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THE frequency of public lotteries, the enormous system of private frauds which has grown out of them, the extensive ramifications of their principle through the community, and the facility with which many well disposed persons are seduced into the support of that principle, seem to require an investigation of the true nature and use of the lot. We shall accordingly devote some papers to that subject.
A lot is an action, intended to decide a point without the aid of human skill or power. This definition includes every form of the lot, or every decision which in common language, is said to be left to chance. Thus, whether the lot or the chance consist in drawing a ticket at random out of the lottery-wheel, after it has been turned
Vol. II. 34
round to prevent collusion, or in the position of a die which is thrown after rattling it in the box, or in the particular distribution of cards after a promiscuous shuffle, or in the tossing up of a piece of money, is a matter of no moment. The principle of the action is still the same; the decision to be effected is put avowedly out of the control of human skill and power. My design is to show that every such action, that is, every lot, is a direct appeal to the living God, as the governor of the world, and that his holy providence is concerned in the event. For, if it be not an appeal to God, what is it? Not a reference to the tribunal of men; for it is so constructed as purposely to exclude their jurisdiction. Not a reference to any other creatures superior to man; for it would suppose them to be omnipresent, which is an attribute of Deity. Not a reference to nothing; for that is a contradiction. Not a reference to chance; for that is atheism. There is, indeed, much talk of chance: and, in its popular use, signifying something which happens in a manner unforeseen by us, the term is harmless enough. But when used philosophically, that is, when applied to the doctrine of cause and effect, it is either absurd or blasphemous. For what is this chance It either has a real existence or not. If it has no existence, then when you say that a lot is determined by chance, you say that it is determined by nothing : that is, you say here is a sensible effect produced by no cause at all. This is pure nonsense. If your chance is a real being, what sort of being % Either it has life, intelligence, and power, or not. If not, then you say that millions of effects (for there are millions of lots in the world) are produced by a cause which has neither power, nor intelligence, nor life: that is, you say, that millions of actions are performed by an agency which is essentially incapable of any action whatever. And this is as pure absurdity as the former. If you say that your chance is a living, intelligent, and active being, I ask who it is 7 and how you got your knowledge of it? You certainly imagine it to possess omnipresence and omnipotence; for you suppose it capable of producing, at the same moment, millions of effects in millions of places; and thus you have found out a being that displays perfections of God, and yet is not God. This conclusion is as blasphemous as the others are insane. There is no retreat. Survey the subject in any possible light, and you are driven to this issue, that the lot is, by the very nature of the case, a direct appeal to the living God, as the Governor of the world. As the appeal is to him, so his providence regulates the event. To many it seems irrational that the High and Lofty One who inhabits eternity should descend