The Sinfulness and pernicious Nature of Gaming.


By WILLIAM STITH, A. M. Rector of Henrico Parish.

Publish'd at the Request of the House of Burgesses.

WILLIAMSBURG: Printed and Sold by WILLIAM HUNTER, 1752.


Abstract from the Journal of the House of Burgesses.


THAT the Thanks of this House be returned to the Reverend Mr. William Stith for his excellent Sermon, preached Yesterday before the Council and this House, and that he be desired to print it; and that Mr. Fry do wait on him for that Purpose.

J. Randolph, C. H. B.

TO THE HONOURABLE ROBERT DINWIDDIE, Esq His Majesty's Lieutenant-Governor, and Com­mander in Chief, of VIRGINIA.


THE following Discourse was at first written for the Instruction and Admonition of my own Parish, without any View at that Time, of it's going farther; but being called, by your Honour, to preach before the General-Assembly, I could not think upon any Subject better adapted to the present Circumstances of our Country, and more necessary to be insisted on. The Gentlemen of the House of Burgesses having honoured it with their Approba­tion, and desired it should be printed, I very wil­lingly comply with their Request, as it may be a Means of rendering the Truths contained in-it more publick and diffusive, and may possibly contribute something towards the Cure of this enormous Vice.

IT was not without a sensible Pleasure, that I observed a Vein of Piety run through your Honour's SPEECH to the General-Assembly, and a high Re­gard expressed for the true Interests of Religion. [Page]It is upon this, Sir, that the Thrones of Kings are established, and that Princes and Magistrates reign and decree Justice. So that every Violation of the Dictates of Religion and Morality is, not only an Act of Rebellion against the Majesty of Almighty GOD, but also a flagrant Offence against the real Interests, and true Felicity, of the State. And this is the Reason, that all wise and well constituted Governments have ever had the utmost Attention to Religion, and made it's Purity and Practice their first and principal Concern.

BUT how destructive of every religious Senti­ment, and corruptive of all Honesty and Morality, this flagitious Practice is, hath been, I hope, suffi­ciently set forth and explained in this Sermon. It is upon you, Sir, that the Executive Part of our Government now chiefly rests; and if, by a proper Vigour in the Execution of the Laws against it, or by any other Method, you can discourage and suppress this crying Enormity, it will greatly re­dound to the Honour of your Administration; which that it may be long and happy over us, is the sincere Wish, and shall be the constant Prayer of, Sir,

Your Honour's most faithful and most obedient Servant, WILLIAM STITH.
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EXODUS XX.—Part of v 17.

Thou shalt not covet.

THESE Words contain the principal Verb and preceptive Part of the tenth Commandment; and I have chosen them for a Discourse upon a particular Kind of Coveting, which is become a growing and crying Evil among us. I believe, you will easily judge, that the Coveting, which I mean, is that of Gaming; a Vice, that always hath it's Root in Avarice, and which, in it's greedy Wishes and Aims, devours it's Neighbour's Houses and Lands, his Man-Servants and his Maid Servants, his Oxen and his Asses, and every Thing else, that is his.

HOWEVER, it may be thought perhaps by some Persons, that this is a Subject below the Ani­madversion and Dignity of this Place. But altho' Gaming is in itself a very low and contemptible Vice, yet as it is, in all its Complications and Con­sequences, a Sin of a very deep Dye and aggravated [Page 6]Nature,—and as it is at present very prevalent among us, and hath, within these few Years, grown visibly, and as it were to the Eye; — I am sure, I shall never esteem any such to be below my Duty and Function. On the contrary, both as a Minister of GOD's Word, and as a Lover of my Country, I shall joyfully embrace every Occasion, as well publick as private, of bearing my Testimony against a Practice, so very sinful and hurtful to Men's Souls, and so vastly injurious and destructive to every Country, where it is much followed.

