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Chapter VI.  Argument.—But, on the Ground that Liberty in Meats is Granted to Us, There is No Permission of Luxury, There is No Taking Away of Continence and Fasting: for These Things Greatly Become the Faithful,—To Wit, that They Should Pray to God, and Give Him Thanks, Not Only by Day, But by Night.

But from the fact that liberty of meats is granted to us, it does not of necessity follow that luxury is allowed us; nor because the Gospel has dealt with us very liberally, has it taken away continency. By this, I say, the belly is not provided for, but the form of meats was shown: it was made manifest what was right, not that we might go into the gulf of desire, but to give a reason for the law. But nothing has so restrained intemperance as the Gospel; nor has any one given such strict laws against gluttony as Christ, who is said to have pronounced even the poor blessed, and the hungering and thirsting happy, the rich miserable; to whom, obeying the government of their belly and their palate, the material of their lusts could never be wanting, so that their servitude could not cease; who think it an argument of their happiness to desire as much as they can, except that they are thus able to attain less than they desire.  For, moreover, preferring Lazarus in his very hunger and in his sores themselves, and with the rich man’s dogs, He restrained the destroyers of salvation, the belly and the palate, by examples.  The apostle also, when he said, “Having food and raiment, we are therewith content,”53375337    1 Tim. vi. 8. laid down the law of frugality and continency; and thinking that it would be of little advantage that he had written, he also gave himself as an example of what he had written, adding not without reason, that “avarice is the root of all evils;”53385338    1 Tim. vi. 10. for it follows in the footsteps of luxury. Whatever the latter has wasted by vice, the former restores by crime; the circle of crimes being re-trodden, that luxury may again take away whatever avarice had heaped together. Nor yet are there wanting, among such things, those who, although they have claimed to themselves the sound of the Christian name, afford instances and teachings of intemperance; whose vices have come even to that pitch, that while fasting they drink in the early morning, not thinking it Christian to drink after meat, unless the wine poured into their empty and unoccupied veins should have gone down directly after sleep: for they seem to have less relish of what they drink if food be mingled with the wine. Thus you may see such in a new kind, still fasting and already drunk, not running to the tavern, but carrying the tavern about with them; and if any one of them offers a salute, he gives not a kiss, but drinks a health. What can they do after meat, whom meat finds intoxicated? Or in what kind of state does the sun at his setting leave them, whom at his rising he looks upon as already stupid with wine? But things which are detestable are not to be taken as our examples. For those things only are to be taken by which our soul may be made better; and although in the Gospel the use of meats is universally given to us, yet it is understood to be given to us only with the law of frugality and continence. For these things are even greatly becoming to the faithful,—to wit, those who are about to pray to God and to give Him thanks, not only by day, but by night also; which cannot be if the mind, stupefied by meat and wine, should not prevail to shake off heavy sleep and the load heaped upon the breast.


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