« VorigeDoorgaan »
(if thou understandest thy weakness) or the sin of drinking inordinately.
2. Be severe in your judgment concerning your proportions, and let no occasion make you enlarge far beyond your ordinary. For a man is surprised by parts; and while he thinks one glass more will not make him drunk, that one glass hath disabled him from well discerning his present condition and neighbour danger. “ While men think themselves wise, they become fools:” they think they shall taste the aconite and not die, or crown their heads with juice of poppy and not be drowsy; and if they drink off the whole vintage, still they think, they can swallow another gobleto. But remember this, whenever you begin to consider, whether you may safely take one draught more, it is then high time to give over. Let that be accounted a sign late enough to break off: for every reason to doubt, is a sufficient reason to part the company
3. Come not to table, but when thy need invites thee : and if thou beest in health, leave something of thy appetite unfilled, something of thy natural heat unemployed, that it may secure thy digestion, and serve other needs of nature or the spirit.
4. Propound to thyself (if thou beest in a capacity) a constant rule of living, of eating and drinking: which though it may not be fit to observe scrupulously, lest it become a snare to thy conscience, or endanger thy health upon every accidental violence; yet let not thy rule be broken often nor much, but upon great necessity and in small degrees.
5. Never urge any man to eat or drink beyond his own limits and his own desires. He that does otherwise, is drunk with his brother's surfeitp, and reels and falls with his intemperance; that is, the sin of drunkenness is upon both their scores; they both lie wallowing in the guilt.
6. Use St. Paul's instruments of sobriety: “Let us who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breast-plate of faith and love, and for an helmet the hope of salvation.” Faith, hope, and charity, are the best weapons in the world to fight against intemperance. The faith of the Mahometans forbids
• Chi ha bevalo tutto il mare, può bere anche un trano.—Senec. ep. 83. P Nil interest, faveas sceleri, an illad facias. Senec.
them to drink wine, and they abstain religiously, as the sons of Rechab : and the faith of Christ forbids drunkenness to us; and therefore is infinitely more powerful to suppress this vice, when we remember, that we are Christians, and to abstain from drunkenness and gluttony is part of the faith and discipline of Jesus, and that with these vices neither our love to God, nor our hopes of heaven can possibly consist; and therefore, when these enter the heart, the others go out at the mouth: for this is the devil, that is cast out by fasting and prayer, which are the proper actions of these graces.
7. As a pursuance of this rule, it is a good advice, that as we begin and end all our times of eating with prayer and thanksgiving; so, at the meal, we remove and carry up our mind and spirit to the celestial table, often thinking of it, and often desiring it; that by enkindling thy desire to heavenly banquets, thou mayest be indifferent and less passionate for the earthly.
8. Mingle discourses, pious, or in some sense profitable, and in all senses charitable and innocent, with thy meal, as occasion is ministered.
9. Let your drink so serve your meat, as your meat doth your health ; that it be apt to convey and digest it, and refresh the spirits : but let it never go beyond such a refreshment, as may a little lighten the present load of a sad or troubled spirit; never to inconvenience, lightness, sottishness, vanity, or intemperance; and know that the loosing the bands of the tongue, and the very first dissolution of its duty, is one degree of the intemperance,
10. In all cases be careful, that you be not brought under the power of such things, which otherwise are lawful enough in the use,
“All things are lawful for me; but I will not be brought under the power of any;” said St. Paul, And to be perpetually longing, and impatiently desirous of any thing, so that a man cannot abstain from it, is to lose a man's liberty, and to become a servant of 'meat and drink, or smoke. And I wish this last instance were more considered by persons, who little suspect themselves guilty of intemperance, though their desires are strong and impatient, and the use of it perpetual and unreasonable to all purposes, but that they have made it habitual and necessary, as intemperance itself is made to some men.
11. Use those advices, which are prescribed as instru ments to suppress voluptuousness, in the foregoing section.
READER, stay, and read not the advices of the following section, unless thou hast a chaste spirit; or desirest to be chaste ; or at least art apt to consider, whether you ought or no. For there are some spirits so atheistical, and some so wholly possessed with a spirit of uncleanness, that they turn the most prudent and chaste discourses into dirty and filthy apprehensions; like choleric stomachs, changing their very cordials and medicines into bitterness; and in a literal sense, turning the grace of God into wantonness. They study cases of conscience in the matter of carnal sins, not to avoid, but to learn ways how to offend God and pollute their own spirits; and search their houses with a sun-beam, that they may be instructed in all the corners of nastiness. I have used all the care I could, in the following periods, that I might neither be wanting to assist those, that need it, nor yet minister any occasion of fancy or vainer thoughts to those, that need them not. If any man will snatch the pure taper from my hand, and hold it to the devil, he will only burn his own fingers, but shall not rob me of the reward of my care and good intention, since I have taken heed how to express the following duties, and given him caution how to read them.
