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most adorned, pampered flesh will have no more to shew of all the pleasure which was so dearly bought, than a Lazarus, or the most mortified saint. A few days will turn their pleasure into anguish, and their jollity into groans, and their ostentation into lamentation, and all their glory into shame. As every moment puts an end to all the pleasures of their lives that are past, and they are now to them as if they had never been; so the last moment is at hand, which will end the little that remains. And then the sinner will with groans confess, that he hath made a miserable choice, and that he might have had a more durable pleasure if he had been wise. When the skull is cast up with the spade, to make room for a successor, you may see the hole where all the meat and drink went in, and the hideous seat of that face, which sometime was the discovery of wantomness, pride, and scorn: but you will see no signs of mirth or pleasure. 10. Lastly, consider that there is scarcely a sin in the world more inexcusable than this. The fleshpleaser seeth the end of all his sensual delights, in the faces of the sick, and in the corpses that are daily carried to the earth, and in the graves, and bones, and dust of those that sometime had as merry a life as he. His reason can say, all this is gone with them, and is as if it had never been; and so it will shortly be with me. He knoweth that all the pleasure of his life past, is now of no value to himself. His warnings are constant, close, and sensible: and therefore he hath the greater sin. IV. Object. 1. ‘What hurt is it to God, or any one else, that I please my flesh? I will not believe that a thing so harmless will displease him.’ Answ. Merely as it is pleasure, it hath no hurt in it: but as it is inordinate or immoderate pleasure; or as it is overloved, and preferred before God and your salvation; or as it is greater than your delight in God; or as it wants its proper end, and is loved merely for itself, and not used as a means to higher things; and as it is made a hindrance to the soul, and to spiritual pleasure, and the service of God; and as the brutish delight of an ungoverned, rebellious appetite, that mastereth reason, and is not under obedience to God. Though sin can do God no hurt, it can do you hurt, and it can do bim wrong.
I think I have shewed you what hurt and poison is in it already. It is the very rebellion of corrupted nature: the turning of all things upside down: the taking down God, and heaven, and reason, and destroying the use of all the creatures, and setting up fleshpleasing instead of all, and making a brute your God and governor. And do you ask what harm there is in this? So will your child do, when he desireth any 'play, or pleasure: and the sick when they desire to please their appetite. But your father, and physician, and reason, and not brutish appetite, must be judge. Object. 11. “But I feel it is natural to me, and therefore can be no sin.” Answ. 1. The inordinate, violent, unruly appetite is no otherwise natural to you, than as a leprosy is to a leprous generation. And will you love your disease, because it is natural? It is no otherwise natural, than it is to be malicious, and revengeful, and to disobey your governors, and abuse your neighbours: and yet I think they will not judge you innocent, for rebellion or abuse, because it is natural to you. 2. Though the appetite be natural, is not reason to rule you as natural to you? And is not the subjection of the appetite to reason natural? If it be not, you have lost the nature of man, and are metamorphosed into the nature of a beast. God gave you a higher nature to govern your appetite and lower nature: and though reason cannot take away your appetite, it can rule it, and keep you from fulfilling it, in any thing or measure that is unmeet. Object. 111. “But it appeareth by the case of Eve, that the appetite was the same in innocency; therefore it is no sin.” Answ. You must not forget the difference between 1. The appetite itself. 2. The violence and unruly disposition of the appetite. 3. And the actual obeying and pleasing of the appetite. The first (the appetite itself) was in innocency, and is yet no sin. But the other two (the violence of it, and the obeying it) were not in innocency, and are both sinful. w Object. Iv. “But why would God give innocent man an appetite that must be crossed by reason? and that desired that which reason must forbid?’ Answ. The sensitive nature is in order of generation before the rational: and reason and God’s laws do not make sense to be no sense. You may as well ask, why God would make beasts, which must be restrained and ruled by men; and therefore have a desire to that which man must restrain them from ? You do but ask, Why God made us men and not angels? Why he placed our souls in flesh? He oweth you no account of his creation. But you may see it is meet that obedience should have some trial by difficulties and opposition, before it have commendation and reward. He gave you a body that was subject to the soul, as the horse unto the rider; and you should admire his wisdom, and thank him for the governing power of reason; and not murmur at him, because the horse will not go as well without the guidance of the rider, or because he maketh you not able to go as fast and as well on foot. So much for the sensualist's objections. V. The Signs of a fleshpleaser or sensualist are these; (which may be gathered from what is said already.) 1. When a man in desire to please his appetite, referreth it not (actually or habitually) to a higher end, viz. the fitting himself to the service of God; but sticketh only in the delight. 