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and cherish filthy lusts, or any other sin, and is not necessary on some other account, as doing greater good, it is a sin. But if life require it, lust must be subdued by other means ". 7. When pleasing the flesh doth hurt it, by impairing health, and so making the body less fit for duty, it is a sin. And so almost all intemperance tendeth to breed diseases: and God commandeth temperance even for the body's good. 8. When unnecessary fleshpleasing hindereth any duty of piety, justice, charity, or self-preservation, in thought, affection, word, or deed, it is sinful. 9. If any pleasing of the flesh can be imagined to have no tendency directly or indirectly to any moral good or evil, it is not the object of a moral choosing or refusing; but like the winking of the eye, which falls not under deliberation, it is not within the compass of morality. 10. Every pleasing of the flesh, which is capable of being referred to a higher end, and is not so referred and used, is a sin. And there is scarce any thing, which is eligible, which a vacant, waking man should deliberate on, but should be referred to a higher end; even to the glory of God, and our salvation; by cheering us up to love and thankfulness, and strengthening or fitting us some way for some duty P. This is apparently a sin, (1.) Because else fleshpleasing is made our ultimate end, and the flesh an idol,
• Si organum in habitanti animo sufficiens fuerit, satis est virium. Corpus namque propter animi servitium fecisse naturam, nemo tan corporis servus est, quinesciat. Id si proprio munere fungitur, quid accusas, seu quid amplius requiras? Petrarch. lib. ii. dial. 2. Wires corporis sunt vires carceris, ut Petrarch, lib. i. dial. 5. What mean you to make your prison so strong? said Plato to one that over-pampered his flesh. Mars. Ficin. in Vita Plat.
P He is a good Christian, that remotely and ultimately referreth all the creatures unto God, and eateth, and drinketh, &c., more to fit him for God's service, than to please the flesh. But it is much more than this which the creature was appointed for; even for a present communication of the sense of the goodness of God unto the heart. As the musician that toucheth but the keys of his harpsichord or organ, causeth that sweet, harmonious sound, which we hear from the strings that are touched within: so God ordained the order, beauty, sweetness, &c. of the creature, to touch the sense with such a pleasure, as should suddenly touch the inward sense with an answerable delight in God, who is the giver of the life of every creature. But, alas ! where is the Christian that doth thus eat and drink, and thus take pleasure in all his mercies? When contrarily our hearts are commonly so diverted from God by the creature, that so much delight as we find in it, so much we lose of our delight in God, yea, of our regard and remembrance of him.
if ever we desire it only for itself, (when it may be referred to a higher end.) For though the sensitive appetite of itself hath no intended end, yet whatsoever the will desireth is either as an end, or as a means. That which is not desired as a means to some higher end, is desired as our ultimate end itself, (in that act.) But God only is man's lawful, ultimate end. (2.) Because it is against an express command, “whether ye eat, or drink, or whatever ye do, do all to the glory of God".” (3.) Because else we shall take God's creatures in vain, and cast them away in waste. (4.) And we shall lose our own benefit to which the creature or pleasure should be improved. (5.) And we shall silence reason, when it should direct; and we shall suspend the government of the will, and give the government (so long) to the flesh or brutish appetite: for that faculty ruleth, whose object is our end. These reasons clearly prove it a sin to terminate our desires in any act of fleshpleasing as our end, and look no higher, when it is a matter of moral choice and deliberation. 11. But the sin here is not simply that the flesh is pleased, but that the duty of referring it to a higher end is omitted: so that it is a sin of omission (unless we proceed to refer better things as a means to it). 12. The intending of God's glory or our spiritual good, cannot be distinctly and sensibly re-acted in every particular pleasure we take, or bit we eat, or thing we use; but a sincere, habitual intention well laid at first in the heart, will serve to the right use of many particular means. As a man purposeth at his first setting out to what place he meaneth to go, and afterwards goeth on, though at every step he think not sensibly of his end: so he that devoteth himself to God, and in general designeth all to his glory, and the furtherance of his duty and salvation, will carry on small particulars to that end, by a secret, unobserved action of the soul, performed at the same time with other actions, which only are observed. He that intendeth but his health in eating and drinking, is not remembering his health at every bit and cup ; and yet hath such a habit of care and caution, as will unobservedly keep him in his way, and help him to fit the means unto the end. As the accustomed * 1 Cor. x. 31.
