Philoxenus, Ascetic Discourses (1894) pp.337-402. Discourse 10 -- On Gluttony
[p. 353] THE TENTH DISCOURSE: WHICH IS AGAINST THE LUST OF THE BELLY, AND WHICH BRINGETH AN ACCUSATION AGAINST GREEDINESS, AND WHICH REVEALETH AND SHEWETH ALL ITS FORMS, AND WHICH ALSO BLAMETH THOSE WHO MAKE THEIR LIVES SUBJECT UNTO THIS PASSION, AND WHICH MAKETH KNOWN THAT IT IS IMPOSSIBLE FOR THOSE WHO LABOUR IN BONDAGE UNTO THEIR LUSTS TO DRAW NIGH UNTO THE KNOWLEDGE AND WORKING OF ANY OF THE TRIUMPHS OF VIRTUE.
Now although all the evil passions and the service of the lusts are abominated and detested by the word of Divine knowledge, the filthy passion of the lust of the belly, which is wont to make those men who are subject thereto like unto beasts, is more abominated and detested than they all, because it taketh away from them the motions of knowledge which are seemly unto rational beings, and it sinketh and darkeneth their mind under the weight of meats; for this stinking and filthy passion is the door of all wickedness, and wherever it hath power, like a great, wide door, is it open for the entrance [p. 354] of all abominable things. It is the destroyer of all excellence, it impedeth all righteousness, and it is the obstacle to all divine works in every shape |338 and form. The man who is bent double beneath this abominable lust is not able to take up the yoke of the discipleship of Christ, because when the belly hath become the mistress of the body, it commandeth and subdueth it unto all its wishes, and instead of the way which ascendeth unto heaven, it sheweth unto him that other path which goeth down into Sheol. And it hangeth upon him the weight of meats, and superfluities of foods, and it soaketh him, and maketh him heavy with the superabundance of drink, for when he carrieth the weight of meats, his lightness is weighed downwards, and when another body of lust is piled upon his own body, he goeth down easily, and descendeth the path the descent of which leadeth down into Sheol. For the passion of the lust of the belly is the filthiest of all the passions, and whosoever hath once become a slave thereunto, and hath borne upon his shoulder its heavy yoke, it never again giveth unto him rest from its service, but by day and by night it worketh in him, and it sendeth him, like a tired servant, whithersoever it pleaseth, not by smooth ways, but by paths which are filled with stumblingblocks, and into a country in which [only] harm can be found; and the lover of lusts hath no eyes to see the light, for although paths exist, yet are they darkened by the weight of meats. Broad daylight is night unto him, and by night a second death sinketh his understanding in the heaviness of sleep. His thoughts are scattered abroad by the wandering of the moisture [p. 355] of the body; the fire of nature is also cold within him because the inordinate moisture in him extinguisheth it; his thoughts are eclipsed from knowledge because the eye of his soul, which should look earnestly after knowledge, is sealed up; and a heavy |339 weight is hung upon him at all times, because he hath joined another body of meats unto his own body like a twin. Now therefore the lust of the belly is an obstacle unto everything; it is the enemy of all contests of fortitude, it is the destroyer of fair renown, and it impedeth all triumphs, not only the triumphs of the spirit, but also those of the body. And, moreover, the lust of the belly is an obstacle also unto those who live in the world by bravery and strength, because manly endurance is of use to every thing which belongeth to name and fame, and health is necessary thereunto, and it hath need of lightness of limb, and of healthy strength; but to all these the lust of greediness is an obstacle. For when the strength diminisheth by reason of the abundance of meats, and the power of the members hath left them, they are no longer ready for work, nor are they active for the labours of righteousness, and, as I have said,----if a man will only look carefully with the eye of knowledge----the weight of meats is an obstacle unto everything, unto the power of the body, and unto the knowledge of the soul, and unto the works of righteousness, and unto the works of loving-kindness, and unto the gifts of alms. Whosoever is subject unto his belly is a beast, and is without discretion, and all his doings are like unto those of the animals, and since his whole stability is moved by carnal passions, [p. 356] he is utterly unprofitable in those of the soul. And thou mayest understand from things themselves that the lust of the belly is an obstacle unto all the virtuous deeds of which I have spoken; to instruction, to knowledge, to the brave endurance of the world, to the labours of righteousness, to loving-kindness unto the children of men, to love, and to the knowledge of |340 God. That it is an obstacle unto instruction the world also testifieth by the tradition which cometh down thereunto, for children who are set apart to receive instruction are kept by their parents from a superfluity of food, because gluttony is a fence against instruction, for when the the members bear the weight of food they are not able to carry the lightness of instruction, for lightness is the opposite of heaviness. So then the children who receive instruction take food by measure, that their mind may be [keen], and their thoughts are ready, and their memory clear both to receive and to retain, for superfluity of food preventeth both. And not only are children who are receiving the learning of instruction prevented from taking a superfluity of food, [but other men also who are learning some handicraft of the world, for their masters watch them carefully, and schoolmasters take good heed unto them, and each is a watcher and a guardian against too much food and inordinate drink, for they eat and drink by measure; and thus also is it with those who learn the empty professions of the world, dancers, or charioteers, or athletes; or those who learn the art of war, or others who receive the learning of books. And if these arts which are wrought by the body, and the knowledge which is received from the world need moderation in food----which if it be taken in superabundance becometh an obstacle unto them----how much more doth superfluity of food become an obstacle unto the things which are fulfilled in the spirit?] 1 And so also is it with those who receive [p. 357] instruction, and who exercise themselves in the endurance of the things |341 of the world; and others also who possess the knowledge of the world have themselves need of endurance. There is no man who hath drawn nigh unto learning, or unto the writing of books, or unto oratory, who is not sure that superfluity of food is an obstacle thereunto. For the thick smoke of food, when it increaseth and is not purified away, covereth the heart with gloom, and blackeneth the understanding, and confuseth the intelligence, and shutteth the door in the face of the production of fluency of speech, and it is like a covering spread over all the intellectual senses, and it pre-venteth and destroyeth the power of their working. The man who is endowed with the gift of speech cannot speak if he be heavy with food, neither can the man of knowledge know, nor the man of understanding understand; and so to say, all the inner man becometh dark through the smoke of the dulness which ariseth from food. And since a light and spiritual nature are mingled in us, the body should seek spirituality and lightness, and in proportion as the body becometh attenuated through abstinence, it gaineth association with the spirituality thereof; and so long as a too great weight [of food] be not laid thereupon, it acquireth the lightness wherewith it participateth in the lightness of the soul. Now therefore by a wise dispensation a portion of the spirit was placed in a portion of the body, [p. 358] and as the body becometh heavy with meats, it draweth and bringeth down the soul thereto, and it hangeth its own weight upon it, and it tieth and fettereth the wings of the thoughts of the soul; but if the life of the body be maintained constantly by a sparing use of food, it becometh light, and purified, and refined, and the heaviness of its nature dwindleth away and it maketh |342 bright the soul which is in it, and maketh it glad, and is, moreover, itself obedient readily unto its will. And because it is light and refined the soul leadeth it to whatsoever it desireth, and the body resisteth not the soul, and its heaviness doth not prevent the soul from stablishing it in the country which it seeketh. For each of these, whether it be the body, or the soul, draweth the other unto its own will, because they are contrary to each other in their natures, and also in their wills, according to the word of the Apostle, who said, "The body lusteth for that which injureth the spirit, and the spirit lusteth for that which injureth the body; and the two are contrary each to each." 2 Now if, according to the word of the wise Apostle, all the lusts of the body are contrary to the soul, the lust of the belly must be more [contrary] than they all, because it is the door of all lusts, and among them all there is none so heavy as it is. For as a weight which is light and volatile by nature, if suspended, inclineth downwards, even so is this lust of the belly, for it is composed of moisture and weight, and although the body naturally possesseth weight----for its nature is so to do----yet by a superabundance of food, other weight is added thereunto, and when weight is added unto weight, [p. 359] and body is doubled upon body, that is to say, the body of food upon the body of nature, the weight upon the soul increaseth, and the mistress becometh a handmaid in subjection; for the soul cannot henceforth rule over the body like a free thing, but it beareth the weight thereof like a slave.
And the lust of the belly is also contrary to |343 loving-kindness, because everything which is distributed by the gift thereof it turneth towards itself, and maketh it its own; and if it should happen that it would perform an act of loving-kindness----which is impossible----the thought of benevolence never moveth in it except it be already filled itself, and it is as if the greedy man were to give gifts, for it would appear that his gift is bestowed only when his own belly is full. And this is not loving-kindness, but is like unto the habit of a beast and wild animal, for even the beast, when it hath filled its belly, will leave its manger, and lie down; and thus also is it with the glutton, for until he hath filled his belly at the table of his lusts he will not permit himself to look upon any other man with the eye of compassion. And he will not give to him that is needy of what is set before him, because he is in such subjection unto his lust that he thinketh that no one is as needy as himself, and in very truth there is no one in such need as the man who is in subjection unto his own lust. For however much a man may give unto the cravings of lust, it still abideth in its needy condition, and it is never satisfied even with a collection of meats, but in proportion as it eateth meats it raveneth for others, and in proportion as it drinketh it lusteth eagerly for draughts of clear and sparkling wine. [p. 360] In proportion as it hath food it hungereth and is not satisfied, and in proportion as it drinketh it thirsteth, and its thirst is not quenched; for however much the glutton eateth he still hungereth, and however much he drinketh, he still thirsteth. Unto the lust of the belly there is no end, for when it hath been filled by its first [supply of] food, inasmuch as it is not for its need's sake that it is determined to fill [itself], but for |344 its lust's sake, it seeketh other food which is more dainty than the first. And again when it hath taken of this sufficient to please lust, it looketh out for other food which is more agreeable and more tasty, and thus its gluttony rangeth over all meats one by one, and it is not filled by them all. And if he thinketh that he is satisfied, and he stayeth his hand from the food, his lust is not satisfied, even though his belly be filled, and it can hold no more; but he wisheth that his belly were as capacious as his lust, and that his stomach were even as his eye, in order that he might be able to gather together whatsoever he lusted after and to put it in his perforated storehouse. The lover of possessions is a greedy fool, for he gathereth together and layeth up the treasures of his lusts in a house with a rent therein which keepeth nothing that is placed therein, and the Creator also, in order to rebuke the lust of gluttons, made a fixed limit to the capacity of the belly, so that of sheer necessity, even though it were against their will, their lusts might be restrained. Now when the desire would load itself with much [food] although the cavity of the belly cannot receive it, behold desire is not kept back by force from its lust's quest; but though its desire lusteth, the small cavity of the belly, which is not able to hold [much], restraineth it. For if [p. 361] the belly were large enough to receive all things which gluttons lust after, the sea, and land, and air, and sun, and all the other natural bodies would not be sufficient to satisfy their lusts. And behold if, now that a vessel of small capacity hath been given unto their vast desire, sea and land are not sufficient for them, and they gather together all kinds [of food], and are not filled, and |345 everything which they lust after, and are not satisfied, and they ask for and seek after all the meats which are remote from them, if they had a belly as large as their desire what would they not do?