BUT it may perhaps be objected, that all Ga­ming is not of this heinous and sinful Nature; but that, in some Instances and Degrees, it is a lawful and innocent Diversion. This indeed is a disputed Point among Moralists and Divines; but I believe, it is generally agreed to be sinful, as soon as ever it ceases to be a mere Amusement, and becomes a Contest for Money, so that Avarice mingles itself with, and corrupts, its Nature. However, not to screw Things up to their greatest Height and Se­verity, and to err rather on the mild and good-na­tured than on the sour and unrelenting Side, I shall willingly grant, that even Gaming for Money, in some Instances and Degrees, may be a lawful and innocent Diversion. But then let me add, that those Instances and Degrees are much fewer, I be­lieve, than it is generally supposed. For whenever Gaming engrosses too much of our Thought and Affection, or employs too much of our Time; — whenever it leads us into sinful Habits, or betrays us into violent and criminal Passions; — or when­ever it makes us neglect more useful Business and [Page 7]Pursuits, or omit our necessary Duties to GOD, our Neighbour, or ourselves; — in all these, and other such Cases, it immediately loses the Harm­lesness of it's Nature, and degenerates into down­right Sin and Folly.

TO this it may be observed, that the Spirit of Gaming is of a very growing and encroaching Na­ture; so that no Man can say to it, thus far shalt thou come, and no farther; nor answer for the evil Consequences of indulging it, even in the lowest Degree. It will therefore always be an especial Point of Prudence, carefully to guard against, or even wholly to avoid, such a dangerous Contagion; lest it gains insensibly upon the Mind, and at last totally engrosses and enslaves us.

BUT besides, Gaming, in it's most innocent Degree, must be acknowledged to be at best only a Supplement to Good-sense, which serves to fill up the Vacancies of useful Discourse and diverting Con­versation. It's greatest Use is to kill Time, and to pass away those Hours, which lie heavy upon the Hands of the Idle; and it's highest Praise is only the negative one, of keeping such Persons from hard Drinking, and other more sinful and pernici­ous Courses. So that to give it it's whole Due, it is nothing but a harmless Kind of Trifling, and a less hurtful Manner of fooling away our Time.

BUT however void of Guilt so childish an Amusement may be, yet no such Thing, I am sure, can be pleaded in Excuse of high Gaming, which is an evident and undeniable Sin. For we therein [Page 8]sin against our Neighbour, against our Country, against our Families, against ourselves, and against GOD. And therefore, in the Prosecution of this Discourse, I beg Leave to make some Observations on each of those Heads. And,

I. IN Gaming we sin against our Neighbour, as we therein covet our Neighbour's Goods, and are undoubtedly guilty of an eminent Breach of this tenth Commandment. For Covetousness is the Mother-Passion to the Spirit of Gaming; and no true Gamester sits down to play with his Neighbour, without a determined Design against his Purse and his Property. It is not, to relieve the Mind after hard Application to other more severe and useful Pursuits, or to divert and trifle away an idle Hour, that the Gamester plays, — but it is wholly with a View to get Money; — and the more he wins from his Neighbour, his Friend, or his very Brother, the more is he pleased, and the better are his Ends an­swered; so that, in Mind at least, we are evidently guilty of hurting our Neighbour, as we design and endeavour to gain from him his Necessaries and Conveniencies of Life.

AND indeed it were well, if it stopped there, and went no farther than a bare Desire and Inten­tion of Mind. I am afraid it is constantly led on and brought into Act, and too often settles into a fixed Habit of Fraud and Knavery. For that Man must certainly be an extraordinary Person, who can be for ever hankering after and eager for his Neigh­bour's Goods, and yet keep himself from all dis­honest Arts and fraudulent Practices towards obtain­ing [Page 9]them. In truth, a settled Habit of Gaming, and steady Principle of Honesty, seem to be utterly repugnant and inconsistent with each other. Our Honesty will make us quit Gaming, or Gaming will make us desert our Honesty. Two such opposite Principles can never long agree and dwell together in the same Breast.

