JESTING PILATE

deplored by every one; anger with its attendant violences, by a majority, at any rate in the Western and democratic countries. But gluttony, the be- setting vice of our age——for never in the world’s history have so many men and women eaten so im- moderately as they do now—gluttony goes almost unreproved. In the Middle Ages on the other hand, when food was scarce and over-eating singu- lar and conspicuous, gluttony was freely de- nounced. Peace, prosperity, the colonisation of new lands, refrigerators, easy transport and modern agriculture have made food plentiful, at any rate in the West. Gluttony being universal is scarcely noticed, and all the fury of the moralists is spent on other sins, especially lasciviousness.

Now the gravity of a sin is gauged by several standards, which we employ, when we make our judgments, either separately or together. We may judge a sin, in the first place, by the degree of its harmfulness to the society in which the sinner lives. Thus, the sin of anger, when it leads to crimes of violence, is harmful to the society in which the angry man lives, and therefore grave. Avarice is chiefly detested because it leads to theft, and dis- honest practices, which do mischief to the avari- cious man’s neighbours. And so on. The applica- tion to each particular sin is easily made.

But sin is not exclusively a social matter; its gravity is also measured by the harm, mental or physical (and the physical is always finally also a

mental mischief) it does to the sinner himself. The 212