Sobriety is the bridle of the passions of
desire, and temperance is the bit and curb of that bridle, a restraint put into
a man's mouth, a moderate use of meat and drink, so as may best consist with
our health, and may not hinder but help the works of the soul by its necessary
supporting us, and ministering cheerfulness and refreshment.
Temperance consists of the actions of the soul
principally: for it is a grace that chooses natural means in order to proper
and natural, and holy ends; it is exercised about eating and drinking, because
they are necessary; but therefore it permits the use of them only as they
minister to lawful ends; it does not eat and drink for pleasure, but for need,
and for refreshment, which is a part or a degree of need. I deny not that
eating and drinking may be, and in healthful bodies always is,
with pleasure; because there is in nature no greater pleasure than that all the
appetites which God hath made should be satisfied: and a man may choose a
morsel that is pleasant, the less pleasant being rejected as being less useful,
less apt to nourish, or more agreeing with an infirm stomach, or when the day
is festival, by order or by private joy. In all these cases it is permitted to
receive a more free delight, and to design it too, as the less principal: that
is, that the chief reason why we choose the more delicious be the serving that
end for which such refreshments and choices are permitted. But when delight is
the only end, and rest itself, and dwells there long, then eating and drinking
is not a serving of God, but an inordinate action; because it is not in the way
to that end whither God directed it. But the choosing of a delicate before a
more ordinary dish is to be done as other human actions are in which there are
no degrees and precise natural limits described, but a latitude is indulged; it
must be done moderately, prudently, and according to the accounts of wise,
religious, and sober men: and then God, who gave us such variety of creatures,
and our choice to use which we will, may receive glory from our temperate use,
and thanksgiving; and we may use them indifferently without scruple, and a
making them to become snares to us, either by too licentious and studied use of
them, or too restrained and scrupulous fear of using them at all, but in such
certain circumstances, in which no man can be sure he is not mistaken.
But temperance is meat and drink is to be
estimated by the following measures.
1. Eat not before the time, unless necessity,
or charity, or any intervening accident, which may make it reasonable and
prudent, should happen. Remember, it had almost cost Jonathan his life, because
he tasted a little honey before the sun went down, contrary to the king's
commandment; and although a great need which he had excused him from the sin of
gluttony, yet it is inexcusable when thou eatest before the usual time, and
thrustest thy hand into the dish unseasonably, out of greediness of the
pleasure, and impatience of the delay.
2. Eat not hastily and impatiently, but with such
decent and timely action that your eating be human act, subject to deliberation
and choice, and that you may consider in the eating: whereas, he that eats
hastily cannot consider particularly of the circumstances, degrees, and little
accidents and chances, that happen in his meal; but may contract many little
indecencies, and be suddenly surprised.
3. Eat not delicately or nicely, that is, be not
troublesome to thyself or others in the choice of thy meats or the delicacy of
thy sauces. It was imputed us a sin to the sons of Israel, that they loathed
manna and longed for flesh: the quails stunk in their nostrils, and the wrath
of God fell upon them. And the the manner of dressing, the sons of Eli were
noted of indiscreet curiosity: they would not have the flesh boiled but raw,
that they might roast it with fire. Not that it was a sin to eat it, or desire
meat roasted; but that when it was appointed to be boiled, they refused it:
which declared an intemperate and a nice palate. It was lawful in all senses to
comply with a weak and a nice stomach, but not with a nice and curious palate.
When our health requires it, that ought to be provided for; but not so our
sensuality and intemperate longings. Whatsoever is set before you eat it, be it
never so delicate; and be it plain and common, so it be wholesome, and fit for
you, it must not be refused upon curiosity: for every degree of that is a
degree of intemperance. Happy and innocent were the ages of our forefathers,
who ate herbs and parched corn, and drank the pure stream, and broke their fast
with nuts and roots; and when they were
permitted flesh, ate it only dressed with hunger and fire; and the first sauce
they had was bitter herbs, and sometimes bread dipped in vinegar. But in this
circumstance, moderation is to be reckoned in proportion to the present
customs, to the company, to edification, and the judgment of honest and wise
persons, and the necessities of nature.
