The Definition of an Health. Reasons to prove the Unlawfulness of Healthing. That Practice is amongst the Relics of Heathenism. It was in its first Institution abominably Idolatrous. Its Original is from Hell. ‘Tis an occasion of much Sin. Health-Drinking as usually practised, is against Charity, justice, and Reason. Wise, Sober and good Men have utterly condemned it. The Tremendous Judgments of God upon Notorious Heathens not to be slighted. Several Pleas for Healthing answered.
IT has been made a Question by some, Why may not Christians Drink or Pledge Healths? Is there any Sin in such a Practice which hath been used by the generality of Mankind, Time out of mind? Now that we may not mistake in stating the Controversy, it will be needful to enquire into the Nature and Definition of an Health.
I shall not Enumerate, nor am I willing to Defile my Pen [Lib. I.] with mentioning the cursed Mysteries and Ceremonies observed by some Health-Drinkers. Joh. Fred. Matenesius [Cap. 5. p. 39.] in his Book de Ritu Bibendi super Sanitate Magnatum, has described enough of them. An Health is not merely ones saying when he Drinks to another, that he wisheth the Health of such a Person present or absent; Nevertheless, where the using of such Expressions proves any way offensive, to be sure Tutius est abstinere, it is Charity to forbear them. But an Health is that which doth Oblige men to Drink such a quantity of Liquor, as an Indication of their Praying for the Health or Prosperity of such a Person, or of such a Design.
According to this Description, we conceive, That a Christian ought not, nor can he without Sin against God, either Pledge or Drink an Health. And the more especial Reasons which sway our Consciences in this matter, are these following.
1. Christians ought not to retain any Remainders of Heathenism. It is confessed by all, that as to Natural Actions which belong to men as men, it doth not follow, that because the Heathen have so practised it of Old, that Christians who succeed them may not do the same things. But in Ceremonies and things of a Religious Nature, they are not to be imitated. To Dedicate a Cup, or Consecrate an Health, is not an Action purely Natural or Moral. The Worldly and Vain Customs of the Gentiles are not to be taken up by such as profess themselves to be the Servants of the True God in Christ. The Holy Scriptures do clearly, expressly, and abundantly prohibit all Symbolizing with the Heathens, Levit. 20:23. You shall not walk in the manners of the Nations. See also Chap. 18:2, 3. and Jer. 10:2. Learn not the way of the Heathen. Psal. 106:35. They were mingled among the Heathen, and learned their Works. Ezek. 11:12. You have done after the manner of the Heathen that are round about you. Matth. 6:7. Use not, &c. as the Heathen do. Rom. 12:2 Be not conformed to this World. Eph. 2:2. In time past you walked according to the Course of this World. And Chap. 4:17. This therefore I say and Testify in the Lord, that henceforth you walk not as other Gentiles walk in the Vanity of their Mind. 1 Pet. 1:14. As Obedient Children, not fashioning your selves according to the former Lusts, in your Ignorance. And Verse 18. Redeemed from your vain Conversation, received by Tradition from your Fathers. And Chap. 4:3. The times past of our Lives may suffice us to have wrought the Will of the Gentiles. I have produced these Scriptures to prove that there ought to be a difference between Christians and other men; And that Non-Conformity to the Heathenish customs of the World is by the Lord himself enjoined upon all his Servants. But that the impleaded Healthing was not first practised amongst the People of God, whether Christians or Jews of Old, is past all dispute; Learned men, who have written on this Subject, shew how it is amongst the Relics of Paganism, which has through the Papacy exonerated it self into the sink of a decaying World. Instead of many, I shall only produce Austin’s Testimony, which does sufficiently confirm what has been asserted. [De Tempore, Serm. 131.] His words are these, Illa foeda & infoelix Consuetudo, per quam grandi Mensurd, sine Mensurd, solent bibere, de Paganorum observatione remansit; Ideo tanquam Venenum Diaboli de vestris Conviviis respuatis. That filthy and unhappy Custom (saith Austin) of Drinking Healths is a Relic of Paganism, and let Christians banish it from their Feasts and Tables, as the Poison of the Devil. Thus has the great Austin expressed himself above 1200 years ago. Health-Drinkers may call him a Fanatic, if they please.
