Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAPTER XXX.: of sobriety. - The Works of John Robinson, vol. 1
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CHAPTER XXX.: of sobriety. - John Robinson, The Works of John Robinson, vol. 1 
The Works of John Robinson, Pastor of the Pilgrim Fathers, with a Memoir and Annotations by Robert Ashton, 3 vols (London: John Snow, 1851). Vol. 1.
Part of: The Works of John Robinson, Pastor of the Pilgrim Fathers, with a Memoir and Annotations by Robert Ashton, 3 vols.
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“The grace of God,” in Christ, and his gospel, “ which hath appeared, teacheth us as well to live soberly, as justly, and godly in the world.” Titus ii. 12. And he that is not sober in himself, using, and desiring moderately, the good things of this natural life, as meat, drink, apparel, sleep, pastime, credit, and the rest; will neither converse righteously with men, nor piously with God. He that takes more to himself, than is due to him, cannot give either God or men their due.
Nature is content with few, and small things: for though the belly will be craving, yet it is no exacting creditor; but will be satisfied with a small proportion:* which to press with superfluities, makes things either unpleasant, or hurtful,† It is reasonable to deal with, if we give it but what we owe, and not what we can.‡ In reproof of gluttony, and excess, one saith, “ that the throat hath killed more than the sword.” And I think it may be truly said, that how hard soever it have gone with many in the world, at times; that more have received hurt by eating too much, than too little. And though many be of mind, that by devouring a great deal, they shall make their bodies the stronger, and lives the longer; yet is there reason to think, that were not men provoked by company, and sensual objects; or misled by inordinate appetite; or miswonted by custom; even half the meat and drink which the most use, would afford as long, and strong a state of body, and bodily health, as they do enjoy. Moderate diet, saith one, is good both for the soul and body:§ and so is it for the estate also, and the contrary, pernicious; God both saying, and ordering, “that he that loveth wine and oil shall not be rich.” Prov. xxi. 17. He, especially, if he be a poor man, and of small means, “that will this world's goods win, must at his belly begin.”
It is a base, and beastly thing, for a man to give himself to eating and drinking, or to either of them: neither are such to be reckoned, saith one, among men but beasts.|| But for a man to be so inordinate, as to hurt either his body or mind by excess, as a riotous youth delivers over to old age a feeble body.¶ and more feeble mind, and destitute, for the most part, both of wisdom and grace, is to follow the basest of beasts, and to become swinish: few other beasts save swine will over-eat themselves. Neither is it any sufficient excuse for him that hath plenty to be excessive; more than for the cook that had made the meat oversalt, to say, that he had a store of salt by him. Neither yet excuseth it, that by custom some are able, as they say, to bear their drink, and not be overcome by it. For, albeit drunkenness in this be very odious, that whereas other sins deprive persons of God's image, it deprives them of man's; leaving them the use neither of reason, nor speech, in which two things man differs specially from beasts; no nor of sense, and motion accordingly, wherein beasts excel stocks and stones; but so blockifies them, for the present, that neither hand, nor foot, can do their office:* yet the Lord by the prophet denounceth a woe not only against them that are overcome by drink, which may befall some by a very little, through natural weakness of brain, but against them, who can overcome it, being “mighty to drink wine, and men of strength to mingle strong drink.” Isa. v. 22.
Considering that “ meat, and so for other bodily good things, makes us not the more acceptable before God,” 1 Cor. viii. 8; and that “God will destroy both the belly (in that use) and meat,” 1 Cor. vi. 13; it should teach us, in the meanwhile, moderately to use all things for the belly, and natural life. But if, besides these considerations, we weigh with ourselves, how unworthy our sins make us of the least comfort by any of God's creatures; specially, if with these things concerning ourselves, we weigh how many in the world, and those of the Lord's faithful servants, stand in need of meat, drink, &c., for their natural necessity; if there be in us either fear of God, or love of men, it will work in us a great conscience not to mispend anything vainly, or riotously, wherewith we might comfort the hearts of them that need it. And they who in this case will not be warned by Moses, and the prophets, nor by Christ and the apostles neither; shall with the glutton feel the torment of the flame of hell, Luke xvi. 24, for their excess in themselves, and unmercifulness towards others.
The special use of wine, and strong drink is, that “ the heavy of heart, and ready to perish might drink, and forget his poverty, and misery,” Prov. xxxi. 6, 7. But the abuse is more common than the use; by which the strong and stout take the greatest part therein; drinking many times, till they forget both God, and themselves; whilst the other languish in want and sorrow.
Christ and his apostles often join in their exhortations sobriety, and watchfulness together. Matt. xxiv. 42; Luke xii. 39. For drunkenness, and gluttony make men fitter for sleeping, than watching. 1 Thes. v. 6, 7. And so doth all excess in bodily things draw with it carnal security, and security, destruction. We are, therefore, to be sober in the desire and use of all earthly things, that we may watch: and to watch, that we may escape the danger of spiritual enemies, which watch for our destruction.
“ When thou sittest to eat with a ruler,” saith the wise man, “consider diligently what is before thee, and put thy knife to thy throat, if thou be a man given to thine appetite.” Prov. xxiii. 1. They that eat with rulers, or where there is variety of delicates, are apt enough to consider diligently what is before them; but it is for the most part, not to restrain their appetite, as it should be; but rather to provoke it. But a wise man will consider of his temptations, to escape the danger of them: a fool to proyoke himself to swallow them the more greedily, as the fish doth the bait with the hook under it.
He only is not overtaken with unlawful things, who inureth himself, at times, to abstain from many things lawful.* He that will go as near the ditch as he can, will at some time, or other, fall in: so he who will take all the liberty that possibly he may lawfully, cannot but fall into many unlawful things.† Thereupon, Austin's mother would not allow the young maids committed to her government, to drink as much water as they would: lest afterwards, becoming wives, and having plenty, they should use excess in wine.