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did; and they called him a gluttonous person, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners ?'
· Answ. 1. John lived in a wilderness, upon locusts and wild honey; and because Christ lived not such an austere, eremetical life, the quarrelsome Pharisees did thus calumniate him. But Christ never lived in the least excess. Mark that part of his life which they thus accused, and you will find it such as the sensual will be loath to imitate. 2. Christ was by office to converse with publicans and sinners for their cure : and this
occasion to the calumnies of malice. 3. There was a difference of reasons for John's austerity, and Christ's : but when he, the Bridegroom, was taken away, he foretelleth that his followers should fast. 4. Christ fasted forty days at once, and drank water, and lived in perfect temperance. Imitate him, and we will not blame you for excess: his example preached poverty in spirit.
Direct. 2. • Remember the reasons why fulness and gulosity are so much condemned by God,' viz.
1. A pampered appetite is unruly; and feedeth your concupiscence. The flesh is now become our most dangerous enemy; and therefore it must be dangerous to pamper it, to the strengthening of its lusts : when even Paul was to buffet and tame it, and bring it into subjection, for fear of proving a cast-away after all his wondrous labours.
2. The pleasing of the appetite too much, corrupteth the delight and relish of the soul.' Delight in God, and heaven, and holiness, is the sum and life of true religion; and the delights of sense and fleshly appetite, turn away the soul from this, and are most mortal enemies to these true delights. “ For they that are after the flesh, do mind or savour the things of the flesh; and they that are after the Spirit, the things of the Spirit;" Rom. viii. 6, 7. · And “the carnal mind is enmity to God:” if it" cannot be subject to his law,” certainly it is unfit to relish the sweetness of his love, and spiritual mercies.
3. And the thoughts themselves are corrupted and perverted by it. They that should be thinking and caring how to please God, are thinking and caring for their bellies. Even when all their powers should be employed on God, in meditation, or in prayer, their thoughts will be going after their fleshly appetite, as Ezekiel's hearers were after their
covetousness; Ezek. xxxiii. 31. And as some of Christ's hearers were after the loaves.
4. The use of pleasing the fleshly appetite doth make men need riches, which is a misery, and a snare. Such must needs have their desires satisfied, and therefore cannot live on a little: and therefore if they have riches, their flesh devoureth almost all, and they have little to spare for any charitable uses : and if they have none, they are tempted to steal or get by some unlawful means. And so it tempteth them to the love of money (which is the root of all evil) because they love the lust which needeth it.
5. And it maketh them utterly unfit for suffering (which Christ will have all his followers to expect). He that is used to please his appetite, will take that for a grievous life, which another man will feel no trouble in. If a full fed gentleman or Dives were tied to fare as the poor labourer doth at the best, he would lament his case as if he were undone, and would take for half a martrydom (if it were on a pious pretence) which his neighbour would account no suffering, but a feast. And will God reward men for such selfmade sufferings? How unfit is he to endure imprisonment, banishment and want, who hath always used to please his flesh? If God cast him into poverty, how impatient would he be! How plentifully and pleasantly would most poor countrymen think to live, if they had but a hundred pounds a year of their own! But if he that hath thousands, and is used to fulness, should be reduced to a hundred, how querulous or impatient would he be.
6. It maketh the body heavy and unfit for duty : both duties of piety, and the honest labours of your calling.
7. It maketh the body diseased; and so more unfit to serve the soul. It is to be noted, that the excess reproved by Paul at their love-feasts, was punished with sickness, and with death: and as that punishment had a moral suitableness to their sin; so it is not unlike that (according to God's ordinary way of punishing) it was also a natural effect of their excess.
8. It is a most unsuitable thing to such great sinners as we are, who have forfeited all our mercies, and are called so loud to penitent humiliation; when we should turn to the Lord with all our hearts, with fasting, weeping and mourning, to be then pleasing our fleshly appetites with curiosities
and excess, is a sin that God once threatened in a terrible sort; Isa. xxii. 12, 13. Fasting is in such cases a duty of God's appointment; Joel ii. 12. Luke ii. 37. 1 Cor. vii. 5. Cornelius's fasting and alms-deeds came up before God; Acts x. 30. Daniel was heard upon his fast; Dan. ix. 3. Christ fasted when he entered solemnly on his work ; Matt. iv. And some devils would not be cast out without fasting and prayer : and is luxury fit in such a case ?
9. Lastly, remember what was said before, that others are empty, while we are full. Thousands need all that we can spare: and they are members of Christ, and of the same body with us : and so much as we waste on our appetite or pride, so much the less we have to give. And “he that seeth his brother in need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him (when he cannot deny superfluities to himself), how dwelleth the love of God in him !" When the “poor we have always with us,” that we may always have exercise for our love: and he that glutteth his own flesh to the full, and giveth the poor but the leavings of his lust, if it were a thousand pounds a year that he giveth, must look for small reward from God, however he may do good to others.
