24 April 2017

William Ames on Lotteries

William Ames, an English Separatist theologian (the Separatists were those, like the Pilgrims who came to New England in 1621, had given up on purifying the Church of England) published his Cases of Conscience in Holland in 1639.

After concluding that games of chance were unlawful, he went on as follows:
Quest. 4. What is to be thought of public lotteries wherein many prizes, or rewards, are proposed to be gotten by lot? 
6.A.1. They might haply be so ordered, that they might be lawfull. Namely, if there were any need of a contribution so some pious use: and to avoid discommodities [inconveniences], the business should be permitted to Lot who should distribute: and there also which cast the Lots, should only venture that which they would not unwillingly give and so come to the Lottery, not out of an hope of gaining, but out of an intention of bestowing something. 
7.2 As they are now used, they seem to be unlawful, because they only aim at gain, by fraud and flattery, and give an occasion to many evils.
"Not out of a hope of gaining"! Driven by "fraud and flattery"! Well, there goes every American state lottery. 

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