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valid. Thus, if a man shall draw a blessing this moment, and a curse the next, he is bound to believe himself both blessed and accursed; for the reason of his believing the one is equally strong for believing the other, or else for not believing either, which would be as gross a contradiction as the former. If this, however, were all; if in these their liberties with the Bible men of vain, irregular minds, merely displayed their own folly, they might expose themselves at their leisure. But they actually endeavor to draw the Most High God into self-contradiction. For if they view those passages of his word which are assigned to them by lot, as expressing his decision, they ought never to try again, because his “counsel shall stand.” Whereas, by the very fact of “trying again,” they ask him to reverse his own judgment. And thus, their characters remaining the same, should they happen, as in the example above, to get now a curse and then a blessing, they ascribe to him two opposite judgments, in one of which he must necessarily certify a falsehood. These are daring freedoms indeed. The very thought of perverting his book of life into a book of gambling should fill us with horror. But let not our reprehension of such profaneness, for by no softer name can we call it, be misunderstood. Let us not be suspected of denying that portions of divine truth, suddenly and unexpectedly presented to the mind, have in many instances been accompanied with extraordinary effects. A careless man has unintentionally opened the Bible at a place which arrested his notice and flashed light in upon his conscience. It was an arrow from the quiver of the Etenal, shot into his very heart, and it stuck there, drinking up his spirit, till it was extracted by the healing hand of mercy. So, likewise, many of those who “fear the Lord,” and yet “walk in darkness and have no light,” proceeding in the path of duty, mourning and depressed, have taken up their Bible, hardly knowing whether they should read it or not; and have been directed to some unlooked for passage, which, being powerfully applied to their hearts, has dispelled their fears, and filled them with “peace and joy in believing.” We know that all this is exploded by many, and even by some who are called, and who ought to be, ministers of the gospel, as blind fanaticism. If the reader be of that class, we have at present no dispute with him. He is welcome to the consolation of laughing at that which multitudes of believers, now in the church, and multitudes more among the “spirits of just men made perfect,” can attest to be a divine reality. He has much higher reason to doubt his own Christianity than the sobriety of their experience.
But while we allow in the amplest manner for such cases as these—while we are far from “limiting the Holy One of Israel”—we cannot forget that his sovereignty is not our rule of action, nor concede that his interposition in such instances as we have mentioned affords the smallest countenance to the practice we have condemned. “To the law and to the testimony; if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.” But the sentence of “the law and the testimony” is not to be procured by cutting it up into lottery tickets, nor to be used as if the promises of life and the denunciations of death were pasted among its leaves, to be distributed by lot. As well might the divine promises and threatenings be parceled out on a back-gammon board, and the dice be rattled for a chance of heaven or of hell. If every man, whose soul is not lost to seriousness, shudders at this idea, let him also shudder at the other, which is equally profane. It is a gross abuse of the lot, and therefore a prostitution of an ordinance by the proper use of which
the name of God is glorified. .
We exposed, in our last number, that signal abuse of the lot which employs it as a means of determining the spiritual state and character of individuals. We proceed to point out another abuse far more extensive in its operation and most fatal in its effects, we mean games of chance. Under this general appellation we comprehend cards, dice, and other games, of which the lot is an essential part. The universal and decisive objection to them in every form and under all circumstances is, that they are profane appeals to the divine throme, and a wanton prostitution of a divine ordinance. For the premises which support this conclusion we refer the reader to our first two numbers. We are aware that our position will not readily obtain the concurrence of many who are far from being friendly to gaming or gamblers. Both are held in abhorrence by sober-minded men throughout the whole world. But their opinions greatly vary as to the nature of the games. Some consider them, or at least certain forms of them, as innocent and pleasant recreations, when they are not subservient to the sordid passions; that is, when the parties either do not play for money, or for no more than is necessary to keep up the spirit of the competition.
Others despise them as frivolous and ignoble pastimes, without attaching to them the blame of direct immorality, unless they become incentives to crime by becoming the sources of unlawful gain. Many beyond doubt there are, whose indulgence in these sports carries them to no such excess; who treat gaming and gamesters with merited contempt; and who, while they give a leisure hour to the card-table or the die, have not the smallest suspicion that their amusement has an irreligious taint, or tends to weaken in the slightest degree the sense and effect of those obligations by which man is bound to God his Maker. With these we remonstrate: with all who are not strangers to compunctious feeling after they have risen from a game of hazard; and with all, who, although they have occasionally speculated upon the question, have never been at the pains to decide it satisfactorily to their own minds. Gaming has always had an evil reputation in all civilized countries, especially such as have been enlightened by the Christian revelation. It is both curious and instructive to mark the gradations of this sentiment. Gamesters themselves, in whom the avaricious lust has not quite overpowered both integrity and shame, know and feel that their occupation is vile; for they study secrecy, not merely to VOL. III. 38