hand of a musician can play a lesson on his lute, while he thinks of something else: so can a resolved Christian faithfully do such accustomed things as eating, and drinking, and clothing him, and labouring in his calling, to the good ends which he (first actually, and still habitually) resolved on, without a distinct remembrance and observable intention of that end. 13. The body must be kept in that condition (as far as we can) that is fittest for the service of the soul: as you keep your horse, neither so pampered as to be unruly, nor yet so low as to disable him for travel but all that health and strength which makes it not unruly, maketh it the more serviceable. It is not the life of the body, but the health and the cheerfulness which maketh it fit for duty. And so much pleasing of the flesh as tendeth but to its health and cheerfulness, is a duty, where it can be done without greater hurt the other way. A heavy body is but a dull and heavy servant to the mind: yea, a great impediment to the soul in duty, and a great temptation to many sins; as sickly and melancholy persons, and many dull and phlegmatic people know by sad experience. It is as great a duty to help the body to its due alacrity and fitness for service, as it is to tame it, and bring it under by fasting and sackcloth when it is proud or lustful". And they that think fasting on certain days, in a formal manner, is acceptable to God, when the state of the body is not helped, but rather hurt and hindered by it, as if it were a thing required for itself, do mistakingly offer a sacrifice to God, which he requireth not; and take him to be an enemy to man, that desireth his pain and grief, when it tendeth not to his good. A mower that hath a good scythe will do more in a day, than another that hath a bad one can do in two: every workman knoweth the benefit of having his tools in order: and every traveller knows the difference between a cheerful and a tired horse: and they that have tried health and sickness, know what a help it is in every work of God, to have a healthful body, and cheerful spirits, and an alacrity and promptitude to obey the mind. When the sights of prospects, and beautiful buildings, and fields, and countries, or the use of walks, or gardens do tend to raise the soul to holy contemplation, to admire the Creator, and to think of the glory of the life to come (as Bernard used his pleasant walks); this delight is lawful, if not a duty, where it may be had. So when music doth cheer the mind, and fit it for thanks and praise to God : and when the rest of the body, and the use of your best apparel, and moderate feasting, on the Lord's day, and other days of thanksgiving, do promote the spiritual service of the day, they are good and profitable; but to those that are more hindered by fulness, even abstinence on such days is best. So that the use of the body must be judged of as it is a means or an expression of the good or evil of the mind. 14. Sometimes the present time must be most regarded herein, and sometimes the future. For when some great sin, or judgment, or other reason calls us to a fast, when it becomes needful to the ends of that present day, we must do it, though the body were so weak that it would be somewhat the worse afterwards; so be it that the good which we may expect by it that day, be greater than the good which it is likely to deprive us of afterwards: otherwise the afterloss, if greater, is more to be avoided. 15. Many things do remotely fit us for our main end, which, nearly and directly, seem to have no tendency to it. As those that are only to furnish us with natural strength, and vigour, and alacrity, or to prevent impediments. As a traveller's hood and cloak, and other carriage seem rather to be hindrances to his speed; but yet are necessary for preventing the cold and wet, which else might hinder him more. Yea, a possible, uncertain danger or impediment, if great, may be prevented with a certain small impediment. So it is meet that our bodies be kept in that health and alacrity, which is ordinarily necessary to our duty; and in eating, and drinking, and lawful recreations, it is not only the next or present duty, which we prepare for, but for the duty which may be very distant. 16. Ordinarily it is safest to be more fearful of excess of fleshly pleasure, than of defect. For ordinarily we are all
r Yet it is true which Petrarch saith, lib. ii. dial, 3. Waletudo infirma, Comes injucunda est, sed fidelis, quac te crebro vellicet, iter signet, et conditiquis admoueat: Optimum in periculis monitor fidus. Et lib. i. dial. 3. Multis periculosa et pestilens sanitas est, quitutius aegrotassent. Nusquam pejus quam in sano corpore, aeger animus habitat. Et dial. 4. Quamvis mala, quamvis pessima aegritudo videatur, optabile maluin tamen, quod mali remedium sit majoris.
very prone to an excess, and also the excess is usually more dangerous. When excess is the damnation of all, or most that ever perish, and defect is but the trouble and hindrance, but never, or rarely the damnation of any, it is easy then to see on which side we should be most fearful, cautelous, and vigilant. 17. Yet excessive scrupulousness may be a greater sin, and a greater hindrance in the work of God, than some small excesses of fleshpleasing, which are committed through ignorance or inadvertency. When an honest heart which preferreth God before the flesh, and is willing to please him though it displease the flesh, shall yet mistake in some small particulars, or commit some daily errors of infirmity or heedlessness, it is a far less hindrance to the main work of religion, than if that man should daily perplex his mind with scruples, about every bit he eats, whether it be not too pleasing or too much ; and about every word he speaks, and every step he goes, as many poor, tempted, melancholy persons do; thereby disabling themselves, not only to love, and praise and thankfulness, but even all considerable service. In sum, All pleasing of the senses or flesh, which is lawful, must have these qualifications. 1. God's glory must be the ultimate end. 2. The matter must be lawful, and not forbidden. 3. Therefore it must not be to the hindrance of duty. 4. Nor to the drawing of us to sin. 5. Nor to the hurt of our health. 6. Nor too highly valued, or too dearly bought. 7. The measure must be moderate: where any of these are wanting it is sin: and where fleshpleasing is habitually in the bent of heart and life preferred before the pleasing of God, it proves the soul in captivity to the flesh, and in a damnable condition. III. I am next to shew you the evil or malignity of predominant fleshpleasing: for if the greatness of the sin were known, it would contribute much to the cure. And, 1. Understand that it is the sin of sins; the end of all sin, and therefore the very sum and life of all. All the evil wicked men commit, is ultimately to please the flesh : the love of fleshpleasing is the cause of all. Pride, and covetousness, and whoredom, and wantonness, and gluttony, and drunkenness, and all the rest are but either the immediate works of sensuality and fleshpleasing, or the distant service of it,