Now therefore the glutton is worse than any wild animal, for the beast, when it hath filled its belly, leaveth what remains of its food in the manger, and it knoweth not how to keep it for another time or for another day; but with the glutton it is not so, for, because his lust is not satisfied when his belly is filled, when he hath filled that measure which is in him, and which is ordained by nature to receive food, his lust taketh what remaineth, and keepeth it for another day, that is to say for days and months. The glutton sitteth at the table of his need, and meditateth upon the times which are about to come; he taketh not only care to feed when food is at hand, but he thinketh upon what he shall eat to-morrow. His hand is upon the bread-basket which is near, and his mind is fixed upon the table which is far off; he beareth food in his right hand and in his left, but both of them are insufficient to bring fuel to the fire which is in him. All his members minister unto the cruel mistress which he hath voluntarily set over himself, [p. 362] and they are not by any means whatsoever able to satisfy her by their service; his eyes, and hands, and feet are made slaves unto her, and they suffice not. He thinketh concerning her with his inner man, and with his outer man he followeth her about earnestly; but like a mistress who is to be ministered unto, she is not satisfied; and like Sheol she received stinkingness, and is not filled; and like the fire she receiveth fuel of meats, and she sayeth not, "Enough"; and like the earth she |346 drinketh, and is not satisfied; and like the eye, she lusteth for everything, but is not filled with anything; and the glutton wisheth that he had other members which would be sufficient to minister unto the iniquitous mistress which he hath gotten. The gaze of the eye of the glutton is also fixed upon him that sitteth with him at the table, and he looketh upon him with a malignant eye lest he eat too much, and forthwith he either counteth his pieces of food in his mind, or [feareth] that peradventure the portion which is set before him is greater than his own; for his belly receiveth meats, but his mind meditateth upon his neighbour which sitteth with him. Now the evilness of the lust of the belly is spread out upon everything, and if its eye be evil upon him that is near him, how can it help being evil upon him that is his companion at table? What then? Though lust lay up [food] for days and months, yet is it envious of others who are remote therefrom; and it asketh about every man what food he eateth, and what preparations of food are made and set out on his table, and what is the measure of his food; and when it hath made enquiries, and hath measured its own dainties and delicacies with that which it heareth concerning his, if its things are more [p. 363] than his it rejoiceth, and if his are more than its own, it is immediately filled with grief, and with the grief there is also envy, and with the envy there is wrath of mind because a man existeth who hath more meats than he hath. What then? And although the greedy glutton is envious of those who are afar off, his eye looketh not away from him that is at the table with him, and although he may not say openly unto him, "Thou shalt not eat" ----now shame prevent eth him from saying this----yet |347 his mind desireth this eagerly, saying, "How I wish that he would stay his hand", in order that that which is upon the table may be sufficient for his own gluttony. Now therefore the lust of the belly is more loathsome and disgusting than all the other lusts, and it hath not similitude among the other passions; but it is the mother and nurse of them all. For as a root of a tree beareth the branches and everything else which is on them, even so also is the gluttony of the belly the root of all wickednesses; and as the twigs and boughs spring from the roots, even so do all the passions of the lusts spring therefrom. Gluttony giveth birth [to them], and reareth [them], and feedeth [them], and worketh [them], and all wickedness is perfected therefrom; with it a man beginneth the path of the left hand, and it becometh the first step which a man taketh outside the path of that which is right. For, as abstinence, that is to say the fasting from all meats, is the beginning [p. 364] of the way of the strife of righteousness, even so also is the lust of the belly the beginning of works of shame. And if thou wilt look with the eye of knowledge, O disciple, thou wilt see that all vices, one after the other, follow thereafter. For first of all it darkeneth the understanding from the meditation of God, and it obscureth the mind from the remembrance of Christ, and when the memorial of God hath been removed from the soul there can be no doubt that a man deviseth and doeth every kind of wickedness. For as the remembrance of the beginning of everything which is done in the world ariseth from us, and until we have received in our minds the remembrance of things we do not draw nigh to the doing thereof, even so also is the remembrance |348 of God the beginning of all virtues; therefore when a mart hath God in remembrance he draweth nigh unto the service of things which are fair. And if a man doeth that which is good, and is not mindful of God when he doeth it, his good deed is not of God, but of that which his memory brought into his mind when he did it.
Behold then, to this virtue which is the beginning of all virtues----I speak now of the remembrance of God----the lust of the belly is contrary, in addition also to its being the beginning of all wickedness, For as the remembrance of God standeth at the beginning of the path of virtues, even so also doth the lust of the belly stand at the beginning of the path of all wickedness; and when the two beginnings are contrary to each other, and one of them hath overcome the other, together with the first which is vanquished [p. 365] are vanquished also all those things which follow thereafter. For as it is impossible for a house to be built without foundations, even so also it is impossible for virtues to exist without the remembrance of God, And as a building which is not set upon a firm foundation is certainly nigh to fall, even so also a change which is nigh necessarily cleaveth unto the virtues which are not built upon the remembrance of God, and they abide not in the firmness of their fabric, because there is no sure foundation to sustain them.
Now gluttony and the filling of the belly first of all remove the remembrance of God from the soul, and when the foundation hath been uprooted, all the virtues are uprooted therewith. And gluttony is also the contrary of fasting, it is the destroyer of prayer, it is that which polluteth the purity of the thoughts, it |349 obscureth the understanding, and darkeneth the mind, and defileth the intelligence, and abrogateth instruction, and killeth knowledge. It is the bane of wisdom, and leadeth astray the memory, it depicteth phantoms, and is the mother of things which are imagined, it is the drunkenness of the soul, and it abaseth the mind, it produceth slumber, and multiplieth disturbing dreams, it giveth birth unto fornication, and polluteth the body, it causeth an unnatural flow of seed, it is the fire of lust, it is the director of adultery, and it committeth whoredom even without members. It is the eye which lusteth after everything, it is the kinswoman of sloth, and thé mother of indifference, and the cause of the love of mammon; it is the enemy of the wise, [p. 366] and it hateth teachers. It is the means of passage of all abominable things, it is the nurse of envy, the sickness of health, the feebleness of strength, the cowardice of the body, the grub [which destroyeth] the limbs, the worm [that eateth] the body, the diminution of the power of the senses, the wandering among empty cares, the kinswoman of animals, the associate of beasts, the foe of bold athletes, the envier of the prosperous, the overthrower of labours, the stumbling-block of the life of virtue, the lover of empty conversations, the seeker of pleasure always, the silencer of holy song. It lacketh all virtues, and is abundant in all vices, it is a noxious form, a stone set in the way to trip up many, a dangerous example which causeth slackness in all who behold it, the counsellor of vices, the fugitive from afflictions, the lover of pleasures, the seeker after feasts and banquets, the sickness alike of the body and of the soul, the vessel of stinkingness, the odour of filth, the fountain of the excrement of the body, the lover of darkness, |350 the kinswoman of blackness, it eateth alone. It is the enemy of those who do not give thereto, a filthy shape, a loathsome form which cannot be depicted, the enemy of God, the uprooting of belief, the beginning of the path of error, the door which leadeth into all abominable things, the exactor of tribute from all, the oppressor of all, the nurse of fear, the destroyer of courage, the cause of sorrow and sickness, the food of hardness of heart, and the consortof the gluttonous dog which returneth to its vomit. It is abounding in diseases, it is the possessor of sicknesses, the withholder [p. 367] of the produce of labours, the first cause of straying away from God, and the worshipper of idols. And if a man were to collect ten thousand times ten thousand of such names as these, and were to apply them unto the lust of the belly, they would be too few [to describe] it, and it would not have been called by the names which it deserveth; for it is a mistress who is opposed unto God. And as all great and glorious names, if applied to God, would still be too few [to describe] Him, and they would be insufficient to shew forth the fairness and the beauty of His nature, even so if the lust of the belly were to be called by every name possible, those names would not suffice to shew forth its loathsomeness, and its hideous appearance. For of what fair thing is not this vice the destroyer? and naturally man calleth it the wickedness of all wickedness, the iniquity of the iniquitous, and the sin of sinners. Now therefore the glutton is not able to do any thing else except only to eat. For all matters are accounted empty by him except this, and he thinketh that a man was made for nothing else except to satisfy his lusts; for the conversation of the glutton is fixed wholly |351 upon his belly, and the whole aim of his discourse is directed towards this. Whatever subject thou dost bring up before him, he avoideth, and bringeth thee to the discourse concerning the belly; for before the food [cometh] the remembrance thereof is sweet unto him, and although he is not yet at the table, his whole thought is set thereupon, and although he is not [p. 368] actually eating, in his thought and speech he is wholly [intent] upon food. The beginning and end of his speech are derived from his belly, with it he begins, and with it he ends, and it is the reason of all his speaking. If thou repeatest doctrine before him, it is accounted a vain thing by him, and if thou speakest, or if thou proclaimest spiritual things before him, he thinketh that he seeth a dream; and if he heareth of the noble deeds of holy men, and of the labours and life of virtue, and the strenuousness of righteous men, he doth not believe that they are true. The explanations of the Holy Books are accounted idle and superfluous stones by him, for the word of interpretation sendeth him to sleep, and the discourse of admonition draweth sleep upon him; for the things which they cry and teach are not accounted work by him, because he thinketh that there is no work which is better than his own. The search after truth he nameth "debate", and conversation upon faith he calleth "seeking for proofs", and the man who hath his meditation fixed upon the Scriptures, he considereth audacious and curious. And if he seeth a man constant in reading he saith unto him, "Thou hast no work [to do]," and if he seeth another hastening, and asking questions, and seeking to gather and store up within himself the knowledge of Christ, his life is considered by him one |352 of emptiness. He applieth the name "vices" to the virtues, so that in blaspheming them he may free himself from blame, and that he may not be blamed for not being constant in doing the things which are excellent. He holdeth virtues to be weaknesses, in order that his own loathsomeness may not be accused by those who see him; he maketh hateful by his speech the comeliness of good things, and he blasphemeth deeds which are subjects for glorifying, together with [p. 369] those who do them. He holdeth divine doctrine and those who learn it to be objects of rebuke, and he maketh an accusation against the wisdom of Christ and against those who seek it. He repeateth evil things against knowledge and the disciples thereof, but because it is not easy for him to speak openly against wisdom and knowledge, reading and doctrine, faith and the quest of the truth, constant meditation upon the words of the Spirit, spiritual converse with the Holy Books, and secret communing with the mysteries of God, and the word of God, which is the sustenance of the soul, because it is not easy for him to blaspheme these things outwardly I say, he blasphemeth those who do them, and he thereby poureth contempt upon glorious things.
