HOMILY ON GLUTTONY AND DRUNKENNESS
AN HOMILIE AGAINST
Gluttony and Drunkennesse.
YE haue heard in the former Sermon, welbeloued, the description and the vertue of fasting, with the true vse of the same. Now yee shall heare how foule a thing gluttony and drunkennesse is before GOD, the rather to mooue you to vse fasting the more diligently. Understand yee therefore, that Almighty GOD (to the end that we might keep our selues vndefiled and serue him in holinesse and righteousnesse, according to his word) hath charged in his Scriptures so many as looke for the glorious appearing of our Sauiour Christ, to lead their liues in all sobriety, modesty, and temperancie (Titus 2.12-14). Whereby we may learne how necessary it is for euery Christian that will not be found vnready at the comming of our Sauiour Christ, to liue sober minded in this present world, forasmuch as otherwise being vnready, he cannot enter with Christ into glory: And being vnarmed in this behalfe, he must needes bee in continuall danger of that cruell aduersary the roaring Lion, against whom the Apostle Peter warneth vs to prepare our selues in continuall sobriety, that we may resist, being stedfast in fayth (1 Peter 5.8). To the intent therefore that this sobernesse may bee vsed in all our behauiour, it shall be expedient for vs to declare vnto you how much all kinde of excesse offendeth the maiestie of almightie GOD, and howe grieuously hee punisheth the immoderate abuse of those his creatures which he ordeineth to the maintenance of this our needy life, as meates, drinkes, and apparell. And againe, to shew the noysome diseases and great mischiefes that commonly doe follow them that inordinatly giue vp themselues to be caried headlong with such pleasures as are ioyned eyther with daintie and ouerlarge fare, or else with costly and sumptuour apparell.
And first, that ye may perceiue how detestable and hatefull all excesse in eating and drinking is before the face of almighty GOD, ye shall call to minde what is written by Saint Paul to the Galathians, where hee numbreth gluttonie and drunkennesse among those horrible crimes, with the which (as he saith) no man shall inherite the kingdome of heauen (Galatians 5.21). Hee reckoneth them among the deedes of the flesh, and coupleth them with idolatrie, whoredome, and murder, which are the greatest offences that can bee named among men. For the first spoyleth GOD of his honour, the second defileth his holy Temple, that is to wit, our owne bodies, the third maketh vs companions of Cayne in the slaughter of our brethren, and who so committeth them, as Saint Paul saith, cannot inherite the kingdome of GOD. Certainely, that sinne is very odious and lothsome before the face of GOD, which causeth him to turne his fauourable countenance so farre from vs, that hee should cleane barre vs out of the doores, and disherite vs of his heauenly kingdome. But hee so much abhorreth all beastly banquetting, that by his sonne our Sauiour Christ in the Gospel, hee declareth his terrible indignation against all belly gods, in that hee pronounceth them accursed, saying, Wo bee to you that are full, for yee shall hunger (Luke 6.25). And by the Prophet Esaias hee cryeth out, Wo be to you that rise vp early to giue your selues to drunkennes, & set all your mindes so on drinking, that you sit swilling thereat vntill it bee night (Isaiah 5.11-12). The Harpe, the Lute, the shalme, and plentie of wine are at your feastes, but the workes of the Lord yee doe not beholde, neither consider the workes of his hands. Woe bee vnto you that are strong to drinke wine, and are mighty to aduance drunkennesse. Heere the Prophet plainely teacheth, that fasting and banquetting maketh men forgetfull of their duty towards GOD, when they giue themselues to all kindes of pleasures, not considering nor regarding the workes of the Lord, who hath created meates and drinkes, as S. Paul sayth, to bee receiued thankefully of them that beleeue and know the trueth. So that the very beholding of these creatures (being the handy worke of Almighty God) might teach vs to vse them thankefully as God hath ordeyned (1 Timothy 4.3).
