Billeder på siden

the gaming-table, the loss of a little money is one of the least injuries you sustain by it. But what if you should still come off gainers? Is this the way that God has taught or allowed us to procure the necessary comforts of life? Is this a sort of labour or traffic on which you can ask the blessing of heaven? Can you lift up your face to God, and pray that he would siicceed the cast of the die, the drawing of the lot, or the dealing out of the cards, so as to increase your gain, while it is the very sense and language of the prayer, that your neighbour may sustain so much Joss? This is a sad and guilty circumstance which belongs to gaming, that one can gain nothing but what another loses; and consequently, we cannot ask a blessing upon ourselves, but at the same time we pray for a blast upon our neighbour.

Will you hope to excuse it by saying, that my neighbour consents to this blast, or this loss, by entering into the game, and there is no injury where there is consent? 1 answer, that though he consents to lose conditionally, and upon a ventrous hope of gain, yet he is not willing to sustain the loss absolutely; but when either chance, or his neighbour's skill in the game bias determined against him, then he is constrained to lose, and does it unwillingly ; so that he still sustains it as a loss, or misfortune, or evil. Now if you ask a blessing from heaven on this way of your getting money, you ask rather absolutely that your neighbour may sustain a loss, without any regard to the condition of bis hope of gain. Your wish and prayer is directly that you may get, and he may lose: you cannot wish this good to yourself

, but

you wish the contrary evil to him : and therefore I think gaming for gain cannot be consistent with the laws of Christ, which certainly forbid us to wish evil to our neighbour. And if you canuot so much as in thought ask God's blessing on this, as you certainly may on such recreations as have an evident tendency innocently to exercise the body and relax the mind, it seems your conscience secretly condemns it, and there is an additional proof of its being evil to you.

All the justest writers of morality, and the best casuists, have generally, if not universally, deterinioed against these methods of gain. Whatsoever game may be indulged as lawful, it is still as a recreation, and not as a calling or business of life : and therefore no larger sums ought to be risked or veutured in this manner, than what inay be lawfully laid out by any persons for their present recreation, according to their different circumstances in the world. Besides all this, think of the loss of time, and the waste of life that is continually made by some who frequent these gaining-places. Think how it calls away many a youtli' from their proper business, and tempts them to throw away what is not their own, and to risk the substance, as well as the displeasure of their parents, or of their master, at all the

[ocr errors]

uncertain hazards of a dice box. Read the pages whiclı Mr. - Neal has employed on this theme, in the sermon just now cited: read what Mr. Dorrington has written several years ago on this subject of gaining: I wish such discourses were fresh in print, and put into the hands of every one who lies under this temptation.

4. The midnight assemblies are the last which I shall mention of those wodish and hazardous diversions, wherein youth are drawn away to much vanity, and plunged into the sensual gaieties of life; and that at those hours, part of which should be devoted to the religion of the family, or the closet, and partly to the nightly repose of nature. It is acknowledged to be

proper and needful, ibat young people should be indulged in some recreations, agreeable to their age, ayd suitable to the condition in which Providence has placed them. But I would ask whether the great and only valuable end of recreation is to be expected from these midoight-assemblies, namely, to relieve us from the fatigues of life, and to exhilarate the spirits, so as thereby, to fit us for the duties of life and religion? Now are these the proper means to fit us for the duties of either kind? Perhaps it will be said, that dancing, which is practised in those assemblies, is an exercise conducive to bcalth, and therefore a means of fitting us for the duties of life. But may not the unscasonableness of the midnight-hour prevent and over-balance the benefit, that otherwise might be supposed to arise from the exercise ? Is it likely that natural health should be promoted, or preserved, by changing the seasons and order of nature, and by allotting those hours to exercise, which God and nature have ordained to rest? Is the returning home after five or six hours dancing, through the cold and damp of the midnight air, a proper means of preserving health ? or rather, is it not more likely to inspair an i destroy it? Ilave not these fatal effects been too often felt? Have there not been sacrifices of human life offered to this inidnight idol? Have there been no fair young martyrs to this unscasonable folly ? Are there not some of its slaves who are become feeble, labouring under sore diseases, and some of them "fallen asleep in death? Have not their music and their dancing instead of natural rest in their beds, brought them down to a long silence in the grave, and an untimely rest in a bed of dust? Those amiable pieces of human nature, who were lately the joy and hope of their too indulgent parents, are now the bitterness of treir hearts ; and those very exercises from whence they hoped Ilie continuance of their joy, as the supposed means of confirming their children's health, are become an everlastiog spring of their mourniog

And as those midnight recreations are badly suited to fit us for the duties of the civil life, so they are worse suited to fit us for, or rather they are more apparently opposite to the duties of religion. The religion of the closet is neglected, the beautiful regularity and order of the family is broken; and when the night has been turned into day, a good part of the next day is turned into night, while the duties of the inorning both to God and man, are unperformed. Those who have frequented these assemblies know all this, and are my witnesses to the truth of it. Nay, the very practice itself, at those unseasonable hours, tells all the world how much they prefer these dangerous amusements to the worship of God in the evening, and in the morning, and to all the conveniences and decorum of family-government. Besides, if I speak to christians, have you not found that the indulgence to this sort of diversions, which are usually practised in those unscasonable assemblies, leads the mind away insensibly from God and religion, gives a vanity to the spirit, and greatly abates the spiritual and heavenly temper which should belong to christians ? Hath it not taken away the savour of godliness and tincture of piery from some younger minds? And do elder chris. tians never suffer by it? Let it be further considered, what sort of company you mingle with in those midnight-asseinblies. Are they most frequented by the wise and pious, or by the more vain avd vicious parts of mankind ? Do they tend to fill your mind with the most improving notions, and your ears and your Jips with the most proper conversation? Do you that frequent them never find your piety in danger there? Does strict religion and