And he doth also blaspheme them openly, for he called the discoursing upon faith "prying", and the quest of truth "debate", and the doctrine of the Holy Books "superfluous seeking after proofs"; for behold, he is not aware that he calleth virtues vices, and that he nameth as abominations things which are comely. Zeal for God's sake is set down as contention by him, and the man who contendeth for the truth he considereth to be a disturber of the peace; and that a |353 man receiveth not the persons of men for God's sake is called audacity by him. If a man counselleth him, saying, "Stand up, and shew zeal for God's sake," he crieth out to him, "I am not intended for this, and I do not subject myself to such like things; for these are vain things to me, and I do not devote my attention to vain things." And if he be asked by a man, "What dost thou desire?" he returneth [p. 370] answer shamelessly, "To eat what God hath provided for us, and to lead a quiet life," that is to say, to minister unto our bellies, and to forsake faith----for this is the meaning of the words----although we may dress them in a humbler garb than this. And he is not ashamed to seek for the bread of God, and to deny the truth of His existence and to look upon His grace, and to despise faith in Him. He feigneth to be as one who loveth a quiet life, and feigneth to flee from contention and trouble, even when things are not troubled; but in truth he is afraid to trouble that mistress of wickedness whom he serveth in anything, and to be deprived from any cause of the carnal pleasures which he hath once taken to himself. To cease from instruction is accounted wisdom unto him, and that a man should cease from [seeking] to know what faith is, is thought by him to be faith, and he saith, "It is not necessary for us to learn anything else, for it is sufficient for us to believe and to be silent"; and being an unbeliever, he taketh refuge in faith, not because he loveth it, but because he is fond of his belly, and loveth himself. He quieteth the course of faith, that the quest of his lusts may go forward; outwardly his speech is for truth's sake, but inwardly he speaketh against the truth, and his contention is on |354 behalf of himself. Where he is called to shew forth earnestness, he bringeth forward the life of contemplation into the midst [as an excuse], and where zeal and courage for faith's sake are demanded, he teacheth and exhorteth every man to lead a quiet life unto himself. If a healthy word is let fall he goeth to sleep, but if baleful converse ariseth he waketh himself up; if [p. 371] discourses concerning the interpretations of Scripture enter in, he slumbereth, but if riddles, and idle stories, and foolish parables of the world, and the foolish babbling of old women are mooted, behold he is ready and is the first to repeat them, and he is prepared and hath the habit to be the first to say them; for one knoweth not anything which will keep his lust in subjection, except it be boastful talk, because his soul lacketh fruit, and it is filled with a collection of leaves of senseless stories. He hasteth and taketh refuge in feigned ignorance when he heareth the truth spoken of, and being crafty for wickedness, and artful unto wrath, a man's ignorance of the truth he nameth simplicity, and his delivering his faith unto those who err is accounted faith by him. He commandeth every man to be silent from spiritual things in order that he may have the opportunity of repeating the vain things which he loveth; and to high and to low the story which he tells is of the lusts of his belly, and of the pleasures of his body, for he neither knoweth nor perceiveth that there existeth anything else except the service of his belly.
Now therefore the glutton beareth a resemblance unto wild beasts in all his ways and manners, but his soul is, moreover, even more degraded and debased than |355 theirs. For the beasts were created by their Maker to do two things: that sustaining their lives by their food, they should do work and service for the human race; but the glutton eateth and worketh not, and although he is diligent at the table, he is useless for every kind of work of excellence. The soul which ministereth unto the belly feeleth not God, because it is asleep unto [p. 372] all thoughts of knowledge, and unto the meditation of God, for the knowledge of the soul springeth from the lightness of the senses and of members of the body, and the lightness of the body ariseth from the sparing use of food; but it is well known that the glutton is bowed down beneath two things, the thick darkness of the thoughts and the heaviness of the body. For narratives of the labours of the strenuous [lie] heavy upon him, because they are contrary to his manner of life. And if by chance he heareth that a certain man of abstinence by reason of love for his brother hath broken his rule of self-abnegation, either like a free man through the force of sickness, or through the necessity of weakness, to prop up his labour-bearing body, and hath passed a short time in living a less strict life, he layeth hold of this, and repeateth it at all times, saying, "Such and such an one eateth [meat]," and he uttereth this before everyone in order that it may be an excuse for his own lax way of living, and that he may thereby hide his abominable lusts. Now, O glutton, it is not thus, as thou thinkest, and the prosperous servants of Christ do not eat with the aim with which thou eatest, neither do they satisfy their lusts by their food; for they have not made themselves slaves of their belly, like unto thee, but they take food for their bare wants only. |356 And thou must not deprive them even of the food which they abase themselves to eat for want's sake, but consider also their abstinence, and look closely into the protracted period of their self-denial, for they eat not to fulfil lust, but for need's sake. That a man eateth for lust's sake is one thing, and that he eateth for need's sake is another. Whosoever eateth for his need's sake eateth unto his soul, and not unto his body, because [p. 373] he nourisheth his body that it may be found ready and prepared at all times for the soul which hath need thereof; but whosoever eateth for lust's sake, his eating is unto his body, and not unto his soul. For it never entereth into his mind that he hath in him a spiritual nature, but only, as from afar off, doth he hear by the word of others that he hath a soul in him; and the soul of the glutton is dead, and even while it is in him, it is as if it existed not. For when by reason of some cause of its own, it neither moveth, nor worketh, nor acteth, it is dead unto all the motions of knowledge, and all its acts and life are only of the body; for behold, since it existeth, it cannot be as if it existed not, and dwelling in the body, it cannot be thought to be not in the body. For the body is known by two things, by its appearance, and by its works, but the soul can only be known by its works, because its nature is beyond the sight Hence it followeth that the soul, being in the glutton by the act of the Creator, is not in him according to his own will, because the works by which it is known that the soul existeth in him are not found with him, and therefore the soul of the glutton maketh accusation against him and murmureth against him, even though he perceiveth not its murmurings, because he is dead thereunto. For as a living body may cleave |357 unto a dead body perceiving it not, even so the soul of the glutton cleaveth unto his body while he per-ceiveth it not, and whoso liveth unto his lusts only, and not unto the soul, is a corpse which is borne and carried out to be buried.
And although the passions, as I have already said, deserve blame by the word of righteousness, [p. 374] yet this unseemly passion deserveth blame most of all, not only because it is contrary unto knowledge, but because it is also the enemy of God. The man, who hath sunk into the useless life of the lust of the belly, is accounted as nothing, both by the world, and by God, and neither the one nor the other will receive him; because the world demandeth diligent exertion, and God also asketh for labour, and afflictions, and purity of soul, from the children of men, and if a man hath them not God will not receive him. Now gluttony is contrary unto these things, and it fleeth before labours and afflictions, and a man who would jest in speech at the vice of the lust of the belly cannot, I think, be found, especially one who has not had experience of the passions thereof; for fasting is its foe, and the report of abstinence and self-denial terrifieth and stupefieth it.
The glutton liveth for nothing except only to lead a life like unto that of the beasts, and although he is a beast in very deed, if a man calleth him by this name, he is wrathful, and the fool doth not understand that that which another man sayeth of him in words, is found to exist in him in very deed; it is not another who abuseth him, but he himself is the abuser, for when opprobrious words are removed from him, he himself is the root of his own disgrace. Whom can this wretched man blame? and how shall he chide those who speak |358 against him? For behold, he hath set [p. 375] himself in the midst of the community to be the subject of the discourse of others, for every man meditateth upon him, and every man speaketh about him; one shooteth out the lip, and another winketh with his eye, and another pointeth [at him] with his finger, and others whisper and repeat stories of his lax life. Now the soul of the glutton is made to endure [more] than any other sufferer, and although all these things happen unto him, he endureth them, and rejoiceth, having made the pleasure of his belly his sole consolation. And the fool doth not understand that henceforth toil and trouble will come upon him from all sides, even though he would take upon himself to bear the labours of the ascetic life, rather than the reproaches of the lust of the belly. So then, whether from laxity or whether from abstinence, from all sides weariness will come upon the man; but it is better to bear labours with praise for the sake of abstinence, than weariness with reproaches and disgrace for the sake of gluttony. Now the glutton [endureth] more than the ascetic, not in subduing his lusts, but in ministering thereunto; not in acquiring endurance, but in serving the bondage of his belly; not in bearing the afflictions which befit the life of brave exertion, but in serving, with weariness and fatigue, the lusts of his dissolute life, or in gathering together and in bringing to himself the materials of his lusts----like fuel which is gathered together [and brought] to the fire----or in carrying the weight of meats after he hath eaten them. For the meats are heavier to the belly which hath eaten [overmuch] than is a load of lead to the shoulder, and immediately a man hath eaten inordinately, the weight presseth upon his whole body, and all [p. 376] his members |359 become sluggish, and the power of his senses dwindleth away, and the sight of his eye becometh darkened by the abundance of the flow of its moisture, and the hearing of the ear becometh heavy, and the speech of his tongue becometh halting, and the mind, which is the fountain of words, becometh clouded, and the understanding, which is the helms man of wisdom, becometh stupefied, and the flow of his words is involved and entangled, his bones shake away from their places, and the knees totter and the hands tremble; and the vessel of the person of the glutton breaketh up and becometh old before its time, by reason of the superfluous weights which he maketh it to carry.
Now the sicknesses which are born from an overabundance of food are many, and cannot be counted, but asceticism doth not make in the body any sickness like unto that which gluttony produceth. And gluttons "that they may not fall sick," as they say, devote themselves unto meats, and the fools do not perceive that that from which they flee will come upon them; for in the place whither they hasten to receive healing there shall they find sickness before them, and where they seek to flee from pains there shall be gathered together for them diseases. And who knoweth not that sparing food and meagre nourishment give health to the body? especially when to them moderate labour is united. And concerning this matter the learning of physicians also testifieth, and they, that is to say their learning, or art, which hath been discovered for the stablishing of the body, know better than all other arts, that the health and sickness of the body arise from the food, [p. 377] and if they be asked, they will always advise sparingness in the use of meat, and in |360 addition to this also they will advise that the food of a man should be meagre, and that he should guard against drinking wine freely. And if they allow a man to drink wine for need's sake they break the strength thereof with much water, and then give it to him to drink. And they command a man very fully to beware of idleness, and to love fatigue, and to seek work, and with exercises of all kinds which are akin to work they preserve the health of the bodies of the children of men. And these they advise "That the ducts of the body may not be filled with the living liquid which ariseth from the over-eating of meat, and that they may not be blocked up and prevent the passage through them of the living power of the food, which is the strengthener of the body." And this [passage] also is written in their works: "Meat is the cause of all the diseases of the body, and though by chance they may be produced from other causes, if thou increasest [the use of] meat it becometh a nurse unto them, and preventeth wholly the benefits of the art of the physician."
And in addition to the words of the physicians, it is right for us, like wise men, to understand from experience, that the cause of all wickedness, and of the pains and sicknesses of the body, ariseth from superfluity of food. And if thou wishest, consider carefully the rich, and the poor, and those who lead a quiet life, and those who are vexed, and those who are weighted with care, and those who labour, and see which of these preserveth [p. 378] his body in a healthy condition, and which of them has many and frequent sicknesses; and in proportion to their frequency is the difficulty of healing them. Is it not the rich? is it not those who have rent their bellies by |361 overeating? is it not those who, before they have digested and emptied themselves of the food which they have just eaten, hasten after more for gluttony's sake?
And theirs are sore and difficult sicknesses, and these are the wages which their gluttony giveth unto them, and they deserve to receive this reward from that mistress of iniquity whom they serve. They have pains in the hands, and pains in the legs; they have the sores and ulcers which arise from superfluity of food; they have trembling of the limbs, and dizziness in the head; they have sickness of the bowels, together with all the other afflictions which spring up for them out of this thorny land. They sink into sleep at all times; they slumber continually at all hours; they feel heaviness all over the body, and have sneezings and violent vomitings; and it is evident that even the speech of the glutton is sent forth from heavy limbs, and that it is produced from a mind which is buried in flesh. All these things happen unto gluttons, even though others may bring nigh helps for their bodies continually, purgatives, and cleansing draughts, and other means for relieving the body, and blood-letting, and medicines which open the bowels, and violent washing with water at all hours; but over-eating overcometh all these beneficial means, and createth for them in their bodies severe pains, [p. 379] and sore sicknesses, which it is difficult even for wise physicians to heal.