More particular Directions may be as followeth.
Direct. 1. Understand well how much the flesh in this lapsed state is our enemy;' and how much gulosity doth strengthen it against us; and how much of the work of grace lieth in resisting and overcoming it; and what need we have to serve the Spirit, and not to be helpers of the flesh : and the true consideration of these things may do much; Gal. v. 17-19. 22, 23. Rom. viii. 6-10. 13.
Direct. 2. • Set yourselves to the work of God according to your several places; and live not idly. And then mark what helpeth or hindereth you in your work. If you play not the loitering hypocrite, but make your duties the serious business of all your lives, you will quickly find how inconsistent a brutish appetite, and a full belly, and a curious, costly and time-wasting pampering of the flesh, is with such a Christian life.
Direct. 3. • Study well the life of Christ, and the example of the ancient saints. Remember what diet was in use with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; with the apostles, and holiest servants of Christ. And that it was Solomon the most
voluptuous king of Israel, that was told by his mother, that “it is not for kings to drink wine, but for them that are of a sorrowful heart:" and that the description of the luxurious then was “riotous eaters of flesh;" Prov. xxxi. 5. xxiii. 20. And that it was the mark of fleshly heretics, "to feast themselves without fear;" Jude 12. And that they were destroyed by God's wrath, though they had their desire who murmured for want of flesh, after many years abstinence in a wilderness; and it is called, “ Asking meat for their lust;" Psal. lxxviii. 18. I doubt many of our servants now would be discontented, and think their bellies too hardly used, if they had no better than the milk and honey of the land of promise ; yea, or the onions and flesh-pots of Egypt.
Direct. 4. · Think what a base and swinish kind of sin it is, to be a slave to one's guts or appetite. And how far it is below, not only a Christian, but a man, and what a shame to human nature.
Direct. 5. Look often to the grave,' and observe those skulls into which once the pleasant meats and drinks were put; and those jaws that were so often employed, in grinding for the belly: and remember how quickly this will be your case, and think then whether such a carcase deserve so much care, and cost, and curiosity, to the neglect and danger of an immortal soul.
Direct. 6. * Lay a constant law upon your appetite, and use it not to be pleased without cause and benefit;' but use it to a wholesome, but not a full, a costly, a curious, or a delicious food : and use will make intemperance to be loathsome to you, and temperance to be sweet.
Direct. 7. • Learn so much reason as to know truly what is most conducible to your health, both for quantity and quality;' and mark what diseases and deaths are usually caused by excess. It is more reasonable to be temperate for prevention of diseases, than under the power and feeling of them; when pain and sickness force you to it, whether you will or not. If you will not obey God so carefully as your physician; yet obey the preventing counsels of your physician, before you need his curing counsel.
Direct. 8. ' Neglect not the manly and the sacred delights which God alloweth.' I mean, the pleasures of honest labours, and of your calling, and of reading and knowledge, of meditation and prayer, and of a well ordered soul
and life, and of the certain hopes of endless glory. Live upon these, and you will easily spare the fleshly pleasures of a swine.
How to conquer Sloth and Idleness by the Life of Faith. The third sin of Sodom, and of abused prosperity, is Idleness; Ezek. xvi. 49. Concerning which I shall first tell you the nature and signs of it, and then the evil of it; and then give you more particular Directions against it. But this also but briefly, because I have done it more largely in my "Christian Directory."
1. That you may know who are guilty of this sin, and who not, I shall first premise these propositions.
1. Nothing but disability will excuse any one from the ordinary labours of a lawful calling. Riches or honours will excuse none. They are the subjects of God, as well as others that have less : and he that hath most, hath most to use, and most to answer for: to whom men commit much, of them they require the more ; Luke xii. 48. xix. 23. Greatness and wealth is so far from excusing the forbearance of a calling, that it will not allow any one the omission of one hour's labour and diligence in his calling. If God give the rich more wages than others, it is unreasonable to think that therefore they may do less work.
2. Yet when mere necessity compelleth the poor to labour more than else they were obliged to do, even to the detriment of their health, or shortening of God's worship, the rich are not bound therefore to imitate them, and to incur the same inconveniences; because they have not the same necessities. As in their diet, the rich are not allowed to take any more for quantity or quality than is truly for their good, any more than the poor; but they are not bound to live as those poor do, who want that either for quantity or quality, which is truly for their good; so is it also in this case of labouring.
3. The labours of every one's calling must be the ordinary business of his life; and not a little now and then in