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upon the memory, nor rouse the imagination, nor trust the judgment. What though he direct his eye to the pages of science, or even to the lighter pages of literature; a heavy fog impedes his vision, and a leaden weight hangs upon the intellectual wheels and springs. In short, his mental powers are too obtuse to discern, and too lethargic to act. The only alternative is to let them rest until the corporeal system is relieved of its task. This is in fact the course that is generally taken. And in this way an immense amount of ne is lost, and that too w compunctions of conscience; because men generally do not know that the indisposition to mental exertion which they feel is the result of excessive indulgence of the appetite. Multitudes of literary men at the present day, who suppose themselves as diligent in study and in bodily effort as is consistent with health, are in the habit of losing almost entirely their afternoons, and of giving them up to sleep, or lethargy, or idle sauntering about. After dinner they are really incapable of bodily or mental effort, because they have indulged themselves too freely at the table, Some in such circumstances resort to the stimulus of tea, or coffee, or even wine. But the forced mental operations that succeed are unnatural and inefficient: and in the end no time is gained, because the prostration subsequent to such excitement is great and long continued. Nothing, indeed, but universal temperance can give a uniform and unso. phisticated energy to the mind. Every student knows something of the nature of this energy, if he has ever sat down to his books in the morning, after a refreshing night's sleep and a light breakfast. His system is then free from the irritation and oppression of dietetic excesses: and such a state essentially may be continued through the day by the practice of strict temperance; for it is as true of the universally temperate man as of the vegetable feeder—that “with him it is morning all the day long.'
I appeal then to the individual who thus almost habitually loses his afternoons, and inquire of him, what account he expects to render to God for so much time wasted by the unnecessary indulgence of the appetite ? Especially do I inquire of the minister of Christ
, upon whose time at the present day there is an almost constant demand, how he expects to meet with composure in judgment those whom he has so often warned against the waste of their precious time? Thou therefore which teachest another, teachest thou not thyself? thou that preachest a man should not steal, dost thou steal ?
III. In the third place, let us consider the effects of excess in eating, upon the moral and religious character.
Most men suppose that the slight pain, or uneasiness, or drowsiness, that succeeds a ton hearty meal, is the whole of the effect which such ex, cess produces. When a man finds himself, some hours or èyen days after the indulgence, excited in his temper on the slightest provocation, fretful and impatient of contradiction, and betrayed into severity of petali, ation unworthy the character of a Christian of a man, little is he aware that a more careful attention to the kind and quantity of his food might have armed him against the temptations that overcame him, and enabled him to have kept his temper even under the grossest insults. But he has only to put in practice the rules of temperance, suggested in a preceding discourse, to be satisfied tḥat one principal cause of a fretful tem, per, and a disposition easily to be excited and exasperated, and an impatience of contradiction, lies in his intemperate habits at the table. Indeed, he will become satisfied that the essence of his sin lies more in the cause, which is excess in eating, than in its almost unavaidable result, an irrita, ble temper.
Many men are in the habit of living almost continually in a feverish state of feeling, disposed to murmur at almost every occurrence, and very rarely to be in a state oalm enough for prayer, or any other religious duty. Now in many instances this ruffled state of mind is kept up by the irritation of the nervous system occasioned by overloading the digestive powers. The temperate man alone can exhibit the temper of a philosopher and the calmness of the Christian. Just in proportion to a man's intemperance in any respect, will be the violence and irregularity of his passions. He may impute their ravages to peculiarity of constitution; but most probably, in nearly every case, God imputes it to some criminal indulgence. It is high time that Christians had learnt to practice universal temperance before they charge an irritable temper or ferocious passions upon nature.
Another frequent attendant upon excess in eating is gloom and melancholy. The individual finds his spirits sinking without any apparent cause, and gloomy forebodings preying upon his mind. Hope, that once buoyed him up with elastic wing, now sinks under the heavy load of melancholy, and almost ceases to breathe. A lowering cloud encircles the horizon and gradually spreads over the whole heavens. A settled despondency and listless inaction not unfrequently come on, interrupted only by occasional seasons of abstinence or ten perance. Although the man feels as if he could readily part with every earthly possession if he could recover his former cheerfulness, yet he never once suspects that the reduction of a few ounces of food at each meal would effectually remove the incubus from his soul.
“ The great majority of those complaints which are considered purely mental,” says Dr. James Johnson, Physician extraordinary to the King of England,“ such as irritability and irascibility of temper, gloomy mel. ancholy, timidity and irresolution, despondency, &c. might be speedily remedied and entirely removed by a rigid system of abstinence, and a very little medicine."
Fatal as is this gloomy state of mind to success in worldly pursuits, its most lamentable influence is exerted upon the religious character. The individual had long perhaps thought himself created anew in Christ Jesus, and indulged the hope of being an heir to the eternal inheritance. But he loses all confidence and almost all hope of final acceptance : and his thoughts brood with terrible self-application upon all that is terrific to the unconverted sinner and the formal professor. In vain is he pointed to the divine promises, or exhorted to meditate upon the richness and freeness of grace as exhibited through a Savior. But let him for a few weeks give up his rich and stimulating diet, and partake only of the plainest fare, and that in the smallest quantity which will sustain life and health, and he will find the cloud gradually withdrawing, and the Sun of Righteousness rising again with healing in his wings. Even when his abstemiousness is carried so far as to weaken, in some measure, his bodily energies, he will find that his mind will gather strength and be filled again with the peace of God that passeth understanding.
