A fruitful treatise of fasting wherin is declared what ye Christen fast is, how we ought to fast, [and] what ye true vse of fastyng is. Newlye made by Thomas Becon.
Becon, Thomas, 1512-1567.

The .xi. Chapter.

FUrthermore the Christen fast ryseth of an hart contrite and sorowful for the sins cōmitted against God, as we haue heard Page  [unnumbered] heretofore. The popish faste ry∣seth either of custome or els of su¦persticyon. For the Papystes in theyr chiefe & solempne fastinge dayes are led wyth no true feare toward God, neyther do they la∣ment theyr syns, nor study by har¦tie repentāce, true faith & amend¦ment of life to apease the wrathe of God kindled against them for their abominable liuing on those dayes that they fast, more them a¦ny other tyme. What Papiste a∣mong them forsaketh hys papi∣stry, hipocrisy, supersticion, and i∣dolatry, and gladly receiueth the truth of Gods word? What coue¦uetous worldling leaueth his co¦uetousnes & exerciseth mercy to∣ward the pore mēbers of Christ? What proud mā giueth ouer his pride, and embraceth humilitie? Page  [unnumbered] What adulterer forsaketh hys adultri, and leadeth an honest cō¦uersacion? what gloton or dron¦kard giueth ouer hys glotony or dronkennes, and leadeth a sober lyfe? what vsurar leaueth his v∣sury? what briberer his brybery? what catchepole hys extorcion? what tirante hys tirannye? what whore her whoredome? what ry∣balde hys rybaldrye? what blas∣phemer hys blasphemy? what en¦uious man his enuy? &c. As they begin their fast wt an vnrepen∣tāt & wicked hert, euen so do they continue & end the same, so far is it of, that they haue any sorow in their heart for their syns commit¦ted against God, whych shoulde earnestlye moue them to forsake theyr meate, and to giue them sel¦ues wholy to be reconciled vnto god by repentynge and callyng Page  [unnumbered] on the name of God for mercy in Christ Iesu our lord. Their fast therfore is abhominacion before God, forasmuch as in the time of theyr fastyng they gyue not ouer theyr wyckednes, and earnestlye seeke to please God.

Moreouer the Christē fast ri∣seth also of an hert feruētly geuē to godlynes. In thys behalfe al¦so y popish fast agreeth nothing with Christē abstinence.* For the Papystes myndes are set on no true godlines in the time of their fastyng, but altogether on super¦sticion & hipocrisie. Theyr god∣lynes, yea rather vngodlynes, when they fast, consisteth in obser¦uyng the popes ceremonies and mans inuencions. If they fulfyl those, they thynke thēselues god¦ly ynough, when notwithstāding Page  [unnumbered] they e furdest from all true god lines. Nether do they direct their fastes vnto anye godly end, but as eueri one antasieth so do thei faste, yea and that for sondry pur∣poses. Sme fast breade and wa¦ter,* some eate nothinge but fruit, some taste no kynde of meate or dryncke that is dressed with fyre, some in theyr faste go wolwarde, barefoted, and barelegged some are so scrupulous & supersticious in their fasting, that in the time of theyr faste they wyll neither eate nor dryncke, nor sleepe, nor yet swalowe dowe theyr owne spit∣tle, If they do they thincke them selues damned. Prouided alway that they also muste be fyrste and laste at churche. If they obserue these fastes, they promyse theym selues, I knowe not howe great Page  [unnumbered] rewardes, ane how hie seates in heauen aboud other, and howe many gay garlandes of red ro∣ses an swete violetes, that God and oure Ladye and the blessed saints shal giue them after thys lyfe for theyr deuout fastyng and praty paines. O fond folishnes & folysh fondnes, worthy rather to be lamented then to be laugh¦ed at. If it be done of a good en∣tent, say they, al is weil whatsoe∣uer we do. If we fast the blessed Saintes euens,* and worshyppe them wyth a Pater noster, Aue and Creede, they wyll do for vs whatsoeuer we axe. S. George wyl defend vs in battell agaynst our ennemies. S. Barbara wyll kepe vs from thondring and li∣tenyng. S. Agasse wyl saue our house from burning. S. Antony Page  [unnumbered] will keepe oure swyne. S. Luke wil sae oure. Oxe. S. Iob wyll defend vs from the poxe. S. Ger¦trude wil keepe oure house from mise & rats. S. Nicholas wyl pre¦serue vs from drowning. S. Lo wyl cure our horsse. S. Dorothe wil saue our hearbs & flowers. S Sith wyl bring again whatsoe∣uer we lose. S. Apoline wyl heal th pain of our tethe. S. Swete∣ladde and. Sayute Agnes wyll sende vs Maides good husban∣des. Sainte Peter wyll lette vs in at heauen gates, wyth a thou∣sande suche lyke. Thys supersti∣cion and idolatry is the godlines of the Papistes. If they fast and serue the saints vnto this end, & on their feastful daies fare dein∣tely & drynke largelye in the ho∣nour of the good saint, they think Page  [unnumbered] thei haue done much for the saint and haue shewed theym selues good, godly and deuout persons. O double vngodlines.

What shall I speake of the spi¦ritual exercises, whiche the true and Christen faste requireth to be done in the time oasting? If we marke wel the maners of the papists, and notetheyr behauour on theyr fastinge daies, we shall ca••y perceiue that in the middes of their fastinge they are no lesse wicked & vngodlye, no les proud and enuious, no lesse lecherous, and couetous, no les backbitinge and slaunderous no les polling and pillinge, no les churlish and vnmerciful, no les geuen to glo∣toni & dronkennes, then thei wer afore. They lamēt not their syns, they fall not to faithefull prayer, Page  [unnumbered] they call not on the name of God as they oughte, but fle vnto crea∣tures, they gyue not them selues to the hearinge or readynge of gods worde, which many of them extremelye abhorre, they go not about to leaue theyr idolatri and wish to be better instructed in the knowledge of gods lawe .&c. but continuing stil in their old super¦sticion & idolatri thei thinke them selues godly inough and good i∣nough. If thei eat no flesh, if thei for beare white meates al is wel whatsoeuer they do, though ther be no repentaunce, no calling on the name of god, no correccion of māners, no amēdmēt of life, God haue mercy on vs, god open their eies & giue thē grace to amende,

Hitherto haue we learned out of the word of god, what the true Page  [unnumbered] and Christen faste is. We haue hearde also, howe greatly the po¦pyshe manner of fastinge diffe∣reth from the true vse of fastinge whiche the holy scriptures teach. Nowe the order requireth, that we also declare, howe we oughte to faste, that we maye please god and not faste in vaine as the hy∣pocrytes do.