Now the poor man, who passeth his life in labour and weariness, possesseth health of body, and his body is light and ready for any piece of work, and there hangeth not therein the weight of superabundance. And if by chance, in ignorance he eateth immoderately of his meagre fare, the toil of his labour receiveth the |362 weight of his food immediately, and his labour becometh unto him a constant physician, wherefrom, without the intervention of medicines, he receiveth healing. And what physician knoweth so well how to heal the body as the toil of labour? and besides this labour, without expenses and without medicines----not like a physician----removeth medicines from him, and bringeth nigh things which are beneficial. And labour is the physician and the medicine, and the bandager and the bandage, and the healer and the medicine which healeth, and from it cometh that which is beneficial, and in it is the healing of all the members.
Now in this labour, from which fleeth sluggishness by reason of the love of luxuries, poverty findeth healing. Now I do not say that pains never come unto the poor, nor that sicknesses never come [in the train of] labours and fatigues, but I do say that the pains of the rich are many and are difficult to heal, because they are idle all their lives, and because they have made themselves slaves unto their pampered bodies, either in ministering unto their lusts, or in reducing the superfluity thereof or in healing the sicknesses which are born of satiety; for in idleness these men pass all their lives, and besides [their bodies] they perceive not that anything else existeth. Now the illness of the poor man [p. 380] is quick in being cured, and the superfluity of his body is little and meagre, and he receiveth healing quickly from the medicines which are brought unto him, because the causes which increase the superfluities in the body are cut off therefrom. And since these things are so, who would not reduce it by the sparing use of food, which is the mother of healing? But I am convinced that these words will be accounted unnecessary by the glutton, because his ear |363 is closed by his lust, and he is unable to hear healthy doctrine, and it is as if his food were made curtains in front of his senses, and it prevented them from their natural service. And who would not weep over this man who wasteth by his dishonourable indulgence the beautiful work of God? And rightly he meriteth punishment, not only because he ministereth unto his lusts, and provoketh God to wrath by his lust, but also because he, by his gluttony, destroyeth the healthy members which are established in a fair form by the Creator. Whosoever by reason of his gluttony destroyeth the members of his body is an associate of the murderer, and he is the consort of a destroying thief, and that which is written in the Law, "Everyone who slayeth shall be slain, and whosoever cutteth off a member of his neighbour, one of his members shall be cut off,"3 applieth unto him. Now the glutton destroyeth his own members, and little by little he maketh to perish and consumeth the power of his body and of his members, and whosoever ruineth the fair creation of God, and throweth down the building of his body which the will of the Architect builded aforetime, bringeth together for every reason punishments [p. 381] upon himself, according to the word of righteousness, which was uttered before he had transgressed the command of God, Who had commanded man not to become a servant unto his lusts. And again, he is impeded [in doing] fair things, and in the service of all virtues, which the Holy Books exhort us continually to do; and again, he of his own freewill driveth out of himself the remembrance of spiritual things; and again, he rejecteth lovingkindness to the poor; and his |364 gluttony stirreth him up to go forth therefrom unto oppression; and again, together with these things, he with his own hands ruineth the fair building, and lusts destroy the members of the creation of God which He created in His grace for the service of His will.
See then, O glutton, the cause of thy being framed, and tremble before God, and waste not thyself; for there is another hope which is not seen, and why is thy hope bound up in thy belly? There is another spiritual food, then why dost thou depart after vain meats? There is a table of Christ which is promised unto His friends, then why doth thy expectation hang back and consider the season of the table [which is here]? There is another world with its heavenly blessings, then why hast thou bound the hope of thy life unto a world which is seen, and why have the excellent things which are therein been accounted loss by thee? The Maker did not create thee that thou mightest eat like the beasts, but that thou mightest eat like a rational being, and mightest glorify Him like a living being. He did not make thee live [only] to eat, but He gave thee the power to eat in moderation that thou mightest live thereby. O wretched man, thy life was framed not for meats, [p. 382] but that it might be established by food in moderation. Separate thy life from the life of the beasts, and be not a servant unto thy belly to make it draw nigh unto the service of lusts which destroy. Thou art a wise man, let not thy soul be voluntarily bowed beneath the yoke of animals. Thou art the fair image of thy Creator, why shouldst thou carve upon thyself the form of animals? The word of Him that created thee hath bidden thee unto equality with spiritual beings, then why dost thou wallow with the pigs in the mire of lusts, |365 and make thyself filthy? Thou art a consecrated being ordained to be with the Seraphim, then why dost thou make thy life like unto that of the dumb animal in thy degraded conduct? Thou art the lord of creation by the will of thy Creator, then why hast thou made thyself a servant to thy belly of thine own freewill? The will of the Creator subdued for thee all creation, and yet a little belly leadeth thee in subjection! All things in nature are bowed beneath the yoke of thy subjection, and yet the yoke of a destroying mistress is set upon thy shoulder! All nations and works are obedient unto thy word, and yet thou hast made thyself a degraded servant unto a filthy lust! Thou hast been made a god by the God of truth, and yet thou hast made thy belly a god unto thee! Thou art a glorious ruler by His work, and yet thou in thy debased estate hast through thy lust brought thyself to be a man of no account. He created everything for thy glory, and thou hast changed His glory into thy belly. God calleth thee to converse with Him, but thy meditation is bound unto the table. Thou wast made a rational vessel of holy and glorious things, but thou hast worn thyself out, and hast in thy degraded estate cut the strings of thy harp. Thy Lord loved thee so much that He gave thee all this, and also that thou shouldst eat, yet thou for love of Him wilt not make thyself to abstain from contemptible meats!
[p. 383] The Living One died, and was buried, that He might make thee to live, yet thou hast made thyself a grave for meats! He had no pity upon His own life, but gave it unto death for thy life, yet thou wilt not cause thyself to acquire a little forbearance for love of Him! O degraded one, consider the life which hath |366 been promised to thee, and see what manner of life thou hast lived in the world, and be ashamed, even from thy very soul. Henceforth thou shalt not be a grave unto thyself whilst thou art alive, and thou shalt not destroy the person which is in thee before it be destroyed by the natural grave. Behold, thy soul is buried in thy body, like a body in the grave. The body was framed by the Creator to be a glorious vessel for the soul, and an associate in all virtues, why then hast thou made it a grave for the soul, which being therein is accounted to be in a place of corruption? The body of the glutton is destroyed by what he devoureth before natural death destroyeth it, and it groweth old and falleth away, little by little, before the habitation of Sheol weareth it out. The pains of the glutton are voluntary and not natural, for although they spring from his bodily nature, yet his will is the cause of them, and they are born of his own freedom through the superfluity of meats. The man who loveth the things which are lusted after leadeth a life of stumbling, and not only doth he sin within himself, but also unto others is he a cause of loss. He himself is a disease which is set in the midst, and every one who passeth thereover stumbleth over it----the sluggish and the active, the wanton and the chaste, the pampered and the ascetic, the glutton and the abstemious man----and some are tripped up and fall, and some add unto their dissolute habit of life. [p. 384] The glutton looketh at his consort, and again addeth unto his laxity, the dissolute man looketh upon him, and again clotheth himself with his laxity, like a garment above a garment, and he that is fast held by the lust of his belly looketh upon him, and tarrieth the more with the object of his love. |367 Now those who are athletes and ascetics lose thereby, because they are made to stumble, and his affair leadeth them to the discourse which they love not. For on all sides he stirreth up war against them, either because they will not degrade themselves at the sight of his laxity and become like unto him, or because at the repetition of his laxity they will not cease from the converse which is with God, or because they cannot be exalted within themselves at their strenuousness when they compare their upright lives with his laxity. In the manner in which the strenuous and the prosperous benefit both themselves and their companions do the slothful and the lovers of lusts injure both themselves and those who behold them; and their lives, which they live in the world, are found in every way to be the cause of loss unto the children of men. For the childhood of the glutton is a hateful thing, and his manhood is a thing to be laughed at, and his old age is a thing to be mocked at. His childhood is slothful, his manhood is wanton, and his old age is pampered; in his childhood he hath much sport and pleasure, in his manhood adultery and fornication, and in his old age the devouring of food and empty conversations. He not only hateth the doing of good works, but even hearing it repeated, and not only is the doing of them heavy upon him, but also speech concerning them if he heareth it. Therefore if a man repeateth to him the triumph of the saints, [p. 385] immediately sleepiness and gaping lay hold upon him, and his whole body beareth the weight of listlessness, and he sheweth forth the signs of the deadness of his soul in the stretching of the limbs and in the turning about of his body; and if he is able to do so he goeth and he leaveth [the |368 narrator] and departeth, and if not, he immediately goeth to sleep where he is.
And the soul of the glutton is like unto a dog, and rightly should he be called by the name thereof; for as a dog sleepeth through all things, and the converse and speech of men are alien things in his hearing, and only the sound of the platter and the sight of the food wake him up, even so also like him is the glutton sunk in the sleep of listless inattention, and every profitable discourse is accounted a superfluity unto him, and divine words flow upon his ear like water upon a rock. But let only a man mention before him one word of the belly, or say anything about meats, and immediately his soul rouseth up itself, and his thoughts are roused, and his body becometh straightway active, and he leapeth to the speech which he loveth, like a dog to the beckoning [of his master].
Now therefore by such names as these is it right that the glutton should be called, that he may hear his names and be ashamed of his lust; for since he walloweth like a pig in the mire of lusts it is fitting for him to be called by its name. And because, like a dog which rouseth, itself at the sound of the platter, discourses concerning the belly stir him up, he is fittingly also called "dog"; and because, like a beast to the manger, he runneth swiftly to the table, rightly is he called "beast"; and because, like a wild beast, he is wanting in all the conversations of wisdom [p. 386] and knowledge, and liveth unto his body only, he is rightly called by that name which is applicable to him by reason of his works. And if there existed other names which were more disgraceful and loathsome than these, they would be suitably applied unto him, without |369 causing any disgrace to the word which calleth him such like names, because his disgrace ariseth from himself. For as the names which are derived from certain things are applied unto the men who are called by the names which are derived from them, even so are the names of the glutton rightly derived from him, and he is properly called by the names which are characteristic of him. For the man who disgraceth himself, who shall honour? And the man who runneth after that which is despicable, who shall praise? And the man who gathereth together upon himself mockery and abominable speech, unto whom more than himself should his fair name be a care?
