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THE DUTY OF TEMPERANCE AND SOBRIETY.
LUKE xxi, 34.
And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts
be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares.
SERM. INTENDING, by God's assistance, to shew you how great a
virtue it is to live temperately and soberly in the world, and how odious and loathsome a thing it is to be drunken: out of the many places of Holy Scripture which might serve for that purpose, I have chosen these words from whence to do it, as being the words of Christ Himself, uttered not by a Prophet or Apostle, but with His Own mouth. For seeing you, to whom I speak, all profess yourselves to be His servants and disciples, ye cannot surely but hearken very diligently to what your Lord and Master hath said to you: as knowing that nothing ever came out of His sacred mouth but what was perfectly true, and just, and good in itself, and likewise necessary to be known and observed by you, and by all who profess to believe in Him, and hope to be saved by Him; especially considering that you must all ere long stand before His judgment-seat, where He will pass a final and irrevocable sentence, either of absolution, or else of condemnation, upon every one of you, according as ye have
or have not believed what He hath taught, and done what (John 3. He hath bidden youAnd seeing “ He came into the world
not to condemn the world, but that the world through Him
might be saved,” while He was here He took care to instruct mankind in their whole duty, and to put them in mind of the strict account they must give before Him at the last day, how they have performed it. And that ye may always have your accounts ready, He hath told you beforehand, that you must not expect any great warning of His coming to judge the world, for that the time is kept secret in the Father's breast; “Of that day and hour,” saith He,“ knoweth Matt. 24. no man, no, not the Angels of Heaven, but my Father only;" and therefore He adviseth you to be always ready, “ for in such an hour as ye think not, the Son of Man 5. 44. cometh," and for that purpose He would have you always to be upon your watch, constantly expecting the sound of the trumpet to summon you to appear before His tribunal. And being very loth to surprise you, or take you at any disadvantage, He requires you above all things to keep yourselves in such a temper both of mind and body, as you . will wish to be found in at that day; and therefore saith, “ Take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares.”
In which words you may easily take notice of two things: your Saviour's will and command, that your hearts be never overcharged with “ surfeiting” or “ drunkenness," or the “ cares of this life;" and the reason of it; “lest that day come upon you unawares." The command is expressed by way of caution, the better to imprint and enforce it upon our minds. He doth not say only, “Let not your hearts be overcharged;” but, “ Take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting or drunkenness;" whereby He hath signified his pleasure to you, that He would have you take special care of this above all things, that what*soever ye do, ye be sure never to eat or drink too much, never so much as to be overcharged with it.
But for our better understanding of this command, we must call to mind that general rule necessary to be observed in the interpretation of all God's laws, that we may rightly apprehend the whole sense and scope of them, and that is this; that whatsoever sin is forbidden, the contrary duty is likewise commanded ; and whatsoever duty is com
SERM. manded, the contrary sin is likewise forbidden. As in CXXXV.
the second commandment, where you are forbidden to worship or bow down to images, you are thereby commanded to worship and bow down to God. In the third ye are forbidden to take the Name of God in vain, and therefore commanded to sanctify it. In the fifth you are commanded to honour your parents, and therefore forbidden to despise or slight them. In the eighth you are forbidden to steal any thing from your neighbours, and therefore commanded to pay what ye owe unto them: and so of the rest. According to which rule, Our Saviour here forbidding you to be overcharged with “surfeiting" or “ drunkenness," or the “ cares of this life," thereby commands you to be always temperate. And, therefore, to understand His will aright, we must first consider the nature of temperance, as it is one of the four cardinal virtues, upon .which the exercise of all other virtues doth in a great measure depend. For as no man can exercise any virtue aright, that is not so prudent as to know what he ought to do, so just as to be willing to do it according to his knowledge, and so valiant and courageous as to press through all difficulties for the doing of it; so neither can any one be virtuous in any thing, that is not temperate in all things: as you will acknowledge, when ye once know what it is to be so. Which that you may, I shall deduce the nature of true temperance from its first principles and grounds, and set it in such a light before you, that you may all clearly see into it.
