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sinners;" but most injuriously. As he was designed for a common example, he was the fitter for it by Jiving in the com. mon manner, as far as innocence would allow; and so he did, hut never exceeded the bounds of strict regulation. He was sometimes at feasts, and thereby teaches us, that not only to support, but moderately to delight the body, by eating and drinking, is not at all times unseemly for a Christian; but then he maintained strict sobriety, and spent not such seasons in mere vanity and levity, but pursued his general end of doing good, especially to the souls of men; as we have a remarkable instance in the profitable instructions which he took occasion to deliver, when he was present at an entertainment upon the invitation of a Pharisee, Luke xiv. He did not make feasts his ordinary choice, but commonly lived upon plain provisions; and ever, by his example, recommended to his disciples, what he prescribes in the text by his doctrine, never to have his heart overcharged or hindered in his work, by the refreshments of the body.
G. Intemperance will put us into the worst posture for Christ's coming to death and judgment. Who would not be afraid and ashamed to meet him in such an act of sin? And when we have such great events before us, and the time of them is ever uncertain, this thought should always be an effectual restraint from irregular indulgences. "The old world," Christ tells us, "were eating and drinking (that is, luxuriously,) till the flood came," and swept them away, Matt, xxiii. 38. O the dreadful surprise! And so he intimates it will be with many at his own coming, who shall say in their hearts, "The Lord delayeth bis coming," and so embolden themselves to "eat and drink with the drunken," ver. 48, 49. But surely we should tremble at the thought of beingfbund in the number, considering what follows, ver. 50, 51. "The Lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for him, and in an hour that he is not aware of, and shall cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites.: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth." Intemperance is, in itself, one of the worst preparations to bid him welcome; and, at the same time, it hinders men in every other branch of preparation; it induces them to put the evil day far from them, till it come at unawares.
Be persuaded, then, as Christ exhorts, to take heed to
yourselves in this matter, lest, at any time, you should exceed proper bounds in the indulgence of appetite. Many in this city are in peculiar danger, by the frequent occasions of feasting in the city companies, as well as in their own and their friends' houses, and especially in this season of leisure and more customary freedoms.* I believe you would find it your wisdom at all times to attend to the following directions.
Maintain a fixed detestation of intemperance, even the lowest degrees of it, as a thing unworthy of the dignity of your natures, vastly prejudicial to the interests of soul and body, highly displeasing to God, and peculiarly aggravated by the Christian light and privileges you enjoy.
Avoid, as much as you can, the society of the intemperate, at least make them not your chosen companions: "Be not amongst wine-bibers, amongst riotous eaters of flesh," Prov. xxiii. 20. Bad company in this, as in all other cases, is most pernicious; it leads people, by degrees, in compliance to evils, of which once they never thought. Scarce any are led at first by themselves to intemperance, but by some evil companions.
Allow not yourselves to proceed to the utmost bounds of things lawful. There is but a step between that and being transgressors, in this as well as other matters; and the transition is easy, and very likely to be made at one time or other, if we often venture to a precipice.
When you fall into the way of that which you know to be ensnaring, be peculiarly on your guard. That is the meaning of the direction: "Put a knife to thy throat, if thou be a man given to appetite," Prov. xxiii. 2. A man would not be eager of the richest dainties with a knife at his throat: so when we are aware of peculiar temptation, we should represent it to ourselves, to awaken fear of transgressing, lest our "table should become our snare." And in verse S1. "Look not upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth his colour to the cup, when it moveth itself aright." If you know appetite is apt to be too hard for you, you need not call in imagination to its assistance.
Take heed of giving way to the beginnings of intemperance. It insensibly steals on to higher degrees, and grows upon those who give it entrance. Sad instances, I believe may be recol
Thii WW preached Dec. 30, 1732.
lected, within the knowledge of most, of persons once in appearance of the strictest sobriety and regularity, who, from small beginnings, which were not restrained at first, have sunk intd the most perfect sottishness and sensuality, and been entirely lost to God, the world, and themselves. Intemperance eats like a canker, and too often increases with age; which should make young peopje especially very cautious of the least degrees of it.
And especially, see that you keep up in your souls the life and power of religion, that your time and thoughts be well employed, that you may not be under the temptation of having recourse to sensual indulgences to pass away your time: "Be sober, putting on the breast-plate of faith and love, and for an helmet the hope bf salvation," 1 Thess. v. 8.; making use of your faith, and love, and hope, to fortify you against every allurement to intemperance. And "be filled with the Spirit for "if ye walk in the Spirit," attending to and following his gTacious influences, "ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh,'* Gal. v. lfii
Phil. iv. 11. [last clause.]
——I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith
the blessed apostle. And in the prosecution of the subject, I would,
I. Explain this disposition of mind. And,
II. Shew how it may be learned.
I. This disposition of mind is to be explained: To be content .in whatsover state we arc.
I have already hinted, that the apostle only means this with reference to any sort of outward condition for this world. That is the proper province for contentment. It would ill become a man to say, * In whatever state my soul is, whether it be under the reign of sin or of grace, whether it be in a state of acceptance with God, or under his wrath, yet I am content.' This is really the temper of too many thoughtless sinners; but it is very far from being commendable. All God's calls and warnings are designed to awaken them out of this security, that they may never rest contented, till they are in a safe state for eternity. Nor would it be much more proper for a good man to say, * I am content with the degrees of conformity to God, and of victory over my irregular inclinations, which are already obtained.' It is certain St. Paul was of quite another frame, as he declares in this same epistle, chap. iii. 13, 14. "Forgetting the things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press towards the mark." He means no more in the text but this, that he was prepared to exercise contentment, whether he was in a high or a low condition in this world.
But what is this contentment in every state?
The word here used, avTuoxm hmi, and au7agx£/«, which is used in another place for contentment, Btrictly imports a selfsufficiency; which can by no mean6 be understood, when applied to any creature in separation from God, in whom all our springs are; but it imports a tranquillity of mind, which does not absolutely depend upon the things of the world, but that whatever our outward condition is our minds can have a foundation for rest and composure.
It would run too high for Christian contentment, to take a full satisfaction in any earthly state, to take up our rest in it, though it should be the best and most advantageous to our outward man, so as to have no lively desires after a better state, but to be ready to say, * It is good to be here, I would live here always, if I might have my option.' The frame here recommended is, not to be contented with any state upon earth