« VorigeDoorgaan »
fools; and we are so great lovers of health, that we will buy it at any rate of money or observance; and then for honour, it is that which the children of men pursue with passion, it is one of the noblest rewards of virtue, and the proper ornament of the wise and valiant, and yet all these things are not valued or considered, when a merry meeting, or a looser feast, calls upon the man to act a scene of folly and madness, and healthlessness and dishonour. We do to God what we severely punish in our servants; we correct our children for their meddling with dangers, which themselves prefer before immortality; and though no man think himself fit to be despised, yet he is willing to make himself a beast, a sot, and a ridiculous monkey, with the follies and vapours of wine; and when he is high in drink or fancy, proud as a Grecian orator in the midst of his popular noises, at the same time he shall talk such dirty language, such mean low things, as may well become a changeling and a fool, for whom the stocks are prepared by the laws, and the just scorn of men. Every drunkard clothes his head with a mighty scorn; and makes himself lower at that time than the meanest of his servants; the boys can laugh at him when he is led like a cripple, directed like a blind man, and speaks like an infant imperfect noises, lisping with a full and spongy tongue, and an empty head, and a vain and foolish heart: so cheaply does he part with his honour for drink or loads of meat; for which honour he is ready to die, rather than hear it to be disparaged by another; when himself destroys it, as bubbles perish with the breath of children. Do not the laws of all wise nations mark the drunkard for a fool, with the meanest and most scornful punishment? and is there any thing in the world so foolish as a man that is drunk? But, good God! what an intolerable sorrow hath seized upon great portions of mankind, that this folly and madness should possess the greatest spirits, and the wittiest men, the best company, the most sensible of the word honour, and the most jealous of losing the shadow, and the most careless of the thing? Is it not a horrid thing, that a wise or a crafty, a learned or a noble person, should dishonour himself as a fool, destroy his body as a murderer, lessen his estate as a prodigal, disgrace every good cause that he can pretend to by his relation, and become an appellative of scorn, a scene of laughter or derision, and all, for the
reward of forgetfulness and madness? for there are in immoderate drinking no other pleasures.
Why do valiant men and brave personages fight and die rather than break the laws of men, or start from their duty to their prince, and will suffer themselves to be cut in pieces rather than deserve the name of a traitor, or perjured? and yet these very men, to avoid the hated name of glutton or drunkard, and to preserve their temperance, shall not deny themselves one luscious morsel, or pour a cup of wine on the ground, when they are invited to drink by the laws of the circle or wilder company.
Methinks it were but reason, that if to give life to uphold a cause be not too much, they should not think it too much to be hungry and suffer thirst for the reputation of that cause; and therefore much rather that they would think it but duty to be temperate for its honour, and eat and drink in civil and fair measures, that themselves might not lose the reward of so much suffering, and of so good a relation, nor that which they value most be destroyed by drink.
There are in the world a generation of men that are engaged in a cause which they glory in, and pride themselves in its relation and appellative: but yet for that cause they will do nothing but talk and drink; they are valiant in wine, and witty in healths, and full of stratagem to promote debauchery; but such persons are not considerable in wise accounts; that which I deplore is, that some men prefer a cause before their life, and yet prefer wine before that cause, and by one drunken meeting set it more backward in its hopes and blessings, than it can be set forward by the counsels and arms of a whole year. God hath ways enough to reward a truth without crowning it with success in the hands of such In the meantime they dishonour religion, and make truth be evil, spoken of, and innocent persons to suffer by their very relation, and the cause of God to be reproached in the sentences of erring and abusing people; and themselves lose their health and their reason, their honour and their peace, the rewards of sober counsels, and the wholesome effects of wisdom.
Arcanum neque tu scrutaberis illius unquam;
* Hor. Ep. 1. 18. 37.
Wine discovers more than the rack, and he that will be drunk is not a person fit to be trusted: and though it cannot be expected men should be kinder to their friend, or their prince, or their honour, than to God, and to their own souls, and to their own bodies; yet when men are not moved by what is sensible and material, by that which smarts and shames presently, they are beyond the cure of religion, and the hopes of reason; and therefore they must "lie in hell like sheep, death gnawing upon them, and the righteous shall have dominion over them in the morning" of the resurrection.
Seras tutior ibis ad lucernas:
Hæc hora est tua, cum furit Lyæus,
Cum regnat rosa, cum madent capilli.*
Much safer it is to go to the severities of a watchful and a sober life; for all that time of life is lost, when wine, and rage, and pleasure, and folly, steal away the heart of a man, and make him go singing to his grave.
I end with the saying of a wise man: He is fit to sit at the table of the Lord, and to feast with saints, who moderately uses the creatures which God hath given him; but he that despises even lawful pleasures, οὐ μόνον συμπότης τῶν θεῶν àλλà xai ouvágxw, shall not only sit and feast with God, but reign together with him,' and partake of his glorious kingdom.
THE MARRIAGE RING; OR, THE MYSTERIOUSNESS AND DUTIES OF MARRIAGE.
This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Nevertheless, let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself, and the wife see that she reverence her husband.-Ephes. v. 32, 33.