AT first indeed the Gamester's Deflections from the Paths of Honesty may be modest and fearful. He will perhaps only take, what, in the Style of that Art and Mystery, are called fair Advantages; that is to say, he will only take Advantage of his Neigh­bour's Ignorance, and cheat him by his own Mis­take. And this, according to the Casuistry of the Gaming-Table, is entirely consonant to the Rules of Justice and Honour; altho' by all other Laws of GOD and Man it is accounted a palpable Fraud and arrant Knavery. For certainly, the Man, that takes Advantage of my Ignorance and steals my Horse, or that robs my House, by my Mistake or Inadverten­cy in leaving my Key in the Door, is as honest as he, that wins my Money upon the like Ignorance or Mis­take. And there is no Court of Justice, but what will oblige a Man to rectify any Errors, that may be committed in the Settlement of an Account, and refund the Money, which he hath unjustly got from his Neighbour, by his own Acuteness, or the other's Negligence or Error. And yet from such Princi­ples doth the Gamester's System of Morality set out; such, I say, as contradict the plainest Dictates of Reason and Justice. And when the Mind is once debauched and corrupted by such wicked Prin­ciples, it is no Wonder, if it afterwards wades on [Page 10]from Guilt to Guilt, till it at last arrives at all the insidious Arts, iniquitous Tricking, and knavish Refinements of Gaming.

AND this Habit of cheating and tricking, which is contracted at the Gaming Table, will dif­fuse itself through all other Parts of a Man's Deal­ings and Conduct. He will not be able to buy any thing without a Nick, or to sell the least Trifle without a Bite. Can the Ethiopian change his Skin, or the Leopard his Spots? then may ye also do Good, that are accustomed to do Evil. Jer. xiii. 23. The Habit of shuffling and cousening will be so grafted and rooted in their very Nature, that it will shew itself in every Branch of their Behaviour, and every the most indifferent Office of Life. So that Life itself is with them one continual Scene of Gaming, and their whole Study and Employment in it is to lie upon the Watch, and to take all Advantages, that offer.

BUT to proceed one Step farther: I wish the Evil of Gaming terminated even here. But it is often found to go still farther, and at last to bring Men to downright Stealing and Robbery. For it is well known, that there never was any notorious Thief or Robber, who was not at the same Time a notorious Gamester. And when the near Pros­pect of Death obliges those wretched Creatures to repent of the Evil of their Ways, it may be observed, that a Caution against this unrighteous and corrup­tive Practice always makes one Part of their dying Admonitions, as it hath always been one main Road, that led them to that miserable End.

[Page 11] NEITHER is this the worst of it yet. For Gaming is often known to lead Men to those black­er and more odious Crimes of Duelling and Murder. Nay, the Despair and Distraction of the Ruin and Beggary, which they have brought upon themselves and Families, hath sometimes carried the unhappy Wretches to that highest and most horrid of all Crimes, the Sin of Self-Murder; and has made them rush wildly into the Presence of Almighty GOD, with all their Sins and Iniquities fresh upon them, and without a Possibility of redeeming their Conduct by a future Repentance and Amendment.

IN short; no good and prudent Man can ever concern himself far with this abominable Practice of Gaming. For if he is a good Man, he will not himself cheat; and if he is a prudent Man, he will never engage himself among a Pack of Thieves and Sharpers, where, if he will not cheat, he is sure to be cheated.—But as in Gaming we thus sin against our Neighbour. So,

II. ARE we guilty of a very heinous Sin a­gainst our Country. And this plainly follows from what has been urged under the former Head. For if Gaming has a natural and direct Tendency, to sap the Honesty, and to corrupt the Morals of a People, then Gaming is undoubtedly a most grie­vous Offence against every Country, where it is practised. For moral Virtue and Honesty is the grand Fountain of publick Honour and Felicity; as the Vice and Wickedness of a Nation are the cer­tain Forerunners and Cause of it's Disgrace and De­struction: [Page 12]According to that excellent Remark of the Wiseman; Righteousness exalteth a Nation, but Sin is a Reproach to any People. Prov. xiv. 34.

BUT besides, the Strength and Prosperity of every Country entirely depend upon the Number and honest Industry of it's Inhabitants, who by their Labour and Manufactures increase the publick Stock, and add to the general Wealth of the Nation. Every honest Labourer, of any useful Trade or Pro­fession, that faithfully and industriously follows the same, is so far a Benefactor to the Publick, and contributes to the Wealth and Prosperity of his Country. As on the contrary, every Art or Pur­suit, that tends to make the People idle, and to draw them off from their honest Callings and useful Trades, immediately becomes hurtful and pernicious to the Community. These are some of the first Principles of Polity—and plainest Truths in the Science of Government.

