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Of Drunkenness.

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:7575Luke xxi. 34. “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.7676Κραιπαλμ απο πφοτεραιας αυτ απο χδιζμς οινο ποσιας.—Schol. in Aristoph. Idem fere apud Plutarch. Vinolentia animi quandam remissiem et levitatem, ebrietas futilitatem significat.—Plutarch. de Garrul. 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.’7777Ecclus. xxxi. 25.


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