2. When he looks more desirously and industriously after the prosperity of his body, than of his soul. 3. When he will not part with, or forbear his pleasures, when God forbiddeth them, or when they hurt his soul, or when the necessities of his soul do call him more loudly another way; but he must have his delight whatever it cost him, and is so set upon it, that he cannot deny it to himself. 4. When the pleasures of his flesh exceed his delights in God, and his holy Word and ways, and the forethoughts of endless pleasure; and this not only in the passion, but in the estimation, choice, and prosecution. When he had rather be at a play, or feast, or gaming, or getting good bargains or profits in the world, than to live, in the life of faith, and love, a holy and heavenly conversation. 5. When men set their minds to contrive and study to make provision for the pleasures of the flesh; and this is first and sweetest in their thoughts. 6. When they had rather talk, or hear, or read of fleshly pleasures, than of spiritual and heavenly delights. 7. When they love the company of merry sensualists, better than the communion of saints, in which they may be exercised in the praises of their Maker. 8. When they account that the best calling, and condition, and place for them to live in, where they have the pleasure of the flesh, where they have ease, and fare well, and want nothing for the body, rather than that where they have far better help and provision for the soul, though the flesh be pinched for it. 9. When he will be at more cost to please his flesh, than to please God. 10. When he will believe or like no doctrine but Libertinism, and hateth mortification as too strict preciseness. By these, and such other signs, sensuality may easily be known: yea, by the main bent of the life. VI. Many fleshpleasers flatter themselves with better titles, being deceived by such means as these. 1. Because they are against the doctrine of Libertinism, and hold as strict opinions as any. But fleshpleasing may stand with the doctrine of mortification, and the strictest opinions, as long as they are not put in practice. 2. Because they live not in any gross, disgraced vice. They go not to stage-plays, or unseasonably to alehouses or taverns; they are not drunken, nor gamesters, nor spend their hours in unnecessary recreations or pastimes; they are no fornicators, nor wallow in wealth. But the flesh may be pleased and served in a way that hath no disgrace accompanying it in the world. May not a man make his ease, or his prosperity, or the pleasing of his appetite, without any infamous excesses, to be as much his felicity and highest end, and that which practically he taketh for his best, as well as if he did it in a shameful way ? Is not many a man a gluttonous fleshpleaser, that maketh his delight the highest end of all his eating and drinking; and pleaseth his appetite without any restraint, but what his health and reputation put upon him, though he eat not till he vomit or be sick? Even the flesh itself may forbid a sensualist to be drunk, or to eat till he be sick; for sickness and shame are displeasing to the flesh. Many a man covereth a life of sensuality, not only with a seeming temperance, unreproved of men, but also with a seeming strictness and austerity. But conscience might tell them, where they have their good things“. 3. Some think they are no sensual fleshpleasers, because they live in constant misery, in poverty and want, labouring hard for their daily bread; and therefore they hope that e Luke xvi. 25. WOL. III. I
they are the Lazaruses that have their sufferings here. But is not all this against thy will? Wouldst thou not fare as well as the rich, and live as idly, and take thy pleasure, if thou hadst as much as they ! What thou wouldst do, that thou dost in God's account. It is thy will that thou shalt be judged by. A thief doth not become a true man when the prison or stocks do hinder him from stealing, but when a changed heart doth hinder him. 4. Others think that they are no fleshpleasers, because their wealth, and places, and degrees of honour allow them to live high in diet and delights. It is like the rich man, who was “clothed with purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day,” did live upon his own, and as he thought agreeably to his rank and place: and the fool, that said, “Soul, take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry,” did intend to please himself but with his own, which God had given him as a blessing on his land and labour. But no man's riches allow him to be voluptuous. The commands of taming and mortifying the flesh, and not living after it, nor making provision for it, to satisfy its lusts, belong as much to the rich as to the poor. Though you are not to live in the same garb with the poor, you are as much bound to mortification and self-denial as the poorest. If you are richer than others, you have more to serve God with, but not more than others to serve the flesh with. If poverty deny them any thing which might better enable their bodies or minds to serve God, you may so far go beyond them, and use with thankfulness the mercies given you; but you must no more be fleshpleasers than they. 5. And some deceive themselves by interposing sometimes a formal fast, as the fleshly Pharisee, that “fasted twice a week",” and then they think that they are no sensualists. I speak not of the Popish fasting with fish and delicates, (this is not so much as a shew of mortification.) But what if you really fast as oft as the Pharisees did, and quarrel with Christ's disciples for not fasting"? Will not a sensualist do as much as this, if his physician require it for his health ? If the scope of your lives be fleshly, it is not the interruption of a formal fast, that will acquit you; which perhaps doth but quicken your appetite to the next meal. * Luke xviii. 12. * Matt. ix. 14, 15.