BUT now, what can be imagined, more destruc­tive of Industry, a greater Enemy to honest Labour, and more immediately calculated to draw Men off from their useful Callings, and to render them idle and vagrant, than this Practice of Gaming? For when Mankind can be so far gulled and deceived in their Hopes, as to promise themselves more Pro­fit from one Hour's Play, than from a Year's La­bour, human Nature will be apt to be too indulgent to itself, and joyfully to embrace the Scheme of much Money and little Trouble. And thus are they induced to quit their several useful Call­ings and Professions, and to gad about from Place [Page 13]to Place, in Pursuit of these wild Hopes and ima­ginary Riches. Whereas, if they would give them­selves the Trouble of making a just Calculation of the Matter, they would soon find so much expend­ed in travelling Charges, so much thrown away in Drinking, Rioting, and other concomitant Vices of Gaming, that upon the whole they are them­selves great Losers, and that the Tavern-keepers, and other Panders to their Vices, are generally the chief Gainers.

BUT on the other hand, what possible Advan­tage can accrue to a Country from the Practice of Gaming? What useful Art is promoted? What Manufactures are carried on? Or what Addition is there made by it to the publick Stock and Wealth of a People? None certainly. For the Whole of Gaming is only to shift the Property and Specie, which hath been acquired to a Country and brought in by the honest Labourer's Industry, from one Hand to another, — and oftentimes from the more worthy to the most unworthy Members of the Society. And Arts and Manufactures are so far from being advanced by it, that it is the greatest Obstruction imaginable to them, by drawing off those Hands to the Ways of Idleness and Knavery, which by GOD and their Station in Life, are de­signed for Labour, and which ought by all the Reason in the World to be so employed. So that to call them off from their necessary Employments, is in truth to rob their Country of the Profit and Advantage of their Labours, and even to run coun­ter to GOD's Providence, and to contradict his di­vine Will in allotting them their Rank and Con­dition [Page 14]in the World. And that this is the Case a­mong us is very notorious; when Persons, who by their Fortune and Figure in Life are marked out for Labour, dare to desert their Post at the Plow and the Hoe, where they may do their Country good Service by increasing the publick Export and Riches, and betake themselves to the more easy and idle, but less honest Employment of Gaming.

AND as this is true of the inferior Sort of Peo­ple, so is it more particularly applicable to Gen­tlemen and Persons of Distinction. As they have a greater Stake in a Country, and enjoy a larger Property, so are they bound, both in Gratitude and Interest, to be more studious of that Country's Good, and to prevent every Art or Practice, that shall be found hurtful to it. Instead of wasting and lavishing away their Time, their Money, and their Constitution, at the Gaming Table, they ought to be employed in devising liberal Things, in setting forward any useful Project or Branch of Trade and Manufacture, and in promoting every Thing, that may tend to the publick Good and Improvement. Instead of throwing away their Money among the rapacious and unthankful Tribe of Gamesters, they ought to cast their Bread upon the Waters, by em­ploying the honest and industrious Poor, and so af­ter many Days they will be sure to find it again, re­paid with Usury, both in this World and the next. Instead of defiling themselves with so foul a Prac­tice, and setting Fashions to the lower People in Vice, they ought by their Example to lead them on to every Thing, that is virtuous and honest, and with the utmost Severity of the Law to restrain and [Page 15]punish this execrable Custom; a Custom so evident­ly corruptive of the People, and so prejudicial to the Publick, that there is no Country in the World, where it rose to any Height, that did not immedi­ately prohibit it under the severest Penalties. And this is certainly an unanswerable Proof of the uni­versal Sense of Mankind concerning it's pernicious Nature and Tendency. But,