Now therefore, even though I have spoken these things, it is right for me to speak further and make manifest the behaviour of gluttons that they may be recognized by all men of discretion, and be properly held in contempt, and be despised by all those who see them; and these are the manners and customs of him that is subject unto his belly. For man he hath no true love, and if by chance he doth love any one, it is the man who hath made himself a servant and a minister unto his lust that he loveth, and then only in proportion as he supplieth his pleasures. And if for any reason whatever it happeneth that this man changeth, and becometh inattentive, and diminisheth slightly his homage and service, straightway the glutton changeth also from his love, and his [former] praises of his friend turn [p. 387] into blame, because his love is bound up in his belly. Every one who ministereth thereto is his friend, and whosoever payeth no heed thereto appeareth to him to be an enemy; and moreover, he seeketh and searcheth out the friends who will be of use unto him, |370 and who will be able to minister unto his lust. The upright he loveth not, for the chaste he hath no affection, those who are burdened with labours are accounted stupid by him, the righteous he counteth as fools, and those who are constant in prayer are said by him to be without work. If he seeth a stranger he passeth by him as something alien, but he listeneth unto the mere report of any one of those who, he thinketh, can act as stewards unto his lust. He maketh himself ill by running after the desire of his lust, he beareth his belly upon his legs, and he goeth round about in every place. He maketh himself a friend unto the rich, and a slave and a servant unto nobles; conversation with them he considereth a matter of which to boast, and speech with them a thing of which to be proud. The report of the Gospel is not so dear unto him as the conversation of him who, he hopeth, hath laden himself, and hath brought that which will satisfy his lust. In very truth the feet of Abraham, laden with love, when he ran to the herd to bring a calf for the angels, were not as swift as those of the glutton when he runneth to meet him that hath brought him food; for his whole longing is to receive, and if it happen that he giveth, it is in order that more may be given back to him.
And moreover he knoweth not how to gain a friend without the belly, for he would that that which he loveth should be loved also by others. If indignation rise up against him he thinketh that it may be quieted by a gift of the belly, and if he have provoked a man to wrath by his folly and envy, he hasteneth to appease him by a gift of food; [p. 388] upon it he resteth his hope, and through it he thinketh that the |371 violence of his deeds my be dissolved. The madman thinketh that every man is, like himself, bowed in subjection unto the god which he himself serveth, and that, like himself, his belly is his god. He waiteth anxiously to see a friend, but if, when he hath come, he hath brought nothing, the expectation of his soul and the appearance of his face are changed. The hand of the glutton is spread out to receive, but is tightly clenched against [giving] gifts, and if by chance he giveth, it is that he may provide material for himself and be abundantly rewarded. Where he knoweth that custom directeth the gift, and that according thereunto a gift will be given unto him, he hath no care to give largess, for he knoweth that although he may not pay it back, custom and habit will direct the gift [to be made]. But he maketh a gift where [he knoweth] that it will be returned, and he layeth the foundation of love where it hath not been laid before. And moreover he repeateth before new friends stories of the old ones, and he calleth to mind also the gifts which were given by them unto him, saying "Such an one sent me such and such a thing, and such an one urged me, and although I did not wish it he forced me with [his] gifts, and I accepted," as if a man were to say, "Hearken, and learn, and do thou likewise." He teacheth unto his new friends the doings of his old ones, and he maketh them disciples of the customs of the friends of olden time. He putteth aside all the discourses of others and bringeth his own to the front, and if it happen that some [other] matter be spoken of, or some matter of work, or of divine instruction, he skilfully bringeth it to an end and expelleth it, in order that he may bring into the midst the subject of the belly; for he liveth for nothing else, |372 neither in his conversation, [p. 389] nor in his speech, nor in his behaviour, nor in his works, nor in his meditations, nor in his thoughts.
The glutton considereth the lust of the belly the greatest of all happiness, and all his questions are moved thereupon. He knoweth also the varieties of meats, and he is acquainted with the luxuries of different places, what garden produceth beautiful fruits, and what river hath fish of fine flavour, and who [best] knoweth how to cook and to prepare dainty foods; for these are his questions and his explanations, and [his] two testicles are more dear unto him than the Old and New Testaments. The mention of fast and vigil terrifieth him, and a long prayer is torture unto him; if he kneeleth down he murmureth, and if prayer be prolonged he roareth. He turneth the gaze of his eye at all times towards the windows, he considereth the course of the sun, he reckoneth the period thereof, and counteth the hours, and one day is accounted two in his sight. His period of prayer is short, but his time for eating is long, and he will undertake nothing, except only to satisfy the lusts of his belly. Everything is accounted superfluous by htm, reading, instruction, fasting, abstinence, prayer, the singing of the Psalms, the [daily] service, and the "Blessings"; and if by chance or by the law of custom he performeth them. it is through shamefacedness, and they are done by him listlessly and with the uttering of complaints. And what cause is not sufficient to make him cease from prayer? He will seek converse with men or any other matter which may happen, that he may be prevented from the service and the singing of the Psalms. The things of God are done by him negligently, but those which belong to his lust are done with all [p. 390] |373 diligence and love. If he hath a small sore in his body he holdeth it to be a malignant ulcer, and if he be slightly disordered he accounteth it a severe and difficult illness. Everything which is profitable he layeth hold upon as a reason only to cease from [the service of] the Cause of his life, and he is earnest in everything except the serving of God.
And also when the glutton hath no sickness, he planneth to appear to be sick, so that when he hath ceased from service and prayer he may not be greatly blamed. For he repeateth his illnesses before every man, and although the cause of his sickness is small and contemptible, he increaseth and magnifieth it, and he calleth God to witness, so that by this he may persuade those who listen to him that he is forcing himself to draw nigh unto the service of the monastery. The glutton acteth craftily concerning the health of his body, and although the cause which would seal up the fountain of his sicknesses is with him, that is, if he would curb his gluttony a little, he wandereth about and seeketh help outside him. If thou wert to advise him, saying, "Diminish thy food a little, and keep thyself from oil and wine," he would look upon thee as one who hated his life, and would say unto thee, "Sicknesses are better unto me than the restraint of the belly in anything; and I will take long illnesses upon me if only I may satisfy my lusts. If one wisheth me [to take] medicine to heal me [I will take it] with my food, but if not, it is better for me to eat than to become well." The glutton hath many carnal friends, whereby the needs of his lust may be gathered together unto him from all sides; he is crafty and skilful in his planning, and he knoweth whom to chose and of whom to make [p. 391] |374 friends. And, moreover, he is not persuaded accidentally to make unto himself friends among blessed men, or among those who are poor, or of those who endure labours, or of those who love excellence, or of any one of those who possess the knowledge of Christ, neither can he be entreated to become loving unto them either in fact (?) or in name; and not only is he thus, but he is their secret enemy, for by their appearance, and speech, and works, they rebuke his gluttony, and for this reason he hateth and abominateth them.
And if thou seest the glutton doing honour unto one of the wise, or unto one of the righteous, he doeth this only in form, that he may not be blamed by the believing men who love the things that are good, and also that he may quiet the murmuring of the many against him, and turn away from him the force of the zeal of those who honour what is good. If he seeth one of those who are young in their discipleship clothed in the discretion of the zeal of faith, like an indulgent man he would make him to cease therefrom, and he counselleth him as one who loveth him, saying, "Be quiet, and do not disgrace thy kin, and forsake not thy life of tranquillity. Be thou silent, and behold, thou wilt be beloved. Occupy thyself in fasting and prayer only, and draw not nigh unto that which is not suitable unto thee." And he giveth the disciple this counsel that he may quiet his zeal, and not because he delighteth in the service of that which is good. And when he hath brought him down from the virtue of a man standing up to fight for God's sake, he beginneth also to overthrow the good habits which follow upon this, that is to say, the severity of labours and afflictions [p. 392] for God's sake, and the fastings of the ascetic, and |375 protracted prayers, saying, "These are unnecessary; a man should cleanse his soul and possess a good conscience;" For he layeth hold upon a reason [to set before] the things of the inner man that he may destroy its outward acts, and he would justify himself by the belief that such things are unnecessary, because his laxity rebuketh his outward works. Where it is not easy for the children of men to see, he maketh himself a righteous man, and where afflictions and labours are seen, he maketh plans to hide them, and giveth concerning them other explanations. "Our God doth not require from us," he is wont to say, "that a man should kill himself, and afflict his body beyond measure, but only that we should be righteous in our souls, and that our thoughts may be cleansed from wickedness;" and while the life of the wretched man is upon a lower grade than that of the beasts, like a perfect man he speaketh of spiritual things. His discoursings about his manner of life are long, and if he heareth a word from a book which may be of use to him, he layeth hold upon it with all diligence, in order that he may make use thereof in the season of strife, when he wageth war with his speech against those who rebuke his gluttony. When he wisheth to eat everything, and not to restrain himself by forbearance from any meat, he beginneth to repeat that which was written by our Lord, "It is not that which goeth into a man which defileth him;" 4 for his ear is only pierced to hear such things as can be thought to support his lust, and in the face of the hearing of other things he shutteth the door of his attention. For he is not willing to hearken unto the |376 other verse which saith, "Whosoever wisheth to be My disciple, [p. 393] let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me;" 5 nor unto the other which saith, "Whosoever wisheth to make his life to live shall destroy it," 6 nor that which He spake unto His disciples, saying, "In the world ye shall have tribulations;" 7 nor the words, "When the Bridegroom shall be taken from the children of the bridechamber, then shall ye fast." 8 And therefore [he would remember the passage concerning] the eating of our Lord, where it is written of Him that, "He made the festival, and ate the passover;"9 or where it is said that, "They set before Him a piece of broiled fish and [a piece] of honeycomb;"10 or where again it is written, "They had fishes and bread."11 And these and such like things doth the glutton bring forward as proofs when he wisheth to eat everything freely, and the rule of the freedom of Christ, Who like God was above laws and commandments, doth he set forth to be a stumbling-block to his life, and he understandeth not the reason of that rule and conduct, and he perceiveth not that other types were inscribed therein. And again, when the Apostle Paul is read, and he heareth from him, "Everything which was created by God is holy, and nothing is to be rejected if it be received with thanksgiving; for it is sanctified through the word of God and prayer;"12 or another verse, "The belly for meats, and meats for the belly;"13 or that also which he spake, |377 "Let not him that eateth not judge him that eateth." 14 And in the other things like unto these which are written in the doctrine of Paul, [p. 394] the fool rejoiceth, and receiveth them gladly, without understanding the reason of the words.
And the glutton is not pleased to hear the other things which have been written by Paul upon fortitude and asceticism, either when he recounteth his numerous fastings, or when he crieth out to his disciples, saying, "Ye are dead unto the world," 15 or when he writeth, "It is good for [a man] not to eat flesh, and not to drink wine," 16 or his exhortation, "Through many tribulations it is meet for a man to enter into the kingdom of God," 17 or his saying, "God shall bring both the belly and the food to nought;" 18 19 and the reading of these and such like passages the glutton considereth unnecessary, and he is not pleased even to hear them.
Now therefore in this manner standeth the life of him that loveth lusts, and as the remembrance of God is high unto the perfect, even so also is nigh unto him at all times the care for his belly. He singeth songs thereto, and meditateth upon it in his prayer and praise, his memory is burdened [therewith] at all seasons, and upon it he thinketh continually, because outside it he hath no other life; the memory thereof maketh his prayers light, and his constant thinking thereupon bringeth to nought in him all right and proper things. The glutton hath no seasons set apart for eating, but he eateth by day and by night, and when he eateth not he still eateth. |378 For thou must not consider that the times when he eateth are once or twice, but mark carefully that it is his care [to eat] at all seasons throughout the night and day, [p. 395] and when his body eateth not his thought eateth. And he hath not even, like the beasts, times set apart for eating, for although the beast eateth at all seasons, and hath no limit to its eating throughout the night and day, yet it doth not meditate upon its meat at all seasons; but the glutton eateth at all seasons because he thinketh about his belly always, and therefore, even when he sleepeth it appeareth to him in his dreams that he is eating. Shamefacedness is removed from before the eyes of the glutton, because he hath endowed his face with impudence so that he may not be ashamed. He heareth the mockery of himself and is silent, and he heareth disgraceful words spoken of him, but he taketh them not to heart; for the love of his belly overcometh him, and in spite of all the blows which beat upon him he is empty of spiritual virtues, that is to say, he knoweth not even that they exist. He chooseth things which inflame him mightily, he seeketh purified wines, and he asketh for tasty meats. He hath no work in the world save this, and however much we were to describe him he would not cease from his lax habits; but in the things which we have spoken we have given a little example of his lax ways, wherefrom those who see him may recognize him.
