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Of Temperance in Eating and Drinking.

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.

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