III. IN Gaming we are also guilty of a Sin against our Families. For,

1. WE all owe to our Families an honest Di­ligence and careful Endeavour to support and main­tain them according to our several Stations and Abi­lities; which Duty, I am afraid, is not much re­garded by the Gentlemen of this Profession. For although the Gamester may seem to be sollicitous to provide for those of his own House, and may be thought to follow his Calling out of a View and Hope of enriching himself and Family, yet shall we be greatly mistaken, if we think him such a careful Husband or Father. For how often is it found, whilst Gamesters are flaunting it and flourishing a­broad, with their fine Horses, rich Furniture and Cloaths, and luxurious Living, that their Families are left at home in a pinching and starving Condition? Every Thing they can scrape and rend is squandered away upon their own Vices and Extravagancies, with­out the least Thought or Concern how far it may affect the Happiness and Well-being of their Wives and Children. Neither is it to be wondered at. For this Vice is certainly very destructive of all the [Page 16]gentler Passions of Tenderness and Humanity; and by the Habit of taking all Advantages, and con­tinually doing hard, unjust, and cruel Things, it steels the Mind, as it were, against every kind and benevolent Sentiment.

BUT yet farther: Although a Gamester should win much, yet is he at the same Time obliged to be at a constant and great Charge; and whether he wins or loses, his Expences are still high. So that upon the whole, taking their Expences into the Calculation, every Man bets against such Odds, as in a long Run of Play, without the helping Hand of a little Cogging and Cosenage, must undo the richest Man alive. To which we may add that Ex­travagancy, which will be naturally bred in the Mind, by having such large Sums perpetually flow­ing in and going out. This brings them to set but little Value upon Money, and makes them think and act, as if they were the absolute and real Mas­ters of all the Cash, that passes through their Hands. All which Things will certainly intercept and run away with that Profit and Advantage to their Fa­milies, which otherwise a Run of Luck might possibly give them. But,

2. BESIDES this Duty of being careful and industrious and providing for our Familes, we are still farther obliged to be watchful over their Man­ners and Behaviour, to set them a good Example, and to bring them up in the Nurture and Admonition of the Lord, Eph. vi. 4. And this is a Branch of parental Duty equal, if not superior to the other. But how does the Gamester comply with this Par­ticular? [Page 17]To speak the Truth ingenuously, I think, I never knew any Profession, so constantly and re­gularly handed down from Father to Son, as this of Gaming. A Lawyer's Son may be a Clergy­man, and a Clergyman's Son may be a Physician; but you may take it for granted, that a Gamester's Son will forever be a Gamester. He takes the Ply in his * tender Years, and can never forsake it his whole Life after. And as he advances in Age and Dexterity, you may often see the Booby Father transported at his Acuteness in Tricking and Kna­very, and overjoyed to find him tread in his own Steps with so great Eagerness and Proficiency. And however the Precepts of Religion and Morality may be inculcated, you may be sure, that no Maxim of Life will be more carefully distilled into his tender Mind, than that of the Roman Satyrist: Be sure, my Son, to get Money; get it honestly, if you can, but if you can't, be sure at any rate to get Money. This is the grand Principle of his own Life and Actions, and therefore will naturally become the main Part of the Instruction and Education of his Children.—But as we thus offend against the Duty, which we owe to our Families. So,

IV. DO we also thereby sin against ourselves: And this with Regard to our Bodies, our Minds, and our Souls. For,

[Page 18] 1. HOWEVER innocent Gaming may seem to our Health and bodily Welfare, yet upon a just Examination of the Matter we shall find it very prejudicial to the Constitution. For the Gamester is obliged to be a Man of all Hours: He is forced to sit up, and to drink; and (as the Antitype of of St. Paul) to be made all Things to all Men, that he may by all Means ruin some. He is an insidi­ous Animal, that is eternally upon the Watch for his Prey; and however disgustful it may be to him­self, or hurtful to his Constitution; he must ei­ther quit the Profit and Finesse of his Profession, or else he must universally conform himself to all Kinds of Humours and Vices. However his Body may crave it's Rest, at those Hours, which GOD and Nature have assigned for Refreshment and Repose; yet hath he more Sense than to obey the Calls of Nature, and thereby lose the hopeful Prospect of getting Money, which will only cost him a little Trouble and much Knavery.