Do thou then, O brave disciple, flee from such an example as this, and become not lax in thy strenuous rule of life through the sight of him. Thou thyself must know unto what thou hast become a disciple, and thy discipleship itself must be unto thee the cause of thy |379 course; be not like unto that contemptible man, but emulate with success the brave. Let not the man who is a counterpart of the beasts be an example unto thee, and thou shalt not consider it good for a man to eat, and to drink, and to satisfy his lusts, but shalt consider it an evil which is worse than all other evils. Hear also the words [p. 396] of the prophecy, and the "Woe" which was proclaimed for gluttons, "Woe unto those who rise up early in the morning and pursue strong drink, and who tarry long [over it] in the evening while wine inflameth them. With harps, and stringed instruments, and drums, and tabrets, they drink wine, and the works of God they understand not." 20 And behold, the Spirit also hath taught thee that the man who ministereth unto his lusts is unable to understand the works of God. For as in our sleep we are not able to speak and to act as living beings who are awake, even so the man who is sunk in the sleep of lusts cannot understand the living works of God, neither doth he know how to contemplate His government, nor to wonder at the various forms of His dispensation; and he knoweth not admiration of the majesty of God, nor is he awake unto the knowledge of Him, nor is he ready to respond unto His wisdom. For whosoever is sunk in the slumber of lust perceiveth not these things, because the remembrance of these things belongeth unto those who are awake and living. And blessedness is ascribed unto the man who understandeth these things. For if unto those who eat, and drink, and who do not understand the works of God "Woe" be given, contrariwise "Blessing" is ascribed unto those |380 who are abstinent and self-denying, and who at all times meditate upon the works of God.
Do thou then, O disciple, so run that thou mayest be worthy of blessing, and flee from the woe which is promised unto gluttons. And let those who are strenuous be unto thee an example for good, and not those who are fallen low, and those who fast instead of those who devour food, and those who lead ascetic lives instead of gluttons, and those who deny themselves instead of those who gorge, and those who serve God instead of those who serve their belly, and those who have fortitude instead of those who are slack, and the good instead of the bad; for [p. 397] good men are not wanting in the world to be an example unto thee of that which is good, and let us be like unto them and not unto the wicked. Thou shalt not examine closely those who stand beneath thee, but lift up thine eyes, and look at those who are greater than thou, and go up unto them; for as it is with matters of this world, every man choosing things which are great, even so is it with these divine things, and let us choose for ourselves that which is great and sublime. Now there is no man in the world who loveth poverty more than riches, but every man seeketh to be excused therefrom, and he followeth after riches, and he fleeth from pains, and he runneth after the health of the body. So likewise let us pursue the things of the spirit, and let us love the riches of fortitude, and not the poverty of gluttony, and let us love the healing of our soul and of our thoughts more than the sicknesses of the lusts; for the soul which ministereth unto lusts is always a diseased thing, and it hath no power over its spiritual strength and healing. For as whosoever is sick in his body hath not power over his |381 health to eat whatever he pleaseth, and he hath not power to do that which he wisheth, even so also the man whose soul is sick through gluttony neither hath power over the strength and healing of his soul, nor can he occupy himself in his actions with anything that he wisheth or seeketh to do. As the members of a sick man do not respond to him when he wisheth to move them for some purpose, so also the thoughts of a glutton do not respond to him when he wisheth to work with them something that is good; for all [p. 398] beautiful things are difficult unto the man who is subject unto his belly, because he is the slave of all lusts. If the passion of eating be moved in him he is not easily able to overcome it, because he himself is one in subjection, and if the lust of fornication stir in his members, or wrath, or anger, or envy, or wickedness, or any abominable passion, it is not easy for him to overcome it, because he is a slave and is in subjection unto them all, and they are to be subdued with difficulty, especially when they are many. And if, when one passion hath obtained power over our life, and it hath made us subject unto the labour of its bondage for a long time, it is difficult for us to overcome it, how much more shall we be overcome by many masters? For, as I have said, with gluttony all the other passions enter in, because it is the means of entrance for all lusts.
"Now our Redeemer said in His Gospel, "Ye cannot serve God and mammon,21" and if in our subjection unto one lord----that is to say, unto mammon only----we are not able to serve also God therewith, how, when |382 the masters who have brought us into subjection are many, and each one of them leadeth us forcibly after his own will, can we serve God, Who will not accept from man the service of any other thing together with His own service? What then? And if each one of all these sins, which collectwely are contrary to the righteousness of God, is a drawback to its fellow in the service of Him, [p. 399] how can the service of them collectively avoid being a hindrance to the keeping of the commandments of God? For they are different from one another in their actions, and the Will of God is contrary unto them all, and especially unto this lust of greediness, through which all other lusts are brought in and enter in.
Now therefore, when a man hath been led into subjection to minister unto the service of his belly, he must give himself over to much toil that he may gather together [material] from all sides and bring it to [supply] its needs, for it not only seeketh to eat, but it also seeketh in what way it may eat; for if it rested only upon the satisfying of its need, the need of the belly could be satisfied with very little, and with common and ordinary things of low price. How many times have many men satisfied their wants with roots and herbs because they sought things for their need, and not for the satisfying of their lusts? And although God, like a rich Creator, gave in abundance everything for our need, yet it is right for us to consider His will, and to be guided accordingly, and therefore He multiplied in the world many kinds of dainty meats that they might be a furnace wherewith to test lust, and that the mind of the children of men might be tried as to what they lust for, and after what do they haste. For |383 where there is nothing to be lusted after the trial of lust existeth not; but it is right for the disciple to know himself, and he must not be subjected unto the lust of his body, [p. 400] and he must not open the door to bring in upon himself beasts which destroy.
For as when a strong door is closed fast, and evil beasts and noxious reptiles are kept outside of it, if by chance it be opened for any cause whatsoever, they are all found to come inside to injure the inhabitants of the place, even so also when the door of the lust of the belly is shut, all the murderous passions of lusts which destroy the soul are shut out, and they cannot enter in to bite and destroy the spiritual nature of the soul; but if through our slackness this door be opened before them, and our will doeth for the belly that which it desireth, immediately all wickednesses are gathered together and go in against our soul, and destroy therein all thoughts of excellence. For immediately thou openest this door, at once there entereth in the destroying beast of fornication, which devoureth and destroyeth body and soul together; and after it the lust of the belly, for which two things are necessary, the love of the belly and fornication, which is also born of lusts. And from the love of money is born trouble, either because we do not possess it, or because by chance we have lost that which we had collected, either in whole or in part; and from this is born in us also the passion of wrath, and we are provoked to anger and filled with wrath against those who do not give [unto us] that which, according to our opinion, they have wrested from us, or against those who do not obey and satisfy us with the service of our lives. And sometimes against slaves, and sometimes against |384 hirelings, and sometimes against those whom we hold [p. 401] in contempt and think lightly of, are we filled with anger and wrath through various causes which come upon us. And again we are filled with envy against those who are greater and richer than we are, and also with the love of plunder and defrauding, and how many times are we led even unto murder through this cause? And through riches arrogance also layeth hold upon us, and through the spectre of riches we lust for vain glory from the children of men, and therefrom we learn to receive calumnies from those who are inferior to ourselves, and we also calumniate those who are greater than ourselves. And from this we go forth unto falsehoods and oaths continually, and to blasphemy against God, and when the remembrance of the Judgment hath perished entirely from the soul, it henceforth doeth without fear all manner of wickedness. Now of these things and of those like unto them the primary cause is gluttony. For who is there that doth not know that the lust of fornication burneth in the body which eateth, and drinketh, and fareth luxuriously? And although it may not be ministered unto openly, and may not be apparent in deed unto the children of men, yet it inflameth the thoughts continually, and a man maketh plans and seeketh an exit for the fire which is in him; he lusteth after everything that is beautiful and he is tripped up by every form which is beautiful in appearance. For so long as the fire of lust is in his members his thoughts fly unto every face, and he committeth fornication secretly with every appearance. And although he fornicateth not outwardly, he fornicateth constantly inwardly, and although he is not an adulterer |385 in his body, he committeth adultery within himself at all seasons and at every hour.
[p. 402] Now therefore meat and drink are the fuel of the fire of lust, and whosoever wisheth to quench in his members this fire which is hidden in them, must withhold this fuel from himself, and behold, it will be extinguished; for fasting, and abstinence, and self-denial are the water which quencheth the fire of lust. For what oil is to the fire wine is to lust, and as manure stimulateth the earth to bring forth fruit, even so doth the stinkingness of meats excite the members with abominable lusts. A superabundance of food is a covering of the understanding, and food, of and by itself, maketh dark the mind unto the thoughts of fornication, and concerning how much the troubling of lust disturbeth a pure mind there is no doubt whatever, but those know it especially who have experienced it. But before this lust, is the lust of the belly which submergeth the understanding, and it is the covering of the mind which seeth, and it is the thick darkness of the thoughts which possess the light of truth, for the stink of meats is the night of the enlightened mind. And as blacknesses and smoke darken pure and clean air, even so doth the stink of meat disturb the purity of the mind.
Now therefore it is right for the disciple of Christ not only to excuse himself from dainty and costly meats, but also to eat sparingly of the commonest foods, for it is not because the meat is costly that it disturbeth the understanding and darkeneth the mind, but because of the abundance [that thou eatest], [p. 403] and this defect is found in respect of the commonest foods as well as of those that are costly. And well do the Holy Books |386 admonish the children of men against the overfeeding of the belly in every place, for according to the teaching of Paul, "Those who occupied themselves with meats were not benefited by them,22" and not only were they deprived of any benefits, but they gathered together for their own persons loss and injury, but [he saith], "Gluttons and drunkards shall not inherit the kingdom of God;" 23 and read the passage, O disciple, and see unto what vices the Apostle compareth this wickedness----with soothsayers and destroyers, and other things like thereunto. And although the lust of the belly is not these, yet it leadeth unto them, for when the heart hath become gross through meats, straightway it driveth out from itself the remembrance of God, and when the memory of God hath departed from a man, what wickedness will he not do? and what iniquity will he be not moved to do? Even as also the prophet Moses hath taught us that through this cause the people forgot their God, and that through the lust of the belly they went forth unto idolatry, and from eating meat they were led into blasphemies, and from dainty foods they arrived at all wickedness, [saying,] "He made him [i. e. Israel] to dwell upon the strength of the earth, and He made him to eat of the produce of the field. He made him to suck honey out of the rock, and oil out of the rock of flint: butter of kine, and milk of sheep, with the fat of [p. 404] stalled beasts, rams, the offspring of ibexes, and kids, with the fat and fatty parts of wheat, and He made him to drink wine of the blood of grapes. And Israel waxed fat and kicked, he grew fat, and |387 became thick, and acquired riches.24" And what happened unto him because of these things? and to what pass did he come by reason of these desirable things? and what country did he possess through these dainties with which he delighted himself? and into what sick-nessess did the overfeeding of the belly, and the superfluity of meats cast him? Now Moses himself hath explained and made known unto us what the people obtained from these possessions: "He forgot the God Who made him, and he blasphemed the Might which redeemed him. He moved Him to jealousy with strange things, and provoked Him to wrath with idols. They sacrificed unto devils which were not gods, and unto gods which they had not known." 25 These are the things which the people obtained from dainty foods, and this is the inheritance of the worship of devils which they inherited from the overabundance of the body. And from the table which was rich in meats they were drawn unto the unclean tables of idols, and from dainty foods they went forth to cast stinking things before graven images, and through the lust which taketh away the strength from nature they came to unclean thoughts which are alien unto nature.
