Page images

strange faces, and strange voices, and stranger manners, and the wild designs of all the world; and when that day comes in which we shall die, nothing of the eating and drinking remains, nothing of the pomp and luxury, but the sorrow to part with it, and shame to have dwelt there, where wisdom and virtue seldom come, unless it be to call men to sober counsels, to a plain, and a severe, and more natural way of living; and when Lucian derides the dead princes and generals, and says that in hell they go up and down selling salt meats, and crying mussels, or begging--and he brings in Philip of Macedon mending of shoes in a little stall-he intended to represent that in the shades below, and in the state of the grave, the princes and voluptuous have a being different from their present plenty ; but that their condition is made contemptible and miserable by its disproportion to their lost and perishing voluptuousness. The result is this, that Tiresias told the ghost of Menippus, inquiring what state of life was nearest to felicity, “ The private life, that which is freest from tumult and vanity,” noise and luxury, business and ambition, nearest to nature and a just entertainment to our necessities—that life is nearest to felicity. Therefore despise the swellings and the diseases of a disordered life and a proud vanity ; be troubled for no outward thing beyond its merit, enjoy the present temperately, and you cannot choose but be pleased to see, that you have so little share in the follies and miseries of the intemperate world.

Intemperance in eating and drinking is the most contrary course to the epicure's design in the world, and the voluptuous man hath the least of pleasure ; and upon this proposition, the consideration is more material and more immediately reducible to practice, because in eating and drinking men please themselves so much, and have the necessities of nature to usher in the inordination of gluttony and drunkenness, and our need leads in vice by the hand, that we know not how to

[ocr errors]
[blocks in formation]

distinguish our friend from our enemy; and St Austin is sad upon this point-"Thou, O Lord, hast taught me that I should take my meat as I take my physic; but while I pass from the trouble of hunger to the quietness of satisfaction, in the very passage

am ensnared by the cords of my own concupiscence. Necessity bids me pass, but I have no way to pass from hunger to fulness, but over the bridge of pleasure ; and although health and life be the cause of eating and drinking, yet pleasure, a dangerous pleasure, thrusts herself into attendance, and sometimes endeavours to be the principal, and I do that for pleasure's sake which I would only do for health ; and yet they have distinct measures, whereby they can be separated, and that which is enough for health, is too little for delight, and that which is for my delight destroys my health, and still it is uncertain for what end I do indeed desire; and the worst of the evil is this, that the soul is glad because it is uncertain, and that an excuse is ready, that under the pretence of health, the design of pleasure may be advanced and protected.” How far the ends of natural pleasure may lawfully be enjoyed, I shall afterwards consider : in the meantime, if we remember that the epicure's design is pleasure principally, we may the better reprove his folly by considering that intemperance is a plain destruction to all that which can give real and true pleasure.

It is an enemy to health; which is, as one calls it, that handle by which we can apprehend and perceive pleasures, and that sauce that only makes life delicate; for what content can a full table administer to a man in a fever? and he that hath a sickly stomach admires at his happiness that can feast with cheese and garlic, unctuous beverages, and the low-tasted spinach. Health is the opportunity of wisdom, the fairest scene of religion, the advantages of the glorifications of God, the charitable ministries to men; it is a state of joy and thanksgiving, and in every of its periods feels a pleasure from

the blessed emanations of a merciful Providence. The world does not minister, does not feel a greater pleasure, than to be newly delivered from the racks or the gratings of the stone, and the torments and convulsions of a sharp colic: and no organs, no harp, no lute can sound out the praises of the almighty Father so spritefully, as the man that rises from his bed of sorrows, and considers what an excellent difference he feels from the groans and intolerable accents of yesterday. Health carries us to church, and makes us rejoice in the communion of saints; and an intemperate table makes us lose all this. For this is one of those sins, which St Paul affirms to be manifest, leading before unto judgment.