BUT as to those Gentlemen, who would not be thought to make Gaming their Profession, and that only now and then throw away Part of their Time and Estates in this innocent and laudable Diversion, I refer it to their own Consciences, whether they do not often find themselves betrayed by it into hard Drinking and late Hours? And this will be for ever promoted by the expert and dextrous Gamester; it being one of the honest Arts and grand Mysteries of their Craft and Calling, first to make Men drunk, and then to win their Money. In short, it is a con­stant and invariable Rule always to follow Nature; [Page 19]and whoever turns Night into Day, and Day into Night (however the Thing may be palliated and disguised, or however excused and defended) yet certainly runs counter to this Rule, does a Vio­lence to Nature, and must injure his Health and Constitution. Neither,

2. IS it less injurious to our Minds, than it is to our Bodies. It exceeds the Power of Language to express the Pangs and Anguish, the Remorse and Bitterness of Soul, that must attend a ruined Estate and beggared Family. No Colours can paint, nor Words describe the Grief and Distraction of such a Man. And even when it does not come to that Height; yet a bad Run of Luck, and the Loss of a Sum of Money, which we are in immediate and pressing Want of, and which perhaps we know not how to raise again, must give a Man no small Pain and Compunction. And indeed the Gamester's Art is the very Reverse of the Wisdom of the an­tient Sages and Philosophers. One grand Lesson of theirs, and a principal Aim of their Instructions, was to bring Men to a settled Peace and Tranquil­lity of Mind; without which they wisely concluded, there could be no such Thing as Happiness in this Life. And this Truth was so eagerly pursued, and so over-run, as it were, by some of the Sects, that they fell into the unnatural Absurdity of an Apa­thy, or a perfect Unconcern and Disregard for whatever can happen to us. But Gaming tends to the very contrary of this. It destroys all ease and Tranquillity of Mind, and throws it into a con­tinual Confusion and Perturbation. The Transiti­ons from Grief to Joy, from Gain to Loss, are so [Page 20]quick and perpetual, that the Passions are for ever kept in a Flame and Hurricane, and have not Time left them to grow cool and composed. Philosophy professes to teach us, to govern our Passions and command our Appetites; but this Anti-Philosophy, with still greater Force and Efficacy, lets them loose, and renders them furious and ungovernable.

IN short, by committing ourselves to the blind Arbitrement of Chance, to the Cast of a Dye or Turn of a Card, we give the Reins quite out of our own Hands, and lose all Power and Authority over our Spirits. We are tossed to and fro by every Wind of Passion, and are enslaved to wild Desires, excessive Hopes, impotent Joys, and groundless Griefs. 'Till at last we are so abandoned to these frantic Transports, that whenever Things succeed not according to our Wish, we immediately lose all Prudence, Temper, and Respect, and grow impious and profligate. But,

3. Supposing the Case to be otherwise, that the Gamester's Ways are Ways of Pleasantness, and all his Paths are Peace: Supposing, he is always suc­cessful and a perpetual Gainer; yet, my Brethren, what is a Man profited, if he should gain the whole World, and lose his own Soul? or what shall a Man give in Exchange for his Soul? Matt. xvi. 26. For you may easily judge, from what hath been already said, that the Guilt of this Practice is very heinous and complicated; and that a State of Grace, and a State of Gaming, seem hardly compatible with each other. And that this may appear the more fully, I proceed to observe,

[Page 21] V. THAT in Gaming we sin greviously against GOD. And surely of this there can be no Manner of Doubt. For how can that Man be innocent in the Sight of GOD, who breaks through and violates so many, so plain, and such important Divine Commands? How can he stand absolved towards his Creator, who sins against his Neighbour, his Country, his Family, and his own Soul; and consequently, in each of those Particulars, is guilty of a most egregious Offence against GOD?

