Imágenes de página
PDF
ePub

against all entertainment of the instances and temptations of sensuality: and it consists in the internal faculties of will and understanding, decreeing and declaring against them, disapproving and disliking them, upon good reason and strong resolution.

2. A fight and actual war against all the temptations and offers of sensual pleasure, in all evil instances and degrees: and it consists in prayer, in fasting, in cheap diet, and hard lodging, and laborious exercises, and avoiding occasions, and using all arts and industry of fortifying the spirit, and making it severe, manly, and Christian.

3. Spiritual pleasure is the highest degree of sobriety: and in the same degree, in which we relish and are in love with spiritual delights, the hidden manna", with the sweetness of devotion, with the joys of thanksgiving, with rejoicing in the Lord, with the comforts of hope, with the deliciousness of charity and alms-deeds, with the sweetness of a good conscience, with the peace of meekness, and the felicities of a contented spirit: in the same degree we disrelish and loath the husks of swinish lusts, and the parings of the apples of Sodom; and the taste of sinful pleasures is unsavoury as the drunkard's vomit.

Rules for suppressing Voluptuousness.

The precepts and advices, which are of best and of general use in the curing of sensuality, are these:

1. Accustom thyself to cut off all superfluity in the provisions of thy life, for our desires will enlarge beyond the present possession, so long as all the things of this world are unsatisfying: if therefore you suffer them to extend beyond the measures of necessity or moderated conveniency, they will still swell: but you reduce them to a little compass, when you make nature to be your limit. We must more take care that our desires should cease', than that they should be satisfied: and therefore reducing them to narrow scantlings and small proportions is the best instrument to redeem their trouble, and prevent the dropsy, because that is next to an universal denying them: it is certainly a paring off from them all unreasonableness and irregularity. "For whatsoever covets unseemly things, and is apt to swell into an inconvenient bulk, is to be chastened and tempered: and such are sensuality, and a boyu," said the philosopher.

* Apoc. ii. 17.

'Desideria tua parvo redime; hoc enim tantum curare debes, ut desinant. —Senec.

2. Suppress your sensual desires in their first approachT; for then they are least, and thy faculties and election are stronger: but if they, in their weakness, prevail upon thy strengths, there will be no resisting them, when they are increased and thy abilities lessened. "You shall scarce obtain of them to end, if you sutler them to begin."

3. Divert them with some laudable employment, and take off their edge by inadvertency, or a not-attending to them. For since the faculties of a man cannot, at the same time, with any sharpness, attend to two objects, if you employ your spirit upon a book or a bodily labour, or any innocent and indifferent employment, you have no room left for the present trouble of a sensual temptation. For to this sense it was, that Alexander told the Queen of Caria, that his tutor Leonidas had provided two cooks for himw; "Hard marches all night, and a small dinner the next day:" these tamed his youthful aptnesses to dissolution, so long as he ate of their provisions.

4. Look upon pleasures, not upon that side that is next the sun, or where they look beauteously; that is, as they come towards you to be enjoyed, for then they paint, and smile, and dress themselves up in tinsel and glass, gems and counterfeit imagery: but when thou hast rifled and discomposed them with enjoying their false beauties, and that they begin to go off, then behold them in their nakedness and weariness *. See what a sigh and sorrow, what naked unhandsome proportions, and a filthy carcass, they discover; and the next time they counterfeit, remember what you have already discovered, and be no more abused. And I have known some wise persons have advised to cure the passions and longings of their children by letting them taste of every thing they passionately fancied: for they should be sure to find less in it than they looked for, and the impatience of their being denied would be loosened and made slack: and when our wishings are no bigger than the thing deserves, and our usages of them according to our needs (which may be obtained by trying what they are, and what good they can do us), we shall find in all pleasures so little entertainment, that the vanity of the possession will soon reprove the violence of the appetite. And if this permission be in innocent instances, it may be of good use: but Solomon tried it in all things, taking his fill of all pleasures, and soon grew weary of them all. The same thing we may do by reason, which we do by experience, if either we will look upon pleasures, as we are sure they look, when they go off, after their enjoyment; or if we will credit the experience of those men, who have tasted them and loathed them.

0 Lib. iii. Eth. c 12. p. 129. ed. Wilk.

'Facilius est initia affectuum prohibcre, quam impetum regere. Senec: ep. 86.

XuxriTtoixv xxt oXtyapttrixv.

1 Voluptates abeuntes fessas et pcenitentia plenas, animis nostris natura subJttit, quo minus cupide repetantur. Seneca. Irata venire Venus, tristis abire solet.

