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Sentence Sermons (Christian Inspiration) #88 --- Temperance

Updated on May 1, 2011

Quotations on Temperance

Temperance is love exercising masterful self-control. Temperance in a general sense means self-control, masterful and exacting. It means keeping a guard over all the passions of the heart and appetites of the mind and the powers of the soul.

—William M. Anderson, Sr., Dallas Morning News, Dallas, Texas, Oct. 8, 1922.

Because our needs are limited, but our wants are unlimited, a virtue is necessary to restrain our inordinate appetites and desires--and that virtue is called temperance. It has for its object the regulation of the sensible appetites by reason. The two strongest appetites in man are eating and drinking, which sustain his individual life, and the sexual act which propogates his social nature. Excesses in these appetites are the sources of the two sins of gluttony and lust. Temperance is the virtue which moderates them for the sake of the soul.

—Fulton J. Sheen, The Catholic Tribune, St. Joseph, Mo., March 23, 1940.

Real temperance, which is self-control, is by no proper means an all-around "moderate indulgence." It is rather a total abstinence from all that is evil and a moderate indulgence in that which is good. That, in the light of scripture, is the meaning of "temperate in all things." To be out of proper control in regard to any matter is a mistake more serious than commonly supposed. There is no way to estimate the damage done because of failure to guard our tongues. The complete mastery of the tongue is declared to be unattainable. But it is a goal to which the real God-fearing will conscientiously seek to attain. We shall hardly become too serious about true temperance.

—Ben J. Elston, DeRidder Enterprise, DeRidder, La., March 4, 1949.

Intemperance goes hand in hand with lawlessness, and lawlessness is an enemy of peace.

—David O. McKay, Deseret News, Salt Lake City, Utah, Oct. 13, 1945.

 Temperance is a wider term than we think. It refers to all habits of mind and of life which render the strong in crisis hours. One must find out the ways of nature and then bring his actions into agreement. No prizes go to men of dissolute habits, or spendthrifts modes of life. ... The masterful man is he who in his private habits has so mastered his appetites, his passions, his motives, his desires, his thinking, that when crisis arises, he exhibits a strong character. In a world where perfection is the true goal and endeavor the price of excellence is the habitual practice of self-control.

—Howland Hanson, The Register and Leader, Des Moines, Iowa, Aug. 21, 1911.

By temperance is meant self-control, as applied particularly to pleasures of the senses. To speak in theological terms: Temperance is the virtue by which "man governs his natural appetite for pleasures of the senses in accordance with the norm prescribed by reason." It is a virtue which dwells in the soul of man, particularly by his will, by which his indulgence in pleasures is governed by reason. ...

Intemperance is merely the lack of self-control. ... Temperance is the presence of self-control. And self-control is developed through religious discipline. I recognize exceptions. I know individuals of strong character, who avoid excesses from natural motives, who are not guided by religion. But they are exceptions. The rule is clear: As the influence of religion decreases intemperance increases; as the influence of religion increases intemperance decreases.

—Duane G. Hunt, Intermountain Catholic, Salt Lake City, Utah, March 15, 1930.

Whatever inflames the passions and disturbs our proper poise is the foe to temperance. This shut outs not only all intoxicating drinks, but also pursuits and pleasures that give the lower nature control. ...

True temperance means being guarded in our speech. How prone some of us are in our moments of anger, to accuse others of that which sober thought would tell us was unjust and untrue. Exaggeration in speech is intemperance. Who has not known the scolding woman whose terrible tirades shocked the neighborhood, or the profane, abusive man from whom children fled? Both were victims of the habit of intemperate speech.

We may be intemperate in our pleasures, either by indulging in legitimate pleasures in an excessive manner, or by having anything to do with pleasures that destroy self-control.

—Mattie M. Boteler, Christian Standard, Cincinnati, Ohio, Aug. 6, 1921.

Temperance is self-control, the last and greatest of all virtues, the regulating virtue, producing poise in one's life.

—Frank Crane, The Chicago Daily News, Chicago, Ill., Aug. 28, 1916.

Temperance means self-control for our own sake, and self-denial for the sake of those who might be tempted to their own destruction.

—Theodore L. Cuyler, Christian Observer, Louisville, Ky., Sept. 7, 1904.

Temperance is the power of self-control, or the restraint placed upon self against all things causing injury. It is like the governor upon the engine which holds the speed within the bounds of safety. Like a dam across the valley it holds the floods of passion from causing havoc, and conserves life's forces for service in useful channels. It is "the silken string running through the pearl-chain of all virtues."

—Charles Fry, Autumn Leaves, Lamoni, Iowa, February 1914.

The abstinence demanded by God deprives man of nothing except that which hurts him.

—H.W. Knickerbocker, Houston Post-Dispatch, Houston, Texas, April 9, 1928.

The virtue of prosperity is temperance and the virtue of adversity is fortitude.

—H.W. Knickerbocker, Houston Post-Dispatch, Houston, Texas, Dec. 30, 1929.

Temperance is the right use of good things and abstinence from bad things.

—S.S. Lappin, Christian Standard, Cincinnati, Ohio, Aug. 14, 1937.