Behold then, O disciple, and see how that people went from one thing to another, and uproot from thee patiently the root which putteth forth as a sprout the worship of idols, a root which having begun [to spring] from the belly cometh to an end in the worship of devils. The prophet doth not say unto thee simply that the people worshipped idols, but he first of all maketh thee to know the reason why they worshipped |388 [them]; and he doth not relate unto thee concerning the severe and difficult sickness until he hath informed thee of the cause of the sickness, and whence it came. "He ate, [p. 405] and drank, and fared luxuriously," hence he forgot God who made him; and because error entered in, it gave birth to abuse and blasphemies, hence "he blasphemed the mighty One who redeemed him." And this was not sufficient for him, but he also made unto himself gods in opposition to God, and instead of One, he forged for himself many. "He provoked Him to jealousy with strange gods, and he moved Him to wrath 'with idols." And together with the testimony of the Word we may also see from the fact itself how they came to offer praises before the calf in the wilderness, "The people sat down to eat and to drink, and rose up to play;" 26 until food had entered in blasphemies did not go forth, and until wine had been poured into them they were not clothed with the fornication which is against God.
These then are the injurious things which meat hath wrought, and who will not flee from the overabundance thereof? Whosoever hath determined to become corrupt will become a devourer, for the glutton taketh within himself thoughts of corruptness, and then he draweth nigh unto dainty meats. A man is led to become a servant unto his belly through the lust of the body, and it is manifest that the man who loveth lust is an enemy of the praise of Christ, for the lust of the body is opposed unto the lust of the spirit, and so long as the one liveth it is impossible for the other to live. From the time when the lust of |389 the body liveth in him, the lust of the spirit is dead in him, and as the body is deprived of all [p. 406] the things for which it lusteth when it becometh an alien unto its own life, even so the soul becometh an alien unto all good when the lust of the spirit is removed from it: for the lust of the spirit is the beginning of the ascent unto all excellent things, but the lust of the body is the entrance of all wickedness. For even if the lust of the belly did not impede us in any fair thing, it would be right and seemly for us to excuse ourselves therefrom, both for its own sake and because it might not make us like unto the beasts; but since it is the entrance of all vices, and the field which is wont to put forth as fruit brambles and briars, how much more should we do this? And if those who perform noble acts and deeds of the world, and those who wish to become famous in bodily skill sustain their lives with little food, how much more especially have spiritual athletes need thereof, in order that they may possess fortitude, and run the course of their labours. Now if the body itself the natural life of which which is sustained by food, layeth hold upon the habit of abstinence and self-denial when it wisheth to be famous in some feat of bodily skill, how much more especially hath that soul, which is wont to diminish from the weight of the body, and which maketh it active and obedient unto the soul which dwelleth therein, need of abstinence and self-denial? So long as the body is heavy with the abundance of flesh, is it difficult for the soul to turn itself about, but when it becometh lighter and diminisheth through abstinence, the soul easily performeth therein [p. 407] all its desires, and it refineth it by its lightness; for so |390 long as the body is heavy and gross it is contrary unto the soul, because the soul is a refined and rational thing. And in proportion as it loveth the celestial country which is suitable unto its spiritual nature, so also doth the body love the grossness of earth and the heaviness of the dust, and while the soul leapeth to mount upwards, the body through its weight inclineth to go downwards, and also to crawl about upon the ground of lusts like a reptile.
The body which eateth overmuch maketh the soul an irrational thing, and it spoileth and carrieth away therefrom all the motions of wisdom, for the heart is the vessel of the discretion and intelligence of the soul, and when it hath become gross through the overabundance of meats, all the thoughts of the soul which are moved thereby become gross therewith. And because the fire which is mingled therein naturally becometh dead and cold, the heat of the knowledge of the soul also diminisheth, and the active movement of its thoughts ceaseth, because although the gift of rationality beginneth from the soul, yet its operation is made visible by the intervention of the members of the body, and all parts of its nature have need of all parts of the members of the body. And behold we see that when the soul wisheth to observe the world it looketh thereat through the eyes of the body, and when it wisheth to hear the voice of the body it receiveth it through the medium of the ears, or again if it seeketh to send without a word of its nature, it maketh it pass over to us by the tongue, the bridge of words; [p. 408] and [to speak] briefly, whenever it wisheth to perceive anything of this world, by means of the senses of the body it goeth out or cometh in. But when it wisheth |391 to see the country of spiritual beings, or to hear the living words of their spirituality, or when it seeketh to look with the vision which is above nature, it hath no need whatever of the senses, nay it even sendeth them away, and alone, and with its own members, it moveth with the living motions which are above nature. Therefore as we have learnt that the soul hath need of the external senses, so also [is it] concerning the members which are within, by which it is moved in all its parts, whether to wisdom, or to intelligence, or to enlightenment, or to thoughts, or to discretion, or to understanding and knowledge, or to the fear of God; of all these, then, by means of the members, doth the soul make use, and in proportion as these are active, and the weight of meats is not laid upon them, and they are not troubled by the excessive smell of food, the soul worketh actively through them. And as a light which is mingled with another light, for by the admixture therewith the light shineth the more brightly, so also is the luminous soul mingled in the luminous members when they are active and free from the filth of meat; but if they are dense and heavy, they become like a dense body, and like a gross covering in front of its light, and instead of receiving help from them, they injure and impede the activity of its working. And those who scrutinize subtilly the knowledge of nature [p. 409] recognize these things and also others which are like unto them.
Now therefore if thou, even thou, O disciple, desirest to be a participator in this natural knowledge, and to ascend from it unto the knowledge of the spirit, keep thyself from the weight of meats, and let the natural grossness of thy body be sufficient for thee, and do not make it more gross and heavy |392 with overmuch meat, even though for the sake of thy health thou wouldst eat a quantity----now the man who thinketh thus erreth greatly ---- for an overabundance of food doth not give health but produceth pains and sicknesses in the body, and it only maketh healthy the body of lust. And as all the members become sick, and soft, and useless, even so be-cometh strong and sound the lust for phantasms in the body and soul, and together with the lust folly also groweth strong, for the lust of the belly increaseth this abominable passion of folly more than all other lusts, for folly is the thick darkness of the soul, even also as knowledge is the light of nature. And as a lamp is extinguished in winds or storms, or becometh dim and sheddeth its light dimly in a house wherein the air is damp and heavy, so also doth the light of the knowledge of the soul become dark in the heart which is black through the weight and moisture of meats. And behold also the rays of the sun, the light of which is established in its own nature, and not by absorption from other substances like a lamp, become dark in an atmosphere which is troubled and disturbed, [p. 410] and although in the constitution of its sphere it is light with the riches of its fulness, yet to the body of [this] world it is black and dark. And thus also must thou think concerning the soul, in which is gathered together the light of knowledge in the manner in which the natural light [is gathered together] in the sphere of the sun. and when the heart becomes dull (or, cloudy) like the atmosphere, then all the members which are therein are disturbed by the smoke of meat, and the rays of the knowledge of the soul are prevented from shedding their light fully unto all the parts of the body, and all |393 the motions of a man, whether of the external senses, or whether of the internal members, move stupidly and confusedly.
Now the knowledge of the soul is the hidden rudder of the whole body, which keepeth the eye in chasteness, [that is to say,] in orderliness, and the ear in vigilance, and the hand in watchfulness, and the tongue in correct balance, and the feet in a prudent gait; and as the charioteer [holdeth] the bridles of his steeds, even so doth the soul hold the reins of knowledge, and it guideth all the senses, and as the charioteer directeth his steeds so also doth the soul order the senses, and rule the inner members, and this good thing which is the light of the body, and the order of all the members, perisheth through gluttony in the man who is not vigilant and heedful. Let the disciple of Christ then flee from this foolish passion, and let him not be a slave unto his belly. For if we are not able to serve at one time both God and mammon, [p. 411] according to the word of Christ, it is evident that we cannot [serve] both the belly and God, for it also was called "god" after the manner of mammon, and as Jesus called mammon "master", even so also did His Apostle call the belly god [in the words,] "Whose god is their belly, and whose glory their shame." 27 And the word of God mocketh those who lay fast hold upon their art, who have hired themselves unto Christ for their belly's sake and not because of love for Him, even as there are also today many who are clothed with the precious garb of discipleship, and who feign to be teachers and good servants of God, not for love's sake, nor through |394 discretion and fear, but only that they may minister unto their belly, which they have made a god unto themselves, and unto which they minister.
Now the Apostle of God teacheth us plainly that the heaviness of the belly boweth down the gaze of the soul from heaven to earth, saying, "Their whole mind is [set] upon earth." 28 And he set forth first the words, "Whose god is their belly, and whose glory their shame," and afterwards he said, "Their whole mind is [set] upon earth," in order that he might make known that the reason why they were fettered unto earth, and why their mind was contaminated with the dust, was because they possessed the lust of the belly; and as the lust thereof chained them to the earth, even so also will it bind whosoever ministereth thereunto. For in what particular is the man who is befouled with the lusts of the belly different from the worms which crawl about in filth, or from the swine which wallow [p. 412] in the mire? For in this case also the service of this loathsome lust must needs be called loathsomeness, and filth, and mire, and shame, and if Paul called it so, how can we help calling it so likewise?
Now therefore we can see that the lust of the belly is the beginning of all wickedness, and that it leadeth us unto the ruin which [befell] Adam. For through it he transgressed the commandment of God, and through it he despised and cast away the law which [He had set] for him, and the Calumniator took it that it might be a helpmeet unto him, because he saw that it was the most powerful of all lusts, and that thereby he would be able to enter into him with all other wickedness. And the Enemy |395 did not contend against the heads of our race with fornication, or with avarice, or with vain-glory, or with the adornment of apparel, or with envy and pride, or with any of the other passions, but only with the lust of the belly, because he saw that it was capable of becoming a leader of all the lusts; for the Tempter was crafty, and he saw which passion was the strongest and foremost in us, and he drew nigh thereunto, and stimulated it, and after that he sowed the seeds of laxity, and after that the seeds of lust, and then fornication also entered in, for immediately "they had eaten, the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked." 29 And it is evident that it was because the lust for connexion moved in the members of union, that they also perceived [that they were naked], and were ashamed at the sight of each other, for until food had gone into them [p. 413] lust was not stirred up, and until lust had been stirred up shame and fear did not rule [over them].
