« ForrigeFortsæt »
ties, The one is necessary to give us a capacity to perform, and the other proper to render the performance chearful and delightful to us, and to intermingle our labour with such innocent delights as may awaken our thankfulness to the bounty of our Creator.
Thence it will follow, that the rich are allowed to furnish their tables with a variety of pleasing and grateful food; and that feasts designed for chearful enjoyment of our friends, are by no means forbidden by the light of reason, or of scripture: For we gain vigour for action, by having the spirits raised and exhilerated. But it will follow also, that when we have our choice of what we shall eat or drink, we ought to determine not merely by pleasure and appetite, nor feed till we are unfit for service. If we know, or have a good guess beforehand, that this cup, or this dish, will render us unfit for the proper business of the day, or incapable of the several duties we are called to; yet if, for the sake of mere sensuality, we venture upon it, God will number it among our sins against the light of nature. These ends therefore for which God hath ordained our various food, both in his creation and in his providence, namely, the support of nature, and its refreshment; let these be our designs in eating, and give rules for our determination what food we should partake of.
It must be granted indeed, that a sickly person may be indulged in more solicitude about food, and may make it a matter of more distinguishing choice than persons vigorous and healthy. But then the great end must still be kept in the eye, that is, the recovery of strength for future service, where they are much cut off from present work: For neither the sick nor the healthy, should live for the sake of eating, but both should eat for the sake of living and working.
Now if the light of nature requires such purity and temperance, how much more doth the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ oblige us to it?
I. It is the command of our Redeemer," that we take heed of surfeiting and drunkenness, lest our hearts at any time be overcharged with them; Luke xxi. 34. And what charge doth the holy apostle give, Eph. v. 18. Be not drunken with wine, wherein is excess, but be ye filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns, and spiritual songs. Do not be so indulgent to your palate and your glass, as to let excess of wine pvertake you, lest you christians should do as heathens have done, and break out into irregular songs, and licentious or profane mirth; but seek rather the largest influences of the blessed Spirit, and give a sacred loose to a devout frame: Break out into divine psalms or songs; comfort yourselves, and edify your peighbours thereby. In Rom. xiii. 13, 14. St. Paul advises us
how we should behave ourselves in this point; Let us walk honestly, as in the day, not in rioting and drunkenness ;-but put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil it in the lusts thereof. Put on the spirit of the gospel, and the ornaments of christianity, and then you cannot for shame seek the pleasures of the brute, nor sink down into the base imparities of the animal nature: If you have put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and are his disciples indeed, then look like christians; let the very life of Christ be manifest in your lives: Live above these animal desires, these lower designs of the flesh, which is not the chief nature of the man, much less should it be the chief end of christians to gratify it.
II. Let christians consider, that the original ruin of their natures, soul and body, arose from the indulgence of a foolish appetite. When our mother Eve saw the fruit of the forbidden tree, she thought it was pleasant to the eye, and good for food: She tasted it herself, and tempted Adam to the sin that ruined him and all his offspring. When therefore a temptation to this sort of guilt appears, let us think of all the miseries of our fallen state, and not dare to repeat that crime, which had such dismal consequences. It brought iniquity, pain, and death into human nature, and begun all that dishonour to God, and all that mischief among men, that ever was found in this lower world.
III. Every saint ought to have a mortal quarrel with the flesh, because he carries about the seeds of iniquity in it, and the springs of perverse appetite which ought always to be kept under, lest our very spirits become carnal, and we lose our heavenly crown. Therefore saith the apostle; 1 Cor. ix, 27. I keep under my body, and bring it under subjection, and endeavour to be temperate in all things, that running in the christian race, I may obtain the prize. It is the business of a christian to eat and drink in due season, for strength and refreshment, not for luxury and drunkenness, which Solomon forbids to princes; Eccl. x. 17. It was an excellent saying of that holy man, Mr. Joseph Allein; "I sit down to my table not to please my appetite, or to pamper my flesh, but to maintain a servant of Jesus Christ, that he may be fit for the Lord's work."
IV. The saints should be pure and holy; even in the affairs of the natural life; for they have meat to eat, that the world knows not of: they drink of the pleasures that flow from God, and from his covenant; and therefore should not be over-solicitous about pleasing their meaner appetites. Those that indulge themselves in carnal delicacies, and make enquiry for the pleasures of the flesh, as the main business of life, what shall I eat, and what shall I drink? Those that live in a round of sensuality, they debase their souls, make themselves unfit for the duties and
pleasures of a christian, unfit for divine communications, for holy fellowship, heavenly meditation, and lively exercises of faith, upon unseen things; they damp their zeal for God, blunt their relish for religious delights, and are perpetually defiling their own consciences. These are they that make their God their belly, while they profess to be christians. But the apostle, in Phil. iii. 18, 19. tells us, "whatsoever they profess, they are enemies of the cross of Christ, and I cannot speak of it, says he, without weeping."
