George Herbert: "Church-porch"

Day 17: Evening


Play not for gain, but sport. Who playes for more

Then he can lose with pleasure, stakes his heart;

Perhaps his wives too, and whom she hath bore:

Servants and churches also play their part.

   Onely a herauld, who that way doth passe,

   Findes his crackt name at length in the church-glasse.

     Do not play for gain, but [play for] sport. Whoever plays for more than he can lose with pleasure, bets his heart; perhaps his wife's heart too, and her children: servants and churches also play their part in this gamble. Only a messenger of the king, who may happen to pass by, finds his cracked name in the church window.

     If you gamble, do it for sport and never wager more than you can enjoy losing. Do not risk yourself for hope of gain. If you play for profit, you can lose more than you expect. He/She places the good relationship with others in jeopardy. He considers only the exhilaration of the gamble and the anticipation of winning, but many possibilities and their consequences rest in that bet. He takes the responsibility for all of them. Betting more than he can afford, he endangers himself, wife, family, fellow workers, prestige, respect and position in church and society. All these must be considered part of the pledge; he may forfeit them all. When you find losing no pleasure, stop gambling.

     Few ever completely recover from the desire to gamble. There are a few who may pass through gambling, leaving it behind, perhaps a messenger of the King. He may eventually find his damaged name on a church window as a benefactor. Perhaps out of all who fall victim to speculating, one of great faith may come to be acknowledged as a good person, but the fullness of his faith will suffer. Gaming, venturing, or whatever apologetic name you use, stunts the development of faith in the presence of God.

© 1997 J. R. Arner

Keeping out and
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