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 .xiiii. Chapter.

MOreouer if we will faste a righte, we are not only com¦maunded to annointe oure heade, that is to say, to shew mer¦cye to the pore people, but also to washe oute face, that is, to make our heartes cleane from al sinne Page  [unnumbered] thorow faithfull repētaunce, that we maye haue a pure conscience. For it is not inough to be benefi¦ciall to other, excepte we also be beneficiall to oure selues. Thys shall come to passe, if we laboure withall mayne to haue a mynde pure and cleane from all carnall affectes, a bodye voide of wicked dedes, and a lyfe garnished wyth good workes.* For what was the cause that God dyd caste awaye the fastes and solemne feastes of the Iewes, but only that they wa¦shed not theyr face, that is, they went not about to put of their old conuersacion and to become new men: I hate and abhorre, saythe God, youre sacrifices, youre so∣lempne feastes and your fastes.* Offer me no mo oblacions, for it is but lost labour. Your incense Page  [unnumbered] is abhominaciō vnto me, I haue no pleasure in your sacrifices. I maye not awaye with your newe mones, your sabbathes. &c. Why soe For your hāds, saith he, ar ful of bloude. Your heartes are full of vengaunce, youre consciences are spotted and defyled with all kinde of sinnes, your life is abho¦minable in my sight, ye walke ha¦uinge no fear of God before your eies. &c. What is then to be done▪ Be ye washd, saith he, be ye clene take a wai your euil thoughts frō mine eies. Cease to do euil, learn to do wel. Seke iudgmēt, healpe ye pore oppressed, be fauourable to the comfortles, defend the wi∣dow.* &c. Again God saith, washe thine hart frō wickednes, y thou maist be healped. How long shal thy noisome thoughts remain wtPage  [unnumbered] the? god hateth those fastes, those praiers those good deds, as they cal them, that come frō a bloudy cōscience, a spotted & pocki soul, a defiled bodi & wicked life, as a cer¦tayn▪ man saith,* It profiteth a mā nothīg at al to fast & pray & to do other good things of deuocion, ex¦cept the minde be refrained from vngodlines, & the tung frō back bitings. For god hath euer a prin¦cipal respect to the hart of the do∣er of the work, as we se in y histo¦rie of the sacrifices of Abell and Cain.* If the hart be pure, cleane & faithful,* thē doth god approue ye worke, but if it be spotted wyth sinne, god casteth it awai appear it neuer so glistering and commē¦dable in the sight of the worlde. Offer not, sayeth the wyse man, wycked giftes, for God wyll not Page  [unnumbered] receiue them.* Salomon also sa¦eth, the sacrifices of the vngodly are abhominable.* That fast ther¦fore that cōmeth not from a pure harte, from an vncorrupt consci∣ence and from a godlye life, plea∣seth not God, but is abhominaci∣on vnto the Lorde oure God, yea it is by no meanes worthye the name of a faste. For Basilius Magnus sayeth,* the true & chri∣sten faste is not only to abstayne from meates but also to eschewe euill thynges. And oure golden mouthed Doctoure saith:* he that abstaineth frō meat & not frō euil works, appereth to fast, but yet he fasteth not in dede. For loke how much he fasteth vnto mē so much doth he eat before god, seing he goeth forth stil to sin.* The aunci¦ent Doctour Origene saith also Page  [unnumbered] wilt thou that I shewe vnto the, what fast y oughtest to fast? Fast from euil dedes, abstain from e∣uill woordes, refraine from euill thoughts. &c. Suche a fast plea∣seth God Agayne. S, Hierome sayeth, then is the abstynence of the bodye commendable before God, when the mind fasteth from vices, For what dothe it profit to make weake the bodye with ab∣stinence, when the mind swelleth with pride? Hereunto pertaineth the sayinge of.* S. Austen. The fastes of christen men, saythe he, are rather to be obserued spiritu¦ally then carnally. In considera∣ion wherof, let vs fast principal¦y from our sins, least our fast be refused of the lord, as the faste of he Iewes were. What a fast is his, that an impostore or deceit∣ful Page  [unnumbered] felow I can not tel who, shuld abstaine from meates, whych the Lorde hath created, and yet wax¦eth fatte with the fatnes of sins? Haue I chosen suche a faste say∣eth the Lorde?* Reade the eighte and fiftie. Chapter of the Pro∣phete Esaye. And a little after he sayeth. The faste, which the most highest do approue and allowe, is not onlye to leaue of to refresh the body, but also to depart from euyll dedes. In a nother place he also saithe.* The great and ge∣nerall faste is to abstaine from i∣niquities and vnlawefull plea∣sures of the worlde▪ whyche is a perfecte faste, that we forsakinge vngodlines and the lustes of the worlde,* shulde liue in this world soberlye, righteouslye and gody Of these authorities of the holye Page  [unnumbered] Doctours also do we learn, that the true Christen faste dothe not only consiste in the abstinence of meates, but also in the forsaking of sinne. Therefore if we entende to faste a right, and to make our fast acceptable to God, let vs pro¦uide earnestlye, that oure faste procede from a pure and cleane heart, voyd of al carnall affectes, stuffed ful of faithe and charitie, and altogether studious of true innocencye and vnfained godli∣nes. So shal it come to pas, that both our fastes and all that euer we do according to gods worde, shal highly please God. Hitherto haue we hearde what it is to an∣noint the head and to washe the face. Nowe remaineth to declare what it is to fast in secrete.