MORTIFICATION OF THE FLESH
A SCRIPTURE DUTY.
If we take the example of the Holy Men of Scripture as our guide, certainly bodily privation and chastisement are a very essential duty of all who wish to serve God, and prepare themselves for His presence.
First, we have the example of Moses. His recorded Fasts were miraculous; still they were Fasts, and the ordinance was recommended to the notice of all believers afterwards, by the honour put upon it. "I abode in the mount forty days and forty nights; I neither did eat bread nor drink water." Again; "I fell down before the Lord, as at the first, forty days and forty nights; I did neither eat bread nor drink water, because of all your sins." Deut. ix. 9.18. Fasting is in the former instance subservient to divine contemplation, in the latter to humiliation and intercession for sinners.
Elijah. "He said unto him. What manner of man was he which came up to meet you, and told you these words? And they answered him, He was an hairy man, and girt with a girdle of leather about his loins. And he said. It is Elijah the Tishbite." 2 Kings, i. 7, 8. It is indeed needless to show the ascetic character of him, who was in fact the chief and type of those who "wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins," "in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth." He too fasted by the power of God for forty days and nights; "He arose and did eat and drink, and went in the strength of that meat forty days and forty nights, unto Horeb the mount of God." 1 Kings, xix. 8.Daniel. "I set my face unto the Lord God, to seek by prayer and supplications, with fasting, and sackcloth, and ashes; and I prayed unto the Lord my God, and made my confession." Dan. ix. 3, 4. It must be observed, that Daniel was not bound by any vow, as Samson and Samuel. Moreover, it would appear the gift of prophecy was given him in reward for his self-chastisements, as the following passage shows. "In those days I Daniel was mourning three full weeks; I ate no pleasant bread, neither came flesh nor wine in my mouth; neither did I anoint myself at all, till three whole weeks were fulfilled...... And he said unto me, O Daniel, a man greatly beloved, understand the words that I speak unto thee, and stand upright; for unto thee am I now sent...... Fear