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Chapter VI.—The Physical Tendencies of Fasting and Feeding Considered.  The Cases of Moses and Elijah.

Now, if there has been temerity in our retracing to primordial experiences the reasons for God’s having laid, and our duty (for the sake of God) to lay, restrictions upon food, let us consult common conscience.  Nature herself will plainly tell with what qualities she is ever wont to find us endowed when she sets us, before taking food and drink, with our saliva still in a virgin state, to the transaction of matters, by the sense especially whereby things divine are handled; whether (it be not) with a mind much more vigorous, with a heart much more alive, than when that whole habitation of our interior man, stuffed with meats, inundated with wines, fermenting for the purpose of excremental secretion, is already being turned into a premeditatory of privies, (a premeditatory) where, plainly, nothing is so proximately supersequent as the savouring of lasciviousness.  “The people did eat and drink, and they arose to play.”10321032    Comp. 1 Cor. x. 7 with Ex. xxxii. 6.  Understand the modest language of Holy Scripture:  “play,” unless it had been immodest, it would not have reprehended.  On the other hand, how many are there who are mindful of religion, when the seats of the memory are occupied, the limbs of wisdom impeded?  No one will suitably, fitly, usefully, remember God at that time when it is customary for a man to forget his own self.  All discipline food either slays or else wounds.  I am a liar, if the Lord Himself, when upbraiding Israel with forgetfulness, does not impute the cause to “fulness:”  “(My) beloved is waxen thick, and fat, and distent, and hath quite forsaken God, who made him, and hath gone away from the Lord his Saviour.”10331033    See Deut. xxxii. 15.  In short, in the self-same Deuteronomy, when bidding precaution to be taken against the self-same cause, He says:  “Lest, when thou shalt have eaten, and drunken, and built excellent houses, thy sheep and oxen being multiplied, and (thy) silver and gold, thy heart be elated, and thou be forgetful of the Lord thy God.”10341034    See Deut. viii. 12–14.  To the corrupting power of riches He made the enormity of edacity antecedent, for which riches themselves are the procuring agents.10351035    Comp. Eccles. vi. 7; Prov. xvi. 26.  (The LXX. render the latter quotation very differently from the Eng. ver. or the Vulg.)  Through them, to wit, had “the heart of the People been made thick, lest they should see with the eyes, and hear with the ears, and understand with a heart”10361036    See Isa. vi. 10; John xii. 40; Acts xxviii. 26, 27. obstructed by the “fats” of which He had expressly forbidden the eating,10371037    See Lev. iii. 17. teaching man not to be studious of the stomach.10381038    See Deut. viii. 3; Matt. iv. 4; Luke iv. 4.

On the other hand, he whose “heart” was habitually found “lifted up”10391039    See Ps. lxxxvi. 4 (in LXX. lxxxv. 4); Lam. iii. 41 (in LXX. iii. 40). rather than fattened up, who in forty days and as many nights maintained a fast above the power of human nature, while spiritual faith subministered strength (to his body),10401040    Twice over.  See Ex. xxiv. 18 and xxxiv. 28; Deut. ix. 11, 25. both saw with his eyes God’s glory, and heard with his ears God’s voice, and understood with his heart God’s law:  while He taught him even then (by experience) that man liveth not upon bread alone, but upon every word of God; in that the People, though fatter than he, could not constantly contemplate even Moses himself, fed as he had been upon God, nor his leanness, sated as it had been with His glory!10411041    See Ex. xxxiii. 18, 19, with xxxiv. 4–9, 29–35.  Deservedly, therefore, even while in the flesh, did the Lord show Himself to him, the colleague of His own fasts, no less than to Elijah.10421042    See Matt. xvii. 1–13; Mark ix. 1–13; Luke ix. 28–36.  For Elijah withal had, by this fact primarily, that he had imprecated a famine,10431043    See Jas. v. 17. already sufficiently devoted himself to fasts:  “The Lord liveth,” he said, “before whom I am standing in His 106sight, if there shall be dew in these years, and rain-shower.”10441044    See 1 Kings xvii. 1 (in LXX. 3 Kings ib.).  Subsequently, fleeing from threatening Jezebel, after one single (meal of) food and drink, which he had found on being awakened by an angel, he too himself, in a space of forty days and nights, his belly empty, his mouth dry, arrived at Mount Horeb; where, when he had made a cave his inn, with how familiar a meeting with God was he received!10451045    See 1 Kings xix. 1–8.  But he took two meals:  see vers. 6, 7, 8.  “What (doest) thou, Elijah, here?”10461046    Vers. 9, 13.  Much more friendly was this voice than, “Adam, where art thou?”10471047    Gen. iii. 9 (in LXX.).  For the latter voice was uttering a threat to a fed man, the former soothing a fasting one.  Such is the prerogative of circumscribed food, that it makes God tent-fellow10481048    Comp. Matt. xvii. 4; Mark ix. 5; Luke ix. 33. with man—peer, in truth, with peer!  For if the eternal God will not hunger, as He testifies through Isaiah,10491049    See Ps. xl. 28 in LXX.  In E.V., “fainteth not.” this will be the time for man to be made equal with God, when he lives without food.


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