Chastity is that duty, which was mystically intended by God in the law of circumcision. It is the circumcision of the heart, the cutting off all superfluity of naughtiness, and a suppression of all irregular desires in the matter of sensual or carnal pleasure. I call all desires irregular and sinful, that are not sanctified: 1. By the holy institution, or by being within the protection of marriage; 2. By being within the order of nature; 3. By being within the moderation of Christian modesty. Against the first are fornication, adultery, and all voluntary pollutions of either sex. Against the second are all unnatural lusts and incestuous mixtures. Against the third is all immoderate use of permitted beds; concerning which judgment is to be made, as concerning
meats and drinks: there being no certain degree of frequency or intention prescribed to all persons, but it is to be ruled as the other actions of a man, by proportion to the end, by the dignity of the person in the honour and severity of being a Christian, and by other circumstances, of which I am to give account.
Chastity is that grace, which forbids and restrains all these, keeping the body and soul pure in that state, in which it is placed by God, whether of the single or of the married life. Concerning which our duty is thus described by St. Paul, “ For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication : that every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour; not in the lust of concupiscence, even as the gentiles which know not God 9.”
Chastity is either abstinence or continence. Abstinence is that of virgins of widows: continence of married persons. Chaste marriages are honourable and pleasing to God: widowhood is pitiable in its solitariness and loss, but amiable and comely, when it is adorned with gravity and purity, and not sullied with remembrances of the passed license, nor with present desires of returning to a second bed. But virginity is a life of angels, the enamel of the soul, the huge advantage of religion, the great opportunity for the retire ments of devotion': and, being empty of cares, it is full of prayers; being unmingled with the world, it is apt to converse with God; and by not feeling the warmth of a tooforward and indulgent nature, flames out with holy fires, till it be burning like the cherubim and the most extasied order of holy and unpolluted spirits.
Natural virginity, of itself, is not a state more acceptable to God: but that which is chosen and voluntary, in order to the conveniences of religion and separation from worldly encumbrances, is therefore better than the married life, not that it is more holy, but that it is a freedom from cares, an opportunity to spend more time in spiritual employments; it is not allayed with businesses and attendances upon lower affairs : and if it be a chosen condition to these ends, it containeth in it a victory over lusts, and greater desires of religion, and self-denial; and therefore is more excellent than the married life, in that degree in which it bath greater religion, and a greater mortification, a less satisfaction of natural desires, and a greater fulness of the spiritual: and just so is to expect that little coronet or special reward, which God hath prepared (extraordinary and besides the great crown of all faithful souls) for those, “who have not defiled themselves with women, but follow the virgin Lamb for evers."
91 Thess. iv.3–5.
Virginitas est in carne corruptibili incorruptionis perpetua mcditatio. St. Aug: la de Virg. c. 13.
But some married persons, even in their marriage, do better please God, than some virgins in their state of virginity: they by giving great example of conjugal affection, by preserving their faith unbroken, by educating children in the fear of God, by patience and contentedness and holy thoughts, and the exercise of virtues proper to that state, do not only please God, but do in a higher degree than those virgins, whose piety is not answerable to their great opportunities and advantages.
However, married persons, and widows, and virgins, are all servants of God and coheirs in the inheritance of Jesus, if they live within the restraints and laws of their particular estate, chastely, temperately, justly and religiously.
The evil consequents of Uncleanness.
The blessings and proper effects of chastity we shall best understand, by reckoning the evils of uncleanness and carnality.
1. Uncleanness of all vices is the most shameful. eye of the adulterer waiteth for the twilight, saying, No eye shall see me; and disguiseth his face. In the dark they dig through houses, which they had marked for themselves in the day-time; they know not the light: for the morning is to them as the shadow of death. He is swift as the waters; their portion is cursed in the earth; he beholdeth not the way
of the vineyards!.” Shame is the eldest daughter of uncleannesso.
2. The appetites of uncleanness are full of cares and trouble, and its fruition is sorrow and repentance. The way of the adulterer is hedged with thorns"; full of fears and
• Apoc. xiv. 4.
+ Job xxiv. 15, &c.
Η άτιμα πάθη.
Hos. ii. 6.