Therefore they are without excuse before God, which either filthily feede themselues, not respecting the sanctification which is by the word of God and prayer, or else vnthankefully abuse the good creatures of God by surfetting & drunkennes, forasmuch as Gods ordinances in his creatures plainely forbidde it. They that giue themselues therefore to bibbing and banqueting, being without all consideration of Gods iudgements, are suddenly oppressed in the day of vengeance. Therefore Christ saith to his disciples, Take heede to your selues, least at any time your hearts bee ouercome with surfeting and drunkennesse, and cares of this world, and so that day come on you vnwares (Luke 21.34). Whosoeuer then will take warning at Christ, let him take heede to himselfe, least his heart being ouerwhelmed by surfeting and drowned in drunkennes, he be taken vnwares with that vnthrifty seruant, which, thinking not on his masters comming, began to smite his fellow seruants, & to eate, & to drinke, & to bee drunken, & being sudenly taken, hath his iust reward with vnbeleeuing hypocrites (Luke 12.45-46). They that vse to drink deeply, & to feed at ful (wallowing themselues in all kind of wickednes) are brought asleep in that slumbring forgetfulnesse of Gods holy will & commandements. Therefore almighty God cryeth by the Prophet Ioel : Awake ye drunkards, weepe and howle all ye drinkers of wine, because the new wine shalbe pulled from your mouth (Joel 1.5). Here the Lord terribly threatneth to withdraw his benefites from such as abuse them, and to pull the cup from the mouth of drunkards. Here we may learne, not to sleepe in drunkennesse and surfetting lest GOD depriue vs of the vse of his creatures, when we vnkindly abuse them. For certainly the Lord our GOD will not only take away his benefits when they are vnthankefully abused: but also in his wrath and heauie displeasure take vengeance on such as immoderately abuse them. If our first parents Adam and Eve had not obeyed their greedy appetite in eating the forbidden fruit, neither had they lost the fruition of GODS benefites which they then enioyed in paradise, neither had they brought so many mischiefs both to themselues, and to all their posteritie (Genesis 3.6). But when they passed the bonds that GOD had appointed them, as vnworthy of GODS benefits, they are expelled and driuen out of paradise, they may no longer eate the fruites of that garden, which by excesse they had so much abused. As transgressors of GODS commandement, they and their posterity are brought to a perpetuall shame and confusion, and as accursed of GOD, they must now sweate for their liuing, which before had abundance at their pleasure. Euen so, if we in eating and drinking exceede, when God of his large liberality sendeth plenty, he will soone change plenty into scarcenesse. And whereas we gloried in fulnesse, he will make vs emptie, and confound vs with penury, yea, we shalbe compelled to labour and trauaile with paines, in seeking for that which we sometime enioyed at ease. Thus the Lord will not leaue them vnpunished, who not regarding his works, follow the lusts and appetites of their owne hearts.
Noah. The Patriarch Noah, whom the Apostle calleth the preacher of righteousnes, a man exceedingly in GODS fauour, is in holy Scripture made an example, whereby we may learne to auoid drunkennesse (2 Peter 2.5). For when he had powred in wine more then was conuenient, in filthy maner hee lay naked in his tent, his priuities discouered. And whereas sometime hee was so much esteemed, he is now become a laughing stocke to his wicked sonne Cham, no small griefe to Sem and Iapeth his other two sonnes, which were ashamed of their fathers beastly behauiour. Heere wee may note that drunkennesse bringeth with it shame and derision, so that it neuer escapeth vnpunished.
Lot. Lot in like maner, being ouercome with wine, committed abominable incest with his owne daughters. So will almighty GOD giue ouer drunkards, to the shamefull lusts of their owne hearts. Heere is Lot by drinking fallen so farre beside himselfe, that hee knoweth not his owne daughters. Who would haue thought that an olde man in that heauie case, hauing lost his wife and all that he had, which had seene euen now GODS vengeance in fearefull maner declared on the fiue Cities for their vicious liuing, should be so farre past the remembrance of his duety? But men ouercome with drinke, are altogether madde as Seneca saith (Seneca, `Epist.', 84). He was deceiued by his daughters: but now many deceiue themselues, neuer thinking that GOD by his terrible punishments will bee auenged on them that offend by excesse. It is no small plague that Lot purchased by his drunkennesse. For he had copulation most filthily with his owne daughters, which conceiued thereby, so that the matter is brought to light, it can no longer bee hidde. Two incestuous children are borne, Ammon and Moab, of whom came two nations, the Ammonites and Moabites, abhorred of GOD, and cruell aduersares to his people the Israelites. Loe Lot hath gotten to himselfe by drinking, sorrow, and care, with perpetuall infamie and reproch vnto the worldes ende. If GOD spared not his seruant Lot, being otherwise a godly man, nephew vnto Abraham, one that entertained the Angels of GOD: What will he doe to these beastly belly slaues, which voide of all godlinesse or vertuous behauiour, not once, but continually day and night, giue themselues wholly to bibbing and banquetting?
Amnon. But let vs yet further behold the terrible examples of GODS indignation against such as greedily follow their vnsatiable lusts. Amnon the sonne of Dauid, feasting himselfe with his brother Absolom, is cruelly murdered of his owne brother (2 Samuel 13.28-29).
