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Practice of Piety 32 - The Practice of Piety at Meals, and the Manner of Eating.

By Lewis Bayly

      Before dinner and supper, when the table is covered, ponder with thyself upon these meditations; to work a deeper impression in thy heart of God's fatherly providence and goodness towards thee.

      Meditations before Dinner and Supper.

      Meditate that hunger is like the sickness called a wolf; which, if thou dost not feed, will devour thee, and eat thee up; and that meat and drink are but as physic, or means which God hath ordained, to relieve and cure this natural infirmity and necessity of man. Use, therefore, to eat and to drink, rather to sustain and refresh the weakness of nature, than to satisfy the sensuality and delights of the flesh. Eat, therefore, to live, but live not to eat. There is no service so base, as for a man to be a slave to his belly; the apostle terms such, belly-gods (Phil. iii. 19.) Therefore we may boldly term them, as the Scriptures do other idols, gillulim, dung-gods (Hab. ii. 18, 19; 2 Kings xv. 12.) And as no one action (God's ordinances excepted) makes a man more to resemble a beast, than eating and drinking, so the abuse of eating and drinking to surfeiting and drunkenness, makes a man more vile than a beast.

      2. Meditate on the omnipotency of God, who made all these creatures of nothing (Heb. xi. 3)-of his wisdom (Psal. cxlv. 15, 16), who feedeth so many infinite creatures through the universal world, maintaining all their lives, which he has given them, which surpasseth the wisdom of all the angels in heaven-and of his clemency and goodness, in feeding also his very enemies (Matt. v. 45, &c.; Acts xiv. 17.)

      3. Meditate how many sorts of creatures, as beasts, fish, and fowl, have lost their lives, to become food to nourish thee; and how God's providence from remote places has brought all these portions together on thy table for thy nourishment; and how by these dead creatures he maintains thee in health and life.

      4. Meditate that seeing thou hast so many pledges of God's fatherly bounty, goodness, and mercy towards thee, as there are dishes of meat on thy table, O suffer not in such a place, so gracious a God to be abused by scurrility, ribaldry, or swearing; or thy fellow-brother, by disgraceful backbiting, taunting, or slandering.

      5. Meditate how that thy master Jesus Christ did never eat any food, but first he blessed the creatures, and gave thanks to his heavenly Father for the same (Luke ix. 16; Matt. xiv. 19; xv. 36; Mark vi. 41; viii. 6; Luke xxiv. 30; John vi. 11.) And after his last supper, we read that he sung a psalm (Matt. xxvi. 30; Mark xiv. 26;) for this was the commandment of God, "When thou hast eaten and filled thyself, thou shalt bless the Lord thy God," &c. (Deut. viii. 10.) This was the practice of the prophets; for "the people would not eat at their feast, till Samuel came to bless their meat," (1 Sam. ix. 13;) and saith Joel to God's people, "Ye shall eat and be satisfied, and praise the name of the Lord your God." (Joel ii. 26.) This also was the practice of the apostles; for St. Paul in the ship, gave thanks before meat, in the presence of all the people that were there (Acts xxvii. 35.) Imitate, therefore, in so holy an action, so blessed a master, and so many worthy precedents that have followed him, and gone before thee. It may be, because thou hast never used to give thanks at meals, therefore thou art now ashamed to begin. Think it no shame to do what Christ did; but be rather ashamed that thou hast so long neglected so Christian a duty. And if the Son of God gave his Father such great thanks for a dinner of barley-bread and broiled fish (John vi. 9, 11), what thanks should such a sinful man as thou art render unto God for such variety of good and dainty cheer? How many a true Christian would be glad to fill his belly with the morsels which thou refusest; and do lack that which thou leavest! how hardly do others labour for that which they eat, and thou hast thy food provided for thee, without either care or labour! To conclude, if pagan idolaters at their feasts were accustomed to praise their false gods (Dan. v. 1, 4), what a shame is it for a Christian, at his dinners and suppers, not to praise the true God, "in whom we live, move, and have our being?" (Acts xvii. 28.)

      6. Meditate that thy body, which thou dost now so daintily feed, must be, thou knowest not how soon, meat for worms, "When thou shalt say to corruption, Thou art my father; and to the worm,. Thou art my mother, and my sister." (Job xvii. 44.)

      7. Meditate, that many a man's table is made his snare (Psal. lxix. 22;) so that through his intemperance and unthankfulness, the meat which should nourish his body, kills him with a surfeit; insomuch, that more are killed with this snare than with the sword (Gen. iii. 17.) And seeing that since the curse, the use of all creatures, so likewise of meat and drink, is to us unclean, till the same be sanctified by the word of God, and prayer; and that man liveth not by bread only, but by the word of God's ordinance, and his blessing, which is called the staff of bread: sit not therefore down to eat, before you pray, and rise not before you give God thanks. Feed to suffice nature, yet rise with an appetite; and remember thy poor Christian brethren, who suffer hunger, and want those good things wherewith thou dost abound (1 Tim. iv. 4, 5; Matt. iv. 4; Lev. xxvi. 26; Ezek. iv. 16; v. 16; 1 Sam. ix. 13; Matt. xiv. 19; Luke xxiv. 30; 1 Cor. x. 16; Rom. xiv. 6; 1 Thess. v. 18; Eccles. x. 17; Luke xxi. 34; Neh. v. 17; Amos vi. 6.)