2. That Practice which was in its first Institution abominably idolatrous, and which has still in it an appearance of Idolatry, ought not at all to be used amongst Christians. The first and great Commandment of the Moral Law confirms this Proposition; and so do all those Scriptures which require men to flee from Idolatry, and not to tolerate any Remainders or Remembrances of Idolatry amongst them; The Holy Word of God abounds with Precepts of this nature. See Psal. 16:4. Isa. 2:18. Zeph. 1:4. 1 Cor. 10:14. 1 Thes. 5:22. But this Healthing was in its first Institution abominably Idolatrous. No man that has made it his concern by Reading to enquire into these things, can be Ignorant, that the Heathen, who were the first Healthers, did at their Feast Drink an Haustum Salutis, first [V. Athen. Diphnosoph. 1.2. Cap. I. Olaus Magnus, Lib. 13. Cap. 37. Alex ander ab Alex. Gen. Dier. 1.5. c. 21. Bullinger de Conviviis, 1. 3.c. 34. Demster. Antiq; lib. 5. cap. 30.] to their Gods, and then to their Patrons and Friends. Particularly, They had one Cup which was PothriondioVswthroV An Health to Jove; another that was touagaqoudaimonoV which did imply a Prayer to Fortune—Te, Fortuna, Deam facimus, Coeloq; locamus; than which there cannot be more hateful Idolatry. From Ethnic’s some Idolatrizing Christians have learned to Drink Healths to Angels, and to the Souls of departed Saints; But shall men that profess the True Religion, do any thing that shall seem to be a Symbolizing with such Idolaters? The Health-Drinker seems to Worship the Object of that Health. Fabio, Sacrum libavit Honorem. It is well said by [In quo vadis. Sect. 21. p. 685.] Bishop Hall, That an Healther by his Forms of Ceremonious quaffing, does make himself a Beast, while he makes a God of others. And do not those Ceremonies of putting off the Hat, and Kneeling, frequently practised by Health-Drinkers intimate some kind of Adoration? Besides, for any man to make his Drinking to signify an Invocation of the Name of God, or to be the Amen of a Prayer, declaring his Desires that such a Person may have Health, is Superstition, and falls under the Idolatry forbidden in the Second Commandment. An Health is indeed a Profane Sacrament. Hence are those words of Ambrose, Quid memorem Sacramental Bibamus pro Salute Imperatorum. Amongst the Gentiles of old, Healthing did imply Sacrifice and Prayer.
3. That which had its Original from Hell, should not be practised by Christians, whose Conversation ought to be in Heaven. This is so clear a Proposition, as that I shall not use Words to confirm it. He must be an Atheist to a Prodigy, that shall contradict it. But the Impleaded Healthing had its Original from Hell. This is not my single Apprehension. Very Learned and [Lege Voetium de Santeis.] Judicious writers affirm that the Devil himself was the first Author, Institutor, and Inventor of Health-Drinking. It was in its first rise used as a Drink-Offering to Satan. There were among the Jews of old, Drink-offerings poured out to the True and Holy God, being part of the Ceremonial Worship, once of Divine Institution. Gen. 35:14. Exod. 29:40, 41. And a Cup of Healths Psal. 115:15. tVVWyMVk which in their solemn Thanksgivings the Master of the Feast [Jarchi. V. Medi opera f. 483.] holding in his hand before the Lord, did praise him for all his Salvations. And in [Voetum Disp. Sel. part. 4. ubi de Senteis p. 500. Matenesius p. 58.] imitation hereof, Satan who takes Pleasure in Corrupting the Worship of God, and arrogates to himself a Divine Service, caused the Blind Gentiles, (whose God he was) to honour him with Healths and Drink-offerings. In those Dark and Dismal Ages which passed before the Sun of Righteousness arose over the Earth, all the Nations of the Word (excepting Israel) worshipped the Dragon. And Healths were one part of that Sacrifice and Service which the Gentiles honoured Beelzebub with. The Apostle speaks of the Cup of Devils 1 Cor. 10:21. Amongst the Devils Cups there was a Poculum in Delibatum (as Minutius Foelix calls it) out of which they drank to their Gods, and by saluting them in that way, manifested a Religious