Now if there be any such sinners amongst us, such slaves to a paltry appetite, that make it a business of too solemn and solicitous enquiry, "How we shall regale the palate, and gratify the taste:" If there are any of us that know not how to forbid ourselves a savoury or luscious dish, even though we know or expect it will discompose the flesh or the mind: If we have not temperance enough to deny the superfluous or excessive glass, when it comes to our turn, nor virtue nor courage enough to refuse it, let us take our share in the reproofs of this discourse; and let us remember that we have had fair warning this day from the word of God, that we may not drown our souls in sensual indulgences, and make ourselves unfit for the duties of life, or for the business or the joy of heaven.
Christian Morality, viz. Chastity, &c.
PHILIP. iv. 8.-Whatsoever things are pure, &c.-
PURITY of heart and life, in the perfect beauty of it, belongs to no man since our original apostacy. That foul and shameful departure from God, has rendered us all unholy and unclean. But we are recalled to seek our ancient glory, by the messengers of heaven, and the ministry of the gospel. The apostle exhorts us to it in the text. If the word pure be taken in its largest extent, it may include in it temperance in meats and drinks, as well as chastity in behaviour. You have heard already a discourse of temperance, with so hateful an account of the crimes of gluttony and drunkenness, that I hope my hearers have conceived a sacred aversion of such sensualities.
-think on these things.
Let us now proceed to the second sense implied in the word, and that is, modesty and chastity of speech and behaviour. This is a most eminent, and most undeniable part of that purity, which St. Paul here requires; and this, in many of his epistles he insists upon as necessary, in order to make up the character of a christian, and render it honourable; and St. Peter recommends it to the pious women in his day, as a means of the conversion of their husbands, who were gentiles: That they who obeyed not the word of the gospel, might be won to a good esteem of christianity, while they beheld the chaste conversation of their wives; 1 Pet. iii. 1, 2.
This virtue stands in opposition to those several vices, which are distinguished by different names in scripture, such as adultery, fornication, lasciviousness. 1. Adultery, when one of the persons who are guilty of impure embraces, is under the sacred bonds of marriage. By the commission of this sin there is injury done to another family, and thus it is not only an offence against the laws of purity, but a violation of the laws of justice. 2. Fornication, when both the guilty persons are free and unmarried. It has been sufficiently proved by many writers, that this is utterly unlawful, however some have attempted to varnish the guilt, and excuse the crime. 3. Lasciviousness, which consists in giving a
loose to those impure thoughts, words, and actions, which have an apparent tendency toward the sins before-mentioned. Besides these, there are other names and instances of unclean abominations, which I wish could be utterly rooted out from human nature, by burying them in everlasting silence.
If I were to fetch arguments from reason and the light of nature, I might might make it appear that these things are criminal and contrary to those rules of morality, which were written in the heart of man. And perhaps they would have appeared in the same guilty colours to all men, if the light of nature were not obscured by corrupt passions, and licentious appetite. The practice of these impure vices is inconsistent with the great ends for which God has formed our natures, has raised us above the beasts that perish, and has inclined mankind to form themselves into societies for mutual benefit. The brutes, who have no nature superior to the animal are not governed by the same laws? But the God of nature, who has made us compound beings and (shall I say?) hath joined an animal and an angel together to make up a man, expects that the angel should govern the animal in all its natural propensities and confine it within the rules of religion and the social life.
These vices are also contrary to the solemn ordinances of marriage which the blessed God instituted in paradise in a state of innocency, and designed to continue through all generations. If these impurities of conversation were publicly permitted, all the tender and most engaging names of relation and kindred, such as father, sister, and brother, would be confounded, and almost abolished among mankind; and what dismal consequences would hence ensue? In what helpless circumstances would children be then brought into this world? And many of the ends of human society would become frustrate and vain.
I confess indeed, that several of these vices were practised in the heathen world without any inward remorse of the mind, without private reproof or public shame. Some of these impurities were allowed by the laws of their country; some were indulged at festivals, and sometimes they were mingled with their religious ceremonies, and made part of the worship of their gods; Idol gods! Abominable religions! Base and shameful worshippers! For it is a shame, saith the apostle, even to speak of those things that are done in secret; those unfruitful works of darkness: Eph. v. 11, 12. Yet there have been several of the grave, the sober, and the wisest among the Gentiles, who being constrained by the mere force of reason, have spoke against these corrupt practises, and have adorned the virtue of chastity with many honourable encomiums.
But how doubtful soever this duty hath been reckoned