4. Eat not too much: load neither thy stomach nor
thy understanding. If thou sit at a bountiful table, be not greedy upon it, and
say not there is much meat on it. Remember that a wicked eye is an evil thing:
and what is created more wicked than an eye? Therefore it weepeth upon every
occasion. Stretch not thy hand whithersoever it looketh, and thrust it not with
him into the dish. A very little is sufficient for a man well nurtured, and he
fetcheth not his wind short upon his bed.
We shall best know that we have the grace of
temperance by the following signs, which are as so many arguments to engage us
also upon its study and practice.
1. A temperate man is modest: greediness is
unmannerly and rude. And this is intimated in the advice of the son of Sirach.
When thou sittest amongst many, reach not thy hand out first of all. Leave off
first for manner's sake, and be not insatiable lest thou offend. 2. Temperance
is accompanied with gravity of deportment: greediness is garish, and rejoices
loosely at the sight of dainties. 3. Sound
but moderate sleep is its sign and its effect. Sound sleep cometh of moderate
eating; he riseth early, and his wits are with him. 4. A spiritual joy and a
devout prayer. 5. A suppressed and seldom anger. 6. A seldom-returning and a
never-prevailing temptation. 8. To which add, that a temperate person is not
curious of fancies and deliciousness. He thinks not much, and speaks not often
of meat and drink; hath a healthful body and long life, unless it be hindered
by some other accident: whereas to gluttony, the pain of watching and cholera,
the pangs of the belly are continual company. And therefore Stratonicus said
handsomely concerning the luxury of the Rhodians, "They built houses as if they
were immortal; but they feasted as if they meant to live but a little while."
And Antipater, by his reproach of the old glutton Demades, well expressed the
baseness of this sin, saying, that Demades, now old, and always a glutton, was like a spent sacrifice, nothing
left of him but his belly and his tongue; all the man besides is gone.
But I desire that it be observed, that
because intemperance in eating is not so soon perceived by others as immoderate
drinking, and the outward visible effects of it are not either so notorious or
so ridiculous, therefore gluttony is not of so great disreptuation amongst men
as drunkenness; yet, according to its degree, it puts on the greatness of the
sin before God, and is most strictly to be attended to, lest we be surprised by
our security and want of diligence, and the intemperance is alike criminal in
both, according as the affections are either to the meat or drink. Gluttony is
more uncharitable to the body, and drunkenness to the soul, or the
understanding part of man; and therefore in Scripture is more frequently
forbidden and declaimed against than the other: and sobriety hath by use
obtained to signify temperance in drinking.
Drunkenness is an immoderate affection and use of
drink. That I call immoderate that is beside or beyond that order of good
things for which God hath given us the use of drink. The ends are digestion of
our meat, cheerfulness and refreshment of our spirits, or any end of health;
beside which if we go, or at any time beyond it, it is inordinate and criminal
- it is the vice of drunkenness. It is forbidden by our blessed Saviour in
these words: "Take heed to yourselves,
lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting and drunkenness:"
surfeiting, that is, the evil effects, the sottishness and remaining stupidity
of habitual, or of the last night's drunkenness. For Christ forbids both the
actual and the habitual intemperance; not only the effect of it, but also the
affection to it; for in both there is sin. He that drinks but little, if that
little makes him drunk, and if he knew beforehand his own infirmity, is guilty
of surfeiting, not of drunkenness. But he
that drinks much, and is strong to bear it, and is not deprived of his reason
violently, is guilty of the sin of drunkenness. It is a sin not to prevent such
uncharitable effects upon the body and understanding, and therefore a man that
loves not the drink is guilty of surfeiting if he does not watch to prevent the
evil effect; and it is a sin, and the greater of the two, inordinately to love
or to use the drink, though the surfeiting or violence do not follow. Good,
therefore, is the counsel of the son of Sirach, `Show not thy valiantness in
wine; for wine hath destroyed many.'
The evils and sad consequents of drunkenness
(the consideration of which are as so many arguments to avoid the sin) are to
this sense reckoned by the writers of holy Scripture, and other wise personages
of the world. 1. It causeth woes and mischief, wounds and sorrow, sin and shame; it maketh bitterness of spirit, brawling and quarrelling;
it increaseth rage and lesseneth strength; it maketh red eyes, and a loost and
babbling tongue. 2. It particularly ministers to lust, and yet disables the
body; so that in effect it makes man wanton as a satyr, and impotent as age.
