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magnified by them for making themselves purposely ridiculous to exercise their humility, (as by going through the streets with their breeches on their heads, and other such fooleries); for God will give you humbling occasions enough, when he seeth good : but when he doth it, be sure that you improve them to the abasing of yourselves. And use yourselves to be above the esteem of man, and to bear contempt when it is cast upon you (as Christ did for your sakes), though not to draw it foolishly or wilfully upon yourselves. He that hath but once borne the contempt of men, is better able to bear it afterwards, than he that never underwent it, but thinketh that he hath an entire reputation to preserve: and he that is more solicitous of his duty, and most indifferent in point of honour, doth usually best secure his honour by such neglect, and always best undergo dishonour.
How to escape the Sin of Fulness or Luxury by Faith.
The second sin of Sodom, and fruit of abused prosperity, is Fulness of Bread'; Ezek. xvi. 49. Concerning which (having also handled it elsewhere more at large), I shall now briefly give you these general Directions first, and then a few that are more particular.
Direct. 1. Understand well what sinful fulness is.' It is sinful when it hath any one of these ill conditions.
1. When you eat or drink more in quantity than is consistent with the due preservation of your health : or so much as hurteth your health or reason. For the use of food is to fit us for our duty; and therefore that which disableth or unfitteth us, is too much. But here both the present and future must be considered.
2. When you have no higher end in eating and drinking, than the pleasing of your appetite. Be it little or much, it is to be judged of according to its end. A beast hath no other end because he hath no reason, and so properly hath no end at all; but we are bound to eat and drink to the glory of God, and to do all to further us in his service; 1 Cor. x. 31. The appetite may be pleased in order to a higher end ; that is, 1. So far as it is a true directer what is for our health,
and will be best digested. 2. So far as by moderate and seasonable exhilaration, it fitteth us by cheerful alacrity for our duty; and therefore it hath been good men's use to have holy feasts, as well as holy fasts. But the appetite must be restrained and denied, 1. When it is against health. And 2. When it hindereth from duty. Or 3. When it would be the ultimate end of our repast, and there is no higher reason for it, than the appetite's delight.
It is not said that the sensualist in Luke xvi. did eat too much; but that he “fared sumptuously every day," and that he had his good things here: that is, that he lived to the pleasing of his Aesh. It is not said of him in Luke xii. 19, 20. that he ate or drank too much ; but that he said, “Soul, take thy ease, eat, drink, and be merry;" that is, that he preferred the pleasing of his appetite or flesh, before the everlasting pleasures. The sin of the Israelites was, that they were weary of eating manna only, so many years, and desired flesh only to please their appetite: and therefore it is said, that "they asked meat for their lust;” (Psal. lxxviii. 18.) that is, to gratify their flesh or sense. And the terrible threatenings thundered out by James against the rich, are on such accounts; “ Ye have lived in pleasure on earth, and been wanton; ye have nourished your hearts, as in a day of slaughter;" James v. 4, 5. And we are commanded to make no provision for the flesh, to satisfy the wills or lusts thereof; that is, merely or chiefly to please our senses.
3. It is sinful fulness, when you needlessly strengthen either lustful or sluggish inclinations by the quantity or quality of your food. I know nature must not be famished, nor our health and life destroyed, under pretence of conquering sin; but when necessity of life and health doth not require it, all that must be avoided, which cherisheth any vicious disposition. And these two are the usual effects of fulness. (1.) Some, especially idle youths, abound with lustful thoughts and inclinations, which fulness greatly cherisheth; and pleasing their appetite is the fuel of their lust: whereas if they would drink water, and eat coarser food, and little of it and withal be laborious in some serious work), their lusts would be more extinguished. These persons are guilty of sinful fulness, if they take but near as much as other men may do; because for the pleasing of one lust, they feed another.
(2.) Others that are phlegmatic and dull, can never feed fully; but they are heavy and drowsy, unfit for
prayer, and unfit for work: usually the health, as well as the consciences of these persons, doth require a spare kind of diet; and that which is but enough for others, is too much for them. Because the avoiding of sin, and the performance of our duties, is the measure of our food.
4. It is sinful fulness, when any of God's creatures are taken without any benefit, and in vain. It is a sin to take any more than we have cause to think is like to do us good; though we thought it were like to do no harm. That which is used only to gratify the appetite, or for any other unprofitable cause, and neither furthereth health nor duty, is sinfully cast away. And if vain words be forbidden, vain eating and drinking can be no better.
