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God dutifully or acceptably, because he is not imprisoned for him or undone, or designed to martyrdom, may desire a trial that will undo him. It is like fighting of a duel to show our valour. Stay till the king commands you to fight and die, and then let zeal do its noblest offices. This irregularity and mistake was too frequent in the primitive church, when men and women would strive for death, and be ambitious to feel the hangman's sword; some miscarried in the attempt, and became sad examples of the unequal yoking a frail spirit with a zealous driver.
3. Let zeal never transport us to attempt any thing but what is possible. M. Teresa made a vow, that she would do always that, which was absolutely the best. But neither could her understanding always tell her which was so, nor her will always have the same fervours: and it must often breed scruples, and sometimes tediousness, and wishes that the vow were unmade. He that vows never to have an ill thought, never to commit an error, hath taken a course, that his little infirmities shall become crimes, and certainly be imputed by changing his unavoidable infirmity into vow-breach. Zeal is a violence to a man's spirit, and unless the spirit be secured by the proper nature of the duty, and the circumstances of the action, and the possibilities of the man; it is like a great fortune in the meanest person, it bears him be yond his limit, and breaks him into dangers and passions, transportations and all the furies of disorder, that can happen to an abused person.
4. Zeal is not safe, unless it be in re probabili' too, it must be in a likely matter.' For we that find so many excuses to untie all our just obligations, and distinguish our duty into so much fineness, that it becomes like leaf-gold, apt to be gone at every breath; it cannot be prudent that we zealously undertake, what is not probable to be effected: if we do, the event can be nothing but portions of the former evil, scruple and snares, shameful retreats and new fantastic principles. In all our undertakings we must consider what is our state of life, what our natural inclinations, what is our society, and what are our dependences; by what necessities we are borne down, by what hopes we are biassed; and by these let us measure our heats and their proper business. A zealous man runs up a sandy hill; the violence of motion is
his greatest hinderance: and a passion in religion destroys as much of our evenness of spirit, as it sets forward any outward work; and therefore although it be a good circumstance and degree of a spiritual duty, so long as it is within, and relative to God and ourselves, so long it is a holy flame; but if it be in an outward duty, or relative to our neighbours, or in an instance not necessary, it sometimes spoils the action, and always endangers it. But I must remember, we live in an age in which men have more need of new fires to be kindled within them, and round about them, than of any thing to allay their forwardness: there is little or no zeal now but the zeal of envy, and killing as many as they can, and damning more than they can; πύρωσις and καπνὸς πυρώσεως “ smoke and lurking fires' do corrode and secretly consume: therefore this discourse is less necessary. A physician would have but small employment near the Riphæan mountains, if he could cure nothing but calentures; catarrhs and dead palsies, colds and consumptions, are their evils, and so is lukewarmness and deadness of spirit, the proper maladies of our age: for though some are hot, when they are mistaken, yet men are cold in a righteous cause; and the nature of this evil is to be insensible; and the men are farther from a cure, because they neither feel their evil, nor perceive their danger. But of this I have already given account: and to it, I shall only add what an old spiritual person told a novice in religion, asking him the cause why he so frequently suffered tediousness in his religious offices; "Nondum vidisti requiem quam speramus, nec tormenta quæ timemus ;"-" Young man, thou hast not seen the glories which are laid up for the zealous and devout, nor yet beheld the flames which are prepared for the lukewarm, and the haters of strict devotion." But the Jews tell, that Adam having seen the beauties and tasted the delicacies of paradise, repented and mourned upon the Indian mountains for three hundred years together: and we who have a great share in the cause of his sorrows, can by nothing be invited to a persevering, a great, a passionate religion, more than by remembering what he lost, and what is laid up for them whose hearts are burning lamps, and are all on fire with Divine love, whose flames are fanned with the wings of the Holy Dove, and whose spirits shine and burn with that fire, which the Holy Jesus came to enkindle upon the earth.
THE HOUSE OF FEASTING; OR THE EPICURE'S
Let us eat and drink, for to-morrow we die.-1 Cor. xv. 32. last part.