For which purpose, therefore, we must first consider, that although our souls be of an heavenly and spiritual nature, yet our bodies were all made of earth, and are indeed nothing else but plain lumps of earth diversely tempered and modi
fied. For it is written, “ The Lord God formed man of the Gen. 2. 7. dust of the ground.” He took so much dust or earth as .
would suffice to make a body of such a size as He designed man's should be. This he ordered and tempered so by his almighty word, that some of it should be such as we call flesh, some bones, some brains, some lungs, some heart, some veins, some arteries, some blood, some nerves, and so for all the parts of the body : these He puts together, each in the proper place he had designed it for, and so it became
an human body, composed all of earth, but so as to be a fit vehicle for a rational and immaterial soul to reside in, which He therefore immediately joined to it: for he had no sooner formed this body of man of the dust of the earth, but " He breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and so man became a living soul,” as it follows in the text now mentioned.
And as the first human body was thus made up altogether of earth, so all others being propagated from that, must needs consist of the same materials, even nothing else but earth. And as our bodies are composed, so they are upheld and nourished only of the earth. For our Maker hath so ordered it, that our bodies are increased till they come to their full growth, and afterwards preserved by putting several sorts of earth into our mouths, which being carried down into our stomachs, are there digested, so that the chyle or juice that is proper for nourishment, being separated from the grosser parts, it is wonderfully conveyed by little pipes or channels round about the body into every, even the least part of it; and where it meets with any thing ready to decay, there some of it stays to prop it up, and so keeps the whole both in motion and life. . But all this, I say, is done only by several sorts of earth : for every thing we thus eat or put into our mouths, still comes out of the earth, either immediately as herbs, and roots, and plants, or else mediately as fruits and fesh. For although the fruit doth not come directly out of the earth, but from the tree, yet the tree doth so that produceth it. And although the flesh we eat doth not come immediately from it, yet the fowl or cattle whose flesh it is are fed of that which groweth upon the earth. And the very fish too, although they live in the water, they are nourished by some earthy matter they find there, or by the earthy part of the water itself. And so whatsoever it is we eat, howsoever it is digested, ordered, and made fit for our use, it comes originally out of the earth, otherwise it could not nourish us. For nothing can be nourished but by something of its own nature: and therefore our bodies being all earth, all our nourishment must needs be so too; whatsoever shape or figure it is in, whatsoever virtue or quality it is of, whether
SERM, it be hot or cold, hard or soft, dry or liquid, it is all but
earth still. The very liquors we drink come out of the earth, or else are part of it, as all water is. That which is rained down from heaven, is first exhaled and taken up from the earth, and bath no other nourishment in it of itself, but from the earthy particles that are in it. And thus, as we were made of earth, and must return to it, so all the while we live upon it, we live also of it.
This we all find by daily experience, although there be but few that ever mind it; we every day eat and drink, and so commit earth to earth, and take no further notice of it, nor regard what becomes of it, or whither it goes; and yet by this means God supports us in our being, and prolongs our life so long as He sees good. Not but that He could do it, if He pleased, without such means now, as well as He will when we come to Heaven. But whilst we are upon earth, these are the means which He hath appointed for it, which therefore we are bound to use, and
trust on Him for His blessing upon them, without which Deut. 8. 3. they can never do it: for “ Man doth not live by bread
alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God doth man live.” It is God's word and blessing upon what we eat, that makes it effectual to the preservation of
our lives : and therefore we ought always to acknowledge [Acts 17. Him to be our continual Preserver, that it is “ in Him we 28.]
live, and move, and have our being,” and trust on Him, and Him alone for it, in the use of these means that He hath ordained for that purpose; which, as I have shewn, is only eating and drinking such things as He for that end hath created, and continually produceth out of the earth, upon which we at present live.
But here we must further observe, that these being the means which God hath appointed for the preservation of our bodies in health and life, He hath so ordered it, that the use of them is pleasant to us, not only from that natural instinct which He hath put into us of self-preservation, which makes us pleased with every thing that tends towards it, but likewise because He hath formed our bodies, and particularly those parts which are exercised in the use of these means, so that they are delighted and pleased with
Matt. 4. 4.