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.

☞Howe we oughte to Faste.The .xii. Chapter

IN declarynge howe we ought to faste, whome shoulde I ra∣ther followe then oure sauiour Iesus Christe the teacher of all truthe,* whyche saithe: When ye faste be not sad as the hipocrites are. For they disfigure theyr fa∣ces, that they myghte be seene of menne to faste. Uerelye I saye vnto you, they haue their reward Page  [unnumbered] But thou when thou fastest an∣nointe thy heade, and washe thy face, that it appeare not vnto men, that thou fastest, but to thy father, whyche is in secrete, and thy father whyche seeth in secrete shal rewarde the openlye, Christ oure sauioure in thys place doth not only rebuke the hipocriticall and supersticious manner of the vngodlye fasters, but hee also teacheth the true manner of fa∣stynge. Of these hys woordes wee learne, that who so euer enten∣deth to faste a ryghte, hee muste obserue three thynges.* The fyrst is, that hee annoynte his heade. The seconde that hee washe hys face. The thyrde that he faste in secrete. These Phrases annoin∣tynge of the heade, and washing of the face with many other seme Page  [unnumbered] verye straunge manners of spea¦king to such as are not perfectly exercised in the ••ading of y ho∣ly sciptues and of the auncient wrighters, it is conuenient ther∣fore, that we learn to know what is meante by them. And no man in this behalf can satisfy our de∣sire better then our golden mou¦thed Doctoure. S. Iohn Chriso¦stome,* whose wordes are these.

In the annointing o the heade, saith he, we knowe that mercy is signified.* Therfore to annoynte the heade, is to shewe mercye to our neighbour. For that mercye that is done vnto a pore man, is referred vnto God, which is the heade of the man, as the Apostle and the lord him self saith.* What soeuer ye haue done to one of my lessest brothers,* ye haue done it Page  [unnumbered] vnto me. In the stede of y which mercye wyth the diuine retribuci¦on as with a certayne he auenlye oyle, we ar poured and shed ouer by hym▪* which saith. Blessed are the mercifull for God shall haue mercye on them.* Holy Dauid al∣so did knowe the vnccion and a∣nointinge of the celestial oyle in the heade, when he sayde, as in y ointmente, whiche came down in to the bearde.

But in washinge the face, the puritie of a cleane bodye and of a sincere conscience is knowen to* be signified so that to washe the face, is to make cleane the face of our hart from al filthines of sin, & from the vncomelines of tres∣pas, and to haue a very pure con¦science, that we may truly haue in vs the gladnes of celestiall ioye. Page  [unnumbered] and the familiaritie and cheare¦fulnes of the holye ghoste.

Hitherto haue I rehearsed the wordes of .S. Ihon Chrisostome whereby we maye learne, that to annoynte oure heade is none o∣ther thynge, then to shewe oure selues beneficial to the pore mem¦bers of Christe. Againe, to washe oure face is to make cleane both bodye and soule from synne and wyckednes. If we therefore wyll fast a right after the mind of .S. Iohn Chrisostome, we must first annoint our head, y is to say, com¦fort the pore people wt such good as god hath committed vnto vs. For the ritches that we haue bee not ours, but they be gods, as he saith by ye Prophet,* gold is mine, siluer is mine.* The psalmograph also saith, the earth is the lords 〈◊〉Page  [unnumbered] al that is contained in it.