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SECTION III: What Remedy a Man should use against the Faults in Eating and Drinking

THEREFORE, thou shalt behave thyself discreetly about thy body, yielding it necessaries reasonably, and then let God send thee what He pleaseth, either health or sickness; take it gladly, and grudge not willingly against Him.

Do as I say, take thy meat as it cometh, or provide it according to reason, and take it gladly, as a thing that thou needest; but be well aware of lusts that cometh with need, eschew too much as well as too little. And having done, if after it there arise in thee a remorse or biting of conscience, that thou hast eaten too much, and thereupon thou becomest sad and heavy with overmuch bitterness against thyself, lift up the desire of thy heart to thy good Lord Jesus, and acknowledge thyself a wretch, and a beast, and ask Him forgiveness, and say that thou wilt amend it, and pray that he will forgive thee. Leave off then, and think no further of it, nor strive so much with the vice, as if thou wouldst destroy it utterly, for it is not worth the doing so, neither shalt thou be ever able to bring it about that way; but set thyself about some other business bodily or ghostly, according as thou findest thyself best disposed, that thereby thou mayest profit more in other virtues, as in humility and charity. For wot thou well, that he that hath in his desire and in his endeavours no other respect to no other thing but Humility and Charity, always crying after them, how he may have them, he shall through such desire and manner of working profit and increase, not only in those two virtues, but also in all other virtues together with them, as in chastity, abstinence and such other (though he have but a little regard to them in comparison of the other, namely, Humility and Charity) more in one year than he should, without the said desire and manner of working, profit in seven years, though he strive against gluttony, lechery and such other continually, and beat himself with scourges each day from morning to even-song time.

Set thyself, therefore, about Humility and Charity, and using all thy diligence and industry to come by them, yet shalt thou have enough to do in getting of them. And if thou canst get them, they will direct thee, and measure thee privily and secretly, how thou shalt eat, and how thou shalt drink, and succour all thy bodily needs, that there shall no man know of it, unless thou thyself do tell it him, and that thou shalt not be in perplexity, scruples, vexation, anguishment, or heaviness, nor with any lust or adhering to the delights and likings of sensuality, but shalt do all in peace of a glad conscience with all quietness and satisfaction. I have spoken more than I thought to have done in this matter, but nevertheless do (as far as thou canst) as I say, and I hope God shall make all well.

By this that I have said, thou mayest in some measure see into this image of sin, and perceive how much it hinders thee. The Gospel saith, how that Abraham spake to the rich man that was buried in hell, on this wise: There is betwixt us and you a great chaos;138138    St Luke 16. that is to say, a thick darkness betwixt thee and us, that we cannot come to thee, nor thou to us. This dark image in thy soul and mine may be in like manner called a chaos, that is, a great darkness, for it letteth us that we cannot come to Abraham, which is Jesus, and it letteth Him, that He will not come to us.


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