Pomponius Atticus, the friend of Cicero, under the influence of that melancholy which so often accompanies a disordered state of the stomach, had resolved to destroy himself: but being persuaded to accomplish his purpose by starvation, taking only a little water from time to time to alle. viate his anguish, the abstinence of a few days cured his melancholy, and he readily abandoned his purpose of suicide, and actually lived to an advanced age. By abstinence or temperance may religious melancholy also, in a great many instances, be cured. Indeed I have little doubt that a majority of the cases of feeble hope and desponding faith that exist at the present day, in those manifestly pious, are produced by excess in eating. The daily habit of taking into the system even a few ounces more of food than the organs can well manage, is sufficient to keep the spirits continually depressed; and to convert a once vigorous, active,
cheerful Christian, into a desponding, irresolute, inefficient slave. Conld such men be persuaded to try the effect of uniform and strict temperance, they would find such a relief as would guard them effectually against future indulgence. But they are usually the very last persons to be persuaded that they are intemperate, or that such simple means will work so powerful a cure.
Excess operates injuriously upon the religious character in another way. It produces an irregularity in all the feelings and affections good and bad: now raising them to a high pitch of excitement, and then occasioning them to sink so low that no call can arouse them. Now how can a man judge correctly respecting his Christian character, while under the influence of such irregular emotions? He soon finds that his religious feelings are in a great measure dependent upon the state of his bodily health; and when they seem to be such as Christian experience requires, how can he tell whether they are the result of religious principle or of disordered nerves? And when nothing will excite them, may not the cause be an exhausted state of the system from excess in food?
0, what Christian, who knows any thing of the value of a bright and steady hope of heaven, and of uniform and consistent religious feelings, will consent to give up these blessings for the sake of unnecessary indulgence of morbid appetite ! Can he be a Christian who will do ii ? He cannot certainly be an eminent Christian. Indeed, we may set it down as a universal fact, that no great eater can be a very consistent, or amiable, or happy man. He is under the dominion of one of the grossest of the animal appetites; and until he can learn to mortify this and deny himself unnecessary and forbidden gratification, he must be content to live destitute of the pure and holy joys which are the reward of temperance and devoted piety.
Individuals who suffer from religious melancholy usually expect and receive much sympathy from their Christian brethren and from Christian ministers, on the ground that it is their misfortune rather than their sin. But before we tender them our sympathies, we ought to inquire into their dietetic habits we ought to dine with them once, and see whether the cause of their despondency does not lie in unreasonable indulgence. If so, strict temperance may cure them: and if they will not adopt this remedy, they ought rather to be reproved, and warned of their guilt and danger, than pitied for their calamity.
IV. In the fourth place let us glance at the effects of excess in eating upon the domestic character.
Religion, predominating in the family circle, is generally and justly regarded as rendering that the happiest spot on earth. But just in proportion as intemperance of any kind prevails there, will that happiness be neutralized. Children, fed upon rich and stimulating food, will become sickly and peevish; and instead of exhibiting those innocent and playful feelings that render them such interesting objects in a family scene, they will convert it into a Bedlam Parents and domestics will have enough to do to manage their unruly tempers and to nurse their sickly constitutions. Especially will this be the case, if those parents have indulged themselves as well as their children in luxurious living: for then their own tempers will be irritable, their feelings irregular, and their patience easily exhausted. Today, they will break forth upon their disobe. dient offspring with violent and needless severity. To-morrow, through mere irresolution, they will suffer their authority to be trampled upon. That same irresolution and the despondency that often accompanies it, will render them unfaithful in giving religious instruction to their children, and dispose them to be so reserved and cold in their intercourse with their little ones, as will send a chill and alienation through their hearts. The same cause will prevent between husbands and wives that cheerful and constant attention to one another's wants, and that sociable disposition so essential to mutual happiness; and a cold, unlovely manner will most probably be substituted, which will prove a poison to domestic enjoyment. No family circle can be truly happy where cheerfulness and a mutual disposition to please and be pleased do not exist. But there is not a greater enemy to such a state of feeling than excess in food. So that he who daily loads the table of his family with every dainty for the palateeven when real love to his family is the motive—may be sure that he is throwing an apple of discord and petulance into fallen man's only remaining paradise. Would he preserve the happiness of that Paradise, let him by precept and example, strive to make it the abode of universal temperance.