"Add to your faith virtue, and to virtue knowledge, and to knowledge temperance." (2 Peter 1:5-6.) The term temperance here does not refer to what we ordinarily mean when we speak of when we speak of temperance. Of course, Christian people are to be temperate in that sense, but it conveys the idea of being temperate in our eating, temperate in our talking, temperate in our sleeping, temperate in every respect, so that we may live just as long and be just as active and strong in body and mind and soul and spirit as possible, being strong for the conflict in every sense and be just as serviceable as possible in the army of the Lord.

—T.B. Larimore, Dallas Morning News, Dallas, Texas, Dec. 7, 1890.

Temperance implies being evenly balanced on all things. The crank is a man who is just a little overbalanced on some particular subject or idea. It is the man who is evenly balanced on all matters who is the really temperate one.

—J. Benjamin Lawrence, The Daily Picayune, New Orleans, La., Dec. 2, 1907.

Intemperate habits are the termites that destroy good character.

—James DeForest Murch, Christian Standard, Cincinnati, Ohio, May 18, 1940.

It is well known that intemperance in work, in eating, as in many other commendable phases of life, affects life adversely. We ought to use our intelligence in the use of the good things of life. The only attitude an intelligent being can assume toward the bad things is to refuse to use them, expose the evil and dangers in them, or destroy them if, and when, it is possible to do so. It is absurd to talk about being temperate in taking poison into one's system.

—J.E. Nunn, Amarillo Daily News, Amarillo, Texas, March 19, 1938.

Temperance means abstinence from everything hurtful and a moderate use of those things helpful. One may use a good thing to his detriment. Self-control, self-mastery is temperance in the true sense of the word. ...

There is no element of human nature that is so blighted by self-indulgence as the powers of the soul. The soul is the organ for the apprehension of God. Every sin growing out of a lack of self-mastery leaves its blight upon the soul which obscures the vision of God.

—M.O. Patterson, Baptist Record, Jackson, Miss., May 10, 1917.

Temperance is love in training.

—T.W. Phillips, Jr., The Shreveport Times, Shreveport, La., June 8, 1925.

"The fruit of the spirit is temperance." (Galatians 5:22, 23.) This means self-control. Good clear judgment. Poise that cannot be made to waver.

—W. James Robinson, The Western Messenger, Kansas City, Mo., Aug. 9, 1918.

True education teaches temperance in all things. ... Overindulgence in what the world calls the good things of life leads to satiety and disgust. Intemperance is a phase of self-love. ... It is sensation-seeking; it looks for satisfaction where no satisfaction can be found. Intemperance warps taste and dulls spiritual perception. It binds mortals to habit-forming drugs, alcohol and tobacco and thus frustrates the free exercise of righteous and dispassionate judgment. ... Temperance in action requires that we do not demand of ourselves or others work which seems to be beyond reason. ...

True education teaches that mental freedom under divine principles can be found only through total abstinence from the use of narcotic drugs, alcohol and tobacco.

—James G. Rowell, Lake Charles American Press, Lake Charles, La., Oct. 20, 1939.

Temperance is the balance wheel of life, in the home, in travel, in all our relations between men. All trouble between men is due to a want of temperance in action and speech.

—George R. Stuart, Austin Daily Statesman, Austin, Texas, Oct. 31, 1908.

Intemperance is so deceptive–because it comes from the father of liars. At first there seems to be something attractive and thrilling about sin, but "at last, it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder."

—Frank L. Stuck, Christian Standard, Cincinnati, Ohio, April 26, 1941.

"It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor anything whereby thy brother stumbleth." (Romans 14:21.) Intemperance in liquor drinking is as old as the ages and the efforts to promote temperance are not new. The evil and the unwisdom of the intemperate use of intoxicants was known as well in the time of the inspired authors of the Bible as now and the description of the intemperate man of 2,000 years ago is perfectly true to life today. Not only religion, but science and commercialism of the present day, agree in their demand for temperance as regards the use of intoxicants; the first in the interest of morals, the second in the interest of physical health, and the third in the interest of commercial efficiency, so that the question of this form of temperance is no longer an open one and the differences that arise over it are those pertaining to the method of obtaining the result, rather than a question of the desirability of the result itself.

The Apostle Paul has taken high ground and enjoins not only temperance in all things but total abstinence from the indulgence in anything which might cause another to stumble. The impelling motive for this is love and the desire of the strong man to protect the weak by his own conduct. It would seem that Paul would surrender every pleasure if it had a possibility of leading another to fall, which in the abstract seems extreme, but Paul made love the "criteria of judgment." James H. McCoy says: "There are many rules to which we may refer our conduct as it relates to others; but the highest rule is that of love. And so we come to a great that, we must abstain from things which we ourselves deem innocent in themselves if our indulgence would tempt a Christian brother to sin. Of course this principle is not to be pushed to the extremes of permitting one's self to be made the slave of the whims of every weakminded person or every superstitious, ignorant person who may seek to foist his opinions upon him. There is a vast difference between offending a man by refusing to accept his cranky and unreasonable views and causing him to offend by putting before him an example of personal conduct that he may follow to his moral hurt. ... And we should bear in mind that these things cannot be determined by reference to hard and fast mechanical rules but must be settled by the individual conscience as it is enlightened and controlled by great spiritual principles."