THIS is the epicure's proverb, begun upon a weak mistake, started by chance from the discourses of drink, and thought witty by the undiscerning company, and prevailed infinitely, because it struck their fancy luckily, and maintained the merry-meeting; but as it happens commonly to such discourses, so this also, when it comes to be examined by the consultations of the morning, and the sober hours of the day, it seems the most witless, and the most unreasonable in the world. When Seneca (ep. 18.) describes the spare diet of Epicurus and Metrodorus, he uses this expression: "Liberaliora sunt alimenta carceris: sepositos ad capitale supplicium, non tam angustè, qui occisurus est, pascit:" The prison keeps a better table; and he that is to kill the criminal to-morrow morning, gives him a better supper overnight. By this he intended to represent his meal to be very short; for as dying persons have but little stomach to feast high, so they that mean to cut their throat, will think it a vain expense to please it with delicacies, which, after the first alteration, must be poured upon the ground, and looked upon as the worst part of the accursed thing. And there is also the same proportion of unreasonableness, that because men shall "die tomorrow," and by the sentence and unalterable decree of God they are now descending to their graves, that therefore they should first destroy their reason, and then force dull time to run faster, that they may die sottish as beasts, and speedily as a fly but they thought there was no life after this; or if there were, it was without pleasure, and every soul thrust into a hole, and a dorter of a span's length allowed for his
ing of healths by the numeral letters of Philenium's name, no fat mullets, no oysters of Lucrinus, no Lesbian or Chian wines. Τοῦτο σαφῶς, ἄνθρωπε, μαθὼν εὔφραινε σεαυτόν. Therefore now enjoy the delicacies of nature, and feel the descending wines distilled through the limbeck of thy tongue, and larynx, and suck the delicious juices of fishes, the marrow of the laborious ox, and the tender lard of Apulian swine, and the condited bellies of the scarus; but lose no time, for the sun drives hard, and the shadow is long, and "the days of mourning are at hand," but the number of the days of darkness and the grave cannot be told.
Thus they thought they discoursed wisely, and their wisdom was turned into folly; for all their arts of providence, and witty securities of pleasure, were nothing but unmanly prologues to death, fear, and folly, sensuality and beastly pleasures. But they are to be excused rather than we. They placed themselves in the order of beasts and birds, and esteemed their bodies nothing but receptacles of flesh and wine, larders and pantries; and their soul the fine instrument of pleasure and brisk perception of relishes and gusts reflections and duplications of delight; and therefore they treated themselves accordingly. But then, why we should do the same things, who are led by other principles, and a more severe institution, and better notices of immortality, who understand what shall happen to a soul hereafter, and know that this time is but a passage to eternity, this body but a servant to the soul, this soul a minister to the Spirit, and the whole man in order to God and to felicity; this, I say, is more unreasonable than to eat aconita to preserve our health, and to enter into the flood that we may die a dry death; this is a perfect contradiction to the state of good things, whither we are designed, and to all the principles of a wise philosophy, whereby we are instructed that we may become "wise unto salvation." That I may therefore do some assistances towards the curing the miseries of mankind, and reprove the follies and improper motions towards felicity, I shall endeavour to represent to you,
1. That plenty and the pleasures of the world are no proper instruments of felicity.
2. That intemperance is a certain enemy to it; making life unpleasant, and death troublesome and intolerable.
3. I shall add the rules and measures of temperance in eating and drinking, that nature and grace may join to the constitution of man's felicity.
1. Plenty and the pleasures of the world are no proper instruments of felicity. It is necessary that a man have some violence done to himself, before he can receive them for nature's bounds are, "non esurire, non sitire, non algere," "to be quit from hunger, and thirst, and cold," that is, to have nothing upon us that puts us to pain; against which she hath made provisions by the fleece of the sheep, and the skins of the beasts, by the waters of the fountain, and the herbs of the field, and of these no good man is destitute, for that share that he can need to fill those appetites and necessities, he cannot otherwise avoid: τῶν ἀρκούντων οὐδεὶς πένης iori. For it is unimaginable that nature should be a mother, natural and indulgent to the beasts of the forest, and the spawn of fishes, to every plant and fungus, to cats and owls, to moles and bats, making her storehouses always to stand open to them; and that, for the Lord of all these, even to the noblest of her productions, she should have made no provisions, and only produced in us appetites sharp as the stomach of wolves, troublesome as the tyger's hunger, and then run away, leaving art and chance, violence and study, to feed us and to clothe us. This is so far from truth, that we are certainly more provided for by nature than all the world besides; for every thing can minister to us; and we can pass into none of nature's cabinets, but we can find our table spread: so that what David said to God, "Whither shall I go from thy presence? If I go to heaven, thou art there; if I descend to the deep, thou art there also ; if I take the wings of the morning, and flee into the uttermost parts of the wilderness, even there thou wilt find me out, and thy right hand shall uphold me," we may say it concerning our table, and our wardrobe; if we go into the fields, we find them tilled by the mercies of heaven, and watered with showers from God to feed us, and to clothe us; if we go down into the deep, there God hath multiplied our stores, and filled a magazine which no hunger can exhaust; the air drops down delicacies, and the wilderness can sustain us, and all that is in nature, that which feeds lions, and that