« PreviousContinue »
"Why sayest thou, O Jacob! and speakest, O Israel! My way is hid from the Lord, And my judgment is passed over from my God? Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, That the everlasting God, the Lord,
The Creator of the ends of the earth, 11 Fainteth not, neither is weary ?
There is no searching of his understanding.
LESSON CXVI. Pernicious Effects of Gaming.–Nott. 1 I KNOW you do not mean to gamble, nor to advocate gaming. But I also know if you play at all, you will ultimately do both. It is but a line that separates between innocence and sin. Whoever fearlessly approaches this line, will soon have crossed it. To keep at a distance, therefore, is the part of wisdom. No man ever made up his mind to consign to perdition his soul at once. No man ever entered the known avenues, which conduct to such an end, with a firm and
undaunted step. The brink of ruin is approached with 2 caution, and by imperceptible degrees; and the wretch who now stands fearlessly scoffing there, but yesterday had shrunk back from the tottering cliff, with trembling. Do you wish for illustration ? The profligate game. ster's unwritten history will furnish it. How inoffensive its commencement, how sudden, and how awful its catastrophe ! Let us review his life. He commences with play, but it is only for amusement. Next he hazards a trifle to give interest, and is surprised
when he finds himself a gainer by the hazard. He then 3 ventures, not without misgivings, on a deeper stake.
That stake he loses. The loss and the guilt oppress him. He drinks to revive his spirits. His spirits revived, he stakes to retrieve his fortune. Again he is unsuccessful, and again his spirits flag, and again the inebriating cup revives them. Ere he is aware of it, he has become a drunkard ;-he has become a bankrupt. Resource fails him. His fortune is gone ; his character is gone; his tenderness of conscience is gone. God has withdrawn his spirit from him. The demon of de4 spair takes possession of his bosom; reason deserts him. He becomes a maniac; the pistol or the poniard closes the scene, and with a shriek he plunges unlamented into eternity. . . . . . .
If an occupation were demanded for the express purpose of perverting the human intellect, and humbling, and degrading, and narrowing—I had almost said annihilating—the soul of man, one more effectual could not be devised, than the one the gamester has already devised and pre-occupied. And the father and mother of a 5 family, who instead of assembling their children in the
reading-room, or conducting them to the altar, seat them night after night, beside themselves at the gaming-table, do, so far as this part of their domestic economy is concerned, contribute not only to quench their piety, but also to extinguish their intellect, and convert them into automatons, living mummies, the mere mechanical members of a domestic gambling machine, which, though but little soul is necessary, requires a number of human hands to work it. And if under such 6 a blighting culture, they do not degenerate into a state
of mechanical existence, and gradually losing their reason, their taste, their fancy, become incapable of conversation; the fortunate parents may thank the school-house, the church, the library, the society of friends, or some other and less wretched part of their own defective system, for preventing the consummation of so frightful a result.
While gaming leaves the mind to "languish, it produces its full effect on the passions and on the heart. 7 Here, however, the effect is deleterious. None of the sweet and amiable sympathies, are at the card-table called into action. No throb of ingenuous and philanthropic feeling is excited by this detestable expedient for killing time. Here that mutual amity, that elsewhere subsists, ceases; paternal affection ceases; even that community of feeling that piracy excites, and that binds the very banditti together, has no room to operate; for at this inhospitable board, every man's inter
est clashes with every man's interest, and every man's 8 hand is literally against every man.
The love of mastery, and the love of money are the purest loves, of which the gamester is susceptible. And even the love of mastery, loses all its nobleness, and degenerates into the love of lucre, which ultimately predominates and becomes the ruling passion.
Avarice is always base; but the gamester's avarice is doubly so. It is avarice unmixed with any ingredi,ent of magnanimity or mercy. Avarice, that wears not even the guise of public spirit; that claims not 9 even the meagre praise of hoarding up its own hard
earnings. On the contrary, it is an avarice, that wholly feeds upon the losses, and only delights itself with the miseries of others. Avarice, that eyes, with covetous desire, whatever is not individually its own; that crouches to throw its fangs over that booty, by which its comrades are enriched. Avarice, that stoops to rob a traveller, that sponges a guest, and that would filch the very dust from the pocket of a friend.
But, though avarice predominates, other related pas10 sions are called into action. The bosom, that was once serene and tranquil, becomes habitually perturbed. Envy rankles; jealousy corrodes; anger rages, and hope and fear alternately convulse the system. The · mildest disposition grows morose; the sweetest tem
per becomes fierce and fiery, and all the once amiable features of the heart assume a malignant aspect! · I do not say that such are the uniform, but I do say, that such are the natural and legitimate effects of gaming. The love of play is a Demon, which only takes 11 possession, as it kills the-heart. Will nature long survive in bosoms invaded, not by gaming only, but also by debauchery and drunkenness, those Sister Furies, which hell has let loose to cut off our young men from without, and our children from the streets ? No, it will not. As we have said, the finished gambler has no heart. The club with which he herds, would meet though all its members ivere in mourning. They would meet, though the place of rendezvous were the cham
ber of the dying ; they would meet, though it were an 12 apartment in the charnel-house. Not even the death
of kindred can affect the gambler. He would play upon his brother's coffin ; he would play upon his father's sepulchre.
Yonder see that wretch, prematurely old in infirmity, as well as in sin. He is the father of a family. The mother of his children, lovely in her tears, strives by the tenderest assiduities, to restore his health, and with it to restore his temperance, his love of home, and the long
lost charms of domestic life. She pursues him by her 13 kindness and her entreaties to his haunts of vice; she reminds him of his children; she tells him of their vir: tues, of their sorrows, of their wants; and she adjures him, by the love of them, and by the love of God, to repent, and to return. Vain attempt! She might as - well adjure the whirlwind; she might as well entreat the tiger.
The brute has no feeling left. He turns upon her in the spirit of the demons with which he is possessed. He curses his children and her who bare them; and as 14 he prosecutes his game, he fills the intervals with imprecations on himself; with imprecations on his Maker; imprecations borrowed from the dialect of devils, and uttered with a tone that befits only the organs of the damned! And yet in this monster, there once dwelt the spirit of a man. He had talents, he had honor, he had even faith. He might have adorned the senate, the bar, the altar. But alas! his was a faith that saveth not. The gaming-table has robbed him of it, and of all things else worth possessing. What a frightful 15 change of character! What a tremendous wreck, is the soul of man in ruins!
Return disconsolate mother to thy dwelling, and be submissive; thou shalt become a widow, and thy chil. dren fatherless. Further effort will be useless—the reformation of thy partner is impossible. God has forsaken him— nor will good angels weep or watch over him any longer.
Fast as shaft can fly,
Lord Marrion's steed rushed by ;
A look and sign to Clara cast,
To mark he would return in haste
Ask me not what the maiden feels,
Perchance a courage, not her own,
Braces her mind to desperate tone.
She only said, as loud in air
Fight but to die.—“Is Wilton there ?"-
A wounded knight they bore.
Young Blount his armor did unlace,
Said “By Saint George, he's gone!",