Holophernes, a valiant and mighty captaine, being ouerwhelmed with wine, had his head striken from his shoulders by that seely woman Iudith (Judith 13.2, 8). Simon the hie Priest, and his two sonnes Mattathias and Iudas, being entertained of Ptolomie the sonne of Abobus , who had before married Simons daughter, after much eating and drinking, were traiterously murdered of their owne kinseman. If the Israelites had not giuen themselues to belly cheare, they had neuer so often fallen to idolatrie (Exodus 32.6). Neither would wee at this day bee so addict to superstition, were it not that wee so much esteemed the filling of our bellies. The Israelites when they serued Idolles, sate downe to eate and drinke, and rose againe to play, as the Scripture reporteth (1 Corinthians 10.7). Therefore seeking to serue their bellies, they forsooke the seruice of the Lord their GOD. So are wee drawen to consent vnto wickednesse, when our hearts are ouerwhelmed by drunkennesse and feasting. So Herode set ting his minde on banquetting, was content to grant, that the holy man of GOD Iohn Baptist, should bee beheaded at the request of his whores daughter (Matthew 14.6-10). Had not the rich glutton bene so greedily giuen to the pampering of his belly, he would neuer haue beene so vnmercifull to the poore Lazarus, neither had he felt the torments of the vnquenchable fire (Luke 16.19-25).
What was the cause that GOD so horribly punished Sodom and Gomorrha? was it not their proud banquetting and continuall idlenesse, which caused them to bee so lewde of life, and so vnmercifull towards the poore (Ezekial 16.49)? What shall we now thinke of the horrible excesse, whereby so many haue perished, and bene brought to destruction?
Alexander. The great Alexander after that hee had conquered the whole world, was himselfe ouercome by drunkennesse, insomuch that being drunken, hee slew his faithfull friend Clitus, whereof when he was sober, he was so much ashamed, that for anguish of heart he wished death. Yet notwithstanding, after this hee left not his banquetting, but in one night swilled in so much wine, that hee fell into a feuer, and when as by no meanes hee would abstaine from wine, within few dayes after in miserable sort he ended his life. The conquerour of the whole world is made a slaue by excesse, and becommeth so madde that he murdereth his deare friend, hee is plagued with sorrow, shame, and griefe of heart for his intemperancie, yet can he not leaue it, hee is kept in captiuitie, and hee which sometime had subdued many, is become a subiect to the vile belly. So are drunkards and gluttons altogether without power of themselues, and the more they drinke, the dryer they waxe, one banquet prouoketh another, they studie to fill their greedie stomackes. Therefore it is commonly sayd, A drunken man is alwayes drie, and A gluttons gut is neuer filled. nsatiable truely are the affections and lustes of mans heart, and therefore wee must learne to bridle them with the feare of GOD, so that we yeeld not to our owne lustes, lest we kindle GODS indignation against our selues, when we seeke to satisfie our beastly appetite. Saint Paul teacheth vs, whether wee eate or drinke, or whatsoeuer wee doe, to doe all to the glory of GOD (1 Corinthians 10.31). Where hee appointeth, as it were by a measure, how much a man may eate and drinke: that is to wit, so much that the minde be not made sluggish by cramming in meate, and powring in drinke, so that it cannot lift vp it selfe to the glory and prayse of GOD. Whatsoeuer he be then, that by eating and drinking maketh himselfe vnfit to serue GOD, let him not thinke to escape vnpunished.