Adoration of those Infernal spirits. Chersias in Plutarch [In Conviv. septern Sapientum.] intimates that the great God Jupiter (and we know who was the Jupiter worshipped by the Heathen) made a Feast for the Inferior Gods, and poured Wine into a Cup, and enjoined them in a Course to Drink it off. Basil in one of his [de Ebrietate.] Sermons, sheweth that the Heathen Greeks had in their Feasts a Master of Healths; One that should see that each of the Guests did drink off the Cup of Wine presented to him in his Course and Order. And of this Law (saith he) the Devil himself was the Author. And hence it comes to pass that Satan is so much delighted with Healths; He may well, when Homage is done to himself thereby. He rejoiceth to see miserable Mortals taken with that which was his Device, invented on purpose to Debauch mankind, and as an Engine for their Destruction. I omit here that which Delrio and [Matenesius ubi supr. c. 8.] others have related from the Confessions of sundry detected Magicians, viz. that in the Conventicles and Festivals of Witches they are wont to carouse Healths in honour to Beelzebub and his Inferior Cacodaemons.
4. It is the unquestionable Duty of every Christian to avoid the Occasions of Sin as much as may be. The Commandment which forbids such a Sin, requires that men take heed of the Occasions and Temptations leading thereunto. Prov. 5:8. & 23:31. Eph. 5:11. A Christian ought not only to shun the Occasions of Sin himself, but to be careful not to cast an Occasion of sinning before his Neighbour. This is that Scandalizing or Giving Offence to others which the Holy Scriptures do so often caution men against. Scandalum est quod inductivum Peccati. He that is drawn into Sin, is of. fended and made to fall. Christians ought not to omit a Duty, lest others should from thence take Occasion to sin; but they should forbear many Indifferent things, when the Practice of them will become an occasion of Evil, Rom. 14:20, 21. The holy Apostle saith, If meat make my Brother to offend, I will eat no Flesh while the World stands, lest I make my Brother to Offend. 1 Cor. 8:13. supposing what must not be granted, that the Drinking of an Health is in it self of an Indifferent nature; Nevertheless, if it become an Occasion of much Sin, that Practice ought to be wholly laid aside. But that the impleaded Healthing has occasioned a World of Iniquity to be committed needs no Proof. It occasions Gods name to be Dishonoured with respect to the Abuse of his Creatures, and so is a Breach of the Third Commandment. It has occasioned the Sin of Drunkenness more than a thousand millions of Times. When wicked men intend a Debauch, they are wont to begin with an Health. Wendelin testifieth that among the Germans, they set an Health a going, Ebrietatis conciliandae gratia, that so they may have a Drunken bout. The Ancients have called Healthing, The Devils shooing-horn whereby he draws on Drunkenness. The most Judicious Ames [Cas. Consc. 1.3. c. 16.]observes, that it is one of the Mysteries of Bacchus whereby men are artificially and cunningly drawn into an Excess of Drinking. And it has been the Cause of infinite Quarrels. The rude Complement of the old Health-drinkers in Polonia, [Gaugnnius de Re bus Polon.] was, Aut mihi praebibe, aut mecum armis decertato. There is too much of that Genius in many Healthers still. It would be Endless to speak of all the Vain words, Censures, and wicked Reproaches, nay Oaths and Blasphemies, which have been the natural and woful fruit of Health-Drinking.
5. Healthing, as usually practised, is against the Rules of Charity, Justice, and Reason. He that puts another upon Drinking such a quantity of strong Liquor, when perhaps he has enough and too much already, does not shew that Charity either to his Neighbours Soul or Body which the Rule requires. And Woe to him that giveth his Neighbour drink: that puts his Bottle to him and makes him drunk also, Hab. 2:15. Men pretend Charity to another in Drinking his Health, whereas many times thereby they Destroy their own and their Neighbours too. That witty Epigrammatist saith true, [Owen part. I 1.2. Epig. 42.]
