Page:Primitive Culture Vol 1.djvu/97

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79
DIVINATION AND GAMES.

answer from their signs.[1] As in ancient Italy oracles gave responses by graven lots,[2] so the modern Hindus decide disputes by casting lots in front of a temple, appealing to the gods with cries of 'Let justice be shown! Show the innocent!'[3]

The uncivilized man thinks that lots or dice are adjusted in their fall with reference to the meaning he may choose to attach to it, and especially he is apt to suppose spiritual beings standing over the diviner or the gambler, shuffling the lots or turning up the dice to make them give their answers. This view held its place firmly in the middle ages, and later in history we still find games of chance looked on as results of supernatural operation. The general change from mediæval to modern notions in this respect is well shown in a remarkable work published in 1619, which seems to have done much toward bringing the change about. Thomas Gataker, a Puritan minister, in his treatise 'Of the Nature and Use of Lots,' states, in order to combat them, the following among the current objections made against games of chance: — 'Lots may not be used but with great reverence, because the disposition of them commeth immediately from God' .... 'the nature of a Lot, which is affirmed to bee a worke of Gods speciall and immediate providence, a sacred oracle, a divine judgement or sentence: the light use of it therefore to be an abuse of Gods name; and so a sinne against the third Commandement.' Gataker, in opposition to this, argues that 'to expect the issue and event of it, as by ordinarie meanes from God, is common to all actions: to expect it by an immediate and extraordinarie worke is no more lawfull here than elsewhere, yea is indeed mere superstition.'[4] It took time, however, for this opinion to become prevalent in the educated world. After a lapse of forty years, Jeremy Taylor could still bring out a remnant of the

  1. Tacit. Germania. 10.
  2. Smith's 'Dic. of Gr. and Rom. Ant.,' arts. 'oraculum,' 'sortes.'
  3. Roberts, 'Oriental Illustrations,' p. 163.
  4. Gataker, pp. 91, 141; see Lecky, 'History of Rationalism,' vol. i. p. 307.