In our own relatively affluent culture, we need help to make godly choices about leisure and recreation. Time for some Puritan wisdom. The following quotes are from William Perkins:-
‘All lawful recreation is only in the use of things indifferent, which are in themselves neither commanded nor forbidden.’
‘First; recreation may not be in the use of holy things, that is, in the use of the Word, sacraments, prayer, or in any act of religion. . . . Second; recreation may not be made of the sins or offenses of men. They ought to be unto us the matter of sorrow and mourning. . . . Third; we may not make recreations of God’s judgments, or of the punishments of sin.’
‘Games may be divided into three sorts: games of wit or industry, games of hazard, and a mixture of both. Games of wit or industry are such as are ordered by the skill and industry of man. Of this sort are shooting in the longbow, shooting in the caliver, running, wrestling, fencing, music, and the games of chess and draughts. . . . These, and all of this kind, wherein the industry of the mind and body hath the chiefest stroke, are very commendable, and not to be disliked. Games of hazard are those in which hazard only bears the sway and orders the game, and not wit; wherein also there is, as we say, chance, yea mere chance in regard of us. Now games that are of mere hazard, by the consent of godly divines are unlawful. The reasons are these: First, games of mere hazard are indeed lots, and the use of a lot is an act of religion, in which we refer unto God the determination of things of moment that can no other way be determined. . . . Secondly, such games are not recreations, but rather matter of stirring up troublesome passions, as fear, sorrow. . . . Thirdly, covetousness is commonly the ground of them all. Whereupon it is that men usually play for money. And for these causes such plays. . . . are unlawful. The third kind of plays are mixed, which stand partly of hazard and partly of wit, and in which hazard begins the game and skill gets the victory, and that which is defective by reason of hazard is corrected by wit. . . . Now the common opinion of Learned divines is that, as they are not to be commended, so they are not simply to be condemned, and if they be used they must be used very sparingly.’
‘How are we to use recreations?. . . . Four special rules:
Rule 1. We are to make choice of recreations that are of least offense and of the best report.
Rule 2. Our recreations must be profitable to ourselves and others, and they must tend also to the glory of God.
Rule 3. The end of our recreation must be to refresh our bodies and minds.
Rule 4. Recreation must be moderate and sparing, even as the use of meat and drink and rest.’
A Puritan Golden Treasury