"Una Salus Sanis nullam potare Salutem,
"Non est in pota vera Salute Salus.
And equal Draughts of Wine imposed on all persons are contrary to the Rules of Distributive Justice. That may be Beneficial to one that would be Baneful to another, according to the Tempers or Distempers of men’s Bodies. And it is an unjust and Tyrannical Invasion on the Liberty which belongs to every one both as a Man and as a Christian, when he is obliged to Drink more, than his present Appetite inclines him unto. And it is against Reason for a man to drink for another’s Health. Suppose he should be required to Eat a Pound of Flesh, or of Cheese, when he is not Hungry, and that for the Health of his Friend, How Irrational would the Proposal be? And it is no better when a man that is not athirst is required to Drink a Pint of Liquor for another’s Health. This is worse then brutish Folly. An Ox or an Horse will not drink more then sufficeth Nature. A Learned [Voetius ubi supr. p. 500 ex Buschio.] man relates a Facetious Passage concerning a notorious Health-drinker, who having continued drinking Healths to the honour of Saint John, till his Wits were wet-shod; as he returned home, riding through a Brook, he bad his Horse drink to the Honour of Saint John, but thc Beast not being thirsty, would drink nothing. And the Drunken man had so much Reason left in him as to confess, Certe Equus est me sapientior, that his Horse that would drink no Healths, was wiser then his Master. Quanto melior Ebriosis Canis & Asinus, said Chrysostom of old in one of his Homilies. When Glareanus was importuned by some to drink more then he had an Appetite unto, [Matenesius L. I. C. 10.] He put them off with that Answer, Num isto Cane insipientiorem ne vultis? A Brute has more wit then to do so.
6. That which Wise, Sober, but especially Good men, have utterly disliked, may well be suspected as Evil, and Christians should be careful how they comply with such a Practise. But this is true of Health-drinking. Some of the wisest men in the World have manifested their great Dislike thereof. Charles the Great made a Law to punish such of his Soldiers as should Compel or Invite any to drink an Health. Likewise the Emperors [Beat. Rhenan. Rerum German. Lib. 2.] Maximilian and Charles V. did seek to Reform that Evil Custome, emitting Edicts for the Punishment of such as should be found guilty of it, and exhorting Ministers to preach against it. Popish Authors are generally lax Casuists, yet some of them have had so much of Morality in them, as to write against the Impleaded Healthings. So does Joh. Fred. Matenesius, withal reflecting on the Protestant Profession, because Healths are so rife amongst those that go under that Name. But he might have considered that Papists are no less guilty. Also, Sanctius, Serrarius, Lessius, Boenartius, Canonhierus, Chavassius, notwithstanding their being Papists, have disliked this Heathenish Custom. Yea, Pope Innocent III. [Citante Matenesio p. 3.] made a Decree against it, withal ordering, that if any of the Clergy should be proved guilty of Healthing, He should be suspended ab Officio & Beneficio, without giving due Satisfaction for his offence. And not only Christians but moral Heathens have banished Healths, from their Tables, and out of their Feasts. We have one great instance of it recorded in the Scripture.
When Ahasuerus made a mighty Feast, according to the State of the Emperor of Persia, the Drinking was according to the Law, None did compel, for so had the King appointed to all the Officers of his house, that they should do according to every mans Pleasure, Esther 1:8. Lyra (a Christianized Jew) in his Commentary on those words does justly inveigh against the Health-drinking practised by Christians. And well may he, when there are Persians and Heathens to rise up in Judgment against them. The egkucloposia of the Licentious Greeks was once disliked by the Grave Romans; Tully [de Legibus Lib. 2. prope finem.] writes that Circumpotation (i.e. Health-drinking) was abrogated by the Roman Laws. Afterwards indeed they did relapse into that vice again, as bad as ever. Yet some of their Poets did satirically reprove it, styling the Rites about Health-drinking [Horat. Serm. Lib. 2. Sat. 6.] Mad Laws. I pretermit other Instances of men who had only the Light of Nature to direct them, and yet looked upon this Healthing as an unreasonable Custom, and that which had a tendency to corrupt good manners.