BUT besides these oblique Ways of offending GOD, Gaming naturally leads to, and is produc­tive of, some of the most direct and audacious Af­fronts imaginable against the Divine Majesty. For what horrid Oaths and Blasphemies, what dreadful Imprecations, and shocking Impieties, are con­stantly attendant upon this frantic and outragious Diversion? The groundless, unprovoked, and abo­minable Habit of Cursing and Swearing is indeed but too common through all Parts of Life; and cannot but give continual Pain and Concern to every serious and pious Christian. But yet the Gaming Table seems to be the peculiar Soil and darling Re­sidence of Oaths and Blasphemies. There every puny Mortal, that has lost a Sum of Money, thinks himself authorised to call Divine Providence to an Account; and is sure to list up his Voice aloud against GOD, and to pour forth the Bitterness of his Soul against the Almighty. And these indeed do it in serious Sadness, and in the Height of their Grief and Frenzy; whilst others are led on by it to [Page 22]an habitual Course of Blasphemy and Profaneness, and lose all Sense of Reverence for the Name and Majesty of that GOD, in whom they live, and move, and have their Being. So that in cold Blood, as it were, and unprovoked, they will be throwing forth their Impieties; and even with studied Jests, and out of mere Wantonness, divert themselves with Blasphemies, casting about Firebrands, Arrows, and Death, and saying; Are we not in Sport? And ac­cordingly we may observe, that in every Circle of Gamesters there is commonly one or two, who are the Buts and Diversion of the rest; and who chiefly shine by their Talent in pouring forth queer and unexpected Oaths, and inventing new Figures of Speech in the Art of Swearing and Profaneness.

BUT however Divine Providence may be rated for their Losses, and it's Justice questioned, yet the Case is quite altered, when they happen to win. Then they will be ready enough to sacrifice to their own Net, and to ascribe their Success to their own Merit and superior Wisdom and Address. GOD must bear the Blame of their Miscarriages; but they themselves are applauded, as the sole Authors, and dexterous Contrivers of all their good Fortune.

BUT besides these open and daring Insults on the dread Majesty of Heaven and Earth, Gaming naturally begets in us many other sinful Ways and evil Habits. And particularly, notwithstanding his perpetual Use of the Lord's Name, yet hath the Gamester little or no Sense of GOD and Religion upon his Mind. No Man can serve two such op­posite Masters, as GOD and Mammon; but our [Page 23]Love to the one will make us cold and negligent in our Duty towards the other. And the Gamester is so blinded by the GOD of this World, and so eager and devoted to his Service, that it will soon bring him to neglect GOD's Ordinances and Sanctuary, and at last induce a total Deadness and Insensibility to all the Duties and Pleasures of Religion. And thus does he habitually forget to sanctify the Sab­bath, to honour GOD's holy Name, and to tread the Courts of the Lord's House; gradually sinking into a State of spiritual Sloth and Irreligion, be­coming an Alien from the Commonwealth of Israel, and a Stranger to the Covenants of Promise, having no Hope, and being without GOD in the World. Ephes. ii. 12.

THUS exceeding great and grievous is the Guilt, contracted by this crying and execrable Sin of Gaming. I hope, that a just Indignation against a Vice, so profligate and irreligious, and so produc­tive of Sin and Evil;—so unrighteous in itself and injurious to our Neighbour, so hurtful to our Country and destructive of all honest Labour and Industry, so prejudicial to our Fortunes and Fami­lies, so pernicious to ourselves both in Soul and Body, and above all so madly audacious and affron­tive to GOD;—I hope, I say, that a just Indig­nation against so infamous and detestable a Vice, may plead sufficiently in my Excuse, for any Seve­rity of Reflection, or Bitterness of Language, that may have fallen from me. I am sure, nothing re­lating to our Country did ever give me so much Grief and Concern, as to observe this Frenzy grow, as it hath done of late, and so mightily prevail a­mong [Page 24]us. It has seized, without Exception, upon all Ranks and Conditions of our People; and hath equally infected the high and low, rich and poor, one with another.

