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Chapter XVII.—Conclusion.

“Old” you are, if we will say the truth, you who are so indulgent to appetite, and justly do you vaunt your “priority:”  always do I recognise the savour of Esau, the hunter of wild beasts:  so unlimitedly studious are you of catching fieldfares, so do you come from “the field” of your most lax discipline, so faint are you in spirit.11171117    Comp. Gen. xxiii. 2, 3, 4, 31, and xxv. 27–34.  If I offer you a paltry lentile dyed red with must well boiled down, forthwith you will sell all your “primacies:”  with you “love” shows its fervour in sauce-pans, “faith” its warmth in kitchens, “hope” its anchorage in waiters; but of greater account is “love,” because that is the means whereby your young men sleep with their sisters!  Appendages, as we all know, of appetite are lasciviousness and voluptuousness.  Which alliance the apostle withal was aware of; and hence, after premising, “Not in drunkenness and revels,” he adjoined, “nor in couches and lusts.”11181118    Rom. xiii. 13.

To the indictment of your appetite pertains (the charge) that “double honour” is with you 114assigned to your presiding (elders) by double shares (of meat and drink); whereas the apostle has given them “double honour” as being both brethren and officers.11191119    1 Tim. v. 17.  Who, among you, is superior in holiness, except him who is more frequent in banqueting, more sumptuous in catering, more learned in cups?  Men of soul and flesh alone as you are, justly do you reject things spiritual.  If the prophets were pleasing to such, my (prophets) they were not.  Why, then, do not you constantly preach, “Let us eat and drink, for to-morrow we shall die?”11201120    Isa. xxii. 13; 1 Cor. xv. 32. just as we do not hesitate manfully to command, “Let us fast, brethren and sisters, lest to-morrow perchance we die.”  Openly let us vindicate our disciplines.  Sure we are that “they who are in the flesh cannot please God;”11211121    Rom. viii. 8. not, of course, those who are in the substance of the flesh, but in the care, the affection, the work, the will, of it.  Emaciation displeases not us; for it is not by weight that God bestows flesh, any more than He does “the Spirit by measure.”11221122    John iii. 34.  More easily, it may be, through the “strait gate”11231123    Matt. vii. 13, 14; Luke xiii. 24. of salvation will slenderer flesh enter; more speedily will lighter flesh rise; longer in the sepulchre will drier flesh retain its firmness.  Let Olympic cestus-players and boxers cram themselves to satiety.  To them bodily ambition is suitable to whom bodily strength is necessary; and yet they also strengthen themselves by xerophagies.  But ours are other thews and other sinews, just as our contests withal are other; we whose “wrestling is not against flesh and blood, but against the world’s11241124    Mundi:  cf. κοσμοκράτορας, Eph. vi. 12. power, against the spiritualities of malice.”  Against these it is not by robustness of flesh and blood, but of faith and spirit, that it behoves us to make our antagonistic stand.  On the other hand, an over-fed Christian will be more necessary to bears and lions, perchance, than to God; only that, even to encounter beasts, it will be his duty to practise emaciation.

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