The evil of the sin is, 1. Because man being a rational creature, should do nothing in vain. 2. Because we are God's stewards, and must give an account of all our talents. 3. Because God's mercies are not to be contemned, nor cast away as nothing worth. 4. But especially because there are thousands in want, while you abound; and if you spend that in vain, which others need, you wrong God, and rob them, and shew that you want love to your brethren, and prefer your appetites before their necessities. If you think any thing that you have is absolutely your own, you are but foolish pretenders against God; but if you know that God hath lent it you for his service, how dare you cast it away in vain ? Job vi. 12. When Christ had multiplied food (or satisfied men's appetite) by miracle, he saith, “Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost:" nothing then must be lost, on yourselves or others.
5. To bestow too much cost upon the belly, is a sinful fulness too, though the quantity of food be never so small. Cost is too much when it is more than is profitable; or when the cost exceedeth the profit. The reasons of this are the same as of the former ; because we are God's stewards, and must give account of all that we have, and must improve it all to our Master's use; and because thousands want what we might spare, and superfluously spend. What are the occasions which will justify some extraordinary costliness, is too long now to explicate. In general, it must be for some end and benefit, which is better than any which might be
procured otherwise by that expence : but pride or appetite, are no justifying causes of it. It was faring sumptuously which was that carnal gentleman's sin, in Luke xvi. It is said of such, that their “ belly is their God;” (Phil. iii. 18.) for they daily sacrifice much more to it, than they do to God. Many hundred pounds a year, is little enough for many men to sacrifice to their throats. It is such a sacrifice which James calleth, the "cherishing of their hearts as in a day of slaughter;" James v. 5. This is the hid treasure which their bellies are filled with; Psal. xvii. 14. The rich man's full barns (Luke xii. 20.) were but to fill his belly, and please his flesh; “Thou hast enough laid up for many years." For what? Why for ease, and eating, and drinking, and mirth. They think it is their own, and that they may spend it on themselves; but Q the terrible account! As David would not offer that to God which cost him nothing (2 Sam. xxiv. 24.), so neither will they offer too cheap a sacrifice to their bellies. But lust deserveth not much cost: he that is your God, is the God of others as well as of you; and careth for them as well as for you; even when he giveth them less than you: and he giveth it you, that you may have the trial, and the honour of giving it according to his will to them.
It is every man's duty to choose the cheapest diet (and other accommodations) which will but answer his lawful ends; that is, 1. His health and welfare. 2. And the meet entertainment of others, and the avoiding of those evils which are greater than the charge.
He that loveth his neighbour as himself, will not see multitudes cold and hungry, while he gratifieth his own sensuality with superfluities. Though all men are not to live at the same rates, yet all are to observe this common rule of charity and frugality. The rule given by Paul for apparel, must be used also for our food; that women adorn themselves with modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety, not with broidered hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; 1 Tim. ii. 9. So must we feed with moderation and sobriety, and not with too rich and costly food.
6. And it is a great aggravation of this sin, to bestow too much of our time upon it. When those precious hours are spent in needless eating and drinking, or sitting at it, which are given us for far greater work. Though no set
time can be determined for all men, yet all must feed as those that have still necessary business upon their hand, which stayeth for them, and for which it is that they cherish themselves : and therefore let not time pass away in vain, but make haste to your work, and feed not idleness instead of diligence.
7. And the root of all this mischief is, when the hearts of men are set upon their bellies; and their fancies and wits are slaves unto their appetites : when they are not indifferent about things indifferent, but make a great matter of it, what they shall eat, and what they shall drink, beyond the necessity or real benefit of it. When they are troubled if their appetite be but crossed, and they are like crying children, or swine, that are discontented and complaining if they have not what they would have, and if their bellies are not full. When they are like the Israelites, that wept for flesh; Numb. xi. 4. Because “ they serve not the Lord Jesus, but their own bellies ;” Rom. xvi. 17, 18. But the poor in spirit can live upon a little, and mind the things of the Spirit so much, that they are more indifferent to their appetite. And custom maketh abstinence and temperance sweet and easy
to them. For a well-used appetite is like well taught children; not so unmannerly, nor craving, nor bawling, nor troublesome, as the glutton's ill-used appetite is. It troubles men's minds, and taketh up their thoughts, and commandeth their estates, and devoureth their time, and turneth out God, and all that is holy; and like a thirst in a dropsy, it devoureth all, and is satisfied with nothing, but increaseth itself and the disease: as if such men did live or eat, when the temperate do eat to live.
8. Lastly, it is the height of his sin, when you also cherish the gulosity and excess of others. When for the pride of great housekeeping, you cause others to waste God's creatures and their time; and waste your estates to satisfy their luxury, and to procure their vain applause. him that giveth his neighbour drink ; that puttest thy bottle to him, and makest him drunken also;" Hab. ii. 15. This is the fulness which is forbidden of God.
Object. ' But is it not said that Christ came eating and drinking, and the Pharisees quarrelled with him and his disciples, because they did not fast as John and his disciples