prayer relish so well with you after those gaudy nights of mirth and folly? And do you then, when you join in those as seinblies, practise the commands of God, to abstain from all appearance of evil, and to shuo the paths of temptation? Can you pray for a blessing on your attendance on these midnightmeetings? Or can you hope to run into the midst of those sparks and living coals, and yet not be burned, por so much as have your garments singed? Are not parents very generally sensible, that there are dangerous snares to youth in those gay diversions ? And therefore the mother will herself go along with her young offspring to take care of them, and to watch over them; and perhaps there is scarcely any place or time which more wants the watchful eye of a superior. But here let me ask, is this all the reason why the mother attends those scenes of vanity ? Has she no relish for them herself? Has she no gay humours of her own to be gratified, which she disguises and covers with the pretence of a parental solicitude for the virtue and honour of her offspring? Are there no mothers who freely lead their children into those perilous places, where soul and body are in danger, and are really, their tempters, under a colour of being their guardians.

You will plead, perhaps, that some of these things are pro

per for the improvement of young people in good-breeding and politeness. They must be brought into company, to see the world, and to learn how to behave with becoming decency. Well, suppose these assemblies to be accademies of politeness, and that young people attend there upon lectures of good breeding ; Is there no other tiine so fit as midnight, to polish the youth of both sexes,' and to breed them well? May not an hour or two be appointed, at more proper seasons, by select companies, for mutual conversation and innocent delight? Can there be no genteel recreations enjoyed, no lessons of behaviour taught by day-light? Can no method of improvement in good-breeding be contrived and appointed, which shall be more secure from temptations and inconveniences? Are there none which are more harmless, more innocent, of better reputation among persons of strict piety, and which make less inroads on the duties of life, both solitary and social, civil and religious ?

Shall I enquire once more, what is done at many of those midnight assemblies, before the dance is begun, or when it is ended, and what is the entertainment of those who are not enga-, ged in dancing? Are they not active in gaming? Are not cards the business of the hour? Are not children educated by this means, in the love of gaming?. And do they not hereby get such a relish of it, as proves afterwards pernicious to them? Now if gaming be not a practice fit to be encouraged, what encouragement do those assemblies deserve, where gaming is one of the chief diversions or business? But it is time to put an end to this sort of discourse. I beg pardon of my readers for having drawn it out to so great a length; for I have said too much on this sybject, for those who have no inclination to these criminal and dangerous diversions; and I wish I may have said enough to do good to those who have.

Upon the whole, I conclude, it is the duty of parents who would give their children a good education, to see to it that cbildren, in their years, do not indulge such recreations as may spoil all the good effects of pious instructions, the prayers, and care of their parents. Otherwise, if you encourage them in such recreations, you are building up those vanities of mind, and those vicious inclinations with one hand, which you labour to prevent or to destroy with the other. Sect. X-Of the proper Degrees of Liberty and Restraint in

the Education of a Son, illustrated by Example.

SO weak and unhappy is human nature, that it is ever ready to run into extreines; and when we would recover ourselves from an excess on the right-hand, we know not where to stop till we are got to an excess on the left. Instances of this kind ane innumerable in all the affairs of human life; but it

is hardly more remarkable in any thing, than in the strict and severe education of our fathers a century ago, and in the most profuse and unlimited liberty that is indulged to children in

Our age.

In those days, the sons were bred up to learning by terrible discipline ; every Greek and Latin author they conversed with, was attended with one or many new scourges, to drive them into acquaintance with him; and not the least misdemeanor in life could escape the lash; as though the father would prove this daily love to his son by never sparing his rod: Prov. xiii. 24. Now-a-days young master must be treated with a foolish fondness, till he is grown to the size of a man; and let his faults be ever so heinous, and bis obstinacy ever so great, yet the preceptor must not let him bear the name of the rod, lest the child should be friglited or hurt; the advice of the wisest of men' is utterly forgotten, when he tells us, that due correction shall drive out the folly that is bound up in the heart of a child ; Prov. xxii. 15. Or else they boldly reverse his divine counsel ; Prov. xiii. 24. as though they would make the rule of their practice a direct contradiction to the words of Solomon, namely, He that spareth the rod loveth his son, but he that hateth him chastens him belimes.

In that day many children were kept in a most servile subjection, and not suffered to sit down, or to speak, in the presence of their father, till they were come to the age

of one and twenty. The least degree of freedom was esteemed a bolt presumption, and incurred a sharp reproof. Now they are made familiar companions to their parents, almost from the very oursery; and therefore they will hardly bear a check or rebuke at their haud.

In the beginning of the last century, and so onward to the middle of it, the children were usually obliged to believe what their parents and their masters taught them, whether they were principles of science, or articles of faith and practice; they were tied down almost to every punctilio, as though it were necessary to salvation ; they were not suffered to examine or enquire whether their teachers were in the right, and scarcely knew upon what grounds they were to assent to the things that were taught

for it was a maxim of all teachers, that the learner must believe, Discentem operte credere. Then an ipse dixit, or Aris. totle said so, was a sufficient proof of any proposition in the colleges; and for a man of five and twenty to be a christian and a protestant, a dissenter or a churchman, it was almost reason enough to say, that his father was so. But in this century, when the doctrine of a just and reasonable liberty is better known, too many of the present youth break all the bonds of nature and daty, and run to the wildest degrees of looseness, both in belief and

thern ;

« ForrigeFortsæt »