And Solomon, in enumerating the evils of this vice, adds this to the account, `thine eyes shall behold strange women, and
thine heart shall utter perverse things: as if the drunkard were only desire,
and then impatience, muttering and enjoying like an eunuch embracing a woman.
3. It besots and hinders the actions of the understanding, making a man brutish
in his passions, and a fool in his reason; and differs nothing from madness but
that it is voluntary, and so is an equal evil in nature, and a worse in
manners. 4. It takes off all the guards,
and lets loose the reins of all those evils to which a man is by is nature or
by his evil customs inclined, and from which he is restrained by reason and
severe principles. Drunkenness calls off the watchmen from their towers; and
then all the evils that can proceed from a loose heart and an untied tongue,
and a dissolute spirit, and an unguarded unlimited will, all that we may put
upon the accounts of drunkenness. 5. It extinguisheth and quenches the Spirit
of God and with wine at the same time. And therefore St. Paul makes them
exclusive of each other: `Be not drunk
with wine wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit.' And since Joseph's
cup was put into Benjamin's sack, no man had a divining goblet. 6. It opens all
the sanctuaries of nature, and discovers the nakedness of the soul, all its
weaknesses and follies; it multiplies sins and discovers them; it makes a man
incapable of being a private friend or a public counsellor. 7. It taketh a
man's soul into slavery and imprisonment more than any vice whatever, because it disarms a man of all his reason
and his wisdom, whereby he might be cured, and therefore commonly it grows upon
him with age; a drunkard being still more a fool and less a man. I need not add
any sad examples, since all story and all ages have too many of them. Amnon was
slain by his brother Absalom when he was warm and high with wine. Simon, the
high-priest, and two of his sons, were slain by their brother at a drunken
feast. Holofernes was drunk when Judith slew him; and all the great things that
Daniel spake of Alexander were drowned
with a surfeit of one night's intemperance: and the drunkenness of Noah and Lot
are upon record to eternal ages, that in those early instances, and righteous
persons, and less criminal drunkenness than is that of Christians in this
period of the world, God might show that very great evils are prepared to
punish this vice; no less than shame, and slavery, and incest; the first upon
Noah, the second upon one of his sons, and the third in the person of Lot.
But if it be inquired concerning the periods
and distinct significations of this crime; and when a man is said to be drunk;
to this I answer, that drunkenness in in the same manner to be judged as
sickness. As every illness or violence done to health, in every part of its
continuance, is a part or degree of sickness; so is every going off from our
natural and common temper and our usual severity of behaviour, a degree of
drunkenness. He is not only drunk that can drink no more; for few are so: but
he hath sinned in a degree of drunkenness who hath done anything towards it
beyond his proper measure. But its parts and periods are usually thus reckoned:
1. apish gestures; 2. much talking; 3. immoderate laughing; 4. dullness of
sense; 5. scurrility, that is, wanton, or jeering, or abusive language; 6. an
useless understanding; 7. stupid sleep; 8. epilepsies, or fallings and
reelings, and beastly vomitings. The least of these, even when the tongue
begins to be untied, is a degree of drunkenness.
But that we may avoid the sin of intemperance in
meats and drinks, besides the former rules of measures, these counsels also may
1. Be not often present at feasts, nor at all
in dissolute company, when it may be avoided, for variety of pleasing objects
steals away the heart of man; and company is either violent or enticing, and we
are weak or complying, or perhaps desirous enough to be abused. But if you be
unavoidably or indiscreetly engaged, let not mistaken civility or good nature
engage thee either to the temptation of staying, (if thou understandest thy
weakness,) or the sin of drinking inordinately.
2. Be severe in your judgment concerning your
proportions, and let no occasion make you enlarge far beyond your ordinary. For
a man is surprised by parts; and while he thinks one glass more will not make
him drunk, that one glass hath disabled him from well discerning his present
condition and neighbour-danger. While men think themselves wise, they become
fools: they think they shall taste the aconite and not die, or crown their
heads with juice of poppy and not be drowsy; and if they drink off the whole
vintage, still they think they can swallow another goblet. But remember this, whenever you begin to consider whether
you may safely take one draught more, it is then high time to give over. Let
that be accounted a sign late enough to break off; for every reason to doubt is
a sufficient reason to part the company.
3. Come not to table but when thy need invites
thee; and, if thou beest in health, leave something of thy appetite unfilled,
something of thy natural heat unemployed, that it may secure thy digestion and
serve other needs of nature or the spirit.