Yee haue heard how much almighty GOD detesteth the abuse of his creatures, as he himselfe declareth, aswell by his holy word, as also by the fearefull examples of his iust iudgement. Now if neither the word of GOD can restraine our raging lustes and greedy appetites, neither the manifest examples of GODS vengeance feare vs from riotous and excessiue eating and drinking, let vs yet consider the manifold mischiefes that proceede thereof, so shall wee know the tree by the fruits. It hurteth the body, it infecteth the minde, it wasteth the substance, and is noysome to the neighbours. But who is able to expresse the manifolde dangers and inconueniences that follow of intemperate diet? Oft commeth sodaine death by banquetting, sometime the members are dissolued, and so the whole body is brought into a miserable state. Hee that eateth and drinketh vnmeasurably, kindleth oft times such an vnnaturall heate in his body, that his appetite is prouoked thereby to desire more then it should, or else it ouercommeth his stomacke, and filleth all the body full of sluggishnesse, makes it vnable and vnfit to serue either GOD or man, not nourishing the body, but hurting it: and last of all, bringeth many kindes of incurable diseases, whereof ensueth sometimes desperate death. But what should I neede to say any more in this behalfe? For except GOD blesse our meates, and giue them strength to feede vs: againe, except GOD giue strength to nature to digest, so that we may take profit by them, either shall we filthily vomite them vp againe, or els shal they lie stinking in our bodies, as in a lothsome sinke or chanell, and so diuersely infect the whole body. And surely the blessing of GOD is so farre from such as vse riotous banquetting, that in their faces be sometimes seene the expresse tokens of this intemperancy: as Solomon noteth in his prouerbes. To whom is woe (sayth hee) to whom is sorrow? to whom is strife? to whom is brawling, to whom are wounds without cause? and for whom is the rednesse of eyes? euen to them that tarrie long at the wine (Proverbs 23.29-30). Marke (I beseech you) the terrible tokens of GODS indignation: Woe, and sorrow, strife, and brawling, wounds without cause, disfigured face, and rednesse of eyes are to bee looked for, when men set themselues to excesse and gurmandise, deuising all meanes to encrease their greedy appetites by tempering the wine, and sawcing in it such sort, that it may bee more delectable and pleasant vnto them. It were expedient, that such delicate persons should bee ruled by Solomon, who in consideration of the aforesayde inconueniences, forbiddeth the very sight of wine. Looke not vpon the wine (sayth hee) when it is red, and when it sheweth his colour in the cup, or goeth downe pleasantly: for in the ende thereof it will bite like a serpent, and hurt like a cockatrice. Thine eyes shall looke vpon strange women, and thine heart shall speake lewde things, and thou shalt bee as one that sleepeth in the middes of the sea, and as he that sleepeth in the toppe of the maste. They haue stricken mee (thou shalt say) but I was not sicke, they haue beaten mee, but I felt it not, therefore will I seeke it yet still. Certainely that must needes bee verie hurtfull which biteth and infecteth like a poysoned Serpent, whereby men are brought to filthy fornication, which causeth the heart to deuise mischiefe. Hee doubtlesse is in great danger that sleepeth in the middest of the sea, for soone hee is ouerwhelmed with waues. He is like to fall sodainely that sleepeth in the toppe of the maste. And surely hee hath lost his senses, that cannot feele when he is stricken, that knoweth not when he is beaten. So, surfetting and drunkennesse bites by the belly, and causeth continuall gnawing in the stomack, bringes men to whoredome and lewdenesse of hearte, with dangers vnspeakable: so that men are bereaued and robbed of their senses, and are altogether without power of themselues, Who seeth not nowe the miserable estate whereinto men are brought, by these foule filthie monsters, gluttonie and drunkennesse (Proverbs 23.31-35). The body is so much disquieted by them, that as Iesus the sonne of Syrach affirmeth, the vnsatiable feeder neuer sleepeth quietly, such an vnmeasurable heate is kindled, whereof ensueth continuall ache and paine to the whole body (Apoc. Ecclesiastes 31.20). And no lesse truely the minde is also annoyed by surfetting bankettes: for sometimes men are stricken with frensie of minde, and are brought in like manner to meere madnesse, some waxe so brutish and blockish, that they become altogether voyde of vnderstanding. It is an horrible thing that any man should maime himselfe in any member: but for a man of his owne accord to bereaue himselfe of his wittes, is a mischiefe intolerable. The Prophet Osee in the fourth Chapter, saith, that wine and drunkennesse taketh away the heart (Hosea 4.11). Alas then, that any man should yeelde vnto that, whereby hee might bereaue himselfe of the possession of his owne heart. Wine and women leade wise men out of the way, and bring men of vnderstanding to reproofe and shame, sayth Iesus the sonne of Syrach (Apoc. Ecclesiastes 19.2). Yea hee asketh what is the life of man that is ouercome with drunkennesse. Wine drunken with excesse, maketh bitternesse of minde, and causeth brawling and strife (Apoc. Ecclesiastes 31.29). In Magistrates it causeth cruelty in steade of iustice, as that wise Philosopher Plato perceiued right well, when hee affirmed that a drunken man hath a