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[Here we continue a reprint of a small portion of Joseph Caryl’s study in Job. Mr. Caryl wrote twelve volumes on the book of Job. His study is a great example of how deep one can dig into the truths of the Bible.]
Job 1:4 (part 2) -
Feasting, by Joseph Caryl
4And his sons went and feasted in their homes, everyone his day, and sent and called for their three sisters, to eat and drink with them.
But because feasting is so often abused and many turn this liberty into wantonness (being then most wicked, when they should be most thankful, and grieving God most, when He gives them means or occasion of rejoicing), I shall therefore briefly discover the abuses of feasting, which will also hint rules for the right ordering of it, that we may eat and drink, and do all so the glory of God.
Feasting is sinful, under the following conditions:
1. When any overcharge their estates; and lavish out what will but serve their necessities or conveniences upon delights and superfluities; to such, feasting is a sin.
2. When the rich feast the rich, and never think upon the poor, as in Luke 14:12-13, “When you make a dinner or a supper, call not thy friends not thy brethren, neither thy kinsmen, not thy rich neighbors.” Observe here, this is not an absolute denial of calling brethren, and kinsfolk and friends or rich; for brethren men, yea, ought to be called, but says he, when you make a feast, call the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind. That is, when you make a feast, be sure to remember these: do not bid thy brethren, or the rich alone, let the poor have a portion with thee, and be refreshed at or from thy table. When rich feast one another, and let the poor starve or pine, this is very sinful.
3. When there is a studied curiosity and exactness in feasting. When all things that can be thought on must be fetched in, strange meats and foreign sauces, when there is a lusting after quails, when men must have meat for their lusts. Though we may have feasting for our delight, yet we must not have feasting for our lusts; such make their belly their god, as the apostle speaks; when there is so much art used, as destroys the nature of the meat, this is a sin and an error. I remember Bernard speaks of his times, that a man might be at a fish feast, and yet should not know whether he had eaten any fish or not, all things were prepared with so much art, that the very nature of the creature was lost. This is a sinful vanity.
4. When there is intemperance in feasting (whatever the provision be) when there is excess; an overcharging of nature, which is surfeiting and drunkenness. As by the former, man overthrows the nature of meats or drinks. So by this, meat and drink overthrow the nature of man. A man may feast himself into a beast, and we usually say of such persons, they are disguised. For such feasting the land mourns.
5. When feastings are frequent: Feasts are not for every day, that was the thing taxed in the glutton (see Luke 16), that he fared deliciously every day.
6. When we spend too much of the day at any time, or too much time any day in feasting, when we dine till night and sup all or a great part of the night: this is chambering and wantonness, this is a woeful expense and waste of time; and the expense of time is worse by far than the expense of money; you may regain the expense of your money, but you can never call back the expense of your time; you may be at greater charges in your feasting for the waste of time than for the waste of estate. All the world cannot give you back again the expense of an house. Indeed we often hear men complain they have spent too much money in feasting and entertainments, but it is very rare that any complain they have spent too much time: which is as if a man having received a wound in his body should only be troubled for the hole which the sword made in his doublet. Prodigality of time is the worst and most dangerous prodigality.
7. Feasting is sinful when unseasonable. I speak in regard of occasions and opportunities: there are special times wherein it is unlawful to feast, though we should spend but very little time in feasting, as in Isaiah 22:12-13: “In that day did the Lord God of Hosts call to weeping and mourning, and to baldness, and to girding with sackcloth, and behold joy and gladness, slaying oxen and killing sheep, cutting flesh and drinking wine” in the next verse it is said, “And it was revealed in mine ears by the Lord of hosts, surely this impurity shall not be purged from you till you die.” To feast in that day was sinful, and a sin that left such a stain as could not be got out, “it shall not be purged from you.” What time was this wherein their feasting was so sinful? What made this sin so deep-grained? You shall find a resolution in the beginning of the chapter, “It was a day of trouble and perplexity and of treading down by the Lord God of hosts in the valley of vision, breaking down the walls and crying to the mountains.” It is a day of trouble and perplexity, and will you now be feasting? Is this a time for you to feast in, when my wrath is breaking forth among you? This feasting with men is a daring of God, ascending defiance into heaven. And such feastings, Amos reproves (6:4-5), “They did eat the lambs our of the flock, and the calves out of the mud of the stall, they chant to the sound of the violin, and invent to themselves instruments of music like David, they drink wine in bowls, and anoint themselves with the chief ointments, but they are not grieved for the for the affliction of Joseph.”