Paul says that it is neither good to eat flesh nor to drink win or to do anything else that may hurt someone else. He concedes, as everyone must, that overindulgence in anything works injury to the one who is guilty of it. The laws of nature see to it that he is punished physically, as experience has taught all men. He passes over that fact and makes his plea "for the other man."

And so in the broader question of temperance there are innumerable evidences that going to extremes in anything is dangerous. The man who thinks intemperately stands in danger of becoming a "crank" and a "fanatic." Indulging in one line of thought constantly without a sane consideration of the other things that bear upon it may lead to an unbalanced mind. The victims of intemperate thinking are found in the realms of politics and religion. It has caused religious wars as well as political, and is an economic strife. This does not mean that one cannot be zealous for a cause, but the "intoxicated" man is not reasonable, whether full of liquor or egotism.

Growing out of intemperate thinking of course is intemperate speech, an indulgence of so many people that it is a common sin. We are prone to regard with suspicion, and sometimes hatred, those who do not agree with us, and are quick to impute to them motives which if all the circumstances were known would not be thought of. Questioning motives is always dangerous and was so much considered so that there is a divine injunction to "judge not lest ye be judged." Human experience proves that and that intemperate speech reacts on the guilty one almost invariably, as well as perhaps injures others. Nearly every political campaign proves it. The intemperate abuse indulged by one distinguished speaker in [a] campaign upon one of the other candidates, and the result in many of the places where it was heard, is a concrete example. Temperate thinking is the first remedy here.

And so it runs throughout every department of life; temperance is wise from every standpoint of the individual....

Paul enjoins temperance for love's sake and held up Christ as the great exemplar of abstinence from worldly desires for the sake of others, "for even Christ pleased not Himself just as it is written the reproaches of them that reproached thee fell on me."

Obedient Christians cannot do otherwise; others will find it the part of wisdom.

—H. Lee Millis, Houston Daily Post, Houston, Texas, Nov. 12, 1916.

Life is so much easier, more harmonious and worthwhile when we obey the laws and conform to the "rules of the game." One might be a good driver and have his car under perfect control at all times--yet if he persisted in driving on the left side of the road, he would find the going very hard, unpleasant and dangerous to his welfare.

So with the laws of health, the laws of social justice and all the amenities of life. By our knowledge of truth and being free from all restrain and limit because we have learned the truth that makes us free, we nevertheless observe and do all these laws for the sake of example and it makes life more livable.

This is really the meaning of temperance. ... The true Christian will refrain from all those things that cause others to stumble.

Not only in the matter of outer things but more especially in our thoughts we are advised to be temperate. "As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he," or at least, so he will become. Lustful, sensuous thoughts, hateful and revengeful thoughts, angry and jealous thoughts will rankle and grow if we try to harbor them in our secret minds. We are transformed and renewed, Paul says, by the "renewing of our minds" and by thinking the kind of thoughts that Jesus had, thoughts of love and good will toward all men.

—Ralph O'Day, St. Petersburg Times, St. Petersburg, Fla., Oct. 31, 1936.

It is true that the common definition [of temperance is], "Abstinence from the use of intoxicants as a beverage."

More in line with the scriptural meaning in our view is "self-control," and here it covers the ground according to our idea of this definition: "moderation in all necessities and total abstinence of all things not necessary."

This in fact is in line with the Christian teachings as laid down in the Bible, and all through it, gives the same uncertain sound. It covers the ground of what might be called true wisdom--making the best use of all means to the best end. That is wisdom. May by nature cannot be expected to do this. He may learn to subdue his passion in some things by restraint; but on the other hand, he is unable to control his natural propensities and disposition. But the proper use of God's grace enables the man to apply all of God's blessings properly, and to use them for a good purpose.

"Blessings misused are blessings abused." Because we are endowed with an abundance of some blessings, it is no reason that we should misuse them. We believe that prayer should attend every blessing for the guidance of God in the use of it.

Extravagancy is intemperance; self-control is lost in extravagance; blessings are misused; they are not used in their proper sphere. Superfluity in eating, drinking, dressing, talking, or in anything where the wrong use of the blessings is made, is intemperance. ...

We are not living to ourselves, not for ourselves only; we are surrounded and our influences are felt in the circle we turn in and out of, and we are responsible for the influences brought by our lives. We have public opinion, social opinion as well as the personal opinion of others, to concur with in our lives. What a man is to himself is not all of the man, but what he is to others also. What he is in actions and influences to his family, neighbors, brethren and sisters in the church, we are not to intrude, nor should be rocks of offense to any. Offenses bring reproach on the religion that we profess. ... They are impediments in the way of success; they frustrate the efforts that are exercised for good, and blast the zeal of the good and faithful. It is safe, and the only safe way, for Christians to live as far as possible from the great temptation, and all that is contaminating.

—G.T. Thomas, The Baptist Chronicle, Alexandria, La., Feb. 17, 1898.


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