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Rules for obtaining Temperance.

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.8585Chi ha bevuto tutto il mare, puo bere anche un trano.—Senec. Ep. 83. 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 degrees.

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,8686Nil interest, faveas sceleri, an illud facias.—Senec. 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 graces.

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.

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