The old age of gluttons is surprised at a feast, and gives them not time to make their will; but either they are choked with a large morsel, and there is no room for the breath of the lungs, and the motions of the heart; or a fever bums their eyes out, or a quinzy punishes that intemperate throat that had no religion but the eating of the fat sacrifices, the portions of the poor and of the priest; or else they are condemned to a lethargy if their constitutions be dull; and if active it may be they are wild with watching. So that the epicure's genial proverb may be a little altered, and say, “Let us eat and drink, for by this means to-morrow we shall die.” But that is not all, for these men live a healthless life; that is, are long, are every day dying, and at last die with torment. Menander was too short in his expression, that it is indeed death, but gluttony is "a pleasant death." For this is the glutton's pleasure, to breathe short and with difficulty, scarce to be able to speak, and when he does, he cries out, “I die and rot with pleasure." But the folly is as much to be derided as the men to be pitied, that we daily see men afraid of death with a most intolerable apprehension, and yet increase the evil of it, the pain, and the trouble, and the suddenness of its coming, and the appendage of an insufferable eternity.

[blocks in formation]

Intemperance is a perfect destruction of wisdom. “A fullgorged belly never produced a sprightly mind," and therefore these kind of men are called “slow bellies;” so St Paul concerning the intemperate Cretans, out of their own poet: they are like the tigers of Brazil, which when they are empty are bold and swift, and full of sagacity, but being full, sneak away from the barking of a village dog. So are these men, wise in the morning, quick and fit for business; but when the sun gives the sign to spread the tables, and intemperance brings in the messes, and drunkenness fills the bowl, then the man falls away, and leaves a beast in his room. A full meal is like Sisera's banquet, at the end of which there is a nail stuck into a man's head, or as Porphyry says, “it knocks a man down and nails his soul to the sensual mixtures of the body.” For what wisdom can be expected from them whose soul dwells in clouds of meat, and floats up and down in wine like the spilled cups that fell from their hands, when they could lift them to their heads no longer? It is a perfect shipwreck of a man; the pilot is drunk, and the helm dashed in pieces, and the ship first reels, and by swallowing too much is itself swallowed up at last. And therefore the Navis Agrigentina, the madness of the young fellows of Agrigentum, who being drunk fancied themselves in a storm, and the house the ship, was more than the wild fancy of their cups: it was really so; they were all cast away, they were broken in pieces by the foul disorder of the storm. “The senses languish, the spark of divinity that dwells within is quenched; and the mind snorts, dead with sleep and fulness in the fouler regions of the belly."*

So have I seen the eye of the world looking upon a fenny bottom, and, drinking up too free draughts of moisture, he gathered them into a cloud, and that cloud crept about his face, and made him first look red, and then covered him with darkness and an artificial night; so is our reason at a feast. The clouds gather about the head; and according to the method and period of the children and productions of darkness, it first grows red, and that redness turns into an obscurity and a thick mist, and reason is lost to all use and profitableness of wise and sober discourses; a cloud of folly and distraction darkens the soul, and makes it crass and material, polluted and heavy, clogged and loaden like the body, and (there cannot be anything said worse) reason turns into folly, wine and flesh into a knot of clouds, the soul itself into a body, and the spirit into corrupted meat: there is nothing left but the rewards and portions of a fool to be reaped and enjoyed there, where flesh and corruption shall dwell to eternal ages.

* Prudentius de Jejunio.

But temperance is reason's girdle, and passion's bridle. “ Prudence is safe,” while the man is temperate : a temperate man is no fool,” for in temperance is “the strength of the soul, the foundation of virtue, the ornament of all good things, and the corroborative of all excellent habits."

Helps to Matrimonial Happiness. [From "The Marriage Ring.")

Life or death, felicity or lasting sorrow, are in the power of marriage. A woman indeed ventures most, for she hath no sanctuary to retire to from an evil husband ; and she is more under her sorrow, because her tormentor hath a warrant of prerogative, and the woman may complain to God as subjects do of tyrant princes, but otherwise she hath no appeal in the causes of unkindness. And though the man can run from many hours of his sadness, yet he must return to it again ; and when he sits among his neighbours, he remembers the objection that lies in his bosom, and he sighs deeply:

Ah tum te miserum, malique fati,
Quem, attractis pedibus, patente porta,
Percurrent mugilesque raphanique.

« PreviousContinue »