Behold, then, the beginning of shame is the lust of the belly, and well hath the blessed Apostle also called it thus, saying, "The woman saw that the tree was fair, and that it was a thing for which the eyes lusted, and that it was desirable to look upon; and she took of its fruit, and she ate and gave also to her husband with her, and he did eat." 30 Thus thou mayest see that the lust of the belly was the beginning of their common sin, and of the first transgression of the commandment, and that thereby all sins and all punishments were brought in and came upon us; for as envy was the beginning of wickedness with Satan, so also was the belly the beginning of the |396 transgression of the commandment with the house of Adam. And through it sins came in, and through it all penalties followed; it was the beginning of pains and sicknesses, through it the pains of childbirth entered in, through it was the earth cursed, and it brought forth briars and brambles, it hath made us aliens from the pleasures of Paradise, it hath cast us out as it were into exile in a cursed land, through it we have become slaves unto devils, through its dominion over us we serve in the bondage of Satan, through it evil spirits sport with us and laugh at us, it hath brought in death which dissolveth and scattereth our frames, through it this fair and beautiful image hath been made hideous and loathsome, it hath fed us with the bread of pain, and it hath collected for us food by the sweat of our face. Now the lust of the belly is a senseless and blind thing. It sought to eat, and yet was deprived of food; it lusted after pleasures, and destroyed the gratification and delight [p. 414] of Paradise, for though lusting to eat, it knew not how to eat; it possessed not patience, for the nature of this lust is to be hasty and impatient, and it made haste and plucked one fruit, and was henceforth deprived of the table which was full of all the luxuries of Paradise.
Now therefore let that lust which came unto Adam be a type of that which cometh to us, for as they, by of the eating of one fruit, were deprived of the food of the whole garden, even so also will one loaded table deprive us of the table of the kingdom of heaven. For as long as the belly is full, and is weighted with an abundance of meats, the soul is useless for the remembrance of the blessings which are about to come, and so long as the eye is fixed intently |397 upon these meats, and it lusteth for them, the eye of the mind turneth away from the sight of spiritual delights. What then? If Adam, because he lusted for one fruit, lost the whole of Paradise, how can the man who is laden with the lust of many meats help being deprived of the table of the kingdom? For, because of his having eaten, Adam lost Paradise, and inherited death with all its curses. Esau, because of his meat, cast away the birthright together with the blessings,31 and he became a slave unto sin, and one who was subject under the hand of his brother. The people [of Israel], because of their meat, forgot God, and instead of God, worshipped the similitude of a dumb animal; and again, because of their meat, the wrath of God [p. 415] went up against them;32 and again, because of their meat, they were led into the fornication with the Midianites, through which the pestilence had dominion over them suddenly, for it is written, "While the flesh was yet between their teeth the anger of God went up against them." 33 And again, through meat and luxuries the Sodomites also were polluted with an unclean matter, and pleasures and the love of the belly brought them unto that limitless wickedness, even as the prophet of God maketh known concerning them, "This was the iniquity of thy luxurious sister Sodom, who was satisfied with bread, and dwelt at ease;" 34 for by reason of being filled with bread, and delicacies they polluted themselves with unnatural lust. Let these things and others which are like unto them be in thy remembrance, O thou that wishest to |398 travel in the path of heaven, and cut off and cast away from thee the fettering weight of the belly, which sinketh the soul into the depths of wickedness like a millstone in the sea. And do not imagine that [the lust for] dainty meats only is accounted gluttony, for behold, the gluttony of Esau was made manifest through a mess of pottage, and [it consisteth not] in flesh overmuch, nor in wine overmuch, nor in any other preparation of meats; for it was only because [Esau] desired greedily a mess of pottage, that the word of God rejected him, and cast him away. In the meat which thou hast nigh unto thee shew thy forbearance, and contend with that which is near thee, and let there be war with thee against the contemptible and despicable things which are set before thee, lest thou make use of them for the filling of thy belly [only]; for no man [p. 416] leaveth the obstacles which are near and fighteth with those which are afar off, and no man leaveth the sickness which is at hand and which causeth him pain, and bringeth healing unto that which hath not yet appeared. And since the dainty meats, of which the rich and noble men of the world make use, are not nigh unto thee, forbear from the inferior kinds which are set before thee, and if thou canst conquer [the lust] for meats which are common thou mayest believe that thou wilt also be the conqueror over the lust for those which are more dainty, and that thou wilt gain the victory over those which are of great price.
The full belly produceth not pure prayer, and the stomach which is inflated with too much food giveth not forth wakeful melody. Now if its own loss only were found in overfilling the belly, even though it would be blameworthy, it would not perchance be |399 over-wicked to palliate it, but because of the other wickednesses which spring therefrom, it is right for the disciple that he should take heed thereunto. The sleep of the over-eater is much, his dreams are disturbed, his visions are confused, the flow of his lust is copious, and his sleep is deep but not healthy. If he standeth up to sing a psalm, thou mayest consider that he standeth not up, for as he sinketh down upon his bed, even so doth he sink down in his standing up; he throweth himself against the walls, he layeth hold of the things which hang clown, he supporteth himself upon sticks that they may bear with him his heavy body, that is to say, that they may carry with him the weight of the meats which he beareth. And if it happen that he beginneth and endeth his service, he perceiveth not where he is, for although many voices cry in his ears he overcometh them by the depth of his sleep; [p. 417] his ear is closed by the weight of meats, his eye turneth away through sleepiness, and his whole body is weaned and exhausted, because he doth not eat in moderation. The living stand by his side, and look upon him as dead, and those who are awake see him, and they laugh and mock after his own manner. He knoweth not which psalm is being sung, he is wrathful against the man who waketh him up, and he is filled with anger and threatenings against whomsoever rouseth him from his deep slumber. It happeneth too that he falleth down while he standeth, and through the noise of his fall he disturbeth the service, and in the hour of quietness he maketh tumult, and at the season when God is hymned by the living and by the Watchers, he standeth before Him like a soulless corpse. And if one should say, "Is he not ashamed, and is he not brought to the blush?" [I say,] how |400 can the man, who doth not even know where he is, be ashamed? He despiseth God in his standing up, he casteth [looks of] hatred upon those who behold him, he heapeth reproaches also upon those who wake him up, he maketh himself a cause of falling and stumbling unto those who stand by his side, who leave off singing to speak about him, and who are irritated at the sight of the depth of sleep into which he hath fallen; for if the glutton sleepeth, he is drowned in sleep, and if he be awakened he sleepeth, and if he singeth he is dumb, and if he standeth up, he falleth prone.
Observe then these defects, O thou that lovest spiritual excellence, and excuse thyself from this wickedness, that thou mayest not forget God and thine own self thereby, and thy discernment be darkened against all that is seemly; and with these remember also that which was spoken by the prophet Moses to the Jews, saying, "Take heed when [p. 418] thou eatest, and art satisfied, lest thou forget the Lord thy God who brought thee forth out of the land of Egypt." 35 And behold the Spirit of God hath taught thee openly that error is born of fulness of food, and that, when a man hath forgotten God, he marcheth fearlessly into all wickedness, and associateth himself with all evils. For as the sight of a stern master is to riotous slaves, even so is the remembrance of God [unto the soul]; for it maketh the tumultuousness of the thoughts shamefaced, and immediately the thought of Him falleth into the mind all the perturbed thoughts hasten to put themselves in the order of fear, and the soul becometh suddenly a peaceful house, an ordered |401 temple, a pure dwelling, and a holy mansion of the Trinity. Whosoever then wisheth to travel along the path of heaven should unfasten the shackles of lusts from his feet, and should remove every weight from the wings of his mind, in order that his person may travel easily towards greatness, and may hear the promise of the holy man Paul, who taught and admonished us, saying, "Take ye heed lest there be among you any man who is wanton or slack like Esau, who for one [mess of] meat sold his birthright; for also when he afterwards desired to inherit the blessings, he was rejected, for he found no place for repentance, though he sought it with tears."36
Let then these remembrances be unto thee, [O disciple,] and let such testimonies as these be written in thy heart. Let us be active, that we may become spiritual beings; let us shut the door of the lust of the belly, that all wickedness may be shut outside; let us put to death in us the lust of the body, that the lust of the spirit may live in our soul; let us diminish by patience [p. 419] also the wants of our life, that we may be worthy by Grace of the life of glory; let us deny the foolish mistress, that we may confess fully the Holy and Eternal One; let us free our members from weight, that we may make our members light by pure prayer; let us cast out the smoke of lust, that the eye of our soul may be clear for the sight of knowledge; let us not lust after the loaded table and abundance of meats, that the table of the kingdom may receive us like famished folk; let us despise and reject the health of the body, that we may be able to obtain the health |402 of the hidden man; let not the fear of sickness through [lack of] food fight against us lest wounds increase in our soul thereby; let us give thanks unto the Provider for little food, that it may be seen that we are His sons and not slaves in the hire of the belly; let us overcome patiently the first lust, that we may thereby gain strength to vanquish all [other] lusts; let us say unto each other that which hath been said unto us by the Apostle, "The belly for meats, and meats for the belly, but God will bring them both to nought."37 The body then is not for fornication, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body, to Whom be glory from us all for ever. Amen.
Here endeth the First Discourse on the lust of the belly by the holy man Philoxenus, Bishop of Mabbôgh.
[Footnotes renumbered and moved to the end. Page numbers in brackets refer to the Syriac text in vol. 1 of the printed edition.]
1. 1 The passage within [ ] is found in E und F only.
2. 1 Galatians v. 17.
3. 1 Leviticus xxiv. 17; Numbers xxxv. 30,
4. 1 St. Matthew xv. 11.
5. 1 Compare St. Matthew xvi. 24.
6. 2 St. Matthew xvi. 25.
7. 3 St. John xvi. 33.
8. 4 St. Matthew ix. 15.
9. 5 Compare St. Matthew xxvi. 17-21.
10. 6 St. Luke xxiv. 42.
11. 7 Compare St. John vi. 9.
12. 8 1 Timothy iv. 4.
13. 9 1 Corinthians vi. 13.
14. 1 Romans xiv. 3.
15. 2 Compare Colossians iii. 3.
16. 3 Romans xiv. 21.
17. 4 Acts xiv. 22.
18. 5 Acts xiv. 22. [Note to the online edition: this footnote appears redundant]
19. 6 1 Corinthians vi. 13. [Note to the online edition: the position of the footnote in the body of the text is not given in the printed edition. I have inserted it as best I could]
20. 1 Isaiah v. 11.
21. 1 St. Matthew vi. 24.
22. 1 Hebrews xiii. 9.
23. 2 1 Corinthians vi. 10; and compare Galatians v. 21; Ephesians v. 5.
24. 1 Deuteronomy xxxii. 13ff.
25. 2 Deuteronomy xxxii. 15-17.
26. 1 Exodus xxxii. 6.
27. 1 Philippians iii. 19.
28. 1 Philippians iii. 19.
29. 1 Genesis iii. 7.
30. 2 Genesis iii. 6.
31. 1 Compare Genesis xxv. 33.
32. 2 Compare Exodus xxxii. 10.
33. 3 Numbers xi. 33.
34. 4 Ezekiel xvi. 49.
35. 1 Deuteronomy vi. 11, 12.
36. 1 Hebrews xii. 16.
37. 1 1 Corinthians vi. 13.
This text was transcribed by Roger Pearse, Ipswich, UK, 2003. All material on this page is in the public domain - copy freely.
Greek text is rendered using the Scholars Press SPIonic font, free from here.
|Early Church Fathers - Additional Texts|