tyrannous heart, and therefore will rule at his pleasure, contrary to right and reason (Plato, `De Repub.', bk. 3). And certainely drunkennesse maketh men forget both law and equitie, which caused King Solomon so straitly to charge that no wine should bee giuen vnto rulers, lest peraduenture by drinking, they forget what the law appointeth them, and so change the iudgement of all the children of the poore (Proverbs 31.4). Therefore among all sortes of men, excessiue drinking is most intolerable in a Magistrate or man of authority, as Plato sayth: For a drunkard knoweth not where hee is himselfe. If then a man of authoritie should bee a drunkard, alasse, how might hee bee a guide vnto other men, standing in neede of a gouernour himselfe (Besides this, a drunken man can keepe nothing secret: manie fonde, foolish and filthie wordes are spoken when men are at their bankets. Drunkennesse (as Seneca affirmeth) discouereth all wickednesse, and bringeth it to light, it remooueth all shamefastnesse, and encreaseth all mischiefe. The proud man being drunken, vttereth his pride, the cruell man his crueltie, and the enuious man his enuie, so that no vice canne lie hid in a drunkard. Moreouer, in that hee knoweth not himselfe, hee fumbleth and stammereth in his speach, staggereth to and fro in his going, beholding nothing stedfastly with his staring eyes, beleeueth that the house runneth round about him. It is euident that the minde is brought cleane out of frame by excessiue drinking, so that whosoeuer is deceiued by wine or strong drinke, becommeth as Solomon saith, a mocker, or a madde man, so that hee can neuer be wise (Proverbs 20.1). If his wittes, hee may aswell suppose, as Seneca saith, that when hee hath drunken poyson, hee shall not die. For wheresoeuer excessiue drinking is, there must needes followe perturbation of minde, and where the belley is stuffed with daintie fare, there the minde is oppressed with slothfull sluggishnesse. A full belly, maketh a grosse vnderstanding, saith Saint Bernard, and much meate maketh a weary minde (Saint Bernard, `Ad sororem ser.', 24). But alasse, now a dayes men passe little either for body or minde: so they haue worldly wealth and riches aboundant to satisfie their vnmeasurable lustes, they care not what they doe. They are not ashamed to shew their drunken faces, and to play the madde man openly. They thinke themselues in good case, and that all is well with them, if they be not pinched by lacke and pouerty. Lest any of vs therefore might take occasion to flatter himselfe in this beastly kinde of excesse, by the aboundance of riches, let vs call to minde what Solomon writeth in the xxi. of his Prouerbs, Hee that loueth wine and fatte fare, shall neuer bee rich, saith he (Proverbs 21.17). And in the xxiii. Chapter, he maketh a vehement exhortation, on this wise, Keepe not company with drunkards and gluttons, for the glutton and drunkard shall come to pouerty (Proverbs 23.20-21).
He that draweth his patrimony through his throat, and eateth and drinketh more in one houre or in one day, then hee is able to earne in a whole weeke, must needes be an vnthrift, and come to beggerie. But some will say, what need any to finde fault with this? He hurteth no man but himselfe, hee is no mans foe but his owne. Indeed I know this is commonly spoken in defence of these beastly belly gods but it is easie to see how hurtfull they are, not only to themselues, but also to the common wealth, by their example. Euery one that meeteth them is troubled with brawling and contentious language, and oft times raging in beastly lusts, like high fed horses, they ney on their neighbours wiues, as Ieremy sayth, and defile their children and daughters. Their example is euill to them among whom they dwell, they are an occasion of offence to many, and whiles they waste their substance in banquetting, their owne household is not prouided of things necessary, their wiues and their children are euill intreated, they haue not wherewith to releeue their poore neighbours in time of necessity, as they might haue, if they liued soberly. They are vnprofitable to the common wealth. For a drunkard is neither fit to rule, nor to be ruled. They are a slander to the Church or congregation of Christ, and therefore Saint Paul doeth excommunicate them among whoremongers, idolaters, couetous persons, and extortioners, forbidding Christians to eat with any such (1 Corinthians 5.11). Let vs therefore, good people, eschew every one of vs, all intemperancy, let vs loue sobriety and moderate diet, oft giue our selues to abstinency and fasting, whereby the minde of man is more lift vp to GOD, more ready to all godly exercises, as prayer, hearing and reading of GODS word, to his spirituall comfort. Finally, whosoeuer regardeth the health and safety of his owne body, or wisheth alwayes to be well in his wits, or desireth quietnesse of minde, and abhorreth fury and madnesse, he that would be rich, and escape pouerty, he that is willing to liue without the hurt of his neighbour, a profitable member of the common wealth, a Christian without slander of Christ and his Church: let him auoyd all riotous and excessiue banquetting, let him learne to keepe such measure as behoueth him that professeth true godlinesse, let him follow S. Pauls rule, and so eat and drink, to the glory and prayse of GOD, who hath created all things to be soberly vsed with thanksgiuing, to whom be all honour and glory for euer. Amen.
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