5. Often consider and contemplate the joys of heaven, that, when they have filled thy desires which are the sails of the soul, thou mayest steer only thither, and never more look back to Sodom. And when thy soul dwells above, and looks down upon the pleasures of the world, they seem like things at distance, little and contemptible, and men running after the satisfaction of their sottish appetites seem foolish as fishes, thousands of them running after a rotten worm, that covers a deadly hook; or at the best but like children, with great noise pursuing a bubble rising from a walnut-shell, which ends sooner than the noise.

6. To this, the example of Christ and his apostles> of Moses, and all the wise men of all ages of the world, will much help; who, understanding how to distinguish good from evil, did choose a sad and melancholy way to felicity, rather than the broad, pleasant, and easy path, to folly and misery.

But this is but the general. Its first particular is temperance.

SECT. II.

Of Temperance in Eating and Drinking.

Sobriety is the bridle of the passions of desirey, and temperance is the bit and curb of that bridle, a restraint put

y 'Eyitgdrua, kxo roy it xgo\nt 'i%ttv rhv lTtSufiiav.

into a man's mouth, a moderate use of meat and drink, so as may best consist with our health, and may not hinder but help the works of the soul by its necessary supporting us, and ministering cheerfulness and refreshment.

Temperance consists in the actions of the soul principally : for it is a grace that chooses natural means in order to proper, and natural, and holy ends: it is exercised about eating and drinking, because they are necessary; but therefore it permits the use of them, only as they minister to lawful ends; it does not eat and drink for pleasure, but for need, and for refreshment, which is a part or a degree of need. I deny not that eating and drinking may be, and, in healthful bodies, always is, with pleasure; because there is in nature no greater pleasure, than that all the appetites, which God hath made, should be satisfied: and a man may choose a morsel, that is pleasant, the less pleasant being rejected as being less useful, less apt to nourish, or more agreeing with an infirm stomach, or when the day is festival by order, or by private joy. In all these cases it is permitted to receive a more free delight, and to design it too, as the less principal: that is, that the chief reason why we choose the more delicious, be the serving that end, for which such refreshments and choices are permitted. But when delight is the only end, and rests itself, and dwells there long, then eating and drinking is not a serving of God, but an inordinate action; because it is not in the way to that end, whither God directed it. But the choosing of a delicate before a more ordinary dish is to be done, as other human actions are, in which there are no degrees and precise natural limits described, but a latitude is indulged; it must be done moderately, prudently, and according to the accounts of wise, religious, and sober men: and then God, who gave us such variety of creatures, and our choice to use which we will, may receive glory from our temperate use, and thanksgiving; and we may use them indifferently without scruple, and a making them to become snares to us, either by too licentious and studied use of them, or too restrained and scrupulous fear of using them at all, but in such certain circumstances, in which no man can be sure he is not mistaken.

But temperance in meat and drink is to be estimated by the following measures.

Measures of Temperance in Eating.

1. Eat not before the time, unless necessity, or charity, or any intervening accident, which may make it reasonable and prudent, should happen. Remember it had almost cost Jonathan his life, because he tasted a little honey before the sun went down, contrary to the king's commandment; and although a great need, which he had, excused him from the sin of gluttony, yet it is inexcusable, when thou eatest before the usual time, and thrustest thy hand into the dish unseasonably, out of greediness of the pleasure, and impatience of the delay.

2. Eat not hastily and impatiently, but with such decent and timely action, that your eating be a human act, subject to deliberation and choice, and that you may consider in the eating: whereas he that eats hastily, cannot consider particularly of the circumstances, degrees, and little accidents and chances, that happen in his meal; but may contract many little indecencies, and be suddenly surprised.

3. Eat not delicately, or nicely; that is, be not troublesome to thyself or others in the choice of thy meats, or the delicacy of thy sauces. It was imputed as a sin to the sons of Israel, that they loathed manna and longed for flesh: "the quails stunk in their nostrils, and the wrath of God fell upon them." And for the manner of dressing, the sons of Eli were noted of indiscreet curiosity: they would not have the flesh boiled, but raw, that they might roast it with fire. Not that it was a sin to eat it, or desire meat roasted; but that when it was appointed to be boiled, they refused it: which declared an intemperate and a nice palate. It is lawful in all senses to comply with a weak and a nice stomach: but not with a nice and curious palate. When our health requires it, that ought to be provided for: but not so our sensuality and intemperate longings. Whatsoever is set before you, eat; if it be provided for you, you may eat it, be it never so delicate; and be it plain and common, so it be wholesome, and fit for you, it must not be refused upon curiosity: for every degree of that is a degree of intemperance. Happy and innocent were the ages of our forefathers, who ate herbs and parched corn, and drank the pure stream, and broke

« AnteriorContinuar »