensualist. Who that has any just sense of the account he must render of the use of all that providence intrusts to his charge, would willingly place any part of his property at the disposal of such a character as this?
Besides, it is not true, as is alleged, that the gam
bler takes the property of another with the consent of the owner. In every case, at least, when property of
, any serious amount is at stake, each party in the game designs to win from his antagonist, and not to lose his own. Nor would he hazard his own at all, but that it is necessary for him to do so, in order to get possession of that which is not his. To engage in the game with the certain knowledge of losing is conduct with which no sane man is, or can be chargeable. The money lost, therefore, is lost contrary to the wish, the design, and consequently to the consent of the persons losing; while the winner holds it by no better tenure, according to the laws of morality, than the thief or the robber.
The gambler, therefore, is guilty of a direct violation of the law of God, in plundering the property of others, and reducing them to poverty and wretchedness; and proves himself by such conduct to be void of piety, benevolence, or humanity. He is a source of evil by his example, as well as by his actions ; a corrupter of youth, stealing from them not their property only, but what is infinitely more valuable, their virtue and their happiness; and doing all in his power to prevent their retreat from the road that inevitably leads to present and eternal ruin.
Gambling—to what extent of criminality and misery does it not lead its votaries ? It opens up a way into the hearts of those who come fully within its influence to the fiends of hell to take up their abode, and hurry. them along to crimes of darker and still darker hue,-to robbery and murder,—till at length the earthly course of guilt is often terminated by suicide, and the libe
rated spirit, utterly depraved, becomes the eternal associate of spirits as wretched and hopeless in depravity as itself. How much would be gained to the high interests of man were this source of moral waste and destruction, which has turned many a youth originally generous into an unfeeling seducer, a cruel and relentless oppressor, a fraudulent member of society, a remorseless assassin, a self-tormented and miserable suicide-entirely removed from our land, and still more severely denounced by the strongest prohibitions and penalties of law ?
Here, I would venture to make a remark in regard to all games of chance. The evil of card and dice playing, and similar amusements, does not fully commence till money is staked. Then, however small may be the
sum, it is gambling, and is generally productive of the evil passions to which gambling gives rise. The religious community, partly from the conviction of its being a profitless waste of time, and partly, from a well founded dread of the habits it may engender, especially in the young, and the consequences to which such habits may gradually lead, very wisely disallow in their families all such amusements. For similar reasons, as well as for others derived from considerations of humanity, and of their responsibility to God for the disposal of their time and talents, they disapprove of horse-racing, bull-baiting, prize-fights, and all such sources of attraction to the idle, the dissipated, and the fraudulent. To those who have the wish to maintain consistently this religious character, would I say in the language of the Apostle, “ Be not ye partakers
with them. For ye were sometime darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord; walk as the children of light; proving what is acceptable to the Lord. And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.”
I. The importance of forming industrious and economical habits. Such habits are closely allied to our virtue, usefulness, respectability and happiness. Among whom is that Gospel which is the power of God unto salvation chiefly successful in making its deep and saving impression? It is not among the idle and the profligate, who seldom give it and remain at a distance from its spirit and its comfort. It has been remarked by an eminent writer, that of all the thoroughly idle men he has ever known, only one appeared to have been converted ; and from the era of his conversion he became indus. trious and diligent.
Hence the duty of parents to train up their children to habits of industry and of economy. Should they succeed in their endeavours to form such habits in the little ones whom God has intrusted to their care, they will leave them, though they should be unable to give them any thing else, a valuable inheritance. Let young persons improve the morning of their days, by forming the habit of doing diligently and with their might, whatever they engage in ; and of deriving their happiness, not from competing with fools, and in running with them the career of folly, but in the favour of God, in the approbation of conscience, in the active exertion of their faculties, and in punctual