He that would see more may peruse what Mr. Prin [In his Healths Sickness, p. 40, 41. And in his Histriomastix. passim.] has written on this Subject. But men truly fearing God have much more abominated this ill Custom. The Scripture saith, Walk in the way of Good men, and in the Path of the Righteous, Prov. 2:20. Are the greatest Healthers good men? Would any one be willing to have his Soul gathered with theirs when he must leave this World? Sound Christians in the primitive Times were no Health-drinkers. it is indeed manifest by one of Nazianzen’s Orations against Julian, that some loose Christians in those days did drink Healths in a Pretended Honour to Christianity, as the Pagans did to their Gods, and great ones. And we see by what Austin complains of. that some would drink at the Sepulchers of the Martyrs in Honour to them. Though in truth, they could not reproach the Martyrs and Christianity more then by thus Paganizing. But the Serious and True Primitive Christians refused Healths, for which the Heathen exclaimed against them, as if they wanted due Devotion to their Emperors. Hence the Ancient and Famous Teachers in the Christian Church have testified against this Iniquity. So Clemens Alexandrinus, and Basil amongst the Greek Fathers (as they use to be styled.) So Ambrose, Austin, and Jerom amongst the Latins, whose sayings are largely recited by Mr. Prin, Mr. Bolton, and others. And amongst modern Protestant Divines it were easy to produce a cloud of Witnesses in this cause. Voetius, Rittershusius, Loccenius, Teeling, Tassin, Crocius, and I know not how many besides. Amongst our English writers, Dr. Ames (a man for his learned Works deservedly famous in all Protestant Churches) Mr. Downham, Mr. Bolton, Mr. Gataker, Mr. Ward, Mr. Harris, Dr. Hall, and Mr. Thomas Hall, have witnessed against this evil. Mr. Geree has also published a Treatise discovering the Vanity and iniquity of it. The late famous Judge Hale [See his Life, p. 9] made a Solemn vow to God that he would never drink an Health as long as he lived; which vow he kept to his dying day. None could prevail with Him to drink so much as the King’s Health, though but for one time. For which cause some indecent men unworthily charged that Noble and truly Loyal person with obstinacy.
These things sufficiently prove that they are mistaken, who think that only a few Silly and Humorous men have disapproved of Healths. Some who have been Foolish and Vain to a great Excess, upon their growing Wise have utterly left their Health-drinking, with bitter Sorrow that ever they had been so Foolish. The Repentance of Mr. Francis Cartwright (mentioned by [In his Directions for walking with God, pag. 205.] Mr Bolton) was many years ago published, wherein he hath this Expression, It now wounds me to the Heart to think of my Drinking Healths. It may be when men come to have real Visions of Eternity, or when they lye upon Death-beds, they will repent of this their way which has been their Folly.
7. The tremendous Judgments of God which have befallen notorious Health-drinkers, are not to be slighted. Many Authors worthy of Credit have taken notice of this. Schusselbergius in his [Citante Voetio Disp. v. 4. p. 513.] Epistles hath several awful examples of the tremendous Vengeance of Heaven which fell upon some wicked Scholars as they had been drinking Healths. Mr. Ward in his Woe to Drunkards, hath six or seven Instances of miserable men who died before their Time, by means of this Iniquity. A great Healther had once a Ring given to him with this Poesy in it, Drink and Die. So has many a wretched Healther done. He hath Drunk and Died. Yea, with his Healths drunk his Soul into those Flames, which (as one speaks) all the Ocean can never quench, though he should health it down. Memorable and fearful was that Instance of Mr. Richard Juxon (once a Fellow of Kings-College in Cambridge) who as he was drinking and Healthing fell down dead in a moment; and his Carcass immediately so corrupted as that the stench of it was insufferable, insomuch that no house would receive it. Alexander the [Dicente Althenaeo.] Great killed himself with drinking an Health out of Hercules his Cup. Most Tragical is the Relation concerning 20 of the chief Princes in Pomerania [Camerar. c. 12. Cent, 12.] who were all of them poisoned to Death in one day, because they did not refuse to drink King Popelus his Health, when the Queen (who had prepared the Poison) urged them to it.