AND what is the saddest Circumstance of the Whole, all this hath happened in Despite and Defi­ance of excellent Laws against it, and by the Influ­ence and Example of those very Persons, who, by their Stations and Oaths, and by every other Reason of Duty and Interest, are bound to restrain and punish it. And we of the Ministry will lift up our Voice in vain, and may speak, and preach, and print, against it without the least Effect, as long as it hath to support it the Countenance and Example of Persons of Wealth and Eminence. For I have long observed by a melancholy Experience, that the best written Discourse, nay even the plainest and most important Instances of Duty, will lose all their Weight and Influence with the Generality of the People, if they are contradicted by the Lives and Conversations, or even by the unmannerly Scoffs and irreverent Gibes, of their rich and powerful Neighbours. As therefore, I believe, it is un­doubted, that this Madness first got Footing among us, and spread itself by the Practice and Example of Persons of Fortune and Distinction; so will it chiefly lie upon them, to apply proper Remedies, and to put an effectual Stop, to it's Rage and Ma­lignity. And this they are loudly called upon to do, as they will answer it to GOD and their Coun­try. For GOD cannot but be highly provoked by such a complicated Scene of Vice and Wicked­ness, as the Gaming Table presents. And there is [Page 25]scarce any other Vice to be found, so vastly perni­cious and ruinous to a Country, as this of Gaming. It draws after it a long and dismal Train of other Crimes. Sharping, Robbing, Luxury, Drinking, Rioting, Lewdness, Duelling, with other such tri­fling Peccadilloes, commonly serve and attend up­on this grand and master Vice. So vastly prolific in Sin, and fruitful of Crimes, is this iniquitous Practice; and so directly destructive of all good Manners and sound Morality among a People!

IF therefore Gentlemen would but seriously con­sider, and follow the Dictates of their Reason, this unrighteous Custom would soon be discountenanced and discarded among us. For certainly, above all Things, it is very prejudicial and disgraceful to a Gentleman. It degrades and brings him down to the Level of every Scoundrel; who, if he has the Rashness and Resolution to venture a large Sum of Money upon the Cast of a Dye, immediately com­mences a Man of Spirit; and without any other single good Quality to recommend him, is admitted as a fit Companion among Persons of the highest Dignity and most conspicuous Fortune. And be­sides, the little Arts and mean Tricking of Gaming must be quite below the Character of a true Gentle­man, who does not only act up to the strict Rules of Virtue and Honesty, but is governed by a still higher Principle of Honour; which implies a cer­tain Nobleness and Generosity of Sentiment and Be­haviour, that soars above every Appearance of Evil, and scorns, that the least Stain should be cast upon, or Cavil raised against it.

[Page 26] THERE are indeed very good and wholesome Laws at present subsisting against this Practice, which only fail in the Execution. But whether there may not be some farther and more effectual Remedies found against it, I shall leave to the Wis­dom and Consideration of our Legislature to de­termine. I shall only say that there is no reigning Evil among us at present, so virulent and outragi­ous, and which seems so greatly to demand their Regard and healing Hand, as this of Gaming; nor any Thing, wherein they can do their Country a more real and substantial Service, than by putting an effectual Stop to it.

AS for my Part, I am deeply sensible of my Inability to do any great Good towards the Cure of this deadly Contagion. However, being by my Station in GOD's Church, set as a Watchman upon the Wall, I will not be a dumb Dog, that cannot bark; that sleepeth, lyeth down, and loveth to slumber, Isa. lvi. 10. But according to the Words of the same Prophet, Isa. lxii. 6. I will never keep Silence, nor hold my Peace, Day nor Night, against so vile and flagitious a Practice.— And to conclude with the patriot Words and noble Admonition of the Prophet Samuel: As for me GOD forbid, that I should sin against the Lord, in ceasing to pray for you; or in neglecting to teach you the good and the right Way. Only fear the Lord, and serve him in Truth with all your Heart; for consider, how great Things he hath done for you. But if ye shall still do wickedly, ye shall be con­sumed, [Page 27]both ye and your Leaders, 1 Sam. xii. 23, 24, 25.

NOW unto him, that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless, before the Presence of his Glory, with exceeding Joy,—To the only wise GOD our Saviour, be Glory and Majesty, Dominion and Power, both now and evermore. Amen. Jude xxiv. 25.


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