4. Propound to thyself (if thou beest in a
capacity) a constant rule of living, of eating and drinking, which, though it
may not be fit to observe scrupulously, lest it become a snare to thy
conscience, or endanger thy health upon every accidental violence; yet let not
thy rule be broken often nor much, but upon great necessity and in small
5. Never urge any man to eat or drink beyond his
own limits and his own desires. He that does otherwise is drunk with his
brother's surfeit, and reels and falls
with his intemperance; that is, the sin of drunkenness is upon both their
scores, they both lie wallowing in the guilt.
6. Use St. Paul's instruments of sobriety: `Let
us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love,
and, for an helmet, the hope of salvation.' Faith, hope, and charity are the
best weapons in the world to fight against intemperance. The faith of the
Mahometans forbids them to drink wine, and they abstain religiously, as the
sons of Rechab; and the faith of Christ forbids drunkenness to us, and
therefore is infinitely more powerful to suppress this vice, when we remember
that we are Christians, and to abstain from drunkenness and gluttony is part of
the faith and discipling of Jesus, and that with these vices neither our love
to God nor our hopes of heaven can possibly consist; and, therefore, when these
enter the heart the others go out at the mouth; for this is the devil that is
cast out by fasting and prayer, which are the proper actions of these
7. As a pursuance of this rule, it is a good
advice, that, as we begin and end all our times of eating with prayer and
thanksgiving, so, at the meal, we remove and carry up our mind and spirit to
the celestial table, often thinking of it, and often desiring it; that by
enkindling thy desire to heavenly banquets, thou mayest be indifferent and less
passionate for the earthly.
8. Mingle discourses, pious, or in some sense,
profitable, and in all senses charitable and innocent, with thy meal, as
occasion is ministered.
9. Let your drink so serve your meat as your meat
doth your health; that it be apt to convey and digest it, and refresh the
spirits; but let it never go beyond such a refreshment as may a little lighten
the present load of a sad or troubled spirit, never to inconvenience,
lightness, sottishness, vanity, or intemperance; and know that the loosing the
bands of the tongue, and the very first dissolution of its duty, is one degree
of the intemperance.
10. In all cases be careful, that you be not
brought under the power of such things which otherwise are lawful enough in the
use. "All things are lawful for me; but I will not be brought under the power
of any", said St. Paul. And to be perpetually longing, and impatiently desirous
of anything, so that a man cannot abstain from it, is to lose a man's liberty,
and to become a servant of meat and drink, or smoke. And I wish this last
instance were more considered by persons who little suspect themselves guilty
of intemperance, though their desires are strong and impatient, and the use of
it perpetual and unreasonable to all purposes, but that they have made it
habitual and necessary as intemperance itself is made to some men.
11. Use those advices which are prescribed as
instruments, to suppress voluptuousness, in the foregoing section.
 Felix initium, prior aetas contenia
dulcibus arvis; Facileque sera solebat jejunia solvere glande. Boeth. lib. 1.
de Consol. Arbuteos foetus, montanaque fraga legebant.-Ov. M. i. 104.
 Cicero vocat Temperantiam ornatum vitae,
in quo decorum illud et honestum situm est.
 Plutarch. de Cupid. Divit.
 Luke xxi. 34.
 Kraipalm apo
pfoteraias aut apo cdizms oino posias.-Schol. in Aristoph. Idem fere
apud Plutarch. Vinolentia animi quandam remissiem et levitatem, ebrietas
futilitatem significat.-Plutarch. de Garrul.
 Ecclus. xxxi. 25.
 Prov. xxiii. 29; Ecclus. xxxi. 26.
 Multa faciunt ebrii quibus sobrii
erubescunt. Senec. Ep. 83, 17.
 Prov. xxiii. 33.
 Insaniae comes est ira, contubernalis
ebrietas.-Plutarch - Corpus onustum Hesternis vitiis animum quoque
praegravat.-Horat. Ebrietas est voluntaria insania.-Senec.
 Ephes. v. 18.
 Prov. xxxi. 4.
 Alexandrum intemperantia bibendi, et ille
Herculanus ac fatalis scyphus perdidit.-Senec. Ep. 1xxxiii. 21.
 Chi ha bevuto tutto il mare, puo bere
anche un trano.-Senec. Ep. 83.
 Nil interest, faveas sceleri, an illud