      These things, or some of them premeditated, if there be not a Samuel present (1 Sam. ix. 13), lift up with all comely reverence (Matt. xiv. 19) thy heart, with thy hands and eyes, to the great Creator and feeder of all creatures, and before meat, pray to him thus:-

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See Also:
   Practice of Piety 1 - Directing a Christian How to Walk, that He May Please God.
   Practice of Piety 2 - A Plain Description of the Essence and Attributes of God
   Practice of Piety 3 - Meditations of the Misery of a Man Not Reconciled to God in Christ.
   Practice of Piety 4 - Meditations of the Miseries of Man from Infancy to Old Age.
   Practice of Piety 5 - Meditations of the Misery of the Soul in this Life.
   Practice of Piety 6 - Meditations of the Misery of the Body and Soul in Death.
   Practice of Piety 7 - Meditations of the Misery of a Man after Death.
   Practice of Piety 8 - Blessedness of the Regenerate
   Practice of Piety 9 - Meditations of the blessed state of a Regenerate Man in his Death.
   Practice of Piety 10 - Meditations of the blessed state of the Regenerate Man after Death.
   Practice of Piety 11 - Meditations of the blessed state of a Regenerate Man in Heaven.
   Practice of Piety 12 - Of the Prerogatives which the Elect shall enjoy in Heaven.
   Practice of Piety 13 - Of the Effects of those Prerogatives.
   Practice of Piety 14 - Meditations directing a Christian how to apply to himself.
   Practice of Piety 15 - Meditations on the Hindrances which Keep a Sinner from Piety.
   Practice of Piety 16 - How a Private Man Must Begin the Morning with Piety.
   Practice of Piety 17 - Meditations for the Morning.
   Practice of Piety 18 - Brief Directions How to Read the Holy Scriptures Once A Year
   Practice of Piety 19 - A Prayer for the Morning.
   Practice of Piety 20 - Meditations to stir us up to Morning Prayer.
   Practice of Piety 21 - Another short Morning Prayer.
   Practice of Piety 22 - Farther Meditations to stir up to Prayer in the Morning.
   Practice of Piety 23 - A brief Prayer for the Morning.
   Practice of Piety 24 - Meditations Directing a Christian How To Walk All the Day with God
   Practice of Piety 25 - Secondly, for thy Words.
   Practice of Piety 26 - Thirdly, for thy Actions.
   Practice of Piety 27 - Meditations for the Evening.
   Practice of Piety 28 - A Prayer for the Evening.
   Practice of Piety 29 - Another shorter Evening Prayer.
   Practice of Piety 30 - Meditations for Household Piety.
   Practice of Piety 31 - Morning Prayer for a Family.
   Practice of Piety 32 - The Practice of Piety at Meals, and the Manner of Eating.
   Practice of Piety 33 - Grace before Meat.
   Practice of Piety 34 - The Practice of Piety at Evening.
   Practice of Piety 35 - Evening Prayer for a Family.
   Practice of Piety 36 - Meditations of the True Manner of Practising Piety on the Sabbath-Day.
   Practice of Piety 37 - Ten Reasons demonstrating the Commandment of the Sabbath to be moral.
   Practice of Piety 38 - The True Manner of Keeping Holy the Lord's Day.
   Practice of Piety 39 - A Morning Prayer for the Sabbath-day.
   Practice of Piety 40 - Duties in the Holy Assembly.
   Practice of Piety 41 - A private Evening Prayer for the Lord's day.
   Practice of Piety 42 - Of the Practice of Piety in Fasting.
   Practice of Piety 43 - Of the Public Fast.
   Practice of Piety 44 - Of the Practice of Piety in Holy Feasting.
   Practice of Piety 45 - Of Preparation.
   Practice of Piety 46 - Of the Worthiness of the Sacrament.
   Practice of Piety 47 - Of the first End of the Lord's Supper.
   Practice of Piety 48 - Of the second End of the Lord's Supper.
   Practice of Piety 49 - Of the third End of the Lord's Supper.
   Practice of Piety 50 - Of the fourth End of the Lord's Supper.
   Practice of Piety 51 - The fifth End of the Lord's Supper.
   Practice of Piety 52 - The sixth End of the Lord's Supper.
   Practice of Piety 53 - Of the seventh End of the Lord's Supper.
   Practice of Piety 54 - A Confession of Sins before the receiving of the Holy Communion.
   Practice of Piety 55 - Of the Means whereby thou mayest become a worthy Receiver.
   Practice of Piety 56 - Of the Second sort of Duties which a worthy Communicant is to perform
   Practice of Piety 57 - A sweet Soliloquy to be said between the Consecration and Sacrament.
   Practice of Piety 58 - Duties After Communion.
   Practice of Piety 59 - The Practice of Piety in Glorifying God in the Time of Sickness or Death
   Practice of Piety 60 - A Prayer when one begins to be sick.
   Practice of Piety 61 - A Prayer before taking of Medicine.
   Practice of Piety 62 - Meditations for the Sick.
   Practice of Piety 63 - Meditations for One That Is Like to Die.
   Practice of Piety 64 - A Prayer to Be Said of One That Is Like to Die.
   Practice of Piety 65 - Meditations against Despair, or doubting of God's Mercy.
   Practice of Piety 66 - An Admonition to them who come to visit the Sick.
   Practice of Piety 67 - A Prayer to be said for the Sick by them who visit him.
   Practice of Piety 68 - Consolations Against Impatience in Sickness.
   Practice of Piety 69 - Consolations Against the Fear of Death
   Practice of Piety 70 - Seven Sanctified Thoughts and Mournful Sighs of a Sick Man Ready to Die.
   Practice of Piety 71 - Of the Comfortable Assurance of God's Forgiveness of Sins.
   Practice of Piety 72 - Meditations of Martyrdom.
   Practice of Piety 73 - A Divine Colloquy Between the Soul and Her Savior
   Practice of Piety 74 - The Soul's Soliloquy, ravished in contemplation of the Passion of our Lord.


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