THE first blessing God gave to man, was society: and that society was a marriage, and that marriage was confederate
Mart. 10. 19. 18.
by God himself, and hallowed by a blessing and at the same time, and for very many descending ages, not only by the instinct of nature, but by a superadded forwardness (God himself inspiring the desire,) the world was most desirous of children, impatient of barrenness, accounting single life a curse, and a childless person hated by God.* The world was rich and empty, and able to provide for a more numerous posterity than it had.
Ἕξεις, Νουμήνιε, τέκνα,
Χάλκον ἔχων· πτωχὸς δ ̓ οὐδὲ τὰ τέκνα φιλεῖ.†
You that are rich, Numenius, you may multiply your family; poor men are not so fond of children, but when a family could drive their herds, and set their children upon camels, and lead them till they saw a fat soil watered with rivers, and there sit down without paying rent, they thought of nothing but to have great families, that their own relations might swell up to a patriarchate, and their children be enough to possess all the regions that they saw, and their grandchildren become princes, and themselves build cities and call them by the name of a child, and become the fountain of a nation. This was the consequent of the first blessing, increase and multiply.' The next blessing was, 'the promise of the Messias,' and that also increased in men and women a wonderful desire of marriage: for as soon as God had chosen the family of Abraham to be the blessed line, from whence the world's Redeemer should descend according to the flesh, every of his daughters hoped to have the honour to be his mother, or his grandmother, or something of his kindred and to be childless in Israel was a sorrow to the Hebrew women great as the slavery of Egypt, or their dishonours in the land of their captivity.‡
But when the Messias was come, and the doctrine was published, and his ministers but few, and his disciples were to suffer persecution, and to be of an unsettled dwelling, and the nation of the Jews, in the bosom and society of
* Quemlibet hominem cui non est uxor, minime esse hominem; cum etiam in scriptura dicatur, "Masculum et fœminam creavit eos, et vocavit nomen eorum Adam seu hominem." R. Eliezer dixit in Gen. Bab. Quicunque negligit præceptum de multiplicationehumani generis, habendum esse veluti homicidam. + Brunck. Anal. ii. 342.
# Christiani et apud Athenas, τὰς τοῦ ἀγαμίου καὶ ὀψιγαμίου δίκας refert Julius Pollux 1. 3. rigì άyáμwv. Idem etiam Lacedæmone et Romæ. vide Festum verb. Uxorium atque ibi Jos. Scal.
which the church especially did dwell, were to be scattered and broken all in pieces with fierce calamities, and the world was apt to calumniate and to suspect and dishonour Christians upon pretences and unreasonable jealousies, and that to all these purposes the state of marriage brought many inconveniences; it pleased God in this new creation to inspire into the hearts of his servants a disposition and strong desires to live a single life, lest the state of marriage should in that conjunction of things become an accidental impediment to the dissemination of the Gospel, which called men from a confinement in their domestic charges to travel, and flight, and poverty, and difficulty, and martyrdom : upon this necessity the Apostles and apostolical men published doctrines, declaring the advantages of single life, not by any commandment of the Lord, but by the spirit of prudence, διὰ τὴν ἐνεστῶσαν ἀνάγκην, “ for the present and then incumbent necessities,' and in order to the advantages which did accrue to the public ministries and private piety.* "There are some (said our blessed Lord) who make themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven," that is, for the advantages and the ministry of the Gospel, "non ad vitæ bonæ meritum" (as St. Austin in the like case;) not that it is a better service of God in itself, but that it is useful to the first circumstances of the Gospel and the infancy of the kingdom, because the unmarried person does μgiuvõv sà toũ Kugiou, is apt to spiritual and ecclesiastical employments :' first ἅγιος, and then ἁγιαζόμενος, “holy in his own person, and then sanctified to public ministries;' and it was also of ease to the Christians themselves, because, as then it was, when they were to flee, and to flee for aught they knew in winter, and they were persecuted to the four winds of heaven ; and the nurses and the women with child were to suffer a heavier load of sorrow because of the imminent persecutions; and above all, because of the great fatality of ruin upon the whole nation of the Jews, well it might be said by St. Paul, θλίψιν τῇ σαρκὶ ἕξουσιν οἱ τοιοῦτοι, “ Such shall have
* Etiam Judæi, qui præceptum esse viris raidorotiv aiunt, uno ore concedunt, tamen dispensatum esse cum iis qui assiduo legis studio vacare volunt, alias etiam immunibus ab acriori carnis stimulo. Maimon. 15. Halach. Ishoth.
† Οὐ ψέγω δὲ τοὺς λοιποὺς μακαρίους, ὅτι γάμοις προσωμίλησαν ὧν ἐμνήσθην ἄρτι' εὔχομαι γὰρ ἄξιος Θεοῦ εὑρεθεὶς πρὸς τοῖς ἴχνεσιν αὐτῶν εὑρεθῆναι ἐν τῇ βασιλείᾳ ὡς ̓Αβραὰμ, καὶ ̓Ισαάκ, καὶ ̓Ιακώβ, ὡς Ιώσηφ, καὶ Ιεσαΐου καὶ τῶν ἄλλων προφητῶν, ὡς Πέτρου καὶ Παύλοι, καὶ τῶν ἄλλων ἀποστόλων, &c. Epist. ad Philadelph.