But let us consider a little the chief Pleas and Arguments which are made use of to justify this unhappy Custom.
1. Some argue, If a Remembrance of an absent Friend, when one drinks, is lawful, then an Health is so; But you are not so humorous as to scruple that. Answ. The Consequence is denied. For a Remembrance and an Health are not the same. The Primitive Christians [Clem. Alex. Paedag. I. 2. c. 2.] had their Pocula Amicitiae, which was the same thing with our Drinking one to another, and Remembering our absent Friends. But they had no Healths among them, as we have shewed. In a Remembrance (as it is called) a man is not obliged to drink up the whole Cup. Nor is the Person to whom he drinks obliged to pledge him, except he seeth cause. He is left to his Liberty to Pledge where, and in what, and how he pleases, which things are contrary to the Laws of an Health. A Remembrance is usually of Friends and Equals, when as an Health is commonly to Superiors. So that these two differ the whole Heaven over.
2. Some excuse the Matter by saying, They do not compel others to Pledge them when they drink an Health. Answer, This is so far well. I wish all could say so. Nevertheless, It should be considered, that the very Beginning of an Health has some kind of Compulsion in it. Especially when the Exorcism of a Great Name is added to the health. Every one hath not Power and Courage to withstand the Temptation of such an Adjuration.
3. There are who excuse themselves by pleading, They are loathe to be uncivil, or that any should take occasion to think them morose and ill-humored. Answer, The Incivility is on their part who urge the health, and not in them who out of Conscience refuse it. Nor will any Ingenuous person be offended at him who shall with Discretion and Modesty decline Pledging an Health. It was not taken offensively from that noble Statesman who said, I’le pray for the Kings Health, and drink for my own. Nor was the Duke of Buckingham displeased with Dr. Preston for his not complying with the ceremonies of an Health, but misliked the incivility of the Person that would have imposed it. Nor was Alexander offended at the Philosopher who told him, He was not free to drink his Health, and that for this reason, because he had no Desire to make himself stand in need of AEsculapius, when thereby he could do Alexander no good.
4. It is pleaded that the famous Luther drank an Health, and other Good men have not scrupled it Answ. If Luther did any such thing upon his first coming out of Popery and Monkery, and before he saw the Evil of it, none ought to allege his example to justify an unlawful deed. Nor is it certain that Luther did thus after his Conversion. Protestant writers do not acknowledge the fact, when it has been objected to them. Only some Popish Authors tell a Story of a Prodigious Health which Luther drank to Islebius the German Antinomian. But the Papists have invented a thousand lies, not only of Luther, but of Zuinglius and Calvin, and other great Reformers, in Design to cast an odium upon the Protestant Religion. Besides, it is the poorest argument that can be, Some good men have done such a thing, therefore it is lawful. It was shewed before that the Generality of Good men have declined Healths as Paganish and Scandalous things. And when any Good men have indulged themselves in this Practice, commonly it has been for want of Information, concerning the Evil of it. Had they known the true Original, and been convinced of the Superstition attending this ill Custom, they would never have used it. Persons well inclined will harken to Scripture and Reason. And it is chiefly for the sake of such that I write these things. As for some who are now become profane and debauched Health-drinkers, there is little or no hope of their Reformation. Having lived for some time under the powerful Dispensation of the Gospel, but sinned against that blessed Light, and also rebelled against the Light of their own Consciences, it is to be feared that Gods holy Spirit has taken his Everlasting leave of them, never more to strive with them, but that they are in a Judicial way given up by the Righteous and Terrible God unto a Reprobate mind, and hard heart. It may be God has said of them, Their Healthing is their Idol, they are joined to it, and let them alone. He that is a Profane Health-drinker, let him be an Health-drinker still. And if so, (I pray that this may never be the woful case of any amongst us; but if so) all that can be spoken or written to such persons will do them no good; nor serve to any other purpose, but only to render them the more inexcusable before the great Tribunal at the last day, and to make Eternal Justice the more Illustrious in their condemnation. And it is a comfort that we know, we are unto God a sweet Savour of Christ, not only in them that are saved, but also in them that perish.