V. In the fifth place, let us consider the effects of excess in eating, upon the social character.
We have only to suppose a community generally devoted to the indulgence of the palate, and then inquire, how the physical, intellectual and moral effects of the excesses that have been pointed out in the case of an individual, affect the social condition. The individuals of such a community will be subject to the physical and mental torpor and imbecility which are the inevitable concomitants of over-eating. Such then will be the predominant character of the community. Feeble health and the want of power to sustain hardship and fatigue, will result in an effeminacy which always marks a sinking state of society. Few, if any, bright examples of active and powerful intellect will be seen, where intellect is cramped by an overloaded corporeal system. Wherever excitement exists it will be violent and irregular; because the sensibilities of every luxurious man are rendered morbid; and because, too, his passions and feelings are subject to sudden and great alternations. Are the individuals in society feverish and fretful in their tempers ? How can frequent and painful collisions and alienations be avoided, when they come in contact ? Are they melancholy and jealous, as great eaters frequently are? Then will deep-rooted enmity and hatred spring up in their bosoms against their neighbors, and society will be convulsed by their discord.
Late hours are an almost inevitable attendant upon dietetic excesses.A too hearty dinner produces an almost unconquerable tendency to sleep; and an afternoon nap is followed by wakefulness during the first part of the night. This is usually increased by the stimulus of tea, coffee, wine, or spirits. These, by creating an artificial appetite, are almost sure to be an occasion of hearty and late suppers. The final consequence will be, that the individual who takes such a course of living will sleep in the morning rather than at night. Of course, breakfast will be late, and therefo re dinner must be so too. In this way is the whole system of late hours introduced, particularly among the wealthy, who suffer most from luxurious living. And it having become fashionable to be late, the contagion will be more or less communicated to other classes, until the whole community is infected. Now I hesitate not to say, that, almost without an exception, the man whose habits are such as above described, cannot be a very industrious man; for he loses in sleep the hours of the morning; one of which is more valuable, for physical or intellectual labor, than two at any other time of the day. Most injurious, therefore, upon the industry of society, will be the effect of excess in eating. And if individuals are found, who are really industrious, notwithstanding their hearty dinners and late hours, yet they do a violence to their constitutions which will be followed by premature prostration and decay.
While the industrious habits of society are thus more or less paralyzed, the same cause excites to extravagant expenditures. As the appetite becomes more fastidious and epicurean, the richness and variety of entertainments must be increased. Envy, pride, and unholy emulation, lend their influence in stimulating families to attempt excelling one another in the richness and variety of their entertainments. Nor is it in food and drink only that there is a strife for the mastery. For excess in diet infallibly leads to extravagance in dress, furniture, and equipage. Even the poor emulate the rich in these costly exhibitions, if admitted to their society; or if not, excessive extravagance among the wealthy, stimulates other classes to like extravagance, so far as is in their power.
And thus it happens, that multitudes, who live far beyond their income, fancy themselves very economical and temperate, because their table is less luxuriously loaded, and their equipage less splendid than that of some rich neighbor; when in fact, their extravagance may be far greater, and more criminal than their neighbor's, because he is guilty of spending only the surplus of his income, while they are reducing themselves 10 poverty.
In no country in the world is it : easy for all classes of society to obtain the means of living independently and comfortably as in this.Yet what complaining of the hardness of the times, and the stagnation of business do we hear on every side; and what a large proportion of our citizens are so encumbered by debt as to be perpetually tormented while alive, and to leave their property insolvent! Whence is this but from the excesses and extravagancies that have been mentioned? They spend vastly more for food and drink, and for equalling their neighbors in dress and equipage, than necessity or happiness demands. And yet, intelligent as our citizens are; nay, Christians, as many of them are, they scarcely suspect that they exceed at 'all the bounds of temperance or of economy, and really suppose that their pecuniary embarrassments result from no fault of theirs. But the truth is, the chief source of bankruptcy among the rich, and of straitened circumstances among the poorer classes of the community, lies in some species of intemperance or extravagance in living. And it always will be so, until men shall learn, better than they now understand, in what intemperance and extravagance consist.
A necessary result of luxurious living, is a contemptible effeminacy of character in one sex, and a pitiable nervous frailty in the other. Hence, communities given for a long time to excess and extravagance, swarm with so many young men, who exhibit all the softness of the female chare acter, without
of its virtues; whose days are devoted to trifling decorations and accomplishments; whose sensibilities are exhausted upon trifles, and whose physical and intellectual features are personified imbecility. Hence too, in the same communities, are found so many females, who, in the language of scripture, " would not adventure to set the sole of their foot upon the ground for delicateness and tenderness.” Their physical constitutions are deeply impressed with the marks of frailty, imperfect development, and disproportionate culture: and how can their minds but resemble the fragile and weak tenement in which they are imprisoned? A sensibility, painfully acute, is their most striking characteristic; unfitting them for the trying duties that devolve upon wives and mothers; and indeed, they are little better calculated for usefulness than the porcelain ornaments of the rich man's parlor.
Now, with such effeminacy in the fathers, and ridiculous weakness in the mothers, what will be the character of their progeny ? In a few generations how deteriorated and contemptible! Indeed, it requires but two or three generations absolutely to run out a family that gives itself up to luxurious indulgence. Born destitute of stamina, in the physical con