Page images
PDF
EPUB

epistle to the Corinthians and thirty-second verse. « Let us eat and drink, for to-morrow “ we die.” “ This was the epicure's proverb, “ begun upon a weak mistake, started by

chance from the discourses of drink, and “ thought witty by the undiscerning company; " and it prevailed infinitely, because it struck “ their fancy luckily, and maintained the “ merry-meeting ; but, as it happens com“ monly to such discourses, so this also, when “ it comes to be examined by the consultations “ of the morning, and the sober hours of 6 day, it seems the most witless, and the “ most unreasonable in the world. When “ Seneca describes the spare diet of Epicurus " and Metrodorus, he uses this expression ; «« « liberatiora sunt alimenta carceris: sepositos ad capitale supplicium, non tam anguste, " qui occisuris est, pascit.' The prison keeps " a better table, and he that is to kill the “ criminal to-morrow morning, gives him a “ better supper overnight. By this he in“ tended to represent his meal to be very "short: for as dying persons have but little " stomach to feast high ; so they that mean to “ cut their throat will think it a vain expence “ to please it with delicacies, which after the “ first alteration must be poured, upon the " ground, and looked upon as the worst part “ of the accursed thing. And there is also " the same proportion of unreasonableness, “ that because men shall « die to-morrow," « and by the sentence and unalterable decree “ of God, they are now descending to their “ graves, that therefore they should first de“stroy their reason, and then force dull time « to run faster, that they may die sottish as “ beasts, and speedily as a fly: but they " thought there was no life after this; or if “ there were, it was without pleasure, and “ every soul thrust into a hole, and a dorter “ of a span's length allowed for his rest, and « for his walk; and in the shades below no “ numbering of healths by the numerical let« ters of° Philenium's name, no fat mul. * lets, no oysters of Lucrinus, no Lesbian * or Chian wines. Toto oc@s žyêgame pcllmor ευφραινε σεαυτόν. Therefore now enjoy “ the delicacies of nature, and feel the de“scending wines distilling through the lim. “ beck of thy tongue and larynx, and suck « the delicious juice of fishes, the marrow of * the laborious ox, and the tender lard of “ Apulian swine, and the condited bellies of

• Martial, Lib. i. ep. 72.

“ the scarus; but lose no time, for the sun “ drives hard, and the shadow is long, and “ the days of mourning are at hand, but the “ number of the days of darkness and the “ grave cannot be told.

“ Thus they thought they discoursed wise“ ly, and their wisdom was turned into folly; “ for all their acts of providence, and witty “ securities of pleasure were nothing, but "unmanly prologues to death, fear, and “ folly, sensuality and beastly pleasures.”

· He proceeds to shew, that plenty and the pleasures of the world are no proper instruments of felicity ; that intemperance is a certain enemy to it; making life unpleasant, and death troublesome and intolerable; and he closes the subject by laying down the rules and measures of temperance.

. " If men did but know," he says, “ what “ felicity dwells in the cottage of a virtuous “ poor man, how sound he sleeps, how quiet « his breast, how composed his mind, how “ free from care, how easy his provision, how “ healthful his morning, how sober his night, “how moist his mouth, how joyful his heart, " they would never admire the noises, and « the diseases, the throng of passions, and “the violence of unnatural appetites, that “ fill the houses of the luxurious, and the “ heart of the ambitious.” “ The private “ life, that which is freest from tumult and .“ vanity, noise and luxury, business and am. “bition, nearest to nature, and a just enter“ tainment to our necessities; that life is *“ nearest to felicity.”.

Then he divides his subject into other heads, and shews that intemperance is an enemy to health. A constant full table has in it less pleasure than the temperate provi. sions of the labourer or the virtuous ; that intemperance is an impure fountain of vice; the destruction of wisdom; and a dishonour to the person and nature of the man.

“ Health is the opportunity of wisdom, the “fairest scene of religion, the advantages of "" the glorifications of God, the charitable “ ministeries 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 plea“ sure than to be newly delivered from the “racks of the gratings of the stone ; and no “ organs, no harp, no lute can sound out the “praises of the Almighty Father so sprite“ fully, as the man that rises from his bed of “ sorrows, and considers what an excellent 26 difference he feels from the groans and in“ tolerable accents of yesterday."

p ollina

“ By faring deliciously every day men be“ come senseless of the evils of mankind, “ inapprehensive of the troubles of their “ brethren, unconcerned in the changes of “ the world, and the cries of the poor, the .“ hunger of the fatherless, and the thirst of “ widows.

pepsi

t e

“ 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 which 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 swal. “ lowing too much is itself swallowed up at " last. And therefore the Navis Agrigentina, P. 110.

9 P. 112.

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »