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Card-Playing, Dicing and the Use of Lots in Gaming

James Dodson

An idle apprentice caught gaming with dice.


“Cards and dice I reject entirely and would consign them to the carrion-pit.”—Ulrich Zwingli, The Christian Education of Youth (1526). 

Works on Against Lots, Dicing and Card Playing:


CHAPTER II.-Against Dicing, Cards, and such like Games.-1687-Increase Mather (1639-1723).-This chapter testifies against the use and abuse of the lot for purposes of gaming showing the wicked heathenism of many pastimes now considered innocent.

Some Important Cases of Conscience Answered, CASE III.-1755-Samuel Pike (1717?-1773).-A useful discussion concerning whether or not playing cards is ever an innocent pastime and the propriety of Christians engaging in card playing.

The Abuse of Lots. in A Testimony and Warning Against Some Prevailing Sins and Immoralities: Addressed to Christians in General.-1805-Reformed Presbytery, of Scotland.-In this section, the Reformed Presbytery explains the purpose and lawful use of lots and lays down a prohibition against the profanation of lots in dicing, card playing and other so-called “games of chance.”

Considerations on Lots.-1807-John Mitchell Mason (1770-1829).-A series of articles taken from the “Christian Magazine,” in 1807, on the use and abuse of lots (i.e., dicing, card playing, games of chance, etc.).

The Sin and Danger of Being “Lovers of Pleasures More Than Lovers of God.”-1818-Andrew Mitchell Thomson (1779-1831).-In these sermons, Thomson sets forth a sobering assessment of what most often passes for amusements. He challenges common assumptions and shows why Christians ought to be very circumspect in their walk. In his notes on these sermons, he offers criticisms of theatre, card playing and other pastimes many hold to be harmless.

On the Amusements of Youth.-1839-William Symington.-In this essay, Symington warns youth against the vanity of amusements. He singles out several, including theatre, fairs and games of chance. He admonishes Christians to consistency of behavior and circumspection in walk.

Gaming and Gambling.-1864-George Scudder Mott (1829-1901).-The differences between gaming and gambling addressing the evils attendant upon both.

Life Insurance.-1868-John Black Williams and Anonymous.-Two short pieces joined together in the pages of The Reformed Presbyterian and Covenanter magazine which defend the older position of eschewing life insurance against the charges and claims of proponents of life insurance. The arguments may be applied to all forms of insurance.

Card Playing.-1892-William Addison Alexander (1857-1909).-A tract on card playing from a time when Presbyterians still thought certain pastimes were inherently sinful.